Recent Controversies in Chiropractic and RMIT Courses/Clinic

29 September, 2011

by Mal Vickers

Hello all, this is the first post of a two-part series on my concerns about RMIT University and chiropractic. In this first post, I’ll mention some of the recent controversies in chiropractic. In the second post, I’ll write about my visit to RMIT Open Day and my attempt to ask an expert in chiropractic some questions about its practices.

For those that might be wondering – why do this? I’m a former RMIT student. RMIT’s association with pseudoscience, in my opinion, diminishes the greater and more worthwhile subjects such as engineering, arts, humanities and science-based academic courses offered in other departments of the University.

For a quick refresher on the sceptical and historical view of chiropractic you might try the Skeptics Dictionary entry.

RMIT claims the following:

RMIT is a leader in chiropractic tertiary education offering the world’s first government-supported chiropractic program.

RMIT offers undergraduate courses or you can go all the way and receive a PhD in Chiropractic. Indeed it does appear that RMIT is the leading institution educating chiropractors in the Australian.

Is chiropractic at RMIT really worthy of government (read: tax-payer’s dollars) support? Read the rest of this entry »

Analysis of Anti-Vax Graphs

8 November, 2010

Originally posted here; this article shows how convincing-looking graphs can be misused. Robert Webb writes:

The anti-vaccine movement sometimes presents graphs to support their cause, supposedly to show that diseases were on the decline before vaccines came along, and that vaccines had no effect. Graphs seem hard to argue with. They look scientific, represent actual data, and are compelling to many people. And indeed a good graph should be compelling. But their graphs are not good. Let’s have a look at how the true data, which supports the fact that vaccines have had a huge positive effect, can be manipulated to manufacture the conclusion the anti-vax movement wants.

Death rates

Firstly, most of the graphs they show are of death rates, not infection rates. Yes, death rates dropped significantly before vaccines were introduced because other improvements in medicine and sanitation meant that we were better at treating the disease, but it does not indicate that less people had the disease to begin with.

They also tend to show graphs going back a long time to when death rates for common diseases like measles were very high. To fit these high figures on the graph it’s necessary to scale down all the figures, meaning that by the time the vaccine is introduced you can no longer see any drop it may have caused in deaths.

They never show graphs of death rates from third world countries where due to poor sanitation etc. death rates for diseases like measles can still be quite high.

Here’s a nice graph though showing both infection and death rates in the US and it’s clear from both that the 1963 vaccine had a huge effect.

Measles, cases per year (click - full size)

The anti-vaxxers claim (e.g. here) that death rates are more reliable than infection rates because they don’t trust the diagnoses made by doctors. The idea is that doctors are biased against Read the rest of this entry »

Superheros Are Amongst Us!

20 September, 2010

by Lucas Randall (aka Codenix)

I used to think superheros were the domain of fiction, existing only in comic-books and on film, their powers limited to battling their super-villain foe, equally the domain of fiction. I didn’t realise superheros and super-villains are actually real, living amongst us and affecting our lives in very real ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Anti Vaccination Group Investigated on the ABC

24 July, 2010

We’ve been quite hard on old aunty ABC lately i.e. the recent post about the pseudoscientific practice of Transcendental Meditation on the ABC TV’s number one science program Catalyst.

It’s time to make up and give the ABC a big kiss for this story about the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN).  We’ve been banging on for years saying the AVN are hiding the fact that they are an anti vaccination organisation with no interest in giving parents balanced information about vaccines.

The NSW, Health Care Complaints Commission’s report on the AVN is due for release soon.  The report was sparked by a courageous complaint by Ken Macleod.

In case you missed it, the Lateline story about the AVN is now up on YouTube.

A great piece of investigative journalism from Steve Cannane.  Promote him to head of ABC science….. please?


The Health Care Complaints Commission’s Enquiry into the Australian Vaccination Network

14 July, 2010

by Dr Stephen Basser

The concept of informed consent is an important one in medicine. Modern science based health care is a complex entity and it is the responsibility of those who dispense health care, or communicate about it, to present evidence regarding medical treatments and procedures in a balanced way. This means objectively discussing benefits and risks to assist consumers of health care to make informed decisions about their care. Read the rest of this entry »