Chiropractic Games & Distortions of Truth
Do you remember a game from your
childhood called, “telephone operator?”
You know the game; everyone sits in a circle, the first person then whispers in the ear of the person next to them. The whisper makes its way around the circle until the originator of the message receives the final word. The funny part of the game is that the message usually gets morphed as it travels often into an unrecognizable shadow of its original meaning.
When you were a child, this game was probably fun. When it gets played at the professional level, real CONSEQUENCES ensue. This is often the case in the chiropractic peer-reviewed journals.
Let me explain what I mean…
There are at least three messages that have been “whispered” in the chiropractic literature (and I write whispered because most chiropractors DON’T read the literature – unfortunately).
1. The Philosophy of Chiropractic was developed by lawyer Tom Morris.
2. The Subluxation is an untestable entity.
3. Anyone who uses philosophy or subluxation in chiropractic are “Dogmatists.”
The more you tell a message, the more it seems like TRUTH even if it is distorted. The more you pass on a DISTORTED TRUTH, the less truthful it becomes even if there was a kernel of truth in the original message. In a profession, when a distorted truth gets passed on through the literature, it gains in credibility with each new publication! It seems to be TRUER. And this influences accrediting agencies (CCE), boards (FCLB), examiners (NBCE), trade organizations, and eventually legislation.
I plan to discuss these “truths” in more detail in future blogs, and, I have written about them already (most of my articles are posted on this website), and I have developed a series of online courses exploring these issues (SHAMELESS PLUG). But for now, let’s just explore the latest assault on the foundations of chiropractic in the literature…
In a recent article by Keith Simpson in the journal, Chiropractic and Manual Therapies, he describes the five eras of chiropractic, yet he relies on whispered and distorted truths from the literature and he even invents some new ones.
Simpson, who decides to tell us about his credentials in the article (Doctor of Chiropractic and Doctorate of Sociology), takes on all three of the messages above and embraces them whole-heartedly. Not only does he pass on the tired and very distorted interpretation of the philosophy of chiropractic, but he makes up a new distorted truth (which is an obvious mistake, but you might think a Ph.D. and a journal editor would catch it…)
The first tired distorted truth:
“Tom Morris was the architect of the philosophy of chiropractic.”
The new distorted truth:
“Solon Langworthy started the 1922 ACA.”
By now, you might be asking…”What does this have to do with me or my practice?” Or more directly, “Why should I keep reading?”
KEEP READING…it relates directly to you and the future of chiropractic!
Remember, these whispers continue through the chiropractic generations precisely because most chiropractors are NOT paying attention to the peer-review literature!
The idea that Tom Morris was the architect of the philosophy of chiropractic is rooted in facts, first espoused in the 1950s by Cyrus Lerner in his unpublished Report. In order to win the first landmark case for chiropractic, philosophy was used as part of the defense; “Chiropractic has a separate and distinct philosophy.” Soon after, B.J. Palmer and even D.D. Palmer wrote and taught about the philosophy as central to chiropractic, one of its three pillars. They also codified philosophical terminology to distinguish the differences between chiropractic and medicine such as adjustment and analysis.
The defense was used thereafter to win 90% of 3,300 cases against chiropractors in the next twenty years. This aspect of the facts has been whispered through the literature by Rehm, Keating, Seaman and several others in the last thirty years. THIS is how it goes from partial fact to distorted truth.
None of these arguments including Simpson take into consideration the FACT that D.D. Palmer had been studying the philosophy of healing for thirty years prior to the Morkibubo case. (I explore these issues in more detail with the actual texts D.D. was studying in two of my books (ANOTHER PLUG)!) Nor do they account for the FACT that the philosophy of chiropractic has many similarities to the 20th century philosophies of biology, philosophies that led to the current trends in systems theory, complexity theory, chaos theory, and other more interesting approaches such as Non Equilibrium Thermodynamics and Subtle Energy Systems. Basically, there were many factors that led to the importance of the philosophy in chiropractic and these dismissivist approaches merely point to ONE and suggest it is EVERYTHING.
You ask, “Why is this important?” Well, by dismissing the philosophy of chiropractic as a relic of an earlier time, when there were not many licensing laws, it gets erroneously argued that we no longer need philosophy because we don’t need that “phony” defense anymore! This of course leads to licensing boards (GCC) and accrediting agencies (CCE) to diminish the need for philosophy and subluxation, which leads to changes of scope and education.
Before I get to the subluxation part, let’s address the new distorted truth
Simpson, WRONGLY asserts that Solon Langworthy (the man credited with writing the first chiropractic textbook and coining the term vertebral subluxation), started the ACA in 1922. This is a mistake and hopefully the journal will publish a retraction. In 1903, Langworthy started The American School of Chiropractic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The association he started in 1905 was called the American Chiropractic Association, and was probably an alumni group. It had no relationship to the ACA, which formed in 1922, which later became the NCA, which in 1963 became the ACA of today.
And so you ask, “Who cares about all this history Simon?” Let’s look at the problem and the new whispers that will start from this very scholarly article of Simpson’s. It goes something like this… Since Tom Morris used Langworthy’s textbook to establish chiropractic as separate and distinct, and Morris was the architect of the philosophy, and since Langworthy started the ACA…well…that organization and their beliefs must hold the real flame of chiropractic legitimacy… and the whispers go on.
I will just end this rant by noting that Simpson’s assumption that evidence based practice and subluxation are mutually exclusive does not have any foundation except what is whispered in his carefully chosen references. He misses the important study called How Chiropractors Think and Practice (2003), which shows 88% in North America prefer to keep the term subluxation. He also misses much of the current literature on subluxation and history.
Finally, Simpson uses this tired group of distorted facts to dredge up yet another and another, that somehow philosophical chiropractors and subluxation chiropractors must ALL be following a “dogma” that believes the idea of ONE-CAUSE ONE-CURE and whatever goes with it. For the one cure issue, I refer you to the 2003 study mentioned above, for the worn out use of the term “dogma” in discussing chiropractic and its philosophers, you may just have to take my 12 hour online course, where I go into it in detail. (LAST SHAMELESS PLUG!)
Dr. Simon Senzon