Junk Scientist Greets Skepticism With Legal Threats, Sues Blogger For Criticizing Him And His Work

from the shut-up,-he-litigated dept

There's nothing those operating on the fringes of science hate more than people questioning their means, methods, and conclusions. To question is to be sued, unfortunately. Ken White has again fired up the Popehat signal in hopes of securing a skeptical blogger some legal assistance in fighting off a clearly bogus defamation suit by a junk scientist offended by the blogger's dismantling of his junk science.

Pepijn van Erp blogs about science and pseudoscience from the Netherlands. He praises good science and skewers and critiques the bad. Wait a minute. Is that the Jaws theme playing? Yes. Yes it is — because blogging about junk science is a great way to get threatened or sued. In my experience, purveyors of "non-mainstream" science are unusually litigious and sensitive to criticism. You've seen it here at Popehat with "atavistic" cancer theorists and vaccine truthers and naturopaths and fans of questionable cancer remedies and AIDS deniers. I blame the crystals.

Pepijn wrote about a guy named Ruggero Santilli. I see that Wikipedia, which has a four thousand word article about Bigfoot, notes that some scientists view Santilli as a "fringe scientist."

Santilli has argued against skeptics before, primarily racking up losses. He has his supporters though, ones that claim the mainstream scientific community's refusal to recognize Santilli's groundbreaking antimatter "research" is mainly due to the community being chock-full of Jews. So there's that.

Santilli has many pet theories, none of which have garnered much in the way of legitimate support.

Why is he viewed [as a fringe scientist]? Well, you can read Pepijn's post about Santilli's claim that he discovered a new type of gas from specially distilled water. Or you could read Pepijn's post about Santilli's claim that antimatter produces "antimatter-light" that can be focused using concave (NOT convex. NEVER convex.) lenses.

Santilli doesn't care for being called a "scam artist," "mad professor," or "cunning scam artist." (He's also apparently upset antimatter ITSELF has been defamed by Pepijn's posts.) But rather than provide evidence supporting his conclusions, he has decided to sue Pepijn (and others) in Florida.

The lawsuit [PDF] itself is an enjoyable read, especially as it pursues the standard M.O. of bogus libel lawsuits: name multiple defendants including those shielded by Section 230 of the CDA. Santilli is not only suing Pepijn, but his hosting provider, Hosting2Go.

Also on the list of defendants is the name "Frank Israel," for reasons only known to Ruggero Santilli. Pepijn's response to the original C&D, purporting to be from Santilli's lawyer but most likely composed and printed on legal letterhead by Santilli himself, questions why this unrelated party has been named in the lawsuit.

To start with: your client is complaining about two articles on my personal website. My website is not related to Stichting Skepsis. So why you have also addressed the chairman of Stichting Skepsis, Professor Frank Israel, in this matter with a similar letter, I do not understand. The secretary of Stichting Skepsis, dr. Jan Willem Nienhuys, has sent you an elaborate letter (on paper) explaining most of the following matters in more detail. I’m grateful for his support in this case and I do urge you to read his letter with care.

The response letter is a very fun read, especially the part where the blogger informs the lawyer that according to his own law firm's site [archived version as the entire site is now dead], his client cannot possibly expect this lawsuit to survive, no matter how full of merit it might be.

All together I don’t think this article can be seen as libelous towards Magnegas [Santilli's company]. Besides, this article is more than three years old and because of that I learn from your own blog that bringing this to court under Florida law seems pointless: http://fortis.law/2016/01/13/is-it-defamation-slander-and-libel-in-florida/ [mirror].

The relevant portion of that blog post [emphasis added]:

Statute of Limitations

You must bring the issue to the courts within two years of its occurrence for the case to be considered. In cases of internet defamation, this statute applies to the date the post was made, not when it was most recently accessed.

Unsurprisingly, Pepijn has yet to obtain a response from the law firm. If an actual law firm was attached to this suit, you'd think it would have withdrawn the suit. The lawsuit, however, is still live, suggesting Santilli is the "asshole" signing "stupid letters" in Joseph E. Parrish, Esq.'s name.

No matter how stupid the lawsuit and how miserable its chances of surviving a motion to dismiss are, it still costs money to defend against "scientists" who fight criticism with legal threats and filed motions. Hence the Popehat signal, which will hopefully prevent Santilli from damaging anyone but himself with his litigiousness.



Filed Under: defamation, free speech, junk science, pepijn van erp, ruggero santilli


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  • identicon
    Time/Warner, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:56am

    "Popehat signal"
    You're getting close little man.
    If we see a shining light in the sky in the form of a pope hat it's on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:32pm

    Shouldn't we welcome all viewpoints?

    All viewpoints should be welcome. Otherwise we end up with an echo chamber limited to sane, rational viewpoints.

    My new junk science research conclusively shows that:
    1. the sun rises in the west
    2. the earth is a flat disk
    3. the sun, moon and stars rotate around the disk
    4. the disk is on the back of an infinite stack of tortoises
    5. the final tortoise of that infinite stack is propelled by a rocket at 9.8 m/s^2 giving the illusion of gravity
    6. the rocket is powered by perpetual motion machine

    Politicians should make public policy based on these scientific results.

    If you are skeptical and try to refute this, I'll sue! Waaaaaah!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      wereisjessicahyde (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 1:57pm

      Re: Shouldn't we welcome all viewpoints?

      Only point 5 and 6 are impossible.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        DannyB (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 2:44pm

        Re: Re: Shouldn't we welcome all viewpoints?

        Point 5: you feel that 9.8 m/s^2 force holding you to the ground don't you? That's proof of the rocket's acceleration. If you're complaining about the infinite stack, I would point out that an infinite length can have one end to it. So there could be one tortoise that is the start of an infinite stack. According to Miksch's Law, if a string has one end, then it has another end. I conjecture that it's the number of tortoises in between the two ends that is infinite. QED. :-)

        Point 6: what other source of power, according to YOUR theory could maintain the rocket's thrust for such a long time? Not puny chemical rockets. Not even nuclear (nook-you-lar) power.

        It is important to have all of this well thought out. If you're not trying to make public policy, or sell something, then why would anyone need junk science?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          wereisjessicahyde (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 3:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: Shouldn't we welcome all viewpoints?

          In that case I would suggest using a semi-infinite supply of tortoise farts to power the rocket for a semi-infinite amount of time.

          I'm still working on where we get all the lettuce from.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 16 Nov 2016 @ 3:09pm

      Re: Shouldn't we welcome all viewpoints?

      Including the viewpoint that not all viewpoints should be welcomed?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:49pm

    When I read "junk scientist" my mind started making a mental list: "

    "Deepak Chopra, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Malcolm Gladwell. Hmmm, I wonder which is suing?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 1:00pm

    Well...

    "There's nothing those operating on the fringes of science hate more than people questioning their means, methods, and conclusions."

    Then these guys are not scientists, they are pseudo-scientists. The moment you hear a scientist say, you can't really see my work, or parts of the process is secret, or there should be a law to bring down "deniers"... you can see where I am going with this.

    Real Science always welcomes a re-look and a fresh pair of eyes. The very attempt and trying to prove something wrong may wind up strengthening it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TexasAndroid (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 1:23pm

      Re: Well...

      A few years back a group at one of the supercolliders, maybe the LHC itself, got some readings that suggested FTL transmission of information. They sheepishly reported it, saying there were pretty sure that there was *something* wrong somewhere in their procedure, but they had not found anything off. If what they saw in the data was true, it would be a revolution in science. But they were wanting anyone and everyone to double, triple, quadruple check their work. That's the right way for science to be advanced.

      (In the end I think it turned out a cable was loose somewhere, making one timing be a little off, which snowballed into an appearance of FTL.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      crade (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 2:28pm

      Re: Well...

      "Real Science always welcomes a re-look and a fresh pair of eyes. The very attempt and trying to prove something wrong may wind up strengthening it."

      Or at least stall the acceptance of the results until everyone has lung cancer.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 17 Nov 2016 @ 8:01am

      Re: Well...

      Unless that science involves manufacturing drugs.
      Then they hide everything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 1:05pm

    Antimatter produces "antimatter-facts" that can be proven using legal threats (NOT evidence. NEVER evidence).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Zonker, 16 Nov 2016 @ 2:32pm

      Re:

      I rather thought they produced facts from artifice, which we shall call "arti-facts".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 16 Nov 2016 @ 3:10pm

        Re: Antimatter produces "antimatter-facts" that can be proven using legal threats

        And as we all know, legal threats Trump the facts every time.

        #SeeWhatIDidThere

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Crazy Canuck, 16 Nov 2016 @ 2:20pm

    Interfering with yet another business model

    I think a better source of revenue would be to copyright their ideas then try to force a state to pass them as truth by law the force business to license their ideas.

    It almost worked for that guy in Indiana who came up with a solution to a proven mathematical impossibly of squaring a circle. The only issue was that his solution meant that Pi=3.2, so he tried to get the state to pass a law declaring it as such to prove his solution was right.

    It made it through the house and almost through the senate before people started to take notice and a real math professor showed up to explain why this was absurd.

    Goodwin would have got away with it too, if it weren't for those pesky meddling mathematicians!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Crazy Canuck, 16 Nov 2016 @ 2:21pm

    Email

    But did any of these people claim to have invented Email?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Robert Lass, 17 Nov 2016 @ 1:39pm

    Criticisms are an important part of the scientific process provide that they are technical and expressed in respectful language.

    By contrast, Frank Israel and Peiping van Erp conducted a relentless, completely unprovoked, defamation of Santilli mad of his isodual theory of antimatter without ever expressing any technical criticism.

    Does anybody think that it is legitimate to call repeatedly "stupid", "mad" Fraudulent" etc. a scientists with 300 publications and 20 post Ph. d., monographs that on the isodual theory of antimatter published by Springer......


    Additionally, they always ignored the now vast detection of astrophysical bodies solely visible in the Santilli telescope without a counterpart in the Galileo telescope.

    So, the question asked by smart people is: why? the evident answer is that Santilli isodual theory of antimatter removes half of the universe from the control of Einstein theory. Since they do not want that and have no technical argument to criticize the monograph published by Springer, and cannot dismiss the experimental evidence in support, they had no other choice than that of defamation and slander.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 17 Nov 2016 @ 3:53pm

    "Magnegas" All I could think when I read that word was farts passing through a high powered electromagnet and being "distilled" into fuel. I can picture astronauts on diets rich in bottom burp producing foods lining up three times a day in the engine room to help fuel their spaceship with "Magnegas".

    Anyway, is there any verifiable evidence of Santilli's wonder invention? No, and I expect there never will be. All he can do is threaten to sue anyone while dodging the providing of empirical evidence for his pseudo-science.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Francis Francis, 18 Nov 2016 @ 1:56pm

      Re: Kronomex farts

      Kronomex highly technical knowledge comes thru when instead of thinking about physics models, experiments, mathematical formulas can see only farts, burps, and human waste. He repeats like a parrot what the discredited skeptics says in generic terms and questions because he has no ability to express his questions in technical and scientific terms.
      How many patents Kronomex was awarder? how many books did he publish with Spriner Verlag? How many articles did he publish in refried journals?
      How many companies did he built that created value to the local economy and
      gave employment to 100 families? Kronomex and Pepijn van Erp are the sad picture of the skeptics amateur landscape. Much respect must given to the real skeptics societies that have a valuable role in our society, not these unemployed bloggers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    RobertLass, 18 Nov 2016 @ 6:19am

    The above is another example of guys who want ton attack for sick reasons while having no techniucalk knowledge of the field.

    Stating in filthy language that Santilli's magnegas technology "had no verifications and never will" when the technilogy is traded at the highest technology stock exchange in the worlkd, NASDAQ, is characterizxation of filth which is now denunces as "threat to mankind."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Francis Francis, 18 Nov 2016 @ 2:28pm

    Kronomex Fart corrected spelling

    Re: Kronomex farts (spelling corrected, sorry)

    Kronomex highly technical knowledge comes thru when instead of thinking about physics models, experiments, mathematical formulas can see only farts, burps, and human waste. He repeats like a parrot what the discredited skeptics says in generic terms and questions because he has no ability to express his questions in technical and scientific terms.
    How many patents Kronomex was awarded? how many books did he publish with Springer Verlag? How many articles did he publish in refereed journals?
    How many companies did he built that created value to the local economy and
    gave employment to 100 families? Kronomex and Pepijn van Erp are the sad picture of the skeptics amateur landscape. Much respect must given to the real skeptics societies that have a valuable role in our society, not to these unemployed bloggers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Kronomex, 18 Nov 2016 @ 3:41pm

      Re: Kronomex Fart corrected spelling

      How many patents has Francis been awarded? How many books did Francis publish with Springer Verlag? How many articles did Francis publish in refereed journals? How many companies did Francis built (sic)...
      "You show me yours and I'll show..."

      Sarcasm my well be the lowest form of with but it's just how I felt after reading the article. You presume to pass your judgement of me based on some comments I made without knowing anything about me. That's your prerogative but it also means I can now ignore without fear nor favour any further comments you wish to make in the future.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Niall (profile), 29 Nov 2016 @ 6:24am

      Re: Kronomex Fart corrected spelling

      Santilli, why not just make yourself a real, non-astroturfed account?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    LanceJZ (profile), 20 Nov 2016 @ 1:10am

    Scientist...

    I think calling him a scientist is misleading. He is hardly a scientist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Niall (profile), 29 Nov 2016 @ 6:23am

      Re: Scientist...

      His 'science' would be much easier to follow if it weren't full of made-up ego-boosting Santilli iso-terms. And it still seems woefully short of actual predictions.

      Plus, Springer? Who the hell posts world-shattering physics/astronomy in anything of theirs?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 1:43pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 1:46pm

    This blog is full of coward...i will change my mind when everybody is not using a pseudonym, but their real names...a pseudonym is a coward with a pseudonym

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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