TAM 8 – Friday pt 4

After a very nice catered lunch, we were treated to a fantastic talk by Simon Singh. Mr. Singh, author of “Trick or Treatment?”, was sued by the British Chiropractic Assoc. because of an article he wrote in The Guardian in 2008 criticizing chiropractic practices in the UK.

The article examined claims that chiropractors, through the use of spinal manipulation could “cure” asthma, colic and much more. You can read the article here.

He spoke about how, due to the libel laws in Britain, it took an entire year to get an initial hearing. At that first hearing the judge ruled that, yes he had committed libel in the language he used. It took another year and nearly $500,000 to defend against a charge that, in the end, turned out to be false.

Libel is extremely expensive to defend against because it takes so long for the British courts to run a case through the system. Thanks to Singh and others the laws are being changed.

Were I cynical I would say that it was patently ridiculous for Singh to have to defend  his position. What I find so fascinating about this situation is that, during the case, British chiropractors changed or closed down their sites so that the courts could not see what had been up as ailments that they had supposedly treated. However, last year at DragonCon someone did a talk about how there is a web tool that allows you to see previous versions of a web site. So, using this tool, anyone could see what had previously been on each chiropractic web site.

Simon Singh’s story is an inspirational one. It shows that one person CAN make a difference. Chiropractic in the UK is still around but now they have curtailed their claims because of this. It’s a step in the right direction.

After giving Simon Singh a standing ovation for his tireless efforts and his refusal to be intimidated, it was on to the next guest: The only full-time paranormal investigator in the world; Mr. Joe Nickell.

Mr. Nickell has been a professional paranormal investigator for over 40 years. He believes that rather than ridiculing phenomenon, we should be thoroughly investigating it.

He spoke about his strong feelings about how people who see unexplained things are treated. He feels strongly that rather than ridiculing people, we should treat them with compassion and kindness. We should find out specifically what they saw, when and where they saw it, the conditions under which the phenomenon was witnessed, etc.

One instance he talked about was when a very lucid quite sane gentleman swore he had seen the Loch Ness Monster. The fellow was certain he had seen it. And according to Mr. Nickell, did not seem to be prone to flights of fancy.

There is a large colony of otters in the Loch and when they swim in a line as they usually do, it can look very much like one long creature. No sonar has ever detected the creature, nor is the Loch itself large enough to sustain an animal of that size. It would devour all the fish in a matter of months and thus starve to death. When that was explained to the fellow, he agreed that made sense.

Joe’s investigative technique is, by his own admission, controversial. He has been known to disguise himself and make people believe he is someone other than who he claims to be. But he is also honorable in his investigations. He visited to a small town in Florida that is populated solely by psychics and mediums. There he had a session with a woman who claimed to speak with the dead. He held off revealing his findings about her until after her death.

To find out more about Joe and his work, visit http://joenickell.com

And as always, come back tomorrow for more TAM 8 stories and reports.


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