In a defamation lawsuit, the hype around digital health clashes with scientific criticism

“Bad science can be used to prop up useless products and interventions, so we have to be able to criticize bad science,” said Jonathan Jarry.

A retraction often marks the end of a dispute over published scientific research. But in the case of a $300 digital fertility tracker marketed by Valley Electronics, it was only the beginning.

After a study on the effectiveness of its Daysy thermometer was retracted, Valley sued Chelsea Polis, a researcher who had publicly lambasted its findings, for defamation. When a federal judge threw out the case, Valley appealed, arguing that Polis went too far by calling the company “unethical” and labeling its study “junk science.” The appeal — set for March 22 — underscores the growing tensions between new, loosely regulated technologies and watchdogs insisting that published claims be supported by rigorous science.

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