The Spine Salesmen (1976)

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
June 9, 2001

This article was originally published as a chapter in The Health Robbers: How to Save Your Money and Your Life, edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and Gilda Knight. The format has been slightly modified to enhance readability. The Lehigh Valley Committee Against Health Fraud was Quackwatch’s original name.

Criteria which should be used by chiropractors
when determining whether a patient is
or is not a chiropractic case:
1. Determine if the person has a spinal column.
2. Determine if the patient has a nervous system.
3. Determine if the patient is living.

—Douglas B. Gates, D.C.
Dean of Continuing Education
Sherman College of Chiropractic
Sherman Report, 1975

The Story of Harriet Cressman

Harriet Cressman is a lovely lady who lives with her husband on their farm in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania. Early in 1963, she developed a backache. Thinking that chiropractors were “bone specialists,” she went to one. He did not disappoint her. After examining her and taking an x-ray, he said that her spine was “tilted” but could be corrected by spinal “adjustments. ” The adjustments took place three times a week for several months. As her back symptoms improved, her treatment was reduced to twice a week, then once a week and then once a month. At this point, although Harriet felt completely well, the chiropractor suggested that she continue adjustments regularly for “preventive maintenance.” She did so faithfully for ten years and had no further trouble with her back-as far as she knew. In November 1973, however, the chiropractor took another x-ray and gave her bad news: the x-ray showed “18 compressed discs and progressive osteoarthritis of the spine which was spreading rapidly.” It would make her a helpless cripple if she did not have immediate treatment. He reassured her, however, that his new machinery could correct her disc problem and stop the spread of her arthritis.

Staggered by the news, Harriet went home to discuss the matter with her husband. But the chiropractor’s receptionist had already telephoned Mr. Cressman to ask him to bring Harriet back immediately to the office. Because of the serious nature of the case, the chiropractor wished to begin “intensive treatment” that same day. The treatment would be in day-long sessions, alternating complete bed rest with “Diapulse” and “Anatomotor” therapy, spinal adjustments and acupuncture. Its cost would be $11,000, but with payment in advance, the doctor would accept an even $10,000.

Because of her long association with the chiropractor, and because she was in no mood to trifle about her health, she unhesitatingly went about raising the money. Supplementing her life savings with a bank loan, she paid in advance.

For the next few months, as far as she could tell, Harriet’s treatment proceeded smoothly. Every week another full spine x-ray was taken. Each time the chiropractor pointed out on the x-ray how she improved. He also discussed other patients with her and asked her to help talk them into treatment with him. Advising Harriet that her condition might be hereditary, he suggested that other members of her family have spinal x-rays.

Harriet’s son Donald did have an x-ray and was told by the chiropractor that he had a “pin dot of arthritis which, if untreated, would spread like wildfire and leave him crippled within a short time.” Donald’s cost? With the usual ten percent discount for advance payment—a mere $1,500!

In May, 1974, the chiropractor suddenly informed the Cressmans that he was moving to California. “What about us?” they asked. “Don’t worry,” he answered, but their worry increased and turned to suspicion when his answers became contradictory. Pressed by Harriet for the name of another chiropractor who could continue her treatment, the chiropractor named one. “Don’t bother to call him before I leave,” he said, “because he has already gone over your records and x-rays with me.” Harriet did contact her chiropractor-to-be, however, and was told that her name had been “mentioned” but that no record or x-ray review had taken place.

Shocked by the turn of events, the Cressmans consulted medical and legal authorities who suggested that they file criminal charges for “theft by deception.” They did. Investigation by the Northampton County District Attorney’s office uncovered other patients of the chiropractor who had similar experiences. A medical radiologist x-rayed the spines of Harriet and Donald and offered to testify at trial that neither had any condition which could possibly be helped by chiropractic treatment. When news of the arrest became public, a third patient filed a criminal complaint. The chiropractor, he claimed, had cheated him out of $2,075 by promising to cure his arm and leg which had been paralyzed by a “stroke.”

Now it was the chiropractor’s turn to be stunned by the turn of events. He disappeared from public view and communicated through his attorney. He was innocent, he claimed, but was anxious to leave Pennsylvania as soon as possible. [He could not do so until the criminal cases were settled.] If the three complainants would drop their charges, he would return their money. Under supervision of the Northampton County Court, the $13,575 was returned and the charges were dropped.

Do you wonder whether Harriet Cressman had to be very gullible in order to part with $10,000 for such questionable treatment? Please let me assure you that she is a very intelligent person who is not at all gullible. Until the chiropractor announced that he was leaving, she simply had no reason to be suspicious. Though generally well-informed, she had never encountered criticism of chiropractic in any newspaper, magazine, book or radio or television program. Like all chiropractors, hers was licensed by the State as a doctor. He seemed warm, friendly and genuinely interested in Harriet. And he did what she would expect a doctor to do. He examined her, took an x-ray, made a “diagnosis” and prescribed a “treatment” plan. She was happy to feel better and, like most people, gave no thought to whether the “treatment” had cured her or whether she would have recovered just as quickly with no treatment at all. Nor did she give any thought to the nature of chiropractic itself, how it began, how its practitioners are trained or what they usually do. She certainly did not suspect that chiropractic is based on the mistaken beliefs of a grocer and his son.

The Development of Chiropractic

Chiropractic claims it began in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer restored the hearing of a deaf janitor by “adjusting” a bump on his spine. Palmer thought he had helped the man by releasing pressure on the nerve to his ear. A grocer and “magnetic healer” by profession, he did not know that the nerve from the brain to the ear does not travel inside the spinal column. But no matter-he soon became certain that he had discovered the cause of disease.

At first he kept the “discovery” secret, but by the end of 1895 he set up the Palmer College of Chiropractic to teach it. One of his early pupils was his own son, Bartlett Joshua, better known as “B.J.” The boy began to help his father run the school soon after it opened. Gradually, however, B.J. took over. In 1906, Daniel David was charged with practicing medicine without a license and went to jail. When he was released, B.J. bought out his interest in the school. Business boomed, and many Palmer graduates opened schools of their own. Cash was the basic entrance requirement for most of them and some even trained their students by mail.

As competition among chiropractors grew, and as many were jailed for practicing medicine without a license, they began to pressure state legislators to license them. Responding to this pressure, perhaps with the hope that licensing would lead to higher standards of education and practice, states began to pass licensing laws. Chiropractors would be allowed no drugs or surgery. Most states limited chiropractic treatment to “spinal adjustment. ” But for what? If all disease was caused by spines that need adjustment, couldn’t chiropractors treat everything?

They could. And they did. Over the years, many cases have come to light where chiropractors treated patients for cancer and other serious diseases which should have had medical attention.

The Scope of “Modern” Chiropractic

Does this mean that no matter what is wrong with you, if you go to a chiropractor today, he will diagnose your problem as a “Pinched nerve” and want to treat you with spinal adjustments? According to chiropractic officials, the modern chiropractor most often treats musculoskeletal problems such as backaches and stiff necks. In 1974, Stephen Owens, D.C., Past-President of the American Chiropractic Association, was asked by Medical Economics magazine what chiropractors do. Said Owens: “A chiropractor would be silly to take on a disease that’s not susceptible to his kind of treatment. He’d just be inviting failure.”

Owens’ statement was similar to what chiropractors told Congress as they lobbied for Medicare inclusion. In 1970, for example, William Day, D.C., President of the International Chiropractors Association, was questioned by U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Russell Long:

Long: The medical profession says that your profession claims to treat all sorts of things for which it can do no good whatever.
Day: Let me state categorically that the chiropractor does not claim to be able to cure all conditions

Long: How about migraine?
Day: No.

Long: You don’t treat ulcers?
Day: No, sir

Long: What about hepatitis?
Day: Hepatitis is an infectious disease. We would refer it to a physician.

Such answers from top chiropractic officials sound quite reasonable and easy to believe. After all, who nowadays could accept Palmer’s original belief that all disease had just one cause or that one method of treatment can cure everything? But many studies suggest that official chiropractic is not willing to admit what chiropractors are actually doing.

In 1963, the American Chiropractic Association asked its members what conditions they treated. Of those responding, 85% said that they treated musculoskeletal conditions most frequently. However, the following percentages reported treating other conditions:

Acute heart conditions
Chronic heart condition
Pernicious anemia
Cerebral hemorrhage
Impaired hearing
Diabetes mellitus
Rheumatic fever

In 1971, skeptical about Dr. Day’s testimony, the Lehigh Valley Committee Against Health Fraud sent the following inquiry to 130 members of his organization selected at random from its Directory:

I have been suffering from ulcers and sometimes migraine headaches for many years. I am going to this chiropractor near my home now and he is helping me. But I am not finished treatments and my husband has a job near you. Do you treat these conditions? Do you think I can finish my treatments with you?

Of the 110 who replied, 75% offered treatment and the rest offered welcome without directly answering the questions about treatment. Not one said no. A similar letter asked 92 other chiropractors whether they treated hepatitis. only one of 72 who replied answered negatively-that he might not be able to take the case because his state law required reporting of communicable disease. However, another chiropractor from the same state said that “chiropractic offers the safest and best care for hepatitis, as well as many other conditions.”

In 1973, Dr. Murray Katz, a Canadian pediatrician, surveyed chiropractic offices in Ottawa, Canada. Seven out of nine displayed pamphlets which exaggerated what chiropractors can do. When a chiropractic official responded that use of such pamphlets would cause automatic 30-day license suspension, Katz noted that no chiropractor had ever been suspended for their use.

Additional evidence that chiropractors do not know their limitations comes from advertising. The Lehigh Valley Committee Against Health Fraud has collected hundreds of chiropractic ads which contain false claims. Among them:

There are very few diseases . . . which are not treatable by chiropractic methods.

Diabetes . . . the chief cause lies in displaced spinal vertebrae.

Question: If a surgeon cuts out a tumor of the stomach, does he not remove the cause?
Answer: No, he may have removed the cause of the distress in the stomach, but he has not removed the cause of the tumor and it will probably grow again. A chiropractor adjusts the cause of the tumor.” “If every person were under regular chiropractic care, the incidence of cancer would be reduced by 50% in ten years.” “There is hardly an illness that does not respond to chiropractic care.”

During the past six years, I have collected chiropractic journals and textbooks, listened to chiropractic lectures, spoken and corresponded with hundreds of chiropractors and interviewed many of their patients. My effort to define the scope of chiropractic has led me to three conclusions:

  1. Many chiropractors do not know their limitations.
  2. What chiropractors say about what they do depends greatly upon who they think is listening.
  3. Chiropractors themselves are confused and cannot agree about either what they are actually doing or what they should be doing.

There are undoubtedly some chiropractors who make a sincere effort to quickly refer people who need medical attention to an appropriate physician. Doing this well, however, requires a good medical education.

Which brings us to the question of what chiropractors learn in school.

Chiropractic Education

If D.D. Palmer could look at current chiropractic schools, he would be surprised. In his day, chiropractic training lasted two weeks to one year and covered just spinal analysis and treatment. Today, chiropractic school takes four years and includes many subjects that Palmer would think were not related to his “great discovery.” Among these are “basic sciences” such as anatomy, biochemistry, bacteriology and pathology, and clinical subjects such as psychiatry, study of x-ray, obstetrics (delivery of babies) and pediatrics. Standard medical textbooks are used in many of these courses.

There are several reasons for these changes. As licensing laws became stricter, many states required testing in basic sciences. Chiropractic schools which could not prepare their students for these exams could not remain in business, and an estimated 600 of them have closed. Thirteen schools exist today.

Because Palmer’s basic theory is false, chiropractic has been under continual attack from the scientific community. Since few people nowadays could believe that all diseases have just one cause or cure, many chiropractors have modified their philosophies. “Modern” chiropractic, its leaders claim, recognizes the value of modern medicine and refers patients who need medical care to proper physicians. “Modern” chiropractors, their leaders claim, recognize that factors such as germs and hormones play a role in disease. “We would like to work together,” they say. “While the medical doctor gives antibiotics to kill germs or insulin to control diabetes, we will eliminate pinched nerves so the body can heal itself.”

Unfortunately, despite the “new” look of chiropractic education, close observation suggests that much of it is a hoax. In 1960, for example, the Stanford (Calif.) Research Institute published a study which included inspection of two chiropractic schools. They noted that although certain scientific subjects were part of the school programs, the school libraries and laboratories did not appear to be in actual use.

In 1963, the AMA Department of Investigation sent applications from nonexistent persons who did not appear to meet admission requirements listed in chiropractic school catalogues. Only two out of seven were rejected.

In 1966, the AMA published a study of the educational backgrounds of teachers at chiropractic schools. Fewer than half had graduated from college and many who taught basic sciences did not even have degrees in the subjects they taught. When I examined current catalogues four years later, I found that little had changed. Since that time, some chiropractic schools have affiliated with nearby colleges so that students can get training in basic sciences from properly trained instructors. Other chiropractic schools have added teachers who have degrees in these subjects. But neither of these changes will greatly increase the quality of chiropractic training. Basic science courses merely prepare students for the study of disease. They do not prepare them to make diagnoses or prescribe treatment.

In 1968, a large-scale study by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare concluded that “chiropractic education does not prepare its practitioners to make adequate diagnoses or to provide appropriate treatment.” The HEW Report quotes many chiropractic statements which helped to bring about this conclusion. Among them:

“For the chiropractor, diagnosis does not constitute, as it does for the medical doctor, a specific guide for treatment.”

Opportunities in A Chiropractic Career, 1967
Prepared by American Chiropractic Association and International Chiropractors Association

“Chiropractic adjusting is efficacious in handling both the acute and chronic cases of coronary occlusion.”

Neurodynamics of Vertebral Subluxation, 1962
by A. E. Homewood, D.C. (the most widely used chiropractic textbook).

Q. Do you think that if an acute appendicitis was identified early enough in the disease process, chiropractic can cure it?
A. Yes I do. I say this strictly from experience. I don’t say it only from my experience but from the experience of all who practice.”

1968 testimony of H. R. Frogley, D.C.
Dean of Academic Affairs, Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Chiropractic attacked the HEW Report as “biased,” and implied that HEW failed to look at “modern” chiropractic. Considering that the Report was based primarily upon information submitted by leading chiropractic organizations, these charges seem odd. Actually, they are true to form. Whenever chiropractic is attacked by an outsider, it claims its attacker is “biased.” Whenever it is embarrassed by quotes from within its own profession, it claims they are not representative.
How Dangerous Is Chiropractic?

It should be obvious that to help you, doctors must first be able to figure out what is wrong with you. Yet chiropractors who believe that spinal problems cause all diseases may not even try to make medical diagnoses. According to Reginald Gold, D.C., “If you were to come to my office, I wouldn’t want to know what is wrong with you. I wouldn’t want to know what your symptoms are. I would want to do one thing . . . examine your spine.” Gold said this at a public meeting in 1971 after a colleague introduced him as “one of the country’s leading authorities on chiropractic” and a lecturer on the faculty of three chiropractic schools. Currently, he is Vice-President of Development of the Sherman College of Chiropractic.

Although many chiropractors share Gold’s philosophy, the majority probably do try to determine whether their patients need medical treatment. Most patients protect themselves from misdiagnosis by consulting medical doctors before they go to chiropractors. Those who start with chiropractors, of course, take a greater risk. Not only are chiropractors poorly trained to make diagnoses, but they are prohibited by law from doing some tests which may be crucial to medical investigation.

Although spinal manipulation has a small place in the treatment of back disorders, in the hands of chiropractors it can be dangerous. I know of one man who was paralyzed from the waist down after a spinal manipulation. Unknown to his chiropractor, spinal cancer had weakened the patient’s spinal bones so that the treatment had crushed his spinal cord. In another case I investigated, a patient who took anticoagulants (blood thinners) had serious bleeding into his back muscles after a manipulation. Surgery was required to remove the collected blood.

From time to time, broken bones, paralyses and strokes have been noted in court cases and medical journals. So have deaths from cancer and infectious diseases where chiropractors did not know enough to make medical referral in time for proper medical treatment. Although such serious cases are relatively rare, they are inexcusable. Lesser complications such as sprains are more common, but statistics are hard to collect. Some patients are too embarrassed to publicize them. Some do not realize that their extra discomfort is the result of inappropriate treatment. And others are sufficiently fond of their chiropractor that they cannot believe he has mistreated them.

X-rays by chiropractors are a leading source of unnecessary radiation. A full-spine x-ray exposes sexual organs to from 10 to 1,000 times as much radiation as a routine chest x-ray. This is dangerous because it can lead to increased numbers of birth defects in future generations. Most chiropractors use x-rays. A 1971 survey of the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic suggests that more than ten million x-rays were taken each year by U.S. and Canadian chiropractors. Of these, two million were the 14 x 36 inch full-spine type. Chiropractic inclusion under Medicare, which began in July 1973, will probably increase these numbers greatly.

Chiropractors claim that x-rays help them locate the “subluxations” which D.D. Palmer imagined were the cause of “pinched nerves” and “nerve interference.” But they do not agree among themselves about what subluxations are. Some chiropractors believe that subluxations are displaced bones which can be seen on x-rays and can be put back in place by spinal adjustments. Other chiropractors define subluxations vaguely and insist that they do not show on x-rays. But what chiropractors say about x-rays also depends upon who asks.

When the National Association of Letter Carriers Health Plan included chiropractic, it received claims for treatment of cancer, heart disease, mumps, mental retardation and many other questionable conditions. In 1964, chiropractors were asked to justify such claims by sending x-ray evidence of spinal problems. They submitted hundreds, all of which were supposed to show subluxations. When chiropractic officials were asked to review them, however, they were unable to point out a single subluxation.

Some chiropractic textbooks show “before and after” x-rays which are supposed to demonstrate subluxations. In 1971, to get a closer look at such x-rays, our Committee challenged the Lehigh Valley Chiropractic Society to demonstrate ten sets. They refused, suggesting instead that we ask the Palmer School to show us some from its “teaching files.” When we did, however, Ronald Frogley, D.C., replied, “Chiropractors do not make the claim to be able to read a specific subluxation from an x-ray film.”

Frogley might have answered more cautiously had he anticipated the wording by which Congress included chiropractic under Medicare. Payment would be made for treatment of “subluxations demonstrated by x-rays to exist.” To help chiropractors get paid, the American Chiropractic Association has issued a Basic Chiropractic Procedural Manual which defines subluxations as anything which can interfere with spinal function and says, “Since we are obligated to find subluxations before receiving payment, it behooves us to make an objective study of what films show in the way of subluxations . . .” Referring to the Letter Carriers experience as “an unfortunate debacle which almost destroyed chiropractic credibility in Washington,” it cautions, in italics, “The subluxations must be perfectly obvious and indisputable.”

If a chiropractor limited his practice to muscular conditions such as simple backaches, if he saw patients only on referral from medical doctors after medical diagnosis has been made, if he were not overly vigorous in his manipulations, if he consulted and referred to medical doctors when he couldn’t handle a problem, and if he avoided the use of x-rays, his patients might be relatively safe. But he might not be able to earn a living.

The Selling of the Spine

A chiropractor’s income depends not only on what he treats but on how well he can sell himself. The American Chiropractic Association estimates that the “average” chiropractor earns about $31, 000 per year, but the meaning of this figure is not clear. Many chiropractic graduates do not remain in practice and others are forced to practice part-time. Top chiropractic salesmen can earn a fortune.

Intensive selling of the spine begins in chiropractic school as instructors convey the scope and philosophy of chiropractic to their students. Chiropractic graduates can get help from many practice-building consultants, the most expensive of which is Clinic Masters. In 1973, Clinic Masters estimated that 15,000 chiropractors practiced actively in the United States and Canada and said it represented more than 1,800 of them. Its fee is $10,000-$100 on entrance and the rest payable as income rises. In 1973 its directors said, “many of our clients have moved right on up through the $50,000, $100,000, $150,000 income levels to $300,000 and above” and that “before long practice incomes of $500,000 will not be rare.”

Clinic Masters promotes the idea that higher income means greater service to patients. Such service includes charging for each adjustment or other unit of treatment instead of a flat office fee, an overall “case” fee instead of charging per visit, and “intensive care,” which adds room or ward fees to the bill. In 1974, 132 of its clients reported charging an average of $129.43 per day for intensive care.

Clinic Masters apparently wants the details of its advice to remain a private matter. Its clients sign a secrecy agreement and new applicants are checked against directory lists to make sure that they really are chiropractors. It also offers a $10,000 reward to anyone who is first to report “disparaging statements about Clinic Masters or its clients” which lead to a successful lawsuit.

The largest practice-building firm appears to be the Parker Chiropractic Research Foundation of Fort Worth, Texas. its founder, Jarnes W. Parker, D.C., claims that “more than 13,000 chiropractors, wives and assistants” have attended his four-day courses. Unlike Clinic Masters, Parker has not been cautious about revealing his techniques to outsiders. In 1968, an investigative reporter named Ralph Lee Smith gained admission to Parker’s course by pretending to be a chiropractor and paying its $250 fee. Emerging with a diploma that he had “completed the prescribed course of study at the Parker Chiropractic Research Seminar,” Smith published what he observed.

Parker’s course is built around a 335-page Textbook of Office Proceditre and Practice Bitilding for the Chiropractic Profession. Parker appears to believe that the scope of chiropractic is unlimited. The Textbook suggests that patients be offered a “free consultation” but led into an “examination” which costs them money. It suggests that “One adjustment for each year of age is a rough thumbnail guide of what people will willingly accept and pay for,” but “If in doubt about the payment or the return of the patient, take only the smaller x-rays on the first visit but Ostensibly x-ray fully.”

Share International, Parker’s sales organization, sells a wide variety of practice-building aids. One is a chart which pictures a spine and claims that more than 100 diseases are related to nerve pressure at its various parts. Included are: hernias, appendicitis, crossed eyes, diabetes, anemia, gallbladder conditions, hardening of the arteries and thyroid conditions.

For about $20, chiropractors can get copies of 107 advertisements to “guide” preparation of their own ads. Most of the ads are case histories, and the instructions which accompany them suggest: “Re-type each ad on your own stationery for presentation to the editor. This would indicate that they are your own creations, and that the cases mentioned . . . are from your own files.” For about $45, graduates of Parker’s basic course can purchase a set of ten cassette tapes which give additional advice. In “Sentences that Sell,” Parker describes how chiropractors associated with him test ideas scientifically and report back to him how they work. In “Ways to Stimulate Referrals,” he tells bow to steer conversations to sick people. “In a casual, natural way,” patients should be asked about the health of their families, friends and neighbors. Should any be ailing, patients should be urged to be “Good Samaritans” by telling them about “all the wonderful things” that chiropractic might do for them.

Despite his questionable methods, Parker appears to be a highly respected and integral part of the cbiropractic world. He is a welcome lecturer at chiropractic schools. In fact, in 1970, when one of my Committee members merely requested a catalogue from the Texas Chiropractic College, he received a letter from Parker telling how chiropractors often reach incomes of $50,000 to $100,000 per year.

Sid Williams, D.C., of Atlanta, Georgia, is another leading promoter. His many enterprises include a chiropractic supply house, several publications, practice-building courses, and the recently opened Life Chiropractic College. According to a College booklet, “thousands” of chiropractors follow his philosophy. Known as Life Fellows, they appear to believe that virtually all conditions should be treated by chiropractic methods. His practice-building techniques appear to stress mass-production. Ads for his seminars boast that their top instructors see 600 to 1,000 patients per week. And at a 1973 hearing for deceptive advertising, one Life Fellow testified that he “adjusted” 593 patients in a single day!

Many chiropractors recommend regular “preventive maintenance” to increase resistance and prolong life. Reginald Gold, for example, hopes that “every man, woman and child will see his chiropractor once a week for life” so that they can live “120 to 150 years.” Other chiropractors have told me that all people, sick or well, should have regular chiropractic care. Wondering what approach chiropractors would take toward healthy people, our Committee once sent a perfectly well four-year-old girl to five chiropractors for a “check-up The first said the child’s shoulder blades were “out of place” and found “pinched nerves to her stomach and gallbladder.” The second said the child’s pelvis was “twisted.” The third said one hip was “elevated” and that spinal misalignments could cause “headaches, nervousness, equilibrium or digestive problems” in the future. The fourth predicted “bad periods and rough childbirth” if her “shorter left leg” were not treated. The fifth not only found hip and neck problems, but also “adjusted” them without bothering to ask permission. Unfortunately, the adjustments were so painful that we decided to end our experiment.

Chiropractic has been described as the “greatest tribute to applied public relations that the world has ever known.” Despite its shortcomings, millions of people have tried it. Chiropractic’ s ultimate goal is inclusion in national health insurance. And unless concerned citizens can find ways to organize and protest, your tax dollars will wind up paying for D.D. Palmer’s dreams.


In 1895, modern medicine was in its infancy. Many of its theories were just as ridiculous as that of Palmer. Since that time, medicine has become a science. Chiropractic, however, has not. The only science chiropractic has developed is that of salesmanship.

Chiropractors, of course, will deny this. They will say that since I am “biased,” this chapter is deliberately slanted to make them look bad. But what I have reported comes mainly from its schools, its organizations, its recognized leaders and its official publications. My data truly represent chiropractic as it is today.

This book will tell you about many practitioners who have gained large and faithful followings even though their theories make no sense at all. Such practitioners rely upon salesmanship and the fact that most people get better without treatment.

Chiropractors win many friends with their warm manner, their seductive techniques, and their physical therapy and massage. But going to a chiropractor is a distinct gamble.

Recommended Reading

This article was posted on June 9, 2001.