Simon Singh goes on a book tour. And mentions me in his new book!


Way back in February 2010, I posted on science journalist and author Dr Simon Singh’s campaign to have British libel law changed in view of his defence of a legal action brought by The British Chiropractic Association who sued him for libel following publication of a highly critical piece on The Guardian Comment Is Free in April 2008.

My original piece bemoaned that I had signed Singh’s online petition and forwarded it to my local MP only to receive a discouraging reply that while he supported the aims of the campaign, he was not in the habit of supporting “Early Day Motions” as he felt they are a waste of Parliamentary time and taxpayers’ money.  Apparently, they are seldom debated, rarely brought to a vote and require neither recognition nor response from the government.  They are known in Westminster as “parliamentary graffiti” and can cost in excess of £627,000.

Since that post, I did not comment any further on the matter and indeed went on an extended blogging sabbatical shortly thereafter.  However, I forwarded my post to Simon Singh and received a delightful reply.  I post both my email and his reply in the comments section below.   I also followed the case with interest and am glad that my original post was proven wrong.  Firstly, Singh won the libel action in April 2010 when The British Chiropractic Association dropped the case after he was given leave to appeal using the defence of “fair comment”.

Furthermore, in April 2013 Parliament passed the Defamation Act 2013 which should provide more protection for individuals and organisations, including newspapers and broadcasters, which criticise big companies.  The Act also aims to end London’s status as the “libel tourism capital of the World” by stopping cases being taken in London against journalists, academics or individuals who live outside the country, denting the libel tourism industry (but not ending it altogether, as foreigners will still be able to lodge claims in the High Court).

I then received a group email from Simon Singh on 8 October 2013 announcing that he was going on a speaking tour to promote his new book, The Simpsons And Their Mathematical Secrets, and that everyone who had signed his online petition had been mentioned in his new book.  I will be seeing Simon speak at The University of Chester on 21 October 2013 and then hopefully again at Merseyside Skeptics Society – Skeptics In The Pub on 12 December 2013.   A scan of the page in his new book where I am thanked is below; first full name on the bottom line.

Singh Simpsons p 233 CROPPEDAt the time of posting, I am about one third of the way through Singh’s book.  For someone who just barely scrapped a Grade ‘C’ on the lower paper for GCSE Maths and still to this day shudders at the mere sight of numbers, I am finding it a most lucid and humorous journey in equations through one of my all time favourite television shows.  It may not transform me overnight into Good Will Hunting, but it’s a hell of a lot more enjoyable than having SOHCAHTOA drilled into my head at school ever was.

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5 Responses to “Simon Singh goes on a book tour. And mentions me in his new book!”

  1. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    date: 12 February 2010 21:01
    subject: Re: Simon Singh’s weird idea that might just work
    from: MSP
    to: Simon Singh

    Dear Simon

    Thank you for your email. I am an amateur blogger and debater. . . I have been following your campaign to reform UK libel law with great interest.

    When I signed the online petition, I forwarded a message to my local MP. . . I received a letter from his office saying that he sympathised with the campaign’s aims, but was not going to sign an Early Day Motion because they are a waste of time and resources.

    Please see the link to my blog post on my MP’s response which calls for a strategic re-think in the face of our asinine legal system:

    Best regards and best of luck with the campaign.


  2. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    from: Simon Singh
    to: MSP
    date: 4 January 2011 07:31
    subject: RE: Simon Singh’s weird idea that might just work

    Dear Edward,

    I am sorry for the huge delay in replying, but I had a backlog of emails that accumulated during the libel case and I am only now able to start tackling my inbox. Also, recent fatherhood has been a distraction, albeit a much happier one.

    Many thanks for your email and support, and for writing that blog post. The more publicity that the case for libel reform receives, the better. It is a shame that Geoffrey Cox felt that way about the EDM, as it really is an important issue that has the potential to affect absolutely anyone who writes, whether it’s for a living, or as a blogger.

    Since winning my case, the bad news is that other scientists & science journalists are still being sued for libel, but the good news is that the Government seems to be listening to public concern and is drawing up a draft defamation bill, which is due in March. However, we need to maintain pressure if the bill is to deliver the required reforms in libel law. So, please continue to encourage people to sign the petition for libel reform:

    Best Wishes,


    PS I will certainly mention you in my next book.

  3. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    from: MSP
    to: Simon Singh
    date: 15 October 2013 11:50
    subject: Thank you for thanking me!

    Dear Simon

    I hope you manage to read this before your lecture at The University of Chester on Monday, 21 October 2013.

    Thank you for your email of 8 October 2013. Upon receiving the news that you had mentioned me in your new book, The Simpsons And Their Mathematical Secrets, I rushed online to Amazon to purchase a copy.

    I have published another blog post, which I hope you enjoy:

    Congratulations on winning your libel action against the BCA and for effecting a real change of this country’s antiquated defamation laws. The World’s scientists, journalists, bloggers, skeptics and all-round lovers of free thought and free inquiry salute you!

    I hope that your new book and accompanying speaking tour is a great success; having read the first 100 pages or so of The Simpsons, I am sure it will be. I am very pleased that you have let me be a part of it.

    Are you staying around after the lecture in Chester to talk to fans and sign copies of your book? If not, I know I’ll be able to collar you at Liverpool Skeptics In The Pub in December! 😉

    Thank you once again.

    Best regards

  4. Joe Says:

    Ah yeah, Sohcahtoa, Pocahontas’s lesser known, nerdy sister.

  5. Simon Singh lectures at The University of Chester, 21 October 2013 | manicstreetpreacher Says:

    […] …religion, politics, philosophy, history, debate… « Simon Singh goes on a book tour. And mentions me in his new book! […]

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