So it appears we are going to have to set the record straight on a recent and ongoing incident involving certain chiropractors and their claims concerning the ebola virus. The incident stemmed from a rant like post made on a chiropractor's personal facebook page that escaped into the social media sphere and has gone semi-viral. That chiropractor's name is Rob Sinnott DC, who self identifies as a philosophically based chiropractor. More on that later.
But let's back track a little bit to gain some perspective. Chiropractic and ebola? Seriously? Do you remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that took the internet by storm not too long ago? Well, when it was all the rage I made a comment to some peers that I wouldn't be surprised if subluxation based chiropractors didn't begin to hijack the Ice Bucket Challenge to make a subluxation awareness campaign. You see, I have noticed that philosophically based chiropractors, due to their evangelical and marketing oriented practices, tend to hijack any current popular movement to try to keep subluxation based chiropractic care relevant and in the consumers mind. They literally cannot help themselves.
It didn't take long to be proven right:
In this video Eddie Weller DC essentially represents everything the Forward Thinking Chiropractic Alliance stand against; Schlocky salesmanship, a horrid understanding of the physiology of the human body, poor mastery of a subject well outside his wheelhouse (ALS), and an evangelical approach to pitching his panacea, correction of the vertebral subluxation. In fact, if you view Eddie Weller DCs other facebook videos, titled after different conditions, OF COURSE the answer to all of them is to have the subluxations of your upper cervical spine located and corrected. But, as a caveat, he doesn't "treat" the conditions, subuxation based chiropractors don't treat anything. More on that word play later.
Well, as the Ice Bucket Challenge faded from the headlines, the next media darling to catch the subluxation based chiropractor's eyes was ebola. Somehow, being in this business long enough, I just KNEW the media furor ebola was recieving would be too much for the "Subbie", as they're called, to resist. And sure enough, a wave of posts came through social media. Posts from chiropractors claiming that all you needed was chiropractic and your immune system would be "boosted" enough to resist ebola, and that there's no way a regularly adjusted patient could ever contract ebola. Chiropractors encouraging their patients on facebook to make sure they came in for their "wellness adjustment" in order to stave off ebola and other viruses. You know, the standard straight chiropractic hijacking of current health events, and bringing it back to subluxation correction. Utilizing appeal to fear and appeal to emotion as leverage to gain business. Classy.
By the way, it doesn't even have to be curent health events for a Subbie to try to tie things back to subluxation correction. This chiropractor, Joseph Arvay, tied subluxation correction into the Aurora Colorado Shootings:
He produced that video, as you can see by watching, within 24 hours of the shootings. Too soon Arvay, too soon.
It came to the point where my colleagues and I had enough. We joked that if Subbies were so convinced that chiropractic could help with ebola, then maybe they should catch a flight to Africa and do some real noble work. Get their hands dirty adjusting some ebola patients. Surely there was no evidence directly correlating subluxation correction to prevention or elimination of ebola infection, so where was this coming from? Just pure belief?
Then my sarcastic side kicked in, and I made a little video called the Chiropractic Ebola Challenge:
My thought was that the video would catch on like wildfire, like the Ice Bucket Challenge. I thought for sure Subbies all across the globe would be challenging each other to get out there and fight ebola, and prove the amazing effects of subluxation correction. But alas, not a single Subbie took me up on the challenge. Despite over 2,500 people seeing the video.
I know plenty of subluxation based doctors saw the video and recieved the challenge, just based on the sheer amount of ad hominem attacks, insults, and threats of bodily harm I recieved since its publication. But not a single one wanted to put their hands where thier mouths usually are, on the miraculous and all encompassing effects of subluxation correction.
I thought, by that time, my point had been made; chiropractors, stay in your lane when it comes to ebola. But I was wrong, and this is where Rob Sinnott DC comes back into our story gentle reader...
I was alerted to a post made by an unidentified chiropractor that was being talked about on the facebook page "Things Anti-vaxxers Say", which has over 8,000 followers. The post recieved hundreds of comments and nearly a hundred shares. The post, which comes across as an angry incoherent pseudoscientific rant claiming that the only thing people need for ebola is removal of subluxations by a competent chiropractor, was attributed to Rob Sinnott DC. Here is the original post.
I have to say, unfortunately, we see a lot of social media posts like this one at the FTCA. But for some reason this particular one, especially coming from a purported leader of OUR profession and the embarrassing content and tone it portrayed, did not sit well with us. We shared. We shared it far and we shared it wide. With comments like "I'm a chiropractor, not a moron", this was social media solid gold.
Eventually the post made it to Dave Newell BSc MSc PhD FRCC (Hon) FEAC, reader and director of research at Anglo European College of Chiropractic who crafted a responce to the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation, which can be read here.
An appropriate admonishment from a scientific expert in the profession. Did Rob Sinnott respond? No. However, he did state on social media, when confronted about this post and other academic ethics issues, that he would "gladly be a part of a live internet philosophy discussion... ...The only stipulation is that a real moderator skilled in argumentation (works) control of this event..." While this was not directed at Dr. Newell, it did show that Rob Sinnott DC was at least open to debate, and not afraid to take someone on, one on one.
Twenty four hours after Dr. Newell's response to Rob Sinnott DCs post, a response was issued by Matthew McCoy DC, which was essential a biased hit piece full of diatribe titled "AECC Researcher Reveals Ignorance of Basic Science", which you can find here.
In this article, Matthew McCoy DC plays master of spin to his readership in classic pundit fashion. He then attempts to provide citations to evidence to prove Rob Sinnott DCs point of view scientifically correct, but falls flat on his face. It was curious to me that Rob Sinnott did not appropriate a response, but Matthew McCoy did. What did Matthew McCoy have to do with any of this? Ahh, the articles I will take joy in writing in the future gentle reader. But I digress. As a response, the Evidence Informed Chiropractic Challenge was born.
The challenge is very simple, a yes or no vote on the following question:
Would you like to see a moderated public debate between those in the chiropractic profession that vehemently disagree with those that claim that chiropractic adjustments can be used to treat Ebola, as asserted by Rob Sinnott's public post?
What was the response to the challenge by Sinnott, and apparently his partner, McCoy? Nothing. Well, nothing besides having the Evidence Based Challenge website shut down temporarily. Yes, that shows they knew the challenge was out there, they at least spent enough time reading it to have it removed from the server. But not enough time to actually respond to the content. Despite NUMEROUS attempts to contact Sinnott, which we have on record here at the FTCA, there has been no response from him. In fact, he claims on social media that no one has tried to contact him at all, which is on its face a lie, and which we also have on file at the FTCA.
What does Rob Sinnot do instead of facing responsibility for his actions, and answering the challenge of his colleagues? He arranges with his inner circle of supporters a social media drive to blacklist (block) anyone who has criticized him from seeing his posts as well as theirs. This shows no regard for the content or repercussions of their actions, just a desire to be able to do what they want to do without anyone saying anything about it. Including putting a black eye on the profession with a pseudoscientific ebola post. He then claims that none of his many social media followers had any problem with his post. Well sir, if you remove any dissenters from your social media content, how would you know who disagrees? Another classic Subbie move, only surround yourself with those who agree with you. Cover your ears, close your eyes and "nah nah nah nah nah".
And then it gets worse.
There's nothing a progressive chiropractor hates more than seeing yet another anti-chiropractic slam piece produced by the folks at Science Based Medicine. Mark Crislip MD got a hold of Sinnott's post and ran with it.
While not a total embarassment, I do respect Dr. Crislip for this one moment where all chiropractors were not lumped together into a subluxation based heap; there was a nod toward the fact that the more rational and evidence minded in the profession did not think this was cool of Rob Sinnott DC.
Instead of owning up to his gaffe, as a true leader should, what do you think Rob Sinnott has done? He has attempted to blame the furor over this on Dr. Newell, calling it the "Newell Agenda" and blaming it on members of the FTCA. A simple metaphor here; that's like a shooter blaming the witnesses for seeing him shoot someone and reporting the crime. If Rob Sinnott would not have gone on such an unprofessional, unscientific, and professionally embarassing rant, none of us would be in this position. He fired the shot, we just heard the bang and saw him holding the gun. In fact, if Matthew McCoy would not have published Dr. Newell's private email to gain traction and increase his mailing list and donation numbers, no one would have known. They used Dr. Newell's email as a publicity stunt to further rile up their subluxation based faction, and it's backfiring.
The issues at hand here are a few. I will try to boil them down as succinctly as I can.
1. Social media needs to be more regulated in the chiropractic world.
Historically speaking, and as I have shown previously in this article, subluxation based chiropractors are an evangelical and marketing oriented bunch. Even in early history they marketed well by wagon, by newsprint, by radio, by television, and essentially by any means necessary. Each new avenue led to new regulation. Currently state boards manage false claims and other ethical issues very well when it comes to print, tv, and radio type of advertising. But social media is a completely different beast. It's part advertising, and part free speech/expression. This gives chiropractors (and others) carte blanche to advertise unclaimed, unfounded, unscientific, and even dangerous ideas to patients, while blurring the lines of free speech. As professionals, chiropractors should be held to a higher standard, and regulatory boards should get involved with what is said on social media.
2. We haven't talked about the science here but...
There isn't one lick of SOLID evidence that can directly correlate chiropractic adjustments to increased immune function or an ability to prevent or eliminate ebola infections. There are some very limited studies, some very poor studies, and even studies that would indicate that larger and higher quality studies should be done for SPINAL MANIPULATION and immune function, but none have been done. Anything beyond that is a leap in logic by a provider making false claims. Regardless of what they see anecdotally in their personal practices, correlation does not equal causation.
In fact, in Matthew McCoys disastrous attempt to attack Dr. Newell, he used about 12 osteopathic studies on spinal manipulation and immune function to prove his point. However, that actually destroys his point, because osteopaths don't adjust subluxations and "aren't even trained to locate them". So, if an osteopath can elicit minor immune response without adjusting a subluxation, who says that adjusting the subluxation even causes the immune response? And of course we have to ask, besides being a novel historical concept, with so many varied definitions of what it is, who can even say if subluxations exist? Beyond those who believe.
For instance, in America, if you add up all of the MDs, DOs, PTs, NPs, Nurses, PAs, and DCs, you come out to about 1.4 million professionals. Of those, about 60,000 are chiropractors, or about 4-5%. Give or take a few. According to a recent survey of Canadian chiropractors, only 17% were subluxation based in nature. Now thats Canada, and the numbers in the US are surely different. But probably not terribly much. Even if there were up to 50% subluxation based chiropractors, that still means only 2% of the ENTIRE health care professional world believes in subluxation. Does that make them special, or completely out of touch? Keep in mind, all 1.4 million of these professionals have roughly the same pre-medical science requirements in their education.
3. Rob Sinnott's defense is that he "never claimed chiropractic treats anything".
Ahh yes. And I will admit this was an oversight on Dr. Newell's part in the language of his Evidence Informed Challenge. The classic Subbie cop out... We don't treat anything. Well the state boards and courts don't buy that. The public doesn't either. That defense doesn't work in court, and it never will. You're treating something. And that defense doesn't work for Rob Sinnott DC when he claims that the laying of hands on somebody to deliver an adjustment doesn't "treat" anything, especially ebola. He might say to me next that I don't "understand chiropractic philosophy", I say chiropractic philosophy was never meant to be a game of word twister so you can always win the "gotcha" prize. I understand it just fine.
4. There is indeed a divide in this profession.
I will save this for another article, perhaps many more. There are people, like Matthew McCoy, who appear to profit off of perpetuating this divide. Like any politician who has mastered playing the false left right paradigm to his advantage, McCoy plays up the conflict to the benefit of his subluxation based businesses, and Juice Plus multilevel marketing business. He has voiced his admonition of the FTCA multiple times on his mailing list and in articles, but always in some sort of an attempt to gain further followers, more donations, ruffle up the feathers, and gain more traction and more click bait.
Truth is, Matthew McCoy should rather love to keep us around. Its good for his business. And it is in fact, all about business. Subluxation based doctors need to have the progressive majority around to give them a veneer of legitimacy. They talk like they'd like us to go away, they attack us verbally and throughout social media, but without the majority around, the marketplace and the regulators would steamroll subluxation based doctors into oblivion.
5. In reality, it's actually NOT all about business, it's about the people we serve.
The ONLY thing that matters in a position of service is what is in the people's best interest. The end. I do truly believe there are subluxation based doctors who feel they are doing the best possible thing for their patients. There are also some who have put the philosophy, turf war, winning, their close cabal of friends and business alliances, and ego ahead of what is best for the patient. If you deny science and the best evidence available, you are not acting in the best interest of your patients. If you choose your philosophy, over what is right, like in this ebola example, you are not acting in the best interest of your patients.
Finally, I'll leave you with the final words thus far that we've recieved from Rob Sinnott, DC concerning this episode. Yes, people are going to talk about this. And yes, its not good. That's nobody's fault but your own, Rob Sinnott. It would not be in the patient's best interest to circle the wagons and defend you from this as a profession, as you may ask your cabal of friends and business associates to do. We would actually prefer to shed light on it and the inappropriate behavior we witness on social media on a daily basis, so that it might never happen again. We do not approve and your views do not represent the majority of the profession.
There is no "anti-philosophy agenda", although I know Subbies do love a good persecution story. You did this Rob Sinnott. There's no hatred. There's no threat to the profession, because the world is slowly learning that there are two types of chiropractors. They are learning that there is a majority that does not adhere to rigid philosophical fundamentalism and doesn't spout anti-medical rhetoric. You are responsible, you must respond appropriately if you are worth your salt as a leader. Hide, resort to further insults and word play, and thats your own doing. We won't respect you or your group of colleagues, because to us, that is not in the best interest of the people we serve, and the profession we've been called into to represent with pride.
You are correct sir, we are indeed at a tipping point. So are you going to take the challenge or not?
Dear Chiropractors of Europe,
I am sorry to inform you that since Dr. Newell decided to follow his anti-philosophy agenda over bothering to ask me if he was not sure of a meaning (that has been clear to the 2000+ DCs on my page), his shortsighted hatred has brought the attention of anti-chiropractic groups in Europe. Simon Singh has been contacted by them and it will get very bad, most likely, for the profession in Europe and specifically England before the dust settles that Dr. Newell caused single-handedly.
To those that are familiar with our philosophy and my views along those lines, you know Chiropractors don't treat anything. I have never wavered on that point in anything I have ever written or spoken about around the world. This would explain while "an educator" chose to follow his agenda instead of asking me about something he clearly did not understand. Due to that hatred he puts forth, the students of AECC will very likely be under attack by Singh and his anti-chiropractic leagues.
This is on Dr. Newel completely. He made his fallacious attacks public without ever contacting me....to this very day. Now, of course, the cat is out of the bag and nothing will stop what will most likely result, so there is no point to him bothering to seek facts out at this late date.
If the profession in Europe survives this coming onslaught, I hope this serves as a lesson not to sit idly while our schools' administrators cause these troubles."The Newell Agenda" will serve as a tipping point for the profession. Either it will perish, or it will stand together to ensure such agendas are not allowed to poison schools in the future."
- Rob Sinnott DC
Bobby Maybee DC