Quacklash Backlash!

It’s really quite simple. The GCC Code of Practice requires all chiropractors to hold the appropriate level of evidence for any claim they make. If and when a chiropractor receives a complaint about those claims, all the chiropractor has to do is send that evidence to the GCC. The GCC will no doubt then not uphold the complaint against them and they can get on with what they were doing.

If, however, a chiropractor cannot supply the appropriate level of evidence to substantiate a claim they have made, then they may be found to be in breach of CoP and will have to stop making that claim (if they haven’t already). It’s not my CoP. It’s the one that the statutory GCC put in place and the one all chiropractors signed up to and have to abide by. It’s called being professional.

I know from one comment on my blog by someone using the name ‘Chiro’, that the GCC have sent out my complaint, including full contact details, to at least one chiropractor, but I assume the rest are on their way. This is slightly odd, because I received a letter from the GCC this morning. The penultimate paragraph said:

It is of course open to you to tell us that you want us to proceed on the basis of your letter of complaint, together with the supporting documentation you have submitted. We could notify the chiropractors of your complaint using the correspondence you have submitted to date. If you would like us to do this, please do confirm this in writing.

So they’ve gone ahead without waiting for my answer. I wonder what procedure they are following?

However, it would appear one chiropractor is a bit miffed at being asked to supply evidence for the claims they have been making because someone has been trying to bombard me with spam emails and catalogues for all sorts of things. None have signed me up for a course of chiropractic, though. How do I know it’s a chiropractic whose been doing this? They used an email address that only the GCC were aware of.

So, what have I been signed up for?

There’s a dozen of so catalogues from various companies and a rather more interesting website called Kink.com. Then there’s Metacafe.com, Grattan Online Stores and, of course, the British National Party. The password they entered for one site was ‘wanker’! I wonder what all this says about his or her interests?

Of course, most sites require email confirmation when a new account is being set up, so it’s not really a problem.

Ho hum.

Update — 23 June 2009

Thanks to whoever signed me up to the ‘holistic’ vet in Wales. The free samples of cat and dog food arrived safely and will come in very handy, but, next time, could you make it just the cat food as I don’t have any dogs?


52 thoughts on “Quacklash Backlash!”

  1. I'd ask the GCC to investigate this – but would a GCC investigation be of any use? The phrase "as useful as a chocolate fireguard" now comes to mind whenever I think of this particular regulatory body.

  2. On the catalogue front, Richard Lanigan is going to love that. No, complain to the GCC. If they don't deal with the complaint properly, it just makes them look worse.

  3. Just caught sight of all this. You have been busy!
    Chiropractice will be brought to its financial knees by all this. Can you imagine the effect on their insurance premiums!
    Well done for using their own regulations to do it! The irony….

  4. Chiropractic will always be the winner. People don't give a rat's ass if the scientific evidence doesn't meet your skeptic community's biased standards. They only care that they will get better. Which they do, every day.

  5. "They only care that they will get better. Which they do, every day."

    Apart from the ones who are being treated for stroke from a VBA.

  6. Kat,

    do you have any cases of stroke caused by CHIROPRACTIC manipulation in the uk recently that you'd like to enlighten us with? or are you just writing the first thing that comes into your head?

    oh, and it's VBAI!!! no one dies from a vertebrobasilar artery!!!

  7. Ha. Your guys argument is absolutely laughable. That page is basically pure anecdotal stories.

    When Chiropractors refer to anecdotes you jump on them like a tiger. However when pseudo-skeptics like yourself do the same thing, it is "evidence based science". Pot. Kettle. Black. What an absolute joke.

  8. Yes, isn't it hilarious? All those people who've suffered terrible injuries as a result of chiropractic.

    As you are evidently too stupid to see the difference between an anecdote where someone says they got better as a result of chiropractic and a coroner's report that says someone died of it, I'll just refer you to Frances Denoon, victim of a brain stem stroke after being treated by a chiroquack and suggest you go laugh in her face.


  9. Scepticat, wind your neck in. What about all the people that die from the use of NSAIDs for treatment for the same musculo-skeletal conditions????

  10. Sorry…I seem to be missing something here. What does people dying from the use of NSAIDs have to do with people being killed and maimed by chiroquacks? Has somebody around here denied NSAIDs have caused deaths or defended the prescribing of them?

    Or could it be that you have been backed into a corner and in your desparation are resorting to the usual quack tactic of pointing to problems of orthodox medicine in order to divert attention away from the truth you don't have the guts to admit?

    If you think we should spend time sorting out the problems of orthodox medicine as well as campaigning about the small matter of quacks acting in contravention of their own CoP, then please say say exactly what you think we can do about it.

    I feel a blog post of my own coming on about all this nonsense but it'll have to wait a few days because, like Zeno, I have a life.

  11. Skeptitwat,
    Firstly, iz zeno had a life we wouldn't all be commenting on his blog and debating with him.
    Secondly, I would like to think he's able to fight his own battles and doesn't need you to do it for him!

    Lastly you point out some great websites! Have you looked into the actual statistics of how safe chiropractic is? Do some research and you'll find it is safer than the vast majority of orthodox medical treatments, it seems the websites you point to are a minority of the people that receive chiropractic care. Also, no-one doubts there may be some bad chiropractors out there, it happens in every other profession in the world!

  12. Zeno does in fact have a very good life and it's not just his battle, dickhead, it's the battle of everyone who cares about people suffering and dying at the hands of deluded charlatans. I presume from your desperate response that you are one of these and this would explain your hostility to someone for the apparently heinous crime of complaining about quacks making bogus claims in contravention of their own CoP.

  13. skepti…..
    when myself and Zeno are engaging in a discussion it is his battle, and that works both ways, i don't wait for other to answer on my behalf.
    What i do is of no concern to you, and i'm not being hostile towards Zeno, simply pointing out other sides to the arguement. It's called debate!!!

  14. JB

    Not hostile?! You want a proper debate? Then stop being insulting and concentrate on the issues and be prepared to listen to anyone who has an opinion – they might just be right. Consider what others have to say on the basis of what they argue and what evidence they give and not on your (low) opinion of them. Maybe that way we can have an adult discussion.

  15. firstly Skepti, with regards to an earlier post please read http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/alternative_medicine/article996445.ece
    you'll see that the legal case was dropped as the chiropractor could not be shown to be negligent. also, they don't prduce a coroners report when someone is still alive.

    Alan, i have never been insulting to you except for saying that you didn't have a life, and for that i apologise. I am quite willing to listen to anyone with an opinion, but when i point things out and you suddenly stop replying it does seem that when you don't have an answer you went quiet as opposed to doing what you've asked me to by listening to and considering what others have to say. I made what i feel to be valid points to you on another thread the other night, and you seemed to disappear rather than continue the debate?

  16. JB

    You don't think that calling someone 'Skeptitwat' is insulting, then?

    Yes, I occasionally do 'disappear', because I have other things to do. I will look back and see if there are any valid points to respond to. But unlikely to be today.

  17. Skepticat… I was not trying to redirect anything, but when we look at the options availible to patients with musculo-skeletal complaints, one of the most commonly use are NSAIDs and as there are thousands of deaths and other health complications due to the use of these drugs I feel that the relative risk of any other treatment is far less and therefore worthy of consideration.

    So to your comment… "If you think we should spend time sorting out the problems of orthodox medicine as well as campaigning about the small matter of quacks acting in contravention of their own CoP, then please say say exactly what you think we can do about it" … I think you should spend more time sorting this out if you really want to save lives.

    Further to this point if as NSAIDs, Chiro, Osteo, Physio, Homeo, Acupuncture are all so dangerous or ineffective what would you recommend that people suffering should do??

  18. Skepticat, I am one of those "deluded charlatans" to whom you so insultingly refer. Every time I see a new patient, I go through a process of gaining informed consent. This means I explain in detail the cause of the patient's symptoms, how I propose to treat them and what I expect the outcome to be, along with explaining any possible risks. If I propose to undertake cervical manipulation, I explain that the patient may feel a little sore after the treatment, and that there is a perceived risk of stroke. I then put this into context for them. I explain that the risk has been calculated as approximately 1 in 1-3 million cervical adjustments and to give a comparison, I explain that the risk of death from general anaesthesia is approximately 1 in 100,000 (this figure I got from a medical friend who is an anaesthesia registrar). I have never had a patient withhold consent from me on this, or any, basis. The yardstick against which you are asking the chiropractic profession to measure itself is one against which many established medical interventions would fall short. There are countless patients to whom I could refer you, with stories about how chiropractic treatment has helped them where allopathic medicine has failed. I could also tell you about patients who I have seen with tumours and fractures which have been missed by doctors. That said, the vast majority of us – doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths etc – are simply trying to do the best for our patients. If you would like to know any more about chiropractic, I would be happy to show you, and discuss anything with you, but I will not get into mud slinging via the internet. Please ask your friend Alan, he has my contact details via my website…..

    I'll leave you with one final though – absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence.

    Kind regards.

  19. *sigh*

    Anonymous, read the second para of your last post again. In it you quote a question from me but you do not answer that question. I don't know how to make the question any simpler so I'll repeat it a bit louder. PLEASE SAY EXACTLY WHAT YOU THINK WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. Saying "sort it out" is not an answer. Please tell me how ordinary people like me and zeno can "sort it out"? We are not medics or scientists or politicians. We have no power and except the power to write letters of complaint. If you think a letter of complaint might help change anything in orthodox medicine, please tell me who to write to.

    Your last question is irrelevant. I repeat, I am not medically qualified and I don't presume to know as much or more than people who are.


    Thanks for the link, John, but I'm not sure what your point is unless it's to demonstrate the high standard of proof needed in English law, something I was already aware of. That's why so few rapists get convicted. I am also aware that inquest reports only happen when people die. I referred to them because – as the websites I link to shows – people have died at the hands of chiroquacks.


    I've no idea why you feel the need to justify yourself to me but thanks anyway.

  20. Sketicat, The point that I am trying to make is that there far more worthy and serious issues that you could be getting involved with other than; as you put it… "campaigning about the small matter of quacks acting in contravention of their own CoP".

    It just highlights the vexatious nature of the bloggers involved in this case. As you so aptly stated:
    "We are not medics or scientists or politicians."… and… "I repeat, I am not medically qualified and I don't presume to know as much or more than people who are."

    You guys and girls have only taken-on the Chiropractors because of the "Singh martyr-ing himself and using his media muscle" case. There have not been any venomous attacks (and neither should there be any)on the Osteopaths and Physios that treat organic complaints. We do not see any complaints about Dentists or Vets using the Dr title. (I would love to see your face and surprise when you go to the Vet because you confused him for a GP and he sticks his finger in your arse to see how you are feel today.)

    Stick to what you do know, get out, have some fun, get some fresh air and enjoy your life. Stop being so bitter and twisted.

  21. Zeno, I’ve just had a near death experience!

    Seriously. – from laughing too much.

    And I don’t really know why I find it so funny.

    As an interested observer of this and other blogs on this subject, my wife- who is a practice nurse at our local surgery – brought home a pamphlet, entitled ‘ What can I expect when I see a chiropractor? ‘ produce and published by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC).

    A handy leaflet indeed.

    Most of it is quite laudable in its attempt to protect the general public.

    But in the FAQ section; that’s when I saw my life flash before my eyes.

    “ What can chiropractors treat ?” – section.

    I bet you, Zeno, 2p that you’ll never guess what condition was in there?

    Oh, I wish I could be a fly on the wall in those Complaints Panels.

    “ … and where did you get the idea that you could treat infantile colic from? “

    “ err, from your leaflet, actually. “

    I’d pay good money to be that fly.

    I haven’t been able to stop laughing. I’m going hypoxic.

    And no, I haven’t got a life; or a cat. Sadly. The cat I mean.

    Perhaps you should complain to the GCC, about the GCC?

    Is that possible?

    How can the GCC Complaints Panel admonish their members for promoting something that they themselves are promoting?

    I wonder why they wanted to move the goalposts!

  22. Anonymous,

    I know what your "point" is. Your point is that people should be free to continue making dishonest claims about bogus therapies because they make a good living out of doing so but as you have now run out of bad arguments and don't have any good ones you resort instead to telling me I am "bitter and twisted" and how I should live my life, a life you know nothing about.

    Nice one.

  23. So Skepticat are you going to respond to the fact that you are basically using anecdotal case studies as your "evidence" for Chiropractic as a cause of stroke? Or would you prefer to worm your way out of it.

  24. @Skepticat
    No, my point is that you are a biased, bitter person who has no understanding of the biopsychosocial factors involved in dealing with people and in some cases the families of people in pain. The effect of any manual therapy cannot be quantified as easily as in chemistry as there are so many variables to take into account (thats not to say we must not try and find a way – but your comments are of no use or help to anyone).
    As you have already said, you are not a medic or a scientist. So I am saying, let it go and use your energy on something useful.

  25. Are you two anonymouses the same person? Why the hell don't you give a name?

    Anyway, to anonymous no. 1:

    Re-read your original post (I presume it was yours and not one of the other anoymouses). You said to Kat, "do you have any cases of stroke caused by CHIROPRACTIC manipulation in the uk recently that you'd like to enlighten us with?"

    Did you perhaps mean to say "If you have any cases of strokes caused by chiropractic, don't bother mentioning them because they are just anecdotes and can be disregarded?" Exactly what kind of evidence would satisfy you, anonymous one?

    You seem to have trouble understanding the difference between anecdotal evidence in favour of a given therapy and anecdotal evidence against one so let me try to make it simple for you:

    If a therapists treats someone for a clearly defined condition, say a headache, and the headache gets better does this prove that the treatment make the headache to get better? No, it doesn't. This is the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that people who use quackery of various sorts seem to love but it does make them look a bit silly.

    The treatment may have made the headache better. Or the headache may have got better for some other reason. Until you have tested the treatment in a high-quality RCT and any positive results of that RCT have been replicated, the successful treatment of a headache in individual cases can only be anecdotes. Anecdotes are fine as long as they are not used as a basis on which to categorically claim that a treatment is effective. This is what the whole anti-CAM movement – including these complaints against chiropractors – is about. I'm sure none of us have any problem with someone saying, "This treatment seemed to work for me, try it and see if it works for you," and I have personally tried many alternative therapies through this kind of recommendation.

    But what if someone tries an unproven treatment, suffers ill-effects, and seeks medical assistance? In such a case a conclusion on the cause of the ill-effects will be drawn according to the evidence available to the medical practitioners treating the patient (or the coroner, if the patient died). To avoid committing the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, there must be good reason for concluding that the treatment caused the ill-effect.

    In the case of strokes caused by chiropractic, there would seem to be good reason for arriving at that conclusion and, fortunately for you, I have found a good article that explains those reasons, which is based on the autopsy report for 24 year old Kristi Bedenbaugh who saw her chiropractor for sinus headaches. During a neck manipulation she suffered a brain stem stroke and she died three days later.


    I'm not suggesting this is the definitive proof that chiropractic can cause strokes but I trust you are capable of appreciating the difference between an anecdote where someone says something worked for them and an anecdote where a sound physiological explanation of cause and effect is offered.

    You might also learn something from this new (May 2009) systematic review of the safety of chiropractic interventions, which concludes:

    >>..the frequency of serious adverse events varied between 5 strokes/100,000 manipulations to 1.46 serious adverse events/10,000,000 manipulations and 2.68 deaths/10,000,000 manipulations. CONCLUSION: There is no robust data concerning the incidence or prevalence of adverse reactions after chiropractic. Further investigations are urgently needed to assess definite conclusions regarding this issue…<<


  26. As for anonymous2:

    You don't know what I know, but know this: As long as people are suffering and dying from bogus therapies, I will continue to do whatever I can to challenge their promotion. You may not consider this useful but there are countless victims of quacks (or their grieving families) out there who feel differently.

    Deal with it.

  27. Skepticat.

    Shouldn't the plural of anonymous be anonimi? Not anonymouses?

    A quick google scan, revealed anonymous to be a very common name on the internet.

    I'm finding this blog so funny – I'm going to cancel my subsciption to Private Eye!

    Yours Anonynous Smith.

  28. @ Anonynous (sic) Smith

    Probably. But as that has no bearing on whether or not chiropractic is bogus and as you haven't pointed out any of the other commenters many errors, I'm not sure what your point is, assuming there is a point to you at all.

  29. Yeah, Sorry Skepticat that was a typo.

    But seriously, if some of us are amused by this take that a a compliment.

    There is a point to me, I've just got to find it.

    Anonymous Smith

  30. I'm finding it pretty funny too but have now grown weary of the anonymous whingers so don't intend to return any time soon. I wouldn't cancel Private Eye if I were you.

    Bye anonymi. Hope to see you trolling my own blog sometime soon.


  31. Getting pretty tired of nerdy multiple cat owners, who claim to be rational, but are in fact bigots whose humanism oh so amusingly has all the affectations and moral superiority of a religious cult.

  32. It's just the postings from the moaning humanists I am tired of. I'm very skeptical about their cultish ways. They'll be having their own wedding ceremonies next. Shame they don't have a government body regulating them to show up their obvious hypocrisy.

    The other posts seem ok, and have kept me interested.

  33. If you don't like nerdy, multiple cat-owning, moaning humanists, maybe you shouldn't visit and read a blog and a forum belonging to one. But if you insist on doing so, it's a bit rude to whinge about them.

    You could always try always try explaining exactly why you think they're hypocrites of course but it's always safer just to hiss and spit.

  34. So every wedding ceremony apart from register office weddings is cultish. You don't sound very rational, rational ;).

    I don't see any comments from moaning humanists here either. Only from moaning chiros.

  35. Sigh.
    I never said every wedding ceremony apart from register (sic) office is (sic) cultish.
    I said cults characteristically have their own wedding ceremonies.

    There seems to be moaning from both humanists and chiros here. They seem to have that in common.

  36. Sigh.
    I know what you said. You said and I quote, "Cults characteristically have their own wedding ceremonies that they feel reflect their own cultish beliefs."

    I'm pointing out the logical extension of what you said. Every wedding ceremony apart from civil ones reflects the religion or philosophy of the couple getting married. Therefore every wedding ceremony is, by your definition, 'cultish'.

    As you're the only person here to mention humanism, it looks like you're just having a childish pop at humanists because you don't have any rational arguments, rational.

  37. If the wedding ceremony reflects beliefs or practice which the surrounding population considers to be outside of mainstream culture, then it is cultish.

  38. Hmm, Humanist weddings don't reflect beliefs or practices outside mainstream culture. Unless you count excluding reference to an invisible omnipotent being who fathered himself in order to be sacrificed only to return from the dead as being a serious ommision (in the UK) – it isn't required for a registry office, so I fail to see the validity of your point. Marriage is a legal recognition of a partnership that confers rights to both partners. It also provides an opportunity for a bloody good party. Are you honestly suggesting that God is required as well or do you think that Humanists carry out strange rites at their weddings? If so you are very poorly informed.

    Speaking of cults, wasn't chiropractic teetering on the brink of a religion when it first got established? From what I've read there are still members of the chiropractic profession that hold some opinions about subluxation that are a long way outside the beliefs and practices of mainstream medicine "Rigor mortis is the only thing we can't help" (Sid E, Williams DC, 1994. quoted by the American Chiropractic Association Statement to Associated Press.)

    I'm not accusing chiropractic of being a cult, but by your definition there are cultish elements that exist within chiropractic.

  39. Nitsa says every wedding ceremony must reflects the religion or philosophy of the couple getting married. If a humanist wedding does reflect their beliefs or practices, as they are outside the mainstream culture, then it is cultish. If it doesn't reflect these, then it is not.
    I haven't been to a humanist wedding,so don't know exactly what the ceremony involves. Perhaps I am being presumptuous in thinking it must reflect their beliefs. But if it doesn't why not just go to a registry office?
    Chiropractic definitely had at the start, and still does have within groups of some practitioners, cultish elements.

  40. Rational, it would seem that you don't know much about Humanism. I can tell you exactly what might be entailed in an Humanist wedding – indeed you have inspired me to write a piece about it on my blog.

    Are you suggesting that Humanist beliefs and practices are outside mainstream culture? If so can you provide an example of what you mean?

    To the best of my knowledge the only explicit belief that unites Humanists is an acceptance of the 'Golden Rule' (treat others as you would want to be treated). This is not outside mainstream culture. In terms of practices, there are none prescribed by Humanism whatsoever. When it comes to ceremonies Humanists simply don't bother to invoke a god as a witness to the event, instead they rely on friends and family to witness it. Again, this makes no requirements outside mainstream culture, since mainstream marriages also call upon friends and family as witnesses.

    As for registry offices, they are seldom very attractive or spacious, so why should Humanists miss out on the opportunity to have a beautiful surroundings or a decent party with hundreds of guests to celebrate something like a marriage? In fact, many Humanists do get married in a registry office, but then they like to hold a more celebratory ceremony elsewhere to mark the occasion.

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