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Memory man fails in libel suit

点击量:   时间:2017-05-07 07:01:10

By Charles Seife TWO Nobel laureates are sleeping a little easier, thanks to a legal technicality. Jacques Benveniste, the French scientist who published a paper in 1988 that appeared to provide a scientific basis for homeopathy, has failed in a libel action against the scientists because he filed the wrong type of suit. Benveniste’s paper, published in Nature (vol 333, p 816), suggested that water retains a “memory” of substances dissolved in it, even after repeated dilution. Many scientists have disputed this conclusion. But Benveniste, who now works in a privately funded lab in Clamart, near Paris, felt that a series of articles published in Le Monde went too far (This Week, 27 September 1997, p12). The articles quoted François Jacob, who won the 1965 Nobel for medicine, Georges Charpak, who won the physics Nobel in 1992, and Claude Hennion, a physicist at the School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry in Paris. Benveniste says he will sue anyone who suggests his work is fraudulent. A court has now ruled that he should have filed a criminal suit, not a civil one, and has ordered him to pay costs. Unless his critics repeat their statements, Benveniste has little hope of satisfaction. “If they believe that their words are of any value, why don’t they repeat them?