Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

You’re wrong!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 30, 2009

  • If you think homeopathy has been shown to work, you’re wrong
  • If you think acupuncture has been shown to work, you’re wrong
  • If you think there are valid logical reasons for believing in God, you’re wrong
  • If you think Feng Shui works, you’re wrong
  • If you think vaccines cause autism, you’re wrong
  • If you think alternative medicine works, you’re wrong
  • If you think the Bible and Quran are the word of God, you’re wrong
  • If you think Intelligent Design is a valid alternative to Evolution, you’re wrong
  • If you think psychics are anything but self deluded, you’re wrong
  • If you think there is life after death, you’re wrong
  • If you think Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and other cryptozoological creatures exist, you’re wrong
  • If you think God talks to you, you’re mentally sick and you’re wrong
  • If you think exotic fruit juices will reverse the aging process, you’re wrong
  • If you think alien craft has visited the Earth and has been witnessed by thousand of people, you’re wrong
  • If you think Andrew Wakefield is a hero, you’re a moron and you’re wrong
  • If you think anecdotal evidence is good enough to establish truth, you’re wrong
  • If you think apostasy deserves death or scorn, you’re a stupid bigot and you’re wrong
  • If you think religious apparitions are anything but fakes and hallucinations, you’re wrong
  • If you think aromatherapy has curative powers, you’re wrong
  • If you think astrology works, you’re wrong
  • If you think atheism leads to immorality, you’re wrong
  • If you think there is enough convincing evidence about the existence of Atlantis, you’re wrong
  • If you think black magic and voodoo work, you’re wrong
  • If you think you can increase your penis size by 3 inches by taking a pill, you’re wrong
  • If you think Evolution by another name is Darwinism, you’re an idiot and you’re wrong
  • If you think chiropractice works as advertised, you’re wrong
  • If you think the Chubacabra exists, you’re wrong
  • If you think a perpetual motion machine, that produces more energy that it takes in has been invented, you’re wrong
  • If you think Global Warming is not real, you’re wrong
  • If you think everything is a conspiracy, you’re wrong
  • If you think transubstantiation is real, you’re wrong
  • If you think crystal and magnets have been shown to have healing properties, you’re wrong
  • If you think water has magical healing powers, you’re wrong
  • If you think demonic possession is real, you’re an idiot and you’re wrong
  • If you think the detox fad cures work, you’re wrong
  • If you think prayers can heal, you’re wrong
  • If you think human coexisted with the dinosaurs, you’re wrong
  • If you think the fossil record is fake, you’re wrong
  • If you think Jesus walked on water, you’re wrong
  • If you think dowsing works, you’re wrong
  • If you think the world will end in 2012, see you on 01/01/2013; you’re wrong.
  • If you think energy healing is real, you’re deluded and you’re wrong
  • If you think the Eucharist is anything but a piece of pastry, you’re wrong
  • If you think memory is reliable, you’re wrong
  • If you think the Earth is flat, you don’t belong to the human species and you’re also wrong
  • If you think there is more evidence in favor of your God‘s existence, than for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you’re wrong
  • If you think freedom of speech must be limited so as not to offend religions, you’re wrong
  • If you think ghosts exist and have been witnessed by countless witnesses, you’re wrong
  • If you think there is such thing as a holistic healer, you’re wrong
  • If you think the immune system can be “boosted”, you’re wrong
  • If you think you’re infallible, you’re wrong
  • If you think you’re so smart that you don’t need to study logical fallacies and the rules of logic, you’re wrong
  • If you think there is such thing as luck, you’re wrong
  • If you think magic is real and not trickery, you’re wrong
  • If you think people can bend metal with the power of their mind, you’re gullible and you’re wrong
  • If you think magnetic water treatment works, you’re double wrong
  • If you think your God is real and the other person’s God is myth, you’re a hypocrite and you’re wrong
  • If you think Near Death Experiences are anything but an artifact of the brain, you’re wrong
  • If you believe in the New Age crap nonsensery, you’re wrong
  • If you think natural automatically means healthy and better, you’re naive and you’re wrong
  • If you think that Mary in the water stain is anything but pareidolia, you’re wrong
  • If you think the placebo effect is myth, you’re wrong
  • If you think poltergeists are real, you’re wrong
  • If you think psychokinesis is real, you’re wrong
  • If you think there is a thing called Qi and that it can be manipulated to our advantage, you’re childishly wrong
  • If you think there is such thing as quantum healing, you’re wrong
  • If you think Satan is responsible for the evil in the world, think again while looking in the mirror, you’re wrong
  • If you think separation of church and state is bad, you’re wrong
  • If you think  tarot cards can tell your future, you’re miserably wrong
  • If you think urine therapy works, you’re wrong
  • If you think witches exist, you’r wrong
  • If  I thought that it is impossible for me to have made an incorrect statement in the above list, I’d be wrong

That about wraps it up. Let me know in the comments if I left something out.

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Beware the Spinal Trap

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 30, 2009

Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all, but the research suggests chiropractic therapy has mixed results – and can even be lethal, says Simon Singh.

Simon Singh


On 29th July a number of magazines and websites are going to be publishing Simon Singh’s Guardian article on chiropractic from April 2008, with the part the BCA sued him for removed.

They are reprinting it, following the lead of Wilson da Silva at COSMOS magazine, because they think the public should have access to the evidence and the arguments in it that were lost when the Guardian withdrew the article after the British Chiropractic Association sued for libel.

We want as many people as possible around the world to print it or put it live on the internet at the same time to make an interesting story and prove that threatening libel or bringing a libel case against a science writer won’t necessarily shut down the debate.


You might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that “99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae”. In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.

In fact, Palmer’s first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by correcting a displaced vertebra.

You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact some still possess quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything, including helping treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying – even though there is not a jot of evidence.

I can confidently label these assertions as utter nonsense because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.

But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.

In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.

More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force. Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.

Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.

Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: “Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck.”

This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Edzard Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher.

If spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.

About the Author

Simon Singh is a science writer in London and the co-author, with Edzard Ernst, of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial. This is an edited version of an article published in The Guardian for which Singh is being personally sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association.


Hear D.J. Grothe’s interview with Singh on Point of Inquiry.