“But it sounds so negative…like you don’t think chiropractic is worthwhile.”
My wife wasn’t really digging the “skeptical chiropractor” moniker I have bestowed upon myself.
“You’re missing the whole idea of the skeptic movement,” I told her. “I’m not a ‘cynical chiropractor,’ bitter and sneering. I’m skeptical: questioning, reasoning, seeking answers.”
“Isn’t there a nicer word?” she asked.
People think that skepticism is a rejection of all new ideas and grumpy skeptics sit around bah-humbugging everything that may be challenging to their ideology. This is simply not the case. As a skeptical chiropractor, I am extremely curious about new ideas, techniques and procedures. I love revolutionary concepts! I can’t get enough of extraordinary claims! As long as folks can back up their b.s. and their claims are consistent with logic, reason and science. In other words, you can sell woo-woo somewhere else — we’re all full up here. But if you’ve got something offbeat or unusual, I’d like to take a closer look.
By being a skeptical chiropractor, I need to see substantial evidence before I believe something to be true. This doesn’t mean I don’t believe anything. Socrates said, “All I know is that I know nothing.” That’s a bit drastic for my nickel. For example, I have seen enough evidence confirming the efficacy of spinal manipulation for back and neck pain. I am not closed to the idea of controversial research but I am satisfied with what I have seen so far to recommend and perform this treatment for patients. Likewise with low level laser therapy for some conditions. And Graston technique. And lots of other science based treatments I use clinically on a regular basis.
On the other hand, crystals, magnets, applied kinesiology and homeopathy aren’t passing by the ol’ crap-o-meter. I remain doubtful that these will prove to be effective but continue to be open to any new high quality research that comes about.
I do not have any sacred cows within my profession…at least I don’t think I do. And by being among the stone throwers, I feel I can help improve chiropractic, a profession that I love, from the inside. But this, of course, is the most difficult part about being involved in chiropractic and remaining a skeptic. It would be so much easier to move into the total credulity campsite: anything goes, any time, any where! Just believe and everything will work out great! Drink up from the subluxation Kool-Aid bowl!
Alas, I don’t predict that happening any time soon. Got any throwin’ rocks?
Dr. Brett Kinsler is a skeptical chiropractor in Rochester who blogs at www.rochesterchiro.wordpress.com. He doesn’t really dig Kool-Aid.