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Bringing a whole new meaning to the term chiroquacktic

Well, I’m here at TAM. I had a great time last night meeting up with old friends, although, thanks to the time difference between Eastern time and Las Vegas, combined with my having to give a talk today, I was forced to retire at an early 11 AM (which, of course, felt to me like 2 AM).

As you might imagine, blogging will be light, because I still have to put the finishing touches on my talk for Saturday and take in all the skeptic-y goodness at TAM, but I can’t resist this little tidbit. It’s a video I came across the other day that brings a whole new meaning to the term “chiroquacktic.” Normally, that’s just a disparaging word we like to use when describing chiropractic, but little did I know that there was actually a literal meaning to the word. Check it out as our fine quacky friend gets a taste of some, well, quackery:

What a skilled quacktitioner!

I wonder how one diagnoses subluxations in a duck. I also wonder whether what is portrayed in the video above constitutes duck abuse. I can just see Daffy’s face. In any case, this demonstration of chiroquacktic is brought to us apparently courtesy of the Fox Valley Wildlife Center in Illinois, which appears to have painfully low scientific standards when it comes to the care it offers the wildlife it shelters, one wonders. We should also thank the Vitality Chiropractic Center for the entertainment.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

43 replies on “Bringing a whole new meaning to the term chiroquacktic”

Oh FFS – Is that a bottle of essential oil by the duck’s head? Poor thing, I bet it was glad to get away from her!

@Edith Prickly

I think the duck had the right idea. It seemed to be saying, “Get your hands off me! Someone, get me out of here!”

Orac asks: “I wonder how one diagnoses subluxations in a duck.”

Easy – the same way you diagnose them in humans. A NUCCA “doctor” of chiropractic had a booth set up at our local farmers market last week. On display was a hi-tech (hah, hah!) device that uses electrodes attached to the customer’s back. The “blocked nerve” interference patterns show up on a printout which the customer then presents to his “doctor” of chiropractic (ideally a NUCCA specialist) and the “doctor” can then address the offending pesky (and potentially fatal) subluxations to correct them, thus saving the patient’s life – but depleting his bank account.

Seriously, this looks to me like nothing more than a solid state version of B.J. Palmer’s neurocalometer of the 1920s.

The best facepalm in the face of chiroquackery – John Cunningham, Australian Orthopedic Surgeon during the course of a terriffic ABC Catalyst piece – a fierce smackdown of chiropractic.

Chiropractor: Herp derp “subluxation” derp herp “static in the nervous system”
Reaction —>
From the horses mouth:
To see the show:

Hey, I made the “chiroquacktic” joke in the first comment on the original version of yesterday’s post, Orac!

I thought you’d deleted the thing because that, and the mention of homeopathic remedies for goldfish, would take the main subject too off-topic.

You perspex boxes are all the same, so I’m Duclairing war! Ancona make sure my team of 1337 quackers take the blog down as revenge. They’ll Rouen your reputation and Allier hard earned blogging kudos, you ducking pun plunderer!

I wonder how one diagnoses subluxations in a duck.

I’m not sure I want to know. The very idea sounds absolutely quackers to me. Every creature involved in the making of that video is quacked up, in one way or another.

I believe chefs usually give them a neck manipulation before cooking them, isn’t that right?

The soundtrack has been edited. I think the duck was calling the chiro a quack.

homeopathic remedies for goldfish

Please tell me that this either (1) comes from the Onion or something similar or (2) appeared in an item dated 1 April.

Well, in MY fine state, she couldn’t do that unless she was a licensed veterinarian. Of course, we have our share of quack vets who do chiropractic, homeopathy, acupuncture, etc., perfectly legally.

@Eric – Nope, sorry mate. I’ll repost the same links I posted on yesterday’s first post.

1, This is from what was once the premier resource for home aquarists:

2, From a “homeopath to animals and humans”. Apparently his idea of a humorous exchange between a fish and himself. Ahem:

Having recently lost a much-adored aquatic friend, I want to shake people who are stupid enough to submit their animals to this bullsh¡t. Contrary to popular belief, goldfish can feel pain and are intelligent. Letting one suffer is abhorrent.

My “little” guy was over a foot long, big enough that his distress was only too evident. Poor Other Mrs elburto had to euthanise him after all the treatments had failed, and she was devastated by the experience.

That’s what responsible humans do. Irresponsible Muppets, OTOH, apparently don’t realise that fish live in one giant “homeopathic remedy”, and chuck magic water into actual water.

Animal lovers need to learn better training and communication techniques, but no, they go for woo. This wild duck is likely quite stressed by handling, and it’s all unecessary. So is the baby talk, designed to calm human babies not adult wild animals.
Unfortunately chiro has become standard procedure for cash-strapped animal rescues. I know about horses and dogs and it seems like everyone has bought into chiro, hook line and sinker. There are different chiropractic techniques for horses, the milder ones look like massage. Then there are the osteopaths who “talk” to the internal organs.

lilady #7, the myvitalitychiropractic sure is good with publicity and testimonials. One does wonder if the goose might have healed even faster without the extra stress of manipulation, and there’s no word on internal injuries or whatever might be possible after being hit by a car. I do not know how to explain the Dr.’s own dog, who apparently regained use of her leg instantly after a chiro session .. and even regained her hearing.
I am very glad people love their animals and people care to donate time to wildlife rescues.
Also, I think I read Orac’s words regarding the possible benefits of massage .. and I am sure that touch (not random, but appropiate) can be an important way to communicate with animals and people alike, for physical therapy for instance. I also know that we do not have enough experimental results on how touch, body language, proximity, soothing voices, all that affect animals, the domestic ones or the wild ones who are afraid of being handled. But I sure wish people would not fall for the non-scientific, implausible scams.

Chiropractic for horses? Who’s got the upper body strentgh to re-align a Clydesdale’s spine (who doesn’talso wear a cape and his underwear over his tights)?

Janerella provides the following link to an Australian television exposé of chiropractic:

The show is maddeningly similar to the ABC 20/20 exposé of almost 20 years ago. Despite the protestations of a few “doctors” of chiropractic, there is no reform movement evident in the business and chiropractic intervention remains a dangerous alternative to medical care.

The clips from the interview with the representative of the Australian chiro association reveal that the people in charge are either ignorant of the problems within the business or that they simply don’t give a damn about what chiropractors do to their customers.

@Melissa G – I just scared the fishes because I laughed so loud!

Nice one.

Hah! Wave at all your cute fishies for me, will you elburto? Only don’t adjust them. 😉

JCG #19, only those with the ultimate superpower– delusion!

I finally watched the video. Ugh. That duck fares only slightly better than Daffy does at the hands of Hugo the Abominable Snowman:

…rub him and pet him and squeeze him and rub him I will stroke his bill and rub his pretty feathers… Hey, wait a minute! Bunny rabbits don’t have feathers and bills.

About the only thing that practitioner has on Hugo is that at least she knows she’s dealing with a duck.

Notice that at about 28 seconds (and on) the duck shakes its head and “backs up” as if trying to get away.
Cats also “back up” when unhappy with handling by humans.

@Melissa – the only adjustment in my swimming piglets is the size of their stomachs! They’ve been munching seaweed and brine shrimp. Gluttonous little beasts.

Cats also “back up” when unhappy with handling by humans.

If by “back up” you mean “lunge and maintain a ferocious grip,” sure. Those of a certain age who were raised in the Chicago area will likely remember that Chelveston the duck had no issue whatever showing Ray Rayner (who was reputedly terrified of the duck) exactly where he could get off.

Srsly, there will be yelling if those chiroquacktic’s ever come now my poultry!! Yes I do eat one every so often, but from hatching to dinner they get a bloody good life, even beer(in moderation). If ya can’t give the animals in you care a good life, find someone who can!
Erk, this one pissed me off more than usual as I’ve not long released a native rescue duck who’d I became quite attached to.

No no, I mean back up literally, like a car does: if someone is holding the cat, it moves backward to evade the grip. The duck above does that.

Wow. That is astounding. On one level I am laughing heartily, while on another I feel sad that this person’s seemingly genuine desire to help others has been channeled into such garbage.
Great honor to speak at the convention, congratulations!

“Is that a bottle of essential oil by the duck’s head?”

No, it’s l’orange sauce, just in case the treatment fails.

Ok, this is extremely OT, but since this is the most fresh post, I’ll ask here…

I never made secret of my less than stellar understanding of scientific literature, or more precisely – research papers. My short presence on RI made me even more aware of my lack of understanding of how to interpret data to make any sense out of it.

I’ve learned a lot about proprt methodology – some from Orac, some from Ben Goldacre and some from James Randi, but seeing wheather research is properly randomized and double blinded and identyfing some trivial cases of confounding variables is far from being able to look at research paper and getting to any meaningful conclusions. Where am I going with this?

I hoped that someone here could point me towards a source, that I could use to educate myself in the matter. There is a caveat though – it would be best if explanations were possibly simple, so a profane like me could actually absorb them.

No no, I mean back up literally, like a car does: if someone is holding the cat, it moves backward to evade the grip. The duck above does that.

I understood your meaning. Housecats are not so reliable on this front.

@Smith – A good starting point hi understanding various types of trial designs. Here are a couple of links:

This one’s great, it’s about debunking woo –

This is an educational resource explaining proper study design-

The Department of Health points healthcare workers to the healthknowledge site for educational purposes, there’s a lot of great resources and learning tools on the site.

Narad — housecats are not reliable, period. 😉 To reverse a famous quote by comet-hunter Eugene Shoemaker (yes, of Shoemaker-Levy 9 fame):

“Cats are like comets: they have tails and do exactly as they please.”

That’s a funny thought. 😀 Of course, squid are seldom kept as pets. But arthropods…..

“Excuse me, but my tarantula is sick. Can you adjust his . . . um . . . exoskeleton?”

Not to defend chiropractic,but I used to know this guy who taught at the biology department at a local university.He also had almost enough schooling to have been a practicing veterinarian.He was especially fond of birds of all kinds,both wild and pet types.He always had a few birds in his office,in and out of cages.He would encourage people to bring injured and sick birds to his office,where he would often perform emergency triage on them,before taking them to an actual vet.More than once,my mother brought him birds that were hit by cars,and I watched him put bones back into place,and fashion splints.I’m not saying that’s what this woman was doing,but I’m just saying we don’t know the whole story here.

…I have no further constructive commentary other than to squee over elburto calling her fishies “swimming piglets.” 🙂 🙂 🙂

More than once,my mother brought him birds that were hit by cars,and I watched him put bones back into place,and fashion splints.

My understanding is that for small birds, splinting leg injuries in a fashion suitable for immediate release is quite straightforward. Unfortunately, I’m afraid of handling birds.

The ABC TV (Australia) Catalyst segment janerella links above is a great watch. Their Facebook page is alive with shock and horror that a science show would take an evidence-based approach to this subject.

There’s some very concerning content in the story, especially relating to reporting of adverse events, but JC’s facepalm makes the entire segment worth a look.

I believe that the duck would probably channel its other famous cartoon cousin and exclaim “let’s get the flock out of here”!

Tish tosh.

Superb read, I just passed this particular onto a new colleague who had been doing a little research on that. And he really bought me personally lunch since i found it regarding him grin So i want to rephrase that.

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