Skeptic or cynic? That is a question!

July 12, 2010

(not quite the question, but a question nonetheless)

You cannot practise in the UK as a chiropractor unless you are recognised by the GCC as being a chiropractor – irrespective of whether your qualifications or practise methodology are those that would generally be recognised elsewhere, by other chiropractors, and by most people in the UK, as those of a chiropractor. Moves by the BCA, the largest professional association for chiropractors in the UK, to seek prescription rights for chiropractors, has also led to much debate about whether this is a wise move, at all necessary and, indeed, whether it is even appropriate for chiropractic or should in fact (if realised) be termed something different like ‘medipractic’.  Who is and who is not a chiropractor, and based on what, is a matter, then, of some debate.

Who is and who is not a doctor is also a matter of some debate. In spite of the fact that doctorate-level qualifications are earned by practitioners and academics in a wide variety of fields, both within and without healthcare, a number of threads have been posted on ‘’sceptic’ blogs’’ proclaiming that chiropractors should not be allowed to call themselves ‘Doctors of chiropractic’.  Their main contention seems to be that by calling themselves Doctors of chiropractic, Doctors of chiropractic might mislead the ‘naive and unsuspecting public’ into thinking that they are General Practitioners. Quite why they would want to do that is beyond me, but this prospect is clearly a real and present fear for ‘sceptics’.

These shenanigans about chiropractic nomenclature got me wondering.

Should some self-proclaimed ‘sceptics’ really be allowed to call themselves ‘sceptics’ when, it appears to me from their attitudes and comments, they are not really sceptics (as sceptics were originally defined and as scepticism is properly practiced)? If so, then in calling themselves ‘sceptics’ on public forums might they be misleading the ‘naive and unsuspecting public’ who may believe that the views propounded are the views of true sceptics? And might those members of the public place greater value and trust in the views of those ‘sceptics’ as a result?

Classically, scepticism is a term derived from the teachings and traits of the ‘Skeptikoi’, a school of philosophers of whom it was said that they ‘asserted nothing but only opined.’ Its most famous adherent, Carneades claimed that “Nothing can be known, not even this”. Much of what I have seen posted by ‘sceptics’ does not seem in keeping with this philosophy or belief – that no knowledge is indisputable or absolute. In fact many seem quite confident that they are right and / or that others are wrong.

A broader definition of scepticism is the philosophical position that ‘one should suspend judgment in investigations’. Hmm, not much in evidence in some cases.

Perhaps the ‘sceptics’ in question do not subscribe to the same ancient definitions and practices of scepticism? (Hmm, interesting then that they assume all chiropractors subscribe to the same ancient definitions and practices of chiropractic…)

Perhaps the ‘sceptics’ in question consider themselves more ‘scientific’ or ‘empirical’ sceptics?

However, a scientific (or empirical) sceptic is one who questions the reliability of certain kinds of claims by subjecting them to a systematic investigation…again, not much evidence of that on some of the sceptic blogs. More of a cherry picking of evidence that suits their case and a refusal to engage with anything that doesn’t in some cases.

There is, however, quite a lot of evidence of ‘sceptics’ demanding of chiropractic (or whatever other profession they have in their sights at the time) a far higher level of systematic proof than they often seem to demand of many aspects or treatment modalities of ‘modern medicine’. And yet many do not seem to have any interest in supporting the development of a properly designed systematic investigation of chiropractic (as opposed to a limited investigation of ‘manipulation’ which is what we have thus far).

In conclusion, it seems to me that many of these ‘sceptics’ could be better described as false sceptics or pseudosceptics. False scepticism centres not on an impartial search for the truth, but on the defence or support of a preconceived ideological position. Many sceptic blogs seem to originate from the preconceived position that ‘chiropractors are quacks’ or ‘chiropractic doesn’t work’ or that ‘medicine’ is the only healthcare field worthy of the name…and proceed pretty much from that basis. Sometimes the start point of the ‘scepticism’ is an unfortunate personal bad experience with chiropractic, which is extended to a universal. Sometimes the opinions posted seem to be second or third hand, and highly selective (as a ‘Professor’ Ernst is deemed infallible, as a ‘science writer’ Singh’s view is incontrovertible, but as a ‘Doctor of chiropractic’ one is supposedly uniquely biased and deluded.)

In this respect I would say that many ‘sceptics’ engaged in the debates about chiropractic bear more resemblance to another ancient school of thought, namely cynicism:


  1. a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts ordisinterested points of view.
  2. a person who shows or expresses a bitterly or sneeringly cynical attitude.

Of course, not all ‘sceptics’ are the same and there are some that are genuinely and conscientiously helping to challenge and further debate. After all, to say ‘all sceptics are the same’ would be like saying ‘all chiropractors are the same’ wouldn’t it. And that would be ridiculous.

Kind regards,

Stefaan Vossen, Doctor of Chiropractic

48 Responses to Skeptic or cynic? That is a question!

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  4. fed up on December 13, 2010 at 3:31 pm

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  5. Eugene Pearce on December 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    @ colin,

    blue wode doesnt have to look very hard for slick traditional marketing with little or no basis, sadly it seems that many of our profession accept statements as fact, without wanting more evidence as to how something might work;

    From the cringewrthy link you posted for example, “A reduction OR partial LOSS of this vital brain-to-body connection diminishes the flow of life-giving messages…this state of LESS life energy in the body is called subluxation”.

    This is totally untestable, maybe right, maybe wrong, certainly shouldnt be the basis for the first line of treatment, if an effective alternative is available, but as a last resort, perhaps.

    Palmer demonstrated increased facet adhesions in rats where external fixators are placed on the spine, reasonable biomedical evidence as to how manipulation might work for lacal pain and stiffness. There are other studies that suggest neurological basis based of Pain Gate theory, but I am not sure if many in our profession understand these are just biologically plasible theories.

    The next quote from the link, “The results of an incomplete connection to your life energy are: incomplete adaptation, disharmony, imbalance, DIS-ease, and altered cellular function”.

    Except for the fact we have never shown that restricted facet motion casues incomplete connection to your “life energy”. Terms like that make me want to crack open the josticks and do some meditating

    And the next, “Every single Symptom, Sickness, Syndrome, Disorder, Dysfunction, and Disease known to man results from Altered Cellular Function, LOSS of Coordination & Organization, and a Decreased Ability to fully Adapt to Stress”.

    True I suppose, but its a gigantic leap to seriously suggest spinal manipulation all that.

    And another one “Because of the intimate relationship between the SPINE and NERVE SYSTEM, the spine must maintain proper alignment and balance for the nerves to maintain proper tone and function. A Specific Scientific Chiropractic Adjustment can improve spinal function AND restore your brain-to-body neurological CONNECTION”.
    Oh no!!! every scoliosis patient is sick and needs lifetime care. What if the have some DJD too? We shouldnt even try to defend this stuff as a profession by suggesting its evidence based.

    As for what a Chiropractor believes, its irrelivent, we should be providing the patients with the most effective treatment for the given condition. Belief doesnt come into it.

    One final point for Colin Jenkins, all medicine carris a placebo effect. Good Dr’s harness that effect. Bad ones dont. Placebo belongs in medicine, but not in research, only an idiot would not choose to use all the tools open to them to get their patients better.

  6. Colin Jenkins on December 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Ben Golacre’s radio 4 series on placebo is fascinating. Effective when when patient is told. You guys are perfectly set up to offer an overt ritual placebo manual therapy in parallel to chiropractic…

    Need RealPlayer to listen.

  7. Stefaan Vossen on December 8, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Either that or start another profession that has clearly defined boundaries and restrictions and may happen to contain a few statements which seem strangely similar to chiropractic philosophy but is fundamentally different in that it makes no allowances for supernaturalist/vitalist reasoning… It may also, merely by coincidence of course, attract a fair few chiropractors who never subscribed to that vein of thinking anyway and feel more at home under this new banner. It may also protect from prescription debates and propose clear researchable hypotheses….
    You know I never thought about, but now you mention it….

  8. Colin Jenkins on December 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Create merry hell.

    If you all truly believe a scientific bio-chem plausibility a la Gaterman et al then start taking supernaturalists/vitalists to task for their publicised iron age philosophy.

  9. Stefaan Vossen on December 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Engage in what sense Colin?

  10. Colin Jenkins on December 8, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    “There is as far as I am aware not enough agreement within the chiropractic profession, as Richard intimated, for there to be a mechanism to protect the rest of the profession from people making such confusing self-representational statements.”


  11. Stefaan Vossen on December 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    @Colin Jenkins
    in my opinion you are right, the chiropractor who wrote the 7 axioms has a religious agenda, but at no point did I think otherwise. The point I was trying to make is that religious/vitalistic language embody the same awe and amazement as sound scientific awe and amazement. The choice of language merely reflects a lack of knowing any different. But note I am trying to avoid terms like “any better” or anything else that implies inferiority/superiority. I have no problem with people using vitalistic/religious/new-age language to express their own views, but that’s all it would be: their opinion, not a representation of the profession. There is as far as I am aware not enough agreement within the chiropractic profession, as Richard intimated, for there to be a mechanism to protect the rest of the profession from people making such confusing self-representational statements. In fact I am making one now…
    kind regards,

  12. Colin Jenkins on December 8, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Interesting article… Neurophysiological model is better.

    Anyway, I will shut up and go away for a while. I amuse myself WRT traditional chiropractic and I suspect I amuse/frustrate some of my fellow skeptics too. When it comes to homeopathy (as opposed to most homeopaths) I find it easy to criticise unemotionally. With my sister being a trad chiro (you know her Stefaan I think) and a nephew in WIC I find I have… bias. Which doesn’t stop me getting outraged at times and tweeting links to these conversations stating my outrage and making silly videos. Cognitive dissonance – just a bit… :)

  13. Colin Jenkins on December 8, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    (cross post)

  14. Colin Jenkins on December 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    How about “Neurological” model.

  15. Richard Lanigan on December 8, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Colin,
    This is why a small UK profession has four associations representing the views of its members. Its a problem for the chiropractic profession and the reason the profession did not defend itself very well.

    Simon Sings Guardian article was about traditional chiropractors who would make up the membership of the UCA some of the points Simon raised, BCA people have been accusing the McTimoney and UCA people for years. When Simons article was directed at the BCA, the McTs cut and run and the traditional chiropractors like myself were amused by his comments.

    Traditional chiropractors would never try and defend themselves with the “plethora of evidence”. On the other hand I would not be well versed in “New Age” language or the language of the skeptic community (some of it I recognise as latin). I do what I do and there is a biological explanation for the results I get.

    One of the brightest guys in the chiropractic profession is Martin Young he is editor of Clinical Chiropractic and this is his latest editorial

    Its difficult to disagree with what he is saying here, because traditional chiropractors have put up such a feeble defence of their paradigm during all this controversy, which has really saddened me as a traditional chiropractor.

    Meridel Gaterman made the same Humpty Dumpty point as Martin in her book Foundations of Chiropractic Subluxation back in 1995 which was launched during the centennial celebrations.

    Unfortunately it has been ignored and my fear is evangelism will become the last refuge for traditional chiropractors in the UK.

  16. Colin Jenkins on December 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm


    “Vision: To create a vitalistic Chiropractic model…”

    Person looks up vitalistic:-


    “A doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from biochemical reactions. A doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining.”

    Person thinks, ‘ah – more woo’. Is that what you wan’t people to think? And if not why use the word, it just invites criticism.

    If you don’t mean that by vitalism, would it not make sense to define it or use something else…?

  17. Colin Jenkins on December 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    (I do know how to spell your name – fingers don’t)

  18. Colin Jenkins on December 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Hi Steffan,

    I agree re: bogged down but I figured Richard deserved a response to his invitation to comment on the quote he posted since I ask so many questions. My area on expertise in ‘AI’ was 3D vision BTW.

    OK, let’s assume for the moment that he was simply packaging for context and in fact has no meta scientific beliefs outside of the mainstream in relation to traditional chiropractic. This horrifies me. If there is a mechanical explanation for TC without tricking people into thinking it’s supernaturalistic/vitalistic then that’s what an educator should write. If your assertion is correct (and I don’t think it is) he’s simply lying and dumbing down to get $$. Why doesn’t this horrify you all? I don’t get it. At the very least what it’s going to do is create even more confusion about the nature of TC at a time when you are all working to get a unified statement out via the Alliance.

    However, look at his reply. It’s clear he really believes in a vitalism outside of “western science” and as I understand it this is common in the US. So if all you guys treat vitalism mechanically why use it in the statement about the alliance, as a strategy it fails because again, it’s just going to cause confusion and make everybody think you believe in some mystical energy outside of science.

    This is what confuses me the most. The insistence of retaining these phrases, which obviously cause confusion, when in fact you ‘all’ seems to be well rooted in a mechanistic explanation and at a time when you are trying to get a coherent message out.

    Imagine for a moment that a garage mechanic found that by lying to his customers and saying that the air he was pumping into tyres was Gods breath he had more customers… there is no difference, if you are correct and he is only being metaphorical…

  19. Stefaan Vossen on December 8, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I fundamentally agree that the choice word “intelligence” should be reserved for human creational thought. That said I then place myself in the bracket of people who deem the human animal to be the only intelligent creature (I had that word as it implies “creationism”). I consider dolphins to be sea-faring mammals with onanistic tendencies who behave in apparently intelligent ways in certain of their reported behaviours. But no more so than Lassie saving little Jimmy from the burning log-cabin. No-one seems to mention that he’s saving little Jimmy because little Jimmy feeds him… I would argue that a lot of what is called human intelligence is no more complex than Lassie’s but because it is human it gets automatically classified as intelligent. I am a big fan of Steven Pinker’s work (although I feel he could have done better in his earlier work) and Duchenne’s analysis of intelligence. I love AI research and I have a never-ending love and appreciation for Charles Darwin. My thesis was about the evolution of emotion and have a deep sense of its predictability and that ultimately intelligence does not really exist other than in a philosophical-theological context. The point is just that we are getting bogged down in semantics and that what some people chose to call “intelligent design” is none other than a word-based materialisation of a lack of understanding of the world and its history combined to a need for sense of order and place in hierarchy (which, as you will know from your past interests, is something humans have evolved to be rewarded for with high endorphinoid levels, which in my opinion accounts for religious extacy). But, and this is the crux of the matter, religious beliefs are then effectively nothing more than a Dawkinsian “meme”. A by-product of limited education in the facts of the world and an inability to detach our intellect from the genetic predisposition towards placement within hierachies. So in effect a solid undertone to atheism is the implication that those who hold this religious “meme” are dumb and easily led. That’s not a very nice thing to say and will have plenty exceptions of course and in consequence largely accounts for the way that “believers” deem atheistic notions to be insulting and condescending. The joke is that the primary reason for this emotion is that what a lot of atheists end up doing is implying their own ranking in the intellectual hierarchy by denouncing religious notions as moronic or dumb. So in fact breaking part two of their central tenet: there is no order, the appearance of order just is what it is; an observed appearance without meaning, which reflects the observer’s predilection rather than the reality. But now we’re getting “matrix-style”.
    Ultimately I do no care whether someone calls it “intelligent” for tissues to reorganise after trauma, I just care that they treat it with the awe and respect it deserves, it was after all Darwin who said: “I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.— Let each man hope & believe what he can.”
    For me the “design of laws” was a by-product of the relationships created from the big-bang(s), what created the big bang(s) is well beyond me, irrelevant to me, and source of much unsatisfiable wonderment. A wonderment which I find both titillating, fascinating and slightly perturbing – the roots of the human condition I would say…
    Finally, let’s look beyond the semantics and look at the emotion and the implied meaning rather than their literal meaning, let alone their literal implications and see that there is much to be said for awe and wonderment when it comes to all matters alive and interacting. Let’s look beyond whether BJ or DD called Innate Intelligence and Universal Intelligence and look at what they were actually trying to express, rather than what we take it to mean in our current cultural context. let’s look beyond what this chap writes and chooses to call “intelligent” and relate it to his cultural context. Let’s be constructive and look at content rather than packaging.

  20. Colin Jenkins on December 8, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I asked the Genesis guy what he meant by 1. Long answer, see link above.

    The global public projection of chiropractic is so confusing…

  21. Garland Glenn on December 8, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Colin, maybe the two of you don’t believe in the same God.

  22. Colin Jenkins on December 7, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Actually, I disagree with the end of the quote too – I can’t think of a context in which I would personally deem it acceptable to describe homeostasis as God’s work.

  23. Colin Jenkins on December 7, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    waste away the work = waste away the word

  24. Colin Jenkins on December 7, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    @Richard, on the 7 “axioims” – OK, thanks…

    @Richard and @Stefaan. As an ex AI researcher who decided the field (at that time – I’ve not kept up – I know nothing about it these days) was an excuse for grown-ups to play with cool toys, I prefer to keep intelligence for something meaningful, something emergent (as in sum-greater-than-whole) – something related to consciousness – and not just mega complexity – or apparent intelligence, but I’m not sure I could define it if I’m honest. For example I would not deem a chess program that operated on a standard minimax evaluation function approach intelligent even if it could operate on future supercomputers that meant it always beat the best human players. Thus I would not in any way at all consider life to have emerged intelligently. Thus just because a result (via a black box) can be identical to an intelligent process – e.g. a dumb process working fast(chess) or a dumb process working with massive complexity (evolution) I do not attribute intelligence to the latter two. It seems to waste away the work into something so generic it’s meaningless. Anyway, go on hit me with it, who thinks it OK to call complexity intelligence… it rings bells, was it me lol… I take your point about Genesis Chiropractic and his context, although to be honest it appals me that that “axioms” are represented like that in a health field. But isn’t the first (trad) chiropractic principle “universal intelligence” (man) – and international in context, nullifying your argument?

  25. Garland Glenn on December 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Re: self healing every chiropractor should read
    The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life by Robert Becker, MD
    This is really brilliant book by the orthopedic surgeon who first argued for self healing. He shows that the larger the frontal cortex the less self healing / regeneration there is but there is all the same.

  26. Stefaan Vossen on December 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    just a well-meaning conundrum: is human intelligence anything more than the ghost in the machine at work? The product of an amalgamation of processes relayed and linked to one another in a way that had proven successful in the history of the humanoid species? Or is there such a thing as detached intellect and free will?
    ps the point of this exercise is that if not, then all we call intelligent is actually reflexmatic to some degree and as such the ability to heal would fall under the same criteria and “intelligent” would not be an innappropriate term.

  27. Richard Lanigan on December 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Colin,
    I dont have a problem with it either. I dont talk like that myself and the chiropractor is talking about “vitalism” while I tend to be more mechanically minded. I would say he is being very philosophical and raising interesting question that need to be discussed in relation to health and wellbeing. However if I was giving a talk to a group of medical doctors I would not explain it like that and I doubt if he would.

    Perhaps you should tell us what you or Blue Wode disagree with in the posting.

    “Innate Intelligence” often comes up in these types of discussions. However I dont have a problem with someone saying a cell demonstrates a primitive for of “intelligence” when molecules cross a cell membrane by the sodium potassium pump.
    Others use the term homeostasis others say its Gods will, personally I would not use the latter, however God makes sense to the majority of the earths people and if it works for them fine.

  28. fed up on December 7, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    We all know the body is very good at looking after itself. It will always “heal” itself given half the chance. No chiro will ever say they can “heal” you. What, I think, most will say is that if for some reason,ie mechanical restrictions, the body/joint/soft tissue is unable to recover as it normally would, maybe because it is being put under constant stress which causes continued irritation, chiros can help to remove the irratant or return the area to normal function. Thus allowing the body to “heal” itself.
    Thats my take on innate.
    Darwin all the way.

  29. Colin Jenkins on December 7, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    OK thanks, I was just wondering if you guys agreed with it. It’s hard getting a handle on what modern traditional chiropractors actually believe…

  30. Garland Glenn on December 7, 2010 at 3:24 pm


    I think what needs to be factored in here is that his web site is designed for potential patients to see. He lives a very “evangelical” place and so most of the people he’s treating are likely to be strong protestant christians. Yes the type you see stereotyped in the movies. They will like the idea that their doctor has a world view which sees that they were intelligently designed. He certainly didn’t expect a skeptic as we know them to see this and I doubt that he’s ever come in contact with a skeptic. I’ve mentioned in other places, the whole skeptic thing which is simmering in the UK doesn’t even exsist in his part of the US. We’re talking about rural Arkansas here.

  31. Stefaan Vossen on December 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    I think it is a choice of words which would still allow any person to super-impose their religious feelings on the principles or allow addition of “in the evolutionary sense-of course” without loosing credibility and reflect their Darwinian views. I think it serves in relatively neutral fashion (and let’s not forget neutral in the USA is primarily creationist) to reflect and emphasise the importance of recognising process. Process that in my view reflects none other than trial and error of life-forms at different moments in time.
    I think it is intended more in the cunning literary sense rather than conscious thought overtly attributed to a deity, which is what I would read it as.

  32. Colin Jenkins on December 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Hi Garland,

    OK, thanks, but why “intelligently”?

  33. Garland Glenn on December 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I have no problem with “1″ IF you are open to allowing “designed”to be an equivalent to evolved or created. The cavet here is that it is only possible to see the world through your own theology (or lack of theology which is a theology) what ever that maybe. A truely neutral and totaly unbiased perspective does not exsist.

    1. LIFE is intelligently designed and able to heal, adapt, and function in Balance, Harmony, and Ease.

    Yes, I’m OK whith that.

    As for his other points while I don’t “see” things the way he evidently does, I understand what he is trying to say.

  34. Colin Jenkins on December 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    @blue_wode tweeted an interesting link today:-

    Do the traditional chiropractors here agree with his points.

    1. for example is simply wrong.

    What does “clear neurological connection” mean in 3.

  35. le saucisson chocolat on July 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    they might be wanting to be told what disease it is they are suffering from and then receive treatment that might simply address their symptoms instead of adjusting the cause….?

  36. Garland Glenn on July 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I mulled this over a bit more and thought if a person made the mistake of walking into a chiropractor’s office, the problem with that would be …….? what….? I don’t see that that could be a problem.

  37. Garland Glenn on July 14, 2010 at 3:31 am

    One thing that needs to be factored into this is the degree the practitioner has. In the US, which is where I went to school, a chiropractor earns a doctorate degree. I realize this is not the case in the UK. The degree designation is a result of the accreditation process of the institution the student attends. In the UK GPs do not have doctorate degrees either and therefore their designation is a courtesy or an explanation of what they do. Chiros also don’t have doctorate degrees. We attain a bachelors first and then a postgraduate degree. I’m a doctor because I have a doctorate degree as is a PhD. Medical doctors are doctors because they have MD degrees. Dentists are doctors because they have doctorate degreesand so forth.

    Secondarily…with the National Health situation, is it really possible that a person could go to someone expecting a GP and not get one? I don’t think so. I don’t think a person could accidentally end up in a chiros office thinking he were seeing a GP that isn’t on the NHS.

    When I practiced in England, I called myself a doctor because that’s what I am. The ASA challanged me on this and I sent them a copy of my degree. They didn’t like and I refused to back down on this. I’m a doctor whether I practice or not.

    Much of this is a cultural variation.

  38. CDC on July 13, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    In my office I examine patients, I educate them and I adjust them. This is acctually both in a chronological order and in a order of importance, as I see it. Doctor means teacher.

  39. Richard Lanigan on July 13, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    LMFAO@ The only chiropractors who think like that are medipractors and they are trying to get prescribing and make chiropractic a branch of medicine. They are mostly academics and have not been particularly successful in practice. GPs will get patients whether they are good or bad just ask Dr Shipman et al.

    Most people who go to chiropractors have tried medicine and purely from a marketing perspective why would I try to pass myself off as a branch of medicine when the vast majority of my clients are dissatisfied with it and then expect the client to pay for the privilege of another medical opinion and a few pills. I dont use the Dr title because I want to make clear chiropractic is a separate and distinct from medicine and I am an expert in spinal health care and far more knowledgeable that a GP in this area. .

    I would compare my knowledge and experience with any medically trained person. Many chiropractors use the Dr title because they want to make the statement that their education is comparable to that of a medical doctor, I dont think that is necessary however as Dr is a courtesy title its up to the individual to decide.

    If a chiropractor were to mislead a patient into thinking they were medical, they would get done under trading standards this has never happened. These Dr complainants are people suffering from tall poppy syndrome not patients.

  40. LFMAO on July 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    “Their main contention seems to be that by calling themselves Doctors of chiropractic, Doctors of chiropractic might mislead the ‘naive and unsuspecting public’ into thinking that they are General Practitioners.”

    Where do you get that idea from? Who has suggested a chiro could be mistaken for a GP? I believe the contention is that calling yourself Dr VOssen, you are misleading people into thinking you a doctor of medicine and that chiropractic is an established branch of medicine. Nothing to do with GPs.

    “Should some self-proclaimed ‘sceptics’ really be allowed to call themselves ‘sceptics’ when, it appears to me from their attitudes and comments, they are not really sceptics (as sceptics were originally defined and as scepticism is properly practiced)?”

    Allowed to? Sceptics don’t use the title ‘sceptic’ in order to mislead people into buying a service. I’m not saying that chiros do, but that is at the heart of the objection to your use of the title ‘Dr’.

    “If so, then in calling themselves ‘sceptics’ on public forums might they be misleading the ‘naive and unsuspecting public’ who may believe that the views propounded are the views of true sceptics? And might those members of the public place greater value and trust in the views of those ‘sceptics’ as a result?”

    This is such a silly comment that I’m afraid I gave up reading at this point. Honestly, Stefaan, surely you have better things to do that write this gibberish?

  41. dazed on July 13, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    yeah, I was on the black list, Richard and remember it well. Baaaad person that I am, I rather enjoyed the cut and thrust of the old forum – debating with Dr Who and mr Chiro clinic et al.

  42. Richard Lanigan on July 13, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I just remembered a story worth telling about this perceived fear factor of Margaret Coats and the GCC. Back in 2005 I set up the forum which became chiropractic live. The GCC and the chiropractic status quo had great difficulty dealing with the fact the could no longer control the flow of information. I guaranteed everybody anonymity not realising every posting could be traced and identified, were a court order granted I would have to reveal the IP of the poster.

    A few months in we had reported a vote of confidence in the then GCC chairman Michael Copeland Grifiths, after Coats had failed to divert attention away from it, she had the GCC council send in the lawyers seeking to have me remove 70 of my postings and identify 21 of the posters on the site. I think Dazed and Fed up were on the list. I was on the register at this time and refused maintained everything I had said was true and not defamatory of Margaret Coats or Greg Price.

    The GCC got their court order, which cost in the region of £60,000. Most of the offensive postings had been made from internet cafes and libraries and in the end we only identified two people “Bones” and “Cognito” the GCC deputy registrar Greg Price who had made derogatory comments about my penis and body odour which I found amusing rather than defamatory.

    Finding out Cognitios postings were made from GCC head offices and could have been posted by anyone allowed me the fun to speculate that they could have been done by Margaret Coats herself because the GCC refused to confirm who “Cognitio” was. Margaret Coats poodle Peter Dixon wrote lots of letters trying to defend her honour, this was a fun time on the internet making all these suggestions about Coats involvement and possible interest in my penis, while I could see from the IPs she was logged on to the forums 24/7.

    Which brings me to Bones a registered chiropractor. At first he was terrified, he had made some reference to the GCC using slight of hand in their accounting (which was broadly true however it was another six months before we had the evidence to prove it). So having set out to identify all the posters on the site Margaret Coats was only left with one “Bones” and an ex deputy registrar.

    Bones lived in the west country and Coats told him she wanted a meeting with just the two of them alone in her office in London. Images of a rack in her office, or Margaret dressed as Miss Whiplash cat and nine tails in hand played havoc with Bones sleep, in fact Bones had gone beyond scared and as he felt he had nothing more to loose, dug his heels in and insisted his lawyer John Williams was present at any meeting. The Coats myth was finally destroyed in his mind.

    They had their meeting and what could she do in front of a witness? Nothing. What bones had said was broadly true and sitting there I think he came to realise that not knowing what to expect was far worse than the actual meeting. If Bones does still visit the blog, he may tell you if Margaret Coats finding out who he was made the slightest bit of difference to his life.

    I saw Coats a few weeks ago at Graham Heales funeral and you easily forget she is well into her 60s and looks old. She has managed to create this fearsome aura running the GCC since its inception. As I witnessed on the GCC she is also quit capable of turning on the tears when she does not get what she wants. I would describe her as manipulative rather than fearsome.There are people like her in all walks of life and if you let them they walk all over you.

  43. le saucisson chocolat on July 13, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Stefaan – couldn’t agree more – not really too sure what fears some chiros have with families or not – and if I had something constructive to add for the sake of the profession I would hope that I would have no problem nailing my identity to the flag pole and shouting loudly

    my feeling is that if the BCA want to continue to be representative or even exist then there needs to be a transparent sea change in the big seat(s)

  44. Stefaan Vossen on July 13, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Le Chiropracteur Poil de Carotte?
    Thanks for the thumbs up Chocolate Sausage (that somehow sounds very wrong in English). I have no issue with people blogging anonymously, personally (unless they are rallying for the cause in which case I would like to know whom I lend my support to) and maybe naively I never really understood the need… What will happen if people find out about my views? They are my views, as Richard stated; we are not in China or East-Germany and people who have issues with me holding a view different to theirs are called fascists. I have a stronger argument to put someone down for putting me down for holding my views than they have for putting me down for holding my views in the first place (it sounded like it made sense in my head) and that is one of the main principles of the civilised world: toleration. Violation of my right for tolerance is violation of my human rights. No-one has to agree with me and as long as I don’t force others to agree with me (in which case I am violating their rights of choice) I have every right to express my views. One of my favourite stories in relation to this is that of Noam Chomsky’s support of the rights to free speech of Faurisson, a Holocaust denier whom he categorically disagreed with and didn’t even rate as an academic but felt he should be able to express his views, however much he disagreed. Or that of Voltaire writing to abbot le Riche: “I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.”
    This example and these principles are something which should be borne in mind by both some so-called skeptics and some people within our own profession. If that is too ambitious then I’d arther be brandished naive and idealistic than cynical and defeatist. I do understand fear that some may have, but feel that often the fear exists where uncertainty exists towards the foundations of the argument. If people wish to negotiate their argument then blogs are a wonderful (albeit tricky at times) for feedback and views on arguments. I would encourage anyone to air their views and go through the process of refining them, as no-one was born with perfect views perfectly formed.

  45. le saucisson chocolat on July 12, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    the so-called ‘sKeptic movement’ is an example of establishmentarianism at best
    thanks Richard and Stefaan for all your efforts

    CDC – as far as I understand, those in support of prescribing rights are hoping that patients will then side step the middle-man (the troublesome GP who tends to recommend the physio) and commit their BUPA coffers to the friendly chiropractor who is the convenient one-stop shop

    with regard to anonymity – i remember that ‘le canard noir’ (Andy Lewis) suggests that anyone who comments anonymously is an idiot – i would like to suggest that anyone who blogs/comments with a faux french pseudonym could very well be a knob – after all I should know

    hang out all your clean and dirty washing – anonymously, in cognito or not I say

  46. Rose on July 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm


    I have news for you – skeptics, or should I say, pseudoskeptics and the powers that be will never bury chiropractic.

    You seem to be labouring under an illusion. Look at Plato’s cave allegory – you’re simply seeing the shadows.

  47. CDC on July 12, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Spot on, Stefaan!! You put words to my thoughts regarding skeptics.

    Also, the people who want to prescribe drugs, is this due to their conviction that this is the best way forward for Chiropractic, or is is due to personal survival or are they just simply being bought by Big Pharma? What do you think? Anyone? Why would you want to call yourself chiropractor if you not going to practice as one? To hi-jack the word chiropractic and turn it into something else or more specifically something that for hundred years plus have been defined as something chiropractic is NOT about, is so wrong.

  48. Alan on July 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Wow, I’ve learned something new!

    I think it was Socrates that brought us the value of criticism in reasoning and debate, and indeed, ‘critical thinking’ is vital in the clinical environment.

    However, it was Edward De Bono, who is probably para-quoting but this is from whom I heard it, said that: ‘Criticism is the lowest form of intellectual exercise’.

    It’s not hard to rip any research paper apart with your ‘critical’ hat on but really, until you’ve got something better to say, playing permanent devil’s advocate is a bit short-sighted.

    Perhaps the sceptics, when they’re good and done, and the powers that be have buried Chiropractic, they’ll illuminate us with something that’s far superior and the answer to the looming health crisis.

    I’m not holding my breath!

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