Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Author of Prayer Study Sues Researcher/Reviewer For Defamation

Dr. Kwang Cha, first author on a controversial study on the power of prayer to influence fertility, published by the Journal of Reproductive Medicine in 2001, has sued Dr. Bruce L. Flamm for defamation over Dr. Flamm's comments on the study. Since the study was originally published, it has been heavily and consistently criticized by some members of the scientific community. The JRM finally withdrew the study from its website.

Read a summary of Dr. Flamm's objections to the original paper here.

Dr. Cha objects to one particular statement that Dr. Flamm made in a March 15, 2007 opinion piece he wrote for Ob-Gyn News. "This may be the first time in history that all three authors of a randomized, controlled study have been found guilty of fraud, deception, and/or plagiarism." Here's a review of the situation up to now by Bob Grant of The Scientist. He quotes Hastings constitutional law professor David Faigman as pointing to the chilling effect of lawsuits such as the one Dr. Cha has filed. "It's the nature of this kind of lawsuit that it potentially chills other people from making strong statements....The existence of the lawsuit alone is likely to chill scientific discussion."

The problem, however, is that the plagiarism referred to here is not connected to the fertility study, but to another of Dr. Cha's publications, which appeared in 2005, and which was subsequently found to be extremely similar to a previously published article by another author. Dr. Flamm has now asked the court to dismiss Dr. Cha's lawsuit against him.

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