News: El Naschie v MacMillan – science on trial? – Gervase de Wilde

23 11 2011

Egyptian academic Mohamed El Naschie’s libel claim against prominent scientific journal Nature continues in the High Court in London this week. Nature and their publishers Macmillan are represented by Andrew Caldecott QC and Aidan Eardley of One Brick Court, while El Naschie is a litigant in person.

The Claimant was editor-in-chief and founder of Chaos, Solitons and Fractals (‘CSF’), which is a journal “in the interdisciplinary field of Nonlinear Science, and Nonequilibrium and Complex Phenomena” and is published by Elsevier, the dominant force in the publication of scientific journals.

In 2008, after his retirement as editor-in-chief, the Defendants published a story about his departure written by Quirin Schiermeier under the headline “Self-publishing editor set to retire“. The article alleged that the Claimant had published his own research papers in CSF without subjecting them to the process of peer review which plays a vital part in establishing the robustness and credibility of academic work. It also referred to affiliations and honorary professorships claimed by the Claimant which the writer was unable to verify.

The interim judgment

The problems which can arise from a claimant representing themselves in the context of a complex High Court action are highlighted in an interim judgment ([2011] EWHC 1468 (QB)) handed down by Eady J on June 10 2011 in response to a number of applications by the Defendants. These were made in an attempt to narrow the number of issues in the case (both in the pleadings and in witness statements), and to resolve problems surrounding inadequate disclosure of documents on the part of the Claimant.

Much of the evidence introduced in the Claimant’s amended pleadings which the Defendants sought to exclude related to what he referred to in the course of the hearing as “a form of conspiracy” involving the Defendants and others. This appears to have largely revolved around what the Claimant referred to as “the despicable blog” El Naschie Watch, whose author is highly critical of him. The judge agreed with the Defendants’ submission that the blog has no true relevance to the issues in the case; further allegations made in highly colourful terms connecting the blog to the Defendant publisher via a journalist at German newspaper Die Ziet (who had also written about the Claimant) were also dismissed as irrelevant.

A number of restrictions applied for by the Defendants in relation to the Claimant’s witness statements were also granted by Eady J. In particular he excluded references to a range of publications in print and online republishing the material in the Nature article, which the Claimant introduced for the purpose of aggravating damages. On this point, the judge referred to Clarke v Bain [2008] EWHC 2636, a decision relied on by the Defendants for their submission that it would be disproportionate for them to have to deal with these further publications where some had not even been clearly identified. In Clarke, Tugendhat J considered, in relation to further publications,  whether

 “the cost of pleading, proving and contesting the allegations…could be proportionate to any benefit that the Claimant could expect to obtain if he were to succeed in establishing his case.”

He balanced this consideration against the detriment to the parties and the public of continuing proceedings. Eady J accordingly excluded the references to these further publications on the grounds of proportionality, along with eight other topics raised by the Claimant’s witness statements.

The trial

The Claimant was refused an application for another adjournment and, from these inauspicious beginnings, started his action in the High Court before Sharp J on Friday, 11 November 2011. Both sides have adduced expert evidence, although the Claimant was described at the interim stage as being

“somewhat dismissive of the relevance of expert evidence in this case, largely on the basis that his field of special scientific knowledge is so narrow and fluid that it is difficult for him to conceive of anyone qualifying as having sufficient “expert” knowledge of the field

 As reported in The Guardian, the Defendants called Professor Neil Turok, a cosmologist and director of the Perimeter Institute in Canada, who described himself as applying unified theories to “the most difficult questions in cosmology”, to assess the value of the Claimant’s work. Turok questioned the logic and clarity of presentation of some of the Claimant’s ideas and, in response, the Claimant said  that even Albert Einstein had made mistakes in his publications:

 “Einstein is the most sloppy scientist ever. He never defined his quantities, he doesn’t put in references and he made so many mistakes of mathematics and concepts.”

 He went on to accuse Turok of having “no idea” about mathematics and of lacking the qualifications necessary to assess his work. His cross-examination had to be kept on track by Sharp J who reminded him that the question and answer format did not allow for long statements on his part.

Earlier in the week, as reported in New Scientist, the Claimant also had the opportunity to cross-examine Schiermeier, who stood by the content of the 2008 article, saying

 “We wrote the article because you published 58 papers in one year in a journal where you acted as editor-in-chief. That is unusual and potentially unethical.”

 The Claimant responded that it was not unheard of for journals to publish non peer-reviewed work (a point which is discussed at some length on this Economics forum, with reference to the case). The Claimant explained that he feared theft, saying

 “We published my work to secure it. Senior people are above this childish, vain practice of peer review.”

Comment

The case seems to offer ammunition to libel reformers. Even in the absence of the ill-advised and incoherent aspects of his case which were excluded before trial, and of the implicit comparisons of his work to Einstein’s made during the first five days at the High Court, his claim against a venerable and highly respected scientific journal seems a poor substitute for meeting their allegations head on in some form of correspondence or public debate. Moreover, the journal had published the Claimant’s own defence of his methods in running CSF, that he sought to emphasise scientific content above impressive affiliations, in the original article.

A spokesperson for the Libel Reform campaign, speaking to the Guardian, commented that reform can’t come soon enough, since

“Scientists expect publications like Nature to investigate and write about controversies within the scientific community. The threat of libel action is preventing scientific journals from discussing what is good and bad science.”

However, the public interest defence argued for by campaigners is one which is already being employed. The BBC reports that Andrew Caldecott QC’s opening statement for the Defendants described their defence as relying on the article being “true, honest opinion and responsible journalism on an issue of public interest”.

As the choice of witnesses indicates, the case does touch on the seemingly incomprehensible branch of physics in which the Claimant has made his academic career. In this respect there is a threat of a libel action stifling academic debate, and a similarity to BCA v Singh 2010 EWCA Civ 350, where opinions expressed in a controversy on what was essentially a scientific matter were at issue. But it is also about the methods he employed in running a publication in the context of a widely recognised system of accreditation and review, and about allegations regarding the professional affiliations which feature on his website. These are the kind of criticisms that might be made about any professional person, and would not necessarily come under scope of a scientific exception for “rigorous debate” on good and bad science urged by campaigners.

Gervase de Wilde is a former journalist at the Daily Telegraph and a student barrister.


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10 responses

23 11 2011
Jason

Great article, Gervaise. By the way, do you know what the notation “Jury List” means in the Queen’s Bench announcements

COURT 12
Before MRS JUSTICE SHARP
Wednesday, 16th November 2011
At half past 10
Jury List
FOR TRIAL
TLJ/10/1474 El Naschie v MacMillan Publishers Ltd & anr Pt Hd

for example? Some cases say “Non Jury List”. An article about the earlier proceedings said there was to be no jury. Is that how it went down after all?

19 01 2012
Medhat Youssef

It is regrettable that the ex Journalist and present Barrister student have given such a one sided, biased and inaccurate representation of the occurence of this case in the High Court of Justice. He did not mention that Prof. Neil Turok was unable to answer any scientific questions posed by Prof. El Naschie. Indeed it is well known that Prof. Turok has never worked in the theory of fractal space time. He is totally unqualified to speak about the subject of research of Garnett Ord nor Laurant Nottale nor of course Mohamed El Naschie. Neil Turok never heard in his life about the mathematical theory of E-Infinity. This theory was developed im the late years of the last century. It is the theory of highly structured Rings.

27 01 2012
Orwin O'Dowd

This sad saga began over a hundred years ago when George Cantor was called mad for pursuing transfinite arithmetic. That current so-called experts cannot recognize the background of El Naschie’s work shows the extent of the damage done, for his fractal is constructed from the Cantor set.

There is a price to pay, as El Naschies ideas find application, not where he expected, to electrons in graphene, a topic at the cutting edge of computer technology.

http://ltp.aip.org/resource/1/ltpheg/v35/i1/

So throw Egypt some more high-tech jobs and celebrate your prejudices in poverty.

27 06 2012
Pete Richter

It looks like “Orwin O’Dowd” and “Medhat Youssef” are El-Naschie sockpuppets. Seriously, “throw Egypt some more high-tech jobs and celebrate your prejudices in poverty”? What universe are you guys posting from?

18 07 2012
Case Law: El Naschie v Macmillan – claim against scientific publisher dismissed – Gervase de Wilde « Inforrm's Blog

[…] of the background to the case can be found in this Inforrm news story from November 2011. The Claimant, who was a litigant-in-person, assisted by his former wife Lydia […]

19 07 2012
Jason

Correct, Pete Richter. An an expert I can attest from their style and content that they are the Great Man’s sockpuppets.

2 06 2014
Mohamed El Naschie

EL NASCHIE WINS LIBEL CASE, NATURE IS DISGRACED AND LOOSE MORALLY 3 YEAR LONG LEGAL ORDEAL WHICH CULMINATED IN A THREE WEEK TRIAL

Despite the above heading this case far from being over. Of course Nature spent the better part of 5 million British pounds to buy themselves a whitewash via a complex, intricate and very expensive British libel law. They hired a Queen’s Counsel, called in England a Silk in addition to an army of solicitors via the largest law firm in the country. They went as far as causing the resignation of a Lord Justice because he wanted them to apologise to Prof. El Naschie and call it a day by finding an out of Court settlement. They claimed this natural request by an experienced Judge prejudiced the case. They worked very hard to replace him by a relatively inexperienced High Court Judge who just happens to have graduated from the same Chambers from which the QC representing Nature comes with all sorts of strings attached. Never the less because Prof. Mohamed Salah El-Din El Naschie was not legally represented the case will go on in the Court of Appeal without any time limitation and after that there is still possibly the House of Lords but definitely the European Courts of Justice in Strasburg. El Naschie maintained from the outset that this is a case for the Old Bailey, i.e. criminal court and turning it into putting science on trial is a perversion of the legal system of Britain and is comparable only to the Vatican putting Galileo’s theory on trial. The background of this case is well known from the documents which are available for the public to read, being Court documents of a British court case. Even the most gullible person will know that the campaign against El Naschie was orchestrated by those who hired a German journalist based in Munich and another German gutter press journalist based in Hamburg. In addition those behind the conspiracy hired a psychopath confined to a wheelchair working in Seattle USA as an expert of character assassination. He established a disgusting website called ElNaschieWatch to assist Nature in this trial by spreading lies and defamation around the clock against Prof. El Naschie. In addition they hired people working for Wikipedia as well as Google apart of their association with disgraced Egyptians such as Ahmed Zewail a Nobel Laureate in Experimental Chemistry who badly wanted to replace Hosni Mubarak as President for Egypt after the so called Arab Spring Revolutions which swept the Middle East via an artificial wind coming from the West. There is far more to this story than meets the eye and it is more disgusting than frightening and shows to which degree otherwise respectable institutions and people are ready to degrade themselves to steal other peoples’ work. The solicitor of Nature found it acceptable to enlist the help of a fractal spacetime imposter to lie under oath in open court as an expert witness who really knows nothing about the subject he was talking about. The idea of fractal spacetime started in earnest with the work of British Canadian physicist Garnet Ord and subsequently French astrophysicist Laurent Nottale and finally Egyptian engineering scientist and theoretical physicist Mohamed El Naschie who in addition to giving up differentiablity, halso gave up continuity in the spirit of the highly mathematical theory of the continuum hypothesis and ultimate L of Woodin. The problem which the people behind all this are now facingis that Mohamed El Naschie is not dead. He is alive and kicking and as active as ever. The assertion of Peter Woit that Nature ended El Naschie’s career is multi-fold wrong. El Naschie never considered theoretical physics and his theory a career or professional work. It was, it is and will always be his hobby, love and passion, nothing more. Incidentally in his witness statement, the fake fractal spacetimewitness described Peter Woit as a non-scientist who was never a professor of physics anywhere and who works merely as a trouble shooter for the computer facility of an American university. Why Peter Woit is suddenly full of praise for this imposter is something worth thinking about, or maybe not. The fact is Mohamed El Naschie was not deterred by this savage attack. In fact it produced the opposite effect on him and his surroundings. He is now publishing more papers than ever having been relieved from the burden of running Chaos, Solitons& Fractals which consumed a lot of time and was at the end a thankless job which brought him nothing. In fact he was supporting the journal out of his own pocket while Elsevier, the truly Dutch publisher were filling their pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars which are now drying up since Mohamed El Naschie left the journal which he founded and ran as one of his hobbies. Of course Nature’s friends and the people behind the disgraceful defamation campaign are trying to put an embargo on El Naschie’s publications. More frequently than not, these things produce the opposite effect. Rather than despair El Naschie surprised everyone with his recent work in effect showing that there is a critical parameter or scaling component at which spacetime undergoes a fractal space transition. This parameter is closely related, in fact identical, to the dark energy density measured by WMAP and supernova analysis which earned the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. It is also identical in concept to the ‘t Hooft/Veltman/Wilson dimensional regularization procedure. An up to date summary of this work may be found in the following paper ‘The meta energy of dark energy’, Open Journal of Philosophy, 2014, 4, p. 157-159 and ‘Cosmic dark energy from ‘t Hooft’s dimensional regularization and Witten’s topological quantum field pure gravity’, Journal of Quantum Information Science, 2014, 4, p. 83-91 (both http://www.scirp.org) and Deriving E = mc2 of Einstein’s ordinary quantum relativity energy density from the Lie symmetry group…, American Journal of Mechanics, 2014, 2(2), p. 6-9 (http://sciencepublishinggroup.com/j/ajma).

25 10 2014
Mohamed El Naschie

El Naschie, M. S. (1997). Foreword: The logic of interdisciplinary research. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, 8(9), vii-x.

25 10 2014
Mohamed El Naschie

El Naschie, M. S. (1997). Foreword: The logic of interdisciplinary research. ChMedhat Youssef (11:23:20) :
It is regrettable that the ex Journalist and present Barrister student have given such a one sided, biased and inaccurate representation of the occurence of this case in the High Court of Justice. He did not mention that Prof. Neil Turok was unable to answer any scientific questions posed by Prof. El Naschie. Indeed it is well known that Prof. Turok has never worked in the theory of fractal space time. He is totally unqualified to speak about the subject of research of Garnett Ord nor Laurant Nottale nor of course Mohamed El Naschie. Neil Turok never heard in his life about the mathematical theory of E-Infinity. This theory was developed im the late years of the last century. It is the theory of highly structured Rings.

Reply
27
01
2012
Orwin O’Dowd (04:06:37) :
This sad saga began over a hundred years ago when George Cantor was called mad for pursuing transfinite arithmetic. That current so-called experts cannot recognize the background of El Naschie’s work shows the extent of the damage done, for his fractal is constructed from the Cantor set.

There is a price to pay, as El Naschies ideas find application, not where he expected, to electrons in graphene, a topic at the cutting edge of computer technology.

http://ltp.aip.org/resource/1/ltpheg/v35/i1/

So throw Egypt some more high-tech jobs and celebrate your aos, Solitons & Fractals, 8(9), vii-x.

6 03 2015
Mohamed El Naschie

WE KNOW THE TRUTH AND IT WII COME OUT NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU MISSLEAD THE POOR READERS
Boris Johnson and Veronica Wadley: Victoria Sharp and the Mayor’s Fund
Dave Hill
Friday 18 June 2010 10.33 BST Last modified on Tuesday 3 June 2014 11.01 BST
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The connection between Victoria Sharp – one of the three “independent” panellists who interviewed Boris Johnson supporter Veronica Wadley for the Arts Council in London job she controversially secured – and Boris Johnson’s mayoralty is even larger than I reported earlier this week.

It was easy to discover that Sharp is on the “steering board” of Boris’s music education programme and that five days after the Arts Council interviews took place Boris visited a Lambeth primary school in support of a project run by London Music Masters, a charity set up by Sharp and her ex-banker husband Richard.

It was equally simple to establish that the Sharps were included in the Evening Standard’s “influentials” list during Wadley’s editorship of the paper that supported Our Boris with such unstinting devotion during the 2008 election campaign and that Richard Sharp, a director of the right-wing Centre for Policy Studies think tank, has been a supporter of Boris’s Mayor’s Fund for London since its inception.

There was, though, one intriguing detail from the Mayor’s Fund annual report whose significance I couldn’t identify straight away. On page 25 under the heading “Those supporters who have donated £25,000 or more to us (up to the end of 2009)” is listed something called Sharp Foundation. Was this anything to do with Victoria and Richard Sharp?

The answer is yes. The Sharp Foundation is a private trust set up by Richard and Victoria Sharp. I’ve also learned that Richard was an adviser to the Fund in its early days, and remains “interested and helpful.”

This information was helpfully provided by the Fund itself after my query was forwarded to it by the Mayor’s press office at City Hall. That office has ignored my question about Victoria Sharp’s part in the re-run ACE London interviews. I asked if Boris was confident that she will be seen by Londoners and London’s arts community as an independent member of the interview panel, given her and her husband’s prior connections with his administration. Silence has ensued – the same silence that has greeted every unwelcome question I have asked about the Wadley affair for many months.

I’ll have more on this story next week. For now, a reminder of a promise from Boris Johnson’s 2008 accountability manifesto (page 15):

We believe that all appointments should be based on merit, and not on personal patronage. Our administration will seek to recruit the right people for London who have the experience and the skills to deliver our agenda for change.

Yes, of course.

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