Saturday, April 03, 2010

Courts of science vs courts of law

Just learned from Andy Lewis of Quackometer that General Electric had sued Danish radiologist Henrik Thomsen for supposed inuendo concerning GE's MRI contrast drug Omniscan. Apparently GE did not like what Thomsen had to say about their product even if he was merely expressing safety concerns given that there was reasonable evidence to be wary of Omniscan. GE had a taste of its own medicine when Thomsen countersued. The giant probably didn't expect that. Well, last February GE had a change of heart and change of mind and dropped its libel suit. What the heck was it thinking in the first place when it tried to silence Thomsen?!

As you may know, journalist and author Simon Singh had also been sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) over his use of "bogus" in  the April 19 2008 edition of the Guardian.
The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.
The judge who heard the case sided with the BCA. Singh appealed and after a costly battle a celebration is in order. Yesterday, the judges presiding over the appeal dealt a coup de grace to BCA's breathtaking inanity.

Among other things in their decision is this: 
We would respectfully adopt what Judge Easterbrook, now Chief Judge of the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, said in a libel action over a scientific controversy, Underwager v Salter22 Fed. 3d 730 (1994):
"[Plaintiffs] cannot, by simply filing suit and crying 'character assassination!', silence those who hold divergent views, no matter how adverse those views may be to plaintiffs' interests. Scientific controversies must be settled by the methods of science rather than by the methods of litigation. … More papers, more discussion, better data, and more satisfactory models – not larger awards of damages – mark the path towards superior understanding of the world around us."

    So we've had both quacks and Big Pharma try to stifle critique by enlisting the courts. But as Easterbrook says scientific matters are not settled through litigation. Science has its own courts for arriving at the truth.

    1 comment:

    Axel said...

    Hokum Science is now being used to impose Massive Taxes upon the World. I am writing of course about the Great Carbon and Climate Change Fraudulent relationship.

    99% of the World's Climate Scientists Agree, and, There is a Global Scientific Consensus, are just two of the hokum phrases used when writing about these matters.

    Yet Science is never done by consensus, as this and other court cases have shown. Facts must be proved by scientific analysis, and however even such a proof is open to future challenges. Even so, a "consensus" is never the same as a "proof".

    Einstein was reputed to have said that, 200 scientists could never prove him right, but a single scientist could prove him wrong.

    ! The Fraudulent Climate of Hokum Science !

    ! Where Hokum Climate Science is exposed as Fraudulent !