Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Questions for a chiropractic Q & A

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog, thank you. It's nice to know there are people out there with as much time to fritter away as I have.

But if you're a regular reader, or even someone who likes to dip in now and again, much like the titular digestive (I was going to use the term 'dunkers' to describe such people, but that term is normally associated with Dairylea snack packs, or in some cases, condoms, neither of which seem particularly flattering), if you're either of these sorts of readers of this humble blog, then you may know that I have previously taken issue with the fact that the University of Wales, via the University of Glamorgan, offers accredited courses in Chiropractic.

I don't like the fact that the University of my country of origin, which I've helped to function, publicise and promote for nearly 10 years now, is lending its credibility to the teaching and promotion of chiropractic, the belief that you can treat all manner of illnesses via potentially dangerous back-rubs.

In case my subtle hints don't make it clear enough, I do not like chirocpractic. I would say I don't like chiropractors but I've never (as far as I know) met one. I do, however, resent the fact that there is one operating round the corner from me. My feelings about this are a matter of public record.

I emailed the University, but got the standard 'fobbing me off' response, which was so dull I didn't bother putting it up here. I also discovered that anti-quack maestro Prof. David Colquhoun has been pursuing this matter himself for many years now. If an eminent professor like him can't get useful results from the proper channels, what chance does an unknown unemployed Neurobod like me have?


A relative 'unknown' like me would probably be more effective on undercover operations. As it happens, I'm currently helping organise a big publicity project type thing for the University, and as a result I recently found myself in the University of Glamorgan.

(I should stress that the University of Glamorgan is generally a very respectable and hard working higher-education establishment, but this sort of makes it worse that they seem to be condoning the teaching of chiropractic)

While there, I happened to pass the information screens, and what did I see?

So, apparently they have a Q&A session for people with questions about chiropractic? I don't know where it is exactly, but should I find out, I hope to go along. After all, chiropractors and other alt-med supporters regularly turn up at sceptical events and raise objections, it would be rude not to return the favour, right?

So, what to ask them? Here are some things I'd like to see someone try and answer. Feel free to add your own.

1: "A mean skeptic in a pub told me that chiropractic was all made up and had no basis in science. So I've arranged to have him beaten up. But are there any injuries that chiropractic can't treat? I don't want him recovering if it's at all possible"

2: "I watched Star Trek the other day. The Vulcan's use neck pinches and death grips, and these are obviously chiropractic techniques. Did the Star Trek people ask permission for this or do we need to sue them? Or are they saying that a super intelligent alien race would use chiropractic? If so, shouldn't we say this in our promotional literature?"

3: "My friend was suffering severe stomach upset, so I did some chiropractic manipulation on his abdomen. The results were very messy. Was this an unpleasant side effect, or did I accidentally perform the chiropractic cure for constipation?"

4: "If I perform chiropractic on my broadband cable, will it remove any subluxations and make my Internet faster?"

5: Same question as above, but about the fuel lines on a car

6: "A lot of my family have health issues and have asked if I could treat them for free. If I spend too much time touching and massaging my own family, won't I end up in jail?"

7: "Exactly how do you spell and pronounce 'Chiropractic' and 'Chiropractor'? I'm dyslexic and I wandered into a Proctology class the other day. The the things they showed me were hideous, and when I tried to perform therapy on the affected areas all hell broke loose"

8: "What time is the big dance-off with the Osteopaths?"

9: "I was talking during a lecture the other day, and as I left the lecturer kicked me in the back. Was this assault, or was he just trying to correct my posture? I just want to know whether to inform the police or not"

10: "A lot of escorts offer massages (I'm told). If I'm performing chiropractic therapies on someone and they get aroused, do I stop or charge them extra?"

11: "Someone told me that you can use homeopathy to treat cows. I didn't want chiropractic to be out-done, so when my uncle said one of the cows on his farm was sick I said I'd treat it with what I've learned here. Basically, are there any heavy duty chiropractic tables and hoists available? We broke 3 tables, 2 barn doors and a farm labourers back trying to do it"

12: "Further to the previous question, does the course cover the effective chiropractic treatments for massive impact trauma and serious horn wounds? The 'cow' in question was actually a 'bull'. And judging by it's reaction to our efforts, it seemed to be a sceptic bull at that."

13: "A lot of athletes say they go to chiropractors and it helps them perform well. Doesn't this mean that they owe their success to their chiropractor? If I end up treating a successful athlete, shouldn't I be entitled to a cut of their earnings?"

14: "I practised some chiropractic therapy on my dog yesterday. It fell asleep it's leg started shaking. Do human patients do this?"

15: "What's the chiropractic treatment for serious sunburn?"

16: "If manipulating the arrangement and alignment of parts of the body has serious effects on a persons health, what's the chiropractors view on firm handshakes?"

17: "I saw that the film 'Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" on display in my local video shop the other day. Will the University fund my legal costs if I sue blockbusters for using this term in a public context?"

And so on.

e-mail: humourology (at) live.co.uk

twitter: @garwboy



Anonymous said...

Hello, Dean, Glad to hear or rather read that you are a neuroscientist. That means you subscribe to the scientific method. I am relieved. I recently read you post which attempted to discredit chiropractic. I read your diatribe with dismay, however. Dismay that you claim to be a scientist and then promote an antiscientific approach to your assesment of chiropractic!
You have actually brought ridicule upon yourself by being unscientific. Chiropractic is not a form of back rub that cures diseases. That is ludicrous! You may be surprised to learn how many universities have chiropractic programs! You will also be surprised to find out how many scientific papers have been written and presented in universities and at scientific forums. You would also be advised to investigate how many peer reviewed journals publish papers written by chiropractors. I suggest that rather than use hearsay and mythology to draw your conlusions about chiropractic, you actually investigate like a scientist. I am a chiropractor as you may have surmised; there, you have sort of met one. I have the legal title "doctor" in Canada. My practice is anything but unscientific. My patients include physicians, surgeons, (even a few scientists) and a broad cross-section of society. They come to me because they understand the value of chiropractic care. In fact, many of my professors were medical, surgical, scientific types! So there you have it. Do your research!

Dean Burnett, Neuroscientist said...

Excellent. An anonymous, unsubstantiated comment on a humorous blog citing anecdotal evidence in order to lecture me on using the scientific method.

I have done my research, for what it's worth. And there is no evidence as of yet for the efficacy of chiropractic therapies. The fact that chiropractors write papers and present at conferences is not at all surprising, all alt-med practitioners do so. Doesn't mean they have any evidence or proof.

For example, if chiropractors had actual evidence on their side, why would they resort to libel threats when criticised?


(The case mentioned above was eventually dropped in case you didn't know, which is weird for a scientific group that would have access to large bodies of evidence to back up their claims, don't you think)

I have done plenty of research, but it's summarised better by others more eloquent than me


And of course, the issues with chiropractic are ongoing


None of this suggests an academically professional practice going adopting the stringent requirements necessary for such a body to function.

As for 'bringing ridicule on myself', this comment is the first one that's taken umbridge at what I've said here. But I think we clearly differ on the the definition of the term 'unscientific', so that's to be expected.

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