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Chiropractor Prefers Lawsuits to Rational Discussion PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

sas-libelAustralian chiropractor Joseph Ierano was rather upset with the Australian Skeptics organization recently. So upset was he, that he filed a complaint with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, a government body that keeps track of and prosecutes based on claims of malfeasance regarding medical issues.

So what was Joseph Ierano's complaint? He's upset that the Australian Skeptics republished an article by TAMLondon speaker Simon Singh. He sent Australian Skeptics a very detailed list of questions based on the article, even though they were merely reprinting it and not the original authors. When he hadn't received an answer in two weeks, he filed his complaint. In fact, a very detailed response was sent three weeks after the original request by Ierano. Eran Segev, president of Australian Skeptics painstakingly went through each of Ierano's points and provided detailed answers. You see, Ierano claims to be a "self-professed genuine sceptic." Why he needed to profess his "self-professedness," I'm not sure. I'm also not sure who the authority is granting the "genuine" stamp to skeptics, self-professed or not. I wonder if I'm an artificial skeptic after all.

But I digress. Why involve litigation at all? If Ierano has some valid points to make, the Australian Skeptics would have been glad to consider them as well as promote them, should they prove to be valid. Skepticism sides only with evidence, and if Ierano had heretofore unrealized information about how chiropractics is effective, he had a chance to convince some people.

Instead, he chose to complain, revealing to all that he is not interested in a discussion but rather silencing of an organization that did no more than report on an already widely publicized article. Now, a volunteer organization once more has to deal with the burden of frivolous legal entanglement, something the JREF is all too familiar with. Given what happened to Singh after his article was published, I wonder if this isn't a sign of things to come.

Please familiarize yourself with this case by visiting the Australian Skeptics site, and with Simon Singh's case as well. Litigation should not be allowed to stifle information.

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written by kmaglione, October 11, 2009
Jeff, your typos are getting bad, lately.

EDITED BY JEFF WAGG: it is very helpful if someone can point them out to me.
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written by MadScientist, October 11, 2009
Unfortunately in Australia, as in the UK, the truth of a statement has little to do with whether or not the defendant can be found liable for something. How this turns out depends in part on what claims are ultimately made against the Ozzie Skeptics. On the other hand, the loser in a court battle can be ordered to cover all court costs and the legal expenses of the winner; it would be great if the skeptics win out. smilies/smiley.gif
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Lawsuit?
written by Seantheblogonaut, October 11, 2009
You sure its a lawsuit? My reading of it was that he simply complained to the HCCC. No lawyers involved
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Include me in!
written by Peter Bowditch, October 11, 2009
As I also published Simon Singh's article (with additional material from the BCA's own web site) I haved asked Mr Ierano when he is planning to report me to the HCCC. I have not yet received an answer.

http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2009/10october.htm#3hccc2
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written by kdv, October 11, 2009
Like Sean, I can't see any mention of lawsuits or legal action on the Aust Skeptics site. A complaint to the HCCC is just that, a complaint, not any kind of legal action, although the HCCC does have legal authority to investigate and report. However their authority only extends to the providers of health care services, so I doubt that the HCCC will do any more than declare that the complaint doesn't fall within their authority. That's if they can stop laughing for long enough. smilies/cheesy.gif

Two additional points here:

Firstly, the Skeptics reply is dated 6th September. If the three weeks response time is accurate, that means the original letter to them would have been received in mid-August. The chiropractor's complaint to the HCCC is dated 21st August, which means he only waited a few DAYS, not two weeks, before complaining to the HCCC about lack of response.

Secondly, readers here might enjoy reading details of another HCCC complaint, this time about the activities of the AVN ( self-named Australian Vaccination Network ), which is one of the anti-vax groups. ( http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/...cc0908.pdf ) I wish I had the ability to write a complaint so well! It is still being considered.

I agree with the general thrust of this article, though. Like most "alternative" practitioners, chiropractors defend their position with every tactic possible .... except evidence!
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written by Seantheblogonaut, October 11, 2009
@Peter,

Me too smilies/grin.gif. Mind you his own site skates a fine line both in terms of aesthetics an medical info.
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Typos
written by JeffWagg, October 11, 2009
There were more than usual, and I apologize.
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written by Otara, October 11, 2009
The most interesting aspect of this of course is that someone is making a complaint about a person for saying chiropractic techniques dont work, when a major plank of their practise and other 'alternative types' rests on claims that conventional medicine doesnt work as well as their own techniques, which they are entirely unqualified to claim.

So I would agree that this should be a general standard, ie critique of particular medical techniques and recommendations to avoid them should only be done by those clearly qualified to do so. A few lawsuits on the skeptic side would probably be worth the thousands you'd see alternative medicide getting in return.

Hopefully people realise Im not entirely serious. I _do_ think that people need to be held to a high standard of accuracy when throwing mud, but its pretty obvious ledger wise who would come out ahead if it was applied equally.

Otara
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written by Otara, October 11, 2009
Alternative medicide was an typo but I think I like it!
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written by Otara, October 12, 2009
You could always ask for your money back.
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written by GMJ, October 12, 2009
Chiropractors are quacks. So sue me.
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written by GMJ, October 12, 2009
My intent is is cause others to not patronize the chiroquacks. I wish to have a negative effect on their ability to attract new clients. I can do this with total impunity.
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Curious decision
written by RobbieD, October 12, 2009
The Simon Singh case did not establish that there is any substance to chiropractic - indeed the Judge noted that the claims of chiropractic were unfounded and its adherents deluded. The absurdity is that the judge concluded that the BCA was 'genuinely deluded' rather than perpetrating a fraud. To use the Singh judgement as somehow supportive of Chiropractic would be false.

The worrying thing is that the judgement seems to place 'genuinely deluded' people beyond responsibility for the consequences of their delusions i.e. they cannot be said to be frauds (or bogus), and this potentially impacts on a vast range of things in the woo woo realm.

Looking forward to a sensible decision at the appeal - in the meantime we must get behind Simon Singh.
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written by Willy K, October 12, 2009
Typos
written by JeffWagg, October 11, 2009
There were more than usual, and I apologize.
Maybe your fingers need an adjustment. smilies/wink.gif
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Legal action
written by Eran Segev, October 12, 2009
While the complaint to HCCC is not legal action in the same sense as a lawsuit, it did use the law to attempt to shut us up, and our response needed to be made with reference to relevant laws. Also, since the HCCC is a statutory body, its rulings are subject to legal review, so this could end up in court (though I very much doubt it will).
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To the root of the problem
written by Kuroyume, October 13, 2009
Is there any clinical way to take chiropractors to task on their practice and supposed efficacy? Has it been done to that degree in the past?

A massage (or the more aggressive technique used by chiropractors) might relieve muscle pain and stress but the underlying claims of chiropracty involving correcting subluxations to cure disease cannot be allowed to persist without evidential support (which I doubt exists). In other words, maybe one should challenge the right of Ierano to bring his complaint to the HCCC since his profession isn't actually a medical one. Remove the subluxations and other claims and chiropractors become glorified masseurs.
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written by Gumba Masta, October 14, 2009
@Otara
"Alternative medicide was an typo but I think I like it! "

I think we've found the newest taunt for Team Fortress 2's Medic.
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written by Stargazer9915, October 15, 2009
To MandySmith24.
Why do you continue to read if the writing offends you? Just seems stupid to me.
ALTERNATIVE MEDICIDE Rules smilies/cheesy.gif. If this is the way typos go, keep them coming.
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It's been a long time since I so enjoyed reading posts in the net. Two thumbs up! Two thumbs up!
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