12 December 2011


I see that Central Queensland University is planning to offer a degree in chiropractic, perhaps - I of course jest - to be followed by a degree in homeopathy and then one on augury, astrology, phrenology and astral travel. Why not a unit in exorcism?

Those fields - disciplines, according to the true believers - all involve theories, albeit theories that are inconsistent with conventional science and that have not been validated through empirical research.

RMIT already offers a cutely-worded unit in energy medicine apparently delivered by a self-described "quantum psychologist" who is a fan of the akashic field that is derided elsewhere in this blog. Should a leading institution be teaching 'energy medicine', as distinct from dealing with it as a research subject?

A sceptic might be forgiven for wondering whether the willingness of Australian universities to embrace deeply problematical therapies and junk science is a function of a postmodern disregard for fact (or merely for common sense) and the pressure to bring in dollars in an increasingly competitive environment for academic funding.

Fin de siecle notions of subluxation (notably Palmer's absurdist theory that diseases were attributable to spinal misalignments rather than infections) and claims that spinal manipulation can cure ADHD or other disorders are interesting - not least for people interested in the psychology of belief - but it is disturbing to see what is dignified as 'complementary medicine' and 'alternative medicine' (homeopathy, reiki, therapeutic touch, remote healing and the 'non local mind', etc) being tacitly endorsed by Australian universities and regulators.

As a non-specialist, who hasn't undertaken the chiropractic degree but is unimpressed by some of the more extreme claims from chiropractic enthusiasts, I wonder why CQU isn't simply offering units in physiotherapy.