7 (Stupid) People Who Sued the Scientific Method

Scientists study for years to give us advances like computers. Lawyers sue scientists on behalf of people who can't operate computers, earn ten times as much and, in doing so, raise horribly relevant questions about which group is actually smarter. Here we see seven of the worst offenses of law against science:

#7. Flower Power Versus Particle Physics

Walter Wagner enjoyed a lot of media attention a few months ago, bringing a lawsuit against the Large Hadron Collider which he claims will destroy the world. While Wagner repeatedly pointed out that he's a scientist, he failed to mention that he's a botanist, also known as a "plant scientist," in the public circle (and "gay scientist" in the scientific one). Now, while we're sure Wagner knows his way around a tulip, it's important to note that his only recorded experience with nuclear science comes from working in a hospital that performed nuclear medicine and, unless they treated Galactus, that doesn't involve a lot of superstring ultrascience.


"Bees...pollen...bees- My God...the LHC will destroy us all."

Get over yourself, Wagner. Plenty of unqualified smartasses warn the world about the LHC, but they're not suing anyone.

While his website is quick to point out his impressive credentials ("wikipedia science editor"), as well as remind everyone how expensive his particular brand of scientific exploration is going to cost ("We expect to encounter expenses in excess of $100,000 in this action" ), it strangely fails to mention his 2004 indictment for first-degree identity theft and fraud in Hawaii. Also missing from the website: reasonable, non-retarded evidence to support his claims about the collider. Still, Wagner believed he was going to save the world, and if that meant getting totally rich and famous in the process, Wagner was prepared to carry that weight. He truly is a hero.

Or, at least he was: the judge in the Honolulu court he filed the case in had to explain that they don't actually have jurisdiction over Switzerland.


"Exhibit A, your Honor: A map of America that doesn't feature Switzerland. I rest my case."

Since Switzerland is pretty clearly not part of this country, that ruling may not surprise you. In fairness, though, Wagner's a flower doctor, so you can't expect him to understand something as complex as geography. You can, however, still donate to Wagner and his cause, in case you either support lunatics or just plain hate real science.

What a Victory Would Imply:

That one man with a lawyer is recognized as a better expert on a field than every expert on the planet in that field put together, with a billion dollar budget, working for over twenty years. Society itself would break down as every skilled worker in the world just gives up and either goes to law school or takes up professionally hurting themselves for money. Think Mad Max meets Jackass with lawsuits instead of gasoline.

#6. Voting Machine Makers Sue to Prevent Testing

Sequoia Voting Systems sued to prevent Princeton computer scientists from studying their voting machines on the grounds that it would damage their business. Which is fair enough, because scientific reports confirming that the machines can't count and often don't turn on probably would. Election clerks ordered the study when they found that the machines had miscounted the number of voters, and since the sole function of the machines is "count the number of voters" that's kind of a serious problem.

Sequoia's ominously-titled "Vice President of Compliance/Quality/Certification" issued this statement: "We will also take appropriate steps to protect against any publication of Sequoia software, its behavior, reports [sic] regarding same or any other infringement of our intellectual property."


Vice President of Compliance/Quality/Certification."

That means we're not even allowed to talk about the voting machines and when a "Vice President of Compliance/Quality/Certification" says "appropriate steps" we get a little nervous.

What a Victory Would Imply:

That companies can sell you things and you are legally barred from complaining if they don't work, or even checking if they do. Under this framework Apple could start shipping white-painted rocks in boxes saying "iPod" and you couldn't complain. Not that the Apple fanboys who waited in line for three days to get an iStone would anyway.

#5. Redefining Pi

There's the famous false story of the state that tried to redefine the fundamental mathematical constant pi to 3, but of course no one would ever be that stupid. Though, in Indiana in 1897, they tried to pass a law setting it at 3.2, which is only 0.2 less retarded.

House Bill 246 in the Indiana House of Representatives, introduced by representative T. Record, offered three different numbers to replace the "confusing" value of pi. Because nothing simplifies things like offering three different values for a fundamental constant. The bill was first seen by the Committee on Swamp Lands, then the Committee for Education and then the Committee for Temperance - possibly as the legislative system attempted to find someone dumb enough to deal with it.


Committee on Swamp Lands' Senior Vice President

Since the (evidently) extremely influential Committee on Swamp Lands saw no issue with the new definition, the bill actually had a chance of passing until, thankfully, a mathematician just happened to wander into the building on other business and, after checking the bill out, effectively informed those present that he wouldn't wipe his ass with the bill for fear it would miscount the number of cheeks.

What a Victory Would Imply:

Start with the collapse of Euclidean geometry and spacetime, then work up from there. Basically, Salvador Dali paintings would become still lifes and everything you know would be wrong.

And if you're okay living in a world like that, congrats on being the oldest living-person, Mr. Chairman for the Committee on Swamp Lands.

#4. Homeopath Versus Multiple Nobel Prize Winners

In 1988, noted immunologist Jacques Benveniste got bored with "the respect of his peers" and "scientific credibility" things and published a paper claiming that water retains the memory of useful medicines that had been dissolved in it, even when so diluted that none of the original medicine remained. This line of reasoning is vaguely reminiscent of homeopathologists, aka "those people who don't wash and sell the very expensive water." It appeared in Nature, whose Editors apparently only read as far as his name before hitting the print button.

Benveniste also claimed that this information could be digitized and transmitted by telephone. Let us restate that: He claimed that you could turn a glass of water into useful medicine by calling it on the phone.


"Yes, I still have leukemia. Yes, I drank the water. That scientist is retarded."

Not surprisingly, some scientists had a bit of a problem with this. And by "some" we mean "all," including Nobel Prize winners in physics and medicine Georges Charpak and Francois Jacob. When they pointed out that his claims were a bunch of horseshit (probably in a much more cultured turn of phrase) Benveniste sued them for libel. Despite the fact that every single experiment to replicate his Jesus-like transmogrification of water either failed or were rigged.

Luckily, Mr Benveniste's case was thrown out of court because he filed the wrong type of lawsuit (which we like to interpret as the judge reading the claim and responding, "Oh, no, you need to file this in Pretend Court. We're a real court, we work with science and humans. Have a good one.").


"No, your courtroom is in space."

What a Victory Would Imply:

That the universal cure to all your ills already dispenses from your tap (since the sea has, at one point or another, dissolved everything). Any illnesses you may think you're suffering are merely figments of your imagination, and the cure is just a phone call away.

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