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True and False Speech

50 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2006 Last revised: 29 Dec 2010

Christopher P. Guzelian

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Date Written: August 16, 2008


First Amendment law suffers from structural instability because it does not properly address liability for false speech. It is, in other words, "unpredictable." ("Unpredictability" means a speaker cannot accurately predict whether her contemplated communication is protected from legal liability. Scholars have long recognized that unpredictable law causes the Rule of Law's collapse.)

This article demonstrates that an effective first step in making First Amendment law more predictable is to create explicit liability for false scientific speech, governed by predictable liability rules. We demonstrate that the most serious objections to formalized false scientific speech liability apply with equal force to any form of legal liability. Thus, rejection of predictable false scientific speech liability requires deep reconsideration about how most legal liability, not only First Amendment liability, should be wielded.

Keywords: First Amendment, Predicted Liability, Predictable Liability, Free Speech, False Speech Liability, Misleading Scientific Opinions, Uncertainty, Science, Evidence-Based Logic, EBL

JEL Classification: K13, K32, K41, L15, L40, D81, D61, D62, D80, Z00

Suggested Citation

Guzelian, Christopher P., True and False Speech (August 16, 2008). Boston College Law Review, Vol. 51, p. 669, 2010; Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 924722; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 924722. Available at SSRN:

Christopher P. Guzelian (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )

1155 Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
619-961-4248 (Phone)

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