Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, October 30, 2004

ACSH: Facts & Fears

ACSH: Facts & Fears

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Friday, October 29, 2004

There's an Unvaccinated Sucker Born Every Minute By Rivka Weiser

October 29, 2004

There's an Unvaccinated Sucker Born Every Minute
By Rivka Weiser

With severe limits on flu vaccine availability, it is only natural that the public will try to seek out other effective means of flu prevention. Feeding off the widespread panic over the flu and the desire for alternatives in flu prevention, an abundance of "flu remedies" is now available on the Internet, making strong and misleading claims. Vulnerable people, relatively unregulated "dietary supplements," and the vast territory of the Internet combine to create fertile ground for misinformation.

A simple Internet search reveals a wide variety of products making grand claims about their ability to prevent and/or treat the flu, boost the immune system, and in some cases prevent or treat everything from cancer to wrinkles. The three products below were among those advertised in the top sponsored links for a Google search of the word "flu":

- Some may be happy to hear that they can actually order a tiny bit of the flu vaccine online in the form of Influenzinum 30C, an oral homeopathic remedy that uses an extremely diluted form of this year's vaccine and is "effective," according to the advertisement on Google. However, before you get too excited, realize that you would need to buy a volume of Influenzinum equal to more than 300 septillion times the volume of the sun in order to get the amount of flu vaccine present in one dose of the traditional vaccination.(1) Even that amount -- were the manufacturer somehow able to provide it and were you somehow able to ingest it -- would probably not do much for you, as the vaccine needs to be injected.

- The website of Total Body Defense claims that the product is the "#1 recommended flu shot alternative" and also includes a statement formatted to seem as if it was ripped out of a newspaper, stating, "Doctors recommend TOTAL BODY DEFENSE to prepare for the upcoming flu season due to a shortage in flu vaccines." (It also claims that the product can "induce daily fat loss" and "fight aging," among other things.) However, there was not even one specific doctor mentioned as an endorser on the site, nor any indication that anyone aside from the manufacturer endorses it as the top "flu shot alternative." Furthermore, the website details the supposed effects of seven of its ingredients but cites specific studies for only one of them (other references to scientific studies are vague or do not give a specific citation). Also, no part of the site mentions the potential side effects, contraindications, or drug interactions of any of its ingredients, such as ginkgo, which should not be used by pregnant women or people taking blood-thinning medications such as aspirin.

- Perhaps the most troubling "remedy" in the search results was Mesosilver (a colloidal silver solution), marketed by Purest Colloids, Inc. The homepage of Purest Colloids, Inc. states that, "While we make no health claims about the use or effectiveness of our product line, our customers have found our products helpful in a wide variety of applications." This disclaimer, like others on its site, is likely present due to the Food and Drug Administration's 1999 ruling that colloidal silver is not recognized as a safe or effective treatment in over-the-counter products for any condition, and its manufacturers therefore cannot make drug-like claims about the product. Despite the disclaimer on the company's homepage, the flu-related site for Mesosilver states that the "effectiveness of colloidal silver is unparalleled" and that "Mesosilver is the most effective colloidal silver." If those are not claims about the product's effectiveness, it is hard to imagine what is.

The product's website also states that "no adverse side effects have ever been reported." However, use of colloidal silver products has long been recognized to cause argyria, a permanent blue-gray discoloration of the body. The company's website claims that their product does not cause argyria because it only contains actual colloidal silver particles, as opposed to other types of silver such as silver salts. While the data on argyria focuses on particles such as silver salts, the adverse effects of the form of silver in Mesosilver have't been scientifically studied in detail.

An abundance of products is marketed as flu remedies based on unsubstantiated claims. This underscores the importance of basing flu prevention strategies on sound science, and the importance of not trusting obscure companies to disclose adverse reactions or contraindications. Many companies are trying to cash in on the potential health crisis posed by extremely limited flu vaccine availability. Rather than relying on their unproven measures, take simple and proven preventive measures such as frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your nose and mouth, and avoiding crowds and people known to be sick with the flu.

(1) Assuming a 0.5 cc dose, diluted by 100 (1 part of flu vaccine to 99 parts of water or alcohol [as Influenzinum's website details]) 30 successive times, one dose would be spread into 5 * 10^59 cubic centimeters. The sun's volume is about 1.4 * 10^33 cubic centimeters.

Rivka Weiser is a research intern at the American Council on Science and Health.

Used by permission

Thursday, October 28, 2004

FAACT - Families Against Abusive Chiropractic Treatments

FAACT - Families Against Abusive Chiropractic Treatments

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Glucosamin: Mulige alvorlige bivirkninger unders�

Glucosamin: Mulige alvorlige bivirkninger unders�

Danish report about newly reported and serious side effects from Glucosamine. An investigation is in progress and other European lands are being alerted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Science Fair Projects - Chiropractic medicine

Science Fair Projects - Chiropractic medicine

Monday, October 25, 2004

Chiropractic Technique May Pose Stroke Risk - HealthBeat - Chiropractic Technique May Pose Stroke Risk


For a no-nonsense look at chiroquackery:


Chirotalk(SM): The Skeptical Chiropractic Discussion Forum

Sunday, October 24, 2004

"God is Dead" article from the New York Times Jan. 9. 1966, pg. 146

'God is Dead'
The following ritual was presented during a chapel service at a small denominational college in the South. It was designed to explore in liturgical form the experience of the "death of God." The reaction, according to campus reporter, "ranged from tears to a new enthusiasm for theology."

He was our guide and our stay
He walked with us beside still waters
He was our help in ages past

The lengthening shadow grows formless
The lengthening shadow grows formless

Now the day is over
Night is drawing nigh
Shadows of the evening steal across the sky

He is gone. He is stolen by darkness
He is gone. He is stolen by darkness

Now we must wonder
Was He our only dream.
A dream painted across the sky

And in the beginning our fear created him
And in the beginning our fear created him

Did we create Him in our image?
Did we surround Him with hosts because
We were alone?

Our imaginations rescued us from the deep
Our imaginations rescued us from the deep

Space has stretched beyond Him.
It is very cold here
And from time there comes no warmth

The universe is too vast for him
The universe is too vast for him

Beyond the stars, more stars
Beyond the sky, more sky
Above our dreams, more dreams

Heaven is empty
Heaven is empty

Only his footsteps remain
Only stained glass and arched hopes
Only wasted steeples and useless piety

There is silence along the forest path
There is silence along the forest path

Why is there no dawn?
Why do our dead only die?
Why do our living only live?

Your God is Dead
He died in the darkness of your image
He died because he grew ill from your dreams of salvation
He died because you held his hand too tightly
God is Dead

New York Times, Jan 9, 1966, pg. 146

Konfabulator - Gallery

Konfabulator - Gallery

NCBI Search
Brian Haugen
A handy tool for biologists doing BLAST or PubMed searches of the databases at NCBI.
Clicking on the buttons produces a search box where text can be entered. Drag and drop of text onto the buttons is also supported.
Any suggestions for improvements are welcome and appreciated.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Chiropractic Oranges

The "chiropractic subluxation" amounts to an orange that is being called an "apple". But a "chiropractic apple" isn't an apple, and any normal consumer of fruit will be confused and deceived. Using words to mean something other than what they normally mean has that effect.

Even if a lesion could be settled on (which is now called the "chiropractic subluxation"), it would still be a confusing use of the word "subluxation", which already has a clearly defined meaning in orthopedic medicine, and has absolutely no metaphysical aspects, unlike the chiropractic version. Chiropractic should be forced to quit misusing the word "subluxation" purely on a linguistic basis. The word can't be true in an orthopedic sense and also true in a chiropractic sense.

An apple is called an "apple". Just because some idiot insists on calling an orange an "apple", doesn't make it so. They should be required to call an apple an apple, and an orange an orange.

Since chiropractic "oranges" already are called that by the rest of the healthcare system, chiropractors should accept the established diagnosis system and terminology and call them "oranges" as well. One thing they aren't is "apples"!

Will this happen? Nope! It would amount to cutting off the tail of the entire profession - the tail that wags the dog.

No, they will continue to call oranges "apples", since they are in the orange business, but want to deceive people into thinking that they are also in the apple business.

The history of this quirk of terminology is interesting:

Chiropractic's Elusive "Subluxation"
Stephen Barrett, M.D.

If you are examined by a chiropractor, you may be told that you have one or more subluxations of your spine. This article examines what this means and how you should react.

Chiropractic theory is rooted in the notions of Daniel David Palmer, a grocer and "magnetic healer" who postulated that the basic cause of disease was interference with the body's nerve supply. Approximately a hundred years ago, he concluded that "A subluxated vertebrae . . . is the cause of 95 percent of all diseases. . . . The other five percent is caused by displaced joints other than those of the vertebral column."[1] He claimed that subluxations interfered with the body's expression of "Innate Intelligence"-- the "Soul, Spirit, or Spark of Life" that controlled the healing process. He proposed to remedy the gamut of disease by manipulating or "adjusting" the problem areas.

Over the years, chiropractors have gone beyond Palmer's theories, although some still cling to them for dear life. Some describe subluxations as "bones out of place" and/or "pinched nerves"; some think in terms of "fixations" and/or loss of joint mobility; some occupy a middle ground that includes any or all of these concepts; and a small percentage renounce Palmer's notions as biotheistic nonsense.

Are Subluxations Visible?

Chiropractors also disagree on whether their "subluxations" are visible on x-ray films. "Straight" chiropractors tend to believe that they cause nerve interference, are readily visible, and that virtually everyone gets them. Most other chiropractors (commonly referred to as "mixers") define subluxations loosely and see them when it suits their convenience. Chiropractors who reject subluxation theory consider them invisible but have been forced to acknowledge them to get paid by Medicare. When a respected chiropractic researcher was asked whether he had ever seen a subluxation on an x-ray film, he smiled and jokingly replied, "With my eyes closed." [2]

Old chiropractic textbooks show "before and after" x-rays that are supposed to demonstrate subluxations. In 1971, hoping to get a first-hand look at such x-rays, I challenged the local chiropractic society to demonstrate ten sets. They refused, suggesting instead that I ask the Palmer School to show me some from its "teaching files." When I did, however, a school official replied:

"Chiropractors do not make the claim to be able to read a specific subluxation from an x-ray film. [They] can read spinal distortion, which indicates the possible presence of a subluxation and can confirm the actual presence of a subluxation by other physical findings" [3].

In 1973, Congress authorized payment under Medicare for chiropractic treatment of "subluxations demonstrated by x-rays to exist." In 1972, to enable payment, chiropractors held a consensus conference that redefined "subluxations" to include common findings that others could see. The document, several pages long, described the supposed x-ray manifestations of 18 types of "subluxations," including "flexion
malposition," "extension malposition," "lateral flexion malposition," "rotational malposition," "hypomobility" (also called "fixation subluxation"), "hypermobility," "aberrant motion," "altered interosseous spacing," "foraminal occlusion," scoliosis, and several conditions in which "gross displacements" are evident [4]. I have been unable to determine how many billions of dollars chiropractors have received from Medicare since the law took effect.

Some of these terms are fancy names for the minor degenerative changes that occur as people age. The conditions often have nothing to do with a patient's symptoms and are not changed by chiropractic treatment. Some, as acknowledged by the conferees, are not even visible on x-ray films.

In 1997, Congress amended the law to permit payment for subluxations diagnosed by other means -- a policy scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2000.

Chiropractors also differ about how to find "subluxations" and where they are located. In addition to seeing them on x-ray films, chiropractors say they can find them by: (a) feeling the spine with their hand, (b) measuring skin temperature near the spine with an instrument, (c) concluding that one of the patient's legs is "functionally" longer than the other, (d) studying the shadows produced by a device that projects a beam of light onto the patient's back, (e)weighing the patient on special scales., and/or (f) detecting "nerve irritation" with a device. Some subluxation-based chiropractors say that subluxations at the top of the spine are the ones that count [A, B] some focus on the bottom of the spine, some work at both ends, and others locate and treat them throughout the spine. Undercover investigations in which many chiropractors have examined the same patient have found that the diagnoses and proposed treatments differed greatly from one practitioner to another.

Subluxation is also a medical term. The medical definition is incomplete or partial dislocation -- a condition, visible on x-ray films, in which the bony surfaces of a joint no longer face each other exactly but remain partially aligned. No such condition can be corrected by chiropractic treatment.

Elastic Definition

Two years ago, in an attempt to "unify" chiropractic terminology, the Association of Chiropractic Colleges issued the following definition:

"A subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system and general health."

In 1997, the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research issued a pamphlet called "Subluxation: What It Means to You," which states:

"What the above means is that a subluxation is a joint problem (whether a problem with the way the joint is functioning, a physical problem with the joint, or a combination of any of these) that affects the function of nerves and therefore affect the body's organs and general health."

This "definition" is still poppycock because the vast majority of spinal problems do not affect the body's organs or general health. (In addition, it makes no sense to use the consensus process to try to define something that is not a valid concept [5]. If you'd like to have some fun, ask a chiropractor to list the diseases or general health problems that spinal manipulation can cure.


Proving a Negative

Interesting comments:

The Scientist
Volume 18
Issue 20 | 26 | Oct. 25, 2004

Vision For Olfaction, a Hypothesis is Felled

With negative results comes silence where belief once stood
By Peter Mombaerts

Rarely do scientific studies claim that something is not the case.
Rarer still do negative results appear in top-tier journals. Yet two
recent papers in Nature describe what olfactory sensory neurons do not
. . . .

PROVING A NEGATIVE Publication of these results is remarkable because they describe negative evidence. Scientific journals, particularly top-tier journals, want research articles to provide positive evidence for a hypothesis. Indeed, failure to obtain positive evidence for the tested hypothesis may be due to a failure of the test itself: trivial errors, technical inadequacies, or flawed design. But it is worthwhile to report negative evidence because it stimulates alternative thinking and can free scientists from misguided assumptions. During the course of this project, from 1999 to 2004, our experimental strategy was dominated by the concern that, after all, the sequence of OR loci is not modified in OSNs. Both Nature papers are a series of control experiments, and controls for control experiments, in an attempt to rule out that the favorite hypothesis, alas, is not correct.

But the experiments were carried out with only two of 1,200 OR genes. Perhaps we and our colleagues were unlucky, and selected OR genes that are not representative and do not undergo modifications. Perhaps nuclear transfer reverted the sequence modifications back to the germline configuration: The extensive nuclear reprogramming that occurs in the oocyte upon nuclear transfer may also erase the sequence alteration at the OR locus. Perhaps ... perhaps ...

NOW WHAT? Nonetheless, I believe that the hypothesis of DNA rearrangements in OR loci, which was already raised in the 1991 paper describing the discovery of OR genes,4 has been laid to rest with a sufficient degree of certainty. This was a pet hypothesis for many scientists working on this problem, including myself (many of us were immunologists once upon a time). OSNs and lymphocytes have solved the issue of gene choice in radically different ways. As to alternative hypotheses, I perceive a deafening silence. The enigma of OR gene choice appears to have receded even further.

(End quote)


Now if only the sCAM community would do this as a reaction to the myriad negative studies of their dubious methods. Since when have they ever abandoned a single nutty idea?

Normally ethical practitioners of medicine will drop a method that is proven to be unfounded. sCAM practitioners, OTOH, continue to use the dubious method. Even when some of the methods they use are actually reasonable, it amounts to them using 100% (of their quack methods, both unconfirmed and disproved), plus the reasonable methods. The dubious 100% doesn't get smaller. Instead their toolbox just gets filled with more methods - the 100% becomes 101%, then 102%, etc. Then they parade the infinitely little reasonable part of their practice to justfiy allowing them to remain in practice (while they will continue to practice their 100% junk, which never gets smaller).

"CAM practitioners often exploit the very mention of their name or modality in the media, research or regulations, even if the mention is in a negative context. If a research project has even just begun, they shout from the housetops that their modality has been scientifically proven to be efficacious. And when the completed research overwhelmingly disproves their modality, they ignore or criticize the research and continue to practice their quackery. If you loan them your shirt, they'll take your coat as well." -

On the condition that there is a qualified effort being made to find proof for a claim, the more time that goes by without finding any proof, the less compelling is the claim.

Chiropractic is just one example. The "chiropractic subluxation" (*) has no compelling proof for its existence. In fact, there are some very good reasons to suspect that there never will be found such evidence. The more time that goes by with trying to redefine chiropractic subluxations and prove their supposed existence, the heavier the accumulation of weight on the side of the scales, against it ever being proven.

The same applies - even more strongly - to homeopathy.

The NCCAM needs to quit it's wild goose chases and get its priorities straight. It should stop:

a. wasting our money on quackery and fictional diseases
b. taking it from legitimate research for real diseases
c. wasting the time of researchers,
d. confusing the public,
e. providing the ammunition being used by quacks to promote healthfraud and quackery

(*) Next post: "Chiropractic Oranges"

Thursday, October 21, 2004

CBS News | Saying 'No' To Immunization | October 20, 2004�22:59:50

CBS News | Saying 'No' To Immunization | October 20, 2004�22:59:50:

(CBS) Getting vaccinated against deadly diseases like polio, diphtheria and whooping cough used to be a universal childhood ritual. Every child got the shots, and there were no questions asked.

But now, some parents are asking questions, because they fear that vaccines can cause diseases like autism. And, as more and more of them refuse to immunize their kids, public health officials fear that those old childhood diseases could come back.

And now, one has: Whooping cough. At its peak, a quarter million people (most of them children) got it every year and 9,000 died from it. Then, a vaccine made whooping cough (officially called pertussis) just a vivid name in history books.

But history is starting to repeat itself. Today, there are more cases of whooping cough in this country than at any time in 40 years. Correspondent Dan Rather reports.
Most of us have forgotten about the dangers of whooping cough and what it does to a child. That's why Charlotte Arboleda didn’t worry much last fall, when her newborn boy, her third child, developed a cough and runny nose.

"It's very serious, very serious," says Arboleda. "I could have lost him at home that night, on the changing table, in front of his brother and sister."

Although Arboleda’s older children got all the usual vaccines, 6-week-old Jordy was too young for the whooping cough vaccine. "When his coughing stopped, he stopped breathing. You know, his lips turned a little blue. And he, he lost consciousness for a moment," says Arboleda, who took Jordy to the hospital, where she watched in horror as doctors and nurses struggled for a week to keep Jordy breathing.

Even after he went home, Jordy didn't stop coughing for weeks. But his case isn’t unusual. Most people don’t know that so far this year, but there have been major whooping cough outbreaks in 18 states. One of those outbreaks happened in Westchester County, a New York City suburb of nearly one million. It caught officials, like health commissioner Dr. Joshua Lipsman, by surprise.

"We normally have only about six cases per year of whooping cough, or pertussis. Since a year ago, we were up to 120 cases. So that’s 20 times as many," says Lipsman.

Public health investigators traced the outbreak to a local school, with children, Lipsman said, who were not vaccinated. "But then [the outbreak] spread for a variety of reasons," he adds. "I think that part of our problem has to do with the fact that kids are not getting adequately vaccinated."

A new study shows that’s true, and it found something surprising. The study, which was published in July in the medical journal "Pediatrics," found that non-vaccinating parents tend to be married, have college degrees, and higher annual incomes; in other words, people who know about, and have access to, vaccines.

This trend worries Dr. Lipsman. Vaccines are not 100 percent effective, so even people who have been vaccinated are at risk from those who aren’t.

"If that takes off and we fall below the minimum percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated in order for all of us to have the benefit of vax – what we call herd immunity – we’ll begin to see outbreaks, much bigger outbreaks of these vaccine-preventable diseases," says Lipsman.

Parents cite several reasons for not vaccinating their children. Many think vaccines aren’t necessary any more, because the diseases they prevent are rare in this country. Others believe children should develop "natural immunity" to disease, instead of with vaccines.

But most believe vaccines, or the mercury-based preservative once used in some vaccines, can cause diseases like autism, diabetes and multiple sclerosis -- diseases that have increased in recent years.

Many anti-vaccine parents believe the medical establishment, in collusion with the government and vaccine-makers, is hiding these dangers from the public.

"I don’t trust these doctors. I don’t trust a lot of the medical field," says Debra Alvo, one of a group of mothers who don't like the idea of vaccinations. Her 2-year-old son has never gotten any shots.

"I don’t mind if he gets measles. I don’t think it’s a killer disease as they’re touting it to be. No, I feel like my son Julian has a really strong constitution, and if he got something, you know, I would deal with it then."

During the country’s last big measles outbreak, in 1989, 55,000 got the disease and 123 died. That’s one out of every 500 cases.

Arlen Boltax is expecting her third child any week now. She fears any vaccines could permanently disable her baby.

"I usually don’t say much because it’s, you know, they have their perspective and that’s the training that they receive from their medical school," says Boltax. "I’m not a scientist. I’m not a doctor. I just feel that I’m doing what’s best for my children."

Mary Ellen Donahue has two children. Her youngest was diagnosed with a form of autism after getting vaccinated. "My feeling is that the diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder is a result of something in the shots," says Donahue. "It could be the mercury, or it could be that it weakened his immune system."

Does she believe that there is a relationship between vaccines and autism – at least in some children? "I definitely believe that there are certain children that are susceptible," says Donahue.

Many parents get their beliefs about vaccines and autism from controversial studies like one conducted by British scientist Andrew Wakefield in 1998.

Wakefield, after studying only 12 children, said the measles vaccine might cause autism, and urged parents not to give their kids the vaccine. That caused a panic in England. Vaccine rates dropped, and measles cases rose.

But last February, the editors of the journal Lancet, which first published Wakefield's study, disavowed it. They learned that Wakefield was paid by lawyers planning to sue vaccine makers while doing the study.

And a study of more than 530,000 Danish children found that those who didn't get the measles vaccine were just as likely to get autism as children who were vaccinated. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in November, 2002. It looked at 537,303 Danish children, and found that "the risk of autism was similar in vaccinated and unvaccinated children."

That, along with other studies, lead most scientists and doctors to say fears about vaccines and autism are not based in fact.

"I’m prepared to say that vax don’t cause autism," says Dr. Paul Offit, one of the country's leading researchers into vaccines for children. "When you choose not to get a vax, you’re not going to lower your risk of autism. All you’re going to do is increase your risk of getting a severe and potentially fatal infection."

And he believes that the studies support it.
This debate is all in a day’s work for Dr. Lisa Thebner, a pediatrician in a large Manhattan practice. She says many parents ask questions, but "there's a small percentage who, even having those concerns addressed still seem to have a fear of vaccines and want to withhold them."

When parents tell her that they don't want their children vaccinated, what does she say?

"I tell them that it is their responsibility," says Thebner. "If they are thinking about not immunizing their child, that they must do the homework. That there's too much info for them to just base their decision on gestalt, on rumor, on hearsay or on anecdotes."

Thebner shows parents the key scientific studies, which say vaccines are safe, and protect both individuals and society as a whole. But that doesn’t convince some parents. "At that point, I say, 'I don't think that we're philosophically then in alignment in terms of how we would perceive the care of our children,'" says Thebner. "I would encourage them to choose another pediatrician."

The most prominent organization claiming vaccines are unsafe is the National Vaccine Information Center, or the NVIC. Barbara Loe Fisher, who referred 60 Minutes to the parents mentioned in this story, heads the group.

"The mass use of multiple vaccines in early childhood to prevent all infections is the biggest medical experiment that has ever been conducted on the human race. And I think the jury is still out as to whether or not it will be medical science’s greatest achievement, or its most tragic failure," says Fisher.

But hasn't wiping out the killers of children with smallpox and polio been a great benefit to our society – and the world? "Whether or not, because we have done that and saved the world from those two diseases, it is biologically wise to prevent all infection in childhood, is an outstanding scientific question that has yet to be answered," says Fisher.

Her group operates out of modest offices in a strip mall in Vienna, Va., near Washington. But the NVIC’s reach is global. Its widely read Web site questions the safety of virtually every vaccine commonly given to children.

"When I talk to doctors and research scientists, they say there is no scientific evidence to support that there’s a cause-and-effect between the vaccines and the rising numbers of these other problems," says Rather.

"That science has not been done, because those who hold the money in this country for research, government and the pharmaceutical industry, are not allowing those studies to be conducted," says Fisher.

But 60 Minutes found nearly 900 studies, and more than 4,000 articles on vaccine safety in medical and scientific journals just since 1990.

"If they were willing to look at all the studies that were done with vaccines, they would find that they are, I think without question, the safest, best-tested thing we put into our bodies," says Offit. "I think they have a better safety record than vitamins, a better safety record that, than cough-and-cold preparations, a better safety record than antibiotics."

Offit immunizes his own children and he says he's dismayed by the growing number of parents who won't.

"When I see children come in with serious and occasionally fatal illness that is preventable, it just, it really breaks my heart. And I don’t know any other lesser way to say it, other than to say that if more people choose not to get a vax, then what will happen is these diseases will come back," says Offit. "And it’s just a very high price to pay for a knowledge that we should already have in hand."

"Health is not just the absence of infectious disease. Health is also the absence of chronic disease," says Fisher. "And the argument is, could mass-vaccinations be a co-factor in the rise of chronic disease and disability?"

"I think questioning vaccines is perfectly reasonable. But I think that when one looks at the data, and sees that vax are safe and effective and...still...says, 'Well, I think there’s a conspiracy to sell vaccines' or 'I think my doctor’s lying to me,' I think that’s when you cross some sort of critical line," says Offit. "What I’m asking is that people trust their experts. And that’s sort of a hard thing to politically accept."

This is more than an academic debate to mothers like Charlotte Arboleda. When asked what she would tell parents who believe vaccines against childhood diseases are no longer necessary, she said: "If the could have seen my baby in the hospital at six weeks old, I would tell them 'you need to know how that feels. You know, this is preventable. There's no reason for him to have gotten that sick.' They should feel that, and then decide."
While all states still require some vaccinations for school-age children, many now give exemptions to parents who don’t want their children immunized.

The pertussis, or whooping cough, vaccine, in conjunction with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, is given in a series of four shots to infants between the ages of 2 months and 18 months. But the pertussis vaccine tends to lose effectiveness after about 10 years. This means children vaccinated as infants are vulnerable to whooping cough when they reach adolescence. They may retain some residual immunity, and they're much stronger than infants, so cases in teenagers are likely to be much less serious.

The FDA is considering licensing a whooping cough "booster" vaccine for teenagers that would protect them for many years. Pediatricians will have the latest information on this vaccination.

© MMIV, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Politics of Autism: Lawsuits and emotion vs. science and childhood vaccines.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article
Wall Street Journal

The Politics of Autism
Lawsuits and emotion vs. science and childhood vaccines.

Monday, December 29, 2003 12:01 a.m. EST

For any parent, there are few more traumatic diagnoses than that a child suffers from autism. But the increasing political attention to that affliction is having the unintended and dangerous consequence of limiting vaccines for all children.

This is a story of politics and lawyers trumping science and medicine. It concerns thimerosal, a preservative that was used in vaccines for 60 years and has never been credibly linked to any health problems. Nonetheless, a small but vocal group of parents have taken to claiming that thimerosal causes autism, a brain disorder that impairs normal social interaction. The result has been an ugly legal and political spat that has spilled into Congress and is frightening some parents from vaccinating their children against such deadly diseases as tetanus and whooping cough.

Like night follows day, the dispute has also brought in the trial lawyers. Vaccine makers are supposed to be protected from lawsuits by 1986 legislation, but the lawyers are exploiting loopholes to file billion-dollar suits that threaten to punish the few companies that still make vaccines.

Congress tried to fix this by including a liability provision in homeland security legislation a year ago. But three Northeast Republican Senators--Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee--demanded it be taken out until Congress could have a full airing of the thimerosal-autism issue. The Senators haven't yet honored their side of that deal.

Perhaps that's because if they did their position would be exposed as scientifically untenable. The claim is that thimerosal, an organic mercury compound, can cause neurodevelopmental disorders. But study after study has shown that there is simply no such link.

A 2002 University of Rochester study compared the blood mercury levels of infants who'd received vaccines with and without thimerosal. All had levels well below the super-cautious EPA safety standard. This was followed last March by a study published in Pediatrics magazine, in which researchers compared the physical manifestations of autism and mercury poisoning. They found that the symptoms weren't the same, nor were the brain tissues similar.

Perhaps the best evidence comes from Denmark, one of those European nations that likes to monitor most everything about its citizens. Researchers recently examined the health records of all children born in Denmark from 1971 to 2000 for autism diagnoses. Though Denmark eliminated thimerosal from its vaccines in 1992, the researchers found that the incidence of autism continued to increase. A second research team reviewed the records of nearly 500,000 Danes vaccinated for pertussis. They also found that the risk of autism and related disorders didn't differ between those vaccinated with thimerosal and those without.


None of this is to deny that the incidence of autism may be rising, though there is a dispute about why. The definition of the disease has broadened in recent years, encompassing even mild learning disabilities, and doctors have become better at diagnosing it. Some statistics show that as autism diagnoses rise, those for mental retardation fall--suggesting children were previously misdiagnosed. Parents are also more keen to have a proper diagnosis, because many schools now offer more extensive educational services for autism than they do for other disorders.

The good news is that research is beginning to reveal autism's causes and signs, in particular evidence of a genetic link. Studies have found that if one identical twin has autism the other has a very high chance of having severe social impairment. Scientists are already focusing on a handful of genes that may play a role.

In a important study this year, researchers found that a small head circumference at birth, followed by a sudden growth spurt of the head before the end of the first year, is a reliable early warning sign. (Brain growth that early can't be triggered by vaccines.)

Autism is a terrible disease and it's understandable that some parents would want to look for scapegoats. One lobby group, Safe Minds, has been especially active in blaming vaccines and has found a powerful ally in Indiana Republican Dan Burton, who runs the House Wellness and Human Rights Subcommittee. His family has had its own painful experience with autism.

But their understandable passion shouldn't be allowed to trump undeniable evidence and damage childhood immunizations that are essential to public health. Vaccine makers stopped using thimerosal a few years ago, but the autism lawsuits threaten those companies with enough damage that their ability to supply vaccines is in jeopardy.


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has a proposal to offer liability protection against thimerosal claims and modernize the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program--which pays out to the rare family whose child is truly harmed by a vaccine. Congress could both redeem itself and improve public health by making this bill a priority when it reconvenes in January.

Autism and Vaccines: Activists wage a nasty campaign to silence scientists.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article
Wall Street Journal

Autism and Vaccines
Activists wage a nasty campaign to silence scientists.

Monday, February 16, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

Everyone in our business learns to take a punch, but even we've been surprised by the furious response to an editorial we ran a few weeks ago about vaccines. The subject deserves further attention, not least because the goal of our antagonists appears to be to shut down public debate on the matter.

For the past few years, a small coterie of parents has taken to loudly claiming that thimerosal, a preservative used in vaccines for 60 years, is the cause of autism in their children. Their allegations have scared many parents about immunizations, sent trial lawyers scurrying to sue the few remaining vaccine makers, and inspired an ugly political dispute. Lost in the controversy has been a little thing called science.

We felt someone ought to point out that nothing currently exists in the medical world to justify this furor--that thimerosal has never been credibly linked to autism, and that recent studies in leading medical journals have also failed to find a link. That research is one of many reasons the medical community remains solid in its belief that vaccines are safe.


To our surprise, we had wandered into a hornet's nest of moral intimidation. In letters and e-mails we've since been accused of "fraud," a "terrorist act," and of having an "industry profit promoting agenda." We've been told we belong to a vast conspiracy--including researchers, pediatricians, corporations, health officials and politicians--devoted to poisoning their children. A few have harassed our secretaries and threatened an editorial writer.

As writers for an independent newspaper, we aren't about to shut up. But what worries us is that these activists are using the same tactics in an attempt to silence others with crucial roles in public health and scientific research. The campaign to silence or discredit them has already had damaging consequences.

A case in point is the National Alliance for Autism Research. This widely respected outfit was founded by parents of autistic children, and its staff and volunteers have raised millions for research. When the autism claims first surfaced, NAAR dutifully cofunded a Danish study, which found no connection between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism. Within days, the critics were trashing NAAR, claiming it was under the influence of drug companies (untrue) and suggesting its research couldn't be trusted. NAAR had to spend valuable time and resources rebutting those claims so it can remain a source of honest information for worried parents.

Meanwhile, doctors who have spoken about the benefits of vaccination--Paul Offit and Samuel Katz (the co-creator of the measles vaccine)--have been targeted as baby killers and compared to Hitler. The goal appears to be to silence doctors who encourage immunizations.

That would be a disaster. While we don't know what causes autism, we do know that diseases like measles cause blindness and brain damage. Doctors are already struggling to be heard over Internet rumors, and they report that parents are increasingly nervous about vaccines. That's how paranoia started in England and Ireland, where parents were swept up in autism claims and refused to immunize. Ireland, a country with a population 77 times smaller than that of the U.S., reported 2,000 measles cases in 2002. The U.S. had 37.


As it happens, the thimerosal flap has already taken a human toll. Health officials recommended taking thimerosal out of vaccines in 1999 to help calm fears--but this only fueled claims of a government cover-up. Worse, as Dr. Offit reported in a recent issue of Pediatrics, some hospitals misinterpreted thimerosal-related recommendations and suspended some vaccinations for newborns. One institution later reported the death, from acute hepatitis B-induced liver failure, of a three-month-old infant who wasn't immunized.

Aided by trial lawyers, the intimidation has spread to Congress. Vaccine makers receive some liability protection from the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program--which pays out to the rare family whose child is injured by vaccines. But tort lawyers have exploited loopholes to file billion-dollar thimerosal suits that could bankrupt the few remaining vaccine makers.

When Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist tried to modernize VICP--and require autism claims to go through the program like everyone else--the autism police went to work. They camped out in Washington and convinced three Republican Senators to kill any liability protection. The Senators claimed in a recent letter to us that they hope the bill will be reconsidered, but it seems to have disappeared. The lawsuits go on.


None of this, we should stress, is in the interest of families struck with autism. Researchers have spent years studying the vaccine-autism link, and we hope they continue. But if the research disproves a connection--as it has up to now--the autism community needs to listen and move on. Research dollars are limited, and parents of autistic children deserve to see the money spent where it will do the most good.

Autism is a terrible diagnosis, and we hope science soon gives parents the chance at a cure. But the best way to achieve that goal is through open and honest inquiry that shouldn't be stopped because of the clamoring of an intolerant few.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Chiropractors, Therapists Keep Battling 9/8/03 By Mark Friedman, Arkansas Business

Chiropractors declare "It's time to take the gloves off" in an attempt to limit the scope of physical therapy practice.

My name is Michael Teston, and I am a licensed physical therapist practicing in Little Rock, Arkansas. I put this web site together so that other licensed physical therapists would be aware of what is happening to our profession.

(There's more)


For a no-nonsense look at chiroquackery:


Chirotalk(SM): The Skeptical Chiropractic Discussion Forum

Hulda Clark Does Not Have A Cure For Cancer

Home Page

Monday, October 18, 2004

Attention Life alums - cult expert wants your story

Attention Life Alumni-

Nationally recognized cult expert Stephen Hassan has received information showing that Dynamic Essentials and Life University were actually structured as cults designed to indoctrinate students into followers of Sid Williams. Some of the tactics used were:

* Mind numbing chants- “I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific” and the money hum.

* Keeping students so busy that they can’t think.

* A system of rewards and punishments-the outpatient clinic’s pink slip rules and quota system.

* Philosophy classes-encouraging students not to associate with doubting family and friends, demonizing medicine, teaching students an us versus them view of chiropractic and medicine.

* Extensive use of propaganda-circumventing CCE differential diagnosis requirements by censoring the information and telling students that the subjects were superfluous.

For more information on the characteristics of cults, please see this article on the site

Mr. Hassan would like to hear your Life University story. Please visit his website at and fill out a cult witness report form to share your experiences

If he hears enough recounts he may list Life/DE as an official cult group.

Allan Botnick, DC


Chirotalk has a whole section dealing with Life University in Georgia:

Chirobase also has some information about Life University:

Some Notes on Its Assembly and "Money Hum" (updated 8/26/01)
Administrators' Salary Criticized as Exhorbitant (posted 2/17/00)
Life University College of Chiropractic Placed on Probation (posted 6/17/01)
A Brief Query to "Dr. Sid" (posted 12/20/01)
An Open Letter to Life University Students (updated 5/28/03)
Life Life University Loses CCE Accreditation (updated 11/6/02)
Students Sue Life University (posted 10/11/02)
CCE Issues Open Letter about Life University (posted 11/13/02)

Why I Quit Chiropractic

Search of Chirobase for "Sid Williams"
Search of Chirobase for "dynamic essentials" (Sid Williams' seminar)

Search: cult expert "Stephen Hassan" cult

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Discussion regarding homeopathy

From an interesting discussion on the Healthfraud Discussion List. To really follow along, I recommend that readers of this blog join the list, lurk for awhile to get a feel for the written and unwritten rules, and then join the discussions.

The following mail contains some more gems, of the type that are regularly revealed and polished in the discussions. The author, William M. London, Ed.D, MPH, is the former President of the National Council Against Health Fraud, and he is debunking the convoluted reasoning of a particularly obtuse list visitor. I have colored some interesting quotes:

Subject: RE: [healthfraud] Healing and Prayer - Here We Go Again
From: William M. London
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2004 14:47:52 -0700

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Alexus [XXXXXX]
> Sent: Monday, October 11, 2004 9:29 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [healthfraud] Healing and Prayer - Here We Go Again
> At 21:14 11.10.2004, you wrote:
> >Therefore, be it resolved that prospective prayer would necessarily
> > thus have a positive outcome:-)
> >
> >Charles
> I am puzzled.
> Homeopathy is a snake oil cause we can't explain it rationally, (it is
> against logic), and cause there are too many studies proving it
> not better then placebo, (while we can of course dismiss those
> proving it better then placebo, based on logic).

Treatments promoted as homeopathic remedies are the equivalent of
snake oil because available evidence falls far short of what it takes to
support extraordinary, physical-law-defying claims that they have
any greater therapeutic value for any purpose than snake oil.

> But, a prayer is not a quackery, cause we can't explain it rationally
> (it is against logic), but it still works (who cares), and cause this
> study proves it?

Prayer is quackery only when someone promotes it for financial gain
for medicinal purposes.

We do not have any good reason to believe that praying has
therapeutic value beyond the value of the reassurance and hope
it provides to some people who are afraid or are suffering. We do
not have any good reason to believe that anyone's prayers alter
the course of any disease for anyone.

> Has it ever occurred to anyone that people who designed many of
> those homeopathy studies that "proved" it "worse" then placebo,
> that they have failed on the basic level: diagnoses and remedy.

Yes. It is quite clear that the reliability of homeopathic diagnoses and
the process of selecting homeopathic remedies lacks reliability not to
mention validity.

It has also occurred to me that people who reported positive results in
studies that appear to be tightly controlled may have obtained them
due to chance and that the problem of chance findings is likely when
researchers engage in data dredging.

The more silly hypotheses that are tested the more positive results
you will get by chance. I refer you to the non-study of prayer by
Leibovici to which Dr. Wheeler referred.

> The whole art of homeopathy is based on your skill to diagnose
> and to chose the right remedy.

No one has established a reliable way of distinguishing "skilled" from
"unskilled" homeopaths.

> It is like surgery. If you study effectiveness of a cosmetic surgery,
> while observing the worst surgeons, you may find it very
> ineffective, and very dangerous.
> Have you seen Michael Jackson?
> Have you seen

No one has established who the best homeopaths are and showed the
treatments they recommend are any more therapeutically effective
than what anyone else recommends for any condition.

> But, if you study effectiveness of a cosmetic surgery, while
> observing the best surgeons, you may find it very safe and very
> effective.

But it isn't clear that results of homeopathic studies depend on which
homeopaths' recommendations are followed.

> Do we agree?

No. Your analogy is flawed.

> So, you, person who has got the money and the ability to decide,
> you can decide the outcome of your trial, before trial started, by
> selecting god or bad surgeons.

To some extent. But it hasn't been shown that you can even
distinguish reliably between good and bad homeopaths.

> Everybody knows that if you want to get a result with homeopathy,
> you don't go to someone who just got his degree on a 3 weeks
> online homeopathic school, but you go to a person who is respected
> between doctors, person ho has 15 - 30 years of experience and a
> reputation.

It hasn't been shown that experience and reputation of homeopaths
matters. It's not so much what we don't know that hurts us,
it's what we know that ain't so and what we think that
everybody knows that ain't so.

>When an MD can't help a patient in France or Sweden, he sends
> that patient to that homeopath. Why? Cause he knows that
> homeopath can help.

Again, it's not so much what we don't know that hurts us, it's what
we know that ain't so.

And I wonder what basis you could possibly have for such a
generalization about MDs in France or Sweden.

> That is the homeopath who's effectiveness you would like to study?
> Am I right or wrong ?

Wrong. Yet again. But I differ from many list participants
in that I think you provide a valuable service by continuing
to make easily refuted assertions. I hope you will continue
because you help shed light on how bogus various methods
are and the tortured logic people use to sustain their
wishful thinking about methods of implausible value.

> I am wrong, of course, cause if we would study the effectiveness of
> that person, he would make all of us look stupid, cause not only that
> he is more effective then placebo, but he is more effective then
> most MDs (I am talking about chronic and unexplained syndromes
> and illness, not about trauma medicine and gun wounds, let me
> make that clear!).

Do you have any idea how you came to this conclusion? I hope you
will respond. It would surprise me greatly if the process did not
involve leaping (as in jumping to). Your posts have value in this
forum because they reveal the leaps in reasoning that
people take to believe nonsensical claims.

> I really wonder who were the doctors who were "representing"
> homeopathy in those studies ... when they found out that they
> are not better then placebo? One may ask a question: "Were
> those doctors selected based on their experience, or based on
> their Inexperience?"

One may answer the question by actually reviewing the homeopathic
literature. You mean that you haven't done that yet you make
assertions about the research anyway?

> Were those studies determined to prove homeopathy effective, or
> is there a possibility that people who designed study had interest
> in proving it ineffective?

If a study is well designed, then a researcher's motivation should not
matter. That's why many studies often have findings that are
disappointing to researchers. And that's why we must look closely
at what researchers actually did in carrying out studies.

By the way, researchers usually have more to gain when findings
indicate that a treatment works than it doesn't work.

And most serious scientists do not spend time testing silly
hypotheses. The more silly hypotheses tested, the more
positive result that are obtained by chance.

> A lot of questions that nobody wants to ask or answer ...

I am not nobody. And you are wrong again.

> certainly not HH, PL, CM, TP ....

In this case it is ....

Billy London

> Alexus
> -------------------------------------------------------------
> Rules, general info, etc., etc. email
> Having trouble unsubscribing? email
> Want email access to archives, etc? email
> Web access to the archives of the list: <>


My patience with this particular visitor is not as great as
the patience of Dr. London. Here is my earlier response
to her nonsense:

Subject: Re: [healthfraud] Healing and Prayer - Here We Go Again
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2004 06:42:10 +0200

> A lot of questions that nobody wants to ask or answer ... certainly
> not HH, PL, CM, TP ....
> Alexus

Alexus, you are getting tiring and wasting this list's bandwidth and
time. Your total lack of understanding (or unwillingness or inability to
understand.....) of science and medicine is appalling, and your baiting
messages, filled with strawman arguments and unnuanced
either-black-or-white statements, are usually a waste of time to

You are living proof of the old adage, that a fool can ask a thousand
questions that the wisest man (or even god) can never answer.


(I am not noted for my patience or tact........!)

For more information regarding homeopathy, check out my
HomeoLinks and read some of the on-site articles.

Comparison of DC & MD disciplinary categories

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2004; 27(7): 472-7.


Chiropractors disciplined by a state chiropractic board and a comparison with disciplined medical physicians.
Foreman SM, Stahl MJ.

To determine categories of offense, experience, and gender of disciplined doctors of chiropractic (DC) in California and compare them with disciplined medical physicians in California.

Retrospective reviews of publicly available data from the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

The DC disciplinary categories, in descending order, were fraud (44%), sexual boundary issues (22%), other offenses (13%), abuse of alcohol or drugs (10%), negligence or incompetence (6%), poor supervision (2%), and mental impairment (.3%).

The professions differ in the major reasons for disciplinary actions. Two thirds (67%) of the doctors of chiropractic were disciplined for fraud and sexual boundary issues, compared with 59% for negligence and substance misuse for medical physicians. Additional study in each profession may reveal methods to identify causes and possible intervention for those who are at high risk.-->-->


From full text

Table 4.

Incidence rates of disciplinary actions calculated per 1000 doctors per year in each profession

Incidence rate DC MD Difference

Total 4.5 2.27 + 98.23 %

Fraud 1.99 .20 + 895 %
Sexual 1.01 .23 + 339 %
Other offenses .60 .34 + 76.4 %
Alcohol, drugs .478 .56 − 14 %
Negligence .29 .77 − 62 %
Supervision .10 .04 + 150 %
Mental impairment .02 .11 − 81%
Data used from Table 2.

DC, Doctor of chiropractic; MD, medical doctor.


Quite the comparison. Number one is fraud, so there's lots of room for reform.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Chiropractic's "Safe Haven"

From the Healthfraud Discussion List:

Eric Bohlman wrote:
> Do you have good evidence that a significant number of patients
> accept chiropractic assumptions, but reject (or simply don't deal
> with) other "alternative" therapies? If you can show such
> evidence, then I'll come a bit closer to buying your point. I
> certainly think it would be a mistake to assume (in the absence
> of specific evidence) that consumers of chiropractic practice are
> automatically consumers of "alternative medicine" in general.
> Maybe most people who see chiropractors have no truck with
> notions of "qi" or "prana." But this isn't an area that has to rely
> on guesswork; it should be fairly simple to gather some reliable
> data.

Good questions. One thing I have noticed (an uncontrolled-non-double-blinded-observation.....;-) when searching the internet's sCAM sites - practically all of their lists of what they *themselves* consider to be "alternative" therapies include chiropractic, and exclude MDs, PTs, etc.

I consider the sCAM world's own self-perception to be an important factor to take into account. Many chiropractic sites repeat precisely the same phenomenon.

When the public searches for information on sCAM therapies, they get indoctrinated to believe that chiropractic is part of that world, and many chiro sites reinforce that impression. They find this as their natural niche.

In fact, this is being marketed by some chiropractic leaders (of the subluxationist type) as chiropractic's safe haven (*). They see it as the last safe refuge for the preservation of *real* chiropractic, which is subluxation-based, does not treat diseases, and uses only a subluxation diagnosis.

When push comes to shove in the internal fights to either go forward and make chiropractic scientific, or preserve it in its original form, the subluxationists may well begin to openly fight for an adoption and enforcement of DD Palmer's idea - to protect chiropractic by using a legal religious exemption. He claimed that it was his religion, and that using a religious exemption was the way to go:

D.D. Palmer's Religion of Chiropractic
D.D. Palmer letter, May 4, 1911




Santa Barbara,
Cal., May 4, 1911.
P.W. Johnson, D.C.;

Yours of April 26th at hand. It contains an interesting and financial question, one which I think Old Dad hold the key of. Stop right now and read two sections in this enclosed circular, on pages 2 and 8 marked, and see if you cannot grasp the way out, that which I see that we are coming to. I want you to study those two items marked. The same ideas are in my book, altho not put out quite so plain as found in these two sections.

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. She founded theron a religioin, so may I. I am THE ONLY ONE IN CHIROPRACTIC WHO CAN DO SO.

Ye, Old Dad always has something new to give to his followers. I have much new written for another edition, when this one is sold. It is STRANGE TO ME WHY EVERY CHIROPRACTOR DOES NOT WANT A COPY OF MY BOOK.

You write as tho you did not know of my change of location. I lived in this city nine years ago and have always had a hankering for its climate, fruits and flowers. I can edit, publish and place my book on the market as well here as elsewhere. I have not been teaching or practicing since leaving Portland, but have today placed an add in the city paper, of which I am sending you a copy, and will instruct by book or in person as the way opens.

I have been and continue to watch your rights with "The American Octopus". I want you to STUDY the religious move.

California has an organization with Miss Michelson as our attorney.Please drop me a few lines as soon as your trial is over, so that I may know how matters proceed.

You ask, what I think will be the final outcome of our law getting. It will be that we will have to build a boat similar to Christian Science and hoist a religious flag. I have received chiropractic from the other world, similar as did Mrs. Eddy. No other one has lad claim to that, NOT EVEN B.J.

Exemption clauses instead of chiro laws by all means, and LET THAT EXEMPTION BE THE RIGHT TO PRACTICE OUR RELIGION. But we must have a religious head, one who is the founder, as did Christ, Mohamed, Jo. Smith, Mrs. Eddy, Martin Luther and other who have founded religions. I am the fountain head. I am the founder of chiropractic in its science, in its art, in its philosophy and in its religious phase. Now, if chiorpractors desire to claim me as their head, their leader, the way is clear. My writings have been gradually steering in that direction until now it is time to assume that we have the same right to as has Christian Scientists.

Oregon is free to Chiropractors. California gives Chiropractors only one chance, that of practicing our religion.

The protective policy of the U.C.A. is O.K., but that of religion is far better. The latter can only be assumed by having a leader, a head, a person who has received chiropractic as a science, as an art, as a philosophy and as a religion. Do you catch on?

The policy of the U.C.A. is the best that B.J. can be at the head of, BUT THE RELIGIOUS MOVE IS FAR BETTER, but we must incorporate under the man who received the principles of chiropractic from the other world, who wrote the book of all chiropractic books, who today has much new matter, valuable, which is not contained in that book.

If you will watch my book closely as you read, you will find it has a religion contained in it, altho I do not so name it.

If either of the Davenport schools would take advantage of practicing our religion founded by D.D. Palmer, it will make the way of chiropractic as easy as it was for the S.C.'s.

I have given you some special hints on the question which is uppermost in your mind, will you please give it consideration -- never mind if it is new.


(Signed) D.D. Palmer.

Copyright by Joseph C. Keating, Jr., Ph.D

Google search: chiropractic religion

Those chiropractors who hope that reform will save the profession may end up being disappointed.

Many reformists have given up and concluded that it can't be reformed because quackery and pseudoscience are too deeply entrenched to make reform possible.

If reform were to be succesful, there would be nothing uniquely chiropractic left to justify the existence of the profession.

As medical and scientific advances, and the persistent hammering away by chiroskeptics, continue to inflict damage to the reputation of chiropractic by exposing its real nature to the world, the wagon circling tradition will result in the subluxationists choosing to preserve the unique identity of chiropractic by officially making it a religion and using religious liberty laws and religious exemptions to preserve their constitutional right to exist and continue to practice. (Whew! That was a long sentence!)

Who wants to place their bets on the reformists? I don't, since science will never vindicate chiropractic as it is, and what would be left that's valid doesn't justify the existence of a whole profession.

I bet on the subluxationists, since they can always revert to their safe haven (*) and practice DD Palmer's religion of chiropractic.

(*) Here Flesia argues for the subluxationist "wellness" paradigm as the rightful niche for preserving chiropractic:

A "Safe Haven"
by Joseph Flesia, DC

Since insurance companies won't usually pay for this, patients will become "practice members" and become brainwashed in subluxationist innate intelligence thinking. Some chiropractors may take the next logical step and declare it a religion.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Technique, Not Theory or Therapy

Technique, Not Theory or Therapy

Does the existence of a therapy justify its existence? No. It takes more than that. A form of therapy usually involves a combination of an underlying philosophy or theory and one or more special techniques. This combination of theory and technique may be unjustified. In fact, in certain cases it may even be advantageous to separate them.

In theory, it should be possible to separate the theory from the technique, but it is normally impossible to do so in practice. To illustrate, I’ll use a (false) homeopathic idea: The technique “remembers” its contact with the theory. The practice of a technique is contaminated by its history; both its theory and education. Therefore its practitioners are affected. They view things through colored glasses, and will tend to continue to use the technique in the same way, frequency and situations, even after they have renounced the original theory. This applies to DCs just as much as to any other type of alternative practitioner. It being a natural human reaction, it can even tend to happen among science-based personnel. The philosophical basis for a therapy is decisive for how much this tendency dominates.

If it is based on a religious/metaphysical idea, then reality is constantly being interpreted in such a way as to conform it to the theory. The theory can therefore be preserved for thousands of years more or less unchanged. This passage of time is often used as an argument for the truthfulness of the theory, but the passage of time does not make truth error, nor error truth. This accounts for the unchanged nature of such therapies as acupuncture, homeopathy, etc. There is no acceptance of new knowledge that goes contrary to the accepted theory. There is no accountability to an objective standard of evidence or truth. Subjective standards are considered proof enough. Thus an unhealthy state of stability is maintained.

If it is science-based, then the theory may undergo many changes, being forced to do so by the constant confrontation with new knowledge about reality. Thus the theory becomes a more and more accurate way of describing reality. It becomes more trustworthy. Belief gives way to knowledge. This explains the seeming uncertainty in scientific circles. Likewise the constant abandonment of earlier held ideas. This instability is a healthy sign, as it indicates growth, accountability to an objective standard and quality control. (Many practitioners of so-called "alternative medicine" - including some chiropractors - do not understand this and use it as an argument against science and for their unproven methods.)

This illustrates well that which is expressed in the Danish word for science: “videnskab”. This word is a combination of two words, “viden”, meaning “knowledge”, and “skab”, meaning “create”. To a Dane, science means “to create knowledge”, and true knowledge, that can be relied on, is constantly updated. Theories are subjected to criticism and then reevaluated. To “know” is more than to “believe”. Hypotheses get tested, and then get rejected or accepted. If accepted, they are no longer in the realm of belief, but are scientific fact. Now we “know”.

Acupuncture can be used to illustrate. It is not necessary to accept “acupuncture” - as a word, profession or theory - in order to possibly accept the use of needles as a legitimate form of pain treatment, since neither its theories regarding disease nor its acupuncture “points” and “meridians”, have any validity. It is most likely totally different mechanisms that can explain any possible effect in some situations. The value of any possible effect, as compared to standard analgesics, can certainly still be discussed.

Just as with acupuncture, “chiropractic” and “adjustment”, as a profession and as words, do not deserve recognition. That is no hindrance for the acceptance of manipulation where useful. The point of this is, that one technique does not legitimize a whole profession and that a fundamentally false theory, when used as the foundation, nullifies the right to existence of a profession and, preferably, its terminology.

Words are associated with their developmental history and philosophy. Why dignify quackish ideas by adopting the terminology associated with it, especially since these terms imply untruths? The use of the very inaccurate expression “slipped disc” in ordinary speech, instead of the more accurate “herniated disc”, is a good example. Chiropractors have capitalized on this misnomer for years, indoctrinating (brainwashing) their patients into believing that chiropractors could push it back in place again.

Chiropractic patients often believe that when the back is "out of alignment" it is out of joint - the dreaded BOOP (bone out of place). That cannot happen without a fracture or severe joint destruction (and then manipulation/adjustment would be absolutely contraindicated). It is most likely tense and/or cramped muscles that are pulling it “crooked” (temporary scoliosis). If the muscles are treated with warmth, massage and stretching, and often combined with the use of joint mobilization - presto, the back is now “aligned” again. (Not that it ever was out of "alignment.") Thus there is usually little or no need for manipulation/adjustment.

A reform chiropractor has written:

“Crelin showed that one of the bedrock principles of chiropractic - the hypothesis that the vertebral pinching of spinal nerves impairs nerve functioning - is almost certainly invalid. Chiro-practic without this principle is analogous to meridianless acu-puncture.” Craig F. Nelson, DC

Craig Nelson could not have chosen a better analogy. Acupuncture “points”, “meridians”, and “chiropractic subluxations” have this in common: they do not exist as physical, biological entities, but are metaphysical beliefs. Their existence has never been proven. They are fantasies.

Acupuncture without the philosophy is needling. Manipulation without the philosophy isn't adjustment. Chiropractic without subluxations isn't chiropractic. Call it something else. But the word "chiropractic" is too loaded with negative meaning to be useful anymore. Historically, philosophically, scientifically, ethically, and politically, it is a witches' brew of a biotheological cult.

Anne's weblog: Questions about zonetherapy

Anne's weblog: Questions about zonetherapy

Paul said (my comments are preceded by ** )...

Questions about zonetherapy

Zonetherapy is a very popular treatment in Denmark. 26% af the danes have tryed zonetherapy and 19% are satisfied referring to (Danish weblink). The treatment consist of pressure under feet and are based on the theory that you have zones under feet, that can influence every organ and structure in your body. Zonetherapy was introduced in Denmark in the beginning of 1970 by Lis Andersen, á danish PT with interest in alternative treatments.

** Yes, she also stands in supermarkets and uses a pendulum over cans of food, instead of reading the ingredients. Why doesn't she use her common sense? Maybe she isn't mentally grounded anymore......;-)

When you are getting á massage under your feet, something happens with your body, you can feel it. The question is: Can we accept á treatment only because it works or because we can feel something happens to the body? Do we need to know why and how zonetherapy is effective?

** The question is: What do you mean by "works"? Just because one can feel something, doesn't prove that what is claimed is actually what happens. Maybe something else entirely is going on, not at all related to the claim. The claim can be total nonsense, but if people feel something happening, they will often accept this as proof for the claim. One needs to separate the claim from the effect.

Zonetherapy is inspired by easthern religious sources often from taoisme and hinduisme. The question is: Can we accept to keep cause and effects seperated? Can you use the massage under your feet and turn down the cause?

** Absolutely, if by "cause" you mean the "explanation" provided by the therapist.

Alternative treatments and zonetheraphi treats the whole body through á little part of the body.

** I know you don't mean to imply that it actually does so, but to make it clear, you might better write "Alternative treatments and zonetherapy *claim to* treat the whole body...."

They think holistic. The question is whether zonetherapy is á physically or á spiritual way to be treated? Does á little part of the body have spiritually skille to know the rest of the body and the human it´s á part of?

** To the true believer (religious thinking) anything goes. But belief in an idea doesn't make it true.

Often zonetherapy is combined with homoeopathic medicine, meridians, medicine based on flower and other alternatives. The question is: Why? There are many interesting theories about zonetherapy, but we have none conclusive. Is zonetherapy being used like á troyan horse for more "powerfull" and "effective" treatments?

** It is often the first step on a slippery slope towards a belief in more and more nonsensical methods.

** Here is more information:

Zonetherapy = reflexology

Reflexology: A Close Look


Reflexology is based on an absurd theory and has not been demonstrated to influence the course of any illness. Done gently, reflexology is a form of foot massage that may help people relax temporarily. Whether that is worth $35 to $100 per session or is more effective than ordinary (noncommercial) foot massage is a matter of individual choice. Claims that reflexology is effective for diagnosing or treating disease should be ignored. Such claims could lead to delay of necessary medical care or to unnecessary medical testing of people who are worried about reflexology findings.

Summary of problems in chiropractic, by Diane

An excellent summary from
The so simple body - The physical therapy Forum


Guest, the thread was started by a PT who lives in Denmark. His interest is to expose quackery, not to have people stop manipulating. (I personally don't think manipulation is safe for the high neck, but that's my own opinion which is not shared by all.. ).

The point is, manipulation is a tool, and should never have given rise to an entire profession in and of itself. The problem is with the deeply different training of traditional chiropractic:

1. Belief based rather than science based: the chiropractic manipulation system is not about detecting a physical problem, assessing it, and deciding whether to manipulate it or use some other strategy (i.e.: manipulation as one tool out of many..); It's about learning to believe in invisible subluxations, or blocks in nervous system flow, by impingments in the spinal column, and manipulate to remove them.

2. Competition with ordinary medical practice: The belief is instilled that manipulation will cure whatever ails you, there is a strong bias in many schools that regular medicine is evil and that recieving chiropractic treatment is the only way to be healthy. The trend among chiros is to advise against vaccinations etc. Chiropractors are not taught standard differential diagnosis, indeed they don't "believe" in illness. Everything is fine as long as you can be adjusted regularly. They sell 'adjustment' as prevention or insurance against illness. They believe in subluxation, not in "disease".

3. Comptetition with other practitioners of manipulation: In many states in the US chiropractors have successfully lobbied to have manipulation be illegal if used by all other professions, e.g.: physical therapy. In other words, if a PT performs manipulation a chiro can arrange to have their liscence revoked. This is way too much power in the hands of one group that is quack-based to begin with, but legislators in the US have been slow to rectify the problem.

4. Intense self-promotion: Values are instilled into students that are considered to be unethical by other healthcare practitioners. For example, much time is spent in school and in continuing ed. to learn how to build patient volume and a flourishing business. These are tactics generally taught in sales promotion schools, not health professions. Students are taught to memorize scripts that have been carefully worded to prey on patients' dark imaginings, and persuade them to place their entire health future in the hands of the chiro. Patients are encouraged to bring in their friends and families, and kickback systems are in place where the patient (who is called a "practice member" in chiro circles) will recieve special deals, a free treatment every ten treatments or similar sales incentives. Patients are groomed to become lifelong patients, attending for chiropractic "adjustments" for the rest of their lives, to free up their "innate intelligence", prevent the awful "subluxations"(which only a chiro can see) from impairing their health.

5. Opportunity for quackery to flourish: Once launched out into the world with this dubious set of values, no critical thinking skills, poor appreciation for science, and having access to the vulnerability of patients, the chiro mentality is to sell sell sell, anything and everything, whatever they can dream up, with elaborately devised claims of worth and efficacy but no proof. Q-ray bracelets are one such scam. The forum linked to for chiro assistants has a whole section devoted to such scams.

I think there are individual chiropractors out there and maybe the odd school that is better than the norm, who try to employ actual judgement in their patient care, and don't try to take advantage of people. But this situation is where chiropractic comes from. Has nothing to do, really, with whether manipulation is a valid tool or not.


Monday, October 11, 2004

Asthma Quack Cures -- series

Asthma Quack Cures

1st in the Series - Chiropractic and Asthma
Don't be fooled by the "Smoke and Mirrors," it's no match for real science!

2nd in the Series - Homeopathy: The Disappearing Act
Homeopathy is basically the equivalent of Modern Day Snake Oil!

3rd in the Series - Acupuncture: Ancient Quackery
Why has acupuncture retained its ability to generate support from so many?

4th in the Series - Colloidal Silver
Even though the FDA doesn't approve of its use in animals, people can still turn their skin an ugly bluish-grey.

5th in the Series - Royal Jelly
Royal Jelly has been implicated in at least one asthma death.

6th in the Series - Herbal Remedies
The good and bad about herbal remedies, natural isn't automatically "safe and effective."

Summary of the Series - "Alternative Therapy"
An overview and summation of the "Alternative/Complimentary" treatment series of articles.

Chiropractic and Asthma, Revisited
We apparently hit a "nerve" with chiropractors on the treatment of asthma.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Reasoning error: that any idea granted a name is 'real'.

From an interesting discussion on the
Healthfraud Discussion List

The unreal idea being discussed is the chiropractic "subluxation
mentioned in this mail:

These "guidelines" suffer from the usual logical flaw: they are
guidelines for a problem (the subluxation complex) which has
never been shown to exist.



Now to the discussion

Subject: Re: [healthfraud] The Chiropractic
Date: Sun, 10 Oct 2004 01:09:06 +0200

----- Original Message -----
From: "Graeme Kennedy"
To: "healthfraud"
Sent: Saturday, October 09, 2004 11:32 PM
Subject: Re: [healthfraud] The Chiropractic

> At 5:52 PM -0500 9/30/04, Eric Bohlman wrote:
>> "The tendency has always been strong to believe that
>> whatever received a name must be an entity or being,
>> having an independent existence of its own. And if no
>> real entity answering to the name could be found, men
>> did not for that reason suppose than none existed, but
>> imagined that it was something peculiarly abstruse and
>> mysterious." -- John Stuart Mill
> Modern philosophy refers to this reasoning error as
> 'reification': that any idea granted a name is 'real'. This is
> the challenge of ontology.
> - graeme
> __________________________________________
> Graeme Kennedy, BA, PhD
> "It is impossible to reason someone out of something that
> he did not reason himself into in the first place." - Jonathan
> Swift
> __________________________________________

Excellent quotes, which strike right at the core of much sCAM(*)
thinking. Here are a few more:

"Everybody is entitled to his own opinions but not his own facts."
- Daniel Patrick Moynihan


"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. No one is entitled
to their own facts." - James Schlesinger


"The brightest flashes in the world of thought are incomplete
until they have been proven to have their counterparts in the
world of fact." - John Tyndall (1820-1893), physicist


"It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe
anything upon insufficient evidence." - William Kingdon Clifford


"A habit of basing convictions upon evidence, and of giving to
them only that degree of certainty which the evidence warrants,
would, if it became general, cure most of the ills from which this
world is suffering." - Bertrand Russell


"I don't think anyone condemns you or anyone else for
entertaining a notion about a particular cause and effect. What
I and others think is that it's best to concentrate on ideas that
have evidence to back them as opposed to any idea that might
possibly be true. Most wasteful of time and energy is entertaining
ideas that have either weak, circumstantial, or anecdotal evidence
for but have solid evidence *against* them." - Karen Daskawicz


"Entire vocabularies of unintelligible jargon describe kingdoms
of non-existent thought." - Lewis Lapham


"Entire vocabularies of esoteric jargon, based on circular
reasoning and ignorance, have been invented by true believers
to describe their imagined version of reality." - Paul Lee


Commenting on Hulda Clark:

"The author's belief that she has perhaps transcended our current
admittedly basic understanding of humankind's maladies is
unconvincing when the writings show lack of evidence of current
understanding. The best science fiction should stretch, or even
step beyond, current understanding of science." - Dale Rasmussen


"It's not the things we don't know that get us into trouble; it's
the things we do know that ain't so." - Will Rogers


"The plural of anecdote is not data." - Roger Brinner


"It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly
one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit
facts." - Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), "A Scandal In


"Searching for something with preconceived notions would be
better served by first addressing the origin of those notions."
- Charles Morrow


A good definition for alternative medicine:

"A pyramid of speculation built on a mustard seed of fact."


Here is an interesting example of an exchange on the
Healthfraud Discussion List from Jan. 2000:

Deborah said:

". . . Everyone perspective is just as important as another."

And Greg responded:

"Rarely do I see post-modern relativism expressed so precisely . . ."

To which Lauren responded:

"Thank you, Greg. Deborah, this is probably going to offend you,
but that is BS. . . ."

And Ted commented:

"It is incredible to watch everybody argue with someone who
hasn't the slightest clue as to logic, or science. AND, who does
not believe in facts. To her, as to most of the alts, all truth is

To which Paul replied:

"The idea that there are no absolute truths that apply to all people,
or that truth is completely relative ("my idea of truth is just as
valid as yours", "...the truth for me..."), or even worse, that truth
is irrelevant or non-existent, leads to indifference and chaos.

"Deborah seems to represent an exceptional personality type.
(For her own sake, I hope I'm wrong!) I don't usually like the
idea of going after the person instead of the issue, but it is
precisely her attitude that has become the focus of the discussion,
for good reason. Discussing real issues with her, regarding scientific
facts, etc. is wasted time.

"Her attitude is characteristic of many disciples of quackery.
This personality type is hard to reach. Just like trying to get a
smoker with emphysema to quit. It's usually impossible.
Stubborn, hard-headedness sets in.

"Normally the "antibiotic" of knowledge cures the "disease" of
ignorance. If one is afflicted with an "autoimmune" defect, the
knowledge may make things worse. If one is immune to cognitive
dissonance, knowledge is irrelevant. In fact, it's like pouring
gasoline on a bonfire: the quack can spout more facts and seem
more knowledgeable, thus being able to deceive others better
and increasing the amount of self-deception. The following quote
applies to many more than just anti-vaxers."

To quote Peter:

"It goes beyond an immunity to cognitive dissonance. It
incorporates aspects of Orwellian doublethink. CD assumes
that you experience some stress at the conflict between beliefs
and actions, but anti-vaxers seem to be able to hold a number
of conflicting (and often mutually-exclusive) beliefs and be able
to reconcile all of them with action without any compromise.
There is none of the qualification of beliefs that you find in a
true resolution of cognitive dissonance."

And Dick chimed in:

"Paul has brought up a good point but let's leave Deborah
out entirely and discuss it in generalities.

"I have to agree that much of the alt-med issues arise from a
specific personality type. . . One of the key characteristics of
schizotypals is a tremendous affinity for magical thinking and
an attraction for bizarre ideas. Since I am not a mental health
professional let's call these people "magical thinkers" and move
it out of the realm of psychiatry.

"I think most of us have a deep seated desire to form logical
constructs to support our cherished beliefs. When logic fails,
we will for the most part reluctantly part with the beliefs.
Magical thinkers on the other hand cling tenaciously to their
preconceived ideas. They have spent a lifetime concocting
pseudo-logical constructs to support these ideas. To them
these ideas are as clear as night and day the logic is only
constructed to support what is already a truth carved in stone.
Most folks will get embarrassed when their logic fails, magical
thinkers just roll out another load and slap it up to see what

"It may be significant to note that these folks are born not made.
I think most of us know a few magical thinkers. Think back, and
if you are like me, you may have a hard time recalling one of them
ever saying, "Gee, you're right, I never thought of it that way." "

Then I got this "insightful" message off-list from Deborah, which
just confirmed the point of the whole discussion:

"Hi Silly Man, I consider you are brain dead and waste of my
time. you live a dangerous fantasy."

And Richard wrote:

"I immediately dropped my plan to write an article exposing
the foolish idea that is Homeopathy. What is the point? The
world seems to be full of Deborahs."

Later he also wrote:

"I have an article before me from the Houston Chronicle,
Wed, Jan 19, 2000, that I think corresponds with what you
are talking about. It's titled "Clueless wonders, Many
incompetent people fail to recognize own inadequacy". . .

"The title does point out one of the more exasperating features
of these folks and that is the failure to recognize inadequacy.
We have a pot full of health professionals here on the list and
most are cautious about making pronouncements outside their
field of expertise. It's totally amazing that someone with no
training and education can read 5 issues of Prevention and
become a medical expert."


These quotes are from the
Treasure Chest of Quotes & Jokes

(*) sCAM


Other links on this subject:

Chiropractic's Elusive Subluxation

Chiropractic: A Scientific Test of Chiropractic Theory

Manipulation "to correct a subluxation"

Chiropractic: Why It Is Controversial
"Palmer did not employ the term subluxation in its medical sense, but with a metaphysical, pantheistic meaning. He believed that the subluxations interfered with the body's expression, of the "Universal Intelligence" (God), which Palmer dubbed the "Innate Intelligence." (soul, spirit, or spark of life). [9] Palmer's notion of having discovered a way to manipulate metaphysical life force is sometimes referred to as his "biotheology."" -- William T. Jarvis, Ph.D.

D.D. Palmer's Religion of Chiropractic
D.D. Palmer letter, May 4, 1911
"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. She founded theron a religioin, so may I. I am THE ONLY ONE IN CHIROPRACTIC WHO CAN DO SO." -- D.D. Palmer