Yesterday evening I attended a talk given by some eminent speakers regarding this. Simon Singh is currently being sued by the British Chiropractic Association because he loves Bill and Ted just as much as the rest of us (please note that this is an internet-cache copy of the offending article. The original article has since been removed from the Guardian website*). The exact phrase, I believe, is “happily promotes bogus treatments”, which Justice Eady seems to think is asserting that Singh meant they knowingly and evilly promote treatments that do not work. Even though he didn’t mean that. Now he has to prove it, which is difficult as that wasn’t what he meant when he said it. An equivalent would be saying to a friend:
“Wow, that dress looks great on you”
“How dare you tell me I look fat”
“Well… you do… but that’s not what I said”.
I’ll be honest, he’s a bit of an idol of mine. After seeing his programmes on TV and reading articles and books he has written, I am saving to do a BSc in Maths and Physics (just as soon as I finish my recording studio – photo’s to come soon). I was more than chuffed when I got to meet him at a debate on alternative medicine at KCL a few weeks ago. Like a blushing schoolgirl, I shook his hand and told him how much of an inspiration he is to me. He seemed like such a friendly chap, although his parting words to me were “Good luck with your A-Levels”… Elisa had to put it all into perspective for me and now it has become a mildly amusing in-joke (to the point where I asked him to write it in my Physics For Dummies book, much to the amusement of Dave Gorman and Elisa, who was standing right behind me to remind me how embarrassing I was).
The thing that really sticks out to me, is that I am rather fond of free speech, and this case doesn’t seek to defend the honour of a reputable cure (for if that were so, surely the BCA could have just knocked together a compendium of all the research into chiropractic efficacy. Maybe they could put it in some kind of receptacle, like a folder or a DVD, hand it in to Singh et al… and then blow a raspberry?), instead they seem to be attempting to stifle one of his (and our) basic human rights – the right to freedom of expresion.
Perhaps I am not looking hard enough, but there seems to be no literature commenting on this case from the other side of the argument. Why aren’t there any blogs asserting definitive proof that chiropractic works, with a list of references, and a handy comments box, where I can write something like “Golly! Is that true? I had no idea. Yeah you’re right, Simon Singh is an arse!” – please do let me know if you find one.
*I have neglected to obtain permission from Svetlana to link to this, but if any objections are raised, I will happily promote an alternative link.