Thursday, 12 July 2012

Science vs Libel

A rather peculiar case has just been ruled upon. The editor of the journal, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals (published by Elsevier of course), sued Nature for an unflattering article which called attention to the self-publishing and reviewing practices in the journal. One can read the ruling for a rather bizarre trail of events. It highlights just how out of date the current libel laws in the UK are, that such a costly and censorial suit could be allowed under the current system makes for a chilling effect for reporters, bloggers, and even ordinary scientists publishing papers. If you don't have the legal and finanacial resources of the Guardian or Macmillan, you face ruin even if you are commenting fairly and in the public interest. Reform is sorely needed, free and open exchange of information and ideas is the basis for a vibrant and thriving society. Join the effort to make the law work for the public and not for those few with the resources to squash dissent.