Fringe scientist Ruggero Santilli is not pleased with two articles you can find on my website. The first one, Finding JV Kadeisvili – or Mailing with Ruggero M Santilli (2013), is quite long and in it I show that Santilli used aliases to write articles in scientific journals to support the pseudoscientific articles he wrote under his real name. In February this year I followed up with a short post on the Santilli Telescope, one of his newer inventions, in Florida Genius Now Sees Invisible ‘Entities’ (see update below).
Since publishing the first article I’ve encountered many comments from Santilli (using sockpuppets) on several web forums and message boards in which he showed his annoyance with these publications. On his own websites, he has published articles in which he, for instance, stated that my website is ‘jewish controlled‘. Santilli seems to think that there is a large conspiracy of Jewish scientists who cooperate in several ways to protect the theories of Einstein against his ‘improvements’ of these theories. Last May Santilli went a bit further. I received a letter from his attorney, Joseph E. Parrish, owner of Fortis Law, with the subject: Imminent legal action if you do not Cease,
RDesist and DisRetract.
NB. for convenience sake, I will talk about ‘mr. S.’ in the remainder of this post, while it might actually concern Ruggero, his wife Carla or one of his close co-workers.
The ‘Parrish’ letters
First I heard from the chairman of Skepsis (the Dutch Skeptics Foundation of which I’m a board member) that he had received such a letter. A couple of days later I received the one addressed to me via the hosting company of my website. Later I learned that they had received a letter addressed to the company as well.
All these letters are identical except for the first few lines. In the letter attorney Joe Parrish writes that he represents Ruggero Santilli and claims that I’ve written inaccurate stories about his client with the intention to injure his reputation. And of course, he demands that I remove the articles.
The letter mentions the following ‘inaccuracies’:
- I call Santilli a “fringe scientist”, “a mad professor” and “a cunning scam artist”;
- I state that “the whole concept of antimatter is bullshit”;
- and I’ve ‘defined’ Magnegas Corporation a “pyramid scheme”.
You can read the entire letter I received by downloading it here.
The style of the letter is so similar to other writings of mr. S, including spelling mistakes and odd word usage, that one almost immediately assumes that mr. S has written the letter and that the attorney just signed it and sent it off. But Fortis Law seemed even less involved.
The letter our chairman received (via FedEx, I believe) was sent in a plain white envelope. It was also handed in at the delivery service three days after it was apparently signed, by a Mrs. Sherry Stone who happens to be a secretary at Thunder Energies Corp, the company which sells the Santilli Telescope. There is not a real signature on this letter, just Parrish’ name printed in a fancy font as you can see here on the left (the font is Linotype Zapfino, I think). Also, my letter had an empty last page, which seemed a bit amateurish for a letter sent by an attorneys office.
Together these facts pointed strongly to a scenario in which mr. S. had just received some stationery from Fortis Law, had written the letter himself and let his secretary take care of the delivery. All this with or without (detailed) knowledge and consent of Parrish. So we thought it wise to ask him to authenticate this letter before answering to the complaints.
It took quite a while before Parrish met this simple request and sent us signed copies of the three letters.
This signature looks reasonably similar to one I could find of Parrish on a “Public Reprimand – with Conditions” from the Florida Bar (October 2015). But notice that the font of the quasi-signature is now different than in the original letter I received (this looks like Script mt). There are more discrepancies between the signed copies we received and the originals. Parrish probably couldn’t sign an actual copy, because he has never possessed one. My guess is that after our request for authentication mr. S. had to send him a document with the letters sent to us (in text, not even a pdf) and that Parrish had to print those again on his own stationary without noticing that his office computers lack some fonts mr. S. had used. It all looks very clumsy.
My answer to the complaints
But okay, now at least it was clear that Parrish took responsibility for the letter, we decided to send him decent answers. Dr. Jan Willem Nienhuys, secretary of Skepsis, did this on paper and he used several pages to eloquently explain why the concept of the Santilli Telescope must be seen as utter nonsense and also explained that in the letter from Fortis Law some crucial articles of the Dutch law are left out, exactly those which deal with the exemptions and allow me to legally write what I did without being defamatory or libellous.
I myself replied as follows:
Dear Mr. Parrish,
Thank you for the signed version of the letter which was sent to me in your name on May 20th 2016. I still find it quite particular that it took you so long to answer my simple request for authentication and the fact that this signed version is different from the original in several aspects. Together with the strange spelling mistakes, in my opinion this all points strongly to mr. Ruggero Santilli, your client, being the real author and actual sender. But now that you have confirmed that you are accountable for its content, I will address the issues raised in the letter.
To start with: your client is complaining about two articles on my personal website. My website is not related to Stichting Skepsis. So why you have also addressed the chairman of Stichting Skepsis, Professor Frank Israel, in this matter with a similar letter, I do not understand. The secretary of Stichting Skepsis, dr. Jan Willem Nienhuys, has sent you an elaborate letter (on paper) explaining most of the following matters in more detail. I’m grateful for his support in this case and I do urge you to read his letter with care. I believe that after reading it, you will agree that your client does not have a case against me.
Your letter mentions article 261 of the Dutch Criminal Code, but you leave out the important third part, which I will invoke if necessary to justify the statements I made in my articles which apparently have annoyed your client in such way that he has sought your help in getting those changed. Dr. Nienhuys has been so kind to give you an English translation of this part of article 261 in his letter. In answer to an e-mail apparently sent by mrs. Carla Santilli to me and Professor Israel on April 25th this year, I had already pointed out that she missed this particular part and its importance.
In correspondence with the ‘institutions’ of your client I have become used to getting all kind of replies signed by different people without ever receiving a reply to my questions signed by your client in his own name. Your client has acknowledged that these are indeed fake names in several cases, although, as far as I know, he has never admitted that these are aliases for himself. Because of this history you will understand that our requests for authentication are not proof of a strategy to delay, but instigated by very real concern.
For the specific issues you bring up in your letter, let me start with the complaint about Exhibit B [i.e. this article]. From the context I belief it’s quite clear what I meant by “It looks like a pyramid scheme”, namely that Magnegas didn’t look like a sustainable firm at the time of writing considering the accumulated losses and without the prospect of compensating those losses with future gains because of the dubious way in which their product (the original Magnegas) was promoted as a gas mixture containing molecules with properties that are not known to mainstream science. I also wrote: “Magnegas’ main business doesn’t seem to be selling gas but attracting small investors, who fall for the promise of Magnegas being a new miracle gas.” If you follow the link to the Wikipedia article which is in my article under “pyramid scheme” you’ll find that the description fits reasonably well. And in the most recent update (Nov. 2014) to the article I wrote: “It still doesn’t look like a financially solid company to me and they seem to be struggling to keep the MNGA stock listed on the NASDAQ, but I am not an expert on stockmarket operations.”
All together I don’t think this article can be seen as libelous towards Magnegas. Besides, this article is more than three years old and because of that I learn from your own blog that bringing this to court under Florida law seems pointless: http://fortis.law/2016/01/13/
is-it-defamation-slander-and- libel-in-florida/ [mirror].
I’ll now discuss the complaints about Exhibit A [i.e. this post]. In his article I expose the Santilli Telescope as the next weird and false ‘scientific’ idea of your client. This I have also explained to mrs. Santilli in response to her mail on April 25th. I quote from that mail: “I didn’t state that Ruggero is stupid, I just call his theories stupid. And that’s easily proved, so this is not libelous according to the law.” I’m not a stock expert, nor am I a psychiatrist. In my opinion it is quite clear that the ‘Stupidity’ in the title is a reference to the ideas and deeds of your client, not an expert opinion on his mental state. The words “fringe scientist” are appropriate as your client is widely seen so by mainstream scientists who dismiss his theories as fringe science (for instance according to Wikipedia).
Then about “the whole concept of antimatter is bullshit”. Here you left out ‘-light’, the actual sentence is: “The whole concept of antimatter-light is bullshit, because the anti-particle of a photon is simply a photon.” Dr. Nienhuys has provided you a clear analysis of why this concept of antimatter-light as a kind of light which behaves differently from normal light is absurd. In my words: another idea of Santilli, which lacks proper scientific reasoning, therefore the ‘Continuing’ in the title.
Finally on the terms “a mad professor” and “cunning scam artist”. The actual passage is: “Is Santilli just a mad professor? Or is he a cunning scam artist trying to sell his ‘Santilli-ofocus-scopes’ (or even better: stock in his businesses) to people who fall easily for sciency sounding nonsense? Maybe both …” I think it’s in the public interest to warn potential buyers of these instruments that those cannot work as claimed. “Mad professor” and “fringe scientist” are in the same league as far as I am concerned.
Your client may be unhappy with my articles and some of its content, but they are not libelous as I have provided sufficient grounds to justify the use of the terms your clients objects to.
Pepijn van Erp
And after that? Nothing! No response from Parrish for a couple of weeks, so I asked him via mail if he was still representing Santilli. And to that simple question no answer either, not even after repeated requests. Quite peculiar behaviour for a professional attorney if you ask me.
The funny thing about this whole episode is that the complaints of mr. S. do not address the main point of the ‘Kadeisvili’-article, namely that I accuse him of scientific fraud by using an alias to write in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy to defend himself against a rebuttal of an article he has written under his real name. Does this mean he now tacitly admits this?
In the comments on that ‘Kadeisvili’-article mr. S. was eager to inform me and the readers of the comments there that mr. S. had received another award. A piece of paper with his name on it and the words “Technical Achievement Award”. The award certificate mentions several prominent institutions as co-sponsor of this award:
One of those, the American Institute of Physics, I sent an e-mail for clarification. They answered me that more people had contacted them on this matter and that they were already taking action. The AIP was clearly not informed about being mentioned as co-sponsor of this award. Their only involvement with the conference is that AIP Publishing would be publishing the conference proceedings. Exactly what AIP did, I don’t know, but from the website of mr. S. we get the impression that they put some pressure on the organizers to remove all mentions of AIP as co-sponsor, see the section ‘6. Organized scientific crimes perpetrated by the Jewish control of the AIP‘ on this page [mirror].
To most people, it will be clear that this award was instigated by mr. S. himself and that he just asked his co-worker Georgiev to organize the signatures. There is a clue that this piece of paper was doctored at the offices of mr. S.: the filename of the picture is ‘TARPON_2.jpg’, which points to the address of his business (1444 Rainville Road, Tarpon Springs, Florida).
I’m sure that these are just two more events we can add to the long list of fringe activities on Santilli’s curriculum vitae.
Update 2 November 2016: the story continues in Sued by Santilli
Update 13 September 2018: Settlement in Santilli vs. Van Erp and Israel