Damage Control: Chiropractic Association of Australia

CAA in Damage Control

The CAA (Chiropractor’s Association of Australia) is the “peak body representing chiropractic” – and has been in Damage Control Mode after a recent article featuring Warren Sipser and his dangerous infant manipulations.

The outdated mentality of Traditional Medicine and Therapies was to “Use it because it seems to work” and was surpassed decades ago by Modern Medicine as critical thinking and statistical analysis has come to the forefront in the investigation of medicine, technology, and the understanding of the world around us.

Widespread acceptance of “therapies” only two centuries ago involved standing in a circle around a tree and being “mesmerized” and sitting around a bathtub full of iron filings to feel better. To their proponents, these “seemed to work”. You may laugh, and rightly so, but this is a result of accepting “Direct Experience” as good evidence. Direct Experiences gives us nothing more than an indicator on which to further investigate critically.

Remembering where we parked the car is “Direct Experience”. This doesn’t prove we parked it where we thought, it only gives us a basis on which we can further investigate. How many times have you forgotten or misremembered where you parked the car?

Direct Experience can be misleading, and Memory is a fallible human function.

It is therefore concerning that in response to customer inquiry, chiropractic practioners are being instructed by the CAA to validate their profession through appeals to tradition, popularity, and introducing safety as a red herring to side-step questions of efficacy – throwbacks to the “use it because it seems to work” age of fallacious reasoning.

The CAA encourages their members to use weasel words such as “regulated” when speaking with customers, as if by virtue of invoking this magical word they are to be accepted as “doing the right thing”, or indeed “have a clue about medicine”. And yet, many of those involved in the running of Chiropractic Associations provide financial support to one of the most dangerous misinformation groups in Australia – The AVN – a group whose work are having real effects on the health and safety of infants, children, and adults alike.

It’s good to see that the CAA coming under the scrutiny it deserves – still far from the level of scrutiny other medical professions are under, but scrutiny none the less.

It seems odd that while the rest of the medical community regularly scrutinises each other (an act that promotes evidence-supported best practice), the CAA is vehemently against such scrutiny of their profession – defending their outlandish beliefs with evidence garnered from poorly controlled studies, research using inappropriate method of investigation or analysis, or with an outright absence of critical thinking.

That being said, I find it amusing – if it is true, that the CAA should then be so afraid of the endeavors of “one particular individual”. Surely, if they are in possession evidence supports the claims their Chiropractors make, there should be no problem!

While not having access to the document in question, I have these points about the CAA’s interpretation of the much of the criticism towards the Chiropractic profession, and the CAA’s failure to effectively regulate their industry.

These types of criticisms:

  • are borne out of a proliferation of practitioners who make claims that are unsubstantiated by robust evidence,
  • are of Chiropractic practitioners who insist on advocating pseudo-scientific theories for mechanisms;
  • who insist on making outlandish extrapolations of unrelated data to support their theories, and
  • who practice methods of manipulations that are not evidence based to treat indications when there is no robust evidence to support its use.

The CAA needs to ensure its members:

  • understand that Chiropractic as a profession must FIRST demonstrate a method is effective for a particular indication then bring it in to practice, and
  • are acting appropriately

While the CAA’s Code & Guidelines has resounding rhetoric, the CAA has proven itself either impotent in addressing those that do not follow them or they are demonstrating they do not care to do so.

The CAA needs to step up to the modern standards of medical practice and ensure their members do too.

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