Tuesday, August 21, 2007


According to Wired Magazine, PZMyers, the brilliant science blogger Pharyngula, is being sued for libel by a guy named Stuart Pivar because of critical remarks he made about a book Pivar wrote called "Lifecode: From egg to embryo by self-organization."

Wired quotes a press release on Lifecode as describing it as

"... an alternative theory of evolution which contends that the embryo is formed by self-organization, as are crystals, rather than by a genetic code subject to natural selection. Accompanying illustrations depict hypothetical construction blueprints for the various body forms. Biological Self-organization has long been a contending alternate theory for the code of life; recent proponents include evolutionary biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Brian Goodwin."

I'm not qualified to judge if that's nonsense or has some validity, though anything that presents alternatives to evolution raises all kinds of red flags.

Here's what Myers wrote Pharyngula on that got Pivar peeved.

"The doodles in this book bear absolutely no relationship to anything that goes on in real organisms, but after staring at them for a while, I realized what this book is actually about.

This book is a description of the development and evolution of balloon animals."

I am qualified to judge the merits of his legal case. I haven't read the whole brief, but it sounds like Pivar doesn't have a leg to stand on. (Maybe he could grow one, like a crystal.) I would go so far as to call him an idiot and a moron, but he might sue me.

Or he might not be so dumb. Wired suggests, plausibly, that the whole thing is a publicity stunt. (Pivar is apparently rich or something). If true, this would be a great abuse of the legal system - not to mention a threat to bloggers of whatever political belief or ideology.

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