News Alert: LHC lawsuit collides with pavement

By Phil Plait | September 30, 2008 11:16 am

Good news, everyone! The antiscience cranks who filed an injunction to stop the Large Hadron Collider from being turned on have had their case dismissed. The ruling?

The United States Defendants move for dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or for summary judgment on other grounds. Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 14) is GRANTED.

In other words, amazingly enough, a U.S. District Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over a machine that is in Europe.

Let’s all give that one a big mental duh.

The other problem was that the two guys filing the suit were totally and grossly wrong. You might assume that their grasp of reality was tenuous anyway, since they were filing a suit without any jurisdiction. And you’d be right. But long after all their claims were shown to be wrong by scientists, they still clung tenaciously to them. That’s not the sign of critical thinking, that’s the sign of fanaticism.

I’m glad the judge made the right decision, even if it was only a technicality. Maybe the antiscience litigators will take this to Europe, and file suit there. I hate to think we’re sending our cranks to infect other places in the world, but I also can’t help thinking of saying one thing to our European colleagues:

You can keep ‘em. We have plenty more here.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Cool stuff, Piece of mind

Comments (52)

  1. madge

    As a European I would have say….No thanks we are having enough trouble with your toxic assets to deal with any more of your “fallout” :)

  2. Brian

    That’s one thing that keep the cranks tolerable — their weak grasp of reality also translates into a weak grasp of how to interact with reality.

  3. Isn’t this the same nutcase that went ballistic about Brookhaven? You’d think he’d learn, but I suppose it’s not in the nature of the loopy and insane to actually learn. Your “it burns” picture seems to apply to these jokers. :)

  4. As it happens, that’s also a good reason to live in Europe.

  5. GloomyGus

    Could these gentlemen take it to the World Court? I’m not saying they should any more than I’m saying they can, but the question does arise. Though I doubt America has the bulk of the world’s “toxic assets,” had the SCSC been built in Texas, this injunction they sought might well have prevailed.

  6. Yeah, I was reading about this very thing yesterday. Its good news. Of course it could not have ended any other way, so….

  7. Thomas Siefert

    Kinda make you wanna hear the judge say as the last thing: “Oh, and you are stupid too”.

    :-)

  8. Wouldn’t that be ironic if a couple of Americans took this to the World Court (the US doesn’t recognise the jurisdiction of the World Court).

  9. Richard

    Meh! Reality’s no problem for cranks. They just sweep it aside and point to their shiny piece of crap crank-theory. That would explain crop circle believers insisting that no human could’ve produce such “complex” patterns (despite pranksters demonstrating how it can be done). Heck, True Believers also keep looking for Atlantis and site Edgar Cayce’s nap-time ravings as evidence.

    Yeah, True Believers can be such a goldmine for comedy.

    Like this litigious “Dumb” and” Dumber” who thought that US courts could affect affairs in Europe.

    “I are A Trooe Buhleever” needs to be a new t-shirt. Maybe an entire line of tees with a different crank belief. Flying saucers, anti-gravity machines, Bigfoot, the “Sleeping Prophet,” and the like. Just an idea, anyway.

  10. Cheyenne

    Update alert- Brian Cox just got a subpoena to appear on behalf of the LHC. Venue has been changed to Judge Judy….

  11. Elmar_M

    Kinda makes you wonder whether there is something wrong with the system if nutbags like these can waste government money for their ridiculous court cases.
    My guess is they tried a US court, because US courts have come to sad world fame for ridiculous decisions by judges like… The woman that sued the microwave company because there was not warning sticker on the microwave oven that prevented her from drying her dog in it (effectively killing it). Or the idiot that left the steering wheel of his camper to go back and cook himself some tea. He too claimed that there was no warning sticker anywhere. Yes coffee is usually hot, since it has to be boiled before you can drink it, but some people seemingly dont agree and sued after being stupid and then they win! Incredible.
    So yes the US does have a history of idiots winning in ridiculous court cases.

  12. Judge Judy?
    Is that the one where Moose is the bailiff? ;-)

  13. leeobee

    I hope they take it as far as they can. There’ll be this wonderful race for time to see if they can get anywhere before the LHC is repaired, eventually gets up and running, the experiments are finally done and the world’s still here, and the court simply says ”Yeah, but it didn’t happen, did it.”

    Then I’d like them to try and get an injunction against World War Two.

  14. Adam

    I couldn’t figure out how to just send you an email, Phil, so I’ll put it in the comments here. Have you read about this?:
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080929-overturning-copernicus-may-resolve-dark-energy.html

    Care to comment?

    Thanks,
    Adam

  15. Adam: I’ll need to read the paper. The good thing is it sounds like they are not only making a testable prediction, but that they point out we’ll have the ability to make the observations soon. So that’s cool.

  16. Noam Zur

    Please don’t get this the wrong way, but as a European I have to reply: “No thanks, please keep them, we don’t want them!”
    ;-)

  17. paul

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90WTDnvYqpA&watch_response

    She shows in the ruling she thinks there is something
    fishy in this machine, but she wont let this enter the public debate with
    >the suit. Exactly what the media has
    done pre-emptying the plaintiffs as crackpots, etc. without any serious interview, and
    quoting defendants as the ‘leading world scientists’ (not employees of the
    company of nuclear research).
    >To me when a theme of such importance is treated with the usual
    ‘soft/marketing/modern’ ways of
    censorship, it only proves that mankind is so slavish to metal, to
    technology (very different from ‘knowledge’) that wont even argue the
    theme of its own death. That is the true prove of absolute, hypnotic
    slavery. Marx said that peasants were the absolute slaves because they
    trusted blindly kings who opressed them; only workers were redeemable
    slaves as they could protest and be raised into awareness. We are absolute
    slaves of machines as we were in the past of its simple
    ‘metal-components’, go(l)d information and iron energy.
    Now both together give you the machine…
    How those people could possible go wrong? They have the BIGGEST MOST
    EXPENSIVE machine/weapon
    ever constructed. Nobody sees that it makes them even smaller in their
    pedestrian understanding of the
    Universe, more retarded in their use of their brains that just take
    measures from their computers
    It is a matrix feeling to it. We wont even argue the extinction of man in
    court. We will blindly pray that our God, the top predator machine, aka
    weapon, that kill us, not other thing is that thing but an atomic gun,
    will protect us… That the high priests that have made all the weapons of
    mass-destruction, aka the physicists, will discover the origin of the
    Universe, shooting a bigger atomic gun. How naive is that?
    For those who think this wont happen because those people are rational, i
    dont think they are rational. Their religion is called ‘mathematics’, and
    not even the entire religion, just a sect called ‘quantum theorists’. And
    religious death is a common case in history.
    In groenland all white men died because they wouldnt eat fish as the
    eskimos were doing. Their ideology (Christianity) forbade it then. Quantum
    physicists would die to prove mr. Einstein’s theories wrong and their
    right. History is full of cases of ‘sacrifice’ of masses to their wrong
    gods. Hitler would not surrender Berlin despite the russian warning that
    300.000 more would die. They will die for me – he said. And they did. Now
    mankind will die for an automaton with pc voice.A wannabe
    Einstein who thinks the master is double wrong, black holes travel
    to the past and evaporate, the ultimate guru of entropy and death
    and the acolytes cheering ‘long life to death’, the harder they fall…

  18. billsmithaz

    Sadly, tossing the suit on jurisdictional grounds doesn’t address the nut-job accusations, so the fearmongers and conspiracy theorists will most likely continue their screed.

  19. Michelle

    Are you telling me the US does NOT rule the world?

  20. RL

    I think, but I’m not completely sure, that Europeans have already attempted a lawsuit with either the world court or maybe a EU court on the grounds that the LHC could violate human rights (by ending the world). It was thrown out (or at least denied). As they say, any fool can sue. America doesn’t have the monopoly in this market.

  21. kuhnigget

    @Elmar:

    Far be it from me to defend the intelligence of your average Amurrican, but those cases you cited are all fake. They’ve been floating around the intertoob for years now.

  22. Paul, that video is dead wrong right from the title slide. That’s precisely the kind of antiscience silliness I am fighting here.

  23. DrFlimmer

    “Your” problem over there (in America) is that these guys have a BIG platform. Many of these things (like this garbage about the LHC and other things like that) came first to me by your site, Phil. Only since I regularly read your site I know about these things.
    I knew about the Moon Hoax but that was nearly all.
    Even Creationists were not known to me nor are they to most people. Strange.

  24. Sili

    I’m offended! I just collided with the sidewalk yesterday! And I have the stitches to prove it.

    Actually, it would have been nice if the court decided it had jurisdiction. Nice precedent to have in case certain … wellknown Americans decided to pay us a visit.

  25. Jose

    Judge Judy and Executioner!

    @Elmar_M
    Look up the circumstances of the coffee lawsuit. You might change your mind.

  26. Greg in Austin

    Plaintiffs posit three separate theories regarding the
    outcome of the LHC particle experiments: (1) the creation of a
    runaway fusion reaction that would eventually convert all of
    Earth into a single, large ‘strangelet’; (2) the creation of a
    ‘micro black hole’ into which the Earth would fall; and (3) the
    creation of a runaway reaction due to the formation of a
    ‘magnetic monopole’. (Id.) Under all of Plaintiffs’ theories,
    the LHC particle experiments could lead to the end of all
    mankind. (Id.)

    Don’t these guys ever watch the movies? Everybody knows from Spiderman 2 that if there’s a runaway fusion reaction, you just pull the plug. And if that doesn’t work, then you simply dunk it into a river. No problem!

    I think religious fanatics could start a world-wide holy war that could lead to the end of all mankind… should we sue to stop all religions?

    If asteroids from space could lead to the end of all mankind, then who can we sue to stop all objects from hitting the earth?

    8)

  27. Rand

    Well, it’s a bit of an oversimplification to say that US courts don’t have jurisdiction over something in Europe. There are plenty of instances in which US courts have exercised just such jurisdiction, and there is no doubt that more will occur, especially when environmental issues are concerned (the most famous probably being American courts stating to have jurisdiction over a project being done in the jungles of Sri Lanka).

    The court didn’t come out and say it, but the reason they dismissed this case is probably because of forum non conveniens. US courts are actually very, very good about dismissing cases that, while they technically could have heard, would be better off in a different country (the USA is probably the best in the world about doing it, in fact). There’s no allegation that the Swiss (or French) have a court system that would be biased against an American plaintiff in this case, preventing a fair trial, so American courts feel no need to take the case. If the collider were in a nation known for kangaroo courts, you better believe the court would have taken the case.

    Sigh, sorry for the legal nerd-ese. I didn’t mean for my comment to be that long.

  28. Richard

    You know, this whole “micro black hole” reminds of something I saw recently. There is a crank-theory that puts forth an explanation for the weird nature of the “Bermuda Triangle.” It attempts to explain lost aircraft, lost ships, and just plain weird goings-on. Further, it attempts to explain other “devil’s triangles” around the world.

    If you saw that one television program on cable, you might already know it. You see, the crank-theory posits that there is a micro-black hole in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle which causes all kinds of unrelated calamity. The TV program was so full of holes (pun, pun, pun in the sun, sun, sun) and inexplicable arguments that I was laughing most of the way. (“The opposite of a ‘black hole’ is a ‘white hole’ which scientists say create matter. Similarly, under the Bermuda Triangle, objects called ‘black smokers’ spew out new material into the ocean. The similarities are remarkable.)

    Now, I’m wondering, of those people who believe that any micro-black holes that may be produced by the LHC will destroy the earth, are some the very same people that believe we have a black hole somehow situated in open water causing all kinds of paranormal activity? Is there a difference between a micro-black hole that’s produced by science which may actually lead to a new understanding of the universe and a naturally occurring micro-black hole in the open ocean which allegedly produces such things as “electronic fog”? Or, simply, are man-made black holes more powerful than natural ones?

    And can anyone answer that, much less ask it, with a straight face?

  29. Chris A.

    @Phil:
    Did you get past the title slide of Paul’s ridiculous YouTube video? About 20 sec in, somehow, rewriting Einstein’s equation as M = E/c2 “proves” that black holes suck in mass at the speed of light! ROTFLMFAO!

  30. Laguna

    @RL
    In Europe they tried to sue at the Administrative Court in Cologne and in Strasbourg at the European Court of Human Rights. They lost…

    So thanks Phil, but no thanks, we have our own…

  31. There has already been a suit filed in the EU Court of Human Rights. As far as I know an initial bd for a restraining order to stop operations at the LHC was denied, but the trial itself is moving forward.

    @Larian LeQuella: Yes, one of the Plaintiffs in the US suit was also trying to stop RHIC, for exactly the same reasons. I blogged a little bit about this (link in my name).

  32. Angel

    Completely agree with DrFlimmer.

    I wanted to answer s’thing similar to what two europeans answered… but more.

    “As a European I would have say….No thanks we…”
    And I go on:
    “we already have enough of them. We call them… you know, ecologists or politicians”

  33. “Good news, everyone!”

    Phil + time = Farnsworth

    On a more topical note, on behalf of Europe, thanks for the cranks.

  34. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Look up the circumstances of the coffee lawsuit. You might change your mind.

    My own theory on american coffee is that they need to balance the non-provoking (in their mind) absence of roast and strength with a provoking amount of heat.

    I dunno why they think it’s a good balance – I was scalded more times than I care to think of, driving away from a drive-through. Mostly because I needed to add some hefty amounts of freeze dried espresso powder to make it taste like actual coffee, while juggling the steering with the other hand.

  35. Phil: I’m glad the judge made the right decision, even if it was only a technicality.

    Better a good legal technicality than an appealable “You’re but bunch of loons, get outta my courtroom!”

  36. Sorry, “You’re A bunch of loons”

    Don’t type tired, folks.

  37. Davidlpf

    Put it this way Sibrel had a better chance in sueing Buzz Aldrin.

  38. Ruprecht

    Here in Europe we have Otto Rössler, professor of chemistry of the University of Tübingen. He put his anti-LHC case before the European Court of Human Rights.
    He claims that his “own calculations have shown that it is quite plausible that … little black holes survive and will grow exponentially and eat the planet from the inside”. Here his 7 reasons the project should be stopped:
    http://wissensnavigator.ch/documents/spiritualottoeroessler.pdf

  39. Elmar_M

    Well if all these are hoaxes, why do they have to put those damn ridiculous warning stickers on any fracking thing now?

  40. Elmar_M

    Oh and I actually remember reading the dog in the micrwave thing as an actual press agency news flash in a quite reputably (though sometimes arguably) newspaper.

  41. Steve Morrison

    Here are URLs for the Snopes pages on some of those urban legends:

    http://www.snopes.com/horrors/techno/microwavedpet.asp
    http://www.snopes.com/autos/techno/cruise.asp

    This one is also of interest, and contains some examples of actual frivolous lawsuits, as well as legendary ones:

    http://www.snopes.com/legal/lawsuits.asp

  42. Speaking of the litigious who still cling tenaciously to their claims even after the claims are shown to be wrong by scientists, I hope you’re going to contribute to the discussion about Dr. Paul Offit’s book Autism’s False Prophets over at The ScienceBlogs Book Club. I know how strongly you feel about the antivaxxers, and know you’ll want to read this book either way.

  43. Hugo

    I worry about those guys at the LHC.

    What with Mark Millar’s lunatical ravings (http://io9.com/5052610/hollywoods-new-player-declares-war-on-science) and the attempting bombing of Dr. Arthur Rosenbaum (http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jun/29/local/me-ucla29), I sometimes worry for their safety.

    I really don’t want the 21st century to be remembered for physical attacks on science and scientists.

  44. What? No comment from JTankers yet?

    He must be busy pushing Hawaii to Europe so Wagner can refile his frivolous suit.

  45. Ray

    Paul,

    I know you didn’t make that video, but this is just wrong:

    “In groenland all white men died because they wouldnt eat fish as the
    eskimos were doing. Their ideology (Christianity) forbade it then.”

    The Church allowed people to eat fish in those days. If they didn’t, most of northern europe would have died.

    Also, the native Greenlanders will happily show people the fish traps and pens that have been discovered and dated to the Norse period, proving that the Greenland Norse caught and ate fish quite well.

  46. Brown

    This may be just a technicality, but legally speaking, lack of subject matter jurisdiction is NOT “a technicality.”

  47. Jose

    @Ray
    Oh God. I’m going to partially defend Paul.
    I think what he’s referring to is the fact that pre-little ice age, Scandinavians got most of their nutrition from dairy and livestock, but ate very little fish. Once the little ice age hit, this became much more difficult. People in Scandinavia and Iceland turned to fish in order to survive. On Greenland they didn’t (We can tell this by looking at the lack of fish remains in their waste.) The people there either died out or left. One of the main theories why this happened is racism. Basically, they couldn’t bring themselves to eat the same food that a group of people many considered to be sub-human ate. Factors like deforestation also played a big role. I’ve never heard of Christianity playing a part though.

  48. Jose

    @Paul
    I watched the video. A few things were funny. The first is the contention that quantum physicists will do anything to prove Hawking right. In fact, many physicists have devoted large chunks of their careers to showing that Hawking was wrong about information being destroyed by black holes. And they’ve done a pretty good job of it. Instead of just conceding defeat, Hawking instead said something to the effect of “We’ll I was wrong, but so were you guys.” He then proposed a hypothesis that looks strikingly crankish, and few physicists are taking it very seriously.

    The second is that Hawking lecture was chopped up and edited in a way to make it sound like he saying things he isn’t. Actually, the whole video was assembled this way.

    The third is the premise that scientist are willing to destroy the earth to avoid admitting that they did the “wrong calculus”. That’s just silly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go burn down my house before my wife finds out I spilled some water on the carpet.

  49. Rand

    @Brown, a lack of subject matter jurisdiction isn’t a technicality, but if you had read my post, you would realize that the court could have had subject matter jurisdiction if it wanted it. A court saying that they don’t have it doesn’t mean they can’t have it, it means they don’t want to have it.

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