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Chiro-Bashing Backfires: Thank you Will-yam Jarvis

In the past 30 years there have been many media-rites-- raiders of the lost art, perhaps - who have had access to the bottomless pockets of those whose agenda has been to destroy the chiropractic profession.  And access to all the media those pockets could provide.  These raiders didn't have to be particularly intelligent, or convincing, certainly not academic or even remotely accurate in crafting their slings and arrows, because whatever they came up with was going to appear in worldwide media venues, for years.  Maximum smear power, big on innuendo, short on fact.

Fortunately most are now in their doddering years, so their names are largely forgotten.  

One of the least apt of these lower primates was certainly a carbon unit named Jarvis. In the 70s and 80s Jarvis was hired to take his anti-chiropractic slide show on the road, to do as much damage as possible.  All facilities of mainstream medical education welcomed him.  But even with all those resources at his disposal, Jarvis had very little effect.  This little story may illustrate why. 

In a recent Las Vegas seminar I met a doctor who told me how in the late 70s when he was still a student he learned that Jarvis was to give a presentation to the medical students at the prestigious Loma Linda University medical school.  Interested to see what was up, the young chiropractic student and his friend drove over to Loma Linda and walked into the lecture room.  

Apparently Jarvis was holding forth in a lecture room to a full assembly of second and third year med students.  Slides of DD Palmer and BJ Palmer were shown while Jarvis provided a running narrative explaining his version of universal intelligence and innate intelligence, etc.  Jarvis began to quote BJ's ideas, like there is a universal intelligence which flows through all living things and the expression of that intelligence in humans is known as innate intelligence, mediated through the nervous system, and the body has its own very powerful capabilities of healing itself if free from interference, etc...  The doctor said that he actually didn't remember Jarvis saying anything particularly insulting or belittling about BJ's ideas, but it seemed as though Jarvis assumed that if he just quoted BJ directly, that would be enough to show the med students how ridiculous BJ's position was.  But it didn't work.  

What happened instead is that suddenly these medical students, having never heard anything remotely like a vitalistic philosophy of healing before, began to lean forward and listen very intently.  Soon they began to ask very pointed questions that Jarvis was not prepared for.  Doesn't all healing ultimately proceed from the body's own immune system?  Doesn't the nervous system actually control every cell and tissue in the body?  Isn't the spinal cord the most delicate tissue, the most subject to compromise in the entire body...etc.  Questions like that.   Instead of BJ being made to look ridiculous, Jarvis was the one who looked unlettered since he couldn't find fault with the ideas he was trying to present in a negative light.  The only thing that Jarvis could think of to criticize BJ was to say that chiropractic was empirical.  That's it.  That was the worst insult that Jarvis could think of to characterize chiropractic - that it's empirical.  

Now the classical definition of empirical is that which is proven by observation, experience or experiment.   

So what's wrong with that, the students wondered?  Jarvis ended up wasting his time, except for introducing these few students to the idea that chiropractic might indeed be a valuable healing art that they hadn't understood before and now should find out more about. 

People say empirical as though to imply that there is no scientific method, no 'evidenced based' game being run, and therefore the subject should not be considered valid -  the enshrinement of evidenced-based science.  But is that really the model we wish to aspire to, the measure by which we seek to be judged?  Peer review - the controlled randomized clinical trial.   These are the boasts of organized medicine, their code of honor and distinction from the wild menace of 'folk medicine.'   

Let's look at just a few of the recent accomplishments of evidence based medicine: 

   - the Kirsch study that showed how 82% of antidepressants are no better than a placebo

   - Japan outlaws Prevnar and H. influenzae vaccines after 6 children die, Jan 2011

   - cancer as the #2 cause of death among US children, the most vaccinated group in history

   - the US as #46 in infant mortality worldwide

   - prescription drugs as the #1 cause of death in the US

   - after 30 years the manufacturers of cold medicines admit    they've never been tested and should no longer be recommended to children under 4  -- Nov 2010

   - Swine flu vaccine approved after 5 weeks

   - 86% collusion rate among authors of peer review and drug companies

In the new Chiropractic Seminar we go on at length with this list. 

But the point is, wouldn't empirical be a vast improvement over what we see with conventional medicine?  Wouldn't you rather go to a doctor who is going to get results that can be clearly observed rather than one who is going to 'prove' results by means of a complicated system of validation riddled with quid pro quo arrangements, lobbying, and overt payoffs?  And this doctor is going to prove to you that you are now even if you feel 3 times worse?  

  Now that's not to say that there have been no studies objectively demonstrating the value of the adjustment.  Merely that we can never compete at their level of experimentation - or of control of findings, to be accurate, with all the billions at their disposal to prove whatever they are assigned to prove.  [See #2 below]  But the politics of evidence-based is hardly proven in the pudding:   the true health benefit is rarely evident. 

Long may you rot Jarvis.  But you didn't destroy us.  That we must attempt to do ourselves. Never send an amateur when you need a pro.