Don’t mess with Yeeks

Now, this is something I believe couldonly happen in China. Mr. Fang Shi-Min, aka Fang Zhouzi, a scientific debunker from China, has been sued by the family of late Liu Zihua (he’s mentioned in the linked article) for libel. The family won…

I learned about it in Science Magazine online and paid $10.00 for the article, which is copyrighted and all that jazz. I cannot reproduce it here in its entirety, but, I can quote the relevant portion of it concerning the Yijing.

Fang’s recent setbacks came on consecutive days. On 21 November, a Beijing intermediate court ruled that an article Fang wrote in 2005 defamed the late Liu Zihua, a Sichuan provincial government employee. In a dissertation written in France in the 1930s, Liu presented calculations based on the eight trigrams of an ancient divination text, I Ching (Book of Changes), predicting the existence of a 10th major planet in the solar system. Liu’s prognostication was resurrected after last year’s announced
discovery of 2003UB313 (now officially a dwarf planet named Eris). A Sichuan newspaper ran a story extolling Liu’s prophecy.

In an essay, Fang labeled Liu’s prediction “pseudoscience” and noted that a Chinese astronomer discredited it in the 1940s. Liu’s widow and son sued Fang and several newspapers and Internet content providers for libel. The court judged Fang’s words “insulting” to Liu and ordered him to apologize publicly and pay Liu’s family $2500 plus legal fees. The family did not respond to an interview request.

Now, this is interesting. I wonder how much of the judgment has to do with actual libel and how much it has to do with defending tradition. In the last few years, there has been a strong and proudrevival, in China proper,of ancient traditional teachings. I believe the line between what’s considered superstition and science has become increasingly blurred. We are indeed, living in interesting times.


I Ching

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