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“Classic Crackpot” Sues Insensitive Reviewer

PZ Myers, blogger and science writer for Seed, is being sued 15 million dollars by Dr. Stuart Pivar for panning Pivar's book (okay, twice). The Panda's Thumb reports:

The plaintiff of the case is none else than Dr. Stuart Pivar, NYC businessman and art collector, who burst on the evolution/creationism scene a couple years back claiming that, based on conversations he had with the late Stephen J Gould, he could assert for a fact that Gould really opposed the basic tenets of modern evolutionary theory, and the role of natural selection in particular. According to Pivar, Gould only endorsed evolutionary theory (in dozens of books and hundreds of articles, not to mention sworn court testimony!) under some sort of duress from the iron fist of the enforcers of “Darwinian orthodoxy”.

The obvious nonsense was discussed in various articles here at PT and elsewhere, but of course the absurdity of that canard was not enough to deter the usual peanut gallery of gullible Creationists, Denyse O’Leary foremost among them, from getting all excited about the matter.

Anyway, besides liberally reinterpreting Gould’s entire scientific opus, Pivar’s other personal involvement with evolutionary matters at the time was that he had published a well-illustrated tome called Lifecode, in which he apparently proposed some sort of structuralist/developmental interpretation of evolution. In a rather incautious move, Pivar decided to send his book to a real developmental biologist for review: PZ Myers. PZ read it, soundly criticized it at Pharyngula, and apparently never thought of it again until earlier this year, when Pivar sent out some grandiose-sounding press release together with an updated version of the book, both of which PZ once again trashed.

Thus did Pivar proceed to sue Myers for the “emotional and mental distress”, among other things, caused him by Myers’ reviews. From the complaint:

16. On July 12, 2007, Defendant Myers maliciously, and without cause, defamed Plaintiff by referring to him as "a classic crackpot."

17. Upon information and belief, Defendant Myers' references to Plaintiff as "a classic crackpot" were necessarily intended to disparage Plaintiff's abilities as a scientific enquirer and were intended to hold Plaintiff up to ridicule and embarrassment in this specific area of Plaintiff's professional endeavors.


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