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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

BCA v Singh: The Plethora?

The British Chiropractic Association have just issued this document, containing a list of their research papers, as well as yet another attempt by them to justify this misconceived legal action.

10 comments:

Trevor said...

Well, they never said they had _good_ evidence, did they?

Anonymous said...

It does seem as though Simon Singh has made three genuine mistakes:

1) He failed to research his subject, although the evidence presented may be of a fairly poor quality the is clearly more than a jot.

2) He used rather obviously defamatory comments that he has publicaly stated that he did not mean. This has been established by the findings of Eady.

3) He did not withdraw his comments or apologise. This would have been the professional and mature approach that I would have expected from such a well respected and talented science commentator.

The resulting campaign to reform libel law is probably still justified but should not be a vehicle to promote Simon Singh or beat the chiropractic profession. The further radical and abusive campaign seen in the blogsphere is a disgrace to those of us who value open debate and objective thinking.

gimpyblog said...

Did you notice they have released papers claiming chiropractor's can treat colic and ear infections yet the ASA specifically forbid this...

Owen said...

I tire of the phrase "misconceived legal action". Moreover it reminds me of the mildly irritating "this failing government" catchphrase the Conservative Party was using for a while. By contrast, the word "plethora" never loses its charm.

Can we use something more amusing or more obscene? I'm liking the word "flatulent" in this context but am as ever open to new horizons.

Twaza said...

The BCA cite a BMJ paper by Sackett et al as supporting their view that "Evidence-based medicine is about integrating individual clinical expertise and the best external evidence".

What Sackett et al actually said is "The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research."

They omitted the inconvenient bit I have emphasized.

I wonder if they agree with both parts of Sackett et al's explanation of EBM that "External clinical evidence both invalidates previously accepted diagnostic tests and treatments and replaces them with new ones that are more powerful, more accurate, more efficacious, and safer".

Mong H Tan, PhD said...

I fully concur with what Anonymous said above. In fact, I’ve also made such a recent analysis of this case, and more, that I posted here: “I don’t know what to say -- RE: The Nature editorial: Unjust burdens of proof -- A counterpoint analysis!” (NatureNetworkUK; June 15).

Best wishes to all! Mong 6/18/9usct12:05p.

Anonymous said...

Gimpyblog, you said:

"Did you notice they have released papers claiming chiropractor's can treat colic and ear infections yet the ASA specifically forbid this..."

So, the BCA have released a list of research papers for us to discuss in the media and you are suggesting that this should be quashed not by other science but by the ASA. Stange standards.

mmcackay40 said...

Although I live in Canada, because I am a lawyer and skeptic, I find the Simon Singh libel case quite fascinating.

In Canada, the conduct of the parties after commencement of the action is relevant, so the BCA's recent statement would be, as some bloggers have said, evidence of the BCA's intention, which would support the truth of Simon Singh's statement, even as interpreted by Mr. Justice Eady.

I got the sense that he interpreted Singh's statement to mean that the BCA knowingly promoted bogus treatments because he said "happily" promotes -- which I took to mean not a a reference to the BCA's state of mind, if it could have one, but to the source of the promotion, the BCA's "Happy Families" brochure.

I went back to my copy of Trick or Treatment (the U.S. edition) and found the following passages:

At page 166-7: "Ernst and Cantor looked at headaches, period pains,infantile colic, asthma and allergies. Their conclusions were universally negative -- there was no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any of these conditions.

"This should not be very surprising, as there is no logical, rational or scientific reason why manipulating a patient's spine should treat, for example, allergies."

And at page 168:

"... as supposedly responsible Chiropractic bodies in European countries offer misleading information about the power of chiropractic therapy. For example, the general Chiropractic Council, which oversees chiropractic therapy in Britain publishes a leaflet entitled 'What can I expect when I see a chiropractor?', which states that chiropractic therapy can lead to an improvement in 'some types of asthma, headaches, including migraine, and infant colic'. Yet it is well known that the evidence from trials fails to support these claims."

The alleged libel in Singh's Guardian article seems to be nothing more than a shorter, more pointed, statement to the same effect as the one on page 168, perhaps using a different leaflet as an example.

Mong H Tan, PhD said...

RE: Which is on trial: The book or the Guardian article!?

@mmcackay40: I think the book “Trick or Treatment (the U.S. edition)” is not on trial here.

What is on trial here, is the alleged libel in Singh's Guardian article, as I analyzed recently here: “I don’t know what to say -- RE: Eyeing at broader view of things, or risk an identity crisis!” (NatureNetworkUK; June 17).

Best wishes, Mong 6/23/9usct4:22p.

Anonymous said...

18 June 2009 00:19 Another anonymous said: "It does seem as though Simon Singh has made three genuine mistakes:

1) He failed to research his subject, although the evidence presented may be of a fairly poor quality the is clearly more than a jot."

Wrong- "evidence" as poor as that offered by the BCA does not count towards a jot.

"3) He did not withdraw his comments or apologise. This would have been the professional and mature approach ..."

No- until the judge saddled Singh with that definition of bogus, his statement was correct as written.