Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Quack of the week: Gary Goodyear

Those of you following the bayblab and/or science policy in Canada will know that somehow we seem to have switched ideologies with the USA. All of a sudden Obama is pledging increased funding in science, putting Nobel laureates and climate change scientists in position of influence and reversing the anti-science stance of the Bush administration. We on the other hand seem to have inherited all the failed American policies. So I shouldn't be surprised to learn that our science minister appointed by Harper is a former chiropractor, who apparently believes in creationism, or at least won't admit to believe in evolution. No wonder he is suspicious of science and keen on developing the commercialization aspect rather than investing in public scientific endeavors. I'm afraid to ask about his views on stem cell research....

I don't need here to explain the absurdities of having a IDiot science minister. But in case some of you think his chiropracting background is scientific, well think again:

"Chiropractic is the most significant nonscientific health-care delivery system in the United States. As a result of their high level of organization and aggressiveness, chiropractors are licensed to practice in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Although a minority of chiropractors offer rational treatment, chiropractic's cultism is so well entrenched that the profession should be viewed as a societal problem, not simply as a competitor of regular health-care.

Spinal manipulation can be useful, but chiropractic's theoretical basis rests largely on a strange and never-demonstrated notion of "subluxations." "Chiropractic" literally means "done by hand" (chiros = hand; praktos practice), referring to manipulation of the spine. Manipulation (i.e., "the forceful, passive movement of a joint beyond its active limit of motion," according to Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary) is not the exclusive domain of chiropractors. Folk practitioners sometimes called "bonesetters" have long used the notion of bones "going out of place" to explain maladies, and they employ manipulation as a panacea. Andrew Taylor Still invented "osteopathy" based upon the theory that luxated bones interfere with blood circulation, producing all manner of diseases. (Osteopathy officially abandoned Still's theory in 1948.)"

Chiropractic theory is pseudoscience and there is no scientific evidence it has any benefit. In fact there are many people injured every year with dislocated vertebrae. The colledge of physician and surgeon of Quebec:

"Chiropractors claim that subluxations, or partial displacements, of the vertebrae cause a perturbation of the distribution of nervous impulses to tissues and cells. Neurophysiologists have developed methods of recording the passage of impulses in nerves. Exceptionally sensitive apparatus is available to anyone wishing to use it. No scientific study has ever been published on the subject by a chiropractor. No chiropractor ever defined, either quantitatively or qualitatively, what chiropractic means by perturbation of nervous impulses. Is it their number, their amplitude, their frequency, or their wave patterns which are affected? All of these qualities can be identified, recorded, and studied. It is no longer permissible to accept empirical statements. Proof should have preceded practical application. With the first point untenable, the rest crumbles"


rob said...

I'm at least glad he knows not to admit he is a creationist. It suggests he is aware that it would not be an acceptable position as Science Minister.
If he was up front about his belief in a creator, not visible by microscopy quite yet (see article), then I would hope there would be some serious outrage.
Unfortunately, he fully admits to being a chiropractor.
I somewhat sympathize with the conservatives. It must be tough to find a good scientifically educated person who supports their agenda. Obviously, or we would not have this story.

Anonymous said...

If he was up front about his belief in a creator, not visible by microscopy quite yet (see article), then I would hope there would be some serious outrage.

Were you outraged by Francis Collins directing the National Human Genome Research Institute or his leadership of the Human Genome Project?

Anonymous Coward said...

Nice try. Collins is a Christian not a creationist. He fully accepts evolution as the best possible explanation for the diversity of life. That being said, you can find plenty of people outraged at Collins... I for one think he displays a poor understanding of abiogenesis, and that is reconciliatory ideas don't do much for science.

rob said...

Sorry I should have written
If he was up front about his belief in creationism... then I would hope there would be some serious outrage.
I just had to point out the microscopy bit from the article.

Bayman said...

Were you outraged by Francis Collins directing the National Human Genome Research Institute or his leadership of the Human Genome Project?

What leadership? If it had been left to Collins we'd still be 6000 years away from a full genome sequence...

Anonymous said...

Collins is a Christian not a creationist.

Exactly. Why do you assume that Goodyear is a creationist when all he's explicitly said is that he's Christian? Where has he rejected evolution? Why assume that he's placating scientists when he refuses to answer the question, rather than placating religious leaders??

Bayman: Are you saying that Collins had nothing to do with completing the human genome project?

rob said...

Did you read the article?
To the question, "Do you believe in evolution?" according to the article his answer was:

“I'm not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don't think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,” Gary Goodyear, the federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

Anyone, not to mention the Minister of State for Science and Tech, who doesn't answer that question because they say they are a Christian and that the question is about religion is a closet creationist. His being a Christian is only relevant if he is a creationist. I don't see how you could interpret that any other way.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I read the article. That's why I'm asking where he rejected evolution. That you see no other way to interpret it sounds like a personal problem.

He self identifies as both a scientist and a Christian. One interpretation (yours) is that he refuses to answer because he's a creationist and doesn't want to cross the science community.

Another interpretation is that he refuses to answer because he doesn't want to cross the religious community that he also sees himself a part of.

Don't get me wrong. I don't like Goodyear as minister of Science and Tech. There are plenty of reasons not to. But you "scientists" seem happy to go after him based on his beliefs and words he explicitly did not say. Good luck with your witch hunt.

rob said...

Thanks for your comments, anonymous.
I guess what I'm saying is that I agree with you, in that I don't like Goodyear as minister of Science and Tech, but also for the reason that he won't explicitly support evolution. It's possible you are correct, that he is trying not to cross the religious community. However, if in doing so he can't recognize publicly the fact of evolution he is doing a disservice to the country, and is IMO an embarrassment to his post.
Perhaps you also have an issue with the fact of evolution. To me, the article might have well read:
"Minister of Science in Canada, do you believe that the earth is round?"
“I'm not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don't think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,”

rob said...

I hate to move this conversation elsewhere but if you think the Bayblab is conducting a witch hunt, you got to see what the uncompromising Dr. Larry Moran has to say about this issue.
"That pretty much settles it for me. Goodyear is a creationist. He rejects one of the fundamental concepts of biology. That makes him anti-science.
The man in charge of science in Canada is anti-science. Heaven help us."

Bayman said...

I think it shows severe ignorance to suggest that evolution is a question of religion. It's not. Just like gravity, gas laws, and quantum physics...whether you're a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist or Buddhist has no impact on these realities of the universe. To think that one's religion can somehow bend the laws of the universe is ridiculously egotistical and idiotic.

Doc II said...

A lot of chiropractic care may be based on nonscientific principles, but a lot of it isn't. And not all chiropractors are "anti-science." Not by a long shot. And you can't even compare the number of adverse events, not to mention deaths, caused by "scientific" medicine, every day, in hospitals there, and here, with the very very very small rate of adverse events associated with chiropractic. I know, that's a different issue. But still. And no, I'm not a chiropractor. I'm a PhD geneticist. I'm just tired of people equating (even through implication) all chiropractors with words like "pseudoscience" and "quack."

Brooke said...

The day somebody performs a large double blinded random clinical trial of chiropractic methods is the day I take this "practice" seriously. The only ones to blame are the poor saps who pour mountains of money down the drain that is pseudoscience...

I want to start a new political party... "Scientists For INFORMED Consent".

Bayman said...

Let's not forget...the unproven practice of chrio-quackyness is not only wasting people's time and money, it's also causing a lot of serious and irreversible injuries.

Anonymous Coward said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly DocII a lot of the patient care in hospitals is pseudoscience. In fact a surgeon colleague of mine estimates that 50-90% of the things doctor do have not been properly examined and tested, and are only done this way, because previous generations of doctors did it this way. It is deplorable. Thankfully we are now building stronger foundation by thoroughly testing new drugs and procedures. This frame of mind, that there is an explanation and a mechanism behind healing and that it can be tested is what sets apart medicine and alternative medicine. Because the minute something in the "alternative" bin is tested and proven to work it becomes part of modern medecine. I don't see why chiropratice shouldn't undergo the same scrutinyt. We should know what the odds are to make things worse like we know the risk for surgery or chemotherapy. It's about informed consent really.

Dan with Kirkland Chiropractors said...

Whether Colins is creationist or evolutionists isn't really the point. That's why we live in America: so that people can believe what they want and still make living. The fact is: he's a good chiropractor.