On Skepticism

Since I started this blog there have been a couple of quite silly comments by self appointed “skeptics” commenting essentially that the condition and its treatment appear to be a “cure all” and that “like all such cure – alls” must be fraudulent.

While I welcome serious inquiries to this site, which show that the material presented has been read thoroughly and the links pursued, I will certainly delete any vague general criticisms from those individuals who could be classed as “Malignant Skeptics”- correspondents who are not prepared to do the work required to make an informed criticism.

The observations being made here are that malalignment in the upper cervical spine is associated with a wide range of illnesses- and that that is physiologically predictable. However, management of the problem is more complex, especially in older adults, like myself who have acquired some osteoarthritis.

A proper understanding of anatomy and physiology of the upper cervical area and brainstem should be enough to make it clear that all of the symptoms listed below are predictable given a large enough subluxation. The real problem in understanding this area actually boils down to an issue of terminology- the chiropractic use of the word “subluxation” has a different definition and implications than the medical word. It is preferable really to use the less loaded term “malalignment”

The joint between the skull and the neck is designed for nodding movements, and it has been documented that the maximum rotation expected on turning well to the left or right is about 3-4 degrees.

The worst case I have seen was a rotatory subluxation of about 25 degrees demonstrated on a CT upper cervical spine. I was dismayed that the radiologist who reported it failed to note the abnormality. I would observe that this probably happened because such subluxations are not regarded as possible within allopathic medicine- and he was not looking for it. I did get the satisfaction of an amended report after conversation with the radiologist involved.

For the skeptic who really wishes to debate this topic properly I would recommend a thorough reading of:

“Upper Cervical Subluxation Complex: a review of the chiropractic and medical literature”

Kirk Eriksen ( Lippincott Williams and Wilkins ISBN 0-7817-4198-X)

and also

Manual Therapy In Children Ed Heiner Biedermann MD (an orthopedic surgeon)

The issue of malignant skepticism and the backlash from a rearguard of elderly and/or cognitively rigid medical practitioners is a serious one, and is maybe best considered by examining the disturbing behaviour of the organisation “Quackwatch”.

The Wikipedia entry on The Institute of Noetic Sciences here is a particularly pertinent one.

IONS is an organisation dedicated to studying issues such as spontaneous remission of cancers and other illnesses and the impacts of thinking on health.

Its founder, the retired asronaut Edgar Mitchell is quoted as saying:

“That’s what’s fun about it. We’re breaking down barriers and finding things. That’s what science is all about: new discovery. … There’s nothing that we have done or have demonstrated that doesn’t have good science behind it. Skeptics be damned”

However- those self appointed arbiters of reality on the Quackwatch website have the nerve to describe it as a “questionable organisation”

I do not know what gives any individual or group to simply dismiss all the work of any organisation without actually reviewing the science.

In fact this sort of disregard for detailed analysis of presented evidence is the very definition of quackery- and academic authoritarianism. The individuals who work for quackwatch need only look at themselves in a mirror and their work will be done.

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7 Responses to On Skepticism

  1. ” I will certainly delete any vague general criticisms from those individuals who could be classed as “Malignant Skeptics”- correspondents who are not prepared to do the work required to make an informed criticism.” HIP HIP HORAY!!


    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – ADD Coaching Field co-founder –
    (ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!)
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

  2. Kelly says:

    Where can I find a list of practioners? I’m trying to find one in the Seattle area…with no luck.


    • MindBody says:

      Chiropractors who are trained in sacrooccipital technique should be able to treat this problem effectively and very gently.
      Search sacro-occipital chiropractors.

      • walt says:

        Hi Mindbody,
        for the sceptics, there is now a way to align the head and atlas with the lightest of touch and the sound of the human voice.
        I have had my head/ atlas aligned. I have been in physiotherapy for 27 years doing musculo skeletal work. The results astounded me.
        what astounded me most has been the alignment of not just the head/C1/C2/ in a position just not routinely seen.

        If you are interested I will email details to you
        regards walt

      • MindBody says:

        This sounds very interesting. Quite possible at one level,but unusual. It is something that would be regarded as falling within esoteric traditions.
        Certainly not mainstream- and unwise for a doctor to comment on publicly without rock solid evidence.
        I will email you privately.

  3. Keith Richardson says:

    I realize this is an old post, but i hooe that someone still monitors it from time to time and can give me some advice.
    7 years ago, I was diagosed with a 5 degree atlas subluxation and an 8 degree in my c3. This is the result of a car accident back in 1986. In my younger years I was able to cope with the pain. It was sporadic and easily controlled with a few asprin. As the years progressed, it has gotten worse, so in 2008 I saw a chiropractor.
    I not only suffer from every single symptom described above, but others as well.
    Severe headache, with vice-like pressure over the back half of my skull, tingling and numbness down the underside of both arms. Pain that starts in my neck and travels (beneath) my shoulder blades and into my armpits. (this pain is comparable to hitting your “funny bone”)
    Neuropathy ( burning, needle-like pain) in my feet, (and I have had my sugar checked regularly, no diabetes).
    Pain in my jaws and teeth.
    Limited lateral movement of my head which is advancing at an alarming rate. So much so, that I’ve have voluntarily stopped driving.
    And no one seems to understand the amout of pain I am in.
    My GP tells me he sees nothing wrong in my x-rays.
    However, the chiropractor who diagnosed my condition 8 years ago rattled off all of my symptoms as though reading them from a que card.
    Why will my family Dr. not accept this diagnosis and adamately denies that this condition even exists, when the proof is right there in the x-rays.
    I can’t live with this pain any longer.
    If nothing can be done, and I am faced with the prospect of years ahead of this getting nothing but worse, I don’t think I want to be around for that.
    I’d rather die.
    In addition, I’m assuming my sympathetic nervous system is being acted upon, to the extent that I sweat profusely for no reason.
    How do I convince my doctor this is real? How do I make him understand how much I am suffering?
    Any advice? Thank you for your time.

    • MindBody says:

      Short answer– convincing your doctor of something that he believes is impossible is very difficult.
      It is virtually an article of faith in the medical profession that this condition does not exist- and many people are not open to new information about it.
      Have him look at the case history of Greg Buchanan in this blog:
      and follow through all the subsequent pages to the end of the case history:

      I quote:
      “As you can see, doctors were absolutely no help whatsoever. Some doctors tried to shorten consultations, telling me I was a nightmare patient and shouldn’t be reading x-rays or looking up things on the Internet. This was when I decided to take matters into my own hands. I thought to myself, this is just plain rubbish (stronger words used!) If it were my child who was this ill what would I do? And what would a doctor do if it were their child experiencing such symptoms?”
      If he is not sufficiently clear as to the history presented on the upcspine blog- then he can email Greg directly and speak to him. He is very happy to discuss this sort of problem.

      Open mindedness to new information and willingness to research particular concerns a patient might raise has always been one of my personal markers of a good doctor.

      If your chiropractor has not been successful in resolving the problem ask him for a second opinion from a colleague. Longstanding cases like yours can be hard to resolve, and often require work to be done at multiple levels as the whole spine twists to fet around the deformity at C0-1
      In addition, one may need specific neurological rehabilitation through specialist chiropractors to resolve the now entrenched patterns of brain dysfunction caused y the chronic postural deformity. ( See The Carrick Institute).

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