Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Keeping Your Skepticism out of Court

By Peter Bowditch

While corporations can no longer sue for defamation, they can instead attack skeptics by arguing for intellectual property infringement or practices that damage their business.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In June I wrote about legal action taken to censor scientific findings. Using the courts to silence scientific or skeptical comment is a worrying trend.

An example was the action brought against Simon Singh by the British Chiropractors’ Association. His sin was to say in an article in The Guardian: “This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments”. The BCA eventually withdrew, but it cost Singh a lot of money. He was lucky as he is a best-selling author and could afford the costs without being ruined, but for many of us even a brief appearance in court would make a severe dent in our savings.

What happened to Singh probably can’t happen in Australia now because corporations can’t sue for defamation, but I’m not about to say similar things about the Chiropractors Association of Australia. I upset them enough by an article here (November 2010) saying that subluxations don’t exist and that chiropractors shouldn’t be treating children’s ear complaints. This drew a hostile reply from the CAA saying that just because nobody can see subluxations on an X-ray or detect them in any other way doesn’t mean they don’t exist and my comments about there being no nerves between the brain and the ears passing through the spine didn’t acknowledge advances in human anatomy since the 19th century. The word “...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.