You may be used to seeing the Florida State Seminoles raking over opponents on the football field, but now you can watch their professors taking a stand against the metastasis of quackery threatening their institution.
In the past, Florida Universities were poorly regarded nationally, perhaps not without good reason. However, the last twenty years have seen the emergence of powerful, burgeoning, and important academic forces in Tallahassee, Miami, and Gainesville.
So the physicians, professors and teachers at FSU -- reluctant to give back hard-won academic prestige -- have rightfully taken a stand against the pork barrel establishment of -- of all things -- a state-sponsored Chiropractic school at FSU! OMG!
A petition opposing the school has been signed by about 500 FSU faculty members. At least nine assistant professors have said they will resign if the legislatively prompted, and funded, chiropractic school is allowed to open.
How could such a thing come about? Political PORK. Backscratching, in the most foul backroom political way.
The Back Cracker Suite
The theory that cracking the back could affect health was a teleological assumption by a nineteenth century self educated nonscientist who, lore has it, cured a deaf janitor by cracking his back. This autochthonous chiropractor ( who was using MAGNETS to treat patients before landing on their backs!) "reckoned" that since the spine is important, and nerves come out of the spine, then "adjusting" vertebral bodies could affect health. What are the chances one can come up with a valid medical discipline on the basis of a series of uneducated assumptions? ZERO.
The sound one hears when a joint is "cracked" represents the release of nitrogen, forced by distraction, from the vacuum of a joint space. There is NO proof whatsoever that any chiropractor has ever actually changed the alignment of anyone's spine; moreover, there is no proof whatsoever that even if one COULD "adjust" vertebral alignment, this would result in some salutary benefit.
It CAN hurt you, however, and there are many cases of vertebral artery damage and cerebellar infarction (a stroke) due to neck manipulation.
Why do people report that back cracking makes them feel better? First and foremost, most cases of acute backache are self-limited. Most people get better within one month, and 90% of people get better within three months. Whether the back is cracked or not, the ache goes away. So back crackers get credit for normal healing tendencies.
Second, THE PLACEBO EFFECT is powerful, statistically significant, and seems to be especially potent when surrounded by the pomp and circumstance that many back crackers put into their cracking rituals.
Just The Back Facts Jack!
So why the hell has the Florida legislature agreed to spend $9 million to start this project, with an estimated $35 million more to finish the building and then untold millions to run the school in years to come? It hurts to look at how this bill came about...because it reinforces the stereotypical view of Florida as a state run by backwater Huey Long-type politicians.
As Jann Bellamy, Talahassee lawyer wrote:
If there is a pressing need for more chiropractors (phone book listings suggest otherwise), that fact is not reported in the legislative analysis.
The driving force to get the school built is Senate Majority Leader Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, whose occupation is...Um...chiropractor.
Backing Senator Jones is Senate President Jim King, R-Jacksonville, and Speaker of the House Johnnie Byrd, R-Plant City, each of whom gets a research program named in honor of his parents in the same bill (CS/SB 2002). The legislation to do this badness ran quickly through committees and was brought to a vote within the first week of last year's legislative session. It passed with only one vote against it.
One is tempted to call this legislation pork, or logrolling, but it is more. It's like some kind of personal favor for Dennis Jones specifically designed for his own aggrandizement. Ugh! Tammany Hall politics is about as close a concept as I can find to describe this sort of political foreplay.
The University administrators at FSU are supporting the plan to establish the chiropractic school. It will be the first such state-sponsored back-cracking institute in the country. This is not the sort of publicity we need in Florida -- a State that worked so hard to lure the Scripps Institute to it's shores. This decreases Florida's legitimacy. It denigrates the scientists and professors who have made this state our home and it propagates -- no institutionalizes-- quackery...is THAT what we want Florida science to be known for?
It's time we stood up to alternative voodoo medical treatments in this country. With health care dollars in severe shortage the last thing we need to do is stamp the Imprimatur of FSU and the State of Florida on a pseudoscience invented on a hunch and unvalidated by scientific evidence.
It's a disgrace.
Dr. Raymond Bellamy, an assistant professor at FSU has scheduled a public forum on the issue on Jan. 13 in Tallahassee — the night before an FSU Board of Trustees is to meet about the issue. We need to throw our support behind him.