A special report by Ghengis McKahn
(cub reporter for “Individual Empowerment”
firstname.lastname@example.org ABN withheld)
On 13 July 2013, a special report into chiropractors was published on the ABC show Catalyst. This program has been widely and negatively commented upon as a piece of dishonest journalism. However it was not until I actually sat down and went through what was said that realised how bad the performance of the doctors was.
The transcript can be found here:
Upon my review I have concluded that 5 of the 6 doctors were in clear breach of “Good Medical Practice” and should face investigation by AHPRA the Australian Health Practitioners Authority:
The most obvious breaches are in section 4.2
4.2 Respect for medical colleagues and other healthcare professionals
Good patient care is enhanced when there is mutual respect and clear communication between all healthcare professionals involved in the care of the patient. Good medical practice involves:
- 2.1 Communicating clearly, effectively, respectfully and promptly with other doctors and healthcare professionals caring for the patient.
- 2.2 Acknowledging and respecting the contribution of all healthcare professionals involved in the care of the patient.
- 2.3 Behaving professionally and courteously to colleagues and other practitioners including when using social media.
For the sake of simplicity, I will focus here on John Dwyer and John Cunningham. They are both well known, outspoken and aggressive critics of chiropractic.They are both members of the Friends of Science in Medicine (FOSM), a group regarded by many as a front organisation for Pharmaceutical Industry interests. I’m yet to formally confirm this for myself, but I am sure the documents will at some stage be sent to me through my now extensive network.
Dwyer is the president of FOSM. FOSM is closely allied to the Australian Skeptics and a rather unsavoury group called Stop the Anti vaccination Network (SAVN) has been associated with systematic “outing” and attacks through AHPRA on anyone who they dislike. They openly boast of this on their website and have been tied to threats made to Meryl Dorey – the founder of the Australian Vaccination Network.
One piece of evidence for this is a text/twitter message from a Lord Ken McLeod revealing Meryl Dorey’s address and hinting that she should be burned to death.
SAVN have proudly claimed Mr John Cunningham as one of their own.
He has been awarded an OAM, and in my eyes that is a reason for real Australians to feel deep shame. A follow up piece will document all the aggressive actions he has been involved in. However, for the moment the simple fact of his associations is enough. Many senior doctors in high places are also members- including the head of the Australian Medical Board Associate Prof Stephen Adelstein.
So, let’s have a look at the transcript. I will deal with Emeritus Professor John Dwyer first, then Cunningham. The others will keep for another day.
Emeritus Professor John Dwyer says “Much of modern chiropractic, unfortunately, has descended into the realm of quackery”. He has no qualification in chiropractic, and there is no evidence he has ever studied it closely. His careful phrase “much of it has descended into quackery” neatly avoids defining a group so precisely that he can be sued. This is a classic pseudoskeptic technique.”
It is also in breach of section 4.2 of Good Medical Practice, the code of conduct for doctors.
It’s the move into paediatrics, and the enormous number of chiropractors who are trying to set up paediatric clinics and claiming that they can cure a range of paediatric conditions, that is really troublesome.
According to whom is it troublesome, and on what grounds?
Emeritus Professor John Dwyer says “I think it is. Dissatisfaction with a quickie turnover turnstile medicine approach is a factor that drives people into the misguided hands of people who are doing the patient no good at all.”
That they are doing patients “no good at all “is an unprovable statement- typical of the academic authoritarian. He is hoping to cover his lack of facts with the sheer force of his personality and his title.
So, let’s look at this statement:
This Sydney-based chiropractor claims to correct the length of a child’s leg with a clicking device called an activator.
First we adjust this. No complaints there, and you get an instant lengthening. See?
The issue here is just plain bad wording- what is corrected is the pelvic tilt, (not actual leg length- which would be absurd) and fully resolving it is a bigger issue- really needing ongoing care.
Emeritus Professor John Dwyer says“ I mean, what can you ask more? Just a few clicks and the child’s chronic problem is fixed. Deliberate misrepresentation- even given the poor wording an instant one off cure was not suggested buy the chiropractor. In fact, most conventional chiropractors recognise that regular and initially frequent treatments are needed to stabilise the situation.
The cost of carrying that pelvic tilt long term is very high. These postural deformities can be seen frequently in passing pedestrians. The uneven hip loading is really the only valid explanation for the extraordinary need for hip and knee replacements in our society. They are needed far less often in Asian nations as anyone who has been to Bali or Thailand and had their eyes open. I argue here that here that this statement constitutes Academic misconduct and another section 4.2 breach.
Emeritus Professor John Dwyer “Well, it’s totally unscientific. Obviously when you’re positioning a child on a bench like that, you could do anything with your legs, and then he moves the legs until they’re equal, and the random clicking away, from the buttocks to the upper spine, with the instant results, this is what is so objectionable. “
If the “Emeritus Professor John Dwyer” has any real doubts- why does he not talk to a few experienced chiropractors and sit in on them for a few sessions, and attend some of their education. He is surely not too old to learn. This does need to be dealt with by way of a notification (section 4.2) and the appropriate penalty here would be 100 hours of chiropractic education and a public apology.
We expect our academics to have open minds, he is not exempt from this requirement.
Emeritus Professor John Dwyer “It was interesting, that the adjustor is then used on the neck, where there are no anatomical structures that, if you altered them in any way, would fix leg shortening.”
Again, if he knew what he was talking about, instead of spouting his authoritarian rubbish, he would not say this. The reason is- in terms as simple as I can manage, that tight neck muscles cause distortion of proprioceptive input into the brainstem and this input is reflected as a sensory mismatch in the neural integrators- which then sends incorrect postural muscle tone instructions (It appears through the pontomedullary reticular formation, leading to a postural deformity of tight arm and extended leg muscles on the one side ( a “soft neurological syndrome” that resembles the decorticate rigidity seen in some strokes). Now I am still learning the fine details of this- so please accept my apology for any imperfections in my presentation.
Professor Dwyer is not a Friend of Science – he is its enemy.
Emeritus Professor John Dwyer “If he does really believe that he’s just cured a musculoskeletal problem that child had – a shortened leg – then that is really sad. That’s really dangerous, because, as Chekhov said, the quacks that the most dangerous are the ones that really believe it. The chiro did not say that he believed he cured it-that is Dwyer’s projection. “
His language of “a shortened leg” is a professional shorthand and does not reflect what the chiropractors know they are working on. The chiropractors need to tidy this language issue up.
However, Dwyer has (no doubt knowingly) taken and distorted 2 observations then thrown in the insult of “quack”. These manoeuvres are classic of academic authoritarianism– learning to rule by misdirecting people’s attention. I’m sorry, but that is a second rate cup and thimble trick. I’m sure that even James Randi could do better.
Again- academic misconduct and section 4.2 “Good Medical Practice”
Now Dwyer wants to have his cake and eat it. He complains that chiropractic is unscientific, it is not. He claims it has no evidence, I doubt he is young enough to read all the evidence in his remaining autumn years. Then he attacks the presence of chiropractic in the universities as a course. Now it is the assertion of the universities that they help develop people’s academic skills, so if his assertion about limited science is correct, then getting them into the universities is a good thing.
Emeritus Professor John Dwyer “I don’t believe that there is sufficient science to warrant university education. I think they should get out of the chiropractic business. There simply isn’t enough fundamental science in chiropractic to warrant a five-year course. And, I think, the universities, by supplying these courses, give credibility. Those people would be much better off spending their time enrolling in a physiotherapy course and learning a whole lot of practical evidence-based skills. There’s no place for chiropractic in a really strong, academically-based university.”
So here is an alternative view:
- 1) Dwyer knows nothing about the evidence is there. Apparently, evidence does not exist unless he has seen it.
- 2) If chiropractic is weak on evidence base- how better to improve that than have it taught at university? Why is he so intent on kneecapping a profession that has survived a long while despite the overt aggression and malice of the Medical profession. Ref (The Medical War against Chiropractors JC Smith) The book is well referenced and well laid out- I will require any would be critics to read it thoroughly before debating me.
So we have some clear evidence of the appalling behaviour of Emeritus Professor John Dwyer here.
Let’s look at Mr John Cunningham’s performance on the same program:
Mr John Cunningham “There’s no nerves that control hearing that have anything to do with the neck. They all come from the base of the skull, which simply cannot be influenced by any sort of spinal manipulation. I would have concern over someone’s appreciation of anatomy if they were to claim that the middle ear and Eustachian tube is affected in any way by a nerve that comes from the spine.”
False- proprioceptors from the spine feed into the acoustic nucleus and the output of the acoustic nucleus is altered by altered proprioceptive input. When one has a “subluxation” (also known within Australian General Practice as a malalignment or a fixated segment (Murtagh J: General Practice 6th edition Ch 62 pp 684 and 714).
All our senses and our motor output work through the summation of the incoming inputs to create a hypothesis of the nature of the outside world. This is not controversial to anyone up to date with current neurology published within the mainstream medical world.
Descartes Error: Antonio Damasio Neurologist
Self Comes to Mind: Damasaio again.
How Do you Feel? A.D. Craig. A.D. Craig is a neuranatomoist… etc whose work has involved tracing the fine details of the interceptive pathways from the spinal cord through the brainstem, through the thalamic nuclei, to the interceptive cortex and to ultimate summation in the right anterior insula.
Clearly Mr Cunningham is not aware of this work. I have been very ill the last few years as my chiropractors and I struggled to repair the damage done by years of lack of chiropractic care, so I do have an axe to grind. However, I managed to read and assimilate all this despite severe brain fog, and dysautonomia, all of which are now resolved.
Mr Cunningham is professionally concerned with bolting damaged spines back together, not with understanding the subtleties of the networked functioning of the nervous system.He is also in breach of section 4.2 of Good Medical Practice. If he wished to make a statement on the matter, the least any responsible practitioner would have done would be to consult someone suitable in the chiropractic profession- and maybe even sit in on a few sessions with said chiropractor. We don’t need to be fighting like this all the time- it is not in the patient’s best interests. This is not the way in which mature practitioners should act.
Finally, both Cunningham and Dwyer are continually criticising chiropractic and the notion of the subluxation.Dwyer is speaking outside his area of expertise, but the situation with Cunningham is far more serious:
Cunningham is a spinal surgeon and is expected to be up to date with developments in his field. If he were he would know that a series of studies of Whiplash patients have proven beyond reasonable doubt the existence of these subluxations, and some of the mechanisms by which they cause pathology in humans.
Now what is happening here– is Mr Cunningham actually unaware of these studies, or is he aware of them but pretending he is not because such an admission would be politically inconvenient given his opposition to chiropractic?
If the second answer is correct that is disgraceful behaviour. If the first answer is correct that is worse- he cannot keep on top of his own field. The truth is he is too busy doing a PhD out of his field and using it to attack the fine academic work of Dr Judy Wilyman, in a display that I can only call caddish. That is why he can’t keep up. That is one of the key reasons for reporting him.
The critical studies were mostly done around 2006-2010, but some were earlier. The studies have been done by a collective of neurosurgeons, radiologists, and chiropractors on both sides of the Atlantic, including Dr Ralph Demadian, the inventor of the upright MRI.
Now this is an example of fine work, a positive, respectful mutually supportive relationship between colleagues of different professions. This is an example of what happens when the spirit of Section 4.2 of “Good Medical Practice” is adhered to.
I am sure that AHPRA will be able to override the Medical Board on this one.
Now that is enough for now. I’m reporting both of them to the Medical Board, and there had better be a full enquiry and not an attempt to push this to one side. The formal charge against Cunningham is infamous professional conduct.
As a parting thought:
Max Planck, the inventor of quantum physics once said:
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”
Well – we are in the midst of a mass extinction event. Let’s hope that the academic authoritarian meme is the next to go.