[ASC-list] COSMOS leads global campaign in defence of Simon Singh

Wilson da Silva wilson.dasilva at lunamedia.com.au
Fri Jul 31 02:53:03 UTC 2009

COSMOS leads global campaign in defence of Simon Singh

SYDNEY: A global bloggers' campaign in defence of British science writer
Simon Singh - who is being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic
Association - was launched this week by COSMOS magazine.

On 29 July 2009, COSMOS - Australia's #1 science magazine - republished the
original article in print in its August edition as well as online, deleting
a reference to the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) and modifying one
contentious sentence.

The article, originally published in Britain's The Guardian newspaper - is
otherwise unchanged; it has been translated into French, German, Swedish and
Hungarian and been republished in 86 other sites, most of them bloggers
supporting the cause.

Singh was personally sued by BCA for the original article in April 2008,
received an adverse court ruling on May 7, which he has now decided to
appeal - even though the action has so far cost an estimated £100,000. The
Guardian was not sued, but has nevertheless taken down the original piece
from its website. 

Chiropractic is an alternative health care treatment which involves
manipulating the spine using short but forceful hand movements.

The global campaign is being coordinated by the British group Sense About
Science, which has collected an online petition with more than 15,000 names
supporting Singh, known as "Keep Libel Laws Out of Science".

"Simon Singh is a respected science journalist, and his article was a
critical analysis of chiropractic therapy and some of the claims of its
medical benefits, almost all of which are not supported by scientific
evidence," said Wilson da Silva, editor of COSMOS. "Rather than suing a
journalist for libel, the British Chiropractic Association should mount a
robust scientific defence against their claims."

"If, however, the aim was to silence journalists and shut down debate, then
clearly the effort has backfired," he added. "Many more journalists,
scientists and members of the public are now aware of the utter nonsense
behind such chiropractic claims - such as curing asthma and colic - and many
more are outraged enough to agitate against the BCA and pressure for a
change in English libel laws.

"Where medical claims to cure or treat ailments are not supported by
scientific evidence, journalists and scientists should be able to criticise
such assertions and the public should be able to read such criticisms."

Singh completed a BSc in physics and a PhD in particle physics at Cambridge
University before becoming a director and producer in the BBC science
department. Since leaving Tv, he has become a best-selling author of science
books, including Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial, which he
wrote with Dr  Edzard Ernst, a professor of complimentary medicine at the
Peninsula Medicine School at the University of Exeter.

"It has been a stressful and frustrating 12 months since I published my
article on chiropractors and their attempts to treat children with
conditions such as asthma.," says Singh. "The British Chiropractic
Association's decision to sue me for libel has been an enormous drain on my
time and energy. However, the support that I have received from family,
friends, readers, bloggers, scientists, journalists and those who care about
free speech has been incredible, and it has played a crucial role in my
decision to continue defending my article and fighting the libel action."

LINKS .........

- "BEWARE THE SPINAL TRAP", the republished article in COSMOS

- "KEEP LIBEL LAWS OUT OF SCIENCE", Sense About Science http://is.gd/1Vi0k

-  A full account of the incident, by Simon Singh http://is.gd/1Vi7H

-  A full list of sites which have republished Singh's article
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