Thursday, July 01, 2010


The DDI DDIdn't

The Doctor's Data, Inc. (DDI) suit against Dr. Stephen J. Barrett and his excellent resources Quackwatch and The National Council Against Health Fraud is a piece of work. It's not loony-tunes, like the Institute for Creation Research's lawsuit against the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. In some ways, it is much worse. It is a professionally drafted complaint that throws plenty of s**t against the wall in hopes that something might stick. It is nothing but (a lot of) smoke and mirrors in furtherance of an obvious SLAPP suit.

Now, would any reasonable person take the above paragraph as anything other than my opinion? From my characterization of Barrett's resources as "excellent," through my saying that the complaint is "professionally drafted," to my calling it "a piece of work" in aid of a SLAPP suit, is there the slightest doubt that I am expressing my opinion and not stating facts? This is a crucial distinction that must be kept in mind in all libel actions in the US.

An example may help: if I say that person A is "a fraud" (especially when I lay out my reasons for thinking so, with no indication that I have undisclosed information to that effect), I am stating an opinion. The person reading my opinion may credit it, to a greater or lesser degree, based on what s/he knows about me and/or what information I give to support my statement. But that doesn't change the character of my statement from opinion into a statement of fact.

On the other hand, if I say that person A has been "convicted of fraud," I am making a statement of fact about some past encounter of person A with the judicial system. If, in fact, person A has never been found guilty of a criminal fraud, I may (or may not) have libeled that person (there is more to libel than just making a false statement of fact).

Much of the basis of DDI's suit is Dr. Barrett's characterization of the use made by "nonstandard practitioners" (DDI's phrase* ... Barrett actually says "chelation therapists and other offbeat practitioners") of DDI's reports, as well as certain aspects of those reports, as "defrauding" patients. He sets out his basis for that opinion in (what must be for DDI, excruciating) detail in his article, "How the Urine Toxic Metals Test Is Used to Defraud Patients."

Under our Constitution, we are all free to express our opinions, as often and loudly as we choose and despite the discomfort those opinions may give to some people. They can be disgusting opinions, coming from neoNazis or the KKK, but they cannot be stifled, either by police action or by civil courts under the guise of "libel."

The reasons I have for my opinions as to DDI's suit all come from the complaint itself, since I have no independent knowledge of DDI, never having even heard of them before yesterday. I'll be giving more of those reasons as I can get to them.


* Update: DDI's Exhibt A, an apparent printout of Dr. Barrett's article, supposedly as it existed on March 29, 2010, does contain the phrase "caters to nonstandard practitioners." I was going by the current article as it appears on Quackwatch. While I cannot see how a such a change in the article could affect the outcome of the case, it would be wise for Dr. Barrett to refrain from any further changes to the articles complained of, with the exception of adding information, until the case is over.


This case has been noticed by the excellent English legal blogger Jack of Kent ( who's done a superb job blogging on the Simon Singh case (and helping out pro bono on it).

I don't know if he'll be looking at it closely but it would be interesting to see differences in the systems, particularly as ours in Canada has a tendency (as does much in Canada) to fall between the two.

If you're interested, two recent Supreme Court cases made major changes to our libel law in Grant v Torstar Corp and Quan v Cusson (respectively and
Thanks for the links. I've only just started the Grant case but I can alredy see that the heads of the "original intent"/"states' rights"/"activist judges" loonies in the US would explode if they lived up there. Couldn't we just send some? ... only for as long as it took. We'd take up a collection to pay for the clean-up ...
It's one of the advantages of having had, for the first 115 years of our existence, our constitution in the form of an act of the UK parliament and having seen the politicians in action in putting together the patriated constition within our lifetime that it's harder for those who would view our constitution as holy writ handed down by Giants from the Golden Age to manage the trick.
Our Founders were giants, not least because they created a living Constitution specifically intended to be able to adapt to the times. That doesn't denigrate the efforts of people who came behind them, however. The real problem with the "original intent" loons is that they are selective about what "original intent" they accept. They want "original intent" when it comes such things as homosexual marriage but when it comes to, say, the right to bear arms, they aren't willing to limit it to muskets and flintlock pistols. "Original intent" is just a ruse to pick and choose political objectives.
Thanks for writing this, John. This sort of lawsuit irritates me no end.

Why is it that you recommend not making deletions to a blog that's the subject of a suit? Is it that it could be considered tampering with evidence, or is it just something that makes you look guilty for having done it?
I don't think it is a major point, since the plaintiffs are suing based on certain articles as they existed at a particular time. It is more a matter of perception. Given the nature of the complaint, the plaintiff will probably point to any change as "knowledge of guilt" and, especially if Barrett can't document exactly when and why he changed the article, it can lead to a lot of wrangling that distracts from the real issue in the case, freedom of speech. Ultimately, if there is enough wrangling, judges have a tendency to throw up their hands and say "let a jury sort it out."
Re: your "fraud" example:

Check out the case "Scheff v. Bock."

Bock was a Katrina victim who had made statements online calling Plaintiff a "Fraud" and "Con Artist." Jury ordered Bock to pay Scheff ELEVEN MILLION DOLLARS!

As a SLAPP Defendant, stories like that scare the heck outta me.
As I understand it, the defendant defaulted (didn't put up a defense). Another defendant had the case dismissed. Even if you can't afford a lawyer, put up a defense. Judges will usually protect pro se parties.

الاول سيو افضل اشهار المواقع فى محركات البحث تعمل على تسويق المواقع وارشفتها باحدث وسائل السيو فهى تقوم بتهيئة المواقع لمحركات البحث لجلب الزوار والعملاء
ومن اقسام الاول سيو قسم الخدمات المنزليه مثل افضل شركة تنظيف شرق الرياض
وافضل شركة تنظيف شرق الرياض بالاضافة الى افضل شركة مكافحة حشرات شرق الرياض وتغطى خدماتها شرق وشمال الرياض فالاول افضل شركة مكافحة حشرات شرق الرياض تستخدم اقوى المبيدات الحشرية
واسعارها في متناول الجميع ومن الهام التاكد دائما من خلو منزلك من تسربات المياه حتى لا تتعرض لمشاكل مثل انهيار وتصدع المبانى الاول افضل شركة كشف تسربات المياه بشرق الرياض تستخدم اجهزه الكترونية اكشف التسرب بالذبذبات وتغطى كافة مناطق الرياض فهى افضل شركة كشف تسربات المياه شرق الرياض

افضل شركة تنظيف كنب بالرياض

الاول شركة تخزين عفش بالرياض
توفر افضل المستودعات لتخزين الاثاث والعفش التى تتوفر بها كل عوامل الامن للحفاظ على الاثاث وتقوم بتغليف الاثاث قبل تخزينه للمحافظة عليها فالاول افضل شركات تخزين العفش بالرياض ونوفر سيارات لنقل الاثاث من اى مكان داخل المملكة .

بالاضافة الى خدمة نقل عفش بالرياض فنحن نمتلك اكبر اسطول نقل بالرياض يوفر لك افضل خدمة نقل اثاث بالرياض
بالاضافة الى ان اسعارها في متناول الجميع فهى فالاول شركة نقل عفش بالرياض رخصية بالمقارنة مع باقي الشركات بالرغم من جودة عملها ودقة المواعيد فهى تقوم بتغليف العفش للحفاظ عليه اثناء النقل وتقوم باستخدام سيارات مغطاه مخصصة لنقل العفش للحفاظ عليه من اضرار الشمس والامطار والاتربة فالاول افضل شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض وتغطى كافة مدن المملكة

وتوفر الاول عدة شراء اثاث مستعمل بالرياض لتغطية كافة الاتصالات وللمتابعة مع العميل اثناء نقل الاثاث المستعمل


تعد شركة الرحمة افضل شركات التنظيف ومكافحة الحشرات بالرياض والممكلة فهى توفر افضل عماله مدربة على جميع اعمال التنظيف للمنازل والفلل والشقق والخزانات بافضل المنظفات العالمية العالية الجودة وارسعارها في متناول الجميع
افضل شركة تنظيف منازل بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش بالرياض

شركة جلى بلاط بالرياض

كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض

خدمات التنظيف تحتاج الى عماله ماهره لتقوم بها في اسرع وقت نوفر افضل العمالة الفلبينية والمصرية والهندية لتتم عمليات التنظيف وجلى البلاط على اتم صورة وباسرع وقت وبارخص الاسعار
افضل شركة تنظيف بالرياض

افضل شركة تنظيف شقق بالرياض
افضل شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض
افضل شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض
شركة تسليك مجارى بالرياض

نوفر افضل مستودعات تخزين الاثاث وافضل سيارات نقل الاثاث بالاضافة الى خدمات تنظيف الخزانات وعزل الخزانات والاسطح باتصالك بالرحمة توفر على نفسك التعب والمجهود في التعامل مع غير المحترفين وصرف الكثير من الاموال فالرحمة افضل شركات التنظيف ومكافحة الحشرات بالرياض وبشهادة عملائنا
افضل شركة تنظيف خزانات بالرياض
افضل شركة عزل الاسطح بالرياض
افضل شركة تنظيف مجالس بالرياض
افضل شركة تنظيف سجاد بالرياض
شركة تخزين اثاث بالرياض

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