Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Chiropractic Hate Society

Yikes, more hate speech against chiropractors. Here are a few references:

Discover Magazine (the worst offender)
Ministry of Truth

They are all talking about chiropractic practitioners and a trial going on where this PDF has just being released as proof of chiropractic claims. Of course there is some bad science. They can't help it as chiropractic practice is not known for their double blind studies. You can't, in my opinion, do a double blind study because it involves moving bits of the body around which voids the study.

But really, I am angry at the science geeks and their hate speech. They assume something without a double blind and repeatable results is fraud, stupidity and somehow a crime against humanity. Sorry, there may be a few, but most believe in this and that makes it real to them. It is no different than crystals or homeopathy. At some point the mind causes a belief, no matter how un-defendable, and builds the belief into a perceived fact probably can not be changed by argument or even direct proof.

I like that last little bit. There is no such thing really as belief. In the end belief is a fact to the person that holds the belief.

Don't the pseudoscience haters ever consider placebos? How about side effects of moving around bits of flesh and bone? The problem is that, in the minds of chiropractic practitioners, coincidences add up beliefs to create a perceived reality and that reinforces the odds that a cure will 'manifest' or appear to manifest in relation to spinal manipulations.

There is a lot of science in chiropractic, just no formal science related to what they are claiming. Massage is no different than chiropractic. Is massage pseudoscience? Manipulation manipulates, sorry but that is a physical thing. You can't wiggle your little finger without causing changes to your biology. The effect of having your spine jerked around is not a zero. Even if at a minimum it changes a bit of blood flow and the horrific sound of vertebra popping can shoot endorphins all about. To say there is nothing happening at all with chiropractic therapy is just plain bad science. The anti-chiropractic world should be ashamed of themselves for making just as absurd assumptions that they are complaining about.

A favorite of mine is the claim that chiropractic is better than other methods for back pain. Funny thing is that getting out of bed, driving to the clinic, having someone get you up on a table and pushing stuff around is better than laying in bed. The act of doing all this other stuff is also part of the cure. Sure the moves the guy makes may be hokum, but there is a lot of stuff other than the hokum you can't ignore.

But what of the cost of chiropractic? Isn't that ripping people off? No! There is a placebo effect that has been proven to be more powerful if you raise the cost of care. The only crime is that it is not more expensive and thus more effective!!!! ....ok, you were supposed to laugh at that one.

Chiropractic belief is caused by very old adaptions of the brain. We are wired by surviving in the jungle for millions of years to save energy and stay alive. Jungles will make you dead quick if you take the time for proper science. Tigers don't understand double blind studies.

This is also people making a living or justifying their beliefs which is also related to survival. This is little different than guarding a fruit tree so that your family can survive. Look at chiropractic like cattle farmers burning down the rain forest. You won't get them to stop burning unless you give them alternatives. You also have to convince the farmers that burning is bad and the alternative is better. But even here there are many people involve. The farmer that burns the forest is selling cattle into the rest of the system which relies on the cattle.

People sell and consume the meat. It is an ecosystem that has strategies to defend itself to survive and will protect each link in the chain.

Chiropractic is an ecosystem too. Chiropractic schools rely on the existence of chiropractic clinics. The lawyer of a chiropractor (or his association) relies on the chiropractor as does the owner of the building he practices in, the suppliers of equipment and so on. Even the patient that believes in chiropractic has a dependency and will not shift unless the benefit is greater than the embarrassment and cost of re-believing in something else. It is an ecosystem.

Ok, let's talk ecosystems some more. I hate flies and roaches. Flies sort of have a good niche in the web of life and I am sure there are some legitimate niches for the humble roach. But I hate these pests and they have no value in the local area I inhabit. Sure, if I keel over dead, maybe they have a part in the web O' life, but not while my girlfriend is still there to shuffle me off for proper disposal.

I hate flies. I hate roaches too. They are stupid adaptations of nature. Calling them stupid isn't going to help solve the existence of flies and roaches. As far as I know, short of a laser defense system under every leaf, stone, or the junk in my house, calling them names is not going to eliminate nature's process of adaption that allows these pests to be very successful at being pests. Calling chiropractic stupid is just as stupid as calling flies et al stupid.

Got a solution to eliminate and repurpose flies or chiropractic? Didn't think so.

Got a way to convince someone with a strong belief in something unsupported by pure science? Didn't think so.

Got a way to educate every man woman and child in the practice of critical thinking and enforce its application? Didn't think so.

Curing wacky thinking is like wishing for world peace.

These pseudoscience bigots need to stop ignoring the other side of science and how we make decisions. The human brain is purpose built to believe in crap because that is efficient. The only way you are going to change some of these people is to just show them how their brains came to these beliefs and the aforementioned alternate reality where unscientific hokum is real.

Pseudoscience needs to be rebranded as the study of how people believe and even thrive on bad data, poor logic, and their strong beliefs. Pseudoscience hate speech needs to be banned.

But here is a dose of my own medicine. Why is this hate manifesting in these science geeks? Simply because of the very same weak mind. It is cheaper to call someone a bad name and question their parentage than it is to study persuasion and the brain. Just like race prejudice too, it is an us-verses-them mentality. Defend the family from vermin, especially if they don't have the same beliefs.

It is also about survival. We saw what happened in the Bush era where non-science political appointees gutted science based establishments. Of course the same could be said about the behavior of people when we had forced integration. Night and day in the cause, but the emotion is the same. People are scared that a non-science person will be able to kill science and put the scientifically minded folks out of a job. Sorry science geeks (and I include myself), we are ruleby survival instincts and the brain's need to operate efficiently.