I’ve been a bit remiss in my coverage of the Simon Singh case, reviewed in detail by Phil Plait, among others. As many of my readers already know, respected science writer Simon Singh is being sued for libel in England by the British Chiroquacktic Association (BCA) because he described some of their treatments as “bogus”. Despite the fact that he underplayed his hand, he is still getting his legal ass whooped over in the motherland, thanks to their idiotic libel laws.
Be that as it may, the BCA wasn’t complaining about Singh being wrong, but about him being mean. You see, “bogus” seemed to imply not just that they were a bunch a stupid twits, but that they were dishonest stupid twits, and that’s just too naughty.
But as stupid twits often will, they are no longer able to hold back. They are now insisting on showing off just how stupid, twittish, and wrong they really are. In a response to L’affaire Singh, the BCA has posted a broadsheet defending their particular type of prescientific quackery.
(As an aside, I would like to remind my readers about my thoughts on “quackery from ignorance”. Just because a quack believes in what they do does not exculpate them from the wrong they are doing. They have taken on a special responsibility, a grave responsibility to people in pain, and to honor this, they must be extra vigilant, sort of like real doctors. Ignorance is not a viable excuse for bad medicine.)
Anyway, since the arrogance of ignorance has trumped common sense, let’s take a look at what the BCA is offering us.
This broadsheet contains a list of studies that supposedly support their most egregious malpractices. For example, asthma. Chiropractic has no place in the treatment of asthma. There’s no reason to think that chiropractic should help. Asthma is a disease of the airways in the lungs, characterized by spasm of the breathing passages, and by inflammation leading to chronic obstruction and damage to the lungs. Playing with the spine is irrelevant, unless you hold pre-scientific beliefs about “subluxations” and disease.
Anyway, this was a pilot study to see if it was even feasible to study the question. What was the question?
The first objective was to determine if chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) in addition to optimal medical management resulted in clinically important changes in asthma-related outcomes in children. The second objective was to assess the feasibility of conducting a full-scale, randomized clinical trial in terms of recruitment, evaluation, treatment, and ability to deliver a sham SMT procedure.
A small pilot study like this should not be seen to support any wider generalizations about treatment, and in fact the authors did not claim any wider application of their findings. That didn’t stop the quacks at the BCA from using this study to bolster support for their clearly bogus therapies.
CONCLUSION: After 3 months of combining chiropractic SMT with optimal medical management for pediatric asthma, the children rated their quality of life substantially higher and their asthma severity substantially lower. These improvements were maintained at the 1-year follow-up assessment. There were no important changes in lung function or hyperresponsiveness at any time. The observed improvements are unlikely as a result of the specific effects of chiropractic SMT alone, but other aspects of the clinical encounter that should not be dismissed readily. Further research is needed to assess which components of the chiropractic encounter are responsible for important improvements in patient-oriented outcomes so that they may be incorporated into the care of all patients with asthma. (emphasis mine)
Pretty dumb article. Kids were treated with standard care for asthma, and also received either “real” or “sham” chiropractic. All objective measures of asthma control were unchanged.
If this is typical of the evidence the BCA is supporting, they should probably be investigated as a criminal enterprise. That this type of clearly deceptive and harmful quackery is allowed to go on, and science writers who expose it are sanctioned speaks ill of our society (er…of their society—we seceded a while back).
Hang in their Simon. Eventually someone will sue these quacks for an asthma death or a vertebral artery dissection. Until then, at least on this side of the ocean, we’ll call a quack a quack.