Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lawsuits to Silence Criticism & The Streisand Effect

Without explaining the whole "affair", Rhys Morgan, a young skeptic from the UK, had blogged about a clinic in Houston, Texas that was offering an, at best, unproven treatment for cancer (that science-based medicine actually has treatments for).  After writing the blog, he received threats from a (though not confirmed) lawyer threatening him with legal action.

Unfortunately for the clinic and his "treatment", Rhys didn't roll over and, as a result, the clinic is experiencing the Streisand effect - "The Streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity." (Wikipedia)

In addition to the Streisand effect, people like Burzynski will also be faced with a further empowered and more determined adversary - I should know, I've been threatened with legal action a number of times.  Though the letters and threats are rather unsettling at first, once the reality is discovered (that they are baseless, pointless threats), the attention to the matter and resolve of the accused can encourage them to dig deeper. 

Case in point: Robbie Thomas

I had blogged, jokingly, about Robbie Thomas (who is not psychic - he just lies about his supposed skills (note: that is an actionable claim if it were not true!)) and his lack of recognition at a police press conference regarding an abduction/murder case that he claims to have been involved in.  I did a couple follow-ups on Robbie Thomas (not psychic) but it was his threats of legal action that drove me to dig a little deeper into who he is and what he claims.

Today www.stoprobbie.com exists to follow Robbie Thomas' claims and actions (it hasn't received many updates recently because Robbie is, apparently, lying low - after having failed at conventions, failed at his tour and been exposed by his manager, he probably needs to build up a new web of lies before he resurfaces) and to expose him when he claims to have psychic abilities or when he claims to have solved any crimes using his supposed psychic skills.

In more than 20 years (his claim), Robbie Thomas has solved 0 crimes using his self-proclaimed psychic powers.  Robbie Thomas is not psychic and he didn't predict (because he isn't psychic) that threatening to sue me would only encourage me to do more. Congratulations Robbie Thomas and Stanislaw Burzynski - you have achieved the complete opposite of what you set out to do.

For more on the Stanislaw Burzynski / Rhys Morgan news, visit:
Rhys blog entry about the threats
The schoolboy blogger who took on a US clinic (Guardian)

For more information about Robbie Thomas (not psychic):

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