Cleaning out the bookmarks

Just as the grocery store periodically puts the browner bananas on sale, I try to clear out my bookmarks every little bit to make room for the fresher inventory.

I bookmarked most of these fully intending to return to them someday, eventually, later to write something thoughtful or reflective about them. But since that’s apparently not going to happen, I’ll just randomly toss them out here for your enjoyment, amusement, entertainment or confusion.

The image to the right is from artist Jim LePage’s Word Bible Designs. He’s got poster designs for every book of the Bible, but this one might be my favorite.

Illustrator Dave DeVries’ Monster Engine is another pretty cool series of paintings (via) involving his realistic paintings based on sketches by very young children.

I’m less impressed by graphic designer Adam Ross’ “True Clean Towel,” which seems to be for people who like to dry off before they’re done washing off. If you’re grossed out by the idea that you might be drying your face with the part of the towel you previously used to dry your … let’s say feet, then I think maybe you should probably do a better job washing your feet.

Then again, John’s Gospel seems to support the idea behind the True Clean Towel: “Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean.'”

ESP proponents claim that ESP skeptics are psychic, and use their powers to suppress ESP

They’re on to us. Concentrate harder.

"Humor is, in fact, a prelude to faith; and laughter is the beginning of prayer." -- Reinhold Niebuhr

Skeptical types who don’t believe in ESP probably don’t believe in chiropractic medicine either. Or that demons have been captured on film. Or that water fluoridation is a socialist plot.

But at least they won’t be fooled by the latest hilarious character by Sasha Baron Cohen.

Relevant magazine presents “10 Reasons Christians Should Care About Science.” It’s not a bad list. It’s just that the fact of it is so depressing.

Over the years I’ve read so many of these — all valid, earnest, truthful arguments for “10 Reasons Christians Should Care About Art” or “10 Reasons Christians Should Care About the Poor” or “10 Reasons Christians Should Care About History” or “10 Reasons Christians Should Care About the Environment” or “10 Reasons Christians Should Care About the Fraying Rope Attached to the Pulley Holding a Grand Piano Above Their Heads.” And I begin to despair that the sort of people who need to be persuaded to “Care About” these things are probably people who are very unlikely to ever actually care about such things.

(Jack Chick*Brett Favre)+Tim Tebow = Awesome

The King’s English — 100 phrases from the King James Version in 3 minutes

Restaurant Opportunities Centers offers the Roc National Diners’ Guide 2012.

“If you are only taking on problems that can be solved within your lifetime, you’re not thinking long-term enough.”

Wes Jackson said that in Austin, Texas, at an event called “An Afternoon with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson.” Pretty much the coolest thing to hit Austin since SXSW.

Linda Holmes’ take on “How I Met Your Mother: The Optimism of Inevitability” reminds me of something we kicked around a while back in a post called “Alternate Endings,” except from the other direction. You can’t always know what the story means until you know how the story ends. And vice versa.

Amazing photos via Phil Plait: “Top 16 Pictures from Space 2011

Amazing photos via Phil Plait: “Top 14 Solar System Pictures of 2011

Amazing photos via Phil Plait: “One guy fooling around with the Moon

Amazing photos v … wait, you know what? It’s probably just easier if you subscribe to the RSS feed for Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog, because he posts really cool photos like those linked above on a regular basis.

Finally, under the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, this sort of thing might become illegal:

I very much prefer to live in a world in which it is not illegal. I realize that the use of Mariah Carey’s recording there is probably unlicensed, but still, if this sort of thing is outlawed, we all lose.

"One of my cousins is 67 tomorrow - there are four of us born in ..."

LBCF, No. 164: ‘That girl’
"A review of it:"

An all-American story ends in violent ..."

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  • Jake

    I <3 you, Fred. You heart all the things that I heart and you are thoroughly awesome in all observable respects. Just throwing that out there.

  • ako

    I’ve heard the psychic thing before.  A great many participants in the James Randi Challenge insisted that Randi had powerful anti-psychic powers, and made it one of the conditions of the test that Randi himself stay quite a long way away.  (He agreed, and they still didn’t succeed.)

  • Alicia

    To be fair, he does look like the kind of person who usually appears 1/4th of the way into a fantasy novel to give the hero a magic sword.

    (Seriously, GoogleImage the guy and tell me that you couldn’t see him playing Merlin or someone like that in some B-movie if he wanted to?)

  • Daughter

    I am someone who has been helped quite a bit by chiropractic care.  I don’t buy the claim that chiropractic can cure everything (and most chiropractors today don’t make such claims), but for muscular-skeletal issues, I think it’s amazing.

  • ako

    I’m genuinely uncertain about chiropractic care.  On the one hand, I’ve heard from people who swear it helps, and what they describe sounds like an effective treatment.

    On the other hand, my mom swears her favorite homeopathic cold remedy both shortens her colds and reduces her symptoms, even though it is scientifically impossible for the pills to work.  So I know suggestion can be a powerful thing, even on intelligent people who aren’t generally prone to falling for that kind of stuff.

  • Daughter

    Although I know that an anecdote does not equal data, I’ll share mine: I went from having back pain so severe I had to be helped to get out of bed and get dressed, barely able to walk, and unable to bend at all, to pain free after a few chiropractic sessions.  I can’t imagine that being a placebo effect.

    Btw, a chiropractor saved my husband’s life.  My husband had monthly appointments with a PCP and a diabetes doctor, who told him he was at risk fro heart disease due to diabetes and high blood pressure.  Yet when he told them that his upper back was hurting, they told him to take ibuprofen and get some rest.

    When he went to a chiropractor to get some relief from the back pain, the chiropractor immediately recognized that nothing muscular-skeletal was causing the pain.  He closed his office and drove my husband to the emergency room himself. My husband had open heart surgery the next morning.

  • Daughter

    Let me amend that a little: the chiropractor didn’t save my husband’s life by opening his blocked arteries.  Obviously, an MD heart surgeon did that.

    What the chiropractor did was recognize that my husband’s back pain had a cause outside his muscular-skeletal system, something his traditional doctors failed to pick up on, despite my husband’s risk factors.

  • ako

    Yeah, this is very much the sort of anecdotal report I’ve heard from other sources.  It’s interesting, but I don’t find it persuasive.  The number of possible explanations of what you’ve described is too great for me to believe without the kind of careful explanation that scientific research provides. 

  • Daughter

    Possible explanations such as?

    Each time I saw the chiropractor, the adjustment left me in less pain and with greater mobility.  After about four sessions, the problem was gone.

    I had a similar experience with hand therapy to treat tendonitis in my hand.  I had an orthopedist give me a cortisone shot that didn’t work and increased my pain and prescribed a strong ibuprofen that again did nothing for my pain, and a physical therapist who gave me a bunch of exercises that I was unable to perform.

    The hand therapist (an occupational therapist by training) did instead electrostimulus on my hand and massage, and in similar fashion to the chiropractic care, after each session I experienced less pain and more mobility.  After four sessions my problem was likewise gone.

    I saw the hand therapist for four more sessions, to do strengthening.  Ironically, she gave me similar exercises as the PT, but ones which I was unable to do until the pain was first resolved.

  • Daughter

    Oh yes, an added point: before finding the hand therapist, I contacted a chiropractor, who told me, “That’s not something I can address.” My experience with chiropractors is that they are generally ethical, know the limitations of their practice, and don’t make claims for treatments they can’t achieve.

  • ako

    Such as the pain being caused by an injury that was already in the process of healing when you began seeing a chiropractor, or spontaneous remission, or some other outside factor being responsible for the improvement.  To come to a scientific conclusion, I would have to have some way of ruling out both chance and outside factors, such as a controlled study.

    I believe that you are reporting your experience as accurately as possible.  I just can’t come to a solid conclusion based on your story.

  • Misha

    Hey, props for linking Monkey See!

  • Ken

    The anti-psychic psychic power was in Charles Fort Never Mentioned Wombats, which Amazon says was published back in 1977.  I’m pretty sure I’ve read that Victorian table-rappers also claimed their powers wouldn’t work around skeptics (especially ones who turned on the lights mid-seance).  I suspect it dates back to ancient Sumer, if not before.

  • FangsFirst

    Linda Holmes’ take on “How I Met Your Mother: The Optimism of Inevitability”

    With a healthy dose of (vague) SPOILERS FOR THE EPISODE SHE DISCUSSES:
    I know someone who experienced what Robin did, and basically had the exact same reaction. Other than turning out okay with it. It was spirals of dark depression and dissociation and all sorts of awfulness–but the imagined part? Absolutely dead on. I was told names and descriptions and everything, of what would/should/could have been. Though, this was someone who DID want it…

    That episode was pretty unpleasant for me, but not at the fault of the writers. And the central point of inevitability and optimism would have been nice for the reality, but of course we still don’t have enough distance to look back like that unfortunately.

    However, I should probably avoid reading comments there, as I would be tempted to rip new ones for those who call it unrealistic or any number of other things.

  • CQAussie

    My husband is a chiropractor here in Chicago and we have helped many many people with a myriad of heath care concerns.  The strip you linked to is pretty typical of the kind of (mostly uninformed) push-back we get all the time.  But it’s OK, we’re used to it.  

    My only quibble is that if the artist claim Chiropractic medicine should be ignored as quack science because people have died from chiropractic care – then what does he think of traditional medicine?  Do we even need to go into how many people have died from that?  It’s a false equivalency based on the artist’s personal bias.  

    Or how about the many people who have died or developed worse illnesses from prescription drugs?  Drug commercials last for an extra 90 seconds while they have to reel off all the side effects from using the drug!  Let’s not even go into law firms that are solely based on lawsuits from the harmful effects of prescription drug use.  We’ve all seen those commercials – there’s a reason they exist.  My husband doesn’t make the claim in his practice that chiropractic cures all and have referred out patients to physiotherapy, massage therapy and traditional medicine when the patient needed it.  Not all Chiropractors are the same but they do all undergo intensive training and education at Chiropractic college to obtain their doctorate degree, not to mention studying and passing state board exams in order to be licensed to practice.  We have had more than one patient who has been to every other doctor, including osteopaths, and have not gotten better until coming to see us.  I hope that people will ask questions and find out for themselves how Chiropractic can help them before they make conclusions from a cartoon strip.

  • Anonymous

    CQAussie: The problem with chiropractic isn’t just that it’s potentially dangerous, I’m sure that done right it’s harmless, but there’s no evidence that it helps*.

    If it does help then it’s almost certainly for the same reasons massage therapy helps, only without the same formal training.

    I don’t think it’s harmful, but I do think that it’s generally a waste of money, unless you want a massage.

    I’ve no doubt that your husband does genuinely want to help people, I just don’t think he really is.

    *And I mean clinical trials here, not anecdota**. When even acupuncture can get some (admittedly heavily, heavily, flawed) studies published the lack of, well, anything supporting chiropractic treatment over essentially any other physical therapeutic treatment is rather tell-tale.

    **If this isn’t a word it should be.

  • CQAussie

    “…..only without the same formal training.”  Please see below link.

    Chiropractors specialise in nerve function and nervous system health, others will also incorporate nutrition and massage therapy – they do not claim to be experts in another field say heart surgery or oncology.  My husband certainly does not.  I was there with my husband as he undertook formal training in requisite undergrad classes just to get into Palmer Chiropractic College, I was also there when he attended class after class on anatomy, physiology, chemistry, central nervous system, adjusting technique, diagnosis, radiology, just to name a few, in order to get his doctorate degree from Palmer.  And I was there when he studied for months for each of the 4 part board exams he was required to take in order to be licensed in IL and in MI.  I respectfully disgree that Chiropractors lack the formal training that a massage therapist does.

    “I don’t think it’s harmful, but I do think that it’s generally a waste of money, unless you want a massage.”

    A year’s worth of chiropractic care at our office with a typical weekly visit of 1 to 2 times a week will cost a family of 4 at minimum $250.00 a month, $3,000 for the year (varies from patient to patient based on health care concerns but this is fairly typical).  We have had patient after patient after patient who have sought traditional medical care, have undergone surgery after surgery not just for back or neck pain but for other health care issues as well and have spent multiple times more than what they would spend for a year’s care at our office, with little to no lasting results.  Note I use the words “lasting results”.  We’re looking to help people get well and stay well.  Not put them on drugs to treat the symptoms then send them to surgery when that fails only to have more surgeries down the line.  Once patients started chiropractic care, they saw real and lasting results they didn’t see before and for much much less financial burden.  

    A chiropractic adjustment is nothing like a massage – and our patients would attest to that.  I also know our patients are getting actual results in terms of improved health because we are told everyday how chiropractic care have changed their lives.  We don’t “suggest” to them they “will” or “are” getting better.  We prefer to not be faith healers =D  However, we do extensive examinations and consultations on their first visit and we conduct a nervous system health assessment using surface EMG and thermography equipment.  We also do progress evaluations at regular intervals during their first year of care using the same technology so we can show them their progress.  It’s not just “touchy-feely, oh let me FEEL you or convince you back to health” kind of thing.

    “I’ve no doubt that your husband does genuinely want to help people, I just don’t think he really is.”

    I have to again, respectfully, disagree.  I’ve been under chiropractic care since 2006 and I used to have regular migraines before that, usually every month or so, to the point I can’t function.  After starting chiropractic care, I don’t even remember the last time I had a migraine.  Which isn’t to say I no longer get headaches – I do just not severe migraines like before.  When I do get a headache, my husband adjusts me to remove the restriction to the nerves in my neck from spinal bones being out of alignment and my headache symptoms are gone in about 20 minutes.  I no longer have to take Tylenol or Aspirin for the pain because chiropractic care has taken care of the cause of my headaches, not just treat symptoms.  We have an office full of patients with similar stories to tell.  We also have many many many chiropractor friends with practices all over the United States each seeing an average of 200 to 250 patients per week – with similar stories to tell.  If it’s clinical trials you are looking for – perhaps a health agency of reputable choice can take studies of the most successful chiropractic practices from each state and compile results.  The real results are there – and patients are attesting to it every day.

    All of this to say – chiropractic does work, I’ve seen it myself, with our patients and with the hundreds and thousands of other patients that our chiropractor friends see on a weekly basis.  But you are absolutely free to disagree =D  I’m not here to convince you, I’m happy to have the discussion.

    On a personal note – I’m curious….have you been under chiropractic care before and have had a bad experience?  Because I did, back in Australia and was a skeptic myself to start with.  

    Sorry for the super long reply.

  • Redwood Rhiadra

    All of this to say – chiropractic does work, I’ve seen it myself, with our patients and with the hundreds and thousands of other patients that our chiropractor friends see on a weekly basis. But you are absolutely free to disagree =D  I’m not here to convince you, I’m happy to have the discussion.

    And hundreds and thousands of people get relief for all kinds of issues from sugar pills too. It’s called the placebo effect.

    That’s why anecdotes (and *everything* you just presented is an anecdote, not data) are worthless. GDwarf’s call for clinical data rather than anecdotes is a legitimate one.

  • CQAussie

    I don’t think telling someone their experience is worthless is very productive.  You can’t gather any data points without asking the subjective questions of how a person feels, what they are thinking of, what they perceive and what their assumptions were.  What makes it scientific data is the method by which the data is gathered, compiled and analysed. 

    Please also refer to Becka Sutton’s link on a UK study on chiropractic and massage treatment and its effectiveness – which is data and not anecdote.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that I have to restrict my comments to pure data but people who are skeptical about chiropractic but have never tried it can use anecdotal evidence themselves to explain why they won’t try it.  

    I mentioned in my response that we don’t just ask our patients how they feel but we also show them their progress under chiropractic care with EMG surface scan technology as well as an on-going consultation about where they want to be health wise.  We don’t claim to cure all but we also want to let people know how the nervous system function in relation to the spinal cord in which it is housed and how interference on these nerves from bones out of place can lead to major disease in the long run.  The entire human body is run on the nervous system – it supplies every cell, tissue and organ.  If there is interference in that system – sickness will occur.   I also mentioned that many of our patients have come to us as a last resort when nothing else has helped.  If they were just feeling better from a placebo effect when under our care – why hasn’t that happened prior to coming to us?  99% of our patients fervently believed the treatment they were getting would get them well and keep them well – but that belief hasn’t materialised into real and lasting results.  In fact I would say most people walking in our door have a high level of skepticism when it comes to whether chiropractic can help.  And despite that – they have seen over and again real and lasting results.  Which is why I mention not just our practice but the practices of our friends all over the country – are we saying that every chiropractic patient is experiencing a change in their health for the better because of and only because of a placebo effect?  That seems like a big leap to make.

  • Becka Sutton
  • Lori

    I don’t think it’s harmful, but I do think that it’s generally a waste of money, unless you want a massage.

    I’ve never gone to a chiropractor, but I have family members who do. What they’re getting is not a massage, but it does seem to help them. My sister suffers from debilitating migraines. Drugs were of limited help. They lessened the length and severity of a given migraine, which is a very good thing given that she would often spend whole days in bed, unable to move due to the pain.

    What they didn’t do was lessen the frequency of the headaches, which is a problem. She tried a number of other things to help with that, some of which were helpful and some of which were not. The result was that things were better, but she was still having frequent enough migraines to really interfer with her life. She finally tried chiropractic and that’s when the frequency was reduced enough to make them a nuisance rather than something she had to plan her life around.

    I know that correlation does not imply causality, but it seems to me that if it was strictly a placebo effect she would have gotten that effect from something else. There were definitely things that she tried that she expected to work, but which did not. Honestly, I also think that even if it is just a placebo effect it’s still worth the money for her to have a life. Even if all her chiropractor is doing for her is putting on a convincing enough performance to sustain the illusion I’m inclined think he’s earning his fee as long as my sister isn’t lying down in a dark room crying from pain and trying to stop because the crying itself hurts.

  • CQAussie

    Pretty much my experience with migraines to a T, before chiropractic care.  And yep, the crying from the pain IS painful in and of itself.  I don’t miss those days!  Best of health to you and your sister.

  • Tony Prost

    since no one else has mentioned it, thanks for the dance tape! Merry Christmas, and Happy Miscellaneous Holidays!

  • CQAussie

    hahaha…happy miscellaneous holidays to you too!  ya heathen.  JUST KIDDING!!!!

    Merry Christmas also too!!

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Ok. Back in high school a chiropractor came and gave a talk. He specifically indicated that chiropractic is limited to treatment of the spinal cord and is not intended as a cure-all. He did trumpet his own profession a bit and had a bit of a sideswipe against medical doctors, but that was more along the lines of a specialist criticizing generalists who wouldn’t have known what to look for specifically with respect to the back musculoskeletal system.

    However since then chiropractic seems to have morphed into some kind of do-everything medicine and I think that’s where the quackery starts to come in.

  • Hawker40

    The guy who invent chiropracty claimed that all problems started in the back, and that he could cure anything by adjusting the back: cancer, heart disease, typhus, malaria…
    In the process of trying to cure things by adjusting the back, they learned a lot of things about the backbone and the muscles connecting to it, many of them useful.
    So, it started as quackery and then became useful… and some chiropractics are still quacks.

  • Ken

    There are several types of chiropractic.  Those who do massage therapy with recommendations for posture and exercise can do some good.  Those who still follow the Palmers’ original teachings and use “subluxation” to treat cancer and other diseases can kill people.  Fortunately the latter are a minority.

  • Anonymous

    I have no horse in the chiropractic race.  I have never been treated by one, nor so far as I know has any family member of mine.  That being said, I do have experience with them through working in a personal injury law office.  The vast majority I have interacted with, or whose records I have reviewed, seem to regard themselves as specialized physical therapists.  In a lot of cases it seems a matter of indifference whether the patient goes to a chiropractor or a physical therapist.  Individual patients may have a better experience with one or the other.

    Yes, there are woo woo chiropractors.  They are rare enough that I am surprised on the few occasions I come across one.  There also are quasi-scam assembly line chiropractic shops, but the same is true of other forms of treatment.

    I used to be more negative about chiropractors, knowing the woo woo history.  The thing is, up until a century and a half ago, all medicine was woo woo.  Do you refuse to see a physician because he might bleed you to bring your humors into balance?  That was the most reputable of medical theories for centuries. 

    Physicians were the first sort of practitioners to achieve something like real science, but others have converged into this.  Osteopathy is completely mainstream, to the extant that there is little if any functional distinction to be made between an M.D. and a D.O.  The only real problem with chiropractors is that there are still woo woo D.C.’s out there, so you need to research the individual practitioner to know what you are getting when you walk in the door.  I note the use in the cartoon of “pounds” for money.  It could well be that chiropractic is still more woo woo in Britain than in the US.

  • CQAussie

    Yep.  Not all chiropractors are the same.

  • Anonymous

    And because I’m a terrible person who enjoys laughing at the misfortunes of others…Mitt Romney was in NH recently, and trying to get himself a piece of the anti-gay he spotted a man with a Vietnam vet cap in a diner and sidled up to talk to him, only it turns out the man was there having diner with…his husband, whoops!

  • Invisible Neutrino

    With smug satisfaction I say that Romney very much got pwned. X-D

  • Lori

    Yes, he did. That was my favorite story of the day. (Joe.My.God is on my RSS feed precisely because he often provides my favorite story of the day.)

  • Anonymous

    I’ve heard stories about chiropractic helping people, and I don’t doubt that they’re true.

    I do, however, doubt that the chiropractic treatment was key in them; studies seem to show that anything involving personal attention would’ve.

    That said, a solid, peer-reviewed, study showing it actually helping people? I’d drop my objections, since it’s then a fairly inexpensive treatment for whatever the disorder is.

    It’s rather like acupuncture. Double-blind trials (They apparently involve needles with false, retractable, points) have been done and have shown that either acupuncture is worthless or the mere sensation of having something prickly on your skin has therapeutic effects.

    That’s not to say that people don’t go to an acupuncturist and feel better, but they’d feel better if they’d gone to anyone at all.

    What studies of the placebo effect have shown is that simply having someone talk to you about your pain and try to do something for it will, generally, greatly lessen one’s perception of it. However, it won’t do anything for the underlying cause.

    If the pain is something chronic and the placebo effect isn’t kicking in anywhere else, then alright, but that’s rarely the case with people who swear by such treatments.

    Edit: I don’t really have a horse in the chiropractic fight, no one in my family uses it, but every skeptical bone in my body rallies against it.

  • Lori

    I understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t think the issue is simply having someone talk to you about your pain. Again using my sister as an example, she had good doctors who tried hard to help her and in whom she had confidence. She used to work for a doctor. He was not her personal doctor(inappropriate), but he discussed her health with her when she asked him about it. He knew & liked her personally, plus he had a vested interest in having her well enough to be in the office doing her job. 

    She was not getting the 2 minutes and out routine is what I’m saying. Qualified medical personnel listened to her and did their best to help. She tried meds, diet changes, controlling hormone issues and stress reduction. Each of those things was given ample time (and dosage and medication changes as deemed necessary) to work. In some cases literally years. 

    If having someone pay attention to her migraines was enough to give her relief it would have saved her years of pain. 

  • Anonymous

    Anecdotes about chiropractic are useless.  It’s the data that matters.

    For everyone who gives a positive anecdote, I can give a negative one.  In fact, in case anyone is reading this board and trying to decides, I’ll share two just to cancel out the positive ones:

    1) My mom had a herniated disk.  She went to chiropractors which made it much, much worse until she eventually had to have surgery.

    2) I have always had chronic back pain.  I used to go to chiropractors when I was in high school.  Then I went to college and didn’t have the time or money, so I never bothered going.  My back pain has been significantly less frequent since I stopped going to a chiropractor.

    But don’t take my word for it.  And don’t take the word of those who have positive anecdotes.  Go with the data.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, it’s also important to keep in mind that people rarely share anecdotes about ineffective treatments.  Unless something goes really wrong, you will rarely hear from the people who try chiropractic and don’t benefit from it.  So anecdotes tend to skew toward the positive.

  • CQAussie

    Respectfully disagree – we have had patients who have told us in no uncertain terms that chiropractic did NOT work for them.  And have been told that they will tell everyone they know.  We did what we could to either amend the situation or to provide a refund if that is what was needed.  We get that chiropractic isn’t a cure-all.  Which is why we don’t promote as such.

  • Anonymous

    Well, my anecdotes say that not only is it not a cure-all, it’s not even a cure-anything.  And the data support my anecdotes, which is more important.

  • CQAussie

    But I don’t think you provided any data?  Nor has anyone here provided any data that disproves the effectiveness of chiropractic effectiveness?  Maybe I missed it?  So right now you have anecdotes and I have anecdotes… maybe we’re at an anecdotal stalemate?

  • Anonymous

    Well, my anecdotes say that not only is it not a cure-all, it’s not even a cure-anything.  And the data support my anecdotes, which is more important.

  • Chris Doggett

    I don’t think it’s fair to say I have to restrict my comments to pure data…

    Actually, it’s entirely fair, because the burden of proof falls on the claimant. If you’re going to say something “works”, then you need to show, empirically, that it has a positive effect all on its own that is statistically significant.

    If they were just feeling better from a placebo effect… why hasn’t that happened prior to coming to us?

    It’s not just a placebo effect at work here, it’s the conspicious lack of controls for other influences. In general, most people tend to get better over time; some people take longer than others, but people do “get better”.

    Let’s talk about migranes for example. A “typical migrane” lasts from four to seventy-two hours. (source: Wikipedia) Unless you’re keeping very accurate journals, it’s unlikely you have enough pre-treatement and post-treatment data to show that the treatment is actually shortening the duration of the migrane, simply because of how variable the event’s duration is. “I got a back adjustment and my migrane stopped” isn’t data, because under the same conditions, the migrane could have stopped anyway! That’s not a ‘placebo’ effect, that’s just a person getting better.  Without record-keeping and statistical analysis, it’s impossible to show that the treatment resulted in a shorter event than what we would expect to see without treatment.
    Are people feeling better? Sure, OK, why not. Would they feel just as good if they simply went into a dimly-lit room and laid down on a firm surface for 30 minutes with no outside stimulus? Well, that’s rather an important question, wouldn’t you think? Do patients show improvement? Well, if you do nothing at all for them, some of them will show improvement, even though you didn’t do anything. You can’t claim credit for what would have happened anyway. That’s where the science comes in: data, good data with controls for other factors and strong protocols, and solid statistical analysis is what lets you see if there’s a difference between “nothing”, “treatment A”, and “treatment B”. One person saying “I got better” doesn’t count because we can find tons and tons of people who did nothing at all and got better too!

  • cjmr

    “Let’s talk about migranes for example.”

    Okay, lets.

    “A “typical migrane” lasts from four to seventy-two hours.”

    I’ll take the wiki’s word for it on the short side of the range, but my migraines typically last from 24-72 hours.

    “Unless you’re keeping very accurate journals, it’s unlikely you have
    enough pre-treatement and post-treatment data to show that the treatment
    is actually shortening the duration of the migrane, simply because of
    how variable the event’s duration is.”

    I’ve had migraines since 1980, and frequent migraines since 1985.  The typical duration of my migraines from 1985-1995 was 48-60 hours.  The typical frequency was one or more migraines per month.  From 1995-2001, the typical duration of my migraines was 48-72 hours, and the frequency was beginning to approach one migraine every 10 days.  I tried several drug therapies, and nothing really worked any better than ibuprofen/sudafed/caffeine did.  Lying completely still, swaddled, in a completely dark room with a icepack on the back of my neck would relieve the symptoms for about three hours longer than the amount of time I spent like that.  Once I had kids–that option was right out.

    In 2001, I began chiropractic treatment for sciatic pain that had stymied two doctors and three physical therapists.  The chiropractor measured my legs and looked at my posture and suggested certain exercises in addition to adjustments.  That worked for the sciatic pain within weeks–sciatic pain I’d had for almost two years.  The first time I went for my lower back treatment during a migraine, he asked if I’d like treatment for that, too.

    Within 6 months I was back to having only one or so migraine a month, that lasted usually 24-48 hours, and was more easily controlled pain-wise by ibuprofen.  And that effect held even if I hadn’t seen the chiropractor during the migraine.

    I haven’t been having regular chiropractic care for migraines for about 18 months now (we moved) and the duration of the migraines is slowly creeping back up and the pain level is getting harder to control.

    Was it a placebo effect?  I don’t particularly care.  I know what worked for me.

  • Chris Doggett

    Was it a placebo effect?

    “Getting better on your own” != “placebo effect”.

    The chiropractor… suggested certain exercises in addition to adjustments.

    This would be an example of what I meant by a lack of controls. “Adjustments + exercise” != “Adjustments”

    A physical therapist might have suggested those same exercises. Can you be sure it wasn’t the exercise that made the difference?

    I suffer from sciatic pain; I’m sympathetic. When I quit my job five years ago, my sciatic pain vanished! It re-occurred after a few years, but once my divorce was finished, it went away again! But I’m not about to suggest divorce and unemployment as therapies for back pain because ‘it worked for me’.

    [ before treatment ] The typical frequency was one or more migranes per month…
    [ after treatment ] …I was back to having only one or so migrane a month.

    Ooookay…. by your own admission, with your own data, the effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments was the same as doing nothing at all for 10 years. (85-95)

    I know what worked for me

    Really? You know it was the adjustments and the exercises that helped your sciatica? You had no significant changes to your physical or mental health, your lifestyle, your environment, your activity levels, or any other factors while you were undergoing this treatment?

    You say the duration is “slowly creeping back up” but didn’t say anything about the frequency. So “nothing” for the last 18 months seems to have been as effective as the previous nine-ish years of chiropracty. Could it be possible that after a period of increased frequency, the frequency dropped on it’s own, and has stayed there ever since?

    You moved in the last 18 months, and you’re experiencing more pain. Is it because you’re not getting treatments, or is it because of some other factor, possibly relating to your new surroundings? (I hear moving is stressful)

    I’m not trying to attack you personally; I’m trying to show how any number of other factors could explain your experiences just as effectively as claiming it was the chiropracty. Beware post hoc, ergo proctor hoc!

  • CQAussie
  • CQAussie

    The first link is to a pdf, so I hope it works.  It provides a great summary of studies performed to assess the effectiveness of chiropractic, cost and results wise.

    Here’s another fairly good summary:

  • cjmr

    “Ooookay…. by your own admission, with your own data, the effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments was the same as doing nothing at all for 10 years. (85-95)”

    No, my migraines went from one 2-4 day migraine every 10 days (which I’d been experiencing for the 6 years from 1995-2001), back to one 1-2 day migraine each month, within six months of chiropractic treatment aimed at them–and stayed at that level from 2001-2011.  I think ten years of relief from a debilitating illness is pretty damn good, actually.  In some months of 2000, I spent approximately 40% of the time with a migraine.

    “Really? You know it was the adjustments and the exercises that helped your sciatica? ”

    Considering the fact that the PTs had given me similar exercises to do, to no effect–I’m going with the adjustments, there.  Nobody else addressed my posture–so that’s still one score for the chiro, IMO, whether the adjustments themselves did anything or not.

    Re: frequency–the frequency is currently tracking where it did from 1985-1995.  There are no lifestyle changes that cover the whole period from 1995-2001 that would explain why the migraines increased  and none that I can see that cover the whole period from 2001-2011 that would explain the decrease.

    Also, I didn’t say I wasn’t getting ANY chiropractic care–I’m not getting chiropractic care *targeted towards migraines* since we moved.  If I get a sciatic flare-up I go see a chiro here for a couple adjustments.

  • Ethan


    Wonder if anyone will read this:

    Probably not. They used to chide conservatives for having concrete principles: All mixed up and set in stone.

    I don’t have a dog in this hunt either, and have never been to a chiropractor.

    But the desire to brand things “woo” because it bags cool points (apparently) doesn’t float my boat one iota.

    The irony is not lost on me that this discussion is taking place in a faith-based blog.

  • Anonymous

    But the desire to brand things “woo” because it bags cool points (apparently) doesn’t float my boat one iota.

    It’s nothing to do with cool points.

    I genuinely think that Chiropractic is, at best, largely a waste of money and, at worst, harmful.

    I hold the same opinion with respect to Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Q-Ray bracelets, Orgone, Theraputic Touch (which is neither), Pyramid power, etc.

    I generally have nothing against practitioners of any of those, I think most of them do genuinely believe in what they’re doing, and only a very small subset are actual charlatans.

    I just don’t think that any of them actually work.

    It’s no different than, I don’t know, any failed experimental medical practice. They seemed worth doing once, but we now have reason to believe that they just don’t work and so shouldn’t use them.

  • Anonymous

    I’m throwing in with

  • Invisible Neutrino

    In short, linking to a webpage that remotely appears skewed too your
    stand is a dangerous thing. Maybe if you could find something from JAMA,
    I’d be more kind. Right now, I have a dim view of chiropractic beyond
    “a massage therapist does what you do, but for half the cost and none of
    the spiritual garbage.”


    TBQH if anyone is trying to overlay chiropractic with anything ‘spritual’ or the like, they should be regarded as at the very least overenthusiastic (and at the worst, quacks). The chiropractors I’ve all heard of do not do anything but say that they work on the musculoskeletal system of the human back.

  • CQAussie

    I didn’t trawl the Google for links that are pro chiropractic – I literally googled studies about effectiveness of chiropractic and took the first few that came up, after reading them.  Which is why I didn’t triumphantly throw them out with smug comments like AHA!!!  See!!!  Vindication!!!  I posted them and asked for comments.  Was also prepared for any push-back – that’s the entire point of having a discussion.  

    Yes, I was aware that they were from pro chiropractic sites – but they were also conducted by the medical community at large, not by a panel of DCs only and not just by chiropractic colleges.  One of them was conducted to research whether an insurance company in Ontario should provide coverage for chiropractic.  I think that’s a fairly objective distance from a dangerous bias.  Also – you weren’t being unkind, you just stated you didn’t find my sources convincing.  Fair play.

    People have been saying that anecdotal info doesn’t count and were looking for actual studies done.  I think I’ve provided some good links to some studies that have been conducted.  But now we’re saying it has to be from JAMA.  So I’ll keep looking.           

    In our office – we don’t talk about spirituality.  We tell the patients about how their bodies work, how their nervous system works and how the spinal bones affect them.  That’s it.  We don’t woo woo them with touchy feely stuff.  That’s not what we’re about.  Patients have every choice to start care with us or simply make use of their first visit assessment and never darken our doors again.  It’s their choice – and we’re ok with that.

    As I’ve said – not all chiropractors are the same.  I personally know some who are shady and cult-like.  And we’ve made a point to NOT practice as they do.  I also don’t think we should discount patient testimonials as useless.  There’s value in hearing people’s experience of something we haven’t tried ourselves.  At least as an opening to ask questions, challenge the person or the practitioner and see for ourselves whether or not chiropractic is beneficial.  

  • Steve Condrey

    The article from Relevant struck home with me.  As someone who has always been passionate about both my faith and science, I’ve found far too often that in many churches it’s an ‘either/or’ proposition.  “Do you believe in science or do you believe in the Bible” is usually the way the challenge (and it is a challenge) is posed.  Disagreeing with a literal interpretation of Scripture is viewed as disagreeing with Scripture itself.  It would appear, therefore, that a particular interpretation of Scripture carries the same weight as God’s Word itself.

    What the article misses is the fact that the scientific revolution at least as it pertains to Western civilization is a direct outgrowth of the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of that civilization (with more than a little cribbed from Plato and Aristotle, among others).  Embracing science is not heresy; it is the highest form of acceptance of a sovereign God.

  • Lori

    This post inspired me to start cleaning out my own bookmarks. I have long been aware that I have bookmark issues, but man oh man, it was worse than I thought. I’m now working on trying to clean them out get the remaining ones a bit better organized. Quite a job, but it really needed to be done. So, thanks Fred for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to do something about this mess. 

  • Lori

    This post inspired me to start cleaning out my own bookmarks. I have long been aware that I have bookmark issues, but man oh man, it was worse than I thought. I’m now working on trying to clean them out get the remaining ones a bit better organized. Quite a job, but it really needed to be done. So, thanks Fred for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to do something about this mess. 

  • Anonymous

    I would like to see more studies on chiropracty, myself.

    In the meantime, it just bugs me a lot to see “chiropractic” used as a noun.  My brain reads it as an adjective and when the noun doesn’t come, well, out comes grammarleutnant Falconer.

    I suppose it’s clear to everybody else that the missing noun is actually “medicine” or “treatment.”

  • Dan Audy

    Personally I’ve found the scientific evidence in favour of chiropractics for certain treatments highly compelling and my personal experience with chiropractics in extremely positive.

    Since I was extremely young I’ve been subject to frequent ear infections.  Antibiotics were insufficient to prevent my eardrums from bursting due to this and I actually received surgery to insert a drainage tube into my ear to help with this since it was decided that the hearing loss from the tube would be less than the long term damage of scarring on my eardrum.  The tubes are expelled after a couple years and my ear infections resumed and it was decided not to reinsert new ones.  A few years later I had my first chiropractic visit to help open the proper drainage passages from my ears which caused the pain to lessen within the first couple hours and completely vanish as the pressure was reduced rather than the agonizing rupture of my eardrum.  Since then I go and receive treatment from my chiropractor when I have an ear infection (in addition to taking my antibiotics) and I’ve only had a single ruptured ear drum in the last 24 years.  That occured a couple years ago while I was unemployed couldn’t afford to go see the chiropractor (and the province had just stopped helping cover chiropractic costs which doubled the out of pocket expense, more on that in a minute) and figured that the antibiotics would be enough, which they weren’t resulting in a pair of ruptured eardrums and several weeks of near deafness while they healed.

    Alberta used to cover half the cost of chiropractic visits as part of universal health care but under the banner of the conservatives who were trying to cut the budget (and dismantle social programs) they stopped paying for this which effectively doubled the cost to the public (and according to my chiropractor dramatically reduced usage).  A while later they wanted to trumpet how effective their various programs had been at saving the province money and had StatsCanada produce a ‘cost-savings analysis’ on these various cuts.  I happened to be working on producing this document and one thing we found very clearly was that back-pain related healthcare costs had spiked quite significantly (5-10% depending on how you calculated them) and the outcomes had diminished as well as patients had more doctors visits, more pain medication usage (and the side effects thereof), degenerated more, and required surgery more frequently.  Rather than reverse their decision on that point (some of the others actually had saved money though occasionally by externalizing costs) they quietly exised that portion of the report before releasing it.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    You’re the first person besides Kevin Taft who’s written even tangentially about Ralph Klein burying that report, by the way. Kind of ironic they’d have someone affected by their own cost cutting helping write a report which blew holes in Klein’s alarmist rhetoric about health care costs.

    I just checked for BC; BC covers part of the cost, but only for up to 10 visits.

  • friendly reader

    CQAussie,you’ve been mentioning how your husband doesn’t practice the “woo woo” elements (to use another poster’s term), but that he also went to Palmer college. How do they interpret this part of their Philosophy Statement:

    The basic premise of Palmer’s Philosophy of Chiropractic is that
    life is intelligent. Additionally, the purpose of the body’s innate
    is to maintain the body in a state of health and
    well-being. The Palmer view of chiropractic is that the body is a
    dynamic, self-regulating and self-healing organism.
    As such,
    Palmer validates its orientation and focus on health rather than an
    orientation based upon symptoms and disease. Central to the Palmer
    philosophy is the removal of impediments to health through the
    correction of subluxations, thus normalizing the nervous system and
    releasing the body’s optimal potential.
    (emphasis added)

    That’s basically the bogus anti-germ theory nonscience that chiropractic-opponents accuse them of pushing. Is that just a relic of Palmer’s earlier roots, or do they still teach that disease is caused by problems with your spine? Just curious here.

    I’m also somewhat dismayed by the number of possible “techniques” they list. Forget about whether studies have been done on chiropratics versus physical therapy, has anyone done studies to see which of these is best?

    I know very little about chiropractics, in part because, well, my parents did always consider it suspicious, which may be because when they were young it was definitely tied to the “psychic energy causes your flu” field of thinking. And I personally would only go to a medically-licensed physical therapist.

    That said, I do sort of believe in qi after doing various trainings (it may not be what Chinese philosophy thinks it is, but it’s something… maybe some other way of talking about something we can scientifically test),  so I’m not totally closed-minded on non-traditional therapies.

  • CQAussie

    You may (or may not) be surprised by this but not all of Palmer’s graduates buy into all of Palmer’s philosophies.  Ironically (hilariously?) there are differing philosophies even among chiropractors.  And as you move out to the different colleges (Life, Logan), more differences come up.  My husband took in what he understood to be good science and rejected the rest as being either too extremist or as you say, seemingly connected to psychic energy.

    My husband believes in innate intelligence but he doesn’t practice voodoo or faith healing.  He does believe that since the nervous system supplies every cell, tissue and organ in the body – then any interference on it from a bone out of place will eventually cause symptoms and if untreated, major illness down the line.  This is because the nerves connect the brain to the rest of the body – that’s how God made the body and that is how he understands innate intelligence to be.  If the nerves are being blocked or squeezed by a bone out of place – then the signals from the brain will not be sent thru properly.  He didn’t make it up – you can see on nerve charts and he studied neurology where each nerve goes to and supplies which organ.  Which is why I balk at the suggestion that chiropractors have no more training than a massage therapist.  The next time you get a massage, ask the therapist which nerve innervates the heart and which ones supply the lungs and where in the spinal cord these nerves reside.  I promise you they won’t know.  Which isn’t to say massage therapist are dumb – they are not, they are specialists in their field of study, and so are chiropractors.  And heart surgeons, and oncologists and physios.    

    When someone has a heart attack – it isn’t because they just suddenly overnight developed blocked arteries.  It’s because over the years, thru poor diet, stress etc. their arteries became blocked.  Chiropractic doesn’t prevent a heart attack if a patient continues to inhale cheeseburgers and don’t exercise.  That’s why we come at health from a wholistic point of view.  Remove the interference on the nerve, get the patient out of pain, get them well and help them to stay well thru regular chiropractic care, proper nutrition and diet and regular exercise.  

    Why the dismay over the number of chiropractic techniques?  There are a number of medical procedures and protocols for any given condition.  Take cancer treatment for example – depending on the cancer, there are any number of treatment plans available and any combination of treatment techniques including surgery if needed.  Every patient is different, have different medical history and we aim to understand and deploy techniques that help them the best.  One patient had severe sciatica, went to a chiro down the road from us and got worse.  The chiro just did the same technique on him as he did for everyone else, with little to no results.  He came to us, we actually listened to his concerns and we used specific techniques and treatment plans that were tailored to his condition.  He now comes in 2 times a week and has experienced reduced sciatic pain and has referred friends to our practice.  Not all chiropractors are the same – same as not all MDs or physios or DOs are the same.  I just hope that people can find out for themselves and not dismiss it out of hand without trying it out.

    Funnily enough – my husband and I do not subscribe to qi or Chinese philosophy.  We’re both Chinese and have grown up with superstitious parents and extended families.  We’re both Christians now and have decided to not get too deeply into that because it is rooted in mystical spiritualism, for the most part.