Chiropractic Crackpottery

A very popular branch of alternative medicine, one that has exhibitions in the malls, advertises in rented booths in county fairs, and has multiplied like mushrooms in the yellow pages of all urban communities in the US is chiropractic. Many people believe that chiropractors are real doctors, and that chiropractic is actually a branch of medicine. However, the entire profession of chiropractic is based on the assumption that every pain and disease (or “dis-ease”) is caused by the nerves pinched between the bones of the spinal column.

ddPalmerChiropractors treat all kinds of diseases by the manipulation of the spine. This includes not only low pack pain, for which chiropractic is famous for, but also asthma, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, infertility, and a host of other conditions. Neck pain treatment is a very delicate procedure. Any adverse manipulation of the neck can cause severe injury. One such unfortunate case, in which the patient had a fatal stroke, was precisely the result of the manipulation of the neck by a chiropractor.

The founder of chiropractic is Daniel David (“D.D.”) Palmer (1845-1913).1 Palmer started as a grocer in Davenport, Iowa, but soon was attracted to phrenology,2 and eventually practiced as a full-time “magnetic healer.” To attract patients, D.D.’s brother ran articles in newspapers claiming that D.D. cured patients simply by the motion of his hands, and that he could cure tumors and cancers without medicine. His technique was to locate the dysfunctional organs and to impart a “life force from his hands into that dormant organ, thereby assisting it to throw off the unnatural condition.”

  1. For a detailed and fascinating account of the controversial discipline of chiropractic, see Magner, G. Chiropractic: The Victim’s Perspective, Prometheus, 1995. What follows in this article is taken from this book.
  2. Phrenology was a pseudoscience, very popular in the nineteenth century, based on the assumption that one can diagnose diseases by analyzing the bumps on the head.

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