Checks and Balances in Chiropractic.


   The government of the United States has a system that creates checks and balances, making it a unique system of governing.  The ultimate check is “we the people” and the United States Constitution which the people formed through their appointed representatives  and ratified by the states, a check that only the people  can change. The three branches of government provide a check on each other and the Supreme Court decides whether any law is congruent with the U.S. Constitution thus providing the ultimate check. 

Like the United States government, the three methods of perception (deductive reasoning, faith/authority, and empiricism) in which we understand chiropractic provide a check on each other.  Also, just like the U.S. government, if one “branch” (camp or persuasion) of the chiropractic profession has an inordinate amount of power, problems can arise.  Deductive reasoning is the prime way in which we develop our philosophy (with a little bit of induction- namely, our Major Premise).  There is no doubt that faith (in the authority of D.D. Palmer, Founder and B.J., Developer of chiropractic) contributes to our understanding of  chiropractic.  Although B.J. was aided by Craven, Loban, Stephenson, and others, D.D. and B.J. have been, and still are, an authority in our profession. Lastly, there is  empiricism which helps in our understanding of chiropractic. Those who want to do research to “prove” chiropractic make up this the final “branch” of the profession.  Contrary to how some portray me, I think that all methods are important and valuable. However, what I think is not important. What is important is that they provide checks and balances in chiropractic.  Those who maintained that chiropractic corrected the cause of all disease were forced to re-evaluate that position by empirical evidence.  I admit that I am partial to the rational, logical methods of deductive reasoning and faith just as Supreme Court Justices are partial to their branch and the legislature is partial to its branch.  Our president believes the Executive branch should have more authority and has even said “if the Congress does nothing, I will.” 

The authority of D.D. and B.J. should be recognized, considered and respected. However, just as we respect the office of our nation’s president, we also limit the power he has been given.  The government of the U.S. is bigger than the president, any president.  The government existed before any president was inaugurated. It also has a mechanism called impeachment, which would take him out of office if that becomes necessary.  

The principles of chiropractic were not created by D.D. and B.J.  They existed long before them.  D.D. and, more so B.J.,put pen to paper and organized those principles in a cogent form.  For that we owe them our respect and a debt of gratitude.  To cite another example, christians owe our respect and gratitude to the apostle Paul for penning most of the New Testament, however, the Word of God has existed from eternity past, long before Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, picked up his pen and put it into writing. The Word of God is eternal; it will be here a long time after Paul and the rest of us are gone.  Unlike the inerrant, inspired Word of God, the writings of D.D. and B.J. are not infallible.  Brilliant, but not infallible.  However, they don’t have to be infallible because we have three methods of perceiving and understanding chiropractic that serve to check and balance any information. In many cases logical aspects of the philosophy were given to us by B.J., logic which contradicted something that we might have erringly accepted based solely on his authority. At times the check was his empirical study.  A perfect example is the Meric System.  If we accepted chiropractic on the authority of B.J. alone, we would still be practicing the Meric System.  But B.J. himself saw the error of the Meric System through empiricism (his study of the spine and nerve system) and discarded it, saving us the work of having to reject it.


I believe that B.J. saw the need for checks and balances.  Not only did he do many and various kinds of research, he developed a deductive philosophy.  I think he realized that his position of authority would often automatically and unquestioningly cause people to accept his approach to chiropractic or would cause their rejection of his authority and in so doing would cause them to reject chiropractic.  Despite the fact that B.J. was ego-centric and tyrannical in many ways, he sincerely wanted what was best for chiropractic. Since he realized that many people would never or always challenge his authority, he also developed both empirical and philosophical “branches.” He literally wrote volumes of philosophical texts.  He spent thousands of dollars in developing research and documented everything – making him the most prolific writer in the history of the profession.  As a result, we are not left with B.J.’s opinions or B.J.’s words and forced to base chiropractic on his authority alone but we have documentation in the form of a deductive philosophy and empirical research as well. Granted, it is often difficult to separate the three, however, we have many who are studying every aspect of his work.  We have the opportunity to compare the authority of B.J. with the research and the empirical work of B.J. and compare both with the deductive philosophy. We must see to it that all three hold up to our scrutiny.  We are fortunate to have had a man who was so concerned about the future and the success of the profession that he alone took it upon himself to develop the checks and balances of chiropractic.

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This article has 2 comments

  1. Steve 01/27/2014, 9:02 pm:

    They say, we have the best legislators that money can buy, which somewhat explains the mess our country is in. What is the carrot that misleads the governors of our profession?

    • JoeStrauss 01/27/2014, 10:04 pm:

      I think its probably the same thing that affects our country’s leaders, money and power.

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