A general record of my ongoing battle with all forms of nonsense.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Form letter to your MP

OK, sorry - I've hashed this out in 10 minutes. It's rough, but it needs to go out now so tough.

Go to http://www.writetothem.com/, fill out your postcode to find your MP. Copy and paste this letter in. Send it.

Quick, do it NOW.


Dear ???????,

Tomorrow there is a debate in parliament on the subject of libel reform.

English libel laws are being used to stifle scientific debate in the UK, to the point where many scientists are not bothering to make their opinions heard. Those that do criticise others are being heavily punished for doing so.

Medical doctor and journalist Ben Goldacre was recently involved in a libel battle following his criticism of a vitamin salesman who claimed that anti-retroviral drugs were ineffective in treating AIDS and offered his vitamins as an alternative. Despite the fact that Goldacre won, they still came out of it £150,000 poorer. The science author Simon Singh is going through a similar situation right now.

In 1961, the German paediatrician Widukind Lenz criticised the drug Thalidomide. By this time, at least 10,000 children had been born with birth defects. If he, and all other scientists since, had refused to make their criticism known for fear of legal action, the deformities may still be continuing today.

If we put a stop to criticism, we not only put an end to our ability to know which of our current treatments are effective and safe, but we also make it impossible to evaluate the treatments of the future.

We must do everything we can to reform our uniquely repressive English libel system.

The future health of everyone in this country and the world depends on it.



Alice said...

Thanks for the reminder, Simon, I just did. Just to let everyone know that at Write To Them there is a warning that they'll block copy and pasted messages, so do tweak a few words of your own - unless just the "Dear ??????" and your name will sort that bit out!

Chris (from Oz) said...

Done. To Ann Keen, MP of Isleworth/Brentford.

Valor said...

Done. To Peter Soulsby, MP of Leicester South.

stevetheboy said...

Done. To Simon Burns, MP for Chelmsford West.

Valor said...

Had a response already from my obviously hard working MP, very impressed.

He says:

Dear Mr Mawdsley,

Thank you for your email.

I have checked and the particular debate - initiated by Dr Evan Harris - is on the recent issue of the reporting of Parliamentary proceedings.

I am, however, very sympathetic to the points you raise and am at the moment halfway through Ben Goldacre's book Bad Science.

I am also well aware of Simon Singh's situation and will certainly take any opportunity to support the ability to speak out clearly on these issues without the threat of legal action.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Soulsby

AndyN said...

Done, to:
Nick Herbert MP
Arundel and South Downs

Dale Williams said...

Done. To Paul Holmes, Chesterfield.

jane said...

Done. To Jonathan Djanogly MP of Huntingdon

padawanpooh said...

Done - to Richard Burden - MP for Northfield, Birmingham

macronencer said...

Done - to Chris Huhne, M.P. for Eastleigh. Mr. Huhne seems to be doing a good job, and has responded to my comments on other issues promptly and intelligently.

Spokeshave said...

Done. To Mark Williams, MP for Ceredigion. Acknowledgement received.

Stephen Curry said...

Done - to Jacqui Lait (Con) in Beckenham, Kent.

Cubik's Rube said...

Done, to Bob Neill of Bromley and Chislehurst. Hope I'm not too late. I've blogged the message I sent here. Thanks for the inspiration, and the link to the WriteToThem site. I love that things like that exist, so that being terminally lazy is no longer an insuperable barrier to taking this kind of action.

Jackie W said...

Not done. Not going to do it either. (Partly because I don't live in the UK & don't have an MP). I think ending a letter saying that the future health of the world depending on it is awesome but a bit silly and at the very least might just be over egging it a bit - unless I send it to Flash Gordon. I'm not sure that conflating AIDS denial Thalidamide & the BCA case really helps either.

Dale Williams said...

Update: Paul Homes replied - said he has written to Jack Straw with a copy of the points raised in the letter and will let me know when he receives a reply.

Dr Aust said...

Thanks for doing this, Simon. I adapted it and sent it off to mine, as recounted here.

Silex said...

Aaahh. Dr aust. You point towards a noble cause, and perhaps by default so does My furry friend here mr Perry. Vitamins for aids? yeah...nail the buggers. but chiropractic. nonono my friends all I see is ignorance and stupidity right here. Any excuse to rectify subluxation in children suffering of whatever freaking disease the parent thinks the child has. simple, obvious, and the entire medical world seems to miss this obvious very simple notion to the point that some don't even recognize that subluxation exists. ONe word: STUPID.