Skeptical Chiropractor: No Sacred Cows

Chirocyclist with sacred cow in sidecar

Chirocyclist with sacred cow in sidecar

 “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.comHe doesn’t really dig Kool-Aid.

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  1. cmnacnud said,

    July 10, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I agree with your wife, and would add that your goal should be to change the connotation of the term chiropractor by your example. Instead of changing the understood meaning you are choosing to accept the detractors implied meaning by separating your self from it.

    Look at hyphenated Americans. Instead of getting people to think of them as Americans they have gotten people to think of them as a group apart. When people think of chiropractors they should think of a group willing to try anything new that has promise, and they should see us cast aside anything found to be fraudulent. People will never get that picture of us if our self imposed divisions imply that our root cannot be freethinking.

    I think you should proudly go by the title chiropractor and be so vocal that your definition of what we should be becomes what we are. Be suspicious of new treatments, skeptical of claims, study them all and find out what works, but be a chiropractor. Show the world what a chiropractor is, not what it isn’t.

  2. July 14, 2009 at 8:25 am

    You know what they say about sacred cows – they make great steaks.

  3. Kizito said,

    July 20, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    That’s Great Hamburgers… not great steaks…

  4. July 22, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I suppose if you’re a chiropractor you ARE one of us. The bottom line is we all are looking for ways to ‘brand’ ourselves and differntiate us. Any exposure is good exposure!

    I say, keep up the good work even if you are a ‘skeptical chiropractor’ but perhaps you’re just a skeptical person who then decided to become a chiropractor 😉

    Anyway, keep up the good marketing and way to differentiate yourself from the pack!


    Dr. Sadovnik

  5. July 22, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts. You are probably correct that I was a skeptic first and a chiropractor second. I do not agree, however that any exposure is good exposure. There’s the little matter of insurance fraud doctors hitting the headlines. Exposure to be sure but beneficial? Like a third nostril. Or the doctors who over fish the waters with hard selling, etc.

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