The random thoughts of a sceptical activist

The Scotland College of Chiropractic: out of kilter with science?

Guest post by Blue Wode

Introduction

What have the Scots ever done for us? The answer is a candid ‘quite a lot‘. Over the last few centuries we have been indebted to many remarkable, but often unsung, Scottish scientists and innovators for improving the quality of our lives.

By comparison, what have chiropractors ever done for us? Perhaps not surprisingly, they have failed to offer anything of unique value to science. Indeed, much of chiropractic involves blatant quackery, including a strong belief in the bogus notion of vitalism (an immeasurable and un-observable force), and cult-like references to chiropracTIC and vitalisTIC, which refer to the philosophy of chiropractic that has at its centre the principle that life is intelligent. Moreover, increasingly the effects of chiropractic’s main intervention, spinal manipulation, are being shown to be non-specific and not without risks.

However, despite such unfavourable evidence emerging over the last decade or so, the chiropractic profession in the UK continues to enjoy the automatic respect and benefits lent to it by statutory regulation and a Royal Charter that was awarded to its foremost professional membership body despite that body failing to fully comply with the requirements set out by the UK Government’s Privy Council. As if such spurious legitimacy wasn’t enough, it now looks like a further storey is about to be added to this healthcare house-of-cards in the form of the ‘Scotland College of Chiropractic’.

Life University

Unlike all the other UK chiropractic colleges — the Anglo European College of Chiropractic (AECC), the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic  (see also here) — and the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, the Scotland College of Chiropractic does not hold a .ac.uk domain. In fact, it has two domains, the other being Life Scotland, a name that indicates that it has a strong affiliation with the controversial ‘Life University’ in Marietta, Georgia, USA.

The Italian Job

Life University has already been negotiating a partnership with the Italian Chiropractic Association in Rome, Italy, with the purpose of offering a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. As a branch campus of Life University in Italy, offering an identical curriculum, its accreditation (recognition) would be through the U.S. Council of Chiropractic Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. This set up would allow Life University students to study for their degrees in Italy while continuing to have access to US federal financial benefits. According to the 2015 Fall edition of Life University’s Your Extraordinary LIFE magazine, the Italian campus is scheduled to open in 2018. In the interim, having confessed that it is “barely graduating enough DCs (Doctors of Chiropractic) to replace those retiring or passing away”, Life University is busy forging other partnerships which, like the new campus in Italy, appear to fall under its Global Initiatives programme, which harvests educational institutions “that recognize the value and vision of building sustainable partnerships around the world”. These partnerships are based on the Vitalistic paradigm that drives the entire University“, and will benefit from ‘Presidential International Initiative Scholarships’ that are “awarded in key areas of the world where recipients must return to their home country to further develop our partnership goals in order to promote chiropractic philosophy internationally”. Notably, a trade body, the Scottish Chiropractic Association, already offers Life University scholarships, no doubt in full knowledge that chiropractors who have graduated from Life University who wish to work as chiropractors in the UK need only pass a Test of Competence to achieve registration with the UK statutory regulatory body, the General Chiropractic Council. But more about the Test of Competence later.

The General Chiropractic Council

As the statutory body for chiropractors in the UK, the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) is responsible for setting the standards of any educational organisation in the UK that trains anyone who wants to be called a chiropractor. Essentially, it decides whether these establishments are entitled to issue chiropractic degrees (see Section 14.—(1) of the Chiropractors Act 1994). On page 19 of the GCC’s current Degree Recognition criteria (up for review this year) it says that “the course must be at the minimum at the level of an honours degree or integrated masters degree validated by a UK-recognised higher education institution”. Currently, the GCC accredits (recognises) the Chiropractic Degree Program at the University of South Wales (the first university in the UK to offer a fully integrated undergraduate Masters chiropractic degree), the academic programmes at the AECC (validated by Bournemouth University), and the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, which has its Integrated Masters in Chiropractic (MChiro) programme, and its postgraduate programmes, validated by the BPP University (which is a private university, owned by the U.S. Apollo Global Education Network). This raises the question, how will the Scotland College of Chiropractic, with its vitalistic Life University tie-in, meet the GCC’s accreditation standards? Perhaps more to the point is, will it need to?

Scenario 1: Escaping UK jurisdiction?

It could be that the Scotland College of Chiropractic is hoping to circumvent the need for GCC accreditation via its association with Life University. This is because, in the UK, if a course is not validated by any recognised body, it can be offered by a foreign university:

Foreign universities may offer degrees in the UK provided they make it clear that they are not UK degrees. The UK authorities cannot advise on the quality of these courses. It is up to you to check what recognition arrangements exist in the country of origin for any degree course you undertake in the UK.

However, it carries this caveat:

It is an offence in the UK for any organisation to offer a degree qualification which could be taken to be that of a UK institution unless the body making the offer is recognised by the UK authorities. The relevant legislation in this area is section 214 of the Education Reform Act 1988. Organisations suspected of committing an offence under this Act will be reported to the appropriate local Trading Standards Department for investigation. This could lead to prosecution.

It is not an offence for overseas organisations to offer their own awards in the UK, as long as they make it clear that they are not qualifications from a UK institution and that accreditation is from overseas. However, the UK authorities are unable to vouch for the quality of these qualifications, many of which may involve no formal study. UK employers are familiar with bona fide UK universities and colleges and will easily detect a bogus degree.

As with the SCA scholarships mentioned above, it’s likely that if the Scotland College of Chiropractic graduated students from the UK (as well as US students), they would only have to pass the GCC’s Test of Competence if they wished to work in the UK. (Looking further to the future, if Scotland eventually voted for independence it’s very possible that Scottish chiropractors would lobby the Scottish Government to create a sympathetic Scottish chiropractic regulatory body, the foundations for which may have been laid already.)

Scenario 2: Recognising nonsense?

But what if it isn’t permissible for the Scotland College of Chiropractic to be validated by Life University? As we already know, a UK chiropractic educational body awarding a qualification must have its programmes validated by a UK-recognised higher education institution, and then have the GCC accredit it. In this scenario, would there be a UK university prepared to validate an educational establishment with such unscientific leanings? The answer seems to be yes. Using its current Degree Recognition Criteria,the GCC has seen fit to accredit the controversial, BPP University validated McTimoney College of Chiropractic, even although the college is far from science-friendly.

Conflicting views on chiropractic standards in Europe

Ironically, however, one chiropractic standard-setting organisation, the European Council on Chiropractic Education (ECCE), an autonomous organisation established by chiropractors and with no statutory powers, has been hesitant to accept the philosophy-based chiropractic element into its ranks. In 2015, it refused a request for accreditation from the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, condemning the college’s philosophical orientation and questionable techniques and approaches to evidence in a 39-page report. McTimoney students fired back with a 17-page open letter to the ECCE in which they:

  • questioned “the role of any organisation that singles out philosophies, techniques and/or approaches”
  • questioned “the right of the ECCE to exclude accreditation based on philosophical preference” especially when its legal accreditor, the GCC, had approved them “with high levels of commendation” in its 2013 inspection
  • questioned the rationale behind the ECCE’s comment (see 4.2.2a of the ECCE report) that the ‘scientific level of staff does not appear to be at an appropriate level for the school to teach the principles of logic (biological plausibility) and evidence of clinical practice’
  • freely admitted that the McTimoney College of Chiropractic was set up “to teach traditional (Palmer style) chiropractic with a more traditional style philosophy”, with an approach “developed organically…in the belief that more specific adjustments…enabled the practitioner to use less force to achieve similar goals”, although it remained “something that is considered fluid, even if it taught with a degree of ordering”
  • declared that “a weakness based on our philosophy is hugely disrespectful”
  • stated that the ECCE appeared “to be questioning the authority of statutory powers”

The fear behind the McTimoney students’ defensive response almost certainly originates in well-founded suspicions that the ECCE wants to have chiropractic fully accepted by conventional medicine by outlawing (arguably less arduous) pseudoscientific practices.

Around the same time that the ECCE refused to accredit the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, it also denied accreditation to the Barcelona College of Chiropractic. Once again, this was due to issues regarding lack of adherence to evidence-based practice, as well as because it referred to its patients as “practice members”. However, unlike the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, the Barcelona College of Chiropractic, on reflection, accepted that its programme of study would “benefit from being more evidence-based”. This is quite a volte-face considering that, in the past, the Barcelona College of Chiropractic has been accused of “taking five years of time and a substantial financial investment from students, promising them chiropractic wings, lying to them about their chiropractic futures…taking their fledglings to a literal cliff edge and yelling, “jump”.”(It’s also worth mentioning here that there is a new private chiropractic school with a vitalistic approach being secretly developed in South Australia by a handful of well-organised mavericks. They have put their faith in a chiropractor called Marc Hudson who is a self-proclaimed Shaman, chiropractic coach and ‘ingenious gentleman fundraiser of Barcelona’ who has odd beliefs about chiropractors being Shamen and Shawomen.)

Bringing the above ECCE accreditation issues up to date, in December 2015 the McTimoney College of Chiropractic learned that an appeal that it had launched against the ECCE’s refusal to accredit it had been successful on the grounds of:

  • failure to be fair and accurate
  • failure to be objective; and bias or apparent bias

The Appeal Panel’s report has now been sent to the ECCE’s Commission on Accreditation for them to review their decision in the light of the Appeal Panel’s findings. If the ECCE’s accreditation commission does ultimately approve accreditation for the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, it will serve to further condone chiropractic quackery that is already rife in Europe. It remains to be seen if the ECCE will accredit the Scotland College of Chiropractic, but the current ECCE status of the McTimoney College of Chiropractic and the Barcelona College of Chiropractic can be monitored here.

Registered UK chiropractors, vested interests, and influencing an amenable regulator

Returning to the subject of the GCC and its apparent leniency in recognising the education standards of a chiropractic college with a traditional ‘philosophical preference’, why might this be? Evidently, it’s because it doesn’t have a sound knowledge of chiropractic — ie its early history, chronic in-fighting, and very shaky evidence base. For instance, its legislative framework doesn’t cover the scope of chiropractic practice and, in 2015, it admitted to having no detailed information (p.14) about the make up of the UK chiropractic profession and its registrant base. Due to this ignorance, it would seem that UK chiropractors have managed, entirely unimpeded, to always elect a good proportion of subluxationist chiropractors (i.e. chiropractors who don’t seem to have a problem with vitalistic dogma) as serving members on the GCC’s committees. The most prominent of these chiropractors has been Christina Cunliffe, a graduate of the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, who is now Principal of it, and who has served on the GCC’s Education Committee. You can learn more about her style of chiropractic here where, in an unflattering investigation, it is described as ‘a cult within a cult’.

Holding similar philosophies to Christina Cunliffe is the founder of the Scotland College of Chiropractic, Ross McDonald, who graduated from this UK chiropractic college, and who appears to have been influencing the GCC for some time through a variety of channels:

Talking the ToC

As an executive of the AUKC, one of Ross McDonald’s most recent attempts to influence the GCC was in a letter to it from the AUKC (see pages 11-15) that he co-signed. The letter informed the GCC of the AUKC’s vote of no-confidence in its new Test of Competence (ToC) process which, as previously mentioned, is the route to GCC registration for chiropractors who haven’t been trained via a GCC-accredited establishment in the UK. Indeed, the letter clearly shows the AUKC to be deeply agitated about the new ToC’s evidence-based line of questioning. But that’s understandable, not least because Ross McDonald might want to lessen the need for his future students to swot up on non-vitalistic educational materials in order to pass the ToC. Of particular concern is item 7 in the AUKC’s letter that takes exception to the GCC examining panel’s cautious views on taking x-rays in clinical practice. The AUKC claim:

One of the indications for requiring radiographic examination is the presence of neurological signs or symptoms. A subluxation (or any other name they wish to call it) by nature has a neurological component. Presence is an indication for x-rays (amongst other reasons).

In response to the AUKC’s letter (see C-180615-4, page 5), the Chair of the GCC’s Education Committee said that the Committee was “of the view that the new ToC system was proportionate and reflective of other regulators’ approaches”, and confirmed that there would be an internal review of the ToC at the end of one year, and an external review at the end of three years. Unfortunately, the Chair made no reference to chiropractic ‘subluxations’, which, as we already know, the GCC links to ‘health concerns’ (albeit indirectly). With this in mind, the outcome of the internal and external reviews of the GCC’s ToC will make for interesting reading. (NB. In 2007, the GCC reported (p.13) that one of its expert witnesses claimed that chiropractic ‘subluxations’ were “commonplace to the point of universality in patients”.)

Bumbling bureaucrats and bogus treatments

With the GCC taking an apologist stance on the subject of chiropractic subluxations, it should come as no surprise that its Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, David Howell, seems to have been caught up in the vitalistic chiropractic agenda that’s gathering steam in Scotland. For instance, he attended the Scottish Chiropractic Association’s AGM in October 2015. Ostensibly, his presence there was to update the Scottish Chiropractic Association’s members on the General Chiropractic Council’s activities. However, a ‘Dr’ Tim O’Shea, one of two American vitalistic chiropractors who were guest presenters at the event, blogged enthusiastically about his thoughts on it, revealing that it descended into a late night, whisky-fuelled affair in which David Howell’s loquaciousness had left him with the distinct impression that the GCC’s highest office “did not require a detailed knowledge of the profession that it regulated”. Others feel much the same.

Conclusion

In view of Scotland’s fine reputation for medical advancement, it’s disappointing that the Scotland College of Chiropractic seems intent on helping to compromise those hard-won achievements by dragging healthcare back to a time when, in a hopeless attempt to resolve health problems, superstition and religious ritual were the order of the day. Only robust regulation can stop a pernicious slide towards a culture that’s indifferent to quackery. It will mean ensuring that relevant legislators are thoroughly acquainted with The Scientific Method. Most crucially, in order for patients and the public to be truly protected, not only will transparency have to be paramount, but the inevitable backlash from chiropractors whose livelihoods will have to be earned under a defined, evidence-based scope of practice will have to be met with a persistent and conscionable resistance that firmly conveys an intolerance of double standards.

Meanwhile, the Scotland College of Chiropractic, a registered charity whose statement of purpose is “the advancement of education“, continues to evolve. Its Trust was signed recently, with its Official Witness, Michael B. Dibley, declaring that

The VitalisTIC ChiropracTIC Movement is NOW bigger than ever. Get on The Quantum Train or Hang out at the Educated Station.

There is, of course, not a jot of scientific evidence for chiropracTIC, but no doubt chiropractors who aren’t dedicated to the realities of science will be more than happy to place their trust in the Scotland College of Chiropractic and its associates. However, potential students should seriously consider doing the exact opposite. They need to ask themselves if there’s a good chance that they would be wasting their time and money, and risking harm to themselves, and others, in pursuing a career in which they could find out too late that spines aren’t the only things that can be manipulated for a fee.

17 Responses to The Scotland College of Chiropractic: out of kilter with science?

  • Interesting that you mention `Professor’ Christina Cunliffe. She is like me a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. When her award of fellowship was announced several years ago I asked the Society to reveal the evidence that underpinned it. They refused. I pointed out that her professional position was unscientific. They still refused. To avoid future such challenges, the Society now avoids revealing affiliations when announcing fellowship awards. This intransigence caused at least one other Fellow to resign in protest. This is another example of the wacky end of chiropractic achieving professional recognition.

  • @ Les Rose

    Don’t forget that the Founder of McTimoney Chiropractic, John McTimoney, appears on the virtual ‘Wall of Honour’ of The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM). His appearance was made possible by members, officials, and friends of the McTimoney Chiropractic Association for a donation of £2,500. However, as donors are invited to “honour someone who works (or worked) in the healthcare and the medical sector”, it wasn’t without controversy. Indeed, in 2010, the RSM ended up issuing a statement in which it confirmed that the acceptance of the £2,500 donation “does not mean that the Society endorses the work of John McTimoney”.
    http://www.rsm-wallofhonour.com/statement-by-the-royal-society-of-medicine.aspx

    Sell-out anyone?

  • I might take this a little more seriously if you knew how to spell woad

  • Rebecca Buchanan said:

    I might take this a little more seriously if you knew how to spell woad

    LOL!

    • @ Rebbecca Buchanan

      It depends how you interpret the word ‘wode’. It has more than one meaning (ancient and modern) and is perfectly fitting for my purpose.

      With that out the way, do you have any further comment to make, or does it not bother you that potential students would almost certainly be wasting their time and money, and risking harm to themselves, and others, in pursuing a career in what amounts to little more than quackery?

      Here’s a recent video of the founder of the Scotland College of Chiropractic, Ross McDonald, attempting to justify his ambition:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=-dDvAy_6vBo

  • My God such vitriol! Who are you people, that you are so brilliant. What is the problem with using a vitalistic conseptualization of the mechanism. Even those without your piercing genius into biological laws would have to admit that many times with physical and even mental ailments, the body does heal with no other intervention than the removal of an obstruction. The obstruction may be a bad diet or a bad husband. It may be a bad shoe giving you a headache or bad lighting where you work. The vitalistic principle only says that if you can get to the cause and intervene, the body can often recover ( the chiropractors call this innate intelligence, but what is in a word). Who among you junior scientists doubt that? Chiropractors, osteopaths, and MD’s who work in manual medicine all have experience in the detection and treatment of abarent somatoviseral and viseromatic reflexes and ALL know the wide array of symptoms which present. Each profession has its own way of conseptualization, its own vocabulary. Often these are products of history. ( there is nothing scientific in the term ” Bread and Butter Paricarditis” but no one attacks pathologists who use it as a description!
    Philosophy? Medical people also have philosophical underpinnings but are not educated enough to realize it. You may say that their philosophy is science, and science as a philosophy is beautiful, but in practice it is corrupt as practiced using pharmaceutical research which is so often found to be dishonest for profit and science in practice also bends constantly to political winds. So don’t throw the word around as though it is that reliable as a human endeavor. Physicians kill 100,000 people per year in the USA through their science, drug interactions, chemists giving the wrong drug etc. How many people do unscientific chiropractors kill? Ok, then how many do they help? The answer is that these must be millions worldwide because the patients keep returning. Do you think that people are so stupid that they would return without improvement ? Oh yes, I forget. The adverage person is not as brilliant you people are. Now, do you think that the other Chiropractic schools you mention are really more scientific? Chiropractic was elaborated and developed in the USA, Who taught these scientific chiropractic schools? I will wager that they give the same treatment the same way but talk a different game to satisfy pseudo intellectuals like yourselves.

    • Frank Tombrello wrote: “The vitalistic principle only says that if you can get to the cause and intervene, the body can often recover (the chiropractors call this innate intelligence, but what is in a word)…What is the problem with using a vitalistic conseptualization of the mechanism?.”

      The problem is that it’s utter nonsense.

      Frank Tombrello wrote: “Physicians kill 100,000 people per year in the USA through their science, drug interactions, chemists giving the wrong drug etc.”

      Here are medicine’s answers to its critics:

      Part 1
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/answering-our-critics-part-1-of-2/

      Part 2
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/answering-our-critics-part-2-of-2-whats-the-harm/

      And here’s a snippet from Death by Medicine:

      QUOTE
      “Doctor-bashers use their numbers to argue that alternative medicine is safer. Maybe it is. I suppose not treating at all would be safer still. It depends on how you define ‘safe’. To my mind, a treatment is not very ‘safe’ if it causes no side effects but lets you die. Most of us don’t just want ‘safe’: we want ‘effective’. What we really want to know is the risk/benefit ratio of any treatment.

      The ironic thing is that all the statistics these doctor-bashers have accumulated come from the medical literature that those bashed doctors have written themselves. Scientific medicine constantly criticizes itself and publishes the critiques for all to see. There is NOTHING comparable in the world of alternative medicine.”

      Ref: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/death-by-medicine/

      Frank Tombrello wrote: “How many people do unscientific chiropractors kill?”

      Nobody knows. It is a fact that chiropractors have no adverse event reporting systems anywhere in the world except for a completely useless one in the UK:
      http://www.ebm-first.com/chiropractic/uk-chiropractic-issues/1888-british-chiropractic-association-members-attitudes-towards-the-chiropractic-reporting-and-learning-system-a-qualitative-study.html

      Frank Tombrello wrote: “Ok, then how many do they help? The answer is that these must be millions worldwide because the patients keep returning. Do you think that people are so stupid that they would return without improvement ?”

      Please take some time out and have a slow read through an essay by the late Barry Beyerstein (who was a professor of psychology). The essay is entitled ‘Social and judgmental biases that make inert treatments seem to work’, and it addresses many of the reasons for alternative medicine’s popularity. Some of the areas looked at, and which seem relevant to this discussion, are: the will to believe, logical errors, judgmental shortcomings, the low level of scientific literacy among the public at large, psychological distortion of reality, self-serving biases and demand characteristics, diseases that may have run their natural courses, diseases that are cyclical, spontaneous remission, the placebo effect, allegedly cured symptoms that were probably psychosomatic to begin with, symptomatic relief versus cure, consumers hedging their bets, derivative benefits, and misdiagnosis (either by self or by a physician). See here:
      http://web.archive.org/web/20110723060336/http://www.crhp.net/article1.html

      Frank Tombrello wrote: “Chiropractic was elaborated and developed in the USA.”

      Chiropractic was *invented* in the USA in 1895 by Daniel David (DD) Palmer…

      QUOTE
      Because he sold goldfish commercially, Palmer is referred to by some historians as a ‘fish monger’. It is more interesting to know that he practiced magnetic healing beginning in the mid-1880s in Burlington, Iowa. Palmer searched for the single cause of all disease. The standard story about chiropractic’s ‘discovery’ is that Palmer believed he had found the single cause of disease when he ‘cured’ the deafness of janitor Harvey Lillard by manipulating his spine. (Palmer may have learned spinal manipulation from Andrew Still’s osteopathic school in Kirksville, Missouri.) Lillard is said to have lost his hearing while working in a cramped, stooped position during which he felt something snap in his back.

      Palmer’s version of this event has always been disputed by Lillard’s daughter, Valdeenia Lillard Simons. She says that her father told her that he was telling jokes to a friend in the hall outside Palmer’s office and, Palmer, who had been reading, joined them. When Lillard reached the punch line, Palmer, laughing heartily, slapped Lillard on the back with the hand holding the heavy book he had been reading. A few days later, Lillard told Palmer that his hearing seemed better. Palmer then decided to explore manipulation as an expansion of his magnetic healing practice. Simons said “the compact was that if they can make [something of] it, then they both would share. But, it didn’t happen”. [2]

      Chiropractic’s true origin appears to have been of a more mystical nature than the Lillard tale denotes. Palmer was an active spiritualist and apparently believed that the idea of “replacing displaced vertebrae for the relief of human ills” came in a spiritualist séance through communication with the spirit of Dr. Jim Atkinson, a physician who had died 50 years earlier in Davenport [3]. As a young man, Palmer regularly walked the six or seven miles to the estate of his spiritualist mentor, William Drury [4]. It was one of Drury’s followers who told him of her vision of a door with a sign on it reading ‘Dr. Palmer’. She said that he one day would lecture in a large hall telling an audience about a new “revolutionary” method of healing the sick [5]. Predisposed to magnetic healing by his belief in spiritualism, Palmer was drawn to the practice by seeing the financial success of illiterate ‘Dr.’ Paul Caster of Ottumwa. Palmer’s grandson described his technique:

      He would develop a sense of being positive within his own body; sickness being negative. He would draw his hands over the area of the pain and with a sweeping motion stand aside, shaking his hands and fingers vigorously, taking away the pain as if it were drops of water [6].

      Palmer began speculating that the flow of animal magnetism may become blocked by obstructions along the spine [7]. Palmer taught that chiropractic was “an educational, scientific, religious system” that “associates its practice, belief and knowledge with that of religion” and “imparts instruction relating both to this world and the world to come.” “Chiropractic,” Palmer stated, “sheds enlightenment upon physical life and spiritual existence, the latter being only a continuation of the former.” [8] Individual chiropractors sometimes deny that they believe in Palmer’s biotheological ‘Innate Intelligence’, but when pressed as to their basis for practice, they must face the physiological facts described in a scientific brief on chiropractic: If there is partial blockage of impulses in a nerve fibre . . . the impulse is transmitted more slowly in a zone of partial blockage, and resumes all its characteristics as soon as it reaches normal tissue. Thus, it is impossible for a partial blockage of nerve impulses in a particular zone to affect the flow, since the impulses would resume their normal flow [9].

      Ref: https://www.ncahf.org/articles/c-d/chiro.html

      And then there’s this from a letter written by DD Palmer:

      “I occupy in chiropractic a similar position as did Mrs. Eddy in Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy claimed to receive her ideas from the other world and so do I… we must have a religious head, one who is the founder, as did Christ, Mohamed, Jo. Smith, Mrs. Eddy, Martin Luther and others who have founded religions. I am the fountain head. I am the founder of chiropractic.”

      Ref: http://www.ebm-first.com/chiropractic-questionable/356-d-d-palmers-religion-of-chiropractic.html

      In view of the above, one could be forgiven for thinking that chiropractic is a religious cult.

      • Blur Wode, I appreciate the time, thought, and scholarship you have devoted to this responce. With that same critical faculty and honesty, you must admit that the same stories could be told in the history of medicine, such as women in labor being forced to give birth in a hospital at a time when home delivery was less infectious. Regarding nerve flow and blockage, the Gate Theory of pain was described in medical physiology books and even after more understand came along, it was taught as a good model, as a way to think about it. Guyton was the physiology book used in all the medical schools in the USA. So it’s not so dumb headed for people of the 1890’s to think in terms of blockages. All of your comments about the psychological effects of treatment can be made about prayer, belief, faith, equally apply to medical treatment and the patients ” faith in their doctor “. Was it really so foolish for Palmer to look for one cause of disease? Today some very serious people believe that 80 percent of chronic disease is related to diet! Palmer didn’t hit a bullseye, but from a distance of 125 years, he did get in the circles! I’m certainly not a doctor brasher. As you must know, the osteopathic profession is entirely different the the USA, and everyone here, as the WHO as well, holds the American trained DO and the MD to be equivalent. I use surgery and a perscription pad when it’s needed, but first one must think of nutrition and bio mechanical faults as a means of correction SO THE BODY CAN HEAL ITSELF. But more to the point of this website: the criticism seems to be about the philosophical orientation of the Scotish school as compared to other schools of chiropractic in Britian, that they are somehow superior. I would like to know how they are more scientific and if in the end their actual practice is any different. I strongly suspect that it is not. As for my own chiropractic education, it was at Life West in California. Many of our instructors had just retired from teaching in the best medical schools in the USA and retired to sunny California. My neurophysiology professor taught at Columbia in New York for example. It was a wonderful education and prepared me when I went on to medical school, not to fall into the trap of thinking that pharmaceutical companies had all the answers or that they always had the best interest of humanity at heart.

        • Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “I appreciate the time, thought, and scholarship you have devoted to this…With that same critical faculty and honesty, you must admit that the same stories could be told in the history of medicine”

          That is true, but medicine has moved on, whereas the majority of chiropractors still believe in D.D. Palmer’s 19th Century pseudoscience.

          Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “All of your comments about the psychological effects of treatment can be made about prayer, belief, faith, equally apply to medical treatment and the patients ‘faith in their doctor’.”

          I prefer to think of it as patients placing their *trust* in their doctors – doctors who, for the most part, administer evidence-based medicine whilst simultaneously maximising placebo effects.

          Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “Was it really so foolish for Palmer to look for one cause of disease?…Palmer didn’t hit a bullseye, but from a distance of 125 years, he did get in the circles!”

          No he didn’t. D.D. Palmer regarded the spine as “a lightening rod for god’s healing power”, claiming that ‘subluxations’ blocked the flow of the body’s “Innate Intelligence” – a supposed vitalistic force that was responsible for optimum health of the body. He said that chiropractors had a religious and moral duty to follow god’s mandates to manipulate spines, even in children.
          The real bullseye, 125 years ago, was produced by a piece in Palmer’s local paper, the Davenport Leader, which showed very clearly that not everyone was taken in by him: “A crank on magnetism has a crazy notion that he can cure the sick and crippled by his magnetic hands. His victims are the weak-minded, ignorant and superstitious, those foolish people who have been sick for years and have become tired of the regular physician and want health by the short-cut method…he has certainly profited by the ignorance of his victims, for his business has increased so that he now uses 42 rooms which are finely furnished, heated by steam and lighted by 40 electric lights…he exerts a wonderful magnetic power over his patients, making many of them believe they are well. His increase in business shows what can be done in Davenport even by a quack”.

          In essence, like Andrew Still, the inventor of osteopathy, Palmer was little more than a self-styled visionary and spiritual leader, believing in ‘spiritual mechanics’ that included the laying on of hands.

          Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “But more to the point of this website: the criticism seems to be about the philosophical orientation of the Scottish school as compared to other schools of chiropractic in Britain, that they are somehow superior. I would like to know how they are more scientific and if in the end their actual practice is any different. I strongly suspect that it is not.”

          The proposed Scotland College of Chiropractic is, apparently, the worst of a bad UK bunch in that it freely admits that is pushing an antiquated notion – one which has long dismissed by science. Apart from the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, the other UK chiropractic colleges seem to disguise themselves as being science-based, but behind that façade of respectability, they appear to be more than happy to adhere to the original tenets of chiropractic. For example, in recent times, the Anglo European College of Chiropractic (now a University College) hosted a lecturer whose presentation seemed primarly based on fiction rather than fact: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LclAGEc9bVM

          The bottom line is that best evidence shows that chiropractic for back pain is no better than sham intervention (ref Cochrane); chiropractic for neck pain cannot be recommended due to an unfavourable risk/benefit profile; and there is no good evidence that chiropractic can help non-spinal pain or be used in the treatment of children.

          It is therefore not surprising that, in order to earn a living, most chiropractors need to resort to quackery. And the chiropractic leaders know it, as evidenced by the frantic circling of their wagons in the last 12 months. See
          http://www.mccoypress.net/i/bca_bennett_letter_december_2016.jpg
          and
          https://www.facebook.com/notes/chiro-union/open-letter-to-all-chiropractors/1618989194801713/

          • Your arguments seem so one sided. While DD or his son BJ were cracking backs and necks without serious harm ( we would hear about it!), medical doctors would, in years to come, radiate children’s heads to cure skin problems, practice freezing showers and super hot baths by force on the mentally ill, apply painful electroshock on restrained, helpless patients, perform labotomies, which was cutting the brain by going around the eyeball to correct social nonconformity, homosexuality and psychosis, give injections of radium for hypertension, all manner of X-ray treatments. MDs had the most powerful destructive methods, the legal ability to force these things on people, and regularly dreamed up their own theories and proceeded with their own, sometimes horrifying and perminantly destructive treatments and all for vastly larger sums than the 2 dollars that the chiropractor charged. Forget providing an efficacious treatment for 2 dollars, just keeping them out of the hands of the ” scientifically minded” made it a bargain at any price. Mixing faith with medicine? Psychiatry simply took the sinful and redefined it is the sick for which they then charged mightily for the cure which left the patient psychologically and often physically crippled for life ( and that was in MY lifetime!). You think things are better today, less quackery in medicine? How many science based medical doctors do a proper job of diagnosis? How many ask the patient what they ate that day or even know enough to give nutritional advice. Much easier to give an iron pill, and perhaps a diet sheet among the more enlightened ones, than to find that the patient actually had communication problems with his daughter in law who prepares his meals which the patient can not eat. How many mds give antibiotics for viral infections and have done so for decades, or allergy pills when the problem was mold in the house. You would serve mankind better to direct your intellect toward the current medical quackery going on under your nose, than to sound the alarm about a few wasted bucks going to a back cracking quack doing no real harm, and yet providing enough comfort that his patients want to return for more.

          • Mr B. Wode, none of this will make any difference after all of GB has been taken over and completely and utterly lost.

          • Frank Tombrello said:

            Mr B. Wode, none of this will make any difference after all of GB has been taken over and completely and utterly lost.

            LOL! Rules, regulations and laws are still in place and will remain so.

  • Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “DD or his son BJ were cracking backs and necks without serious harm (we would hear about it!)”

    What makes you so sure we would hear about it? Did they have the integrity to actively follow up all their customers and record and investigate those who experienced adverse events?

    Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “[While] medical doctors would, in years to come…[have] the most powerful destructive methods, the legal ability to force these things on people, and regularly dreamed up their own theories and proceeded with their own”

    That is a poor defence of your argument. As I said in my previous comment, medicine continuously evolves whereas the majority of chiropractors still believe in D.D. Palmer’s 19th Century pseudoscience.

    Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “How many science based medical doctors do a proper job of diagnosis?”

    I don’t know, but whatever the answer is, it doesn’t excuse widespread chiropractic quackery.

    Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “You would serve mankind better to direct your intellect toward the current medical quackery going on under your nose, than to sound the alarm about a few wasted bucks going to a back cracking quack”

    Tu quoque fallacy: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Tu_quoque Medicine is by no means perfect, but it does save, or prolong, tens of millions of lives every year. Chiropractic, on the other hand, doesn’t move on. In other words, having proved itself incapable of escaping its origins, it’s now likely that its very name will forever be associated with hocus pocus.

  • My friend, chiropractic has, as you point out, always had its vehement detractors including jail time for practicing medicine without a license. Yet, one thing seemed to save it against all odds, the patients who found improvement when their doctors had failed. In 25 years of cradle to grave medical practice, I have seen spinal manipulation provide relief to the suffering. I could have simply prescribed muscle relaxants, opiates, barbiturates , or SSRI’s. I put it to you:. Should I have given them the drugs rather than try chiropractic first? Should I not have continued with the spinal manipulation if it helped them enough that they did not need the drugs? Much of medicine, good medicine, is the application of methods which never were tested scientifically, but was learned from an older Doctor who had practiced for many years and saw something work often enough that he kept it in his armamentarium. If you remove all the knowledge and practice from the healing arts that have not been verified by rigorous scientific method, you will be left with a pitiful hand full of pills and no where to go for your misery.

    • Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “one thing seemed to save it [chiropractic] against all odds, the patients who found improvement when their doctors had failed”

      Such ‘against all odds’ improvements can likely be attributed to one or more judgmental shortcomings mentioned here:
      http://web.archive.org/web/20110723060336/http://www.crhp.net/article1.html

      Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “In 25 years of cradle to grave medical practice, I have seen spinal manipulation provide relief to the suffering”

      I would venture that there is a good chance that you are fooling yourself. See my link above.

      Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “I could have simply prescribed muscle relaxants, opiates, barbiturates , or SSRI’s. I put it to you: Should I have given them the drugs rather than try chiropractic first?”

      I think you should have referred them to physiotherapists whose use of spinal manipulation is much more judicious. Also, your patients would have been far less likely to have been at risk of being ensnared by quackery.

      Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “Much of medicine, good medicine, is the application of methods which never were tested scientifically”

      Retrospectively that is true. However, much is tested now, and when the numbers boil to an unfavourable conclusion, the intervention is usually discarded (albeit sometimes slowly).

      Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “ [Much] was learned from an older Doctor who had practiced for many years and saw something work often enough that he kept it in his armamentarium”

      Again, see my link above about common errors of reasoning.

      Frank Tombrello PhD, DC, DO, MPH (USA) wrote: “If you remove all the knowledge and practice from the healing arts that have not been verified by rigorous scientific method, you will be left with a pitiful hand full of pills and no where to go for your misery”

      That is not true. 80+% of conventional medicine is based on evidence. See:
      http://edzardernst.com/2017/05/is-conventional-medicine-based-on-good-evidence/
      Further, medical doctors do not simply prescribe pills. For example, GPs are trained very thoroughly in differential diagnosis and refer to specialists where indicated. They also give advice on exercise and nutrition, and reassure following satisfactory test results. Some medical doctors, after training, qualify as surgeons, and others become anaesthetists, medical examiners, forensic pathologists, obstetricians, immunologists, neurologists, oncologists, opthalmologists, radiologists, paediatricians, and urologists. That is hardly “pitiful”.

    • A simple question. Why has chiropractic not become a bona fide medical specialism alongside pathology, rheumatology, orthopaedics and all the others? And please spare us the conspiracy theories.

  • Okay Mr. Wode. Thank you for a very nice conversation.

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