It is only just beginning

June 21, 2010

Welcome to the skeptic pit,

My name is Stefaan Vossen. I am a chiropractor. I have been practising in Warwickshire since 2003.

I have had the good fortune to be born into a family rich in clinical experience of all brands of healthcare and  have made it a part-time mission to go head-to-head with people in and outside the chiropractic profession to stand for what I believe and practice. I don’t really know why and sometimes I think that I should only really care about my wife, four children and my patients (I am rubbish at golf). But something inside me thinks and feels that there is much of value in what I believe the chiropractic of the future stands for and I am not prepared to let a few people take it away for no good reason.

And that is quite an important point. It is just what I believe and practice. There is nothing in me that feels like I have the authority let alone the right to tell anyone they are wrong in their beliefs, but I do get irked when someone professes their belief to be fact without substantiation, whether skeptic or believer.

I have had the pleasure of twitter (don’t bother following me, I am only there to sneak a peek at what others are saying) and blogging. This where Richard and I met. Having now been booted off skepticat’s blog for challenging her beliefs and denouncing as short-sighted the view that something is nonsense just because there is no evidence available to substantiate its existence, I am now finding “safe haven” on chiropractor live. The other thing is that I am quite happy here as it is more likely to be read by all so-called skeptics and chiropractors than posting on individual blogs,… it does get a little tedious after a while.

To the chiropractors out there I would like to start by saying: don’t be afraid of the bogey-man. Do take on board those aspects of what hey are saying which have value and denounce the rest for what it is: lack of knowledge and prejudice. but at the same time study and treat your skeptic with respect, they will teach you much when you take the time to engage and as such deserve your appreciation, even if it was not their intention.

Above all this is about fun and introspection. As a profession I believe we still have some way to go and we need to start with looking inwards, evaluating what we are doing for what it is and stating it outwardly for what we have concluded it to be. This doesn’t need to be boring, scary or even challenging, it just requires an open mind, a little logic and a lot of compassion. Let’s have some fun!

After inviting me onto this blog, I proposed to Richard that I should make a few posts on the “top 5 or top 10″ skeptic fallacies. Over the next few weeks I will post one or two at a time, peppered with my own experiences in skeptic land and my own clinical experiences (e.g. one skeptic quoted me in regards to the process of consent that a chiropractor had said “if I tell them I could kill them they would all walk out”, well… I tell them all and they understand that I cannot know or predict everything, appreciate the warning and make a decision whether it’s worth it to them… none have walked out. In the valley of shadows and all that….).

Finally I just want to reiterate a few things:

-what I believe is what I believe. I am happy to be challenged in my beliefs and experiences

-scientific evidence is great and it supersedes belief

-scientific evidence only supersedes a belief to which it it relates directly

-scientific thinking is borne from belief and intuition

In closing, I am writing this for my colleagues, past present and future. To let them know that there are people out there who are not scared of bullying and big words. Many of you have already e-mailed me in consequence to previous postings. Wonderfully eloquent and supportive words which have strengthened my resolve that there might indeed be use for a gobby shit like me and I wish to express my sincere hope that you will join ranks to revisit and expand on the wonderful practice, philosophy and art of chiropractic.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

Charles Darwin

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  • Richard Lanigan

    Victoria, It has been surrender. There have been many opportunities to take on the establishment and there were people who were prepared to put their heads above the parapet. When I got thrown off the GCC council the UCA arranged a meeting after a conference so chiropractors could hear about what went on. 15 came. BCA members called a Special General Meeting and were fobbed off with Tony Metcalfe’s bullshit.
    There are enough BCA members who dont agree with their leadership but wont/ cant devote the time and effort needed to change it. The BCA have an office and staff devoted to maintaining the status quo. To change that needs time, effort and a leader, otherwise you are stuck with Richard Brown and his mates at Wicklow street.

  • victoria


    you talk about the “defensive silence juxtaposed to the abject surrender from the rest of the profession” but actually i think it’s more like not wanting to stick your head above the parapet for fear of how many shots will be fired at you….

  • Stefaan Vossen

    Hi Alan, thanks for engaging, I hope you enjoy the blog as much as I enjoy writing it!
    Many kind regards,

    Arrogance, pedantry, and dogmatism; the occupational diseases of those who spend their lives directing the intellects of the young.
    Henry S. Canby

  • Richard Lanigan

    Its funny reading the skeptic blogs there as dogmatic and righteous as the most evangelical preacher. They campaigned for Simon Singhs right to have his say and sneer and are unwilling to listen any sort of explanation as to why an adjustment might help colic, or asthma. I wrote an article on Colic and asked the sceptics to pull it apart. Not one comment.

    Their understanding of clinical “evidence” is extremely limited , yet the GCC and BCA decided to play their game and got pasted and will continue to do so. The choice for chiropractors is now clearer than ever as to the type of chiropractic profession the want. Whether to be a branch of manual medicine or remain separate and distinct from medicine.

    Seriously who cares what a few skeptics think and why is the GCC paying so much attention to them. There are millions of people in the world who have benefited from chiropractic care who cant be arsed debating with rightous skeptics. If someone feels better because I smiled at them I would be delighted, because I enjoy helping people and dont need an RCT to confirm or deny what I do every day in practise.

  • Alan


    Congratulations for getting banned from Skepticat (I read you posts with interest)It’s rich that the sceptics can throw around insults, abstracts and meta-analysis but can’t stand constructive (if not pedantic) criticism, well proven construct and (dare I say it) ‘proof’.

    The vitriol really struck a nerve with me to begin with and even made me question my future in the profession but voices like yourself and Richard have made me realise that we’re better than that. The defensive silence juxtaposed to the abject surrender from the rest of the profession irks me enough to get involved.

    The sceptics sit and argue whilst never reading a single text book of any merit beyond outcome based trials, bandy about the Bronfort report (a word search on pubmed and medline from what I can gather) as if it were the new testament, and dictate what everyone in the profession is thinking. The christ-like figure of Zeno has disappeared so far up his own arse that even the more erudite are left scratching their heads wondering how he gets by day to day using archaic language and subterfuge to display his talents for splitting hairs.

    Let’s bring the argument back to ground zero that can involve us all for god’s sake and give us the words and wisdom to move on as a profession, a united one at that.

    I look forward to your future posts, and please, fight a good fight.


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