August 2016 Puzzles

31 July, 2016

August’s Picture Puzzles and “Mixed Bag” Questions  are at the top of the PUZZLES PAGE ;

August 2016 Skeptical Crossword Puzzle revisits Chiropractic ;

and there’s a set of August 2016 Logic & Maths Problems .


Dr Ken Harvey on the Radio – Chiropractic Advertising

13 September, 2015
Dr Ken Harvey

Dr Ken Harvey

By Mal Vickers

Dr Ken Harvey, a friend of the Vic Skeptics was recently interviewed on ABC Radio National. (play the interview below)

The subject up for discussion was advertising by chiropractic businesses. The interview was prompted by an article Dr Ken Harvey recently authored for the MJA (Australian Medical Journal).

In the article, Ken expresses his concerns that not much has changed in the last five years since the regulator, AHPRA (incorporating the Chiropractic Board of Australia, CBA), issued a warning via a newsletter for chiropractors to clean up their advertising.

AHPRA stated:

The Board asks all chiropractors to review their advertising including their websites as a priority to ensure that the content meets the advertising requirements of the National Law and the provisions of the Guidelines on Advertising. There are criminal penalties for breaching section 133 of the National Law, which is set out in the attachment to this communiqué.

AHPRA newsletter, Aug. 2010

Since then, a CBA statement has also reminded chiropractors about their advertising obligations “in more than six publications in the past three years…Read the rest of this entry »

Does Osteopathy Work? Is it Scientific?

30 May, 2015

Osteopathy graphic 800W

By Mal Vickers

I was recently asked, “Does osteopathy work? Is it scientific?” The short answer is: osteopathy is unlikely to be effective for most health conditions. It’s a form of alternative medicine. I wouldn’t put it in the category of a sciencebased medicine. Read on if you’re interested in why I would think such a thing.

It’s difficult to definitively answer questions like this for three reasons.

One – Science is all about probability.

Two – it’s hard to prove a negative.

Three – it’s not a very clear question.

If the idea is to sort the wheat from the chaff in medical treatments, there are better/tougher questions to ask.

Let’s try to explore it.

Whole health disciplines might contain just a handful of useful treatments for some ailments, Read the rest of this entry »

January Puzzles

31 December, 2014

qskep * Our January 2015 SKEPTICAL CROSSWORD is, as usual, available in both standard and cryptic versions and has Chiropractic as its theme;

* here are the JANUARY 2015 LOGIC & MATHS PROBLEMS ;

* and new sets of PICTURE PUZZLES  and  “MIXED BAG” (trivia type) QUESTIONS have been placed at the top of the PUZZLES PAGE


Video – Simon Singh Interviews

29 June, 2014
A two-part interview of Simon Singh while in Melbourne earlier this year
a) Trick or Treatment? Beware the Spinal Trap! 

b) The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

    Many thanks to Adam Ford!

Money Well Spent? Dubious Medicine on Medicare

4 May, 2013

By Mal Vickers

Before you read any further, try to guess the answer to this question:medicare chiro acu

In Australia, in 2012, how many chiropractic treatments occurred as a result of a doctor’s referral?

To clarify, I’m not asking for the total number of chiropractic consultations that occur per year, just patients consultations for chiropractic treatment where the patient was referred by a medical doctor – how many? Find the answer in the text below highlighted in red. How close were you?

Medicare Dollars are Taxpayer Dollars

Everyone in Australia pays for Medicare rebates through the tax system. Medicare enables community access to a variety of quality health services but that’s not in question. What I’d really like to look at is how much we pay through the Medicare system for treatments that show little or no efficacy. Read the rest of this entry »

A Letter to Chiropractors about Advertising

20 December, 2012

by Mal Vickers

Back in June 2012, a letter was sent to the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA). The text of this letter is reproduced below. The letter was signed by representatives of the Australian Skeptics and the Tinnitus Association of Victoria.

letter edge texture -430W top

Att: Dr Laurie Tassell

President of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (National) Limited

Date: 19 June 2012

Dear Dr Tassell,

We request that your organisation takes action by removing misleading claims regarding the treatment of medical conditions via chiropractic. It appears to be a practice of a small number of your members to advertise that they can treat conditions for which there is little or no scientific evidence that chiropractic is effective. Read the rest of this entry »

RMIT (Not So) Open Day

3 October, 2011

(Part Two)

by Mal Vickers

And so it was, I went along to RMIT’s Open Day on August 14, 2011, with my camera, voice recorder and some prepared questions.  As any good skeptical researcher would do, I went searching for the evidence and for the experts that might help me find it.

Surely, if there is any up-to-date science behind chiropractic the leaders of chiropractic teaching in Australia would know? Would I be the one to eat humble pie and change my mind if the science had come of age?

The Chiropractic Department at RMIT is housed on the Bundoora Campus, Bundoora is a suburb in the outer north of the Melbourne metropolitan area.

As you would expect of any university open day, there were the usual information booths, people helping with directions and information, tours of the facilities etc. I took a tour of Building 213, the Chiropractic Clinic. On the outside, the sign said Building 213 was the School of Health Sciences, Teaching Clinics. Although once you’re inside, a different sign states RMIT, Complementary Medicine Clinics. (How does that song go? ‘things that make you go, hmmmmmm’) Interestingly, the building is also shared with RMIT’s Chinese Medicine Clinic.

Inside the many chiropractic treatment rooms, were ‘trigger points’ charts.  They look like a cross between genuine science-based anatomical charts and reflexology charts. I don’t wish to get to side-tracked, so if the reader desires, you can side-track yourself and read about the chiropractic idea of ‘trigger points’ on Wikipedia.

It was rather confronting to observe pseudoscience being so openly Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

British Chiropractic Association Withdraws Libel Action.

16 April, 2010

Simon Singh

There has been a major development in the Simon Singh case. The libel action against Dr Singh has collapsed.
You may recall Simon spoke to the Victorian Skeptics at a special dinner last year. The proceeds of that function were donated to the Sense About Science campaign.

Simon Says:

It still staggers me that the British Chiropractic Association and half the chiropractors in the UK were making unsubstantiated claims. It still baffles me that the BCA then dared to sue me for libel and put me through two years of hell before I was vindicated.  And it still makes me angry that our libel laws not only tolerate but also encourage such ludicrous libel suits. My victory does not mean that our libel laws are okay, because I won despite the libel laws. We still have the most notoriously anti-free speech libel laws in the free world.

Here is a link to the BBC announcement of the news.

For those who are new to the Simon Singh Saga: