Libel is a serious issue in the UK: the laws are seemingly right out of the Dark Ages, making it easy for antiscience cranks to sue journalists when unflattering pieces are written about their crankery. That’s why the Libel Reform campaign was started, and that’s why they’re trying to raise money. And what better way to popularize this serious issue than to make a decidedly unserious geek calendar?
I love that picture; it’s of my friends Gia Milinovich and her husband Brian Cox. If you’re from the UK he needs no introduction, but if you’re American, he’s a scientist and TV presenter and becoming quite the media darling — not the least reason for which is that he speaks his mind when it comes to nonsense.
Brian and Gia are just one page of the Geek Calendar, which you get purchase online. Lots of other photogenic geeks are pictures as well, including
The Hive Overmind’s Discover Magazine’s own Ed Yong.
And while I do like that picture of Brian and Gia, I think I may still like the one I took of them better when I was visiting them in London. I can’t prove it, and they wouldn’t admit it at the time, but I’m pretty sure when I snapped this shot they were texting each other.
Oh– I also totally believe he would jam a screwdriver into a toaster to try to fix it. And I know it would be up to Gia to actually get it working again.
American authors, journalists, and bloggers can breathe a sigh of relief: with broad bipartisan support, a short time ago President Obama signed a bill into law that makes sure that the awful and regressive libel laws in the UK cannot be enforced here in the United States.
I’ve written about this issue many times; skeptic and journalist Simon Singh was sued for libel by a UK chiropractors group for saying they "happily promote bogus remedies". In the UK, when sued, you have to prove the claim is false, the opposite of the way it works in most of the rest of the world, including the US. It should be up to the prosecution to prove the claim is true. So in the UK this puts undue burden on the person accused, an almost guilty-until-proven-innocent situation.