Singing Loudly: Libel to Silence Critics

Singing Loudly

Monday, August 20, 2007

Libel to Silence Critics

PZ Myers, a blogger (at pharyngula) and biologist, has been . The lawsuit was initiated by Stuart Pizar after a harsh criticism of hi book, Lifecode. I don't know all the background details but Myers states the following about the lawsuit:

Huh. I'd heard some noise from Pivar threatening to sue, but this is the first I've heard of any formal action being taken. Since I'm a defendant (one who hasn't been notified of his status!) I suppose I should just shut up at this point and let justice run its course.

Since I'm a blogger, though, I can't completely shut up. I will just say that this is Pivar's attempt to squash a negative review of his book, which I posted here. Nothing in the review was motivated by personal malice, and I actually am inclined to favor structuralist arguments in evolution ... but I'm afraid my honest assessment of Pivar's work is that it does not support his conclusions. I still stand by my review, and now I'm a bit disturbed that someone would think criticism of a scientific hypothesis must be defended by silencing its critics.

The threshold to prevail on a libel suit is extremely high, especially for someone who is a public figure. Before this case is resolved, I hope that this doesn't make other bloggers shy away from valid criticism and cultural commentary. After resolution of this suit, I trust we'll see a discarded lawsuit not worth all that much.


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