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BCA libels Simon Singh!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 15, 2009

In a stunning turn of events the British Chiropractic Association’s press release which I wrote about a while ago, has defamatory language in which they accuse Simon of  having “maliciously attacked” the BCA, thus putting themselves in a worse position than Simon was for using the word “bogus”. The BCA is now in hot water and as Jack of Kent points out Simon can now sue them for libel! Amazing, let’s see what Simon does about this! He’s been handed a great hand by his enemies!  They have replaced the original Press Release with a modified one, but the original one lives in teh intertubes; they can’t hide it.

I told you they’re losers didnt I.

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Britich Chiropractic Associaton a.k.a sore losers

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 15, 2009

The British Chiropractic Association, BCA does not like the latest judge ruling giving Simon Singh the right to actually defend himself. The HORROR! So today they sent out a pathetic press release.They whine that the judge didn’t get to hear all sides of the story. No shit Sherlock! You were given an opportunity to lay out your side on the Guardian Newspaper and instead chose to try and intimidate Simon by suing him. Now pay the consequences!

They whine that Simon wants science writers to be able to write what they want free of consequences. Wrong losers! He wants to be able to tell the TRUTH and engage in open scientific debate,  without fearing a long, expensive, punitive libel law suit such as the one you choose to engage on. Now pay the consequences!

They whine that Simon Singh did not retract his article and apologize when given the chance! Why should he o’ troubled ones? He made a claim that is factually correct. You cannot, and you have not even when you pathetically tried, to prove scientifically that your claims are true. Instead you chose to sue, trying to sweep this mess under the rug. And Simon Singh was not intimidated, he took the fight to you and now you feel the rug being swept up from underneath your feet. Now pay the consequences!
The BCA would do well to be aware of the Streisand Effect or else they run the risk of learning first hand of the Dion Effect (sobbing uncontrollably and wishing you’d taken a different course of action!)

Back ‘cures’, a brave scientist and an epic court battle: How Britain’s libel laws are threatening free speech

Posted in News by Skepdude on July 2, 2009

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE MAIL ONLINE

With his round, John Lennon-style specs and nerdish good looks, physicist Simon Singh is an unlikely hero.

As one of the country’s most acclaimed science writers, he has spent much of his 45 years cloistered in his Home Counties study penning Number One bestsellers on mathematical conundrums, code-breaking and the Big Bang theory.

Turning his hand to alternative medicine, last year he published a book called Trick Or Treatment? that included a chapter on the history of chiropractic therapy (the manipulation of the spine to realign the back), which was invented by grocer and spiritual healer Daniel David Palmer in 1890s America.

Inspired by the ‘miraculous’ recovery of a deaf man whom he treated by manipulating or ‘racking’ his back, Palmer said that 95 per cent of all diseases are caused by trapped vertebrae.

SIMON SINGHTargeted: Dr Simon Singh has criticised chiropractors

Suddenly, the therapy (which takes its name from the Greek word for hand) became a near-religion, with Palmer boasting he was a successor to Christ and Mohammed. He even practised vigorous ‘racking’ on his own children, which led to him beingrrested and jailed for cruelty.

Palmer’s ideas caught on and, in 1925, the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) was set up and several clinics opened specialising in the treatment. Chiropractors were able, it seemed, to cure a myriad of ailments and began to broaden their therapies.

Recently, the association has said that even children suffering from colic, eating problems, ear infections and asthma can be helped.

However, many in the traditional medical profession view the therapy with deep suspicion. Though the General Medical Council and the Royal College of General Practitioners advocate its use  –  especially for back pain  –  some scientists say there is no evidence that chiropractic spinal manipulation is better than other forms of back massage.

This has led to widespread debate in the medical world, with some doctors refusing to refer patients to chiropractors, claiming the treatment does not work and can even cause harm.

In his book, Dr Singh questioned whether chiropractors could really achieve the results they claim. Later, in a column in the Guardian newspaper, he went further, saying the therapies for children were ‘bogus’.

Chiropractor with patientSome scientists say there is no evidence that chiropractic spinal manipulation is better than other forms of back massage

Unsurprisingly, he came under an avalanche of criticism and the BCA demanded an apology and a retraction. When it received neither from Dr Singh, it decided to sue him personally for libel.

Dr Singh’s battle serves as a frightening example of what happens when a ruthless body tries to crush anyone who questions its power or expertise.

The ensuing row has also shone a light on English libel law, raising the question of whether it acts as a barrier to critical comment and public debate.

On Singh’s side are some of the country’s most illustrious and influential luminaries of science, the legal profession and showbusiness.

They include former Government chief scientist Sir David King, the geneticist Steve Jones, biologist Richard Dawkins, leading QC Baroness Kennedy, the actors Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais, and comedian Harry Hill (a former doctor).

Pitted against them is the BCA, which won the preliminary round with a judgment last month in the Royal Courts of Justice by Mr Justice Eady, the country’s most senior libel judge, who is responsible for a series of controversial rulings.

Justice Eady’s critics accuse him of creating, almost single-handedly, a privacy law in Britain as a result of his interpretations of the 1998 Human Rights Act, in which he invariably seems to give more weight to privacy than to freedom of expression.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE MAIL ONLINE

A “plethora” of evidence for chiropractice

Posted in Journey Through a Burning Mind by Skepdude on June 23, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “JOURNEY THROUGH A BURNING MIND”

h yes. The British Chiropractic Association has finally released the “plethora” of evidence that support their non-bogus treatments, and that put Simon Singh in his place. Indeed, BCA has produced an immense list of… 29 references*.

This vast amount of conclusive trials prove the efficacy of chiropractice for the conditions mentioned in Simon’s article beyond any doubt. One can understand why it took the BCA more than a year (after they chose to file a lawsuit instead of resolving a scientific and public health debate using -gasp!- science) to present their evidence: it was purely a matter of logistics! Someone (oh the hero) had to dig out and collect this abysmal number of references. I can imagine the endless hours spent in trying to order and arrange the list -presumably in order of importance (?)

Which makes the very first reference the most important piece of evidence that chiropractice is effective and safe. The Ace of Spades for the BCA; the mother of all evidences; the Optimus Prime of research pieces that completely thrashes Simon Singh’s unfounded claim. This masterpiece is none other than the General Chiropractic Council’s… code of practice!

[/sarcasm]

Not much to discuss here really. This is a truly pathetic evidence base, as Prof. Colquhoun notes, that if anything, totally proves Simon’s point: there is no solid evidence to back up a practise that claims to treat potentially serious conditions… in babies! If you cannot realize the seriousness of this issues I suggest you have your head checked by a homeopath and your spine manipulated by a chiropractor…

The Lay Scientist has a great post up, destroying the BCA’s “plethora” of evidence and providing a plethora of references to other bloggers that were quick to dissect BCA’s document. It’s funny though to go through BCA’s list through the eyes of the Lay Scientist, to try and understand what they think constitutes good evidence in the arena of public health. So let’s do that, shall we?

We start with 29 references:

Of the 29 references, 1 is just the GCC’s code of practice; 6 is an irrelevent paper about medical ethics; 8, 9, 10 and 17 are about osteopathy; 26 is a description of evidence-based medicine; 27, 28 and 29 are about NSAIDs. That’s 10 down straight away, but what’s interesting about these is that 6 of them are just attacks on conventional medicine. In other words, this is not a particularly comprehensive or focused review of the literature.

We are down to 19 already.

A further three papers, (12, 13 and 14) cover the safety of chiropractic, which has come under considerable criticism. Curiously, this brief selection ignores the numerous studies showing an increased risk from chiropractic. 14 isn’t a study at all, 12 is considerably less bullish than the BCA suggest it is pointing to a significant number of side-effects “with a possible neurologic involvement”, and 13 provided stronger support (”We found no evidence of excess risk of VBA stroke associated chiropractic care compared to primary care.”), but should be taken in the context of the wider range of studies finding the opposite.

Down to 16 possibly relevant.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “JOURNEY THROUGH A BURNING MIND”

Chirocopalypse: British chiropractors running scared

Posted in Confessions of a Quackbuster by Skepdude on June 18, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “CONFESSIONS OF A QUACKBUSTER”

The bad publicity for chiropractic, caused by the libel suit filed by the British Chiropractic Association against Simon Singh, is causing the profession to panic. The case is beginning to become a Pyrrhic victory and an example of the Streisand effect for the profession, with the charity Sense About Science nipping at their heels with a very successful campaign in defense of Singh, with over 10,000 signers and loads of publicity. Several scientific skeptics have already targetted over 500 chiropractors and filed formal complaints against them.

The situation is like a group of rabbits being spotted by a hunting dog. They have hoped to remain unseen by the hunter (the public), but they have made the mistake of making fun of the dog, and now the hunt is on. They and their dubious practices are now very, very visible and publicized by the entire British press and numerous websites!

The British Chiropractic Association, McTimoney Chiropractic Association, and the United Chiropractic Association have all sent letters to their members. They are running scared and are doing what they can to keep their members from getting prosecuted. The McTimoney Chiropractic Association has even blanked its own website and asked its members to delete their websites, thus hiding possibly incriminating evidence. Fortunately some resourceful bloggers had already made copies of ALL their websites, so the evidence is now available when necessary.

The British Chiropractic Association letter

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “CONFESSIONS OF A QUACKBUSTER”