Bad Astronomy

Skeptics with appeal

We’ve had some wins and losses in the past year for skepticism. Some of these – on both sides – have been pretty big. Two of our big losses, for example, were Simon Singh’s denial of his appeal to overturn an absurd UK libel ruling, and the firing of Chris Comer who did the horrifying act of trying to alert people about a science talk in Texas.

It turns out, the news may yet turn around for our two allies.

1) Simon has announced he will go for an oral reconsideration of his denial of appeal. Initially, he submitted a written application for the court to reconsider its findings about his libel case (where the British Chiropractic Association is suing him over his use of the word “bogus” in reference to the quackeriffic aspects of chiropractic), and that was turned down. An oral appeal is allowed, and that will happen on October 14. That’s right after TAM London, and I just bet Simon will have something to say at that meeting. Well, what he’s legally allowed to say, at least. 2) Chris Comer’s case is a bit older, so to refresh your memory: in November 2007 she worked (note the tense) for the Texas Education Agency (TEA). She received an email announcing a talk by the wonderful Barbara Forrest, the topic of which was the Dover creationism trial and other encroachments of religion on science. Comer, noting that a lot of the people she knows would be interested in such a talk, forwarded the email to her colleagues.

The TEA then fired her, saying Comer abused her position at TEA to promote an anti-religious stance. It was a ridiculous accusation and clearly a political move, but they tried to cover their butts by saying they have to remain neutral on matters of religion versus science. Note that this is the Texas Education Agency. They have to remain neutral on the truth? What the what?

Ms. Comer filed suit against the TEA saying this neutrality policy is actually a violation of the First Amendment, but a judge ruled against her.

Note: remind me to never, ever break a law in Texas.

Anyway, the cool news is that Ms. Comer is appealing the decision. Yay!

You can watch a short video about all this courtesy of the National Center for Science Education’s YouTube channel:

I’m very glad to see both these skeptics are not going down without a fight. The forces of evil lurk around every corner, and we must continue to rail and rally against them.