Aussie chiropractor a pain in the neck

By Phil Plait | October 13, 2009 12:35 pm

Recently, science writer Simon Singh was sued by the British Chiropractic Association for having the audacity of telling the truth in a newspaper article about chiropractic: while it may have some small efficacy when treating back problems, there is exactly zero good evidence that it can treat illnesses, and in fact can be very dangerous when people get their neck manipulated.

The Australian Skeptics posted Simon’s original article so that it would get more attention. And it worked, kinda: like a fly to honey, one chiropractor took offense at what was written, and decided to send them a nearly logic-free letter. That’s fine, and pretty much what I expect from a vocal alt-med devotée. As justified, Eran Segev, president of the Australian Skeptics, responded.

All well and good, until…

… two weeks after responding we received a letter from the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) indicating Mr Ierano [the chiropractor] has lodged a complaint against Australian Skeptics. The letter attached to the complaint was the same one that Australian Skeptics had received and responded to.

Well, that’s a bit odd! I mean, why go to the trouble to pursue legal action against someone responding to your claims when it should be easy to present a simple rebuttal based on the evidence that chiropractic works?

… oh, right.

What’s funny is that originally, the BCA (the group suing Simon in the UK) tried to defend their position, and presented a poorly-researched, off-topic press release that somehow managed to make them look worse. Apparently, that’s a theme amongst chiropractors trying to support some of their less reality-based claims.

And while I’m using a light-hearted tone here, I’ll note that this is a very serious issue: there are people out there trying to stifle free speech. It’s that simple. The UK libel laws are draconian and designed to shut up any protest, making scientific objections and investigations into potential and real quackery very difficult. As Eran says on the AS page:

Australian Skeptics sees this complaint as lacking any merit even if it did not include some factual errors (e.g. the claim that a British court ruled Simon’s article is biased). We have prepared a detailed response to the HCCC and will be defending our right to publish articles relating to any scientific issue, as long as they are backed by scientific evidence.

Good on ya, mate!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience, Debunking, Skepticism

Comments (55)

  1. John

    Is this an astronomy blog or what? Does “bad astronomy” mean you don’t know what astronomy is? Seems like it is getting over-run by medical/H1N1/vaccine info. Bye bye, removed from my RSS aggregrator.

  2. Ginger Yellow

    How bizarre. I could kind of understand if the guy had sued the Australian Skeptics for libel (although it wouldn’t have worked, given that the alleged defamee was the BCA). But I don’t see why he complained to the NSW HCCC, which investigates complaints against health service providers and doesn’t even have any enforcement powers. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that the Australian Skeptics aren’t a health service provider . The HCCC has no jurisdiction whatsoever over the Skeptics (obviously), nor could it do anything about it if it did.

  3. iBozz

    Twenty or more years ago, my late wife went to a chiropractor who said that her severe back pain was caused by one leg being shorter than the other. He treated her for several months and after each session she was in tears, but he told her that that was only to be expected in her circumstances.

    Eventually we returned to her original consultant, who had said that there was “nothing wrong” with her back, and he took a second MRI scan. It turned out that she had had a slipped disk for two years, including the time she had been seeing the chiropractor.

    His treatment of her caused her considerable pain and stress and, we were told, actually made her condition worse. When the disk was removed under surgery, she was found to have permanent nerve damage at that point and had to take morphine every day for the remaining 20 years of her life.

    And her legs? The same length – the chiropractor was talking utter rubbish without doing any exploratory tests, x-rays or whatever to confirm his “diagnosis”.

    I would never ever trust a chiropractor again.

  4. Mayhem12

    FYI
    “2012 isn’t the end of the world

    MEXICO CITY – Apolinario Chile Pixtun is tired of being bombarded with frantic questions about the Mayan calendar supposedly “running out” on Dec. 21, 2012. After all, it’s not the end of the world.

    Or is it?

    Definitely not, the Mayan Indian elder insists. “I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff.”

    It can only get worse for him. Next month Hollywood’s “2012″ opens in cinemas, featuring earthquakes, meteor showers and a tsunami dumping an aircraft carrier on the White House.

    At Cornell University, Ann Martin, who runs the “Curious? Ask an Astronomer” Web site, says people are scared.

    “It’s too bad that we’re getting e-mails from fourth-graders who are saying that they’re too young to die,” Martin said. “We had a mother of two young children who was afraid she wouldn’t live to see them grow up.”

    More: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091011/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_mexico_apocalypse2012

    Feel free to remove this OT comment

  5. Yojimbo

    No Phil. You can’t post just anything you want, because ALL YOUR BLOG ARE BELONG TO US!

  6. Phillip M

    I know anecdotal evidence usually is not worth the time it takes to write it out, but here is mine. My mother is a firm believer in her chiropractor, and usually followed his advice about her health (over my objections). She had a pretty severe potassium deficiency several years back, it had gotten bad enough she could barely get out of bed she was so tired. Well her Doctor put her on a potassium supplement to correct the problem, and after a couple weeks she was back to her healthy self.

    About two weeks after she started her vitamin, she went her chiropractor who told my mom that her problem was cause by “wait for it” a subluxation and he could “cure” her with one or two treatments and she should stop taking her vitamin. A few days after stopping her vitamin, my mom’s potassium fell to a point she lost conscientiousness and fell down a flight of stairs breaking her hip. Now she has a artificial hip and chronic pain.

    And so yo know, she was compensated to not sue the chiropractor for malpractice. I will never let anyone I know or care about go anywhere near a chiro-quack and neither should you.

  7. Gary

    A question. Here in the U.S. anyone can state the obvious fact that chiropractors are quacks and do so with legal impunity. How do British laws impact Bad Astronomy and other blogs that can be read in the UK?

    I am glad that Phil Plait uses this site to educate about skepticism. The subject of astronomy does not exist in a vacuum apart from other issues in science. Chiropractory is to medicine what astrology is to science.

  8. Phillip M

    @ John (#1) As someone who made a statement like the one you just made, on this very site. A little bit of advice save the self indulgent rant no one cares and you look like a fool. (I know I certainly felt like one after a few hours)

  9. Concerning British libel laws, I think Sheldon Comics put it best in a recent comic ( http://www.sheldoncomics.com/archive/090923.html ):

    Sheldon: “British libel laws are the worst! A fat-head can sue you for callin’ him a fat-head, even when it’s demonstrable in court that he’s a total and complete fat-head… even to OTHER fat-heads!”

    Arthur: “What? No way. Then how do they call out fat-heads in Britain?”

    Sheldon: “The nation suffers in silence.”

  10. Phillip M

    @ Gary The UK libel laws do not cross borders. The country’s where the blog is registered, is the only libel laws that are in effect. This very rule leads to significant number of blogs about foreign countries being “located” in the US with the accused having more protections from being sued. (This is according to my lawyer cousin)

  11. NewEnglandBob

    Gary @8 says:

    Here in the U.S. anyone can state the obvious fact that chiropractors are quacks and do so with legal impunity.

    But, unfortunately, in the US, many insurance companies pay chiropractors for their bogus services. I also have several anecdotes about their fake care but it is not worth talking about.

  12. tacitus

    The UK libel laws are draconian and designed to shut up any protest

    I don’t see how you have make that assertion. The British libel laws have been around for centuries and while there are aspects of the law that place the burden of proof on the defendant (but not when it comes to proving financial loss) it’s nonsense to say that the libel laws are in fact “designed to shut up any protest.”

  13. Keith Thompson

    Let’s hear it for speaking power to truth!

  14. Deepsix

    ZOMG!! WHY AREN’T YOU WRITING ABOUT ASTRONOMY!! YOUR OWN PERSONAL BLOG HAS THE WORD “ASTRONOMY” RIGHT THERE IN THE TITLE!!1

  15. Mike

    @11 In Canada, too. I recently had a company health insurance which covered chiropractic blindly — without any recommendation by a doctor — I could just wander into any old office, licensed by the government chiropractic board, get an adjustment, and be fully compensated. Massage therapy was also covered under the same budget (about $700/year), but only if it came with a doctor’s note. I don’t know if massage therapy is any more/less valid at all, but it was in the same category as chiropractic (i.e. it didn’t take away from my annual dental budget).

    I was quite surprised. I know there’s supposed to be a subtle difference in there somewhere between chiropractors (or is it chiropractic vs. chiropractor? I dunno). It’s very confusing. =D I wonder if I can get stress covered by insurance.. I think a sensual massage would greatly help to alleviate it. ^.^

  16. Sherman, set the wayback for 1963. We get a phone call in the middle of the night and a few minutes later I hear my dad weeping…. his father had just died. For months my grandfather had been suffering from some unknown malady. He saw the chiroquacktor 2 or 3 times a week getting worse and worse. Finally he got so bad they took him to the Mayo clinic, where he died 2 hours later. The doctor asked my aunt why she had not brought him in earlier, this was a curable disease! For months this quack had been treating my grandfather with chiropractic not knowing he had Myasthenia gravis, an illness that is easily lived with, to a ripe old age.

    I will never let one of these charlatans work on anyone in my family. I have lower back problems, people tell me all the time, go see a chiropractor, i usually ask them if they have a gun as I would rather shoot myself.

  17. tacitus

    ZOMG!! WHY AREN’T YOU WRITING ABOUT ASTRONOMY!! YOUR OWN PERSONAL BLOG HAS THE WORD “ASTRONOMY” RIGHT THERE IN THE TITLE!!

    I would have thought that debunking chiropractics would qualify perfectly as bad astronomy — very bad astronomy, in fact.

  18. Kay

    The first paragraph contains one of the worst mis-reporting and mis-information about Chiropractic. Manipulation by Doctors of Chiropractic are exteremly safe – even to the cerical spine. Not only are Doctors of Chiropractic highly trained, they have the lowest malpractic of any portal of entry physician because of their safetly record. IN fact, it is much safer to receive a Chiropractic adjustment to the cervical spine than it is to take aspirin.
    It is a shame to continue to spread this mis-information, when so many people can be helped with Chiropractic care. I just wonder what nay-sayer are afraid of that they feel they need to continue to spout mis-information that is unfounded and in some case just plain wrong?
    As to who are the real quacks in health care – it’s hard to say as I believe many doctors (chiropractic, medical, denists, etc) really do want to help people. But, medical physicians keep getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar and has the power (aka Money) in the US to waive conflict of interests and have laws to protect them. Funny, but when a health care provider or drug company goes for the money (or attention in the case of Simon) I think many they are the quacks. Maybe individuals or corporations who no longer wish to help or heal people are the quacks. Also, just because you have no understanding of how sometime works does not mean it does not work. I have no idea how an apple seed germinates and someday produces the apple I ate for lunch, but I’m still getting nourishment from that yummy apple.
    Just something to think about instead of blabbing desparaging information around without any knowledge of what is true.

  19. Kirsty

    ‘…there is no evidence that this very murky bathwater has ever had a baby in it.’

    Genius!

  20. Ginger Yellow

    “A question. Here in the U.S. anyone can state the obvious fact that chiropractors are quacks and do so with legal impunity. How do British laws impact Bad Astronomy and other blogs that can be read in the UK?”

    For Phil, not at all. I would guess he has no assets in the UK, and no US court would enforce an English judgement against him. For an institution like the New York Times, say, with assets in the UK, however, it’s a different matter. Even if the offending blog post was written and “published” in the US, if it’s readable via the web in the UK, English courts deem it to have been published here. See, for instance, the Wall Street Journal vs Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel.

  21. Ginger Yellow

    Incidentally, it may be of interest in relation to this story that Australian libel law tracks fairly English law fairly closely. It was in fact an Australian ruling that first introduced effective universal jurisdiction over internet publishing. It was later adopted by English judges citing that ruling.

  22. Katrina

    Mike,
    In response to your note about your extended health insurance and chiropractic being bundled in with massage therapy – I can only speak to the massage therapy, being a Registered Massage Therapist in Ontario. Definitely not of the sensual kind.

    Massage Therapy was first regulated here in Ontario shortly after World War 1, when it was found to be effective in dealing with burn scars of veterans.

    As a health professional regulated under the RHPA (Regulated Health Professionals Act, which also covers doctors, nurses, physios, and yes, Chiropractors, etc) and the MTA (Massage Therapy Act) in Ontario, I need to be “Registered” before I can practice. “Massage Therapy” is a protected title here.
    The public is protected from the likes of me :) , by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario.

    I have to jump through many hoops to be allowed the privilege of practising my profession in this province. I have to sit board exams, and have to be continually updating my education. The research into the efficacy of Massage Therapy for a multitude of conditions from treating premature infants (those who received MT in one study I read received less pain medication than those babies who didn’t) right through to knee arthritis (Yale University), and other studies too numerous to mention.

    On a daily basis, and for the past 9 years, I have worked very hard to establish a practice, successfully treating everything from sprains, headaches, tendonitis, fracture recovery, pain of many kinds, stress and too many things to mention here. My scope is as follows “The practice of massage therapy is the assessment of the soft tissue and joints of the body and the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissue and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain. ”

    So PLEASE. If you have questions about MT, I’m your gal, but no jibes about the sensual massage, OK? Oh, and even though I have communicated with different insurance companies over the years, often I have no idea as to their rationale when it comes to what they will cover. It is usually negotiated between ones HR department and the insurance company – so ask your health insurance rep at work about it…….
    Thank you!

  23. tacitus

    The first paragraph contains one of the worst mis-reporting and mis-information about Chiropractic. Manipulation by Doctors of Chiropractic are exteremly safe – even to the cerical spine. Not only are Doctors of Chiropractic highly trained, they have the lowest malpractic of any portal of entry physician because of their safetly record. IN fact, it is much safer to receive a Chiropractic adjustment to the cervical spine than it is to take aspirin.

    I guess that’s not too difficult since most of what a chiropractor does is less effective than a dose of aspirin. As for competence, studies have shown that chiropractors are between 2 and 10 times more likely to be reported for fraud and malpractice than regular MDs. So much for the glowing reputation. Oh, and where are all the studies and scientific papers in the medical journals that prove the underlying theories behind chiropractics?

    It is a shame to continue to spread this mis-information, when so many people can be helped with Chiropractic care. I just wonder what nay-sayer are afraid of that they feel they need to continue to spout mis-information that is unfounded and in some case just plain wrong?

    The only thing the naysayers are afraid of is that their friends and loved ones are being duped by chiropractors into delaying essential medical treatment for illness and conditions chiropractics hasn’t a hope in hell of curing.

    As to who are the real quacks in health care – it’s hard to say as I believe many doctors (chiropractic, medical, denists, etc) really do want to help people. But, medical physicians keep getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar and has the power (aka Money) in the US to waive conflict of interests and have laws to protect them. Funny, but when a health care provider or drug company goes for the money (or attention in the case of Simon) I think many they are the quacks. Maybe individuals or corporations who no longer wish to help or heal people are the quacks.

    Typical alternative medicine nonsense. No profession is without their quacks, but at least you can trust the vast majority of real doctors not to practice quackery. By definition, you can’t say that about chiropractors.

    Also, just because you have no understanding of how sometime works does not mean it does not work. I have no idea how an apple seed germinates and someday produces the apple I ate for lunch, but I’m still getting nourishment from that yummy apple.

    You also don’t know how chiropractics works either. Nobody does — it’s all unsupported unstudied mumbo-jumbo that someone made up. The amount of ignorance is profound.

    Just something to think about instead of blabbing desparaging information around without any knowledge of what is true.

    Sorry, Kay, it’s been proven over and over again that it’s the chiropractors who haven’t a clue as to what is true.

  24. Gary

    For those who missed the original article that exposed the chiroquacks:

    http://svetlana14s.narod.ru/Simon_Singhs_silenced_paper.html

  25. John Phillips, FCD

    Kay, actually Chiropractors have killed and caused strokes in their victims by damaging blood vessels in the neck through manipulation. So no, it is not necessarily that safe.

  26. Laura

    Ouch. Here’s an opposing anecdote for you.

    I saw a chiropractor for a short time when I was doing a lot of walking. I was referred to the guy by my regular doctor at the time. The first thing the chiropractor told me was that he wasn’t a doctor, but had taken almost all the same classes as a doctor. He then told me that his skill was in relieving back pain, not in curing illness. He said that a lot of people had wonderful results with chiropractics, but he refused to claim that he would be able to do anything more than help with my pain.

    He ran X-rays to make sure there was not a more serious problem in my back before he laid a hand on me. Then I went to him for about six weeks to work on the spot that hurt. He did both “manipulation” and massage. By the end of his service, the pain was manageable, but not completely dealt with. He referred me to a physical therapist because he suspected that my back pain was caused by a knee problem. And he couldn’t fix my knee.

    So when I hear about these horror stories with chiropractors I can only thank my lucky stars that my doctor actually knew what she was doing when she referred me to this particular guy. And I thank my lucky stars that he knew his limits and sent me on to another specialist who eventually figured out the issue.

  27. Dennis

    I enjoy your blog, and completely understand that it’s about whatever happens to be on your mind at the moment.

    However – maybe people would be less prone to misunderstanding if you called the blog “Bad Astronomer” rather than “Bad Astronomy”.

    Just a thought.

    p.s.: when do we get to see the tattoo?!?!?

  28. amphiox

    Kay, I don’t know where you’re getting your numbers vis-a-vis cervical manipulation and aspirin, but even if true, being safer than aspirin isn’t much to boast about. Aspirin isn’t that safe, which is why it generally isn’t considered the preferable first line treatment for simple pain conditions (like, say neck pain?) anymore.

    Now if, instead, we look at using aspirin for heart attack and stroke prevention, in people who are in high risk groups, it’s a different picture. The risk from the aspirin is still the same, and still relatively high, but the benefit from the aspirin is actually huge, so its worth it.

    Now let’s apply the same criteria back to cervical neck manipulation. For what life threatening diseases does neck manipulation effectively reduce the risk of morbidity and death? For what debilitating and disabling chronic conditions does neck manipulation provide improvement? For what middling minor pain conditions does neck manipulation provide even the slightest modicum of reliable relief?

    With that in mind, any risk higher than zero is too high.

  29. Cory

    @27: and that’s exactly what chiropractors should be doing. Working with your doctor in very specified ways to help relieve certain types of pain. There are definitely many legitimate chiropractors out their, but the sad fact is that there are also many who play into people’s ignorance to make them believe that chiropractice can do much more than just relieve pain.

  30. amphiox

    The evidence suggesting a benefit for chiropractic for low back pain is pretty weak, and restricted only to short-term, temporary relief. The effect is probably the result of some equivalency with vigorous massage and physiotherapy. But the level of evidence for pretty much all treatments for low back pain is pretty weak, all things considered. PT is just about the only conservative treatment that has decent evidence for doing any good at all. And even the evidence in favor surgery for disc herniation is rather flimsy.

    The artery primarily at risk in cervical manipulation is the vertebral artery, and the consequences of a stroke in its distribution are nothing short of devastating. The vertebral artery supplies the brainstem, which mediates all the essential life supporting functions including heart rate, breathing, etc. Knock that out, and it’s instant death. Maybe even worse than death is “locked-in” syndrome, where a brainstem stroke cuts off all the volition motor fibers from the face down, but spares all the higher cortical functions. The victim is left unable to move, speak, or feel, but remains fully conscious and aware throughout the whole ordeal, which, if urgent medical attention is not available, ends in a slow suffocation from paralysis of the diaphragm and chest wall muscles used to breath. (With urgent medical attention, the victim may survive and be left respirator-dependent, and still locked-in, and might live for years able to communicate only by blinking)

    If you’re lucky you might just get a TIA that spares the brainstem and hits the cerebellum, leaving you with a transient episode of debilitating dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, from which you recover.

  31. Joseph Ierano BSc DC BCAO MACC Doctor of Chiropractic.
    In NSW you’re not allowed to use the honorific “Doctor” unless the chiropractor holds a degree that confers the title. As far as I can tell there is no Doctorates in chiropractic offered in Oz. Ierano’s degree is from an US institution where graduates receive the degree Doctor of Chiropractic. True he doesn’t call himself Dr Joseph but the Doctor of Chiropractic is prominent on all his correspondence.
    Anyway, could chiropractic degrees be any more misleading? Talk about misrepresenting the title “doctor”.
    BTW, BCAO is Board Certified Atlas Orthogonal – looks like some sort of torture equipment.
    MACC is Member Australasian College of Chiropractors.

  32. Lars

    Phil, I hoped you have prepared Discover Magazine for the complaints against you (and demands for your head on a platter) that some upset chiropractors will surely file in the near future.

  33. asteroidfodder

    My understanding of the Singh case was that the libel was in the statement that the chiropractors *deliberately* mislead people instead of just saying that they’re deluded themselves. A bit sad to see that this minor detail THAT TOTALLY CHANGES THE PICTURE was omitted from the blog.

  34. Steve Wilson

    The problem over UK libel laws is that one firm, Carter Ruck, has specialised in gagging orders that can even keep people from saying that they’ve been sued for libel, and one judge, Justice Eady, who keeps giving Carter Ruck what they want. In one case currently, a Ukrainian billionaire is suing a Ukrainian-language newspaper that is published in the Ukraine in an ENGLISH libel case, on the grounds that the newspaper is available in the UK.
    This attitude has led to “libel tourism”, where English and Welsh courts (not Scottish or Northern Irish) can rule on a supposed libel anywhere in the world providing it can be proved that the material can be read in England or Wales, which in the age of the internet is practically anything.
    I note that a number of US states have passed laws making it impossible for English/Welsh libel rulings to be enforceable there.
    If you go to http://www.bbc.co.uk and use their iplayer to watch Newsnight for October 13th, from about 33 minutes into the programme there is an extensive article about the recent gagging order that almost stopped The Guardian (who also published the Simon Singh article) reporting on a question raised in Parliament OR reporting that they had been stopped from doing so (but the case got twittered to death), as well as coverage of last night’s relaunch of Skeptics in the Pub, at which Simon Singh was the guest speaker.

  35. @asteroidfodder #34: *Deliberately* mislead? That’s a bogus interpretation of bogus, if you ask me.

  36. Nigel Depledge

    Asteroidfodder (34) said:

    My understanding of the Singh case was that the libel was in the statement that the chiropractors *deliberately* mislead people instead of just saying that they’re deluded themselves. A bit sad to see that this minor detail THAT TOTALLY CHANGES THE PICTURE was omitted from the blog.

    As Lars points out, the deliberate misleading aspect of it hinged solely on the judge’s interpretation of the word “bogus”. Apparently, the word “bogus” means something different from what Simon thought it meant when he used it.

    In England, we have no equivalent of the Academie Francaise to guard our use of language, so the judge was free to ignore vernacular use of the word “bogus” meaning “bad”, “wrong” or “false” and make up his own interpretation of Singh’s article.

    However, since the BCA bloody well should be aware that they were promoting treatments for asthma, colic etc. with no evidentiary basis, I believe that they were deliberately misleading people about the value of chiropractic. Nevertheless, Singh’s article still counts as libellous under English law, because (apparently) it doesn’t matter if what you say is true or not – it only has to be damaging to count as libel. Most people who file libel law suits in the UK file them because what was published was untrue (and defamatory). It is rare for a person or organisation to file a libel law suit that is sure to bring out the fact that what was published was actually true.

    Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer. This comment does not constitute free legal advice.

  37. Ginger Yellow

    “Nevertheless, Singh’s article still counts as libellous under English law, because (apparently) it doesn’t matter if what you say is true or not – it only has to be damaging to count as libel.”

    Not so. If Singh is able to prove that the BCA knowingly promoted inefficacious treatments (and I hope he is), he will win.

    “It is rare for a person or organisation to file a libel law suit that is sure to bring out the fact that what was published was actually true.”

    You’d think so, but it does happen. Or at least it’s not at all rare for suits to reach court where there is truth to the alleged libel. Think Archer, Maxwell, Desmond, Aitken, Hamilton, Al Fayed, Irving etc.

  38. Jeremy H.

    This may be a blessing in disguise.

    Despite the damage, court costs, and potential for damage to Singh due to the bogus libel laws in the UK, that suit has spurred a truly massive response over there. By “Doctor” Ierano filing this official complaint in an underhanded attempt to silence or retaliate against the Aussie skeptics, if the backlash is as strong in the antipodes, the Chiropocalypse could go global.

    All it would take to prevent this is evidence, “Doc.”

  39. Ginger Yellow

    I’ll believe it when I see it, Jeremy. While this case certainly seems to have produced the most sustained backlash I’ve seen for some time, there was plenty of outrage at the law when Maxwell’s crimes were uncovered and Archer was disgraced, but little changed. There are some relatively prominent supporters of libel reform (Evan Harris, who used to be my MP, is particularly strong), but I think Parliament as a whole gets too much benefit from the status quo to change things.

  40. Clive DuPort

    Hey everybody, I’ve just had an email from Sile Lane at Sense About Science:-

    “I’m very pleased to tell you that earlier today in the Royal Courts of Justice Simon (Singh) was granted permission to appeal the ruling on meaning in his libel case with the BCA. Read more about the judgement here:-

    http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/409

    The appeal will probably be early next year. In the meantime, we will be busy working on libel reform.”

    Looks like reasonably good news.

  41. Karen

    I think you all need to realise there is good and bad in every profession.

    Do you realise that Medical Doctors aren’t actually doctors at all, PHD doctors are the only REAL doctors, so all professions using that title are only using it as a courtesy title so putting “Doctor” like that is only showing ignorance, your local GP is not a “Doctor” either, nor is your surgeon or dentist or vet.

    Medical doctors are not required to do any on going study either, only if they choose to do so. Chiropractors are required to constantly study and upgrade skills throughout their careers if they are to remain members of their respected associations.

    You need to know, they also hold the same medical science degree as your GP plus a further 2 years for their masters in chiropractic, then on going. This degree covers neurology, anatomy, biochemistry only to name a few, your GP does not have full comprehension of these things, they no longer study biochemistry any more, which we know is what makes your system tick, they only study pharmacology, what makes your body sick… drugs, no natural solutions, just take that pill people, don’t worry about the side effects, we will give you more drugs for that, and when your liver packs it in, we will cut it out and hopefully find one that fits!!

    Oh and surgeon dear, please put back the organ you took by mistake, there 175,000 adverse events per year, directly related to the medical mistakes in America alone.

    Take a look at the Australian Spinal Research Foundation for your evidence of Chiropractic’s efficacy, contact them!

    http://www.spinalresearch.com.au/ResourceLinks/tabid/176/language/en-US/Default.aspx

    The last thing a GP and Surgeon said to me 5 years ago was, oh well, there is nothing we can do except surgery, you will have to live with it! What did I say??. Find me the nearest chiropractor! Have I had surgery – NO! I am now fit and well thanks to the Chiropractors good work.

  42. Wow this is what I am scared of. My dr said I should get back surgery but there’s no way after reading this blog, and afte reading Dr.Richard E. Busch III ‘s book “Surgery Not Included”
    I now have hope for a successful outcome for my unrelenting neck & back pain, all thanks to this book. Have a read of it, you may never choose surgery as an option.
    http://www.surgerynotincluded.com/

  43. @Karen

    Re efficacy. All you have to do is prove chiropractic subluxations exist. Good luck with that.

    Do you realise that Medical Doctors aren’t actually doctors at all, PHD doctors are the only REAL doctors, so all professions using that title are only using it as a courtesy title so putting “Doctor” like that is only showing ignorance, your local GP is not a “Doctor” either, nor is your surgeon or dentist or vet.

    Shenanigans. If the the title MD is so meaningless why are chiropractors trying to co-opt the title?

    You need to know, they also hold the same medical science degree as your GP plus a further 2 years for their masters in chiropractic, then on going.

    I believe in the States a 4 year undergraduate degree (usually science) is required before entering medical school. To enter med school the student has to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Before graduating med school and achieving the degree of Medical Doctor, students have to pass the USMLE (US Med Licensing Exams). The MD degree usually takes 4 years.

    In Australia there is an undergraduate Bachelor of Medicine that takes 6 years or a graduate degree that is similar to the US deal. In Oz full registration as a Doc is only complete after doing a full year of internship in a public hospital.

    So please stop undermining the effort required to become a fair dinkum medical doctor.

  44. @Chrissy
    You have some cajones spamming us with chiropractic “literature”.
    Dr Richard III is apparently the son of Dr Richard Jr, a convicted fraudster, who is the publisher of The American Chiropractor magazine. Dr Richard III is the president of the magazine. Not suggesting anything, just a little background.

  45. Steve Wilson

    A few points:

    That Chiropractitioners (or their Osteopathic prodigal sons) might be able to cure or alleviate some types of back pain is not in doubt, what IS in doubt is that manipulating the spine can cure childhood asthma or colic.

    There are good and bad in ever profession? Depends on whether it is actually a profession as such. Is being a conman a profession, and if so, are there good conmen as well as bad conmen?

    Finally, English (and Welsh) libel laws need a bit more explaining. Damage to reputation by publishing untruths is all that can be sued for, because there has to be a financial loss arising from the libel. So losing a job because of a libellous statement can be sued for, but having your mates all laugh at you can’t.
    However, the law has changed recently (late ’90s). This change allowed injunctions to stop details of injunctions being published. This was mainly to stop the identification of victims of serious libels, and their families, over such matters as false rape or child abuse accusations. However, lawyers such as Carter Ruck and Schillings have misused this legislation to stop any reporting whatsoever of corporate libel cases, even to the point where they tried to stop The Guardian reporting that they had been stopped from publishing a question asked in parliament by an elected MP. However, Private Eye magazine, having learnt who the MP was and what day he asked the question, simply published ALL the questions the MP asked that day, without comment or introduction, thus more or less saying “sue us if you dare”. Carter Ruck and their clients have backed down. So freedom of speech got two major boosts in the UK in the last 48 hours, makes me proud to be British (for once).

  46. Ginger Yellow

    “Finally, English (and Welsh) libel laws need a bit more explaining. Damage to reputation by publishing untruths is all that can be sued for, because there has to be a financial loss arising from the libel. So losing a job because of a libellous statement can be sued for, but having your mates all laugh at you can’t.”

    Not really. You can only get special damages if there you can establish a financial loss directly arising from the libel, but any damage to reputation (in the eyes of a reasonable person) can be defamatory.

  47. Bystander

    @ Shane
    you said” I believe in the States a 4 year undergraduate degree (usually science) is required before entering medical school. To enter med school the student has to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Before graduating med school and achieving the degree of Medical Doctor, students have to pass the USMLE (US Med Licensing Exams). The MD degree usually takes 4 years.
    So please stop undermining the effort required to become a fair dinkum medical doctor.”

    This is not much different from what is required to become a doctor of chiropractic.

    In North America Students have an undergraduate university degree before beginning a chiropractic program. A chiropractic program is another 4 years after that. Chiropractic students must also pass board exams before they can practice. The primary difference between the education requirements of DC and MD is that MD must complete a minimum of 2 years of residency (for which they are paid) before they can practice privately. There is a movement in North America attempting to make residencies mandatory for chiropractors as well, but for now there are only 1 year optional residencies for chiropractors in specific cooperating hospitals (eg: St. Johns hospital in Toronto)

    As the programs are so similar, Im not sure what your point was?

  48. JonKarn

    As a practicing Chiropractor in the US(NYC), I feel I am qualified to comment on these responses. Some of you are either misinformed, listen to every sensationalized story about bad apples or just plain ignorant about what it is that we(the GOOD chiros) do. I agree that their are some bad chiropractors out there. I personally get angry when I hear chiropractors saying they can cure disease, get rid of cancer, or any other organic internal problem. I also hate when they use non-proven techniques(leg length checking), or muscle strength checking to advise someone that they have a subluxation of the spine and only a chiropractic adjustment can cure them.( By the way the chiro who said your relative had a short leg didnt mean that one leg was actually physically shorter, but that one leg may have been pulled tighter into her hip by hypertonic pelvic and thigh musculature. When a person lies face down one leg may appear to be shorter because of this, and some chiros believe this is caused by a pelvic misalignment.) HOWEVER, we ARE qualified to treat musculoskeletal problems, and to advise our patients on how to go about correcting the problems and preventing future issues as well.

    I take X-rays on most patients to rule out any contraindications to the type of treatments we do here. I prescribe MRI exams if I feel there is soft tissue damage to the spinal cord or vertebral discs. I am not against all drugs nor all surgery. there is a time and place for this. A good chiropractor is more than just the cracking quack that you guys think we are. I work on the myofascia of the body to release tight musculature around the area of injury. I stretch tight areas, and strengthen weak areas after detailed analysis of the patient’s biomechanical problems. I work side by side with orthopedists, physiatrists, podiatrists, physical therapists, etc to provide complete care of said biomechanical problems, all the while avoiding surgery(unless testing reveals a dangerous spinal lesion, or all conservative care has been unsuccessful), avoiding overuse of those medications which can pollute the body(not important life saving prescriptions or vitamins), teaching the patient about health and proper diet and exercise for long term pain relief and life enhancement.

    Just today a patient came into my office with sciatic pain for 8 weeks, after exhausting visits to multiple primary care doctors, orthopedic surgeons, and neurologists. Her first PCP had her taking 12 advil a day, then prescribed her a heavy narcotic which she had an adverse reaction to and had to be hospitalized. He second PCP had her on strong corticosteriods, which in a 74 year old osteoporotic woman is dangerous in itself. They were denied an MRI exam by her insurance because they have no idea how to get proper authorization, diagnose or treat lower back pain. She came here asking for help. Within one hour I had gotten the proper authorization for her MRI exam, performed conservative therapeutic modalities, stretched and iced the area, and educated her on proper posture and what she should do at home while we wait for the results. She left happy that someone did SOMETHING, other than prescribe drugs to help and advise her. When we get MRI results back we may attempt to manipulate her spine lightly as well as work on the musculature and fascia around the lumbar spine, then teach her how to maintain and strengthen the area. She will get better.

    So I ask you, in this case, who is the better “doctor”? Does “doctor” only mean MD? Or does doctor mean someone who heals and can help and assist someone with musculoskeletal issues? Or does “doctor” mean just pulling out your prescription pad and giving someone drugs to mask the pain and not actually “doing” anything? This is the problem with the world’s health care systems.

    Now granted, I know some great MD’s. And I also know some horrible chiropractors. There are bad eggs in every profession. But don’t pigeonhole a whole profession into the one definition you have of a chiropractor. I feel we are the future of the health care system, teaching about wellness and prevention, diet and exercise, while avoiding medications and unnecessary surgeries. We can work hand in hand with the medical world, if not for some chiros who are still living in the past, refusing to use new research to advance our health model, relying on antiquated analysis and treatment, and if not for MD’S who refuse to move over and allow other health care providers in to help. They have a powerful organization the Medical doctors do, and they don’t like to admit they aren’t perfect, nor that they are sometimes wrong. Chiropractic isn’t perfect either and does not fix everything.

    Please inform yourself about what REAL chiropractic is all about, not just what you hear in the news of once in a million strokes, billboards put up by shady lawfirms, and MD’s who are afraid of what our profession can do. If you had the same skepticism about the drugs you were prescribed and ingested there would be far fewer deaths every year and much more healthier people overall as well. Thanks. Jonathan Karnitsky, DC

  49. Robert Iannace

    Thank you Dr. Karnitsky. Well stated. Dr. Walter Pierce, my mentor, once said that if Medicine desires Chiropractic to go away, they’ll just have to get EVERYONE well. I’ve been a chiropractor for 26 years and have seen some amazing results in those years. Reading this blog has been an experience for me. For the most part, I’m accustomed to hearing accolades about my services and my profession, but what I’ve been exposed to here is quite painful. I understand someone having anger toward a doctor that they believe was negligent. If someone was harmed, anger is a normal response. But, lay people who have scant first-hand knowledge of a 100+ year old profession are most definitely ill-informed and out of bounds. Sure, one can have an opinion, but don’t attempt to persuade unless you know what the hell your talking about. Remember, if your doctor or dentist did you wrong, you’d find another one. The same goes for the chiropractor.

  50. @Karen

    Re efficacy. All you have to do is prove chiropractic subluxations exist. Good luck with that.

    Do you realise that Medical Doctors aren’t actually doctors at all, PHD doctors are the only REAL doctors, so all professions using that title are only using it as a courtesy title so putting “Doctor” like that is only showing ignorance, your local GP is not a “Doctor” either, nor is your surgeon or dentist or vet.

    Shenanigans. If the the title MD is so meaningless why are chiropractors trying to co-opt the title?

    You need to know, they also hold the same medical science degree as your GP plus a further 2 years for their masters in chiropractic, then on going.

    I believe in the States a 4 year undergraduate degree (usually science) is required before entering medical school. To enter med school the student has to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Before graduating med school and achieving the degree of Medical Doctor, students have to pass the USMLE (US Med Licensing Exams). The MD degree usually takes 4 years.

    In Australia there is an undergraduate Bachelor of Medicine that takes 6 years or a graduate degree that is similar to the US deal. In Oz full registration as a Doc is only complete after doing a full year of internship in a public hospital.

    So please stop undermining the effort required to become a fair dinkum medical doctor.

  51. Russell B.

    Heh; personally, I love it when a blog of whatever focus strays from the beaten path; such shows that the blogger has a life outside of what they are passionate about. Maybe going outside for a given time might seem odd or even taxing; but if it’s important enough, who cares? Something positive at least should be the result and if so then score one for humanity.

    As for chrio, if you can loose a libel suit in the UK even when you cherry-pick your evidence, it’s all downhill from there. (Oh, if only it were so easy.) Sorry, but chiro is one (of several) rubber duck(s) I do not want in my bathtub of life.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »