Thursday, August 13, 2009

Skeptics Circle #117: The Chiropractic Edition

Welcome to the 117th iteration of the venerable Skeptics Circle! As all of you no doubt know, one of the hottest topics in skepticism in the last while has been Simon Singh's legal woes resulting from an entirely reasonable article of his that the British Chiropractic Association, absurdly, thought libelous. In the wake of the mass reposting of the said article and Simon's recent decision to soldier on, I figured making this edition chiropractic themed would be appropriate.

I also want to use the hosting soapbox to flog an idea: the single best way to push back against such scandalously censorious behavior is to harness the power of the Streisand Effect and make sure Simon's article is as widely disseminated as possible. The mass reposting was certainly a good first step, but ensuring skeptical and scientific information appears high in search rankings for "chiropractic" and "chiropractor" would have an even greater, and lasting, impact. So I propose we Google Bomb those BCA bastards. Here's what to do: take the words "chiropractor" and "chiropractic" and link them to: (which should look like: chiropractor and chiropractic). For extra credit you can also link those words to Chirobase and the relevant Skepdic entry and "British Chiropractic Association" to a critical Science-Based Medicine entry. If you really want to go the extra mile, link "English libel law" to:, so English libel law... (Note: I previously suggested we link to an archived version of the original article but apparently that could create legal complications for Singh, so the edited version on Sense About Science is arguably the most appropriate).

Anyway, on to the skeptical goodness.

First up, appositely, is two recent Science-Based Medicine posts on (what else?) chiropractic. The first, by Harriet Hall, demolishes the claim that chiropractic can cure deafness. The second, a guest post by retired chiropractor Sam Homola, examines the treatment philosophy of the 'National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association'.

Adventures in Nonsense seems to be taking on British chiropractors. He has a good post on the General Chiropractic Council's dubious dealings with the Trading Standards body.

Next in line is young Aussie skeptic Richard Hughes, who explains why the British libel laws are freaking horrendous. I completely agree. (By the way, if you have access, this Nature editorial is a must read).

These are older posts, but I thought they are more than worthy of another plug: first, The Quackometer documents how the BCA targets children. Disgusting. And second, the incomparable Ben Goldacre with the unmissable "We are more possible than you can powerfully imagine".

Staying on children, Eric of Skeptics Canada has a great report on an undercover investigation of paediatric chiropractic. It turns out that five (count 'em) separate chiropractors diagnosed 'serious' problems with a little girl's spine who was actually in perfectly good health.

That's about it with the subluxation idiots, so how about something similarly depressing? Americans might think they have a problem reaching out to the public about evolution, but as Reason Check documents and Prometheus Unbound explains, South Africa is a creationist paradise. (At least we've finally got evolution by natural selection into the school curriculum...).

The Skeptical Teacher (how I wish I had one of those in school!) excoriates Willaim Dembski for his anti-science campaign and details how the Texas Board of Education is pushing religious ideology in social studies classes. Sigh.

Skeptics, as far as I know at least, don't generally buy into the claims of the organic food movement. And, as Angela Butterworth of The Skeptic Detective explains, that's good thing: a recent systematic review found that there is no evidence that organic food is more nutritious. Bullshit, it turns out, is organic too... (Full disclosure: Angela is my girlfriend.).

Astrology is an unsinkable rubber ducky. But that's no reason to stop blasting it and Skeptico does just that. To no one's surprise, astrology still fails...

Dr. Karen Stollznow, paranormal investigator and Naked Skeptic, has two posts in this edition: "The Haunted (Pseudo) History of Bonaventure Cemetery" and the entertaining "No Sex Please, We’re Ghost Hunters!".

As Tim Farley has explained, skeptics really ought to pay attention to Wikipedia. So it's good to hear via Martin Rundvist of Aardvarchaeology that Wikipedia has started to crack down on cult propagandists.

I've long enjoyed Romeo Vitelli's posts on historical figures, and he again does a magnificent job on Providentia with the Nikola Testla conspiracy...

jdc325 at Stuff and Nonsense (who is NOT, I am assured, a robot) has an interesting post about a widely-noted phenomenon: how damn angry people get about health issues.

Finally, a couple of podcast entries: Monster Talk is a new podcast about, you guessed it, cryptozoology. There are two episodes up so far: on Bigfoot DNA and an interview with the author of The Anatomy of the Beast (also about bigfoot).

Bing McGhandi (aka Lance Goodthrust) of Happy Jihad's House of Pancakes has been podcasting of late and submitted two of his episodes: #11 (on how Jews, unsurprisingly, really don't control the whole world) and #12 (on, among other things, racist shitbags and diagnosing cats).

That's it! Remember: Google Bomb when you link! The next edition of the Circle arrives on August 27th at The Evolving Mind...


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