I have read many books about Chiropractic. I have debated -- sort of -- the head of the BC Chiropractic Association on CKNW. I have been appalled by chiro ever since I read an article about manipulating children's soft pallets to make them smarter. When it comes to quackery, they have few competitors (naturopaths would be one of them). My enmity to chiro comes from two other sources: my ex-brother-in-law became one over my objections; and my sister-in-law still sees one occasionally. Since then, I have met grieving families of relatives who have been killed by chiros.
The book talks about JADAD scores and the Chochran Collaboration in the opening discussion about truth. These two ideas are all that separate us from the barbarians.
Ben Goldacre's book (Bad Pharma; Bad Science) have a strong pharma flavor. I like Simon Singh. He has written on other topics, such as Fermat's Enigma, which are far removed from medicine. The book has an index and a nice overview of quackery at the back, essentially one page per BS from Alternative this-and-that’s to Traditional Chinese medicine. This makes it an excellent reference. Instead of trying to cover the whole gamut of alternative crapola, the book concentrates on acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, and herbal remedies. I did not read this book in detail as I have heard most of the arguments in detail in the past. Dr Sampson, an expert in the field of herbs, spoke at two of our BCS meetings. I scanned the acupuncture and homeopathy sections and read the chiro section in detail.
The book opens with a little history and discusses the rise and fall of smoking. One smoker and reader of the BMJ was so shocked by what he read that he gave up reading!
For acupuncture and homeopathy, the main watch word is PLACEBO! Bishop William Doane (d. 1913) wrote this about homeopathy:
Stir the mixture well
Lest it prove inferior,
Then put half a drop
Into Lake Superior.
Every other day,
Take a drop in water,
You'll be better soon
Or at least you oughter.
The issues around Benveniste were discussed in some detail.
I have written a fair bit about chiro over the years. The objections are numerous. Useless dangerous full-spinal X-Rays; money opportunity costs wasted; lies; no theory; random gadgets; equally random diagnostic techniques; and the claim that 95% of what ails you is back related.
In a famous case in Canada, a young woman died (Laurie Mathiason) of chiropractic "treatment" and the chiros lost a major court decision. It required them to issue warnings about the risks of adjustments. They did not. Instead, they denied that the judgement was against them at all! That is, they simply lied.
In one experiment, a healthy young woman was taken to four chiros. One found an "atlas subluxation" and promised paralysis in the future if not treated. The second said she had a hip that was higher than the other; the third diagnosed a "tight neck"; and the last found "stomach problems". All recommended regular adjustments, and three gave "adjustments" without warning, which in the real world is called "assault and battery".
If you have never read a book about the subject, this is an excellent place to start. If you are an old hand, the appendix list of BS is worth the price of admission.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.