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Beware The Spinal Trap

This is the article by Simon Singh, as it appeared on the Guardian, for which he is being sued by the BCA

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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

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.

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.

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Mind-boggle alert

Exams for an Evangelical Christian curriculum in which pupils have been taught that the LOCH NESS monster disproves evolution and RACIAL SEGREGATION is beneficial have been ruled equivalent to international A- levels by a UK government agency.

Emphasis mine: What-the-FUCK!?

Continues here

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Eye of the gecko

Eye Of The Gecko in the Dark

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WordPress has a neat feature that graphs the hits on your site, the google terms that bring up links, and other stuff (cool platform, all in all). And here’s something interesting: my poems, my intellectual-ish posts and my pictures get some traffic yes, but it took a while for them to build up 3-5 hits.

Yesterday , I posted a bizarre Christian website that advocates very unorthodox sexual behavior (for Christians, mind you) like anal sex and fisting. It has 19 hits so far. It seems that holy fucking is the hot topic.

Look at this chart:
unorthodox

And then this one, from one of my more serious posts:
read stats

Gives a whole new meaning to Jesus fuckin’ Christ, doesn’t it?

ETA: This one has 26 hits in just one day. Sheesh, I might as well start a porn site.

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😀
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Click for the good stuff.

I shall quote his introductory post in part in order to give a (very) general idea of the blog:

Very seriously, my first and main aim at all times with this blog is to encourage others to do it, to blog on the Hub, and to do it better than me. I’m constantly looking for ways to improve the presentation and usability; I’ve already heavily modified how blogs are presented in what is the new default skin (style) of the Hub, Sosumi_3, and I’m always thinking what I could do better, and looking for more new features to build in for our Hub members.

I stress that this blog is also meant to reach out to everyone else too; which is one reason why it is on the Hub and not on the Hangout. Hopefully, it will help spark mutually productive conversations between atheists and theists and everyone else inbetween. And of course, even better would be this blog if it encourages others, whether atheist or religious, to blog on the Hub too!

Then I also do have a tendency to every now and then at rare intervals actually post about myself or better still and more likely my garden at length and with pictures, and that kind of subject matter is better suited to a blog than to a normal thread on the board, which is what I did before when talking on such matters.

Now, then, the topics the blog covers more topics than this snips let on, there’s loads of interesting material which is, I think, his way of encouraging blogging; there’s bound to be something that interests someone else enough to blog about it. So, have a look-see and blog on the Hub or on your own blog, or just hang around and read.

One more thing, The Heathen Hub, the forum in which the blog is located, is also an interesting place to peruse, so I’ll link it

By the way, yes this is somewhat shameless promotion, since I and others are trying to get more traffic to the forums. I won’t lie to you, but do check it out, there’s great reading material (we are trying to revive it for a reason, you know).

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Edited to add: There are links to his blog and the Hub to the right and down.

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/b/ explains the Bible