As we have discussed repeatedly, chiropractors tend to be critical of vaccinations. This attitude is easily traced back to DD Palmer, the founding father of chiropractic, who famously wrote about smallpox vaccinations: ‘…the monstrous delusion … fastened on us by the medical profession, enforced by the state boards, and supported by the mass of unthinking people …

In Canada, the anti-vaccination attitude of chiropractors has been the subject of recent media attention. Therefore, researchers explored the association between media attention and public dissemination of vaccination information on Canadian chiropractors’ websites.

In 2016, an international team of investigators identified all Canadian chiropractors’ websites that provided information on vaccination by extracting details from the regulatory college website for each province using the search engine on their “find a chiropractor” page. The researchers assessed the quality of information using the Web Resource Rating Tool (scores range from 0% [worst] to 100% [best]), determined whether vaccination was portrayed in a positive, neutral or negative manner, and conducted thematic analysis of vaccination content. Now the researchers have revisited all identified websites to explore the changes to posted vaccination material.

Here are their findings:

In July 2016, of 3733 chiropractic websites identified, 94 unique websites provided information on vaccination:

  • 59 (63%) gave negative messaging,
  • 19 (20%) were neutral,
  • 16 (17%) were positive.

The quality of vaccination content on the websites was generally poor, with a median Web Resource Rating Tool score of 19%. Four main themes were identified:

  1. there are alternatives to vaccination,
  2. vaccines are harmful,
  3. evidence regarding vaccination,
  4. health policy regarding vaccination.

From 2012 to 2016, there was one single Canadian newspaper story concerning anti-vaccination statements by chiropractors, whereas 51 news articles were published on this topic between 2017 and 2019. In April 2019, 45 (48%) of the 94 websites originally identified in 2016 had removed all vaccination content or had been discontinued.

The authors of this investigation concluded that in 2016, a minority of Canadian chiropractors provided vaccination information on their websites, the majority of which portrayed vaccination negatively. After substantial national media attention, about half of all vaccination material on chiropractors’ websites was removed within several years.

I find these findings encouraging. They demonstrate that media attention can produce change for the better. That gives me the necessary enthusiasm to carry on my work in putting the finger on the dangers of chiropractic and other forms of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). At the same time, the findings of this investigation are also disappointing. About half of all the chiropractors had not removed their misleading content from their websites despite the 51 articles highlighting the problem. This shows, I think, how deeply entrenched this vitalistic nonsense is in the heads of many chiropractor.

This means there is still a lot to do – so, let’s get on with it!

71 Responses to Media attention forces (some) chiropractors to get their act together

  • This attention would be better directed at the bs put out by the vax-lovers.

    • oh dear!

    • In which case, I can only happily recommend a nice dose of polio for you. If you were to survive and not end up in an iron lung or grossly disfigured, while standing next to those who did suffer badly, maybe you would change your mind?
      I wouldn’t count on it though; there is no cure for terminal stupidity.

  • It’s not the “dangers of chiropractic”. It’s the danger of some chiropractors.

    • How does one differentiate between a ‘good chiro and a ‘bad’ one, given none of it has any basis in evidence?
      Only a chiro could think like that. DD made it all up and only the gullible have fallen for the nonsense.

      • “none of it has any basis in evidence”

        Exercise doesn’t have any basis in evidence? Do tell!

        • @DC
          Since when did excercise become part of ‘chiropractic’ ?

          • since they realised that they only have SMT that is more than dubious and they better show something effective to justify their existence – if you ask me.

          • Bjorn…

            DD Palmer first mentions the benefits of exercise in 1910. Exercise started to be incorporated more into textbooks and teachings in the 1940s. BJ Palmer had his rehabilitation lab up and running by at least 1945.

            Also, as a side note, The National School of Chiropractic, in 1912, began teaching physiological therapeutics in the classroom. These included hydrotherapy, massage and “muscle techniques.” By 1916 they were also teaching about using light, heat, cold, electricity, and water as therapeutic approaches.

          • in this case, you ought to adopt all the BS as well that your guru thought highly of.

          • EE, Yes the profession has, and is, evolving…well, for most of us.

          • not so much for you then, if you refer to the great charlatan, Palmer.

          • EE…in this case, you ought to adopt all the BS as well that your guru thought highly of.

            Why? Are other professions obligated to adopt everything that was practiced, or the thinking, from 120 years ago?

          • EE..not so much for you then, if you refer to the great charlatan, Palmer.

            Uh, Bjorn asked a when question. DD Palmer is part of the when and thus part of the answer.

          • I am glad we agree that the founder of your profession was a great charlatan.

          • well, a charlatan is…a person who pretends to have skills or knowledge that they do not have (Cambridge).

            I don’t think this has been demonstrated here.

          • Wow, staggering… if chiros dont use other forms of treatment like exercise they are indeed charlatans….if they do, They are simply covering their tracks and so……must be charlatans. Come on man, the reason you were asked to leave an ‘important’ academic post is cunningly hidden in your bathroom mirror!

          • that’s right!
            that’s what all charlatans do when they run out of arguments.
            they invent something and use it to run a personal attack.
            logical fallacies are alternatives for logical arguments in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM)

          • @DC
            I suspect logic and reason is not one of your stronger attributes?
            ‘Chiropractic’ is a term its inventor used to denote a set of manual methods he also invented, without basis in science or knowledge. He claimed this toolkit of theatrical tricks corrected a set of problems he also invented. This was over one hundred years ago. Since then, the benefit of excercise has been proven, but chiropractic and the problems it is supposed to act upon, still fail to substantiate with certainty.
            The practically uneducated inventor of chiropractic, also sold magnetic paraphernalia with promises of healing properties. By your reasoning then, magnets are also part of chiropractic, right? Such trinkets have been tested and found to be as worthless as the “clicky handle” many chiropractors use in a theatrical fashion.

          • Bjorn. I suspect chiropractic history isn’t one of your stronger areas.

            1. Palmer didn’t invent anything other than a name…chiropractic. Spinal manipulation was being used long before D.D. Palmer was around. The claim spinal manipulation could “cure” various ailments was not anything new. He did focus more on short lever manipulation compared to the osteopathic approach of a long lever.

            2. Magnetic healing of that time and location was not via use of magnets (although it was used by some). What D.D. was doing was termed animal magnetism and consisted more of a massage with the thought that the person had the ability to transfer personal excess of energy through their hands. Paul Caster was a known applicator in the area (he even had a “hospital” in a nearby town). Although Caster thought this was a divine gift, others thought it could be learned and taught. Both Palmer and Still were aware of his approach and adopted it in their early practices.

            3. DD Palmer modified his thinking regarding spinal manipulation and chiropractic over the years. If one is obligated to adopt his thinking and approach in order to be considered practicing chiropractic, I would suggest then that chiropractic died with him.

            4. You questioned when exercise became a part of chiropractic. I provided a brief outline. I don’t have time to play the…let’s move the goalposts.

            Have a good day.

          • Palmer didn’t invent anything other than a name…chiropractic.
            your chiro-history is wrong!
            Rev Weed did invent the name; Palmer did not know ancient Greek

          • Ok. Weed came up with several possibilities. Palmer picked the name chiropractic from the options. He “invented” the profession. Happy?

          • no, I was presented with several options for the title of my book; I chose one – but I did not invent/create it

          • If that is the most serious issue you have of my response to Bjorn…sobeit.

          • So it was someone else who invented[sic] the chiropractic show and the Palmers just pilfered it. So what? It still has not been discovered[sic] to work better than other SCAM and subluxations have still not been substantiated. Meanwhile better methods have been, are being and will be discovered[sic] by scientific methodology. Your reasoning still does not hold.

          • You wanted to know…”Since when did excercise (sic) become part of ‘chiropractic’ ?”

            I have answered that question.

          • Hi Bjorn, guess what, I am still alive. You told me 22 months was an average life expectancy in 2013

            At what point are you impressed that quackery and me trying cannabis seemed to work better than chemotherapy on an “incurable” stage 4 cancer . Perhaps it was me refusing flu vaccines during treatment.

          • How wonderful, dear Richard, that your salubrity has decided to pursue the upper slopes of the normal distribution!
            I wholeheartedly rejoice with you.

            I fear, however, that your apreciation of the principles governing fortune, probability and natural variability leaves much to be desired. I therefore suggest, in your own best interest, that you use the time fortune has given you to study the basics of statistics and probability.
            This might help you come to an adequate understanding of why your own fortune does not suffice to corroborate fantasies of a miracle medicine, only the fact that just a small part of the population enjoys a fortune corresponding to the average, most areeither under, or as you in your good fortune, to a varying degree above the average.
            Be happy for what luck and science has given you. Cannabis is still not the answer 😉

  • Same old Edzard, bashing the Chiros till he is 6ft under 😀
    Some chiropractors are indeed awful, as the above person says…’some’ is the key word. With that critical scientific eye youd have thought dear ol’ edzard would have been razor sharp with his vocab….sadly Edzard has an axe to grind and grind it he shall!:D Must be excruciating knowing chiro lives on 😉

  • @Bruce (and the other chiros who’ve posted on recent threads)

    “Must be excruciating knowing chiro lives on” Perhaps, but that depends which version of chiropractic lives on. This thread alone illustrates what I mean when I bang on about the “no true chiropractor” analogy to the “No true Scotsman” example, but I have the feeling that chiros still don’t get it.

    When you say things like “Some chiropractors are indeed awful…” you’re in fact saying “no true chiropractor would, e.g., support the subluxation concept.” Just like saying “No true Scotsman would put sugar on his porridge.”

    “No true chiropractor would offer their client only SMT.” “No true chiropractor would give positive support to vaccination” “No true chiropractor would fail to support vaccination” [both examples from the original post of this thread]. “No true chiropractor would support exercise as part of “chiropractic”. You see, it’s very simple and it’s all there in the comments to this thread. “Chiropractic” is such a vague, undefined term, you can knead it to mean just about anything you care to.

    • Yes agreed. With all that on board, funny to think……I’m not a chiropractor, nor do I want to be one!!!
      I work for the nhs….theres an irony there somewhere? I must confess I know nothing of scotsman however 🙂

      • You can simply Google “No true Scotsman” and discover for yourself. Wikipedia devotes an entire article to the subject.

      • @Bruce,
        I know someone who used to work for the NHS (proper noun acronyms are capitalised) and I thought her fellow employees may have been of similarly high skills and intelligence, but I am obviously wrong

        Anyway, why do you seemingly support chiro when you know so little about it, or much else for that matter?

        • Yes, I am indeed well informed (proper sentences tend to end with a little dot). I have a very good grasp of Chriopractic (oh look, another capital letter :). Don’t submerge yourself in questioning someone’s knowledge base kind fellow (or their English, its gets tiresome and misses the point). Just feel assured that I have a good all round grasp of Chiropractic, its history and what it claims to be/do etc. That should be enough for good debate. Let my knowledge have its say, not my CV.

          John Philips on that fateful night on April14th 1912, “Iceberg? Well what do they know?”.

  • The question that springs to my mind is whether restrictions on advertising of out of scope actitivities reduce consumer demand?

    • This doesnt appear to be occurring in some areas of Canada. The increased/enforced restrictions on advertising may be a reason for increased utilization.

  • It wasnt a personal attack… and as I keep saying Im not a Chiropractor. I m employed as a scientist in the NHS (capitals important Ive been told!) and have enjoyed my work for the last 25 years. Never had any direct dealings with Chiropractors, Osteopaths or similar. I, like you have an opinion. Mine is only forged from personal research and debate with colleagues in the canteen or the local pub!
    Im not ‘having a go’ I m simply a curious mind, if I am to take your well read opinion as just that (and I have no doubt it is well read), why were you asked to leave your academic post in Plymouth (?) so abruptly? Simple question. Unlike those clearly devious and slippery Chiropractors, can you give an honest answer? Its just that I have heard rumours in the academic circles in which I swim and I would like to hear it from the horses mouth so to speak!?

    • “why were you asked to leave your academic post in Plymouth (?) so abruptly?”
      I have given the answer dozens of times:
      1) HRH filed a complaint against me.
      2) my Uni ran a 13 months investigation.
      3) then I was found not guilty as accused.
      4) meanwhile my Uni had run down my Dept.
      5) I decided to retire
      6) my Uni hired me back for half a year.
      pity it’s not true.
      [btw: my post was NOT in Plymouth – easy mistake to make, if one is a moron]

      • Well that’s interesting, half of that is indeed true. Well done. The other half? s…..well not so much. Both edzard and chiropractic despise each other, yet so much in common 🙂

        • yes, let’s not bother about the truth!
          Plymouth, Exeter – who cares.
          let’s just claim that half of what I say is true.
          let’s not provide any evidence for any claim.
          let’s behave in the good old chiro-tradition where truth is not all that important.
          geographical truth, historical truth – not important!

          • Yes you are right 😀 I deliberately tried to hide the fact that Exeter is not Plymouth and Plymouth is not Exeter, Im a Devonshire con artist, guilty as charged. So now we have that terrible skeleton out of my cupboard maybe the spotlight turns to you?
            I’m intrigued by the “I decided to retire” bit…. I heard a clearly fabricated falsehood (from a Chiropractor no doubt!) that retirement was decided for you not by you?
            [oO No name calling yet? …Socrates bit didnt get mentioned?! ]

          • as I said: chiros like to make their own truths

      • Now come on, lets not let the Geography of Devon distract us… unless that’s what you intended?
        Name calling now? Goodness me, I must have touched a nerve kind sir…
        Great article you must have a read…
        Anthony Watts: “When You Resort To Name Calling, You’ve Lost The Argument”.
        Did’nt Socrates once say “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser”.

        • I have no idea what Chiropractors like to do or not. I care not what sits in the mind of a Chiropractor…. or not. I do know however that a credible scientist would debate with both balance and fact. When Tyson bit Holyfield on the ear, Holyfield knew he had him beat. My ear has been nipped by the Geography of Devonshire and name calling. Not much else sadly?! Ha. Saved by the bell!

          • oh Bruce!
            you claim that I am lying about my past but cannot provide evidence for your claim.
            what does that make you, if not a complete idiot?

          • Dear Bruce,

            I don’t know you nor anything about you, but I do have a feeling that Edzard must be more than a little frustrated to receive personal comments from a shouty individual who can’t even take the trouble to read his bio (click on the “About” button at the head of the blog) or to look up his biography from third party sources with a Google search. A true scientist, which you claim to be, would be mortified to have confused a detail like Plymouth with Exeter.

            And, no, Socrates never said “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” []. But maybe you’re not interested in establishing factual evidence. You couldn’t even bother to Google “No true Scotsman”, unlike Zebra, who found the Wikipedia article to be a perfectly reasonable introduction to the topic.

            So come on, Bruce, enlighten us with the detail of your “personal research and debate with colleagues in the canteen or the local pub!” that informs your opinion. I’m sure we’re all agog to hear from you as a self-declared credible scientist. Please do tell us the substance of the rumours you have heard in the academic circles in which you swim, otherwise Edzard’s terse responses to your name calling are more than warranted and the rest of us have nothing to debate. If you have something to put up for debate, please put it up. Otherwise I, for one, shall regard your comments as trolling.

  • I m pretty sure I said it was a rumour circulating that I was keen to dispel, armed only with an interesting testimony from a good friend in a pub! Terrible science I know. Interestingly, what made my ears prick up was that that old friend coincidentally shared the same employer as you, at the same time you did, small world you may say! His name shall remain under ones hat, think its best. Ok, back with tools of slander (groan).

  • A true scientist? When did I make this claim? Let alone use this phrase!!? (I think you are single handedly pedaling the ‘true scotsman’ for all its worth). Think you better quickly re read 🙂

  • Excellent news, Socrates on direct dial! That’s clear proof by the way. For sure. No doubt.

    Still waiting for proof I said I’m a credible scientist however? Let alone from a credible institution!? Unfortunate stumble from a clear shining beacon for truth and evidence. Oh dear.

    Scientists mortified to mix up Plymouth and Exeter? Ok now I admit that did raise a little smile. Yes it’s a burning subject fizzing away on the tongues of the scientific community…. “dont mix them up you fool otherwise your academic career will lay in tatters!” This must be in jest? Surely?! If it’s not and this is a genuine attempt to give me the debating “both barrels” then a word to the wise, whatever debating club your are enrolled in please try a new one! (Still chuckling about that devon one:).

    • you almost manage to distract us from the lies you posted about me vial a rumour

      • Who am I to say it’s true or untrue? Im just an observer. I think I mentioned it was a rumour? Yes I’m pretty sure I did.
        The source of the rumour was dynamite however. Right from the engine room. They seem to contradict your glossy bio? Guess we will never know the truth for sure, I will catch up with him for zoom pint next week so watch this space, maybe I could give HRH a ring 🙂

  • I’m intrigued by what actually went on…
    “In 2012/13, I retired under circumstances that, I am afraid, were not to the credit or integrity of my peers”. So maybe me ol pal’s take on it is not entirely fabricated? Never mind the pub gossip, this could blow the roof on our sleepy village book club. Maybe guest speaker?

    • yes, now we are were we started:
      1) HRH filed a complaint against me.
      2) my Uni ran a 13 months investigation.
      3) then I was found not guilty as accused.
      4) meanwhile my Uni had run down my Dept.
      5) I decided to retire
      6) my Uni hired me back for half a year.

      • Not entirely back where we started, we’ve rather skimmed over the ‘peers’ bit?

        • so, read my memoir and then ask questions

          if not, nobody can possibly take you seriously

        • @Bruce
          You must by now have realized that your spluttering efforts to justify yourself are nothing more than that. Afficionados of this blog must be frustrated to read comments from someone who doesn’t first explain to whom his retorts are addressed. A simple “@” as in the present example will suffice, though if you wish not to appear hostile from the outset, a form of words such as “Dear Bruce,” which I used in my comment unequivocally addressed to your good self yesterday will also suffice.

          The four comments you’ve made since mine of yesterday afternoon
          seem to address the points I made, so I’ll assume that’s the case.

          So what have you brought up for debate? An unspecified malicious rumour obtained from one of your friends from pub gossip. We still don’t know what that rumour is, but I think we get close in your remark at 12:03 on Saturday where you assert that Edzard’s retirement was decided for him not by him. But you present zero supporting evidence for this claim beyond the fact (established by yourself) that it’s pub gossip. That puts it below even sloppy anecdotal reporting of clinical claims that we know have no value as evidence of anything.

          It would help us all enormously if you could at least remember what you do and don’t write in your comments. For example, yesterday you wrote “Still waiting for proof I said I’m a credible scientist however? Let alone from a credible institution!?” You say something similar about your status as a “true scientist”. Try your comment of May 16th at 16:31. “I m employed as a scientist in the NHS … and have enjoyed my work for the last 25 years.” If that’s not intended to establish your credibility as a scientist, working for 25 years in a credible institution, I don’t know what is.

          There’s no point going on about the sheer daftness of whatever position you imagine you’re striking. Please do take up Alan Henness’s suggestion of making an FOI request to Exeter University concerning whether Edzard walked or was pushed into retirement. I’m sure Exeter’s Admin department will be thrilled to receive a request on an issue of such obvious importance to medicine. Yesterday you told us “I think I mentioned it was a rumour? Yes I’m pretty sure I did. The source of the rumour was dynamite however. Right from the engine room.“ So, as a scientist interested in evidence why not just tell us the name of the dynamite source of the rumour? And exactly what the rumour is. Then we might make some progress in discussing the topic in this blog.

          Until that time, however, Bruce’s rumour will always have the status as summed up so eloquently in Edzard’s comment yesterday afternoon…”oh Bruce! you claim that I am lying about my past but cannot provide evidence for your claim. What does that make you, if not a complete idiot?”

  • Excellent, I will line your pocket at the same time (im sure there is an irony there somewhere?). Still intrigued by your account of the ‘peer’ bit, maybe the book will reveal all. As a very interested spectator I will have both sides of the story sat at the same table.

    • Come on alan catch up, as said I have doubts the frictions and personality clashes amongst academics will find themselves into official documents, do you? I know, send me a FOI request and I will let you know if I requested a FOI.
      You got 4 weeks! 😉

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