The random thoughts of a sceptical activist

The somewhat muted support for the BCA by the World Federation of Chiropractic

The British Chiropractic Association is 84 years old this year. Founded in 1925, the BCA was:

…a founder member of both the European Chiropractors Union (ECU) and the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) and is the sole UK representative on both organisations.

According to their latest (2007) accounts, they paid £6,753 to the WFC, presumably the membership subscription and another £10,000 for “W F C Matters” (up from £98 the previous year).

In their June 2009 Quarterly World Report, the WFC lends their support to the BCA in their battle against Simon Singh. As their last short note on page 10, they say:

United Kingdom: You should be aware of this saga unfolding in the UK. Simon Singh, a renowned science commentator and journalist whose main expertise is in the field of mathematics, teamed up with chiropractic critic Dr. Ernst Edzard as co-author of the book Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial, published in early 2008. Later in the year during the British Chiropractic Association’s promotion of chiropractic during Chiropractic Awareness Week, Singh wrote in The Guardian newspaper: “[alleged libellous words removed for legal reasons]”

The BCA, accused of being deliberately dishonest, sued for libel and won in a High Court ruling on May 7, 2009. However, the BCA is not doing as well in the court of public opinion, where Singh and supporters are establishing the perception that the BCA is trying to block scientific debate through legal action.

As a result multiple complaints have been laid against chiropractors with the General Chiropractic Council for breach of its standards on advertising relative to information appearing on websites of BCA members.

Good luck to the BCA as it continues to confront resourceful opponents while it seeks to promote chiropractic on a level playing field with the medical profession. This means, for example, that controlled trials remain the gold standard in research but are not a prerequisite for medical, chiropractic or other health care practice—the great majority of which is not supported by good controlled trial evidence.

They attempt to dismiss Simon as someone whose main area of expertise is in mathematics (and therefore not in chiropractic) and Prof Edzard Ernst as a “chiropractic critic” and giving him the title Dr rather than Professor. They then go on to repeat the alleged libel, word for word! I wonder if the BCA…

And, of course, the WFC haven’t bothered to get their facts straight. Simon did not accuse the BCA of being ‘deliberately dishonest’ in the Guardian article. The BCA did not win the libel case in the High Court on 7 May. The judge has simply ruled on the meaning of the words complained of and it was his perverse ruling that turned what Simon said into an allegation of ‘deliberate dishonesty’. Simon disagreed with the judge on that interpretation of what he had said and has applied for leave to appeal this ruling on meaning. But the court case that decides whether or not the BCA have, in fact, been libelled has still to be heard.

Anyway, they wish the BCA “Good luck”. But note that they say “Good luck to the BCA as it continues to confront resourceful opponents…”. Since the previous sentence was talking about multiple complaints to the GCC, there appears to be no actual support for the BCA’s court battle against Simon. Perhaps they include Simon and his legal team as part of their “resourceful opponents”? Who knows.

But what’s this about the BCA seeking to promote their wares “on a level playing field with the medical profession”? They’d like a level playing field in the NHS. Wouldn’t they just. Allowing chiropractic full rein within the NHS would be extremely lucrative for their members, but disastrous for the public purse and patients.

However, it’s good to see them admit “that controlled trials remain the gold standard in research”. Pity there aren’t any to support what many believe to be bogus. They also attempt to muddy the waters using the old canard of “well, loads of proper medical procedures don’t have a solid clinical trial base either, so it’s OK for chiropractic not to have any evidence”.

Incidentally, there is far more space given over to publicising their ‘Associate Members’, who are mainly purveyors of chiro equipment and some chiro colleges. There’s even a mention of some research: Motor Neuronal Degeneration Following Knee Joint Immobilization in the Guinea-Pig. No, not human guinea-pigs, but the small furry animals.

So, hardly a ringing endorsement for the BCA. In fact, barely a mention. Perhaps they are aiding the BCA behind the scenes? The WFC’s goals include:

* Acting with national and international organizations to provide information and other assistance in the fields of chiropractic and world health;
* Promoting uniform high standards of chiropractic education, research and practice;
* Developing an informed public opinion among all peoples with respect to chiropractic; and
* Uniting members of the chiropractic profession and protecting the character and status of the profession.

But, as always, it’s what’s missing that’s more interesting that what’s there. Why did they choose to say that there is little evidence for most conventional interventions when they could easily have attempted to reinforce the BCA’s claim that there is a plethora of evidence to back up their claims about such things as colic and asthma in children and babies? They could so easily have published a full list of research that supports chiropractic for childhood conditions — unless, of course, the plethora that the BCA belatedly published is all there is.

But I also find it strange that this is the first time the WFC has ever mentioned the BCA’s libel suit against Simon. There is no mention of it on their website or in their quarterly reports of June, September and December last year, nor March this year. I’d have thought that a libel action brought by one of its founding members against a “renowned science commentator and journalist” would have merited some previous mention in their report to their members. Not one mention. Perhaps they, at least, realise the ill-conceived nature of the BCA’s libel suit and now understand the long-lasting damage to chiropractic that the BCA’s action has precipitated.

3 Responses to The somewhat muted support for the BCA by the World Federation of Chiropractic

  • Alan,
    You are funny!!! do you honestly have nothing better to do than taking what's said and skewing the meaning? it's actually quite laughable!
    And just to answer one of your idiocies, Chiropractors seeing NHS patients is actually far from lucrative. Read the NICE guidlines report and you should realise why, but if you're having problems let me know?

  • Presumably the reason they're not wishing the BCA luck in the court case is because they think it's already happened.

    I note they not only don't know that what happened on 7 May was just a preliminary hearing, nor that Simon didn't accuse anyone of deliberate dishonesty, but they even get Edzard's name the wrong way round. Not very clever are they?

    Anon, I think the point is that if chiropractors were given 'full rein in the NHS', as Alan puts it, there'd be more of them employed and/or they'd have more customers.

    By the way, anon, obviously there's no danger of your pretending to be grown up and supporting your accusation with actual instances of how Alan is 'skewing the meaning' but have you really nothing better to do than troll people's blogs and leave bitter little comments? You got to this one mighty quickly.

  • … controlled trials remain the gold standard in research but are not a prerequisite for … chiropractic … the great majority of which is not supported by good controlled trial evidence.

    A telling fraudian slip perhaps?

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