Monday, April 29, 2013

#529: Amber Brooks & Charles Chapple

Although the two loons presented in this entry are probably no more loony than a horde of other like-minded altmed practitioners they still deserve exposure because they i) are still loons – the numbers don’t change that; and ii) they both appeared at the 2011 version of the annual quackfest Autism One among a host of other pushers of woo. Indeed, in one sense their appearance there brillianty illustrates what the antivaxx movement is really about.

For what are Brooks’s and Chapple’s areas of expertise”? Nothing less than CranioSacral Therapy. Basically, Craniosacral therapists (the main guy appears to be one John Upledger, who runs his own clinic in Florida and also does dolphin therapy), who belong to the more dubious end of osteopathy, claim to be able to detect a craniosacral rhythm” in the cranium, sacrum, cerebrospinal fluid and the membranes that envelop the craniosacral system, and the balance and flow of this rhythm is considered by such therapists to be essential to good health. The rhythm is measured by the therapist's hands. Any needed or effected changes in rhythm are also detected only by the therapist's hands. It has not been detected by other means, and will presumably never be detected by other means. The idea is thoroughly silly to begin with. There is a good discussion of CST here.

Brooks’s talk at the antivaxx happening was entitled CranioSacral Therapy: Its Role in Autism Recovery & Childhood Development,” and she managed to claim that CST has been shown to help the individual with autistic features gain a calmer and more relaxed state of being by decreasing structural stress and strain,” where shown” certainly does not mean suggested by controlled, double-blinded studies with a reasonable, unbiased sample size,” if anyone were ever to believe that. Chapple, a chiropractor, gave the talk Affecting Sensory Processing, Primitive Reflexes with Chiropractic and Cranial Sacral Therapy.” You do the math.

Diagnosis: Kooks who bring to the table not only homemade theories (as crackpots are wont to) but also homemade evidence (ok, crackpots are in general prone to that as well). The plural of anecdote is not evidence, but that’s probably not something Brooks or Chapple are likely to grasp as they lend their services, however insignificant in themselves, to the forces of evil.

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