Monday, 4 January 2010

Double standard

Freedom of speech has led to the spread of misinformation regarding the efficacy, and risks, related to the practise of medicine. Anti-science nonsense is currently being advocated by celebrities. Oddly enough, opposing this culture of using uninformed non-experts as guiding light has proven legally damaging to those who try. So, this means that those claiming all sorts of "alternative" views can have their say: freedom of speech in optima forma. Yet, the moment you point out the numerous logical fallacies and scientific inaccuracies you will probably be forced by a court of law to retract, or the threat of being sued for libel will stop the accurately informed of making such corrections. In the words of Orac this is suppression of speech.

The adagium you have the right to your opinion, as long as it adheres to mine comes to mind.

Update: Just adding Steven Novella discussing the lawsuits against Paul Offit and Simon Singh.

Update II: In case you are looking for some rationality promoting spirits The Gotham Skeptics has a nice list you can start with.

Update III: Another mention of this silly game can be found at Weird Things.

Update IV: Responding The Gotham Skeptic hopes these legal games
will shine some light on the desperate and empty scare tactics of the anti-vaccine lobby, and in so doing bring the long-overdue attention and respect that real scientific[sic] deserves.
According to Science-Based Medicine the fact that the “infectious disease promotion movement” resorts to legal instead of scientific discourse indicates
a fundamental misunderstanding of both science and law. Science requires conflict, and the law does not protect us from the consequences of our ideas or the negative opinions of others. A free society cannot thrive on suppression of conflict, and science cannot progress without an atmosphere that allows vigorous, sometimes painful, debate.
It suggests that the anti-science movement is out of breath, and knows they are losing on the merits of this "debate." As if we do not already know Orac copiously writes about the consequences of misleading the general public into not vaccinating. He agrees with Barbara Loe Fisher's calls for a "fearless debate" on this topic. 
We do need a fearless conversation about vaccines. It needs to be a conversation free of the fear of the anti-vaccine movement filing lawsuits against its critics, free of the fear of harassment by the anti-vaccine movement, and with scientists being free of the fear that their work will be hijacked and misrepresented as supporting the pseudoscience of the anti-vaccine movement.
Clearly, his interpretation of "fearless debate" is contrary to hers, which is evidenced by the aforementioned lawsuit. Elaborating on Orac's posts Skeptico discovered  it is "only January 7th and we already have our first nomination for a 2010 Golden Woo." (Golden Woos 2009)

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