It slipped my mind to mention that the British Chiropractic Association had last week withdrawn its libel suit against Simon Singh.
Singh, you might remember, wrote an article for the Guardian in which he criticised the BCA for endorsing bogus claims by chiropractors , and was promptly sued by them for defamation.
The BCA’s action had an unexpected effect, resulting in a flood of complaints about false advertising by individual chiropractors. It also focussed public scrutiny on the twilight world of alternative medicine, where most assertions are unsupported by fact, and where hard scientific research is in very short supply.
As a consequence of the bad publicity, one chiropractic umbrella group advised its members to close down their websites, on the very sound logic that, since their claims were nonsense, they might receive unwanted attention from the authorities.
It took Singh two years, and cost him more than £200,000, to defend himself against this attempt to silence his honest expression of scientific opinions, but in the process, he changed English defamation law, which is among the most draconian in the world.
He did rational thought a great service.
I’m surprised at the British Chiropractic Association being so stupid. After all, the majority of chiropractors are decent, hardworking people who actually do something useful and know what they’re doing. Furthermore, their work can be studied, quantified and assessed. It can be peer-reviewed and repeated under controlled conditions.
This is in contrast to homeopathy, neuro-linguistic programming and thought-field therapy. If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that this site has covered all sorts of pseudo-healing guff over the past few years and has several posts on the subject. Two that spring to mind are the post about NLP, and this one about TFT (thought-field therapy).
Those posts contain links to the websites of various practitioners, and I personally believe that many of the claims contained in those websites are unsupported by scientific research.
It is open to any member of the public to make a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland, HERE, and if you happen to believe the same thing as I do, you have the legal right to make a complaint to the ASAI, should you consider it appropriate to do so.