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
For a fascinating, albeit slanted, view of the interconnections between the CCE, FCLB, NBCE, and the ACA, please read the online pdf version of Moore and Wise’s book, A Report on Chiropractic Politics and Education (1979).
Dr. Senzon’s most recent series of articles published in the Journal of Chiropractic Humanities explicitly address the “legal ploy argument,” and its implications for modern chiropractors, especially in terms of the policies of the GCC and the CCE.
- To view that section of the article: The Legal Question
- Download as a pdf: Constructing a philosophy of chiropractic: evolving worldviews and postmodern core
- To read Dr. Senzon’s exploration of the eight ways to discuss philosophy (which can also be applied to the research of subluxation), which was published in the Journal of Chiropractic Humanities in 2010, please click here: Constructing a Philosophy of Chiropractic I
Keith Simpson’s recent article, The Five Eras of Chiropractic was published in the Journal of Chiropractic and Manual Therapies.
- For an abstract of the article: Simpson abstract
- Download as pdf: Simpson article
To learn more about Tom Morris, please go to the Earliest Philosophers section and click on the Tom Morris page.
To read Cyrus Lerner’s 1952 report on chiropractic’s origins, please click here for the pdf: Lerner Report
Simpson references an article by Keating to support his claims about Morris as “the architect of chiropractic philosophy.” Keating also uses this piece to discuss his opinion on “dogma” in chiropractic.
- To view the article abstract, please go here: Philosophy and science in chiropractic
- To learn more about Keating and his writings, please click here: Keating
Seaman’s articles on the “Curse of Chiropractic” are good examples of how this “legal ploy argument” is used to attempt to discredit traditional philosophical concepts in chiropractic. Unfortunately, Seaman chose an obscure passage from Stephenson’s Chiropractic Textbook (1927) to make his point, and it seems that he misquoted Stephenson…
- Seaman’s articles can be found here: Seaman’s Curse
- To read Strauss’ critique of Seaman’s article please click here: Strauss on Seaman’s Curse
- To learn more about Stephenson please go here: RW Stephenson
- To learn more about Morikubo, please go here: Shegetaro Morikubo
D.D. Palmer’s traveling library is discussed in detail in Dr. Senzon’s books.
- The impact of Langworthy and the Morikubo case are discussed in: Secret History of Chiropractic
- The traveling library is published in abridged version in Dr. Senzon’s book: Chiropractic Foundations
To read more about the Dismissivist approach, please read McAulay’s article from the JCH:
To learn more about the GCC’s attempt to dismiss chiropractic philosophy and define the vertebral subluxation as an historical artifact, please see
- The GCC’s original statement: Guidance on Claims made for the Chiropractic VSC
- The GCC’s revised statement: GCC revised statement
- Dr. Kent’s article on the topic: An Analysis of the GCC’s Policy on Claims Made for VSC
- And also, please read the introduction to Dr. Senzon’s 2010 article in the Journal of Chiropractic Humanities: Introduction to Constructing a Philosophy of Chiropractic Part I
To explore the latest controversy over the CCE’s new standards please see:
- James Edwards’ series on: Exposing the CCE Charade
- The U.S. Department of Education Staff Report of 2011 citing 42 violations: Report
- An open letter to the profession from the CCE: Letter
- Responses to the CCE open letter: Foundation response to CCE
- ICA comments on the CCE: Comments
To learn more about Solon Langworthy, please please read Gibbon’s paper: Solon Massey Langworthy: Keeper of the Flame (posted with permission from the Association of Chiropractic History).
How Chiropractors Think and Practice was published as a book but the findings are available online:
New Study Finds Unity in Chiropractic
Finally the ideas of Dogma in chiropractic go along with the spurious claim that subluxation cannot be tested and is somehow mutually exclusive of evidenced base practice.
- That myth is espoused most loudly through a group called the West Hartford Group, where they highlight the most popular of the modern whispered articles like:
- The article about how Chiropractic should be like podiatry (including firing all philosophy faculty), and the article on:
- Subluxation and Dogma (where the only standard for studying subluxation is an RCT).
Dr. Senzon addresses many of these issues in his current series in the JCH on Constructing a Philosophy of Chiropractic:
But nowhere are the issues of dogma, subluxation, worldviews, and the philosophy of chiropractic addressed in more detail than in Dr. Senzon’s new online 12 hour curriculum.
What recent students are saying about Dr. Senzon’s online courses:
- Dr. Gregg Stern of Stern Chiropractic writes, “It was like a great book you just could not put down! I don’t know if 2 days is a record but I finished the 12 hrs and look forward to the next 2.”
- Dr. Jay Komarek of Boulder Sol Chiropractic writes, “”Simon, I want to take a moment to thank you. I am just about to finish your 12 hour program online. I have to say that I did it for CE. That being said, I would do it again just for the joy of it! After 34 years of mostly joyous practice I was uplifted by your program on so many levels…your message stands like a lighthouse pointing a way out. I am greatly appreciative of what you have done.”
- Dr. Martha Nessler of Innate Expressions writes, “”Simon’s passion for the historical preservation of chiropractic is inspiring and contagious. With his focus on BJ and the journey he traveled as he developed the profession of chiropractic, you are instantly re-connected to your roots. His blend of information and photos allows you to see where chiropractic has been and to realize your role in where it is headed. Simon is brilliant, devoted, and knowledgeable. His dedication to chiropractic’s heritage is what we need to preserve this profession.
A must do for ALL chiropractors!”
I know having this perspective in school would have been both fascinating and valuable for me as a chiro student. There is so much richness here for chiropractic moving into the future. Thank you!