[erlang-questions] An appeal. Fwd: Simon Singh's weird idea that might just work

Joe Armstrong <>
Thu Feb 11 11:16:04 CET 2010

You're forgiven - the defense of freedom of speech is more important
than programming anyway.

I've signed up. For those of you who haven't followed Singh's dilemma.
Singh was sued for
libel for daring to say that certain alternative medicine practices
had no scientific validation of their
claims - Indeed were I to repeat his claims here - I might be sued.

So it seems like that with the support of the English courts nobody
anywhere in the world
can say that "this is unscientific" without being in danger of being
sued for libel.

Since I often say "this is unscientific" this is kind of disturbing.


On Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 10:51 AM, Robert Virding <> wrote:
> Sorry for posting something completely out of context on this
> mailing-list but it is something which I feel is important enough to
> warrant that. Posting it here is my idea so complaints goto me.
> Please support it.
> Robert
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From:  <>
> Date: 10 February 2010 22:32
> Subject: Simon Singh's weird idea that might just work
> To: 
> Dear Friends,
> I’ve had an idea – an unusual idea, but I think it might just
> work.
> As you know, England’s chilling libel laws need to be reformed. One
> way to help achieve this is for 100,000 people to sign the petition
> for libel reform before the political parties write their manifestos
> for the election. We have 17,000 signatures, but we really need
> 100,000, and we need your help to get there.
>  http://libelreform.indiemedium.com/lt.php?id=ZkQFVwkEBlAYDEgEBgALUg%3D%3D
> My idea
> My idea is simple: if everyone who has already signed up persuades
> just one more person each week to sign the petition then we will reach
> our goal within a month!
> One person per week is all we need, but please spread the word as
> much as you can. In fact, if you persuade 10 people to sign up then
> email me ( <mailto:>
> ) and I promise to thank you by printing your name in my next book
> … which I will start writing as soon as I have put my own libel case
> behind me. I cannot say when this will be, but it is a very real
> promise. My only caveat is that I will limit this to the first
> thousand people who recruit ten supporters.
> When persuading your friends remember to tell them:
> (a) English libel laws have been condemned by the UN Human Rights
> Committee.
> (b) These laws gag scientists, bloggers and journalists who want to
> discuss matters of genuine public interest (and public health!).
> (c) Our laws give rise to libel tourism, whereby the rich and the
> powerful (Saudi billionaires, Russian oligarchs and overseas
> corporations) come to London to sue writers because English libel laws
> are so hostile to responsible journalism. (In fact, it is exactly
> because English libel laws have this global impact that we welcome
> signatories to the petition from around the world.)
> (d) Vested interests can use their resources to bully and intimidate
> those who seek to question them. The cost of a libel trial in England
> is 100 times more expensive than the European average and typically
> runs to over £1 million.
> (e) Three separate ongoing libel cases involve myself and two medical
> researchers raising concerns about three medical treatments. We face
> losing £1 million each. In future, why would anyone else raise similar
> concerns? If these health matters are not reported, then the public is
> put at risk.
> My experience has been sobering. I’ve had to spend £100,000 to
> defend my writing and have put my life on hold for almost two years.
> However, the prospect of reforming our libel laws keeps me cheerful.
> Thanks so much for your support. We’ve only got one shot at this
> – so I hope you can persuade 1 (or maybe 10) friends, family and
> colleagues to sign.
> Massive thanks,
> Simon
>  http://libelreform.indiemedium.com/lt.php?id=ZkQFVwkEBlAYDEgEBgALUg%3D%3D
> The Libel Reform Campaign is a coalition of English PEN, Index on
> Censorship and Sense About Science.
> So far, 188 MPs have signed our Parliamentary Early Day Motion
> calling for libel reform and the Justice Secretary Jack Straw has
> formed a working party that the Libel Reform Coalition is represented
> on.
> Please also considering donating to keep our campaign going:
> http://libelreform.indiemedium.com/lt.php?id=ZkQFVwkEBlEYDEgEBgALUg%3D%3D
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