Speak Out In Public Author: Robert Finn (The Scientist, Vol:10, #6, p. 15, March 18, 1996)

In today's increasingly litigious society, anyone can become the target of a lawsuit. A potential libel action, for example, should not only be the concern of publishers and journalists. The threat of a libel suit is now a reality for anyone, including scientists who choose to speak out publicly-or even write letters to the editor-on controversial issues.

A libel suit can come without warning when an ordinary scientist is engaged in ordinary scientific activities. For example, Arnold S. Relman, editor emeritus of the New England Journal of Medicine, was quoted in a newspaper article criticizing the advertising practices of a for-profit hospital. Victor J. Stenger, a professor of physics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, incorrectly described Israeli psychic Uri Geller's legal history in a book debunking paranormal phenomena. And Jan Moor-Jankowski,...

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