Traditional Chinese Medicine at RMIT: roll up and start a new life in woo

6 May, 2016

RMIT Open Day TCM 2015

by: Mal Vickers

Imagine you’re in the midst of the stress of VCE and facing those life-changing questions: What do I do with my life? Which university course should I do? You’d want accurate and reliable information, right?

Sadly I witnessed an audience of impressionable, aspiring young people who were considering career moves being given poor information by an Australian university.

In August 2015, I sat in on RMIT’s Open Day presentations promoting a degree courses in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). By the look of the demographic in attendance, most were Year 12 students. About one quarter looked to be the parents, with a few possible mature-age students and one known skeptic, MOI.

Young people are going to be exposed to misleading information and dubious advertising in society, that’s a given. As a society, we’re already taking up a lot of valuable educational time in teaching science and critical thinking, but class time is limited. How much time should we devote to educating students about the many ways people can be misled?
Read the rest of this entry »


Pointing the Bone at RMIT Osteopathy

6 October, 2015

RMIT osteopathy post graphic V2 1000Wby Mal Vickers

Readers of this blog will already know I’m somewhat skeptical of the claims made by the proponents of osteopathy. If you’re at all unsure about where osteopathy sits in relation to current science, I’d recommend reading my previous post on the topic.

RMIT University offers a degree course in osteopathy. I went along to RMIT’s Open Day to take a look at how osteopathy is promoted to prospective students looking for an interesting career in the health sector.

Osteopathy is a kind of quaint, old-fashioned, pre-scientific health care system. Practitioners generally offer forms of joint manipulation and massage in addition to the usual advice offered by many health practitioners – lifestyle, exercise and food. It can be quite hard to distinguish the treatments offered by osteopaths from those of chiropractors. The main difference between osteopathy and chiropractic is historical. The founder of osteopathy was Andrew Taylor Still (1928 – 1917). He appears to have worked by intuition alone and his pronouncements sounded plausible at the time. 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 »


Energy Medicine at RMIT

15 December, 2013

by: Mal Vickers

Energy Medicine’: What is it? And should Australian Universities teach it?

energy medicine

There is a fascinating array of courses available at universities. Like me, do you look for interesting courses that might give you the edge in the jobs market or lead to an exciting new career?

Recently, I learnt that RMIT University offered a course in a relatively new branch of medicine, Energy Medicine.

The ways humanity have explored and improved human health seem endless. There’s pathology, psychology, dentistry, physiotherapy and nuclear medicine to name just a few. Should energy medicine be amongst those?

This new branch of medicine offers hope for naturally improving human health at little or no cost; but is it really effective?

RMIT and Energy Medicine

RMIT University are still advertising Energy Medicine both as a stand-alone subject in which anyone can enrol, and as an elective of the larger ‘Master of Wellness program.

The Master of Wellness program is administered by the Health Science faculty at RMIT.

Masters of Wellness

RMIT’s website indicates that Master of Wellness is Read the rest of this entry »


RMIT Open Day 2012 -Traditional Chinese Medicine

26 September, 2012

By Mal Vickers

I went along to Open Day at RMIT Bundoora.  Oh boy, where do I start?

As a skeptic, I’m interested in the courses offered that seem further along the woo scale than most. To be fair, I should point out that RMIT is a big university, the overwhelming majority of courses on offer are high quality, science or humanities based. However, this is a skeptical blog, RMIT’s Chiropractic and Chinese Medicine disciplines are of interest to me.

In 2011 I took a close look at Chiropractic, I asked some questions about the practice and wrote two blog posts (here and here). A year later my questions about Chiropractic, still remain unanswered.

This year, I thought I’d take a closer look at Chinese Medicine.

RMIT offers a range of courses in both Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, up to and including a degree in Chinese Medicine.

Before I get into the details, here’s a little disclaimer.

Discussing Chinese Medicine can be tricky, due to cultural sensitivities, so let me state what I’m trying to do up front. I question the ‘medicine’ part of the description ‘Chinese Medicine’. Saying something is a ‘medicine’ implies that it’s effective for, at least, some health conditions. The associated cultural grouping is irrelevant. I could be investigating ‘Collingwood Supporter’s Medicine’ or ‘Morris Dancer’s Medicine’ – it’s the ‘medicine’ part that interests me. I also wish to question 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 »