Chiropractic Confusion on Science and Philosophy
I have been a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic for about 30 years now and I have been training doctors for a very long time. One of the things that comes up in my profession particularly, in chiropractic, is this idea that I am scientifically based, I’m not philosophically based, or I’m philosophically based, and I don’t care about the science. Whenever I hear that I think, “Wow, it’s an amazing misunderstanding of the term inherent”.
The term inherent means that something is inseparable. You cannot separate it. So, inherent in ice is water and sub 32° Fahrenheit temperature. You cannot have ice without water and cold. They are inseparable.
Why is it important for me to even talk about science and philosophy or anything else? Well, one of the things that I realize is that we need to have leaders be able to simplify things for the vast majority of us. People that I find significant in a leadership role are able to take complex subjects and simplify them. So let’s simplify these two terms. Let’s simplify on this show how they are inherent. You cannot have one without the other.
A science is an organized body of knowledge and data organized in order to solve a problem. So chiropractic is an organized body of data, of information, and it provides a science of chiropractic. The science of chiropractic is the science of how the ill effects of misalignment, trauma, and contact with the outside world affects the spine, and how that effect affects the rest of the body and reduces down the health. And then how, if we improve the health of the spine, that we improve the health of the body.
The whole idea behind chiropractic is that the alignment of the spine improves the function, alignment improves function. And that is the organized body of knowledge. And that organized body of knowledge has to do with osteology and position. It has to do with physics and various sciences come into play.
Now, philosophy is the reason why you organize the science in the first place. You cannot have a science without a philosophy. Now let me be really clear with that. Science is an organized body of knowledge organized to solve problems in a particular area. Philosophy is why you organize it in the first place. So when somebody says to me that they are philosophically based but they’re not scientifically based, I don’t know what to say to that. But when they say, “Hey, I don’t want any more of this philosophical stuff, I just want to know the science.” Well, again, philosophy is the reason why you organize the science in the first place.
Some in my profession do not realize that you can enter in terms like religion, and religion usually means that there is a higher being. And religion can be a philosophy, but we do not need to bring religion into the science and philosophy of electronics, or the science and philosophy of economics. It does not mean that we deny the existence of these higher being. I think it’s ridiculous to deny the existence of a higher being. I think there’s too many examples around that there is. But to stay out of that area. It’s not what I’m talking about today. I’m just talking about philosophy and science.
In the profession of chiropractic, at one point, according to historians, in 1910 or 1912 there were 12,000 doctors that had gone through school and had been chiropractors. There were apparently around 15,000 prosecutions for practicing medicine without a license that were going on in that time period. Palmer, BJ Palmer, the son of the original founder of all of chiropractic, looked and said at that time the Christian scientists had exemptions. And he looked at one point and said, “Maybe we should turn chiropractic into a religion just to handle the prosecutions.” Now, you have got to think about this.
Put this in context of doctors. Let’s say there are 60,000 practicing chiropractors, and there are 90,000 active cases on the books right now of prosecuting and persecuting each chiropractor for practicing medicine without a license. What would you do? What would the leadership do? So there was an idea that that is what should occur, and sometimes I think that that is how this went off the rails on philosophy versus science.
Today, in the injury market, we need the science and philosophy to merge. Right? What’s the philosophy of injury science? Well, we could take a philosophy like alignment improves function. We could take a philosophy like we want to go for the top ability to rehabilitate the human body. That can be our philosophy. That’s our starting point. Now we’re going to organize the science called the science of injury science in order to accomplish that. You, whether you know it or not, if you’re married, you have a philosophy of marriage. And there’s also a science to it. You may have a philosophy of raising your kids. Anything that you deem important, generally you have a reason why. The reason why is your philosophy.
I wanted to talk about those two terms because they are common terms that come up in my profession, and the more we talk or exchange viewpoints on it, I think the more it will help you to understand exactly what these things mean when you’re hit with them. I’ve been hit in depositions where the defense attorney asked me, “What’s your philosophy of chiropractic in a deposition?” So it’s easy. Alignment improves function. I can say our philosophy in three words, and now you can too, doctor. And you can use that. Alignment improves function.
If a marriage is misaligned, it’s not functional. If your business is misaligned, it’s not functional. If your relationship with your kids are misaligned, it’s not functional, or not as functional as it could be. Realign it and it’ll become more functional. That is a philosophy of chiropractic, and you could say it’s the basic founding principle upon which the whole science was built.
So again, doctors, you’re going to see that I’m going to go into different areas, sometimes heavy into injuries, sometimes into the outer areas of our profession or my profession in order to assist in your general understanding, simple understanding, so that you don’t get caught up in the areas that you shouldn’t get caught up. Nobody should get caught up on whether I’m philosophically based or whether this profession has to be more science or more philosophy. You can’t grow one without the other.
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