The random thoughts of a sceptical activist

Curbing the quacks & protecting the public

In November last year, there was speculation that the ASA’s remit might be extended to cover claims on advertisers’ own websites, rather than just third-party online adverts (the so-called digital remit).

In launching their new Code of Advertising Practice today (which comes into force on 1 September 2010), the ASA/CAP have given more details:

4. What is not included in new the Codes?

Extending the Digital Remit of the CAP Code

In its consultation, CAP clarified the existing online remit of the Code which covers paid-for advertisements and sales promotions on websites.  However, the consultation did not contain proposals to extend the Code’s remit to cover marketers’ own marketing communications on their own websites. This was because this was the subject of a separate project being considered by the wider advertising industry, led by the Advertising Association, at that time.

On 8 March 2010 the advertising industry has now recommended an extended online remit to CAP, along with new enforcement powers and a mechanism to fund its regulation. This would allow the Advertising Standards Authority to apply the Code to online marketing communications that currently sit outside their remit for the benefit of consumers, children and industry.

CAP will now assess the practicalities of the recommendations, with the aim of bringing the new remit into effect as soon as possible, later in 2010.

I’m sure this will take some time to sort out properly, but it opens up all sorts of new possibilities for those really interested in protecting the public from claims — particularly health claims — that are not substantiated by robust scientific evidence.

Sceptic activists have been very successful in curbing some of the worst excesses of quacks and others out to make a fast buck from the vulnerability, gullibility and scientific ignorance of others, but so many claims are made on sellers’ own websites. Until the ASA takes over this as part of their remit, the only option has been to report them to Trading Standards. However, this has proved unsatisfactory, partly due to the lack of resources and experience within TS and partly due to the lack of a coherent country-wide strategy.

When the ASA takes on this function, I hope they have correctly anticipated the high demand that is likely to come from sceptics anxious to police quacks who are not currently properly or adequately policed.

93 Responses to Curbing the quacks & protecting the public

  • Thanks for highlighting this part of the report – I look forward to Sept. and the decision about websites. The present situation is confusing and unworkable.

  • By quacks I hope you also mean physiotherapists, osteopaths and private hospitals check out their websites!!

  • andy said: “By quacks I hope you also mean physiotherapists, osteopaths and private hospitals check out their websites!!”

    ……or chiropractors practicing evidence-based healthcare for the problems that the vast majority of chiropractors spend the vast majority of their time treating.

  • This would be real progress. You have already shown that the ASA is willing to apply real standards of evidence, rather than the whitewash that the GCC apply. The GCC claiming applied kinesiology was evidence based practice was somewhere between laughable and tragic.
    Unfortunately the ASA seems to only be able to order ‘the advertisment must not appear again in its current form’ so it’s not much of a sanction for the bulk of quacks, but for those with statutory regulation it could have more impact, e.g. lodging a fitness to practice complaint against a quack after they have received multiple slap downs by the ASA.

  • Interesting andy, I have just had a look around at a few sites.

    I wonder how confident the osteopaths are about their evidence base for musculo-skeletal complaints let alone all of the practitioners treating colic, asthma etc.

    http://www.clinicrooms.com/what-we-treat.asp
    http://www.mersearoadclinic.co.uk/bab.html
    http://www.cranial.org.uk/page3.html
    http://www.quayhealth.co.uk/osteopathy/babies.php
    http://www.natural-practices.co.uk/cranial-osteopathy-babies.php

    What about the physios? Some interesting findings on their evidence on Cochrane for the run of the mill every day practitioner (both private and nhs).

    http://www.manchesterphysio.co.uk/atoz.html
    http://www.nuffieldhealth.com/Individuals/Services/P/Physiotherapy/
    http://www.ramsayhealth.co.uk/treatments_info/a_to_z_of_treatments/p/physiotherapy.aspx?menupage=7
    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Physiotherapy/Pages/What-is-it-used-for.aspx

    and here is one treating colic…
    http://www.londonphysiocentre.co.uk/casestudy.htm

    Will this mean that you can then have trading standards go in to the local hospital and demand they stop treating patients in the physio department, as they are taking tax payers money in providing these services that do not have an evidence base that is deemed suitable by the ASA and trading standards?

    It is about time that it is realised that these professions are just that, “professions” not a type of treatment. They all utilise various forms of manual therapy and adjunctive modalities. They cannot be evaluated in the same way that you evaluate an anti-wrickle creme, hair products or even pharaceuticals.

    Now we will see how sincere you are about public health and await all of your complaints to the ASA about all the manual therapists once they start to regulate websites. I bet they cannot wait.

  • “Now we will see how sincere you are about public health and await all of your complaints to the ASA about all the manual therapists once they start to regulate websites. I bet they cannot wait”

    Pretty sincere, I’d say.

    The homeopaths and chiropractors are the low-hanging fruit because either nothing or nearly-nothing of what they do can survive critical assessment.

    There’s plenty of crap talked by members of the paramedical professions who can reasonably expect to have the spotlight turned on them.

    It’s all about the evidence, if these numpties can’t come up with the evidence and persistently talk bollocks then they can expect to be pilloried when their time comes.

    As the meerkat says, “Simples”. You got a problem holding the osteopaths’ feet to the fire?

  • Cranial osteopaths are also complete quacks, but their web sites are immune to complaints to the ASA, and trading standards have been patchy and ineffective.
    Other osteopaths are similar to chiropractors, but don’t have the ‘statutory regulation’ claim to respectibility that the GCC gives chiro’s.
    I looked at a few of the physiotherapist sites “Interested in the truth” linked and they seemed pretty reasonable, except for the claims of “Connective Tissue Manipulation” which I’d like to see evidence for.

    Still, “Interested in the truth” why don’t you lodge a complaint to trading standards about a couple of the osteopaths claiming to help middle ear infections and childhood asthma ?

  • davidp said: “Other osteopaths are similar to chiropractors, but don’t have the ’statutory regulation’ claim to respectibility that the GCC gives chiro’s.”

    Actually, yes they do. There is a General Osteopathic Council in exactly the same way that there is a General Chiropractic Council.

    There is no reason on Earth why Alan Henness should have singled out chiropractors when he submitted his 500 complaints to the GCC. Except, of course that it’s all in an effort to bolster support for Simon Singh’s defence of his libel of the BCA. If it had ever been a genuine public health concern, then he would have submitted similar complaints about osteopaths and a good number of physiotherapists by now. Tellingly, he has not.

    It’s simply fashionable to have a go at chiropractors at the moment.

  • Thanks for trying to impugn my motives — you know very little about me indeed, yet you try to divert the topic into an irrelevant discussion of why I am doing this.

    However, the question is really very simple: are chiropractors complying with their Code of Practice or not? Perhaps you think they shouldn’t be called to account?

    Of course, if you think there are other areas of public health concern that are not being dealt with, what are you doing about it?

  • With respect, David, you don’t know what Alan Henness has or hasn’t done. I know he’s been submitting complaints about all breeds of quack for many more years than he can remember. That’s not to deny that Simon’s case provides a good reason for focussing on chiropractic – of course it does. But your oft-repeated whinge that Alan only did it because he’s some kind of disciple is just idiotic.

    I still don’t understand why you object to his attempts to get you guys to clean up your act and stop lying to people.

  • Zeno said: “…the question is really very simple: are chiropractors complying with their Code of Practice or not?”

    It appears that some chiropractors have mistakenly advertised their treatment for various disorders without the required level of evidence. This does not mean that the treatments aren’t effective, only that there is insufficient evidence to meet the standard which the ASA requires before claims can be made in an advert. The chiropractors concerned are not guilty of being dishonest, only ignorant of the level of evidence required for advertising. It is true that the Code of Practice demands that the ASA standards should be met and it may be we should be grateful to Mr Henness for pointing this out, but that is the extent of it.

    “Of course, if you think there are other areas of public health concern that are not being dealt with, what are you doing about it?”

    I’m not the one who’s taken it upon himself to clean up the world of complementary medicine. The point, my friend, is that you have targeted chiropractic, supposedly for the health and safety of the nation, yet have not complained about others who make claims that are every bit the equal of those made by chiropractors, and certainly with no better evidence. This is a fact and it seems pretty obvious that this fact exists because your motive was to support Simon Singh. If you have other reasons for not having made hundreds of complaints to, for example the General Osteopathic Council, then do please tell us what they are.

  • David wrote about Zeno: “…you have targeted chiropractic, supposedly for the health and safety of the nation, yet have not complained about others who make claims that are every bit the equal of those made by chiropractors, and certainly with no better evidence. This is a *fact*…”

    How do you know that?

  • Has anyone said they are guilty of anything? And why did it take an outsider to point out the link with the ASA that should have been blindingly obvious to all chiropractors? They do read and understand their CoP, don’t they?

    I make no assumptions about — and have no way of knowing — why chiropractors chose to make claims they did, whether it be ignorance, dishonesty, arrogance or whatever. Their reasons are irrelevant for the time being.

    There you go again making assumptions about me. What’s your basis for jumping to the conclusion that I’ve not complained about other AltMed? Just because you’re not aware of it?

    For a second time, if you’re so concerned, what are you doing about osteopaths or whoever?

  • @ Skepticat

    “I still don’t understand why you object to his attempts to get you guys to clean up your act and stop lying to people.”

    Still showing your usual level of abrasiveness I see. I do not lie to my patients.

  • Blue Wode wrote: “David wrote about Zeno: “…you have targeted chiropractic, supposedly for the health and safety of the nation, yet have not complained about others who make claims that are every bit the equal of those made by chiropractors, and certainly with no better evidence. This is a *fact*…”

    How do you know that?”

    When Zeno made his bulk complaint about chiropractors to the GCC, he wasn’t shy about telling the world. In fact he seems to be quite proud of the complaints that he’s made. I’ve made the assumption that, had he made similar complaints about osteopaths, he would have told us by now.

    However, if he has treated chiropractors and osteopaths equally and it’s just that I’m not aware of it, he can quite easily tell us now….

  • @ Zeno

    Zeno said: “For a second time, if you’re so concerned, what are you doing about osteopaths or whoever?”

    I didn’t say I was concerned. The point is that YOU seem very concerned about what chiropractors do and say, yet seem unconcerned about osteopaths. I’m struggling to see your reasoning if it isn’t simply the result of the Singh debacle.

  • @ David

    Thank you for the clarification that you were referring to *bulk* complaints. Your original statement, however, remains a presumption.

    With regard to osteopaths, I have a feeling that they will be next. Chiropractors, IMO, have always been a greater target for criticism since they are much more mired in quackery with their false beliefs in (undetectable) chiropractic ‘subluxations’.

  • I haven’t been on this blog for months & it’s great to see the same rattly old puffins still here squabbling away..! If chiropractic is currently more mired in quackery than other manual treatment professions, when ‘their time comes’, I’m sure that collectively, you will be able to generate more than enough mire to go around.

    Fair play to you for toughing it out David – a chiro barnacle fighting your corner admirably. Best of luck to you – but I fear you may be a kanute in the face of an self appointed & self important tide.

    I also don’t see any public health agenda here – not in the slightest. The exclusive focus on chiropractic in the face of mountains of doubt & uncertainty throughout manual treatment comes across as too ill-natured and pejorative. It feels more like a slightly sycophantic Singh-case-based vendetta.

    Time will tell :)

    Zeno – It appears that David isn’t concerned about osteopaths treating colic. That’s why he isn’t doing something about osteopaths or whoever.

  • @ Andy

    That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a UK osteopath mention the ‘subluxation’. Do you have any evidence that osteopaths believe in them (i.e. not the occasional medical one they might see) more than chiropractors? Several hundred chiropractors in the UK still believe that ‘subluxations’ (as defined by chiropractors) are valid, detectable lesions.

  • I see David has got in here before I could.

    BSM seems to miss the point. Robust RCT are hard to come by for any of the manual therapies including “institutionalised” physiotherapy for a lot of the more common musculoskeletal complaints seen on most chiro/osteo/physio websites.

    So, with the ASA regulating websites even these professions are going to come under fire. That is where the sincerity point comes in.

    If Zeno is taking the chiros to task on these issues because of his concerns for public health due to lack of evidence for musculo-skeletal conditions (putting colic, asthma etc. aside) then we can expect to see a lot of complaints lodged at your local physios too?

    @davidp
    Osteopaths do have statutory regulation, much the same as chiropractors, if fact they have had it even longer.

    The difference is that in the GCC code they use the ASA standards to regulate advertising, which at this point still does not cover websites.

    I have no intention to lodge any complaints as I do not feel that the ASA has it right regarding the way in which they evaluate the level of evidence for any of the manual therapies. Clinicians (including GP’s, surgeons etc.) do not work in a black and/or white environment most of it is grey.

  • Dear old Blue Wode. You can’t bear it, can you?

    Andy torpedos your argument and your response is: “Do you have any evidence that osteopaths believe in [subluxations] *MORE* than chiropractors?” (emphasis mine).

    It would be quite amusing, if it wasn’t so tragic, that you have such a passionate (dare I say, obsessive) loathing of chiropractors.

    It’s sad that you feel so compelled to denigrate chiropractic when apparently you’ve never experienced it for yourself.

  • @ David

    Andy has not torpedoed my argument. If he can provide evidence that a substantial number of osteopaths believe in the fictitious ‘subluxation’ lesion (as described by chiropractors), then I will have learnt something and will adjust my argument accordingly.

  • Subluxation in the chiropractic sense is not taught on osteopathic courses

    the closest Osteopaths get to subluxation is the strict medical use of the term to describe a deranged joint.

    I am puzzled by this fellas use of the term as well.

    (I have recently qualified so I can provide all of my notes to anyone that really really wants to wade through them)

  • @David

    “Still showing your usual level of abrasiveness I see.”

    Yes, your continual sanctimonious whining and insults at zeno and BlueWode does tend to bring out that side in me. (There’s a moral in there somewhere.)

    David and JackieW, I am going to explain this to you one more time as simply as I can. If you really don’t get it after that, I’ll give up.

    1. As I said, Alan Henness has a long history of challenging quackery and has made many, many complaints about many different kinds of quacks.

    2. Of course his decision to make complaints about chiropractors at this particular time is because of Simon’s challenge to the BCA. What better time to focus on the false claims of chiropractors than when they invite publicity in the way that the BCA has done?

    So, you see, you are right about the causal effect of the libel action – Alan wouldn’t deny that he was inspired by Simon’s challenge to the BCA to put their money where there mouth is. Where your critical thinking faculties seem to be failing you is in understanding why he wants to challenge chiropractic at all. Because of your personal investment in chiropractic, you are closed to the possibility that there could be anything wrong with it or with a significant number of chiropractors and this, in turn, is blinding you to the most rational answer to that question. Instead you resort to rather infantile ad hominems that wouldn’t be out of place in the schoolyard: “You’re just a sycophant, nah, nah, nah, you don’t really care,”. Is this really the best you can do? Because – and you seem to be having trouble grasping this – it isn’t actually an argument; it is just empty personal abuse, which serves only to make you look nasty.

    3. Finally, here’s another point that has been made umpteen times but which still doesn’t seem to be penetrating:

    The fact that Alan is focussing on chiropractors at the moment, doesn’t mean he won’t focus on something else when he has the time. He will – I can absolutely guarantee it. (Cue for either of you to come back with one of your usual nasty insinuations about zeno how has too much time on his hands, should “get a job”, etc, etc, *yawn*)

    @David

    “I do not lie to my patients.”

    You shouldn’t take it all so personally. You may not lie to your patients but I’ve seen two chiropractors in the last few months and both of them lied to my face. Given some of the stuff on the chiro websites, I’ve no reason to suppose they were atypical.

    (Btw, Jackie, I hope you’ve fully recovered from your breakdown by the way or where you just paralytic last time you came posted all that abuse here?)

  • @ Skepticat

    Words fail me, but thank you for confirming that you continue to suffer from your affliction.

  • @ Blue Wode and OsteopathJW

    As Blue Wode knows, because I’ve told him before, the two main chiropractic teaching institutions in the UK (the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic and the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic) do not teach the subluxation theory as he would describe it.

    Unfortunately for him, this doesn’t fit with his argument so he chooses to deny it. As for his assertion that he would modify his argument in the face of evidence, I haven’t seen much sign of it so far.

  • @ David

    And you’re still a coward.

  • David

    You are bringing up the same old fallacious arguments that have already been demolished, you refuse to engage in a productive discussion and you continue to hurl ad hominems and puerile and abusive insults.

    If you do this once more, I will ban you from commenting any further.

  • I find this site interesting and somewhat amusing. It would seem that the chiropractirs are being targeted, and I can understand the rational with regards supporting Simon Singh. It is though pretty obvious that David has a valid point. This is not a site based on scepticism, although having followed it for a few years, it is a chiropractic bashing site. I would be more impressed if the argument that David outs is accepted as reasonable because it seems as if he has a valid point, just not the point that this site has chosen to adopt.

    Sadly it would seem that by considering banning those who disagree with Zeno or this current ’cause’ he is coming across as an individual who only wants those on the site who agree with him. I hope that is inaccurate, but I don’t see David as being any more inflammatory than some other postings, albeit on the otherside of the argument. Sadly to have a debate you need two sides or it becomes a witchhunt.

    What was an interesting site has degenerated into a bigoted attack on one group ignoring, by choice those others who come under the same treatment misapprehensions. Zeno unfortunately, where he once was seen as a bastion of the cause, a mantle he chose to don, now sadly has become an individual who has lost his way. I hope he finds it again soon or we will have to change our names to bigots in the pub. A sad day.

  • Well said “the Bruce”. Zeno threatening to “ban” David highlights his insincerity and was it not for David the comments would have ended after the usual two or three chums patting him on the back. Yet, Zeno continues to allow Skeptikat to hurl abuse at will. This may be because she is his partner and he would be deep in the brown stuff at home.?

    Speculation aside the disingenuous and insincere approach continues. It is amazing that it has got to this stage , but then looking at it from the beginning it seems like it was a carefully orchestrated from the beginning and that the BCA fell for Singh’s bait.

    As it all started with him writing an article to promote his book in the guise of a scientific debate (in the Guardian, lol) in which he tears into Chiropractors and the association, but absolutely no mention of the osteopaths and them treating visceral conditions despite the fact that they treat far more of these conditions. It is a pity that the guardian does not have Zeno there to sort the “ ad hominems and puerile and abusive insults” in which case Simon would never have landed in this position. He harps on about historical facts which are just that, history (by the way i have learnt more about chiropractic history from the sceptics than i even did at college).

    Then when Simon is taken to task his mates at sense about science back his ill-conceived article and start gaining public and celebrity support but not telling the full story and publishing carefully edited information. http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/380 (no mention of happily or bogus).

    Then we end up with “the complaints” about everything, not just the visceral conditions, which is where I see all the other manual therapies coming under the spotlight in the future due to the way in which the ASA evaluates it evidence as I mentioned in an earlier post.

  • If David had come here with reasoned arguments, then they would have been listened to and considered. What arguments he has brought have been countered (to my mind, very effectively), but David has consistently failed to engage with those rebuttals, resorting instead to insults and ad hominems that were becoming wearisome.

    In doing this, he has broken the site rules — rules put in place to ensure a reasonable and reasoned debate. I have let his abuse through up till now but his last posts here have pushed him over the limit I am prepared to accept.

  • Sadly, I am sceptical about many things including situations and treatments in the heathcare sector and that includes aspects of both CAM and allopathy. So as a sceptic, I feel scepticism itself is a healthy process and can ensure growth through analysis and in this case EBM. The difficulty is, it is far easier to critique than produce for a host of reasons, but that is the nature of things. However in all cases, ‘what is reasonable’ I believe must be considered and allowing oneself to slip into bigotry and discrimination based on agenda is not scepticism. Sadly I feel that is what seems to be happening here.

    I have only posted to remind people that there are many peple who read sites like this through interest in debate who do not post. Sometimes one must penetrate the comfortable communication bubble of agreement that occurs when like minded people get together, orchestrated or otherwise. There must always be, virtue that an argument/ debate exists the ability to hear a minimum of two siides in order to rationalisthang find the right outcome. To rule out one party’s view, especially when they seem to be only one part of the pie and have been singled out for whatever reason seems disingenuous. Thus is not skepticism but dogma, which can of course lead to change, not potentially for the good of the masses, but instead for the good of the voca few.

  • @the Bruce

    What do you mean “this is not a site based on skepticism”? This is a skeptic bloggers blog and every post on it is written from a skeptic’s perspective.

    You claim to have been following this site for a few years, that it used to be interested but has now “degenerated” into attacking chiropractors, which is a strange thing to say, given that 95% (78 out of 82) of the posts here were written within the past ten months and the vast majority have been about chiropractic.

    It is though pretty obvious that David has a valid point.

    What point would that be? David doesn’t make points, he comes here to rant’ at and insult Zeno in order to make himself feel better. (The same is true of JackieW). As Zeno has pointed out, all David’s ‘arguments’ about chiropractic have been demolished and all he’s left with are the insults, which are getting nastier. You haven’t seen anyone else here accuse anyone of having an “affliction”. The fact that he’s gets your respect for behaving like that is quite revealing about you.

    Sadly it would seem that by considering banning those who disagree with Zeno or this current ’cause’ he is coming across as an individual who only wants those on the site who agree with him..

    It may seem that way to you but most people would take into consideration the fact that people here can comment freely – there is no moderation – and hundreds who have disagreed with him have done so and continue to do so. Yet the only one he has warned is the one who has been consistently and repeatedly rude and nasty both to him and other posters.

    The suggestion that he wants to ban David because David doesn’t agree with him, doesn’t actually stand up to scrutiny as I hope you will be big enough to acknowledge.(I know the poster after you isn’t.)

    I don’t see David as being any more inflammatory than some other postings, albeit on the otherside of the argument.

    Then take you blinkers off and have a proper look. Look at David’s second comment on this thread, for example. It’s essentially the same comment he has made on numerous other threads. It contains no argument – it is just another ad hominem. Look at any other article that David has commented under and you will see a pattern. This is how it goes:

    1. David posts a nasty trollish comment. This may contain a claim about chiropractic or reference to some kind of alleged evidence. It will invariably contain a ad hominem attack on zeno. In plain English, that’s a gratuitous insult against zeno as a person.

    2. Blue Wode posts challenging the claims David makes about chiro. Blue Wode is unfailingly civil towards David, while at the same time trouncing his argument. I come on and challenge David’s insults towards Zeno, as I did in my first post on this thread.

    3. David sanctimoniously tells me he won’t engage with me because I’m rude. (David evidently thinks he should be at liberty to hurl hateful insults at Zeno without being challenged. My strategy towards David has been to try to get him to think again. Every time he’s nasty to Zeno, I’m nasty to him. Funnily enough, he doesn’t like it.)

    4. He continues to argue with Blue Wode for a while then, when it’s obvious he’s defeated, he just disappears.

    Zeno provides a space where people can engage in civilised, adult discussion if they want to. Constant aspersions do not amount to ‘civilised, adult discussion’ but it seems those of you posting in defence of David can’t see the difference.

  • I am truly sorry, my opinion is that Zeno does not allow a space for reasonable debate anymore. As he has said it is his opinion that David has broken the rules of the site and as it is his site he has that right. It is not however within the realms of what is reasonable, my opinion that he has.

    I never wished to get involved in the pettyness nor agendas of this site but my impression is still, believe what we believe or be silenced. On this count I think Zeno is wrong and hence the post. I therefore reiterate that this site has degenerated into a site not based on scepticism but in bigotry.

  • Well, Bruce, as your idea of the “realms of what is reasonable” is that people should be free to post the same personal insult over and over again, you might find a site like Rants n’ Raves a more comfortable home. Over there you will find many posters like David. No constructive discussion takes place but people who don’t know how to argue civilly are free to fling insults left right and centre.

    Here’s the link – enjoy!

    http://www.rantsnraves.org/

  • Zeno said: “David

    You are bringing up the same old fallacious arguments that have already been demolished, you refuse to engage in a productive discussion and you continue to hurl ad hominems and puerile and abusive insults.

    If you do this once more, I will ban you from commenting any further.”

    That was a fascinating little post, Zeno.

    I don’t believe my arguments to be fallacious and I don’t believe that they have been demolished either. However, I am having to repeat myself because you and your fellow chiro-bashers continue to trot out the same old tripe, implying that chiropractors are charlatans.

    If my comments have come across as insults then an apology is in order. My intention is to draw attention to the unreasonable position taken by you and some of your fellow bloggers.

    Interestingly, you have been notably quiet on the issue of why you have singled out chiropractic and not dealt with osteopathy with the same vigour. Despite your slightly aggressive protestations that I have no evidence that you are not treating the two professions equally, you have singularly failed to produce the evidence to show that you are.

    While you allow the likes of Skepticat to thrash around in here like a spoilt child, your threat to ban me can only be interpreted as censorship rather than moderation. It starts to look like you are just trying to silence a voice that speaks out against you.

    There is an amusing irony here. You and others had tried to characterise the BCA-v-Singh case as an issue of freedom of speech, which of course it isn’t but I’m not going back to that one just now. You have criticised the BCA, and by extension all chiropractors, for seeking to stifle debate and yet you threaten to ban me from this forum. Perhaps I should soon be expecting a lawsuit for libel!

    Would I be insulting you if I called you a hypocrite?

  • @ Skepticat

    I’ll let readers decide for themselves who they believe to be the more rational and civil contributor here.

  • David, you can’t seriously believe your posts are civil. I have followed many of the discussions here and I’m afraid the tone of your posts, the snide innuendo and the ad hominems have often intimidated me from posting myself. On this thread you have surpassed yourself and nobody should have to put up with the insults you have directed at people here. It’s obvious to me that you are nothing more than a troll.

    scepticat wrote:

    >(David evidently thinks he should be at liberty to hurl hateful insults at Zeno without being challenged. My strategy towards David has been to try to get him to think again. Every time he’s nasty to Zeno, I’m nasty to him. Funnily enough, he doesn’t like it.)<

    I see what you mean.

  • @ Artemis, Skepticat and Zeno

    Can you point out the “hateful insults” that I have “hurled” at Zeno and others please?

  • Sadly to be advised, with ink included, which made me smile, to join the ranks of ‘ rant and rave’ seems to underline my current belief that this blog is in fact is a politically motivated site hiding behind the banner of scepticism.

    I brought my opinion to the table based on what I saw was unfair. I did not expect to have everyone agree as that is the nature of both opinion and therefore debate. This site however seems to welcome only an opinion that vilifies one particular and very specific group of manual therapy, while choosing to exclude and in fact ignore the others with the same approach and claims in their advertising. Surely this is neither the action of a sceptic nor in fact does it have the public’s best interest at heart.

    Sadly there have throughout my lifetime, and that of my forebears, attacks on minority groups under the guise or banner of something else. I have always found it distasteful and today is no exception. I welcome the continued debate, not the censorship that seems to be occuring.

    Maybe an alternative opinion such as Davids, is unwelcome here because it does nit fit the very specific criteria of ‘ nodding dog’ syndrome.

    I hope it will be rectified soon as I rather enjoy some of this, however, entertaining as it is, scepticism it definately is not….. I did of course supply my own ink, much to my own amusement.

  • As skepticat pointed out to you, you have repeatedly sneered at Zeno and called him a sycophant. Your response to skepticat’s observation about your behaviour – an observation I share – is to then dismiss him as having an “affliction.” You may not like what skepticat says to you but I notice that in every single instance it is you who starts the trouble by being gratuitously nasty. And that’s how I would describe the whole of the post you directed at Blue Wode. It really is unnecessary and confirms my opinion that you are just a troll whose sole purpose here is to try to antagonise Zeno.

    It is a mystery to me why Zeno has put up with your nastiness for so long and completely predictable that you should cry “censorship” the moment you receive a warning that, IMHO, is long overdue.

  • @ Artemis

    This is absurd.

    So, what you’re saying is that because I challenge the views posted here and question the motives of the posters, I am being “nasty” and that shouldn’t be allowed.

    It appears that you are confusing a challenge to someone’s actions and words with an insult. If the complaint against me is that the language is argumentative then I will happily concede that. However, when it comes to “nasty”, I fail to see how my postings compare with the ad hominems that Skepticat sends my way and are tolerated by Zeno.

    Like I say, please show me the insults I have made. I honestly consider my comments to be observations, not insults.

    But you needn’t worry, I’m off for the next week so you won’t have to put up with me at all.

  • This is getting wearisome, troll.

    You can’t see that dismissing someone as a “sycophant” or as a “spoilt child” are insults not challenges?

    In that case, I can’t help you any further.

  • @ Artemis et al

    So far, I’ve have been called a liar, a coward, a “troll”, sanctimonious, nasty and I forget what else. Yet I’m being criticised for being abusive and insulting people.

    This is a joke and “the Bruce” is right, this site has lost its credibility, although actually, I think what I’ve exposed here is the true nature that it had all along.

    So, don’t bother banning me Zeno, I’m out of here.

  • Stop insulting people, ‘troll’. Amazing. Surely that is the defining sentiment of this blog.

    It will be a real shame if David makes no further contributions. It appears to me that he has come to the end of his tether as a result of the apparent hypocrisy of threatening to ban him, when other ‘pro-zeno’ contributors are guilty of remarkable antagonism and personal hostility.

    (See: “…I hope you’ve fully recovered from your breakdown by the way or where you just paralytic…” amongst many others. My contributions are far more glib than Davids so in a way I ask for it).

    Zenos threat to ban could be understood and respected if he had applied the rules evenly and from the start but this is a glaring case of double standards – particularly distasteful as this blog is so closely allied with a crusade under the banner of freedom of speech.

    Perhaps all contributors are equal but some contributors are more equal than others…

  • @Jackie W

    the apparent hypocrisy of threatening to ban him, when other ‘pro-zeno’ contributors are guilty of remarkable antagonism and personal hostility.

    (See: “…I hope you’ve fully recovered from your breakdown by the way or where you just paralytic…” amongst many others…).

    OK, Jackie W, let’s remind ourselves of your behaviour when you last had a blitz on this blog. On 7 & 8 Jan you posted numerous times – pure invective – under three different user names. You even had a conversation with yourself using two different names! (Hint: It’s a good idea, if you’re going to pretend to be someone else, to use a different email address and post from a different IP address.)

    This is how you started:

    Jackie W 2010/01/07 at 1:03pm “I am a young medical doctor …”

    And here are just a few of the constructive and charming comments lifted from your responses to Zeno’s blogposts:

    “you are happily making a fool of yourself trying to discredit a professional body”

    “you are not doing this for personal reason, but rather to help/support someone (friend?) who is a lunatic scientist author”

    “I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate all your supporters; you have won the medal of (dis) honour with your courageous and productive acts. Surely, the majority of ‘non’ graduated British people are proud of you.”

    “Do you actually have a job? or you just kill time by writing nonsense?”

    “it seems that there are more educated guests here (David) rather than just lunatics fighting very hard to prove themselves to themselves.”

    “I find it extremely funny that there some jobless people out there who choose to keep themselves occupied by claiming to care about the public”

    “GET A JOB INSTEAD.”

    “I assume that by ‘wanting to help the public’ you mean they should listen you you, invisible God, rather than a Governmental Body. I should have brought a dictionary for xmas and read again the definition of ‘ignorant arrogance’.”

    “recently I realized how many loser and unqualified people out there are using the net to gain popularity and happily make a fool of themselves.”

    At the time I believed you were either very drunk or going through some kind of personal crisis so I didn’t respond but now I see you are back and are still every bit as nasty (not just “glib”, Jackie, you are nasty – thoroughly nasty). Take your first post on this thread:

    Jackie W: Thursday 18 March 2010 at 20:48

    “Fair play to you for toughing it out David – a chiro barnacle fighting your corner admirably. Best of luck to you – but I fear you may be a kanute in the face of an self appointed & self important tide.”

    Even when you express your sycophantic support for David, you do it by being abusive towards us. In a nutshell, Jackie W, you have come to this blog on several occasions for no reason other than to make nasty personal attacks on Zeno (David has done the same) and you wonder why you have attracted antagonism and hostility?

    What a credit you are to the…um medical profession. ;-)

  • You guys crease me up!

    Your ‘profession’ is being torn apart and facing a major crisis and all you can complain about is a few insults and how zeno isn’t playing the game on his blog? Unbelievable. Your lack of self-awareness is typical of many other quacks I’ve had the misfortune to come across.

    The GCC’s report – regardless of the critical examination of it that is starting to show it to be flawed and biased in many areas – has laid out the evidence (or lack of it) for many of the claims made by chiros. There is zero evidence for anything not mentioned, yet these are many of the things zeno complained about. What about the ‘inconclusive’ conditions (and I see Bronfort is pretty familiar with that small sweet red fruit)? Do you think they will stand up to the ASA’s scrutiny? (And I love zeno’s observation about a so-called health profession being regulated by an advertising body paid for out of marketing budgets!)

    So many serious questions, the answer to which could decimate your industry and radically change the way any remaining chiros work and yet you come on here insulting zeno and skepticat.

    But the really big question is why haven’t you addressed these issues before now? Has it come as a complete surprise to you lot that that there’s not a jot of evidence for (as zeno has highlighted):-

    “sleeping and feeding problems, prolonged crying as well as no RCTs for ADHD, irritable bowel syndrome, tinnitus, dyslexia, eczema, , hyperactivity, ‘wellness’, catarrh and sinus problems, reflux, chronic fatigue, stroke, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, digestive disorders, constipation, etc, etc, etc.”

    There is nothing new in the GCC’s report – it’s just gathered the evidence together into one place in a handy, easy-to-use reference for you. Did they forget to tell you about the lack of evidence at chiro college? Don’t you read reviews from Cochrane and other independent organisations? Didn’t they mention the ASA and their adjudications?

    Once you’ve got over the current mess, whosoever are left, are you going to solve the problem at its source and make sure all chiros are properly trained in what they can and cannot help with?

    Or are you just going to change your websites and adverts to comply but carry on misleading your customers regardless?

    After seeing the behaviour of chiros here and elsewhere, I know which I’m betting on.

  • Good points, IainD, particularly the one you raise about chiropractors not having addressed the issues before now. I suspect that the reason is because most chiropractors in the UK work in private practice and concerning themselves with robust evidence would have a detrimental effect on their incomes. Even their regulatory body, the GCC, has seemed happy to excuse them from having to ensure that their interventions are supported by good evidence. For example, here’s what it said in a letter it sent to the group Action for Victims of Chiropractic (AVC) in 2004:

    Quote
    “No health profession limits its approach to treatment for which there is evidence, because for most interventions in healthcare there simply is not yet good evidence.”
    http://www.chirovictims.org.uk/victims/news.html

    No doubt the above was the reason why it was happy to declare in a November 2006 letter to the AVC group that:

    Quote
    “Adjustment of the atlas, craniosacral therapy and applied kinesiology fall within the […] definition of evidence-based care.”
    http://jdc325.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/gcc-ak.pdf

    (All the letters that the GCC sent to AVC can be read on the AVC news page link above.)

    With regard to the Bronfort review having carried out no new trials, in a previous comment I made on this post I wondered if patients could demand to be refunded up nine years retrospectively (since the date that statutory regulation came into force) for having been administered bogus treatments. I am now also very interested in how chiropractors will go about resolving the following very real problem:

    Quote
    “I wonder how an individual chiropractor can/will handle the new ‘guidance’ when dealing with an existing patient who’s being ‘treated’ for one of the ‘outlawed’ problems? “I’m sorry sir but there’s no evidence that chiropractic can do anything for that problem you’ve been paying me to treat for the past year.””
    http://forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=5733075&postcount=1265

  • Go nail those who need nailed, but leave the debate open and stop acting like petulent children. But I suppose it’s better than bigotry.

    Get back on the road, and off the political agenda. This is not scepticism this is verging on discrimination. Open the debate up to all manual therapists bring them all to task, sadly, David is right. Having read some of the posts I can understand both sides, although ‘troll’ and ‘ rant and rave’ seems to suggest more than one set of rules. But maybe this sight is becoming a springboard for Zeno, ego although I would be disappointed if it was the case, is a wonderful thing.

    This is a meant to be a skeptics site but it is currently falling far short of the mark.

  • And yet more empty invective from the Bruce, who can’t seem to keep away from this blog he disdains so much….

  • @ Skepticat – Really – bless you..!

    Help – I am being defamed..! Until this thread, I haven’t made any comments on this or any other site since late last year. I can’t tell you the exact time but it was around about the time my partner ( & my business partner ) gave me an ultimatum to ‘stop blogging’..!

    You have stepped off into thin air on this one and are making an accusation for which you can have absolutely no evidence. That is what you interested in right – quoting evidence?

    The quotes you have used have nothing to do with me. I have no idea how one would check such a thing but I’m sure there must be a way. Maybe Zeno can check IP addresses or something. I really don’t know. If you can Zeno, (and you can be bothered) please do.

    I am strangely flattered that you think I would have come up with pseudonyms or have conversations with myself – I just don’t take this as seriously as all that. I have only ever appeared as myself, and your paranoid accusation is entirely wrong. I am happy to contribute as I am and apologise if you find my support of ‘David’ on this thread nasty. I will give as good as I get & don’t mind a bit of spice in the discourse but believe that over personalisation is not helpful.

    I am not intending this post as an opportunity for a (skepti)cat-fight. Having to defend myself against this random accusation is way off the point of this type of forum & I’d rather see this blog to return to some semblance of respectability and at least attempting to be a place for proper debate.

    This has been a fascinating in this thread in which the host has moved to ban someone whilst arguing for a free speech, and that a regular champion for the rigorous application of evidence is making accusations with no evidence.

    Is ‘Zenos blog’ imploding..?!

    @ Artemis

    I’m glad you managed to pluck up the courage to contribute positively to the debate.

  • Oh for pity’s sake, Jackie! I wouldn’t accuse you of pretending to be someone else, were it not for the fact that all of the posts were posted from the same IP address, using the same email address that you always use!

    I understand you must be mortified and that’s why you are making a big show of denying it but you are not doing yourself any favours.

    Most of the comments I quoted were under your usual name anyway.

    Here are the links:

    http://www.zenosblog.com/2009/05/ok-so-how-many-chiroquacktors-claim-to-treat-colic/

    http://www.zenosblog.com/2009/12/washing-dirty-linen-in-public/

  • Jackie

    Just in case it is not clear, the IP address and email address of all commenters is automatically recorded. The IP address identifies the particular PC used to send the comment. As Skepticat has pointed out, all these comments came from the same PC and used your email address. If someone else was pushing the keys, then that’s something you have to sort out.

  • Skepticat.

    I think if you read my oust you you would see I do not hold this site in disdain, I am saddened, as I have said before, that it has moved from the skeptic cause into one of bigotry and discrimination with an obvious political agenda. I there felt it appropriate to support David as an individual who was voicing the opinion if the other side as it were.

    If you want a blog full of nodding dogs or feel it appropriate to discount other opinions rather than your own, don’t have a forum, have a soap box….but at least be honest about it.

    Arguments and debates need both sides put into the pot otherwise it becomes what sadly this site has become. I post because I am sad that what WAS a good sceptic site has changed.

  • Well well..! The plot thickens. I have to thank you for bringing that to my attention – that is indeed something I will have to sort out & apologise for any confusion that may have arisen.

    I was away from the UK for 6 weeks from the end of December – hence my certainty that I have not spoken out of turn. As I said, I didn’t have anything to do with this site from pre xmas until this thread. I work in a multi-disciplinary practice and several other people will have had access to my computer whilst I was away so I will investigate further but I absolutely distance myself from any comments made by anyone from this IP or under my email address while I was away.

    Going forward, I will continue to post with my email address & if some distant geek has hijacked my address as well spannering my reputation it will soon become clear.

    The Real JW

  • While the rest are calling each other name here are a few ideas that are not far removed from old school chiropractic philosophy that are still going on in osteopathy today. The” osteopathic lesion” sounds much like subluxation to me.

    http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/osteopathic+lesion
    http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/osteopathic+lesion

    This institution seems to have an interesting take on RCTs

    http://www.british-institute-of-osteopathy.org/traditional/Default.aspx

    This goes to show how vexatious this attack on the chiropractors really is and begs the question why was osteopathy never mentioned in Singh’s article in the guardian,why did he choose to single out the chiropractors?

    Is there a link between Singh, Ernst and the osteopaths (or is too much of a conspiracy theory idea)?

    They seem to have distanced themselves and kept very quiet in this debacle. One would think that they (the osteopaths) too would have much to fight for when you consider the claims that they make on their websites. If the respective councils and associations do not take on these issue together then this could result in an end to all advertising by manual therapists, including physiotherapists, especially the manipulative physio’s (who also use the same evidence base for musculo-skeletal complaints).

  • Yes, I think that the whole manual therapy thing needs to be looked at as a whole. Sadly, this us the problem that I have with the current approach of the site, it is targeting only one slice if the pie, for obvious political reasons. This is not scepticism it is simple bigotry. A sad sate of affairs for zenosblog.

  • I started on chiropractic and I’ll see it through, but, as I’ve said before, there are only so many hours in the day, so other forms of quackery will have to wait a while.

    Unless you want to tackle them, that is?

  • Interested in the truth wrote: “…why was osteopathy never mentioned in Singh’s article in the Guardian, why did he choose to single out the chiropractors?”

    If you read the original article, he singled out chiropractors because he was writing specifically about Chiropractic Awareness Week:
    http://svetlana14s.narod.ru/Simon_Singhs_silenced_paper.html

    Interested in the truth wrote: “Is there a link between Singh, Ernst and the osteopaths (or is too much of a conspiracy theory idea)?”

    Well, as I have already said in the comments above, I suspect that osteopathy will be put under the microscope next. It’s certainly been the subject of a great deal of scrutiny in this ongoing thread (which has had more than 70,000 views) over on the UK Skeptics forum:
    http://www.ukskeptics.com/showthread.php/2452-Osteopaths-on-the-loose

    And I know that some skeptics are currently collecting data on UK osteopathic practices with a view to investigating them some time in the future.

  • @the Bruce

    >”Sadly, this us the problem that I have with the current approach of the site, it is targeting only one slice if the pie, for obvious political reasons. This is not scepticism it is simple bigotry. A sad sate of affairs for zenosblog.<"

    So if you are keen to target other "slices of the pie", what is stopping you?

    I'm sorry, Bruce, but you seem to expect one sceptic blogger to do everything at once all at one and you call him a 'bigot' because he doesn't? That's hardly reasonable and I could say something about a pot and a kettle here.

    @Jackie W

    You seem to think we were all born yesterday. I would have known all those posts were yours just from reading them. They have the same tone, same phrasing and same style. You’re on a hiding to nothing on this one, dear, so why not give up gracefully?

  • Hi Zeno, I appreciate the time factor, I also appreciate the mantle you have chosen and if the current posts relating to the chiropractics accurately reflect your perception of this singular role, you have worn it with both gusto and glee.

    I feel therefore that you are probably an individual who likes to finish what they have started, and as you are only a third of the way there, chiropractice being only a part of the pie, I feel that the limelight, pleasure and success should not be taken from you.

    I will await a more broadbased approach to the whole, which should have occurred in the first instance if credibility was to be maintained, as soon as you feel it appropriate. I hope it is soon as I feel that the reputation of your site as one flying the flag of scepticism, is suffering.

  • the Bruce

    Sorry? I should have attacked everything all at one and because I didn’t, my credibility and reputation are suffering?

    As you say, I’ll choose what to do and when to do it, but it doesn’t need to be left all to me now does it?

  • @ Blue Wode
    Interesting, thanks for the link. But, still it does not explain why Ernst has always been so vocal about chiropractic and yet the osteopath (a far larger group in the UK) who are doing much the same work as chiropractors seem to get little mention. This is consitant with regards the content of the book that he wrote with Singh.

    The fact that Singh coordinated the article with Chiropractic Awareness Week shows the malicious intent and publicity seeking nature of the individual (he was publisising his book). As had his sincere intent been about public health then he would have been talking about all the manipulative therapists,including osteopaths and physiotherapists.

  • @ the Bruce

    I have read your posts – all of them – and in every single one, you make untrue disparaging comments. That is how I know your opinion of this site and where you are coming from.

    You have two themes: One is that Zeno (aka ‘this site’) has lost credibility, isn’t really a skeptic, has a political agenda and is, in fact, a bigot.

    What on earth did Zeno do to deserve such derision?

    Why, he focused on chiroquacks instead of giving equal time to other related quackeries!

    Can you not spot an eensy weensy flaw in your argument there, Bruce? Being too busy to do everything at once doesn’t make one a bigot.

    In any event, far from ‘losing credibility’, this blog never had any credibility with quacks and that is why it has always attracted snide and bitter comments from them. On the other hand, it has in the ten months it’s been going become one of the most avidly followed blogs in the UK skeptics movement. Somehow I think Zeno can live with the idea of losing credibility in your eyes, especially since it obviously didn’t have any in the first place.

    Your other theme is the equally ridiculous assertion that Zeno “does not allow a space for reasonable debate anymore.”

    And you base this on…what exactly? There are nearly a thousand comments on this blog and several hundred of those are from Zeno’s opponents. What has changed? Has he started moderating comments? Deleting ones he doesn’t like? No. All he has done is issue one warning to one exceptionally rude poster.

    If you want a blog full of nodding dogs or feel it appropriate to discount other opinions rather than your own, don’t have a forum, have a soap box….but at least be honest about it.

    I’m beginning to think you are confusing this blog with some other website you have visited. This is one individual’s blog and – yes – like every other blog, it is a soapbox. It is not and never has been a forum – nor is it intended to be and allowing people to post responses to his articles doesn’t make it a forum. If you want a forum, come to this one:

    http://www.thinkhumanism.com/phpBB3

    Bruce, you are fooling nobody. Just like a couple of other people on this thread, you haven’t come here to contribute anything useful; you came here to have a go at Zeno. Well, you’ve had a go. And now you can have the snide and bitter last word.

  • @ Interested in the truth

    I don’t agree that Simon Singh showed malicious intent with the timing of his article. I think he provided a valuable public service in that he potentially helped many people to make better informed choices about their health care. As for Edzard Ernst being “so vocal” about chiropractic, I think the reason for that is quite obvious. Indeed, Simon Singh more or less explained it in this paragraph of his original article:

    Quote
    “But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.”

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

    Edzard Ernst recently expanded on the unfavourable risk/benefit profile for chiropractic spinal manipulation in his recent criticism of the new NICE guidelines for low back pain (which included spinal manipulation as a recommendation):

    Quote
    “The risk of mild to moderate adverse effects is undisputed even by chiropractors: about 50% (!) of all patients suffer from such adverse effect after spinal manipulations. These effects (mostly local or referred pain) are usually gone after 1-2 days but, considering the very moderate benefit, they might already be enough to tilt the risk-benefit balance in the wrong direction.
    In addition, several hundred (I estimate 700) cases are on record of dramatic complications after spinal manipulation. Most frequently they are because of vertebral arterial dissection. Considering these adverse events, the risk-benefit balance would almost certainly fail to be positive. It is true, however, that the evidence as to a causal relationship is not entirely uniform. Yet applying the cautionary principle, one ought to err on the safe side and view these complications at least as possibly caused by spinal manipulations.
    So why were these risks not considered more seriously? The guideline gives the following reason: “The review focused on evidence relevant to the treatment of low back pain, hence cervical manipulation was outside our inclusion criteria”. It is true that serious complications occur mostly (not exclusively) after upper spinal manipulation. So the guideline authors felt that they could be excluded. This assumes that a patient with lower back pain will not receive manipulations of the upper spine. This is clearly not always the case.
    Chiropractors view the spine as an entity. Where they diagnose ‘subluxations’, they will normally manipulate and ‘adjust’ them. And ‘subluxations’ will be diagnosed in the upper spine, even if the patient suffers from back pain. Thus many, if not most back pain patients receive upper spinal manipulations. It follows that the risks of this treatment should be included in any adequate risk assessment of spinal manipulation for back pain.”

    Link: http://tinyurl.com/yfh4n5s
    [Ref: Ernst, E. Spinal manipulation for the early management of persistent non-specific low back pain ? a critique of the recent NICE guidelines. Int J Clin Prac, Vol 63, No10, Oct 2009, pp.1419-1420]

    It all makes sense to me.

  • @ Blue Wode
    Well, we will have to disagree on Singh’s motive, but as he has not mentioned any other manipualtive therapists I am sticking to my interpretation.

    And, again when they discuss the risk of cervical manipulation it is only as conducted by chiropractors. There was no mention of the risks of cervical manipulation performed by osteopaths or physiotherapists.

    Ernst: “1 in 700″ is “his estimate”, not exactly based on any hard (as he likes to see)science behind that comment.

    Yet when the profession conducts a study (Bolton and Thiel) it gets ridiculed as it is biased because it is conducted by chiropractors.
    Well, who is going to conduct it. We haven’t seen Ernst conduct any trials into any manipulative therapies, yet he denegrades everyone elses studies with very colourful language in the media as did Singh on their quest of self promotion. Then he wonders why he does not have support or funding.

    Further to this he claims/implies to have been trained as a chiropractor (or was it Singh who claimed he had been trained?). Evidence of this would be interesting!

    Anyway, back to the point that it is going to be interesting to see what is or is not advertised on ALL websites when the ASA start to regulate them.

    P.S. what will happen if Zeno’s complaints go through and the cost of the procedure results in the GCC folding? You will end up with 2500 unregulated quack waddling the streets doing what they want. Now there’s a good idea, that must be a great service to the public. One of sincere concern for public health!

  • Skepticat

    yip you have me, I came on board to have a go at Zeno. Please, it is his site of course I did but not in the manner you are alluding too. He claims, and in all fairness it was in the past, to be a skeptic site. It then became a unilateral assault on one group, and in itself that may be seen by some to be ok, however when there are other groups out there with not dissimiler claims then it seems bigoted and biased.

    To then remove an individual who was trying to fight their corner, and to my mind in just as am offensive manner as your good self, then that, amongst the current direction of the site shows bigotry, discrimination and political motive.

    I have been asked why I have not taken up the cause to bring the other groups to task, the answer is simple: Zeno has already written a programme and has a system in place. The fact that he chooses only to go after one group when a ‘shitgun’ approach which covers all of those who makes these claims initially seemed strange. However, to those of us who have never posted, I am sure that at least to some, Zeno is using ‘skeoticism’ for his own political ends.

    Personally, I feel that ge has lost his way and should intact fonish what he has started and fir that reason I supported David. Maybe he is unwilling to take on a larger or possibly more organised group, such as physiotherapy or osteopathy who all, to one degree or another, have the same claims in their advertising.

    I am hoping that he will get back to first principles of skepticism, eg seeking the truth for truths sake, not for a personal agenda based on politics.

    So yes, I am critical, and whether I post or not, people like me will remain so. It is like selling the Grail to gain office…..and if the news is anything to go by, we have enough political shinanigans going on without it affecting, what was one a good site.

    Sorry if my opinions don’t fit your own… but isn’t that the nature if scepticism.

  • the Bruce said: “To then remove an individual who was trying to fight their corner”

    Eh? Who removed which individual? How did you manage to make that one up?

    “Zeno has already written a programme and has a system in place.”

    You clearly know little about websites.

    “The fact that he chooses only to go after one group when a ’shitgun’ approach which covers all of those who makes these claims initially seemed strange”

    I thought we sorted that nonsense out ages ago? Go away and have a really good think about what is actually involved. Familiarise yourself with the websites of whoever you think needs investigating. Read and understand any regulation documents. Read and understand their code of practice or whatever. Work out what they can and cannot claim. Work out what their complaints process is. Capture the websites URLs (if available). Go look at the pages of those websites. Look for claims you don’t think can be substantiated. Note the names, address and claims. Pull them all together. Go do some research on what has a robust evidence base (or whatever their CoP requires). Work out the best way to make your complaint. Then send in your complaint.

    That is just the outline.

    “I am sure that at least to some, Zeno is using ’skeoticism’ for his own political ends.”

    LOL! And what ‘political ends’ would that be?

  • Zeno also succesfully complained to the ASA about Kerala Ayurvedic Health Clinic. http://www.zenosblog.com/2009/07/another-asa-win-against-quackery/

    Since his omnibus complaint He’s also blogged about ASA rulings on other quackery. E.g. http://www.zenosblog.com/2009/08/when-only-the-best-will-do/

    My impression was that one of the triggers for Zeno’s bulk complaint was observing that the ASA had ruled against Chiropractic advertising of treatments for Asthma, Colic, etc. on the basis of lack of evidence.

    Personally I disagree with Zeno a little on on tactics, but since he has acted and I haven’t (and can’t being non-UK) it’s a pretty empty disagreement. I feel it would have been better to restrict the omnibus complaint to claims that had already been explicitly ruled against by the ASA, which would make the GCC have to either uphold the claims or dispute the ASA’s guidance that the GCC code requires be upheld. I can see that almost all the claims Zeno complained about fail the evidence/substantiation of claims rules required by the ASA, and so an honest and impartial GCC would uphold the complaints. I am impressed that Zeno got past the brush off the GCC gave Simon Perry, telling him they wouldn’t look at complaints about shared websites, only about individual chiropractors.

    The Osteopath rules are less explicit and clear:

    122. All advertising must be legal, decent, honest and truthful and must conform to the current guidance, such as the British Code of Advertising Practice.
    123. You should provide good quality, factual information about your professional qualifications,your practice arrangements and the services you provide.

    This reference to the BCAP only applies to “advertising”, leaving websites in loophole territory. I’d suggest complaints to the ASA first, followed by complaints to the General Osteopathic Council once the ASA has given some clear rulings. Even if the ASA’s remit is extended to websites, the General Osteopathic Council may take the option of refusing complaints about websites as not “advertising”.

  • Am I talking to a brick wall?

    You keep harking back to some non-existent past in this blog’s life, Bruce. It is apparently too much to expect you to do the courtesy of reading my posts properly before coming back and spouting the same old nonsense. As I said before, the vast majority of posts on this blog are about chiropractors. There has been no change in the character of posts or in their main focus since the blog got going ten months ago. Why do you keep repeating something that is demonstrably false? Just go back to the beginning and read the whole damn blog if you don’t believe me.

    I see you are sticking to your “argument” that Zeno is a bigot. Let’s have a look it again:

    P1. There are various groups making ‘not dissimilar claims’.
    P2. Zeno decided to focus on the group that was making the most noise promoting themselves and trying shut critics up, rather than the ones staying under the radar.
    C. Therefore Zeno is a bigot.

    Hmmm….you might consider signing up for a logic class if you can fit it in between trolling people’s blogs.

    To then remove an individual who was trying to fight their corner, and to my mind in just as am offensive manner as your good self, then that, amongst the current direction of the site shows bigotry, discrimination and political motive.

    As nobody has been removed and as I pointed out in my last post that nobody has been removed and as Zeno has again now pointed out that nobody has removed, I’m sure you will be big enough to withdraw that remark and apologise for your error.

    Now off you go and do your bit for skepticism instead of hanging round flinging gratuitous abuse at Zeno because in your all-important opinion, he doesn’t do enough.

  • Interested in the truth wrote: “Well, we will have to disagree on Singh’s motive, but as he has not mentioned any other manipualtive therapists I am sticking to my interpretation. And, again when they discuss the risk of cervical manipulation it is only as conducted by chiropractors. There was no mention of the risks of cervical manipulation performed by osteopaths or physiotherapists.”

    I would suggest that you read my previous post again. Simon Singh mentions physiotherapists, but the reasons for not singling them out are explained in the subsequent quote by Edzard Ernst – i.e. chiropractors are, apparently, not as judicious as physiotherapists, and others, in their application of manipulative interventions due to their ongoing belief in ‘subluxations’.

    Interested in the truth wrote: “Ernst: “1 in 700″ is “his estimate”, not exactly based on any hard (as he likes to see) science behind that comment.”

    As Edzard Ernst explained in the quote, he was applying the cautionary principle in the interests of patient safety. Why don’t you? Isn’t erring on the side of caution good, scientific medicine? (Especially when there are equally effective, safer, cheaper, and more convenient options available in the case of spinal manipulation.)

    Interested in the truth wrote: “Yet when the profession conducts a study (Bolton and Thiel) it gets ridiculed as it is biased because it is conducted by chiropractors.”

    To my knowledge, the Bolton and Thiel study has never been “ridiculed”. It has, however, been heavily criticised, and not without justification. Here’s what Edzard Ernst had to say about it in 2008:

    Quote
    “The sample of this survey was sizeable but not large enough to exclude rare events…
    The picture gets more complicated when considering the 698 treatment consultations of patients who failed to return for their next treatment. Theoretically some or most or all of these patients could have died of a stroke. Overlooking even one single serious adverse event would change the estimated incidence rates from this study quite dramatically.
    In my view, the most confusing aspect about the results of this survey is the fact that the incidence of minor adverse events is so low. Previous studies have repeatedly shown it to be around 50%. The discrepancy requires an explanation. There could be several but mine goes as follows: the participating chiropractors were highly self-selected. Thus they were sufficiently experienced to select low-risk patients (in violation of the protocol).
    This explains the low rate of minor adverse events and begs the question whether the incidence of serious adverse events is reliable.”

    Thiel HW, Bolton JE, Docherty S, Portlock JC. Safety of chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine: a prospective national survey. Spine 2007; 32: 2375–8.
    http://beta.medicinescomplete.com/journals/fact/current/fact1301a07g04r01.htm

    It’s also interesting to note that in response to Ernst’s remarks (also published in the above link) Bolton and Thiel claimed that in the UK alone there were an estimated *four* million manipulations of the neck carried out by chiropractors each year. Yet, six months earlier, in October 2007, in a letter to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, they claimed that the figure was “estimated to be well over *two* million cervical spine manipulations”:
    http://www.jrsm.org/cgi/content/full/100/7/330

    How that estimate could double in under 6 months is anyone’s guess, but it leaves them open to accusations that they may be trying to play down the risks.

    Interested in the truth wrote: “Further to this he claims/implies to have been trained as a chiropractor (or was it Singh who claimed he had been trained?). Evidence of this would be interesting!”

    Professor Ernst was the Head of the Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine in the University of Vienna’s Medical Faculty. As a consequence, not only is he very familiar with physical therapies, he has also been trained in spinal manipulation and has applied it clinically. See the end of his Systematic review of Case reports of Serious Adverse Events Following Manipulation of the Cervical Spine (1995–2001) here:
    http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/176_08_150402/ern10520_fm.html

    As for your concern that if Zeno’s complaints go through, and that the cost of the procedure results in the GCC folding, there will be “2500 unregulated quacks waddling the streets doing what they want”, I would venture that that is not too far removed from the current situation regarding chiropractic practices in the UK. IMO, the current regulatory system needs to be overhauled and tightened up as a matter of urgency.

  • Ok, if Zeno is your partner, I am impressed by your vociferous defence. However, I will reiterate, I came into this for two simple reasons….. David was being banned from the site for breaking the rules. Has this changed if not he has been removed or pushed out….so back to filling the site with nodding dogs.

    Secondly by specifically going after one group and after 10-11 months this really has not changed, while leaving the others alone is discrimatory and bigotry against one entity.

    WIth regards my understanding of websites, I agree that is not my forte, what I do understand is facts. A programme written for one group surely can be tweeked to gather information on another, at least that us what my IT friends tell me. So why not get on with it, if the cause is to stop all the woo that is out there by curtailing the claims of all who make them. I presume that would be seen to be reasonable and fair.

    With regards your personal comments to me skepticat, I thank you for your advice, some of it helpful, some of it not but always making me smile.

    If the site has never had credibility, surely this is an opinion and we all, it would seem have them. Re political motive, good grief it is this site’s support of Simon against the chiropractics and the legal case that seems to be ongoing. But by doing that, as the mainstay of the site, Zeno has enjoyed his name being bandied about as a bastion for skepticism along with Simons. No problem with that, but at least be honest that the attack, which has been explained on this site, is for that reason and thus the others have been left alone.

    I once again reiterate that for whatever reason, if physiotherapists and osteopaths are making similer claims, and if it is all got to do with EBM / public interest and not politics why has there not been a spreading of these complaints. It is simple…..politics and bigotry.

    I hope you have a nice day skepticat, for me at least this is not personal and is simply a debate relating to fairness and skepticism.

  • Thank you Blue Wode for that informative post.

    When I return to this thread I expect to see some progress in the discussion, not the same old falsehoods being repeated even though they have been soundly refuted.

    Going on and on and on like a creature possessed about how Zeno is this or that because he’s not doing what Bruce isn’t prepared to do himself, surely means Bruce qualifies as an offical troll. Shouldn’t he be awarded with a badge or something?

  • A badge for being a troll, my goodness how nice, a great deal of thought must have gone I to that, but seriously pretty petty stuff. When David made comments based on the passion he brought to the debate, he was denounced, threatened with exclusion and pushed away. Please get serious, if you want nodding dogs, replace the heading on your site to show Churchill…..’ Oh yes ‘

  • A great big thanks to ‘the Bruce’ and ‘Interested in the truth’ for all the comedy here! Classic examples of how to utterly fail to win an argument. Repetition and continually droning on long after you’ve been shown up for what you are – completely incapable of holding any kind of a rational discussion.

    Interested in the truth? Now that’s a misnomer if ever there was.

    Zeno and Skepticat must be laughing their arses off at your antics. I know I am. Keep it up lads.

  • I don’t want nodding dogs, I want to see intelligent constructive discussion – something you appear to be quite incapable of on the evidence I have seen thus far.

    I have learned a great deal from this blog both from Zeno’s articles and from the fantastic *properly supported* contributions made by Blue Wode and others.

    David’s appears to be someone who doesn’t know how to argue. His contributions – apart from being marred by gratuitous personalised sniping at others – were unsupportable and were easily demolished, but instead of acknowledging this and moving on, he would just repeat the same old rubbish again. He repeatedly called Zeno a sycophant for no good reason and when Skepticat objected he became abusive towards her as well. He refused to engage with Skepticat’s well-observed comments, and accused her of “suffering from an affliction”. That is by far the worst insult I’ve seen on this blog. Yet all he got was a warning that he would be banned if he continued behaving like that. To any reasonable person that is a reasonable response from site owner but he wasn’t even man enough to admit he’d done anything wrong. He wasn’t pushed, he flounced out like the prima donna he is.

    Your passionate defence of his right to post vicious insults is revealing, as is the sheer paucity of your own contributions. Apart from repeatedly attacking Zeno for reasons that don’t even exist except in your imagination, you haven’t actually said anything, Bruce.

    So you are about as much use as a nodding dog yourself.

  • @IainD

    I wish I’d seen your post before posting my last one. You said it all so much more concisely than I did.

  • I will keep attempting to have us all laughing, humour is good keeps the world going round. I do hope however that they are ‘laughing their arses off’, bring them a little closer to the ground

    No wonder this site is going downhill, how can you think with all that baaaing.

    Still, I can see that opinions such as mine are blotting your projection that all sceptics think the same as you guys and are all on side. Well in some cases I am but without going over old ground, in this particular scenario, I don’t.

    EBM is a positive thing to aim for, for all coluts of healthcare….. This current discrimination is cowardly and just bandwagon jumping. Sadly, the insults are having very little effect, as I appreciate there are many opinions out there, expressed on many different ways.

  • the Bruce

    LOL!

    Can you stop for a second and try to think about exactly what discrimination you’re talking about? It’s been pointed out many times that Zeno not taking on all the quacks at one cannot by any stretch of the imagination of even the most fevered quack be considered discrimination. Why don’t you address that properly? Can you?

    As for bringing the site down, you guys are showing everyone the pathetic way that quacks try to argue their corner. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.

  • A great job, voicing an opinion, well I hope so. Discrimination, well an attack on one specific group while ignoring others within the same group, who seem to have the same claims. I would think that choosing the target based on a political agenda would be discrimination.

    That is my opinion, but I do find the responses very interesting, like poking a hive with a stick….the drones attack to protect the queen. I am not saying that some of zenosblog posts have not been interesting, in fact I have said the opposite. I just feel that he is cherry picking his targets based on current political events.

    No one asked him to take on the chiropratitioners, to make all the complaints, to mobilise the troops to contact the ASA and Trading Standards, but he did and I can here the applause or us that back slapping? But by virtue of the fact that he has failed/ refused/ chosen not to be inclusive in his attacks would suggest ulterior motives, and based on the current responses, a lack of acceptance of the truth. To decide that David should go, was a little petty, but then so have some of these responses.

    At the end of the day, you don’t want debate, you want to criticise and critique but hate criticism of one of your own.

    Sadly the site wants it’s many silent readers to believe that we are all walking the same path, in some cases yes, but in others, such as my comments would imply…no.

    Onr would hope that after the announcment relating to Simons case a broader approach to this matter may take place…… I will let you get back to looking after the hive.

    I would like to apologise for my comments but unfortunately cannot fond it in me to change my opinion based on what I see before me. Skepticism is not this, in my humble opinion it really is bigotry….

  • You are comedy gold!

    Your rambling, repetitive comments still fail to address the point – but I’m sure even you are well aware of that.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Thank you for those kind words, I will lol.

  • Scepticism or fascism

    I have just been removed from your wife’s blog ‘skeptikat’ because I suggested that your actions against only the chiropractors rather than all who made the same claims was bigoted and discrimatory with a political agenda rather than a sceptical one.

    As this will probably be my last post as I appreciate that you and your wife act as judge, jury and executioner, unless the posts tow the party line, by removing posters ability to post. It would also seem that you, your wife and your innerr circle can be as offensive as you chose but god forbid your actions, or your wife’s choice words be called into question.

    I will ask two simple questions.

    Based on your actions against the chiropractors, why should I not consider your actions to be bigoted and politically motivated.

    When, for the benefit of the public, as your heading jokingly implies, will you be attacking the osteopaths etc with the same fervour, glee and criticism who are making the same claims as the other group.

    With regards your accusations that I am a chiropractor, because only a chiropractor would ever be foolhardy enough to question the motives and agenda of the self perceived ‘unattackable’. Please be aware that lack of acceptance or confirmation of an accusation does not make it right. Also I only started posting in defence of Davids right to fight his corner when you threatened to remove him, and in fact chased him away for his opinions, because they disagree with yours. I appreciate that you suggested he was offencive, well read some of the other comments, some a bit closer to home.

    You and your good lady really need to get out more. Fair and reasonable is acceptable autocracy with regards opinion is neither acceptable not scepticism.

    Have a nice day, and if you guys ever feel pain by over indulging on your back slapping I am sure one of those osteopaths ior chiropractors would love to offer their advice and assistance. Lol

  • the Bruce said: “Based on your actions against the chiropractors, why should I not consider your actions to be bigoted and politically motivated.”

    You’ve now said this 15 times and it has already been answered in detail. If you don’t remember it, please re-read what has been said to you. If you didn’t understand it, then I can’t help you any further.

  • Yip, don’t feel question has been answered, when are the other groups being targeted , if at all?

  • That’s all well and good Zeno but c’mon, you are “bigoted and politically motivated” aren’t you? Really? After all, if you were serious you would have cast a net so wide that it would have been equally ineffective against all quacks instead of actually being effective against some of the more prominent ones.

    Oh, and can you release the program that does all that fact-checking stuff for you? Open source? GPL? I might take on all the osteopaths but I don’t want to spend more than an hour or so on it. Okay?

  • LOL AndyD! :-)

  • the Bruce will take Andy’s post seriously. Just watch….

  • Lol, good old Zeno. Good grief you must be bruised from all this backslapping, and in the eyes if some , you deserve it. My stance however hasn’t changed.

    You have a good day now, you hear. Lol

  • Actually, having read around this issue, it would seem that you have done the ethical chiropractors, I assume there are some otherwise all sceptics would agree with Zeno, a favour. The Brontfort report that you mentioned above seems to have a level of credibilty within the non-Zeno ‘sceptic’ community. So rather than weakening their profession, you may have just strengthened them. As I understand it, they seem to be well regulated, the response to the complaints has shown that, well educated ( eduacated to MSc standard in health sciences…so it can’t all be woo), and serving a purpose otherwise they wouldn’t exist. If this us the case, and although my opinion once again may not meet with yiur approval lol, then the osteopaths must be in the same boat. Maybe Zeno is cleverer than I gave him credit for and this was what he was after all along. Maybe his attacks were in fact to bring these guys into the mainstream by highlighting their strengths by hitting on thier weaknesses, if so…..clever stuff indeed.

  • The response to Zeno’s and Simon Perry’s complaints has been pathetic. It’s been 9 months and they still haven’t got past the “Investigating Committee has begun its consideration of the complaints we received from several people about more than 600 chiropractors.”

    They have not sent out unambiguous advice of the list of considions that the ASA considers not supported by evidence (including colic, asthma), instead sending out the Bronfort report and leaving it to the chiropractors to decide what, if anything, to do.

    They did find time to change the complaint rules to change the standard from ‘case to answer’ to ‘reasonable prospect of success’ in the non-public investigating committee state, while making misleading statements about what they were up to.

    If they are ‘protecting the public’ why haven’t they unambiguously told people to take down the blatently false claims?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


− two = 5

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>