Just when you think the British Chiropractic Association might have learnt that every time it offers a public response it tends to blow up in it’s face and that it might be wiser to stay silent a new article by Richard Brown, the BCA vice president, pops up. This time round his response appears in the British Medical Journal and purports to be about ‘clarifying the issues’ surrounding the BCA’s case and the evidence for it’s claims.
And the result?
In the same issue as Brown’s article there is also a response written by Edzard Ernst. Ernst’s response is a short but thorough assessment of the quality and relevance of all of the “substantial evidence” which Brown cites in his article. He shows that every single reference cited by Brown is either irrelevant or of very poor quality. Ernst’s conclusion is that “the association’s evidence is neither complete nor… substantial”. This conclusion is echoed by Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, who writes that “[Ernst’s] demolition of the 18 references is, to my mind, complete”, proceeds to recommend that all readers of the BMJ should be “signed up to organised skepticism” and finishes by criticising the intrusion of legal cases into what should be scientific debates.
So once again it’s another PR disaster for the BCA as now, thanks to Richard Brown’s article and its terrible citations, one of the UK’s premier medical journals joins the chorus of critical voices directed at the BCA and its libel case. And not only that but it is urging its readers to follow suit! But before anyone starts to feel sorry for poor old Richard let’s take a more detailed look at what he actually said…