Some weeks you buy twenty issues of the New Scientist - and proudly give signed copies of an article to anyone you meet - and some weeks you forget to buy it at all.
This was one of the latter weeks, and so I missed initially the delightful and amusing letter by Dr George Lewith in response to my article on libel and science.
I would like to say Hello to Dr Lewith and thank him for taking the time to respond to my article.
But rather than trouble the print edition of this very fine magazine with an author's response to his letter, I thought I would set out my response here.
First Dr Lewith correctly asserts that I suggest "that there is an increasing trend towards complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners threatening libel action against those who criticise them."
However, Dr Lewith is "unaware of anybody prior to the chiropractors he describes taking this course of action in the UK."
This is a very strange statement indeed.
APGaylard in his wonderful blog A canna' change the laws of physics rightly takes Dr Lewith to task on this and mentions a range of other threatened and actual cases, including the Rath v Goldacre case I actually mention in the article.
One can also add the threats by Ms Gillian McKeith and also Jeremy Sherr, the homeopath culpably promoting his treatments in Africa for AIDS victims.
Perhaps Dr Lewith was seeking to distinguish between threatening and taking legal action (in which case, the Rath and McKeith cases offer immediate refuting counter-examples).
It certainly is odd that he writes to the New Scientist with such an untenable and easily-disprovable position.
Dr Lewith then continues:
"Furthermore, as a medically qualified researcher of CAM, I have experienced two prominent members of the "anti-CAM brigade" attempting to take legal action against me, which I had to defend."
Any legal action taken instead of simply showing the relevant evidence is to be deplored.
If Dr Lewith can provide details showing such an inappropriate use of legal threats, I can tell him this Blog will be on his side.
In the meantime, I certainly recommend that Dr Leiwth joins the Sense About Science campaign to take libel law out of science.
And then finally:
"It should be noted that the article you published on this matter is from a prominent member of the anti-CAM brigade."
But I think this is incorrect.
Not that there is any shame being a member of such a "brigade". If so, I would want to be Captain Jack serving below Brigadier Ernst, Colonels Colquhoun and Goldacre, and Majors Noir, Aust, and Gimpy.
However, I am not especially anti-CAM (and nor may be some of the aforementioned).
I don't think I have ever written about CAM outside of the context of the use and misuse of law.
I also have no particular interest in reporting CAM practitioners to the ASA, Trading Standards, or to regulatory bodies.
And of the many areas of CAM where practitioners have not been sufficiently defensive, silly or aggressive to bring legal action against critics, I hold no strong opinion and probably little knowledge.
This is because I am actually a legal blogger and not a Bad Science blogger. If the British Chiropractic Association had never brought their spectacularly misconceived libel claim, I probably would never have even heard of them, still less hold them to such close ongoing scrutiny.
Indeed, before the BCA brought their case, my interest in the relationship between skepticism and the law was really more to do with topics such as fraudulent mediumship and blasphemy.
I am instead a proud member of the anti-abuse of libel brigade, and not the anti-CAM brigade.
And that is a brigade which, thanks to Simon Singh and the fantastic Sense About Science campaign, is growing rapidly and will - I hope - ultimately prevail.