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marnixR
Post  Post subject: the weapon of the quack : libel  |  Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:24 pm
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just another case of a quack threatening anyone who tries to expose their cavalier attitude towards science, as highlighted by SkinWalker on his Facebook page :

The Burzynski Clinic Threatens My Family

the funny thing is, this reminded me of a few other cases where authors have been threatened those who publicly disagree with them, so much so that it almost seems like this becomes a common tactic for those who can't win the scientific argument, but at the same time don't want to lose their meal ticket :

Ben Goldacre vs. Gillian McKeith or Simon Singh vs. the British Chriopractic Association spring to mind and i'm sure it won't take much digging to find similar cases on the web

at least Gillian McKeith got her come-uppance on "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here" when the public decided she would make a good target : Get me out of here! 'Fake' Gillian McKeith becomes public target to face challenges after her dramatic jungle antics

wish more of the fakers got to meet with that sort of treatment, as repayment for their willingness to meet proper science with libel actions

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: the weapon of the quack : libel  |  Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:17 am
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I read an article today which reminded me of your post. It's about how common it seems nowadays for angry comments to appear on the internet, whether in comments sections of articles and blogs, or even on forums like this.


http://www.slate.com/articles/life/roip ... ters_.html

Quote:
The commenter is justifiably angry at the encroachment on his time by the offending article. After all, since he has been tied down with rope and physically forced to read the article all the way to the end, this resentment is justified. “Why do we read this kind of drivel?” one commenter asks, and that would pretty much be the question that suggests itself. Why not just put it down, walk away? (As one non-angry commenter puts it, “The internet is big. Go somewhere else.”) We can only conclude that there must be part of the ritual that the angry commenter enjoys, some small thrill in hating something and being able to voice how resentful he is of the precious time that article has robbed him of.

<snip>

This raises the question of whether the commenter is basically normal in their daily life. Maybe she is a school teacher who is sweet to kindergarteners during the day, and then, on a Sunday afternoon secretly releases her anger at the unsuspecting world? Is the person who writes, “Move out of the city—seriously—there are too many of you idiot—think you are so sophisticated and special—narcissistic personality disordered yahoos already here I could puke” perfectly polite to the old lady blocking their way in a drugstore aisle? My guess is that the angry commenter is functional, loving, and peaceable in his daily life, and it is only in the comments section that his darkest fury is unleashed (though I could be wrong). In this model one could argue that comments sections are fulfilling an important social function, a kind of collective unconscious that allows the commenter to voice and play out their worst impulses so they can be civilized in their actual lives.

It is possible, though, that there is just more bitterness out there than we realized before the Internet brought us closer to people’s rawest, quickest, uncensored thoughts... <continue reading>

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: the weapon of the quack : libel  |  Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:40 am
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in real life i'm rather outspoken, sometimes to the embarrassment of my wife
i'm sure part of that part of my persona crops up from time to time on forums, but i should hope that most of the time i reflect on whether i really want to hit the submit button

(but i DID create the "rant corner", after all)

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: the weapon of the quack : libel  |  Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:10 pm
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marnixR wrote:
but i should hope that most of the time i reflect on whether i really want to hit the submit button

It's an interesting thought. I wonder how much of this is just "stream of consciousness" and whether or not it's the lack of social consequences for speaking that way which drives such behavior. I'm a lot more "open" with my thoughts on these forums than I am at work, for example. There, I have a much better self-censor. Here, I don't really care as much. I'm probably not alone in that.

My point (as pertains to the OP) is that maybe it's just the "libel" is more common overall, and the quack isn't necessarily using it as a weapon. Maybe they're genuinely not used to people being critical and dismissive of their ideas.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: the weapon of the quack : libel  |  Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:26 am
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i once made the mistake of being a bit less guarded in my comments on LinkedIn, for which i was pulled up short by one of the new directors who saw it a slight on his guys
i had to retract sharply to avoid further action being taken against me - it's then that you realise that a business is mostly a dictatorship where might is right and the truth is not always welcome

all under the banner of "not bringing the business into disrepute", of course

most of the time, and unless you do something totally illegal, you're allowed to get away with far worse on the internet

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: the weapon of the quack : libel  |  Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 2:35 am
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I learned today it's not all on the internet. I'd been running some errands and was driving in an area where I wasn't familiar. I realized I was in the completely wrong lane for the turn I needed to make once I'd read the sign, and had to move quickly. There was space for me to move over, but I had to do it quickly, so I did.

I popped on my turn signal and jotted over with purpose and determination and no hesitation, and waved to the person (who was now) behind me... essentially acknowledging that that I recognized this was not a great move and it wasn't ideal for her. I looked in my mirror, she wrinkled her nostrils upward, and she flipped me off... waved her finger around like it was wearing a brand new diamond ring and she was showing it to her friends at the salon.

I realized then, it's not just on the the internet that the asshole quotient has increased in the world.

Maybe she thought I was a quack. ?

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: the weapon of the quack : libel  |  Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:27 am
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iNow wrote:
Maybe she thought I was a quack. ?


and, did you ?

quack, that is

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: the weapon of the quack : libel  |  Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 4:38 pm
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No, I did laugh, though. I thought, "So much for trying to apologize and acknowledge my dick-ish behavior."


Back to the topic at hand, I seem to remember the UK somewhere having strong laws about libel, and scientists being penalized for saying perfectly true things that hurt others feelings or some such garbage. Is that still common? Does that still occur? Has it improved any?

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: the weapon of the quack : libel  |  Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:48 pm
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i read a while ago that people tended to flock to the UK to have their libel trial done here, because for some reason i don't quite understand, the burden of proof appears to be on the defendant to show that there is no case to answer

strange since this appears to contradict the general attitude of "innocent until proven guilty" in UK law, but that's what it appears to be the case : English defamation law (also has a portion about the Simon Singh case)
i know there was talk about possibly reviewing this law, but i'm not sure if much progress has been made in that direction

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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: the weapon of the quack : libel  |  Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:39 pm

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Quote:
marnixR wrote:
the funny thing is, this reminded me of a few other cases where authors have been threatened those who publicly disagree with them, so much so that it almost seems like this becomes a common tactic for those who can't win the scientific argument, but at the same time don't want to lose their meal ticket


Another case of people trying to hide the legitimacy of their Science behind the screen of libel, this time highlighted in Nature:

http://www.nature.com/news/the-right-to-speak-out-1.12758

It is one thing to protect the reputation of an individual from unfair and unwarranted attack, it is quite another to seek to defend scientific claims with legal threats. Nothing in Science is precious; truth is non-negotiable. The truth will ultimately stand for itself, it does not require guards, unlike those threatening critics with libel – trying to save face but it’s a simple fact that the moment a person threatens with a legal case, the integrity of their scientific findings becomes increasingly dubious.

Ref.

‘The right to speak out’ Nature 496: 137


Quote:
marnixR wrote:
it's then that you realise that a business is mostly a dictatorship where might is right and the truth is not always welcome

all under the banner of "not bringing the business into disrepute", of course


Sadly, all too true. Businesses spend a lot of time, effort and money in creating an image that they wish to sell to the external world. It is only once you get inside the metaphorical golden palace laced with diamonds and pearls that you discover, to your horror, the moral backbone of the business nothing more than a hollow shell of its former self, rotting and spewing fungal spores. Apparent egalitarianism and meritocracy, alas, is nothing more than a smoke screen for the unchanged nepotism and conservatism that always has and, probably, always will be. The institutions are so busy putting up banners telling us ‘what they are doing’ that they neglect to take care of what they are actually doing. And, for all that the external world cares, they may as well be looking vainly in a mirror all day long, whilst the world passes oblivious.

But, what is to be done? Is it possible to strike a balance between appeasing the ‘powers that be’ whilst remaining authentic and defending that which is just?

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