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Newsletter 41 – Happy New Year ??? Here???s to a libel-reforming, quack-busting, Higgs-hunting 2011

January 1, 2011

 1 January, 2011
http://www.simonsingh.net

1. Libel Case Over – a story with a happy ending … almost
2. Future newsletters and twitter

3. Uncaged Monkey Tour
4.
Skeptics in the Pub
5. Overseas books
6. Old Competition Winner
7. New Competition Puzzle

1. Libel Case Over – a story with a happy ending … almost

It has been almost a whole year since my last newsletter. As many of you will know, the British Chiropractic Association sued me for libel for an article published in April 2008. The case lasted for a miserable two years, but it had a happy ending in April 2010 when the BCA dropped its case against me – in short, I feel that the last two years have vindicated both myself and my criticism of chiropractors. You can find out more about the case on the web, as there was lots of news coverage, such as this article:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/apr/15/simon-singh-libel-case-dropped

My case is over, but other science journalists, scientists and journals are still being sued for libel or being threatened with libel, so the case for libel reform continues. English libel law is incredibly hostile to free speech, and the phenomenon of libel tourism means that it can be used to silence critics and crush scientific debate around the world. The good news is that the UK Government is listening to public opinion and is publishing a draft libel reform bill in March 2011. To make sure that the bill delivers proper reform, it is important that we maintain the pressure for reform. Please sign the petition for libel reform and encourage your friends to do the same:
http://www.libelreform.org/sign

2. Future newsletters and twitter

Now that the case is over and my life is returning to normal, I will probably send out a newsletter three or four times a year, but my main means of making announcements and pointing to interesting things has become twitter. Please follow me on twitter if you want the latest news, etc. My twitter ID is @slsingh

3. Uncaged Monkey Tour

The magnificent Robin Ince is masterminding a touring show featuring geeks such as Ben Goldacre, Brian Cox and myself. There will be other geeks and comedians joining us in what Robin promises will be a mix of “intelligent comedy and comedic intelligence”. We are covering England, Scotland and Wales, and we should reach over 15,000 people in two weeks. You will find a full list of dates and venues herehttp://www.badscience.net/2010/12/im-doing-this-awesome-massive-nerd-tour/

4. Skeptics in the Pub

If you cannot make it to the Uncaged Monkey Tour, then do support your local geeks by visiting one the many Skeptics in the Pub venues. The London SitP, which was revitalized by the brilliant Sid Rodrigues, regularly attracts over 200 skeptics/rationalists/geeks/etc, and there are similar events up and down the UK and around the world.
http://skeptic.org.uk/events/skeptics-in-the-pub

In 2010, I spoke at roughly 10 SitP events, and I enjoyed every one of them. Thanks to everyone who organized them, attended them and contributed to the discussion.

5. Overseas books

I have some signed overseas translations of my books (Catalan, Japanese, Serbian), which I am keen to find a good home for in return for a small donation to the libel reform campaign. You can find details at:
http://slsingh.posterous.com/translations-of-my-books-to-raise-money-for-t

6. Old Competition Winner

Last time I explained that my physics teacher played a trick on the class. He rolled a transparent rod over two words. Each word spelt out a colour and was printed in that colour. The first word was apparently flipped when seen through the rod, but the other word was not. The teacher said that this was due to the difference in colours and the way that various wavelengths are refracted. In fact, it was nothing to do with refraction. The key point was that the letters in one of the colours were all symmetrical along the horizontal axis. I asked you to find that colour.

Annoyingly, I cannot remember the symmetrical colour and I am now questioning my recollection of the whole episode, because nobody sent in a truly satisfactory answer. The best answer (in my opinion) was BEECH sent in by Brian Suda from Iceland, who received a signed copy of “Afterglow of Creation” by Marcus Chown.

8. New Puzzle Competition

A personal highlight of 2010 was that one of my books made a cameo appearance in two different TV detective shows on opposite sid
es of the planet. Can you name the book and both TV shows? This might be an absurdly tricky question, so you might win even if you can name just one of the TV shows.

Please send your answer to competition -AT- simonsingh DOT net – put your answer in the subject header and your address in the body of the email. The closing date for entries is midday on Jan 7. The winner (picked at random from the inbox) will receive a copy of An Ocean of Air by Gabrielle Walker (A Natural History of the Atmosphere).

Cheerio and, remember, please sign up to www.libelreform.org/sign – and if you would like to donate to the campaign for libel reform then you might consider purchasing the 2011 Geek Calendar, which has already raised £15,000 for the campaign.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/picture-galleries/8076285/The-Geek-Calendar-2011.html?image=4
– me and Hari in the calendar
http://geekcalendar.co.uk/p/buy-geek-calendar.html
– buy here

Simon.

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2 Comments
  1. chris newey permalink

    Thanks for the newsletter. The idea of changing the law of libel is a damn good one, its a train wreck as it currently exists.

  2. Nullius in Verba permalink

    <i>"Annoyingly, I cannot remember the symmetrical colour and I am now questioning my recollection of the whole episode, because nobody sent in a truly satisfactory answer."</i>Black works, so long as you use the right form of the lowercase letter a.

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