Anti-vax chiropractor shows his true colours – again

A few months ago, chiropractor Joe Ierano lodged a complaint with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission against Australian Skeptics. The complaint was dismissed after the HCCC ruled that Australian Skeptics is not a health care provider and therefore does not fall under its jurisdiction. As noted at the time, we were somewhat disappointed that a full investigation did not take place, as it would have been easy to show that the article we published told the truth: Joe Ierano and many of his chiropractic colleagues are treating patients with a technique – neck manipulation – for which there is no evidence of efficacy and plenty of evidence for harm (the risk of harm is low but is unjustified due to the complete lack of evidence for benefit). They also claim to cure childhood problems like bed-wetting and colic, again with no good supporting evidence.

After the recent ruling by the HCCC regarding the deceptively named Australian Vaccination Network, Joe Ierano has decided to again show his lack of appreciation for evidence by pitching in on the AVN website, in response to a post by Meryl Dorey titled “The HCCC – don’t confuse them with logic #1 – Health Education”. In a post on the 10th of August, Joe wrote the following:

I filed a complaint against the so called SKEPTICS to the HCCC for stating clearly that chiropractic was useless for anything. This became public knowledge because bloggers broadcast it all over the world like I was Hitler’s second coming. These people are like angry teenagers without a cause. Unlike the rebellious spirit however, they mollycoddle the mediocre, instead of advancing to the fringe of the cutting edge which can be fuzzy at any time.

After allowing one’s brain to settle down from the mixed mataphors and the speedy fulfilment of Godwin’s Law (referring to Hitler in the first paragraph must be some sort of a record, even for an anti-vaxer), the immediate question is what advances or cutting edge Joe is referring to. Chiropractic is certainly on the very fringes of medical science, but that’s certainly not because of the great advances it contributes.

Joe continues:

They know not the difference between doubt and scepticism, because these people are merely angry. They don’t realise to believe in god or disbelieve is the same thing. But that is ok, I am off on a tangent … Fact is, I too hold research to the very highest regard. My training is in science. But most research in this world is currently tainted with the hope of financial gain. If you tout cure: you stand to gain dollars. If you stand to take dollars from another group, they will fight for their piece of the pie.

Yes, Joe, you are off on a tangent. Hitler in the first paragraph and God in the second, followed by what must be a serious misrepresentation. If Joe really held research in high regard and if he understood anything in his science training, he would know how lacking is the evidence for efficacy of chiropractic, and how good the evidence is for the efficacy and safety of vaccines. And Joe doesn’t forget to end this statement by showing the complete lack of self-awareness that inflicts so many quacks: pointing the finger at others for making money while at the same time making money from peddling evidence-free treatments.

Like an oiled up reflex knee jerk machine they snapped their bloggers into action against me, a nobody doctor of chiropractic in Australia who was just utilising his democratic freedom to defend a slur on his profession. They broke confidentiality that I thought was offered to complainants to the HCCC. The HCCC did not care that I was slandered and brought out to be some kind of whining fool, to these men who seem to be poised to jump at any slight alarm bell that rings out their insecurity. I may be nobody, but I am no fool.

We were also using our democratic freedom to show Joe up as the nobody doctor that we agree he is. The confidentiality claim is not true for two reasons: the HCCC explicitly says it will send the complaint to the other side, and Joe also sent the complaint to us and got a detailed response to it.

My motive was simple: can the skeptics offer medical information on their site that slams chiropractic to the point of alleging it ‘useless’ and ‘not a jot’ of benefit, in the words of a learned ‘rock star’ scientist we know well, that they reprinted? They did not even question his motives or evidence, because he is right and I am wrong.

Unlike the demands made upon the AVN they failed to offer any sort of counter measure argument showing that chiropractic is safer than most medical procedures, works well with back pain, and can tend to sufferers of scoliosis, headache, neck pain, whiplash victims that do not want to use dangerous drugs. And I mean dangerous.

First and foremost, the fact that Simon Singh (hey, Simon: you’re a ‘rock star’!) is right and has plenty of evidence to show that he is, and Joe Ierano is wrong and has no evidence to show otherwise, is at the core of this debate. Motives come second, and we know very well what Joe’s motives are. Joe also quotes selectively here – perhaps he wants to claim that there is evidence that chiropractic can cure colic in children? Please tell us, Joe, and we’ll pass your claim on to the HCCC.

We don’t know why the HCCC decided that we are not health care providers, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we published a single article from an external source, unlike the AVN which has a website full of vaccine-related articles, produces leaflets and a magazine on the topic, and runs seminars and workshops. And perhaps it also has something to do with the fact that the material provided in all of those is, to quote the HCCC, “misleading and inaccurate.”

Yes, children do benefit from chiropractic, and if you argue the contrary you are nothing but an ignorant person with the ridiculous notion that every thing can be cured by drugs and medicine, and that I twist childrens necks: I do not.

Joe would benefit from looking up the definition of false dichotomy, but in any case it is noteworthy that he bundles “drugs and medicine” in one neat package while he is apparently practising something else – obviously not ‘medicine’. We agree with that.

Why was this SKEPTICS site given immunity from such counterpoint? Why was I not protected with some form of privacy? Why were they not required to quote all the references I had supporting chiropractic care? Why, indeed. Thank you Australian Democracy.

The first question was answered by the HCCC. The second question is based on a lie. Should we continue? Oh, well; why not. The HCCC did not quote Joe’s references for one reason: they never investigated his claims. But if they had investigated them, they would have another good reason to ignore his references, because cherry picking evidence is not just unscientific, it is anti-scientific. Until you quote the research that shows the risks and the research that shows negative results, in parallel to the research that supports your claim, you are not worthy of consideration.

Oh, and now dictatorship was added to Hitler and God. Well done, Joe.

I believe this form of scrutiny and blind acceptance of medical procedures is a form of terrorism: putting fear into the minds of people. Even my own personal medical practitioners – respected and excellent – are against this sort of malicious forcing of medical acceptance.

It’s difficult to keep count, with terrorism now joining Hitler, God and the death of democracy, but if putting fear in the minds of people is something Joe objects to, the last people he should mingle with are the folks at the AVN. The entire game of the AVN is to cherry pick evidence of harm. No credible medical professional claims vaccines are without risk; it’s just that the risk of harm without vaccines is many times higher than the risk of vaccines. The AVN, however, ignores the benefits and tries to scare people by pointing out the risks (and more often than not exaggerating them) without mentioning the benefits.

They also conduct single subject trials on patients daily: try this pill, if not we’ll try another one … there you have it, one experimental study after another, and perfectly legitimate in the context of peer review and evidence. But I cant do that because I am not really a doctor. Oddly I don’t remember 6 years of frat-house hijinks … just hundreds of exams.

Here Joe really shows us how little he knows about science, by not even being able to tell the difference between case studies and controlled clinical trials. No, Joe, when doctors try various treatments they are not doing so “in the context of peer review and evidence”. And if doctors “try this pill, if not we’ll try another one” without having evidence of safety and efficacy and without informed consent for all attempted treatments, they are doing something unethical and often illegal.

The ‘self professed sceptics’ are paradoxically like a return to the dark ages. They do not know what research means or what it stands for. They think science is hard. No, sceptics, its very soft. Very human. And human means error.

Pot… Kettle… Black…

It would be interesting if Joe could show us where a scientist said that science cannot be wrong or is fool-proof; and we mean a real scientist, not a chiropractor who ignores contrary evidence and claims he can cure diseases for which there is no evidence that he can.

I have also had parents plod lifeless little bodies on my examination table that were vaccine damaged. Yet I do not condemn anyone who vaccinates. I do not think they are ‘murderers’.

Really? Parents brought seriously ill children to a chiropractor rather than to the hospital emergency room? I doubt very much that Joe is telling the truth here, but if he is then I hope he reported them to the authorities, as he well should have because it would be criminal negligence.

This is what we are dealing with: the ultimate hypocrisy channelled through the HCCC which does not seem to give a damn that I was after a fair solution and I took their verdict with complete respect. I did not shout like a spoiled brat from a blog pedestal that nobody even cares to read about anyway. Nobody cares what skeptics or sceptics think in general, I can tell you. They will make virtually no dent on humanity.

We know this chiropractor who seems to care a lot about what the skeptics think. In fact, said chiropractor seems quite bitter about what the skeptics think. That chiropractor ends his post with the following observations:

Why? Because humans want to believe, always. And they will believe in what nourishes them and makes them feel good. No matter which way you look at it true scepticism, real doubt and questioning, is a very sharp sword which many have fallen onto. Too bad. It’s a great skill but very few can ever use it without cutting down their own, or in the end, themselves. What the skeptics want is to believe in themselves: at almost any cost to others.

Oh yes, what was the HCCC verdict? The NSW Skeptics don’t need to justify any of the lies or truth they print about chiropractic on their site. They are not health care providers. So therefore, the AVN will survive, on this basis, right? And you wont be relying on them, the skeptics, who are without need to show balance, for a fair argument. The HCCC said so.

Joe seems to suggest that he is the one who’s a “true skeptic”. In the response sent to Joe after his complaint to the HCCC, we wrote the following: “And please don’t say you are sceptical. If you were, you wouldn’t be practicing a modality that has magic for foundations and no evidence of efficacy for most conditions it aims to treat.” We stand by these words.