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Blogger Sued for Negative Book Reviews

Blogger Sued for Negative Book ReviewsLibel suits are notoriously tough to argue, and even more so when the target of the suit is a critic. The dictionary defines 'libel' as:

A written or oral statement about another which is malicious and false and will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others.

Professional reviewers don't normally get targeted for libel, since tearing apart other people and their work tends to be part of the job requirement. But, that's not stopping author Stuart Pivar, who is suing the Seed Media Group and Paul Z. Myers for a pair of negative blog posts about Mr. Pivar's books 'Lifecode: The Theory of Biological Self Organization' and 'Lifecode: From Egg to Embryo by Self-Organization.'

Myers's review of 'Lifecode: The Theory of Biological Self Organization' was a whole-heartedly negative affair. The only positive things Myers -- a PHD holding University of Minnesota professor -- had to say about the book was that the binding was of high quality and the scientifically inaccurate illustrations were very pretty. When Pivar's 'Lifecode: From Egg to Embryo by Self-Organization' landed on Myers's desk, things turned downright vicious. Myers had the following to say:

"The doodles in this book bear absolutely no relationship to anything that goes on in real organisms, but after staring at them for a while, I realized what this book is actually about. This book is a description of the development and evolution of balloon animals. It's that bad. This is a book suitable only for use at clown colleges, and even there, I suspect the clowns would tell us that it is impractical, nonsensical, and has no utility in their craft."

Ouch!

The question is, whether this actually constitutes libel. As a reviewer and a qualified critic of the science behind the book, did Myers intentionally and maliciously set out to make Pivar look like a fool? Can Pivar come up with the evidence to show that Myers's assertions about the science behind 'LifeCode' are false? There are many dimensions to the case, not the least of which is a question of journalistic integrity and freedom of speech. Imagine if Microsoft could sue us for our lukewarm review of Windows Live Hot Mail. Trust us, we'll be keeping an eye on this one.

From Boing Boing

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Tags: 1st ammendment, 1stAmmendment, critic, free speech, freedom of speech, FreedomOfSpeech, FreeSpeech, law, libel, life code, LifeCode, Paul Z. Myers, PaulZ.Myers, pivar, review, science, structuralism, Stuart Pivar, StuartPivar, sue

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