There was an encouraging article in today’s news: science writer Simon Singh won the libel suit filed against him by the British Chiropractic Association.  The legal battle began when the BCA sued Singh for writing an article in a British newspaper criticizing chiropractors for offering spinal manipulation to children to cure ailments such as asthma and colic.

As I wrote in an earlier post, the chiropractic profession rejects the Germ Theory of medicine and believes, instead, that all ailment is caused by spinal misalignment – making them the medical equivalent of flat-earthers.

While Singh’s victory is very good news it is unsettling that he needed to defend himself in court against pseudo-scientific nonsense that was discredited by mainstream science long ago.  Worse still is that the two year long court battle cost Singh £200,000.00 in legal fees, not including loss of income due to time spent defending himself.

The danger here is that large, well-funded organizations, such as the BCA, can target individuals who often do not have the resources to defend themselves.  This kind of legal bullying makes it very difficult for scientists to successfully speak out against superstition, pseudoscience, and fraud.

Unlike real scientific disciplines, which are developed over a long period of time by the research of many scientists, chiropractic was invented by one man in 1895.  D.D. Palmer, a grocer and “magnetic healer” invented chiropractic when he did something to a deaf man’s back.  The man said that he could hear again which, if true, had nothing to do with his back adjustment.  Palmer decided then that all disease was caused by misaligned bones, mainly in the spine.  This hypothesis was never tested, then or since, nor has any school of chiropractic ever been associated with a legitimate university.

Yet, thousands of people swear by their chiropractors including many of my friends.  So there must be something beneficial about chiropractic, right?  Well, yes: spinal manipulations have been shown to be effective in treating certain types of low back pain, but that is the only benefit of chiropractic and spinal manipulations are no more effective than other treatments.  Furthermore such manipulations can be performed by physical therapists.  Chiropractic certainly cannot treat asthma, colic, or any other ailment or disease.

One of the most positive consequences of this court case according to Singh is “that the chiropractic profession has been put under intense scrutiny,” and that “one in four chiropractors in the UK is now being investigated for making allegedly misleading claims.”

It is ironic that the BCA’s attempt to silence Singh has dragged their fraudulent practices into the light.  Chiropractic has been masquerading as a legitimate mainstream medical profession for over a century and it is high time that notion was debunked.