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An editorial in today’s issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal prints in full a letter sent to the Journal by Paul Radich, a lawyer who acts for the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association Inc and its members. The letter alleges defamation by Andrew Gilbey’s article, and by my editorial which sets the wider context of his paper. The articles in question are here.

Here are some quotations from the Editorial by the Journal’s editor, Professor Frank A Frizelle, Department of Surgery, Christchurch Hospital, NZ. [Download the whole editorial].

In the article by Gilbey, data is provided about use of inappropriate titles by New Zealand practitioners of acupuncture, chiropractic, and osteopathy while the greater context is provided by Colquhoun.


The comments made by Paul Radich are entirely consistent with the response as expressed by Professor Edzard Ernst (Editor-in-Chief of Focus on Alternative and Complementary Medicine (FACT) and Chair in Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter) in his humorous article In praise of the data-free discussion. Towards a new paradigm5 when he states “data can be frightfully intimidating and non-egalitarian”.

. . .

The Journal has a responsibility to deal with all issues and not to steer clear of those issues that are difficult or contentious or carry legal threats. Let the debate continue in the evidence-based tone set by Colquhoun and others.

I encourage, as we have done previously, the chiropractors and others to join in, let’s hear your evidence not your legal muscle.


My article said nothing that has not been said many times before. I regard it as fair scientific comment, and I believe that expression of those opinions is in the public interest, The reaction of the Journal is thoroughly admirable.

The outcome of legal bullying can be very counterproductive, as the UK’s Society of Homeopaths found recently to their cost.

The lawyers’ letter demanded a response by 11th August, but in the advice of a lawyer I have decided to ignore for now this rather crude attempt to stifle discussion.

For further developments, watch this space.

The story was picked up within hours, It seems that a storm may be brewing round the world for New Zealand Chiropractors. Here are some of them.

Silence Dissent Ben Goldacre’s badscience,net

HolfordWatch Professor Frizelle’s Instant Classic: Let’s hear your evidence not your legal muscle

The first New Zealand site.

More Legal Chill -from spine-cracking chiropractors on jdc325’s blog

And A beginners guide to chiropractic, on the same site.

Andy Lewis’s Quackometer takes a sharp look too, in They are bone doctors aren’t they?

Support from a NZ blog, Evidence-based thought NZ Chiropractors vs NZ Medical Journal

And another New Zealand blog, Chiropractors attack NZ Medical Journal on SillyBeliefs.com

and another: Evidence should trump “legal muscle”, on “Open Parachute. The mind doesn’t work if it’s closed”

New Zealand Doctor magazine. “Kiwi-practors legal wrangle” in the Nature world news blog, The Great Beyond.

“Self-destructing chiropractors” on Jonathan Hearsay’s blog is particularly interesting because he is a (sceptical) osteopath. He says “Chiropractors are seemingly hell-bent on destroying themselves as a therapy”.

There are now so many allusions on the web to the behaviour of the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association Inc that I’ll give up trying to list all of them. Their action seems tp have done much to damage their own reputation.

Shortly after this came the news that the British Chiropractic Association is to sue one of out best science communicators, Simon Singh, because he had the temerity to inspect the evidence and give his opinion about it in the Guardian. His original article has gone (for now) from the Guardian web site, but as always happens with attempts at bullying and intimidation, it is more easily available then ever, For example here, and here.

Chiropractic in the UK is analysed by Andy Lewis on Quackometer,

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