Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Swine Poop - Swine Flu & Chiropractic II

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To quote President Reagan "there you go again". Once again a high profile chiropractor is there suggesting in a press release that chiropractic spinal manipulation is part of a reasonable flu prevention strategy. See my previous blog entry on Swine Flu & Chiropractic.

I know I could sit back and wait for the blogosphere of chiropractic critics to appropriately lampoon this press release. But then they would imply the entire chiropractic profession believes this but I won't be painted with that same paint brush.

I'll put it in the simplest language possible. This idea that "nerve interference" somehow leads one to be vulnerable to infection is swine poop. And the idea that one needs to see a chiropractor to make sure that there is no "nerve interference" so that one's children's immune systems will function at their best is swine poop, too.

As Max Planck wrote in 1936:
An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way rapidly winning over and converting its opponents; it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning.
Unfortunately, when it comes to chiropractic the opponents of rational thought and the scientific method within chiropractic seem to reproduce er proselytize before they die out. Thus, this pseudo-religious thinking persists within chiropractic medicine. Exposing this pseudo-religious thinking does not appear to force it underground. (1, 2) It seems that the Internet has allowed this form of lunacy to flourish as much as any other form of C.R.A.P. (convoluted reasoning anti-intellectual pomposity)

The most insidious part of this press release is that the writer has a legitimate degree in public health, an MPH. This might give the laity the belief that this is a legitimate idea. Likewise, one of those cited in the press release has an impressive sounding title as president of an organization with an impressive name. None of this provides any evidence that the press release actually presents valid information about the importance of the subluxation.

The fact that the CDC is cited also gives the illusion that this press release has some scientific merit. It only shows that the writer knows how to package this swine poop so it looks good. Or as was used so often in the last US presidential election, he's put lipstick on a pig. The central premise, go to a chiropractor so he/she can remove the subluxation which causes nerve interference which leads to a poorly functioning immune system is still swine poop.

Obviously the writer of the press release is intelligent. But as I noted in an earlier blog ideological immunity is not the domain of the unintelligent.

Now of course the author of the press release might posit that it is I who have the ideological immunity and just can't see the profound value to one's immune function by removing the ubiquitous nerve interfering subluxation. He might be right. Sometimes people with deviant thoughts are right: think the long road to that Drs. Marshall and Warren traveled before the role of H pylori in duodenal and gastric ulcers and stomach cancer was acknowledged.

However, as Carl Sagan wrote in Broca's Brain:
I believe that the extraordinary should certainly be pursued. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Clearly the idea that subluxations cause nerve interference which then reduces the effectiveness of the immune system is an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence. I think as with any rational scientist I am willing to be shown to be wrong in my assessment and change my thinking. The growth of scientific knowledge is made by shattering the previous truths. BUT one won't shatter the current state of scientific evidence exclusively with the pronouncements or press releases of a self-professed expert. Show me the beef er the research that subluxations cause nerve interference and that it reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. Since we wrote our paper on the subluxation (3) I've not seen any evidence yet that our assessment was wrong.

Please prove us wrong by providing extraordinary level of scientific evidence (heck how about any valid scientific evidence). I'll tell you if those who believe this swine poop think that the first author on our paper, the late Dr. Joe Keating would be rolling in his grave if the evidence was presented, I'm here to assure you that I know he'd be cheering. Because Joe and the rest of the authors are basically saying put up or shut up. Please put up or shut up!


1. Mirtz TA. UNIVERSAL INTELLIGENCE: A Theological Entity in Conflict with Lutheran Theology. J Chiropr Humanit. 1999;9(1). free full text here
2. Mirtz TA. The question of theology for chiropractic: A theological study of chiropractic's prime tenets. J Chiropr Humanit. 2001;10(1). free full text here
3. Keating JC, Jr., Charlton KH, Grod JP, Perle SM, Sikorski D, Winterstein JF. Subluxation: dogma or science? Chiropr Osteopat. 2005 Aug 10;13:17. free full text here
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