No comment

On the advice of counsel, I’m not going to say a word, yet.

However, I’ve been getting lots of email and seeing lots of articles on the web; I’ve been getting offers of pro bono lawyering and to set up donations for a defense fund. Thanks to everyone! I haven’t been replying to most of those offers because, on the advice of counsel, yadda yadda, but I appreciate them all. If the need develops I may take advantage of them, but until then, I just crouch, gnawing on the muzzle, mad eyes rolling, doing my best to be a good little doggie.

But really, thanks, thanks, thanks — and now we just sit back and wait. Let the pros do their job.


  1. raven says

    Malicious prosecution
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

    Malicious prosecution is a common law intentional tort. While similar to the tort of abuse of process, its elements include (1) intentionally (and maliciously) instituting or pursuing (or causing to be instituted or pursued) a legal action (civil or criminal) that is (2) brought without probable cause and (3) dismissed in favor of the victim of the malicious prosecution. In some jurisdictions, “malicious prosecution” is reserved for the wrongful initiation of criminal proceedings, while “malicious use of process” refers to the wrongful initiation of civil proceedings.

    There are so many things wrong with this suit, it is hard to know where to start. It is a SLAPP suit.

    These sorts of frivolous lawsuits can and do boomerang pretty fast. This could fall under the torts of malicious prosecution, abuse of process, abuse of the legal system, violations of the various new Terrorism statutes, and felony violation of the civil rights acts of the 1960s, to whit, section 241 attempting to deprive someone of their civil rights.

    Loser pays court costs. Federal court has jurisdiction unless Pivar lives in Minnesota. On the WC this would almost certainly fall under a SLAPP suit law. FWIW, judges hate these sorts of frivolous lawsuits. They tend to be very smart people and they are also very busy, trying several cases at once.

    If you show up in court, in most cases the plaintiff somehow forgets. Document your points extensively at the very start, go for a summary judgement.

    Good luck. Good thing dueling was made illegal or PZ might be facing a challenge here.

  2. Brian says

    This guys deserves to be spanked until he grows up a bit (not that I’m saying corporal punishment is good for kiddies, just childish adults.) For fucks sake, he published a book pretending to be scientific, and was critiqued to that standard. He failed to meet the standard. It’s not PZ’s faults he’s an ignoramous.

  3. stmarnock says

    PZ, for what it’s worth, support (legal, financial, moral) from the UK is yours for the asking. As this is a bogus claim, we won’t be launching a sponsored biologist walk for the defence fund in Glasgow just yet, but please be assured that we are all with you.

  4. says

    Two words to ask your attorney about- “Rule 11”

    It permits sanctions against the plaintiff, HIS ATTORNEY, and HIS ATTORNEY’S LAW FIRM.

  5. stmarnock says

    PZ, for what it’s worth, support (legal, financial, moral) from the UK is yours for the asking. As this is a bogus claim, we won’t be launching a sponsored biologist walk for the defence fund in Glasgow just yet, but please be assured that we are all with you.

  6. Steve LaBonne says

    IANAL, but: yep. Classic frivolous suit. This asshole will end up paying SEED’s and PZ’s legal fees.

  7. says

    I’ve heard of paper tigers, and papercuts do hurt…
    But, Dr Pivar doesn’t have that luxury. He’s unleashed the legal equivalent of a balloon animal elephant, and the only thing poor Professor Myers is a barbecue fork.

  8. sailor says

    This reminds me of the time of Geller kept suing James Randi. He lost every time, but I think it was quite a nuisance to Randi.

    Reading part of the suit it seems as if Pivar.
    1, used Neil de Grass Tyson’s quote inappropriately.
    2. PZ pointed this out to Neil
    3. Neil asked for his name to be removed from the website promoting the book
    So this is part of the major 15 M damage he received from PZ!
    The proof of a classic crackpot!

    Blake Stacy is doing a good job blogging this.

  9. says

    ((sigh)) I’d wish you good luck, but it doesn’t look like you’ll need it. It’s rather stupid to think that you’d be sued for speaking your mind… especially if he sent you his book for review.

    It’s a classic example once again where the dimwits can say whatever they want, but put up an educated opinion and get smacked down for it.

    I’m sorry this has happened. I hope you don’t change your style because of this jerk.

  10. kellbelle1020 says

    I couldn’t help but notice that the name stamped on the complaint is “Judge Sheindlin”… Sheindlin happens to be Judge Judy’s last name… Dear FSM I hope that’s not a coincidence! That would be some hilarious television right there.

    (Now I will walk away, head bowed in shame, for knowing Judge Judy’s last name)

  11. kellbelle1020 says

    Aww, man, the spelling is off by one letter. Teach me to google my facts AFTER I post! Oops! (I really wanted this to be a Judge Judy episode)

  12. Sivi Volk says

    Considering that his ideas can be handily refuted by anyone who’s ever seen an ultrasound of a developing embryo, let alone the entirety of embryology, I don’t think you’ll have too much trouble.

    When you add that the quote he’s upset about was half out-of-context and half fabricated, you should end up with an award for his wasting your time.

  13. Loc says

    Wow. I just wasted the last hour reading all about this lunatic and his developing balloon animal theory. This guy is a crackpot.

  14. AlanWCan says

    Well I say Mr. Pivar is a big poopy pants, and he can sue me too. I might sue him for the mental anguish his stupid aspersions on one of my favourite writers (Wonderful Life is all wrong, but a great read) have caused me. I demand $50baschwillion and a PONY!

  15. don says


    Thanks for the link. At 22:06 I was astonished by RD’s restraint. A lesser man would have slapped Chopra repeatedly around the face.

  16. denise says

    I am sad to hear about this law suit. I hope that this does not cause you or Seed any hardship.

  17. says

    Perfesser! Don’t you know that rich crackpots hate to be dissed.
    (Money + crank theory) / ego = Lawsuit
    If this jackass gets away with it, can The Discovery Institute’s goon lawyers be far behind. Mash him like a bug!
    I’m just a shoe repair guy, but I’ve got a C note if you need.

  18. John C. Randolph says

    The first amendement secures our right to ridicule the ridiculous. This suit will get tossed at the first hearing.


  19. Ahcuah says

    Maybe you can comment on this . . .

    So, how did you get counsel? Is Seed providing it? Are they picking up the whole cost, or do you have to personally chip in? Does your University have some sort of umbrella policy that you can take advantage of? What sort of support are you getting from your University?

    One trouble with lawsuits is how damned expensive they can be, to the point where an average citizen is often screwed. They can alleviate that by acting pro se but most people have neither the time nor the ability to do so.

  20. says

    If you have to sue a real scientist because you feel bad, then you’re probably not cut out to be a real scientist. What would he do if he were subjected to actual peer review? Sue? (By “peer”, I don’t really mean his peers, but actual scientists).

  21. Geral says

    I can’t believe the absurdity of the suit. I hope that guy reads this and decides to reconsider before it gets expensive for either one of you. Poor PZ, what a waste of money to get a lawyer for this thing.

    I think he’s just doing this to promote his book, a little press across the science communities can’t hurt he figures. I noticed the case was mentioned on Scientific American, see it’s already working…

    $15 million dollars. Have Americans always been this greedy? Watch out guys, he might sue one of us too…

  22. Christian Burnham says

    Thanks Blake for the Dawkins video.

    What was that shot of the squirrel about? Dawkins looks suddenly distracted- cut to squirrel running up a tree.

  23. Chris Bell says

    PZ, if it makes you feel any better, his lawyer is a lightweight. As many people here have suggested, there is a good chance the plaintiff (or his attorney) will have to pay for this whole suit. Experienced attorneys know better.

    His lawyer was admitted to the bar in 2005 after not going to law school in the US. That’s fine, sometimes young lawyers at big firms are given cases like this for experience, but he has set up his own law firm.

    Shark bait.

  24. arachnophilia says

    I’m with Lilith. Let’s do a Spartacus. Pivar is a crackpot. Sue me.

    you do realize, of course, that spartacus’s entire army was crucified?

  25. knc3 says

    hmm… crank writes book, sees your blog and knows your take on “ID”… Sends you his book, gets bad review, sues.
    Sounds fishy to me.
    But hey I’ll admit to a tad of paranoia now and again. ;)

    Give’im what fore!

  26. Collin says

    “you do realize, of course, that spartacus’s entire army was crucified?”

    Come on. We’re talking about a creationist. He wouldn’t crucify a fly for fear of sending the wrong message.

  27. raven says

    Speaking of crackpots, has anyone heard from Michael Korn, the xian terrorist wannabe with an arrest warrant out on him?

    You would think Homeland Security with their multi-billion dollar budget would be able to pick up a wing nut like him in a few hours. Oops, HS was the agency responsible for disaster relief in New Orleans, they had days worth of advance notice, and dropped every ball they touched. Gee, I feel so safe with them in charge of whatever they are supposed to do.

  28. JimV says

    I hope this is a case in which the stupid really does burn (the perpetrator of this stupid lawsuit)!

  29. craig says

    It’s all a plot, see… member of evil scientist cabal tries to squelch the truth. Truth sues, government tosses out truth’s case. This proves evil scientists and government are in league with each other against truth. Truth is facing an uphill battle. Please send donations to truth. etc.

  30. Graculus says

    $15 million dollars.

    It’s the court system. It’s a kind of lottery where you might win, no matter how bogus, so they keep trying.

    The circumstances are very different, but there was a case where a US judge awarded an $11 million judgement against an entity that the court had no jurisdiction over and who hadn’t been legally served.

  31. Tulse says

    My favourite part of the filed complaint is paragraph 19: “Myers has publicly described himself on his web log as a ‘cruel and insensitive person'”.

  32. S. Fisher says

    Does the term “classic crackpot” include ballon animal crackpots…in a legal sense?

  33. Albert says

    If only the judge would fine the plaintiff $15 million for wasting the court’s time, and award it to PZ. Then maybe he could give us all a $50-100,000.

  34. Lee says

    Long time listener, first time caller. :)

    I first heard about this on Bad Astronomy Blog, and I agree with him: it’s pretty likely that Pivar will get more than he bargained for in court.

    Down with classic crackpots,

  35. Glen says

    If this ever gets to the point where you need some cash to defend it (my bet is it will go away before too long), please put up a donate-via-paypal link (if there’s any left over I’m sure you can find a suitable charity for it). I have a few dollars I’d like to kick in.

  36. Texas Reader says

    The critical question right now is this: does the judge to whose court this case was assigned have a history of granting SUMMARY JUDGMENTS? Some judges spend their entire careets NOT granting them thus if you end up in one of THOSE judges’ courts you have to spend the money to go to trial and then get your funds back, assuming the plaintiff is not broke at that point. Hopefully this judge has the cojones to 1 – grant summary judgment after your atty files a motion for it and 2 – award legal fees plus sanctions against the plaintiff.

  37. Johnny Vector says

    Let me see, what can I call Pivar without fear of being sued? I know “butt-head astronomer” is safe, but he’s not an astronomer. “Butt-head biologist” would appear to be overstating things. “Butt-head developmentalist” doesn’t really roll off the tongue either.

    I’m gonna go with “butt-head crackpot”.

  38. H. Humbert says

    Whatever you do, counter-sue. Make the bishes pay. If you settle for simply having the suit dropped, consider that a failure. You should get harassment damages out of this.

  39. craig says

    off topic, but I just noticed that the BBC’s “The Atheism Tapes” and the 1987 Horizon program “The Blind Watchmaker” with Richard Dawkins have been posted to alt.binaries.documentaries… which is usually full of creationist BS.

    Just made me happy to see that it’s not all UFO nuts and the begodded out there, is all.

  40. Johnny Vector says

    Oh, and one more very silly thing. Check out ¶ 32 (the second one), 35, and 38, in which “Plaintiff repeats and reavers the averments of paragraphs 1 through 31 as if fully set forth herein.”

    First, if it’s really required by the legal profession to re-include all the previous paragraphs in each claim section (unless you say the magic words that make them be re-included without actually re-including them), that in itself is extremely silly.

    But even sillier, when I see the word “reavers” there, I can’t but imagine Summer Glau kicking the plaintiff in the head. Behind her. Around a pole.

  41. Kseniya says

    Doesn’t Mr. Pivar realize that, thanks to PZ, he can make that money back (and then some!) by working children’s birthday parties?

  42. John C. Randolph says

    “You would think Homeland Security with their multi-billion dollar budget would be able to pick up a wing nut like him in a few hours.”

    Umm, no.

    Finding a perp who knows people are looking for him isn’t as easy as hollywood would have us believe. Some of them are rather crafty, and some of them have friends who will hide them. Look how long it took to catch Eric Rudolph or Warren Jeffs, for example.


  43. phat says

    I am not a lawyer. But I really wish I was your lawyer right now.

    I’m pretty sure a good lawyer could parlay this into a future of few bad cases and a lot of good cases.

    If this guy’s attorney is being stuck with this because his partners are making him take it he should be a very angry young lawyer, or he’s just very very dumb.


  44. phat says

    Attorneys here, please remind me, are their criminal sanctions to bringing SLAPP suits?

    If so, this whole thing could be even more entertaining than our wildest dreams.


  45. phat says

    Never mind my question. I looked it up. There are, as far as I can gather, no criminal sanctions for a SLAPP suit.

    Maybe there should be?


  46. phat says

    Oh, I forgot to mention. This should be easy money for any attorney defending you.

    The clock is ticking.


  47. Richard Harris, FCD says

    PZ, I’m with Glen @ #51. I guess most of us here will be pleased to donate if you need a defence fund, because we’re with you, 100%.

  48. says

    Publicity stunt. Dismissed with prejudice. You and your Trophy Wife can still retire to the Hamptons. Skatje can still wear Abercrombie And Fitch. Kidding, but I’m sorry this nonsense has to take up the time you could have spent blogging and distracting me from work. Even if your opponent has no case, this will suck for you. It is a damn shame that lesser minds can conspire to detract you from your mission of educating the masses.

  49. phat says

    If he needs a defense fund than we’re in worse trouble, courtwise, than any of us ever thught.


  50. says

    Two nations separated by a common language. Given what it is possible to call someone in this fine language of ours, crackpot is very, very mild. It’s the kind of word an aunt uses to a child, or was in the England in which I grew up. Even qualified by ‘classical’, it’s still a no-chili statement. Garth’s ‘complete and utter – sorry, this arbiter of English insults says it’s not a $15, far mes a $15M insult. And words tend to lose what barbs they possess with use and familiarity.

    There is only one insult in the English language which can have no frivolous or humourous meaning attached. And it ain’t crackpot: it starts with same letter as…Pivar, PZ.

    Get over yourself Mr Pivar. Have a thundering good fart (in the bath if you like), get some of the hot air out of you.

  51. Grace says

    Your lawyer should have a fun time with this one! There is no libel/slander lawsuit in this. This is covered by “Fair comment and criticism” (which means anything produced for the public can be commented upon and criticized) and the precendent case is “The Cherry Sisters” or “Cherry v. Des Moines Leader.” (Here is the Wikipedia entry:

    He wrote the book, you did a review. Enough said.

    Any good journalist knows this, as would any media lawyer.

  52. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    Science crackpot, legal crackpot… Pivar reminds me of his own balloon animals, all whiny plastic around some hot air.

    Hmm. Could sue baiting repeatedly bomb a justice obsession syndrome sufferer to oblivion?

  53. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    Science crackpot, legal crackpot… Pivar reminds me of his own balloon animals, all whiny plastic around some hot air.

    Hmm. Could sue baiting repeatedly bomb a justice obsession syndrome sufferer to oblivion?

  54. Carlie says

    This is the really absurd thing, though – to be Spartacus, everyone shouldn’t be saying Pivar is an idiot, they should be saying that his book is a piece of crap. I just re-read the review, and not once did PZ attack Pivar himself, or call him names, or insinuate anything about his personal intelligence. He kept all of his criticisms to the book itself. So the suit has even less to stand on than it seems. He didn’t say “Pivar’s an idiot who wrote a crappy book”, he said “Gee, what a crappy book, and here’s exactly why it’s crappy”.
    If that could go through, then I can go back and sue my college English Comp teacher for every B paper I got.

  55. j.t.delaney says

    Wow, PZ has the wildest menagerie of personal enemies! I mean, talk about variety! There are the creationist-museum-curators-turned-tax-felon-types, the fanatic Christian terrorists running from the law, the spoiled-little-rich-kid Christian SciFi writers working at their daddy’s paper… and now a leisure-class septuagenarian Manhattan socialite drama queen!

    This is a shallow, shallow man, who clearly doesn’t grasp the concept that the sun doesn’t shine out his withered asshole. Check out this puff piece in the New York Times. “Caught in Amber” indeed. Clearly, a man of his stature is accustomed to different treatment than what his book received from PZ. Stuart Pivar is a deeply vain old coot, who has spent a lifetime desperately trying to culture the affectations of a batty Upper East Side blue blood – and succeeded. After decades of surrounding himself with mewling sycophants, he’s managed to develop some remarkably thin skin to criticism, and at the same time convince himself he’s something of an unassailable genius in all fields he deigns to pursue. From this Lifecode incident, one can surmise the following:

    a) It’s easy to convince people in his social bubble that an extrusion engineer who hasn’t done a lick of scientific work for decades is still legitimately a “scientist”, and should be referred to as “doctor”.
    b) Manhattan art majors cann’t tell the difference between 1950’s plastics extrusion engineering and 21st century evolutionary biology.
    c) He expects the same level of whim-worshipping from the rest of the world as he gets from his store-bought art friends.

    The fun has just started. As this stunt gains more publicity, he will catch a lot of grief from the same scientific community he wanted so badly to impress. For a man in his Winter Years who is so keenly obsessed with image, this was not a smart move.

  56. says

    This is the really absurd thing, though – to be Spartacus, everyone shouldn’t be saying Pivar is an idiot, they should be saying that his book is a piece of crap.

    I’d have agreed with you closely enough–before Pivar sued. Now that Pivar’s filing a lawsuit over what was in essence nothing more than a couple of bad reviews is such a monumentally frivolous and stupid (not to mention vindictive) thing to do that it is unequivocal evidence that Pivar is an idiot and a crank, and I think it’s now appropriate to call him one.

  57. MartinC says

    “Every time I see an example of something that is better than what I own, I buy it,” he said. “Otherwise for the rest of my life I have to live with the knowledge that someplace in the world something is floating around that is better than mine, and that’s intolerable.”
    I know exactly how he feels.
    No, wait a second. No I don’t.

  58. xebecs says

    Can anyone explain the (undoubtedly twisted) logic behind the assault claim? How can assault occur without physical contact?

  59. Boosterz says

    Since this Pivar guy thinks that calling him a crackpot is some big crime, I think some Cafepress goodies are in order. Is he going to sue several dozen people for wearing “Stuart Pivar is a flaming crackpot” hoodies?

    We need to break out Photoshop and see what kind of gear we can come up with. Maybe a sweatshirt featuring a picture of Stuart trying to fend off an angry cephalopod with a copy of his silly book. Or maybe some LOLPivar stuff. Like a photoshop picture of Stuart standing next to Gould’s grave and a caption saying, “I CAN HAS UR REPUTATION?”.

  60. Kseniya says

    How can assault occur without physical contact?
    Posted by: xebecs

    Xebecs, I believe you’re thinking of battery. Assault (in the US, anyway) is usually defined as the threat of violence, whereas battery is the actual, you know… battering. Either way, it’s just weird to include “assault” in the long list of heinous acts committed by PZ when he dared express his informed opinion.

  61. Carlie says

    Boosterz, the mental image of that lolPivar made me laugh so loud the person in the office next door heard me!

  62. says

    Maybe a sweatshirt featuring a picture of Stuart trying to fend off an angry cephalopod with a copy of his silly book.

    With some PYGMIES + DWARFS at the bottom pointing at Pivar saying “classic crackpot”.

  63. Kseniya says

    Carlie, yeah. :-)

    Nice аnalysis by J.T. Ok maybe “nice” is the wrong word… Expect a lawsuit any day now.

    (Filter note: I couldn’t post this with “analysis” enclosed in the [a] tag – another instance of the spam/porn filter catching embedded badwords (in this case, “anal”) in hyperlinks. Once again, the cyrillic alphabet comes to the rescue.)

  64. CalGeorge says

    There once was a nutball named Pivar
    Who got himself into a fever,
    Rejecting modern evolution,
    He went with the Goethean solution:
    In homunculi he’s a believer.

  65. Doug Dang says

    You made slashdot, PZ! Now you’re definitely going to be a household name in Mom’s basements across the country!

  66. Rich says

    While I am presently unemployed, I will certainly donate whatever I can, if it comes to that.

  67. says

    How can assault occur without physical contact?

    Assault can take the form of threat-making. For example, pointing a .45 at someone doesn’t require physical contact, either, but it’s definitely assault (according to my modest criminal record)

    I believe you can also commit assault by threatening someone over the Internet. Be careful out there.


  68. rrt says

    Just another voice of support, and encouragement for whatever countersuits/anti-frivolous-suit-actions are appropriate. I couldn’t type much more anyway, what with the convulsive giggling fits and all.

  69. steve_h says

    I think if people are going to do the Spartacus thing they should do it at their own risk from their own blogs or web sites, and not post anonymous remarks which PZ and Seed could get the blame for hosting.

  70. Rieux says

    There are a few misconceptions, though not terribly important ones, hanging around here. (IAAL, though there are a bunch of other lawyers commenting about this here and elsewhere who have more expertise in this area of the law than I do.)

    First, Pivar’s suit, at least as it is described in his Complaint, is not based on the fact that P.Z. gave his book two negative reviews. According to the Complaint, the entire suit is based on the fact that P.Z. called Pivar “a classic crackpot.” That’s it. At least as far as Pivar’s claim is concerned, forget the reviews–those three words are the only thing Pivar has brought to the court as P.Z.’s horrendous wrongdoing.

    (Of course, it’s no mystery what is actually motivating Pivar here, and the judge will probably have little trouble figuring out the relevance of P.Z.’s reviews to the offense Pivar took.)

    Second, Pivar’s Complaint does not accuse P.Z., or anyone, of assault. The Complaint never mentions assault. The only place “assault” came up was on the website of the New York federal court in which this was filed; that site listed the chapter of the New York statutes in which libel (Pivar’s central accusation) is defined. A different section of that same chapter happens to deal with assault, so the title of the chapter, which made its way onto the court’s website on the listing for this case, includes “assault.” It appears that that listing has confused some people.

    Finally, re Texas Reader:

    The critical question right now is this: does the judge to whose court this case was assigned have a history of granting SUMMARY JUDGMENTS?

    That is often an important question, yes, but I’m getting the sense (mainly from lawyers commenting on other blogs–litigators who have lots more experience in defamation law than I do) that this case won’t make it to summary judgment. Instead, the consensus (see, e.g., Peter Irons’ comment here) seems to be that this suit will die a quick death on a motion to dismiss for Pivar’s failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted (a.k.a. a “12(b)(6) motion”). In simple terms (according to Irons and others), the statement “Pivar is a classic crackpot” is an opinion; it’s not defamation. Therefore Pivar’s claims must be dismissed.

    A 12(b)(6) motion is better for the defendants here than summary judgment would be, because before they could get SJ, Pivar is likely to demand (and would probably be granted) the right to conduct all sorts of discovery–written interrogatories, depositions, etc.–that would be expensive, time consuming, and horrendously bothersome and stressful. It wouldn’t be quite as bad as a trial, but it would be pretty bad.

    So it seems pretty clear that the defendants should 12(b)(6) Pivar’s case, and then Rule 11 (and/or SLAPP) him.

    Stick it to him, P.Z.

  71. Louis says

    Well PZ, you have my unquestioned support. Should there be a need for a fighting fund, I’ll chip in a few bucks. Hell, I’ll go all the way up to…ooooh quite a lot!

    As for this cranky fuckwit suing you for libel, doesn’t libel have to be untrue as well as damaging? (IIRC, IANAL)

    Nothing you said was untrue ergo (if my recollection is correct) this Pivar crackpot is boned (I believe this is the correct legal term).

    Have fun if this ever gets to court: “M’Lud, Mr Pivar’s claims about developmental biology bear no resemblance to reality as demonstrated by exhibits A to ZZZZZZZZZ. Thus, from a scientific perspective, Professor Myers was correct in his assessment of Pivar’s claims as being the groundless witterings of a deluded and inadequate little mind. The offensive defence rests.” Dress it up in legalese, tart it up for court and you’ve got him! No charge ;-)


  72. j.t.delaney says

    Nice аnalysis by J.T. Ok maybe “nice” is the wrong word… Expect a lawsuit any day now.

    Aw, thanks for noticing. Unless Little Lord Prissybritches wants to spend the golden years of his omphaloskeptic life chasing after everybody who doesn’t speak favorably of him on the web, I think I’m safe. My guess is that in the forthcoming weeks, I will hardly be the only one who expresses such an opinion. As word gets out about what he’s doing, additional snot-bubble-blowing legalistic hissy fits against random people on the web are only going to make him look less sane and less respectable in circles of polite society – this is certainly not the effect he is after…

    Plus, its one thing for this insufferable, foppish old bat to try to bully domestic critics by perverting the American court system, but it’s a whole different thing for him to try that stunt in other countries with less whimsical legal systems, here in Europe Really, I would *love* to hear a lawyer argue make the case that a) Mr. Pivar has been aware (for some time now, in fact) that the Sun doesn’t shine out his asshole, and/or that b) Mr. Pivar’s asshole is not withered.

  73. Bob L says

    I wonder if this Privar character gasses on to his buddies about how evil lawsuits are like a typical wingnut?

  74. gerald spezio says

    PZ, there is a profound gypsy curse (read Curse) hurled at one’s most foul and despicable enemies; “MAY YOU BE INVOLVED IN A LAWSUIT IN WHICH YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE RIGHT.”

    A farmer’s almanac published in 1914 shows a picture of two farmer’s pulling at two ends of the same cow. One farmer is pulling the halter and the other farmer is pulling on the tail. The mustachioed lawyer is sitting on a stool and milking away at the cow’s teats. The caption reads; “DON’T GO TO THE LAW WITH YOUR DISPUTES.”

  75. says

    It is rather stupid isn’t it?

    I honestly hope that it doesn’t have any actual trial at all.

    You may get some free publicity out of it if someone decides to talk about stupid lawsuits on TV or something like that.

  76. says

    Who in the blogosphere has called or inferred that someone else was an idiot or an imbecile or worse?
    If this lawsuit is successful, the internet could die.

  77. rob says

    PZ, congratulations on getting a huge amount of publicity. I see you are on slashdot today, so I’m sure a lot of people are hearing of your site for the first time because of this.

    My guess is that this guy will have to pay your legal fees as well, since it is clearly frivolous, and I doubt it will get far at all.

    I’m sure it’s no fun to get sued, but in this case, I think you will be better off for it.

  78. Steve_C says

    This reminds me of when Fox sued Franken.

    Did you beg Pivar to sue you?

    I’m sensing the will literally be “laughed out of court”.

  79. j.t.delaney says

    There’s something remarkably unpleasant about Pivar claiming to have “officiated” at Gould’s funeral. Does anybody know the details?

  80. Sonja says

    I think Dr. Stuart Pivar is missing a great opportunity for a class action suit. He should have is attorney give a call to Michael Behe, Scott Adams, Deepak Chopra, Vox Day, and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway.

  81. MikeM says

    Hey, PZ? Let’s go kick some ass. Okay?

    This lawsuit should make the owners of these satirical Brownback blogs shiver a bit, though. They keep saying over and over that they’re not satire or parody, even though they really are. So why doesn’t Brownback step in and tell them they either have to clearly label their sites as satire, or withdraw posts that do not reflect Brownback’s views?

    While this silly lawsuit against you is sure to be tossed, I’m not sure a similar lawsuit from the Brownback camp regarding those satiriblogs would be.

    Shoot, they send you a book, and ask you to review it, and they don’t like the review so they sue you? Good grief.

    If my wife ever asks me, “Does this dress make my butt look big?” and I foolishly say “Yes”, does she have the right to sue me?

    (By the way, nothing on this planet could make my wife’s butt look big.)

  82. says

    As a fringe related issue, Conservapedia has threatened to sue RationalWiki for copyright vios for quoting the creationist, fascist idiocy and parodying it. Hmmm…why to crackpots always need to sue others to support their ideas Don’t they stand up to the light of day?

  83. David says

    If he’s not careful, “pivar” may enter the vernacular as a synonym for a frivolous lawsuit brought by a classic crackpot. As in, “I just got hit with a pivar.”

  84. Graculus says

    Who in the blogosphere has called or inferred that someone else was an idiot or an imbecile or worse?

    Rouhgly three times a day, on a bad day.

    See, if Pivar actually wanted to win this case he would have filed it in a court that had no jurisidiction and failed to legally notify Seed/PZ of the action. In the US this is not only allowed, it is an automatic win.

  85. arachnophilia says

    @Collin (#40):

    “you do realize, of course, that spartacus’s entire army was crucified?”

    Come on. We’re talking about a creationist. He wouldn’t crucify a fly for fear of sending the wrong message.

    just pointing out that it is perhaps the wrong metaphor to be using. and he does apparently have a lot of money and time on his hands.

    @dave teegarden (#59):

    Uh oh. I opined on several internet forums that “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” sucked. Will the producers sue me for libel?

    i believe i called the first one something to the extent of “the worst movie ever made” on my livejournal. frankly, if anyone should be sued, it’s the people who made that movie. class action, $8 +emotional trauma for each person who saw it.

  86. LCR says

    Is Pivar paying for his own lawyer? Or is he getting financial support from someone else… I’m just wondering if this has any of the Discovery Institute’s sticky fingerprints all over it.

  87. says

    I’ll echo the sentiments of so many here and say wow, this guy sounds like a total crackpot… and I really mean that.

    Good luck with this boohoo-you-hurt-my-feewings lawsuit. :)

  88. gerald spezio says

    MikeM, Senator Bonebrain Brownbeck is a lawyer, and I’m sure he knows all about the legal extortion racket. He has worked it for years. Sixty per cent of the Senate is composed of lawyer/lobbyists selling their “services.”

    Every candidate running for president, whether Demo or Repub, is a lawyer – except for John McCain.

    Hillarious, Obama, Edwards, Dodd, & Biden for the Demos.

    Romney, Guiliani, Fred “meatball” Thompson, & Brownbeck for the Repubs.

    Most of the neo-con Zionists who engineered the destruction of Irag are lawyers. Joe Lieberman, Scooter Liebowitz, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams, James Woolsey, Ilan Berman, Michael Chertofff, Alan Dershowitz, etc.

    There is only one self-regulating monopoly in Supernation – lawyering. Call it an attorneyocracy. These fratboys and girls know how DALAW works alright.

    PZ in in their lair now.

  89. cureholder says

    Fortunately, in a libel and/or slander action, truth is a complete defense, so PZ should have no trouble with this. Pivar really IS a crackpot (as PZ explained in his review, contra the lawsuit, which claims the label was applied “without cause”). Thus, there is no defamation.

    Oh god, now I am probably going to get sued by this crackpot.

  90. cureholder says

    I think Judge Sheindlin in this case is Shira Sheindlin, a district court judge.

    Should I be embarrassed that I knew that off the top of my head? Probably.

  91. cureholder says

    Yeah this is “Scheindlin” (with a “c”), which is Shira. Judy is without the “c.”

  92. opened minded says

    The crux of the suit is NOT a bad review. It is PZ saying as fact that the author is a “crackpot” That is pretty simple libel. By the way, opened minded folks can check out the Pivar theory for themselves by going to

  93. Graculus says

    That is pretty simple libel

    No, it isn’t.

    For someone to be defamed there has to be something to defame.

    Also, it must be untrue.

  94. Carlie says

    Hey, openminded sockpuppet – go read PZ’s reviews. He didn’t call the author a crackpot. The only sentence in which it appears is “It seems no expense was spared getting it published, which is in contrast to the content, and is unusual for such flagrant crackpottery.”
    Again, that is obviously a reference to the book, not the author.

  95. Boosterz says

    And the first troll of the evening shows up…

    Who wants to lay odds it’s Pivar himself?

  96. gerald spezio says

    Several well meaning responders have offered to help with PZ’s legal expenses. Blind faith in the legal system’s scam is coupled to the public’s acceptance of the blind scales of justice and “getting your day in court.” Your day in court is actually your lawyer’s Porsche.

    Consider if you will that the legal system is an extortion racket run by a non-productive elite who milk the producing public with the law as their instrument. We are the raw material – the only raw material.

  97. bybelknap, FCD says

    Always cracks me up that the god botherers, the ones who KNOW the ABSOLUTE TRUTH of Jesus Christ, are the ones who use handles like “open minded” &cet. In this case the person is so open minded it appears he allowed his brain to fall out.

  98. gerald spezio says

    Garrett Hardin taught me that if your mind is completely open it would be empty. It is what we hold our mind that defines us. Open to what? Perpetual motion and free energy?

  99. says

    As someone with recent experience in online disputes spilling into the real world and necessitating lawyers and what-not, let me second your counsel’s advice: don’t comment on this anymore. I was initially told to publicize, publicize, publicize, then told by someone else that was a terrible thing to do. So listen to the legal mind you’re already listening to, and accept offers from the rest in the kindness with which they’re offered, then disregard them.

    P.S. The one thing I’d consider a counter suit for would be the wasted time and tedious paperwork. However, I don’t want to tempt the Cruel Hand of Irony.

  100. says

    Wow just wow, this lawyer really does not know what he is doing. This suit at least won’t get passed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. On it face it pleads diversity as grounds for Federal Subject Matter jurisdiction. This means the plaintiffs and defendants must be residents of different states. The plaintiff’s lawyer then goes on to assert that plaintiff is a resident of New York and Seed is incorporated in Delaware and its principal place of business is in New York (He actually says headquarters but I believe that that is close enough). Corporations’ have two places of residence, place of incorporation and principal place of business. On the complaint’s face therefore there is no diversity and the Court has no jurisdiction. (I also question whether the court could assert personal jurisdiction over P.Z. but that a harder question)

  101. Steve_C says

    If you don’t want to be called a crackpot, you don’t publish a book with goofy nonscience in it. It’s kind of like scientology. If you don’t want to be called a cult, don’t act like one.

  102. says

    Having just come out of a frivolous, seven-year-long lawsuit, (I won. Yay!) let me express my sincere sympathies to you, PZ.

    Good luck to you. Here’s hoping for an early dismissal, with costs to your fine lawyers!

  103. S. Fisher says

    Would that it were Judge Judy. Can you imagine the dressing down she’d give an idiot like Pivar? She rocks, you know.

  104. says

    Hmm spoke a little too soon. LLC under Delaware law appears to be hybrid corporation/partnership. I think the conclusion is still correct in that either principal place of business will come into play or location of partners. Not sure where they are, and he fails to plead the info (which unto itself is potentially grounds for dismissal), but at least one person mentioned as on the board Jeffrey Epstein, appears to reside in New York.

  105. gerald spezio says

    A judge’s job is to maximize his/her brother/sister lawyers’ income.
    The judge’s black robe is a big part of the mystifying put-on.

    What is the only thing worse that a lawyer?
    A lawyer who becomes a judge.

  106. me says

    I’m not sure how libel even applies. They guy sends a book to a known cranky scientist, said cranky scientist pans it, as he should, crackpot guy then gets all teary. Now, if he had been called a pederast or something, that would be different.

  107. gerald spezio says

    We all know that PZ is a fearless running back for science and the secular society. No matter how big and mean the linebackers are, PZ hits the hole and the linebackers every time. He took the yuppie framing geniuses to the woodshed and whupped ’em good. Ain’t nobody gonna shut PZ up. Until now.

    Now, the lawyer colossus is on his “case” and behold the mandatory changes. Even bulldog PZ is silenced, and by the almighty hand of his own priestly “counsel.”

    Richard Pryor once publicly quipped; “My own lawyer took me hook, line, and sinker.” Pryor’s own lawyer then sued him and collected another $500,000.

    It is as much Piver’s legal whore and the system that gives the legal whore power over all of us, as it is poor pitiful Piver. Yup, a dink toed loser with a law degree and Bar Association membership can make all kinds of priestly commands as PZ is learning. Even you own lawyer is routinely a double agent. Your lawyer is beholding to the professional scam that gives him the power to milk you.

    Any case, including your case, is just more lucrative “due process” – lawyers get their due from your sweat and blood. Amazingly all this private milking is done in a public courtroom. Everything is paid by public taxes, but only Bar member lawyers can pull teats there.

    One hundred years ago in his Devil’s Dictionary Ambrose Bierce defined litigation; “A system where you go in as a pig and come out as a sausage.”

  108. Kristin says

    Just remember – truth is a defense to a defamation claim. Pivar is clearly a crackpot, a lunatic, and idiot, and a fucking moron. Your review let him off easy, in my opinion.

  109. Schmo says

    I hate to be say it, but this whole thing pleases me to no end.

    PZ Myers lost all my respect when he claimed that anybody who plays poker (or other games of chances) is stupid. Such an asinine claim was bad enough, but then instead of apologizing, as I expected, he simply re-iterated his claim that all gamblers and poker players are stupid.

    As such, I am deeply pleased that some nonsensical lawsuit is going to cost you time, money and energy that could be spent doing what you enjoy. You earned this bad karma, you judgmental jerk.

  110. Peter Ashby says

    From over the pond here in sunny Scotland I say we smear Pivar in hot haggis and stake him out on top of the Cairngorms. The golden eagles should sort him out.

    As a Developmental Biologist myself I say counter sue for damages. Tell the lawyers you want money from this loser to deter him from doing it again. I also say we work damn hard to design a paper eating beastie trained only to eat Pivar’s books. Then let them loose in Borders.

  111. mr.ed says

    The answer is to countersue and ask for your attorneys’ fees to be paid also. The more action on the other side costs him from your side.

  112. gerald spezio says

    Lawyers love to see you fight. No fight – no fees.
    The engineered “fight” routinely and suddenly ends when the client’s money run out. No more meaningless motions to the “honorable court.”

    “Tis the fee that justifies the lawyer’s pretense,” said Benjamin Franklin.

    Benjamin Franklin detested lawyers, but he knew that the slimey bastards were gaining complete control of the government by the latter 18th century. The original Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1648) outlawed lawyers and lawyering.

  113. micheyd says

    So Schmo’s fewwings got hurt by PZ, now he’s glad PZ’s being attacked unfairly by a millionaire crackpot with malicious intent?

    Go cry to your mommy, asshole.

  114. Graculus says

    The answer is to ensure that “Stuart Pivar is a classic crackpot” is the number one Google result for ever and ever, ramen.

  115. cureholder says

    As to whether the federal court could assert personal jurisdiction over PZ, it could in two ways: one, there IS diversity between PZ and the crackpot (MN v. NY), so the court could dismiss Seed as a defendant for lack of diversity and still have the suit against PZ (assuming PZ’s share of the alleged damages met the $75,000.01 minimum); or, the court could find that because PZ put his words into the “stream of commerce” and knew that his acts were likely to have an effect in NY, he meets the “minimum contacts” necessary to subject himself to personal jurisdiction in NY. (see Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984)).

    The diversity question is much more straightforward, so that’s probably the route the court would take.

  116. Andrew says

    Usual disclaimers apply, but in response to comment #148 and some of the other legal questions on this thread:

    1. It makes little sense for Pivar to dismiss Seed Media and keep Myers in the lawsuit; Seed Media are the people with the money. If you got a bazillion-dollar judgment against P.Z., how exactly would you collect it??

    2. I highly doubt P.Z. has sufficient minimum contacts with New York such as to constitute personal jurisdiction; writing on a personal blog for which one is not paid is not even close to “putting oneself in the stream of commerce.”

    3. Offensively obnoxious as Pivar’s lawsuit is, it clearly does not meet the standards to qualify as a SLAPP suit. Similarly, although it is *possible* get Rule 11 sanctions for filing frivolous lawsuits, in practice, such sanctions are almost never awarded, and I doubt they would be awarded here.

    4. Additionally, in the U.S. we do not have a “loser pays” system (except in rare statutory cases), so it is similarly unlikely that Pivar will ever have to pay any legal costs other than his own.

    5. Seed Media may have a very good cause of action against Pivar for tortious interference with prospective advantage, and I’d be surprised if they weren’t preparing a counterclaim as we speak. It’s what I’d be doing.


  117. says

    I’m not a lawyer, but I can quote one:

    Sounds like big trouble. You’re going to need plenty of legal advice before this thing is over. As your attorney, I advise you to rent a very fast car with no top.

  118. says

    Has anyone else read the complaint? After reading the complaint I honestly hope the justice prevails, because one stupid judge may effectively silence debate.

  119. says

    The judge assigned to the case isn’t stupid. She’s actually quite good, and writes thorough opinions.

    Not the same judge who spanked Billo in his libel suit against Al Franken, but in the same courthouse.

  120. gerald spezio says

    Wildy, In medieval England lawyers were paid by the word, both for the “complaint” and the “mandatory response” to the complaint. Not much has changed. If PZ and his lawyer-champion doesn’t respond pronto (usually twenty days), he is guilty as charged in the “complaint.”

    The complaint is the “cause of action” and gets the lawyer’s payola rolling. The black-robed lawyer is on the PUBLIC payola.

    Get the stupid bastards fighting, and keep them fighting. We will give them all the due process that they can pay us for. Your legal whore in the fancy suit has all the expensive due process you can afford.

    “Plaintiff prays for relief” is a holdover from the days where all lawyers were actual priests in the bloody fookin Holy Church of Bejesus. Tough Aussies, especially, should know better than to listen to the continuing Limey lawyer cash register.

    Yup, not much has changed.

    What is a complete waste of brain cells for us is a gold mine for any dink toed arsehole with a law degree and a license to milk at the publicly funded legal trough.

    Do you know anybody who hasn’t been to court, is in court, or is about to go to court?

  121. gerald spezio says

    zuzu, Did his/her holiness black robed judge “spank” any brother lawyers, or no? Where did the “attorney fees” go?

  122. gerald spezio says

    High profile news lady, Paula Zahn, has very high profile Harvard lawyer genius, Stanley Arkin, in her corner. Stanley knows all about “matrimonial law” and has filed a “Complaint.” See some of Stanley’s Ivy League complaining brilliance here;
    Stanley also has an international investigation firm, The Arkin Group, who ferret out dastardly deeds by evil doers. Stanley tirelessly works his legal genius for truth, mercy, and making sure that his clients get all the due process that they can pay him for. This complaint wants 25 million.