Having corresponded with both the BCA and Bassett Chiropractic Clinics – and received a data dump of some of Tedd Koren’s work in the comments section of a recent post – I am beginning to get a feel for how well chiropractors understand research. I post here some suggested reading for chiropractors in the hope that they may improve their skills and become better at appraising scientific evidence*.
1. How to critically appraise an article (Jane M Young and Michael J Solomon). http://www.nature.com/nrgastro/journal/v6/n2/full/ncpgasthep1331.html? (How to evaluate study design and assess methodology – tells you the key points to consider when reading an article.)
2. How to Read a Paper (Trisha Greenhalgh). http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=_5a0UyIOx_MC&printsec=frontcover#PPP1,M1 (Ronseal – this book does exactly what it says on the tin.)
3. Evidence-Based Medicine – what it is and what it isn’t (David L Sackett, William M C Rosenberg, J A Muir Gray, R Brian Haynes, W Scott Richardson) http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/312/7023/71 (It’s about integrating individual clinical expertise and the best external evidence – e.g., systematic reviews.)
4. Bad Science (Ben Goldacre) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Science-Ben-Goldacre/dp/0007240198 (I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who has a poor understanding of the very nature of evidence.)
5. Irrationality (Stuart Sutherland) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Irrationality-Stuart-Sutherland/dp/1905177070 (From an Amazon review: “no matter how rational you think you are, I guarantee you will be surprised at some of the errors you unwittingly make”.)
6. On Bullshit (Harry G Frankfurt) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bullshit-Harry-G-Frankfurt/dp/0691122946/ (From Wikipedia: “Frankfurt sketches a theory of bullshit, defining the concept and analyzing its applications.”)
7. Trick or Treatment (Edzard Ernst and Simon Singh) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trick-Treatment-Alternative-Medicine-Trial/dp/0593061292/ (You chiropractors may be familiar with this book, but I suggest that once you have read my recommendations 1-6 above, that you revisit this book and reread the chapter on chiropractic in particular.)
*As Kruger and Dunning pointed out in their classic 1999 paper Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments, “people who are unskilled […] suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.”
I believe that it is our duty to assist the chiropractic community in recognizing their incompetence and in improving their skills – and thus relieve them of this dual burden they carry.