DANGER DANGER DANGER — 2500 milliHovinds of stupidity ahead » « That’s a non-response

Terrifying tales of anti-medical delusions

An anti-vaccination site recently polled its members about the health of their unvaccinated children, and Orac has extracted some of their comments. They are horrifyingly ignorant. Most of them are talking about how much healthier their kids are than all of their vaccinated peers, which is nonsense. It doesn’t even work as a poll question. If you didn’t vaccinate, and your kids started having terrible infectious diseases compared to their vaccinated school kids, wouldn’t your first rational response to get them medical help to prevent the problem, and stop being anti-vax? There has been no wave of distinctive child deaths among anti-vax children because they’re taking advantage of herd immunity. I also know enough psychology to realize that if these people did have an afflicted child, and they remained committed to their anti-medicine ideology, they’d be even more frantically rationalizing their beliefs.

Online polls. When will people learn?

(By the way, we had three kids, all healthy, no particularly debilitating diseases, and no chronic conditions. They were vaccinated. Therefore, vaccines are totally safe! No, that’s not how the evaluation of medical procedures work.)

Take a look at the comments Orac has pulled out, though. They are amazingly goofy! And dangerous. Here’s just one that leapt out at me.

1 out of 2 of mine are vaccine free. That one is super healthy, never had a concern except for colds and a couple ear infections as a toddler, which I attribute to the antibiotics she was given as a newborn. Chiropractic fixed that. My partially vaccinated one has had developmental delays, sensory processing issues, gastrointestinal trouble, tics… But he’s coming back around with good nutrition and avoiding toxic junk.

There are several comments that do this kind of in-family comparison: we didn’t vaccinate child #1, and they’re now working as a superhero in the Justice League; we gave child #2 one little shot, and now they’re crippled, damaged, bleeding from the left lung, their right ear turned inside out, and we like ’em less than the other kid. Please, people, don’t judge your children by your own self-fulfilling prophecies. I’m reading these and feeling dismayed at the ugly family dynamics on naked display, and feeling pity for the kids who, through no fault of their own, get a childhood illness or even get a poor report card and are used as evidence for their parents’ awful ideology and nonsensical beliefs.

But the worst part is that their daughter had ear infections, a very common thing, and they blame them on antibiotics (What? Our kids had them, too, and antibiotics were effective at clearing them up), and thinks Chiropractic fixed that. They have a baby with an ear infection, and they took them to a chiropractor?

They took them to a chiropractor for an ear infection?

I have no words.

You may have heard the news about Katie May, who was apparently a very popular person on Snapchat, and who recently died suddenly at a too young age. What killed her? Neck manipulation by a chiropractor tore an artery. Never let a chiropractor go anywhere near your neck. For that matter, never go near those quacks, period.

She got “adjusted”. And now she’s dead.

But now I’m wondering…what kind of vertebral diddling do chiropractors do that they imagine could correct an ear infection? No, don’t tell me. I’m trying to suppress thoughts of what those frauds do to children.

DANGER DANGER DANGER — 2500 milliHovinds of stupidity ahead » « That’s a non-response


  1. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    There’s a hidden irony in that chiropractic for an ear infection story. Many years ago, the eighties if I recall correctly, 60 Minutes did a story on chiropractic nonsense. They sent an intern who had a properly diagnosed ear infection to a bunch of chiropractors. She described her symptoms exactly as she did to her real doctor and not a single quack came up with the correct diagnosis, let alone do anything effective about it. Mind you, it also goes to show that no matter how high profile the debunking is this shit will never go away.

  2. CHARLES says

    I find the Japanese vaccine experience a useful tool to use against anti-vaxers. Essentially, back at the beginning of the 90s some (few) medical practitioners were using out of date triple vaccine which produced bad outcomes. The Japanese Govt panicked and introduced a 3 vaccination protocol and allowed parents to opt out of the measles vaccination all together.

    The result is that Japan has become a measles reservoir whilst the rate of autism diagnosis has mirrored that of all other developed countries.

    Of course the antivax people then retreat to the “mercury did it” position but that is a much easier to combat given that thimerosal has largely ceased being used as a preservative.

  3. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin points out Teh One True Medicine™ is nostril adjustment, also known as Nostrilliation©. The procedure is quite simple: Payment in advance; Freeze nose; Nostrillate© with chisels, duck tape, and bits of dust and hairballs; Send to morgue. No patients have ever complained, and the procedure has a 100% success rate, as measured by the number of patients who have failed to walk out of the morgue.

    Despite this world-leading success rate, she hasn’t been able to convince anyone to establish a degree / accreditation program, and the licensing boards don’t seem interested. Hence, she is now in the process of establishing the Mail Order College Of Teh Nostrilliation© Licensing Academy, complete with its own ethical review board — a computer expensively programed to say “Yes” — and quite impressive degrees printed on Genuine Phrama Shrill hides.

    As such, it will have more creditablity than homoepathetics and chirophrauding combined. And it works.

  4. says

    Interestingly, I have an appt with a physical therapist today. How does a numpty like me figure out if it’s real treatment or chiropractic nonsense? (problem is a pinched nerve in my neck causing shoulder pain)

  5. garnetstar says

    I’m shuddering at the thought of taking a baby, who might not be able to hold up its own head yet, to someone who is going to “manipulate” its neck! *Everyone* knows how careful you must be about supporting a baby’s head and not letting it snap back and forth and up and down unrestricted. And the quack wants to jerk that heavy head around those weak muscles and tendons! Even as an eight-year-old babysitter, I knew not to do that, and how dangerous it could be.

  6. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    [disclaimer: playing confirmation bias]
    I’ve been vaccinated annually my entire life; including every newly released vaccine. When given a massive TBI, when hit by a car, made a recovery never seen before. ♫ ta da ♫. THEREFORE vaccines did the trick, made me nigh invulnerable. So vaccines protected me from not just viruses, also massive axonal displacement of brain tissue.So take that, anti-vaxxers. X-(
    seriously, seems too frequently, people will cite single instances contrary to usual results as proof the common effect is deception by the marketers of the vaccine. Plus trying to associate two completely separate instances as correlated when there is no possible causation between the two. There are cases of common causation by something unaccounted, still improbable.
    like the OP I too find it inconceivable that even an anti-vaxxer would go to a chiropractor to treat an infection.

  7. jtdavi3 says

    We had a case here of a family being evaluated for possible child abuse (suspicious fracture). Turned out they had been taking their BABY to a “pediatric chiropractor ” at the recommendation of their pediatrician! And that chiropractor caused not one but two avoidable fractures in this child. I have no words…

  8. iknklast says

    what kind of vertebral diddling do chiropractors do that they imagine could correct an ear infection?

    I have asthma. One of the women I went to school with had a chiropractor husband. One day when I was wheezing, she suggested I go visit him, because he could cure my asthma. The worst thing? She was in a Biology program, pre-Pharmacy. You’d hope she would have learned better.

  9. jtdavi3 says

    To paraphrase (I think it was) Tim Minchin – if alternative medicine worked it would be called “medicine.”

  10. philipelliott says

    YOB, I’ve had good luck with PTs and neck pain. The course they prescribed was a series of stretching exercises for the head and neck. No Chiropractic manipulation by the PT involved. Also, had great success with Meloxicam for the inflammation. I hope you get that pain under control like I did!

  11. says

    I’ve always thought that what Chiropractors do to your neck resembles what those ninja killers do in martial arts movies to their victims.

    YOB as far as PT is concerned, there is not the kind of manipulation that chiropractors do, and I have had very good luck with PT people.

  12. johnwoodford says

    I had a pediatrician of my acquaintance tell me that in most cases ear infections will clear up on their own, even the bacterial ones. Some can be more problematic than others, and the trick is knowing which is which–that’s why most peds will prescribe. What most likely happened in the case of Orac’s commenter is that the kid just got better, and would have gotten better regardless of treatment.

    That said, there is one faint bit of rationalization for a causal link, and it was something I’d actually heard from a doctor. The doc claimed that it was possible to open a blocked or partially-blocked Eustachian tube by manipulating someone’s neck, and that the technique is one that’s not generally taught to doctors. If you had a kid with a buildup of fluid in their ears, use of that technique could temporarily allow the fluid to drain, relieving the pressure and concomitant ear pain. (OTOOH, even if this is true the reason the technique isn’t generally taught in med school is probably because the downsides of messing around with someone’s neck, as noted above, are considerable.)

  13. Sastra says

    A lot of people not only have no problem with the concept of an alternative health system, but seem to love buying into the whole ideology. Different anatomy, different diseases, different diagnostic criteria, different diagnosis, different tools, different approach, different way of thinking, and, of course, metaphysics. Chiropractic is supposed to cure ear infections because moving the spinal chord around unpinches the elan vitale. The life force which flows through you on a quasi-spiritual level (it links the flesh to its holistic guiding power,) can now sweep along merrily and without restriction, thus freeing your body’s natural ability to heal itself. The universe wants you to be healthy. Modern life, with its stress, cramped spaces, “science,” and materialism, causes all dis-ease.

    When people accept this, it’s like accepting religion. In fact, given its supernatural component, alt med might even be a religion.

  14. jd142 says


    Wow. Who knew I was smart enough to be a doctor. I used to suffer from horrible ear infections, stopped up ears, sinus infections, etc. When I was so blocked and stuffed up that it would literally push my jaw out of alignment, I would put my fingers behind my ear, press hard, push in and pull down. Do that enough times and I swear I could feel the fluid moving down my throat. My ear would be less swollen, I could almost close my mouth, and there was a little less pain. Sounds like that is what your doctor is describing.

    Oddly enough, growing up and moving out of a house with a chain smoking father cleared it up. Mostly, anyway, although I am still sensitive to smoke, pollen, and other allergens.

    One time my brother literally got cat scratch fever, the real _Bartonella henselae_ bacteria kind. His throat was swollen so much that he could not sit up and had to be on the floor. It was *really* icky when it started to drain. Good thing we grew up around animals and were used to disgusting fluids. Antibiotics really helped, well, as much as anything could.

    I could tell you stories about my father and his addiction to coffee and cigarettes. . . .

  15. wzrd1 says

    @#10, I was scoffing a bit at Meloxicam, right until I exhausted my supply and my shoulder started raising merry hell again.
    Fortunately, I saw my orthopedist today, who kindly refilled the NSAID. Now, I’ll simply say that its performance is superior to ibuprofen – by far.

    @#14, I was thinking you might also have TMJ disorder, that joint can have been injured and the mandible then depresses various nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. But, as it seems to have recovered, perhaps it just was a significant allergy.

    Just got a call from my endocrinologist. Two masses, one each lobe of my thyroid, one “meeting criteria” for biopsy.
    Yeah, I knew, I read the ultrasound too. Fluid filled cyst, consistent with hyperthyroidism, but as I’m a smoker, I’ll have that needle biopsy. Better safe than sorry.

    Back closer to topic, I know of a pair of chiropractors that I’d patronize – in Australia. They’re totally evidence based, none of the vitalism BS and hence, none of that adjustment nonsense, just PT.
    But then, I’ve availed myself of the services of a physical terrorist quite a few times over the decades, which accelerated my recovery from various injuries.*
    I ran into those folk at “Losing in the Lucky Country” blog, where a certain cast iron flying pig accepts their word.

    Oh, I’ve long been a regular over at Orac’s blog, as well as his not-so-secret other blog, where I tend to lurk more than respond. Have to ration my hours somehow, there are only 24 of them per day.

    *Require the services of a physical therapist, you’ll gain appreciation for that joke. They most certainly do.

  16. says

    The mildly deranged penguin points out Teh One True Medicine™ is nostril adjustment, also known as Nostrilliation©

    No!! It’s the Phrenotherapy Modality!! Based on years of phrenological research, your phrenotherapist uses a vibration-inducing magnetic hammer to smooth out or amplify bumps on your head until it is in the Ideal Configuration. Phrenotherapeutic adjustments are what may have made Donald Trump so successful! For $19.95 you can order your home phrenotherapy kit (cinder block not included) ACT NOW

  17. blf says

    It’s the Phrenotherapy Modality!

    Hammerheads are sharks, points out the mildly deranged penguin, not a medical treatment. And not to be confused with the All-Natural Hammerhead Diet Plan™ — Payment in advance; Swim with the sharks; If we can find any bits of you, we’ll put them in a jar, weigh them, and tell the coroner how much weight you lost. You’re guaranteed to keep if off, too.

  18. Silver Fox says

    Funny that we’re talking about ear infections. I was recently prescribed antibiotics for an intractable middle ear infection. First I was given Amoxicillin (twice) and each time the infection returned. Then I was given Clarithromycin which finally did the trick. My condition appears to have followed this route: serious allergies (indoor and outdoor) led to congestion which led to inflammation which in turn produced an environment conducive to bacterial growth. I don’t know what I’d have done without the antibiotics. It’s also interesting that my symptoms did not track with those usually associated with sinus/ear infections. I did not have a fever, no facial pressure or pain. But I did have weird fluttering-like movement in my ears, hyperacusis, facial nerve stimulation and lethargy. Only a CT scan showed the deep inflammation. So, lets hear it for modern medicine. And good insurance.

  19. wzrd1 says

    @Silver Fox, one thing I looked for when we were looking for a pediatrician was, do they have an insufflator bulb for their otoscope. It’s invaluable in instantly spotting otitis media.*

    A gentle puff of air from it into the otoscope, the ear drum displaces, one can then visualize fluid moving against the ear drum. No CT scan, no delay while awaiting a radiologist’s report.

    *I lost mine years ago, when relocating, but at least I still have my Welsh Allen pocketscopes. There was no way that I’d have given those to the Army, as those were out of pocket and I never sought reimbursement.

  20. komarov says

    While reading this I wondered why the chiropractor didn’t just tell the parents that ear infections weren’t his department* and recommend a more suitable specialist. Reading on I realised that I had far too high expectations and should have known better.

    *As opposed to , for example, or .

  21. Amphiox says

    There is some evidence that chiropractic manipulation of the LUMBAR might be helpful for some forms of LOW back pain, but never, never, never, never, never, never allow a chiropractor to touch your neck!

  22. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @komarov #20:

    I wondered why the chiropractor didn’t just tell the parents that ear infections weren’t his department

    Article: – Wikipedia – Vertebral Subluxation

    “Chiropractors have found in every disease that is supposed to be contagious, a cause in the spine. In the spinal column we will find a subluxation that corresponds to every type of disease. If we had one hundred cases of small-pox, I can prove to you where, in one, you will find a subluxation and you will find the same conditions in the other ninety-nine. I adjust one and return his functions to normal… There is no contagious disease… There is no infection… There is a cause internal to man that makes of his body in a certain spot, more or less a breeding ground [for microbes]. It is a place where they can multiply, propagate, and then because they become so many they are classed as a cause.”
    — B.J. Palmer, The Philosophy of Chiropractic, V. Davenport, IA: Palmer School of Chiropractic; 1909


    In 2009, four scholarly chiropractors concluded that epidemiologic evidence does not support chiropractic’s most fundamental theory. Since its inception [in 1895], the vast majority of chiropractors have postulated that “subluxations” (misalignments) are the cause or underlying cause of ill health and can be corrected with spinal “adjustments.” After searching the scientific literature, the chiropractic authors concluded:

    “No supportive evidence is found for the chiropractic subluxation being associated with any disease process or of creating suboptimal health conditions requiring intervention. Regardless of popular appeal, this leaves the subluxation construct in the realm of unsupported speculation. This lack of supportive evidence suggests the subluxation construct has no valid clinical applicability.”

  23. wzrd1 says

    @#22, there is indeed such a thing as Vertebral Subluxation.
    It’s a neurological emergency, as the spinal cord is at risk or already abrupted.

    It’s a difference in, evidence based emergency vs bullshit claimed as important.

    In the former case, it’s a very, very real emergency. Surgeons are going to have to sort out the spinal canal and limit whatever damage was ongoing before they operated.
    The latter, utter bullshit, borne out of vitalism.

    I do indeed have an energy metabolism – courtesy of glucose, oxygen and water. Screwing about with my spine won’t change that, save if my neck or back is “broken”.
    Under those real world conditions, respiration could impact recovery. The same is true over cardiac function.

    But, those “energy pathways” are entirely circulatory and digestive.
    Not at all some magical energy pathway.

    Magic only exists where children, especially our grandchildren smile at us. :)
    Well, that and reagonomics, which has proved equally as effective as unicorn farts.

  24. komarov says

    So if all you have is a spine everything starts to look like a spinal disorder. But since ‘scholarly chiropractors’, which sounds very authorative indeed, have concluded they can’t cure infectious diseases in this way, that part of the practice has since stopped, yes? Being serious medical practicitioners, chiropractors are no doubt obligated and responsible enough to keep up to date with the latest medical advances in their field, and offer only the lastest and best treatments to their patients.

    *looks back at PZ’s post*

    Oh, right.

  25. says

    I have 2 equally vaccinated kids. Totes different. Also in their “disease history” which can also partly be attributed to having and not having an older sibling.

    As for ear infections: if you don’t treat them properly in a child I think that’s child abuse.
    I had one some years ago. I woke up from pain in the middle of the night and cried until the left over pain killer from the wisdom tooth surgery kicked in.