Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

A.C.L.U. apologizes to humanist organization…on April Fool’s day?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 1, 2010

The A.C.L.U. has released an official apology over the rejected $20,000 donation from American Humanist Association as reported earlier today under the general category of idiocy. So I tentatively retract my idiocy remark and assign the snafu to apparent staff incompetence, although I must say I don’t know what to do of an apology issued on April Fool’s. Hmmmm……….

On behalf of the ACLU of Mississippi, I would like to offer our sincere apologies for the inappropriate e-mail you received from a member of our staff regarding your generous offer to sponsor and donate to a prom for Constance McMillen.

As I believe you’ve heard from the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, MSSC makes the final decision about which sponsorship related offers to accept. It was an error for our staff member to insinuate to you that our organization had that decision-making power.

Furthermore, please understand that the sentiments expressed in the e-mail you received from our staff member do not reflect the views of our organization in any way. The ACLU of Mississippi is a stalwart defender of freedom of belief and expression for all, and we are appreciative of your commitment to protecting those principles, as well.

Up yours, BCA!

Posted in Skepticat by Skepdude on April 1, 2010


This morning the British Chiropractic Association got what they deserved from the Court of Appeal: a judgment against them that was about as emphatic as it could be and it was delivered by England’s two most senior judges, the Lord Chief Justice of England and the Master of the Rolls, together with Lord Justice Sedley who is one of the most respected judges on the Court of Appeal.

Back in April 2008, Simon wrote a piece for the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ colunmn entitled Beware the Spinal Tap. It appeared during the BCA’s ‘Chiropractic Awareness Week’. Here’s the relevant extract:

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 can confidently label these treatments as bogus because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.

The BCA objected to the first paragraph above, which they interpreted as an accusation of deliberate dishonesty on their part. They (still) describe it as “a serious attack on the reputation on the BCA”. Despite claiming to have a “plethora of evidence” for the claims made, they turned down the Guardian’s very reasonable offer of a right of reply and decided to sue Simon instead — a decision that the Lord Chief Justice himself said he was “baffled” by. Responding today, the BCA said they turned down the Guardian’s offer because it fell short of their expectations, “not least because the original libel would have remained uncorrected”.

But…but…surely if they had a plethora of evidence, all they needed to do was write a nice little piece pointing to it and that would have given the lie to Simon’s allegation and the BCA’s reputation would remain intact? Mais non! Apparently Simon Singh is so revered and the effect of anything he writes is so powerful that he just had to withdraw his comments and apologise — nothing less would satisfy the fragile egos in charge of the BCA. And as Simon Singh was not only right about the lack of evidence (the so-called ‘plethora’ was swiftly demolished outside the courtroom) but is also comparatively solvent, he wasn’t about to do what most people would be forced to do in such circumstances and bend right over for the BCA.

Last May, I attended the preliminary hearing of the BCA v Dr Simon Singh, held to determine the meaning of the words used in Simon’s article. There I heard Simon’s lawyers argue that the paragraph the BCA didn’t like was an opinion — a comment — rather than a statement of fact and that this was clear from the context. Mr Justice Eady dismissed this argument out of hand. He’d apparently already made up his mind and prepared his judgement before even entering the courtroom and his judgment was that the passage was a statement of fact and that the words Simon used imply a deliberate intention to deceive. Eady placed the onus on Simon to prove that the BCA were being deliberately dishonest, should the case go to full trial. In other words, the burden of proof for something he didn’t claim or intend to imply in the first place was placed on the defendant.

This was, as Jack of Kent put it, an astonishingly illiberal ruling that seemed to designed to intimidate anybody from standing up to the threat of libel even when they know they are in the right, as Simon did. The BCA said in their statement today,


Idiocy is universal

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 1, 2010

Some liberals revel in pointing out idiocy coming from the conservative side. Nevertheless, I submit, that idiocy is universal. The A.C.L.U. has turned down a  $20,000 donation from the American Humanist Association, because their mission is to promote “good without God.”  WHAT….THE ….FUCK????? So let me sum up the logic in this whole thing:

1-Bigot anti-gay school cancels prom because of gay student.

2-A.C.L.U. puts on its shining armor, gets on top if its white horse and rides to the rescue.

3-AHA offers to help with a $20,000 cash donation

4-A.C.L.U. refuses aid because it is afraid to be tainted by association with this group who has to endure apparently even  more bigotry at the hands of the coalition of the idiots of Mississippi?

That is the logical equivalent of an organization that feeds the poor refusing to feed some people because they are “too poor”. Yeah, I know makes no sense, but idiocy seldom does!

A good day for Simon Singh

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 1, 2010

Simon Singh wins the next battle in his war-against-cretins. Not to get confused, the war is still ongoing but he won the right to the “fair comment” defense which the previous judge had inexplicably denied him.

The science writer Simon Singh has won his court of appeal battle for the right to rely on the defence of fair comment in a libel action.


In May last year, high court judge Mr Justice Eady, in a preliminary ruling in the dispute, held that Singh’s comments were factual assertions rather than expressions of opinion – which meant he could not use the defence of fair comment.Today, the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, master of the rolls Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Sedley allowed Singh’s appeal, ruling that the high court judge had “erred in his approach”.

Singh described the ruling as “brilliant” but added: “It is extraordinary this action has cost £200,000 to establish the meaning of a few words.”

200,000 pounds folks. That’s almost twice as much in US Dollars. People like me would have been bankrupt and would have had no other choice but to fold their hand, even though right. Thank goodness the folks at the BCA picked the wrong guy to mess with. Oh how I will rejoice when the day comes that Simon inevitably wins the war and the BCA will have to pay him back every penny he’s had to spend defending himself from their idiocy (I hope the UK system works that way, I don’t know for sure).