Simon Singh vs. Chiropractic

Topher
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Simon Singh vs. Chiropractic

Anyone following this case... and the judges ridiculous decision in the pre trial?

For some background: Singh wrote an article within the Guardian, which contained the following passage:

"The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments."

The BCA felt this passage was liableous, so rather than show their evidence, they sued him.

The pre trial was to determine whether the statement was comment or fact. If comment, then was it fair comment. If fact, was it true and justifiable?

Singh had a defence for each: if it was deemed to be comment then he could easily demonstrate that the comment was fair, given the lack of evidence for the stated treatments. If it was deemed fact, then he could demonstrate that the claims he made were accurate and that the stated treatments were ineffective or without sufficient evidence (i.e. bogus).

The judge determined (via a pre written conclusion) that the statement was fact, however he then defined the term "bogus" in a way that Singh did not use (and was not intending to defend), and as a result it leads to a position that Singh does not actually hold. The judge determined that "bogus" was to mean that the BCA were consciously aware that these treatments did not work and lacked evidence and yet promoted them anyway. Consequently, this renders Singh's comments to mean something different entirely. No longer is Singh saying the six mentioned treatments were without evidence, instead, he was saying the BCA were being consciously deceptive, but this requires that members of the BCA secretly believe that the stuff they practice and promote is without evidence... hardly the case. What is more likely is that most of them really do believe this stuff, so Singh would never be able to prove conscious deception, and nor do I think he would attempt do.

Now I'm no lawyer but it seems to me that when dealing with liable--outside of the UK of course--one has to take into account what the original author intended to mean, as well as how that persons comments could potentially be read, irrespective of the authors intended meaning. In both of these cases I think Singh should be vindicated. First, Singh does not believe the BCA were being consciously deceptive, so it is unfair to render his comments to mean that. Second, I do not see how anyone reading his comments can think that is what he was saying, indeed, in the following paragraph he even elaborates on the meaning of his criticism. How would people here interpret the quoted paragraph above, in particular the word 'bogus'?

It seems that now Singh would have to effectively concede the case and settle, or demonstrate something that he neither believes to be true nor is true. There is also appeal, but that may not be successful.

I have to say the British liable law, in particular our reverse burden of proof, where the defendant must refute the claims made by the plaintiff, rather than the plaintiff demonstrating the claims being true, is disgraceful. In British law, if I sue you for comments which you regard as liableous, I do not have to demonstrate that the claims was liableous before the claim is accepted, instead YOU would have to demonstrate that your comments were NOT liableous!

If the laws regarding liable was fair, and inline with the rest of the law, then it would seem the BCA would have to prove those treatments do what they say they do, or that Singh meant X, or they his comments could be read as X.

The Jack of Kent skeptic/law blog has an ongoing detailed review: http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2009/05/bca-v-singh-astonishingly-illiberal.html http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2009/05/what-should-simon-singh-do-next.html

 

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


Kevin R Brown
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Question:Does chiropractic

Question:

Does chiropractic treatment actually do anything? Or is it just junk science?

 

I keep hearing different stories on the matter (please, do not answer this question with a personal anecdote).

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


BobSpence
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Kevin R Brown

Kevin R Brown wrote:

Question:

Does chiropractic treatment actually do anything? Or is it just junk science?

 

I keep hearing different stories on the matter (please, do not answer this question with a personal anecdote).

Without doing a bunch of research, my impression from a number of different comments and discussions I have heard on this topic over a long period is that there may be some core of some aspect of chiropractic which has some efficacy or usefulness in some specific medical or diagnostic practice. I did hear at least one sane-sounding medical person talking about it seriously, but my takeaway impression was that what he was talking about was not quite the most common form of chiropractic, and not remotely supporting most of the claims made.

As with all these 'alternative' medicine ideas is they originate with some observation or 'inspiration' which triggers in the originator(s) a grand hypothesis which goes way beyond that initial idea, and is never seriously tested.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


mrjonno
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Original chiropractprs comes

Original chiropractprs comes from a bunch of christian fundies in the late 19th early 20th century who wanted to squeeze demons out of your bones, didnt quite call it that but used the term subluxation which was never defined.

As you can tell this has the medical disadvantage which is technically known as 'its bollocks'

Its just another alternative medicine fad they just has a lot of political support (more than faith healing).

Note many people who are chiropractors do actually have genuine medical qualifications as well which slighly clouds the issue.

Also far less education (money) is required to become one their services are generally cheaper than (real/convential medicine) meaning they can spend more time with you  so there is a placebo effect where people do sometimes feel better short term.

So basically they provide as much medical benefit as a massage which isnt zero but sure isnt going to cure any serious disease

 

 

 


BobSpence
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mrjonno wrote:Original

mrjonno wrote:

Original chiropractprs comes from a bunch of christian fundies in the late 19th early 20th century who wanted to squeeze demons out of your bones, didnt quite call it that but used the term subluxation which was never defined.

As you can tell this has the medical disadvantage which is technically known as 'its bollocks'

Its just another alternative medicine fad they just has a lot of political support (more than faith healing).

Note many people who are chiropractors do actually have genuine medical qualifications as well which slighly clouds the issue.

Also far less education (money) is required to become one their services are generally cheaper than (real/convential medicine) meaning they can spend more time with you  so there is a placebo effect where people do sometimes feel better short term.

So basically they provide as much medical benefit as a massage which isnt zero but sure isnt going to cure any serious disease

Now that I think back, that sounds pretty close to what the medico supporting it was essentially saying... it had some value in ameliorating some symptoms.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Topher
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There is some scientific

There is some scientific evidence of efficacy for a few specific chiropractic techniques, mostly related to lower back pain if I remember correctly, however I think it is no better than standard physiotherapy.

Generally chiropractic can be separated into two types: straights and mixers.

Straight chiropractors accept virtually all of the traditional philosophy, e.g. innate intelligence; subluxation theory. It is complete nonsense.

Mixers are those that range from accepting most of the traditional philosophy to those that reject it entirely (i.e. Scientific chiropractors, who only practice only what the science supports.)

Simon Singh's criticism of the majority of chiropractic (not the scientific chiropractors), and in particular those six treatments that he cited, is perfectly valid.

Here's some good discussions/info on Chiropractic:

Overview of chiropractic:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/skepticsguide/skepticast2006-08-02.mp3 (at 26 minutes)


Interview with a scientific chiropractor. It's a good discussion on the legitimate parts of chiropractic versus the more common woo-woo chiropractic:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/skepticsguide/skepticast2007-03-28.mp3 (at 38 minutes)


Follow up discussion on the interview:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/skepticsguide/skepticast2007-04-10.mp3 (at 29:30 minute)


Finally, here is a discussion on Chiropractic and colic, which is one of the treatments Singh was critical of: http://cdn2.libsyn.com/skepticsguide/skepticast2007-07-03.mp3 (at 30 minutes)

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


funknotik
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I've had lower back pain for

I've had lower back pain for a while and going to the chiropractor didn't really make a difference. All the inate intelligence turned me off from every trying it again. Now I just stretch and get massages, I do believe I have a pinched nerve. I'm seeing a neurologist on friday so I guess we'll find out.