Tag Archives: Free speech

Simon Singh versus… the chiropractors?

British science writer Simon Singh has a special place of respect here at Casting Out Nines for his outstanding  crypto survey The Code Book and for personally helping my upper-level topics students get their hands on a copy back in 2003. One usually associates him with high-quality intellectual discourse on science and its impact on society. So I thought I was not fully awake this morning when I read this in his email newsletter:

As some of you may have heard, I am being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association. I cannot say much at the moment, but I will return to the subject in due course. In the meantime, thanks for the emails of support and the various blogs backing my position. I have not had time to reply – as you can imagine, I am fairly busy at the moment – but the support is much appreciated.

Huh? Well, evidently, Singh wrote an editorial in The Guardian called “Beware the Spinal Tap” critical of the scientific legitimacy of chiropractic medicine. That article is no longer at The Guardian, but others have reprinted, and the full article is here. Here’s a snippet:

You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact they still possess some quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything. And even the more moderate chiropractors have ideas above their station. 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.[…]

I will leave you with one message for Chiropractic Awareness Week – if spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.

I can see how the BCA would find this sort of thing objectionable, but how about, you know, just objecting to it rather than suing the pants off of the person who wrote it?

And don’t these chiropractors realize that going after Singh in such a public way is only going to increase the propagation of his article and ideas exponentially (witness this blog post)? Sheesh.

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Filed under Free speech, Science

Retrospective: Truth and consequences for Ward Churchill (7.25.2007)

Editorial: Today we have articles #10 and #11 in the weeklong retrospective series here at CO9s. The twelfth and final one will come tomorrow, and then it’ll be back to regular posting.

This article was written this past summer, just after Ward Churchill had been fired. Even before his firing, I really believed that the main issue in the Churchill saga had gotten lost. People were merely choosing sides — the lefties taking Churchill’s side (see the Peter Kerstein reference in the main article) and the righties reflexively going the other way. But I didn’t believe, nor do I believe now, that this was the right way to see it all. The main point was that the man lied — about himself, about his research, in the research itself that he purportedly — and falsely — claimed he did. That he did so is on the public record and beyond dispute. That some would whitewash the fact by making him a martyr for academic freedom is as shameful as it is predictable.

I see the whole Churchill affair as just an extension of academic dishonesty, which I’ve already expressed my distaste for.

Truth and consequences for Ward Churchill

Originally posted: July 25, 2007

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Ward Churchill has been fired:

More than two and a half years after Ward Churchill’s writings on 9/11 set off a furor, and more than a year after a faculty panel at the University of Colorado at Boulder found him guilty of repeated, intentional academic misconduct, the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted 8-1 Tuesday evening to fire him.

The vote followed a special, all-day meeting of the board, in which it heard in private from Churchill, a faculty panel and from Hank Brown, president of the University of Colorado System, who in May recommended dismissing Churchill from his tenured post. The regents emerged from their private deliberations at around 5:30 p.m. Colorado time and voted to fire Churchill, but they did not discuss their views and they quickly adjourned. A small group of Churchill supporters in the audience shouted “bullshit” as the board vote was announced.

While the firing is effective immediately, Churchill is entitled under Colorado regulations to receive one year’s salary, which for him is just under $100,000.

The university’s Board of Regents got it right by firing Churchill. Continue reading

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Filed under Academic freedom, Academic honesty, Education, Free speech, Higher ed