Suffering for science

I don’t have much sympathy for this prospective martyr for scientific journalism:

The reason his name is giving everyone the jitters is that he’s being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for an article he published in The Guardian newspaper last year. In the article, Singh argued that there is no evidence for some of the claims that the BCA makes about the health benefits of visiting a chiropractor. He wrote, “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.”

The BCA asked for a retraction and an apology. Singh refused. The Guardian offered the BCA the opportunity to print a clarification and write a response, so they could lay out evidence supporting their claims. The BCA refused. The libel case is the result.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this British libel law. All Singh had to do was retract his false statement and apologize; he refused to do so. So now, if he can’t back up his assertion in court, and it appears that he may not be able to since all the BCA has to do is demonstrate that there is “a jot of evidence” supporting the health benefits to children of visiting a chiropractor, then he deserves to pay for the full extent of the damages incurred, whatever they might be.

As usual, the self-appointed defenders of science are whining and want to play by different rules than those they demand apply to everyone else. If Singh is correct and there is no evidence, then he’s got nothing to worry about. If Singh is incorrect, then obviously he should have retracted his false assertion and apologized.

Don’t get me wrong, I am every bit as skeptical about alternative medicine in general and chiropractors in particular as Singh himself. Quite possibly even more so. However, if you get called on a blanket assertion, then you either have to back it up or retract it. Crying about laws that do no more than hold you accountable for your comments is ridiculous, and the idea that people should be able to freely inflict material damage on others without being held accountable in any way is absurd.

And, of course, it’s worth noting that the UK, like most European countries, does not possess the strong free speech protections that the USA does. It’s yet another way that religious America is better for science than the secular European utopias.

Obama gets it right

In general, if you’re upsetting the neocons, you’re on the right track:

President Barack Obama has decided to scrap plans for a U.S. missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland that had deeply angered Russia, the Czech prime minister confirmed Thursday.

This is a wise decision. There is no way that defending the Czech Republic and Poland is in the U.S. national interest. More to the point, it’s not even credible for the U.S. to pretend that it is capable of defending Eastern Europe against any kind of Russian attack. This is one of the first intelligent things that Obama has done since January, and if he’s smart he will continue to ignore the shrieks of outrage that are bound to come from the usual suspects.

A military commitment to lesser states is almost always a mistake for a Great Power that is not aggressively seeking to expand. Russia isn’t about to fire missiles at either the Czechs or the Poles; they’d never need to given their close proximity and the size of their ground forces.

The girl is D-U-M-B

The world’s most clueless econoblogger makes an ass of herself again… albeit with an assist from Rod Dreher:

Limbaugh Hits a New Low…. I really did not think it was possible for me to like Rush Limbaugh any less. Now I realize that I was mentally excluding all sorts of activities from the realm of the possible, like murdering boatloads of Guatamalan orphans, or this sort of vileness. It won’t be the last time I’m wrong, but I certainly hope it’s the last time I’m that wrong about talk radio’s capacity for socially destructive quasi-populist virulent nonsense.

McArdle hits a new low of her own… I really did not think it was possible for me to think she was any dumber after her post that supported thought-policing the Right. And what does she have her granny panties in a twist about now? A bitingly sarcastic piece by Limbaugh about the Obama administration, Newsweek’s racist baby, and the white kid getting beat up by black kids on the school bus: “Look, this thing on the bus cannot possibly be a hate crime. The cops are probably lying about what happened even though we have the video. The video was probably doctored and edited. We all know that cops are liars, racist pigs and that the white kid deserved it. I mean that’s modern 2009 going into 2010 America.”

The reality is that as much as the various twits at the Atlantic would like to sweep it under the table, (to Dreher’s credit, he does not), violent black-on-white crime is far more common than the reverse and one of the many reasons for this is that the same guilty white liberals who were piddling themselves with joy over Obama have been making excuses for violent black criminals for nearly fifty years.

As long as we’re on the subject, it’s worth noting that statistics readily demonstrate that the racist lynchings of the past were far less of a problem than violent black crime is today. The Tuskegee Institute reports 3,437 lynchings of black Americans between 1882 and 1968. If one takes into account the 1,293 lynchings of white Americans as well as the relative population difference, this means there were roughly 38 race-motivated lynchings per year. In 2005, the FBI reported 37,460 white women were raped or sexually assaulted by black men. By contrast, zero black women were raped or sexually assaulted by white men. In other words, over the course of a year, 990 white women are now attacked by black men for every racist lynching of the past. Naturally, guilty white liberals are much more deeply concerned about the latter than the former. Nor is it only a problem for white women, as an additional 964 black women were raped or sexually assaulted by black men for each of those lynchings as well.

The strange thing about this is that it’s fairly apparent that none of the four individuals commenting on Rush’s broadcast, including Dreher, appear to have bothered to read the transcript, much less listen to a recording of the actual show, before spouting off. To condemn a man for saying something without quoting or even linking to his actual words smacks of serious intellectual dishonesty.

UPDATE – On the other hand, statistical probability doesn’t mean that charges of rape against black men can be considered inherently credible, as this example of morning-after remorse clearly demonstrates: Moments ago my office moved to dismiss all charges against four men accused of committing a sexual assault on the campus of Hofstra University. Late this evening, during the continuation of the Nassau County Police Department’s investigation of the allegation, and under questioning by my office’s chief trial attorney and chief sex crimes prosecutor, the alleged victim of the sexual assault admitted that the encounter that took place early Sunday morning was consensual. One hopes that the lying woman will be prosecuted and jailed, as crying rape harms the interests of innocent men and real female victims alike. A woman who lies in an attempt to press rape charges should not only be prosecuted and jailed for years, but her picture should also be distributed as widely throughout the media as were the pictures of those she falsely accused.