Pascal’s Wager and Chiropractic


There are those in our profession who say that we should not make claims in chiropractic that we cannot prove scientifically. They go so far as to say that we should claim nothing about curing disease (of which I agree because of my non-therapeutic objective). They also maintain, however, that we should not make claims regarding our philosophy; that we correct vertebral subluxation, that in so doing we reduce interference in the nerve system. Doing that enables the innate intelligence to be more fully expressed, or that as a result the body has a greater ability to function at a higher level, to normalize and even to heal itself. From a strictly scientific perspective that might be appropriate since these things have not been demonstrated empirically. Yet, the fact that we deal with a metaphysical phenomena, the innate intelligence of the body, makes it impossible to demonstrate these things. Consequently, we can apply a variation of Blaise Pascal’s famous wager on the existence of God. Pascal suggested that since belief in God was a matter of faith that one really is gambling on the existence of God. His proposition was that if you believed in God and in the end there was no God, you have lost nothing. On the other hand, if you chose not to believe in God, and He does exist, the loss could have eternal ramifications. Therefore, it was in your best interest to wager on God’s existence.

In chiropractic, the choice is whether to take care of people in light of the limited scientific knowledge of what we are accomplishing with our adjustment or to adjust them based upon the philosophical/deductive conclusion of what we are accomplishing with our care. If we choose the latter, that is see people on a regular basis, check their spines and adjust when our analysis shows the need and there is really nothing to this chiropractic thing, what have they lost? A little bit of their time, a little bit of their money? And ultimately, it is their choice. They have the final say in whether they think it is worthwhile to them. No one is holding a gun to their head and forcing them to have their spine checked.

On the other hand, suppose what we say our philosophy indicates is true. Suppose the body functions at less than its potential as a result of nerve interference when vertebral subluxations are present. If that is the case, all the results that we talk about as a result of our adjustments may occur. People will reach their potential in life. They will have a greater tendency toward health and well being. They will be more effective in their work and play and their life span will be lengthened.

When you realize how much time and money are wasted by people every week on things that are worse than harmless, it seems to me that the choice is pretty clear. If we are wrong about what chiropractic can do, then no harm is done. However, if we are correct, we are providing a valuable service to humanity. Seems to me the choice is clear. V23n2

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