Atheist in Wonderland

At some point or another many on-line atheists are drawn towards an enticing rabbit hole. A singularity of rabbit holes among the broad array of rabbit holes to be found in the bazaars of bad sectors and binary bullshit the the Internet has to offer. Shock and horror awaits, lurking in dark dot coms and netherworld news feeds. Snatched up by a search engine from the gallows of Google, it forms, sucking you in like the brutal after effects of a supermarket shootout, you cant look away, you can’t escape.

“Hey atheists, if evolution is real…”

And so it begins. Your body and mind stretch as things become blurred and time becomes meaningless, as you’re drawn into the black hole of intrigue, lies, betrayal, and conspiracy. As the gravitational pull stretches your mind to the limit, even the simple becomes complex.

“Evolution is a proven scientific fact!”

Logical laws collapse in the infinity of fallacy which has led you thus far. You passionately defend all you know about science and evolution in the face of conspiracy theories, equivocation and talking animals.

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Meanwhile, your opponent wasn’t talking about evolution. Also lost in the infinite singularity was that the question is irrelevant. An even more distant issue from your mind is that the pseudoscience involved has little to do with biology.

Lets face it, many times we find ourselves defending evolution, the issue is the origin of life and the argument a statistical one, not a biological one. Given the reams and reams of crap out there about evolution, you’ll probably be shocked that an article on a page opposing pseudoscience would say what I’m about to say. I really don’t think there is much reason to bother with defending evolution against deniers, because the problem is normally not evolution, the origin of life, or any other scientific issue. The problem is that there exist beliefs which are held as irrefutable by many, and which are in direct opposition to certain biological and cosmological tenets of modern science.

“Surely this is a good reason to debate them?” You may well ask. No, because the dogma is too strong. To borrow from (ironically) a Biblical parable, seeds that are sown in hard ground don’t grow. Although I’m a big fan of “Thank You For Smoking” and the debate lessons it gives (the crucial acknowledgement of the audience in the ice cream debate), I feel more can be achieved even among debate audiences, if a different approach were considered.

This is a site focused on science and empirically observable phenomena, but I think certain things need to be covered before empiricism takes hold of us. What is the logical reasoning being applied? For example, we will assume the origin of life is in question and the argument is “what are the chances of life randomly forming without being directed by an intentional force?”

  • The origin of life is the question, evolution is what happens to life that has formed. Don’t defend evolution, you’re defending the wrong thing.
  • The question isn’t about biological research into the origin of life, it is about the statistical probabilities of random events leading to a particular event assuming all possible events share equal probability. Don’t defend biology, this isn’t the field for which a pseudoscience is being built.

Having established this, it is easier to proceed:

  • How do we know all the random events have equal probability?
  • How do we know the events are random, and that due to the ways particles interact, some are simply not going to happen given the environment available?
  • How do we know that this isn’t the only possible outcome and isn’t random at all?
  • At what point mathematically is an event considered impossible?

Unfortunately n=1. There is only one universe that we have observed, so we only have empirical evidence that one like this can exist, all the other possibilities are merely hypothetical.

It is also true that the origin of life wasn’t observed, and that this is equally problematic for biologists and theologians. It is easy for believers to claim that they don’t accept a natural origin of life because it has never been observed. This is ironically an “absence of evidence is evidence of absence” argument. Aside from this, it would be entirely rational and intellectually consistent to then conclude that one must also reject the idea of a divine origin for life, as it has also never been observed. While possibilities abound on this matter, the honest answer is, “I don’t know”.

At this point, one may say that the response to the above is usually an appeal to ignorance, “that we don’t know, is proof that ancient people with livestock did know.” So what? Point it out and read on for more.

The entire premise hinged on a false alternative. Simply broken down, it either happened completely randomly, or gods did it. This cannot eliminate other possibilities (some I alluded to earlier). Perhaps this is merely a simulated reality designed for us. We can’t prove this, but we can’t rule it out, and thus saying it must be a god or random process is fallacious. But either or arguments need to be exhaustive, life was made by god/s, or it wasn’t; it is random, or it isn’t and so on. The argument here would require a kind of omniscient awareness of every possibility available and what rules them all out. This is the reason why any theological debate about evolution is fallacious. even if the subject were evolution, this response is still the most valid, and simplest, and doesn’t land on the hard ground of evolution. Formal logic isn’t as easy to deny, as we all make basic day-to-day assumptions based on it. but the rational response if the subject is evolution is revealing this fallacy.

If we answer the final question in the list, then we have a simple answer. According to most modern stats textbooks, impossible events have a probability of zero, but the converse is not the case. Mathematical reasoning can assign a zero probability to a possible event. This would normally involve an infinite countable set, like the rational numbers between 1 and 2, and an equal assignment of probability to each member of the set randomly being called. The thing is, the origin of life is not an infinite countable set, but a finite countable set, and thus will produce a positive probability, although miserably small. The event is possible.

Another issue is that while origins of life are improbable unusual events, by gods or nature, they are not less likely than any other of the possible events, given complete randomness. Something had to happen with reacting chemicals, and all the possibility had equal probabilities, then a low probability outcome is the expected result. Therefore, we have an event with an expected probability. Given that origin of life was a random event, the mathematical probability is what we would expect it to be.

I’m going to wrap this up. Perhaps you think I should offer more. I haven’t won, I have proved nothing, I have merely provided some possibilities, and pointed out that the stats aren’t unexpected, given the information they provided. I also mentioned the false alternative, and how the question doesn’t bear much relevance to being and atheist, or that it is very helpful in providing a good reason to believe in god. I have merely planted some seeds in the softer soil beneath the hardened surface of the anti evolution movement.

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There Is No Conclusive Evidence That Cannabinoids Actually Cure Cancer

 

 

On the subject of cannabis:

Many healthcare providers can agree that cannabis can alleviate some symptoms associated with cancer, like pain and nausea, as well as the side effects associated with the various kinds of cancer treatments available. But there is no conclusive evidence that it targets any one of the thousands of different and unique types of cancer systemic to the human population. Cancer isn’t just a simple disease: it has multiple causes and multiple ways of causing death and bodily harm. The drugs that can treat these various cancers can be extremely diverse, and one drug that will work with one particular type of cancer won’t work with another. In addition to the many varieties of cancers, each person has unique genetic characteristics which must be taken into account when designing a treatment plan.

The study people like to cite is this one:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171598/

When you look at the actual facts, cannabis isn’t a miracle cure. The conclusion in the paper states that the  study was inconclusive and needed more research. The paper makes no mention of cancer cell destruction, either. It does talk about slowing down metastasizing factors, but not actually killing cancer cells themselves. It even acknowledged that in some cases cannaboids enhanced tumor growth:
“Furthermore, endocannabinoids- AEA and 2-AG are broken down into secondary metabolites like prostaglandin (PGE2) and epoxyeicosatetraenoic acid (EE) which enhance tumor growth and metastasis in diverse cancer types.”

Even if it was shown to have an effect on receptor sites or outright kills pancreatic cancer cells for example, without damaging the surrounding tissue, that’s still just 1 cancer out of many other varieties with multiple variables. With that being said another study even showed that cannabinoids actually had carcinogenic factors that increased the risk of pancreatic as well as other cancers for that matter:

http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/64/6/1943.short

“In contrast, Grand and Gandhi recently presented a case study of acute pancreatitis induced by cannabis smoking, indicating that cannabinoids may be a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.”


Above are test results that presents a potential link to cancer from cannabinoids. See the above citation for further information.                                 

Thinking a plant or a single chemical can cure cancer is ridiculous and shows a fundamental lack in understanding medical science. Cannabis has become the new herbalism that quacks and charlatans are using pushing without any evidence to back up their claims.

So in, conclusion, there are specific cancers that cannabinoids may have an effect on reducing metastasis in cancer cells but in others it enhances tumor growth. The current state of the research does not support cannabis as a miracle cancer cure, or even a particularly effective cancer treatment.

A typical method utilized by alternative medicine and quacks are using the plea to emotion to bolster their position rather than using empirical evidence.

Can’t we just agree that it’s simply fun to enjoy without all the nonsense attached to it?

From Superstition to Reason: Journeys to Humanism/Atheism by HAPI

 

 

At long last, the very first secular book has come out from the printing press in Manila, Philippines. Soft launching is today, Good Friday for the Roman Catholics all over the world, a symbol of death for them, while it is a symbol of  love and education for us in HAPI (Humanist Alliance Philippines, International).

This book took about 6 years to make, with bittersweet memories, headaches and sleepless nights. We are lucky to have found a better personnel this time in HAPI, who made this book a reality. A long and grueling collaborative effort, with down to earth leadership, we finally did it.

With over 70 different journeys, from tearjerker to something serious and noble : from being religious to agnosticism and finally atheism,  and to make it better, we call it  humanism, as an act of love to our fellowmen in the Philippines.

It is only available via HAPI based in the Philippines for now,  at PHP 300 equivalent to $ 6 USD.

The profits,  if any,  will be utilized to buy more prints of this book to be donated to local libraries of schools and universities.

Education is our route in combating religiosity in the Philippines and for exponential growth.

My legacy will continue, I can die anytime.

I am not afraid.

By:

Marissa Torres Langseth, RN, MSN, ANP, Retired

Chairwoman Emeritus

HAPI Founder

 

https://hapihumanist.org/events/catch-em-young-exponential-growth-vision/

Mob behavior and the feeling of being right

People don’t want to understand, people want to feel they are right.

herdMentality

Disagreeing online has become a dangerous thing to do, the internalization of beliefs and the fanatization of those who hold said beliefs puts an end to rationality and opens the door for visceral discussions.

“Attacking my beliefs is attacking me, as I am what I think”

When a person disagrees with the notion a group holds dear, the usual reaction includes personal disqualifications, personal attacks, public mocking and exposure of personal information to shame that who dared to have a different opinion.

This happens because when a person feels the support of a group in which he or she is part of the majority, what the majority believes is taken as the truth.
If you were to go to an online group or forum dedicated to a certain topic, whether it is politics, conspiracy ideas, social movements, even fan clubs, and said “I’m not X”, sooner or later the conversation would devolve into an insult fest, in the case that the post is not deleted from the site and the user banned before the mob notices the one that is different.

I’d like to attach this behavior to those who I disagree with, but I’ve seen this kind of irrational and tribalistic behavior occurring within certain circles I’m part of, ending up forming eco-chambers where differing opinions and cognitive growth go to die.

“Understanding why the other person thinks he is right is more important than being right oneself”

Maslow constructed his model based on how people behave and what they need to do in order to achieve self-realization, forming part of a group and feeling one belongs is one of the most important factors in the process of achieving self-realization.
I’m mentioning this part because peer-pressure and the desire to belong to something bigger than ourselves is usually the reason why we, as humans, tend to behave in certain waves that include attacking those who are different, those who disagree, those who don’t have opinions and beliefs like ours.

Are we really far from our cousins the chimps or are we still following our instincts in order to survive while we keep self deluding ourselves into thinking we are “the rational ones”?

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How I became an Atheist in Pakistan

Pakistani Muslim students attend a religious madrassa, or school, to learn the Quran, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Religious schools in Pakistan, most of them in mosques, are the only source of education for thousands of children. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore at dusk.

 

This story is being posted on behalf of a member of the AAPN community. Our friend Adeel.

I am no different from anyone around me. Being born in a Muslim family I was no different from every other Muslim baby. When I was born my parents felt that I was blessing of Allah forgetting that in fact it was completely their effort. The first words I ever heard were “Azzan”, which is said in my right ear and ” Aqamat” which was said in my left. Being the first boy of the family I got a lot of love and attention from my family. This included religious indoctrination. While growing up the first word I learned was “Allah”. Muslim parents love to hear “Allah” as the first word from their baby’s mouth. When I learned to speak, the first class I had was about the Koran. I was like every other kid, waking at 5:30 AM in the morning to go to the nearby “Madrassa” (Islamic School) before going to primary school. Even primary school stressed religious instruction.

The girls, 5 to 5 years old, were supposed to wear “hijab” as part of their training. I was taught to pray when I was 7. We learned the prayers through nursery rhymes. We also attended a mandatory class called Islamic Studies. This was where we were brained-washed with Islamic stories and so-called Islamic values. We were not to question our religion nor its concept of a God. As I was to find out, there is no space for question in religion. Like every other Muslim child I was indoctrinated with their concept of heaven, about how beautiful it is and about the many beautiful women I would get if I lived my life acting on the rules of Islam. Like every other kid I was told that only Muslims are going to heaven because God loves only Muslims and he created heaven only for Muslims. Like everyone else I was told to hate other religions. I was to feel proud for being a Muslim. I was told how important it is for girls to wear hijab so that no man can see them. I was conditioned so well to accept this that I started to force the women and girls in my family to wear the hijab. As a teenager I joined Islamic groups who travel from city to city to invite people to Islam. I grew the beard and I was happy that I was born a Muslim; imagining myself going to heaven and getting 72 virgins gave me great motivation to become even more devoted to my religion.

Boys read the Koran in a madrasa, or religious school, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Kabul…Boys read the Koran in a madrasa, or religious school, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Kabul July 15, 2013. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani (AFGHANISTAN – Tags: RELIGION)

This was all to change. It shocked me when I started to study other religions and I realized that every religion has the concept of heaven and hell, and every religion promises its followers to let them enter into heaven. I read that every religion tells its followers to hate other religions and that followers of every other religion are going to hell. This opened my eyes and really made me question my own beloved Islam. I began to see how all the Islamic sects spread hate against the other sects. The more I read the more the more I started to hate my own religion, to hate any religion. I tired of it all, though I didn’t lose my faith in God.

Then when I was 20 my grandfather had an attack of paralysis. I visited him in the hospital. That visit to the hospital was a game changer. I was walking through the childrens ward, thinking of my grandfather, when I heard some children crying in pain. This event really made me question my beliefs about God. I wondered how God could really exist if he could not help these children. After that visit I saw several accidents on the road. As I saw that they were all man-made accidents, it dawned on me that really God, too, is just a creation of man’s own mind. Later I began to see that this concept of a God is also something that is used to help rulers control the poor, for a few to exert power over the rest of mankind. I saw that religion is used to divide people and make them fight each other for personal gain and advantage.
So this is how I turned from being Suni Muslim to an atheist. I will never look back.

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The Illuminator Comic: Bob the believer!

I created this character called Bob the Believer (Believer Bob),  the quintessential religious, Bible thumping, fundamentalist  whack job.
Believer Bob tries unsuccessfully to stump Triangle Head every time.  You’ll notice that Bob totally rejects every scientific theory and favors Creationism at every turn. Cognitive Dissonance!
Enjoy! 🙂

Also on Instagram @the_illuminator_comic
http://www.theilluminatorcomic.com

What is The Illuminator Comic?
“The Illuminator”, is a character driven comic strip by Chris Pinto, that turns Religion, Politics and Conspiracy theory on it’s head.
The Protagonist, Triangle-head is an evil dude, with a soft heart. He is a member of the Illuminati. Join him on a quest to keep things real, while raising his three year old son Baltar, to someday lead the New World Order.
~ by Chris Pinto

The Illuminator Comic: A few decision trees.

Here are a couple of decision tree strips I did.

 

Also on Instagram @the_illuminator_comic
http://www.theilluminatorcomic.com

What is The Illuminator Comic?
“The Illuminator”, is a character driven comic strip by Chris Pinto, that turns Religion, Politics and Conspiracy theory on it’s head.
The Protagonist, Triangle-head is an evil dude, with a soft heart. He is a member of the Illuminati. Join him on a quest to keep things real, while raising his three year old son Baltar, to someday lead the New World Order.
~ by Chris Pinto

The Spectrum of Knowledge and Belief

The Spectrum of Knowledge and Belief

I have at times accepted the Agnostic Atheist label I did so in part as an assertion of the scientific principle of uncertainty (I was never indoctrinated and haven’t experienced the doubts I have heard from those who struggled from the grasp of such). So it was definitely not being doubtful, just trying to be scientific. Sounds good? nods,  but I also felt uncomfortable with the agnostic angle because as generally used  it implied doubt which I didn’t in any way feel. Now I  have come to think I was fundamentally missing the point and confusing the issue. The core problem comes from the definition of knowledge and belief.

So let’s look at a philosophical definition of knowledge as quite honestly when we are doing with this labelling game. We are dancing with philosophy. (Pragmatic types just left the room)

Defining Knowledge

Plato defined knowledge as a “Justified True Belief” 

This might be modelled thusly

circle_diagram3
Platonic Model of Knowledge

This brings us to the bit…

Knowledge and Belief
are not purely distinct things

In fact knowledge is just a specialized case where a claim meets standards of evidence sufficiently to match our acceptance as knowledge threshold. (we do not have any handle on plato’s truth not really so lets ignore that for now sigh)

Presenting them as different axis like they are  often done might be seen as rather deceptive.

No distinction

Perhaps we could argue they are different markers along a path of differing degrees of justification.

<insert image reflecting this model>

Justification aka Evidence.

We could define this as a range of evidence quality with markers showing where we decide that belief becomes knowledge  (and aside from errors generally there should have strong correlation with plato’s truth).

Standards of Evidence

What amount of evidence or lack there of (where evidence would reasonably be expected ) do you require to consider a belief to be knowledge?

This question is the core of that scale.  But it gets tricky  do you have different standards for different things well yes of course you do but are they appropriately  contextual like how the scientific axiom of  “Extreme assertions requiring extreme evidence”  as popularised by Carl Sagan  calls it. Or are those standards influenced by something else (like fear tactics embedded in the religious doctrines themselves or a desire to get along and not be in conflict with dominant religions).

There is also of course differences in evidence quality like subjective vs objective experience . (let’s just avoid Descartes anti-pragmatic it is all subjective hole for now).

Beyond that we come down to the nature of the claim…

Multitudes of Definitions
– Changing/Moving Goal Posts

One of the reasons we see where people assert they do not believe but they do not know (ie agnostic atheism) may be occurring because of the lack of precision in “the god claim” , but I think it is not just that there are a variety of claims ( for this reason I have a fondness for Ignosticism ).

As even focusing on what is supposedly a broadly speaking singular modern claim. you see serious changing definitions over time and those changes have a pattern that should itself be a clue about the nature of the claims.

It seems very apparent that the religious salesmen and apologists have been intentionally redefining their magic sky daddy premise and moving goal posts to remove expectation of evidence.  He was in the sky and liked the smell of burning flesh till humans were able to fly beyond the world, now he is some interdimensional out of time being. They aren’t gaining new knowledge they are refining a manipulative scam a con game. The con-men want you to give them freedom to sell their crap.

I personally won’t be buffaloed in to not calling it crap because of some extreme vague white washed deist possibility that simply put does not correspond at all to what the religions are actually selling.

Eteplirsen and the rise of patient participation in FDA drug approvals.

A long road traveled

debra-miller-at-fda-april-2016-1100x642Let me first preface this article with the admission that the FDA drug approval process is not, or anywhere near perfect.  Also, I do feel conflicted as DMD is a devastating disease with little to no treatment.  I do feel for the children, and their family, who are desperately searching for any treatment possible.  The recent decision to grant accelerated approval, although conditional, is worrying.  Have we entered the age of FDA drug approvals that are no longer decided on the quality of their research, but on the emotional appeal of the patients that may benefit from the drug’s approval?

Sarepta has gone through quite the battle to have their most high profile drug, Eteplirsen, approved for sale to patients.   But on April of this year, in front of a standing room only crowd of Eteplirsen supporters and DMD patients, the FDA drug advisory board denied approval to Sarepta’s wonder drug.  In a 7 to 3 vote, the panel advised that Sarepta had not met the FDA requirements for well controlled studies to demonstrate the drug’s efficacy.

A case study in small sample sizes and poor placebo control

The key data Sarepta had presented to the FDA board was a single study of 12 cohorts with DMD that was conducted over the course of a year.  The study did follow the gold standard double-blind placebo-controlled methodology, although 24 weeks in the placebo cohorts were randomized to drug.  Small sample sizes are obviously unavoidable when it comes to rare genetic disorders.  To put it in perspective, if the FDA had voted to approve Eteplirsen, it would have set a record for the least amount of clinical data of its efficacy in the history of FDA approvals.

Not only did this single study suffer from an extremely small sample size, it also showed marginal efficacy.  DMD treatments are verified, primarily, by a test called the 6MWT (6 Minute Walk Test).  During this trial two of the boys that received the lower dose of Eteplirsen lost the ability walk very quickly after being recruited into the trial.  The rest showed moderate (but statistically significant) improvement in the 6MWT compared to placebo.

Although the study showed statistically significant improvement in 6 of the cohorts, what does this tell us?  To me, it’s an indication that the drug could be effective in slowing down or halting DMD in young boys, the key word being could, but more study is warranted.  To, once again, put into perspective the situation the FDA was facing, A competitor, GlaxoSmithKline, which was developing a similar drug, did a randomized trial involving 186 boys, one third of whom were given a placebo.  That drug, now owned by BioMarin Pharmaceutical, did not prove effective in that study and failed to win FDA approval.

The FDA advisory board suggested to Sarepta to repeat the study but with adequate placebo controls and to present the data again for another evaluation.  But the company argued that it would be unethical and impractical to do so, since early hints of effectiveness meant that parents would no longer enroll their sons in a trial where they might not get the drug.

A paradigm shift in FDA approvals of new drugs

Even with the poorly controlled trial complete with its minuscule sample size, in September of this year the FDA granted accelerated approval to Sarepta to produce and administer its new drug.  This isn’t the same as full approval as it comes with contingencies where Sarepta still needs to show that the drug is effective.

On one hand this is amazing news for DMD sufferers as it gives them a glimmer of hope, but on the other hand the drug is astronomically expensive and has extremely limited proof of efficacy past placebo.  The treatment will cost in the neighborhood of $300,000 annually, with insurance companies picking up the tab, except for Anthem who already announced they would not cover the drug as they are not convinced of its efficacy past placebo.

“In summary, the clinical benefit of treatment for DMD with eteplirsen, including improved motor function, has not been demonstrated,” Anthem policy, posted Thursday on its web site, said. “Establishment of a clinical benefit is warranted in on-going clinical trials.”

With the accelerated approval, it is hard to argue that this may be the first time the FDA has relied more on the lobbying of patients, their family, and others rather than the science behind the medication.  Along with what may be the largest lobbying campaign for a drug approval in history, supporters of the drug recruited 109 members of congress to pen a letter to the FDA calling for its approval.  

What it all boils down to is this; Should people with obvious conflicts of interest and others who have absolutely no experience in clinical trials and drug approvals have any say in which drugs the FDA approves and those it rejects?  In my cynical and evidence driven mind, I think not.  The law is very clear, the FDA is mandated to only approve drugs with sufficient evidence of their efficacy past placebo and Sarepta has not shown that Eteplirsen accomplishes that.

Where are we now?

At this point in time, Sarepta has been cleared to begin treating patients with their drug.  But at the same time, they are obligated to provide the FDA with additional clinical data over the next few months. If this additional data is not placebo controlled, or even blinded, then does it even qualify for sufficient evidence?  Only time will tell if the FDA finally approves the drug once and for all, but if they do, it will be a paradigm shift in how drugs are approved.  That could be a good thing, but it could also mean a dramatic shift in the quality of drugs entering the market as the bar for clinical evidence has been lowered substantially as long as sufficient lobbying is performed.

While an open debate about what we, as tax payers and potential patients,  would like the FDA drug approval process to achieve, varying the standards applied based on need or emotional appeal is bad for patients. Under current regulation, Eteplirsen falls well below the bar for approval on the currently available data.  I do hope I am wrong.  I hope that Eteplirsen is a miracle drug and changes DMD sufferers lives forever.  I hope Sarepta is successful in obtaining the data they need to get the drug approved once and for all.  I don’t, however, like the direction the FDA drug approvals process is heading.

New Study Shows Chiropractic Is Ineffective For Migraines (Duh)

The search for a credible placebo

For far too long the research on chiropractic has had the same issue as research on acupuncture, a reliable placebo.  Without a credible placebo, studies become impossible to double-blind and very difficult to single-blind.  Often times the controls are pain medication or no treatment at all.  Many times the studies would show a clear false positive leading to the assumption that chiropractic is more effective than placebo.  However, a study just published in the European Journal of Neurology showed that not only does spinal manipulation not work in the treatment of migraines, it also showed a design which may improve future chiropractic studies.

Study Design

At a university hospital in Norway, a single-blinded randomized controlled trial was performed.  A sample size of 104 patients, while small, is sufficient for preliminary studies utilizing this new sham method.  The control group continued with their current treatment, the active group received chiropractic treatment for their migraines, and the placebo group received a new sham treatment consisting of spinal manipulation similar to a chiropractic treatment, but in a completely different area and utilizing different manipulation techniques.  The blinding was successful and in an exit poll 80% in both the active and placebo groups believed they had received chiropractic treatment.

Results

In all groups the severity and duration of the migraines was lessened, but that is to be expected as any treatment, even the act of participating in the study generally shows improvements.  In the end, all three groups experienced similar improvement.

For the first time, we have solid evidence that chiropractic treatments, at least those for migraines, have no efficacy past placebo.  This is obviously a result we had expected to see; although now, the study backs up that assumption.  Much like a recent review on acpuncture, it seems as if the sham chiropractic treatment may be as effective as the true treatment.  One interesting piece of information surfaced in that adverse effects were significantly more frequent in the chiropractic “active” group.

What does this mean?

Well, it means a few things.  It means that spinal manipulation (not just chiropractic, but the manipulation performed by osteopaths and physical therapists) does not show efficacy past placebo in controlled and successfully blinded studies for migraines.  It also marks the first occasion where researchers were successfully able to blind cohorts, which will hopefully open the door for further research debunking the most accepted pseudoscience in the world, spinal manipulation.