A survey of philosophical barriers to research in chiropractic

J Can Chiropr Assoc. 1989 Dec; 33(4): 184–186.
PMCID: PMC2484547

Joseph C Keating, Jr

Several epistemological fallacies and theological concepts have been implicated as counter-productive to clinical research, since they seemingly provide an alternative to objective study of chiropractic clinical procedures, or propose objectively untestable constructs. Antiscientific bases for chiropractic claims include founding authority, divine inspiration, deduction from the “immutable laws of biology”, and private, uncontrolled empiricism. The teleologic proposition of an intelligent spiritual entity (Innate Intelligence), supposedly the source and explanation of beneficial effects of doctors’ interventions, places many chiropractic theories of spinal manipulation/adjustment beyond the realm of science, and serves to allienate chiropractic from the scientific community.
In this project nine philosophical works in chiropractic were surveyed (e.g., those of Barge, Harper, Homewood, Janse, B.J. and D.D. Palmer, Stephenson, Strang, Watkins) to evaluate the pervasiveness of these antiscientific notions in the chiropractic literature. Of the nine philosophers of chiropractic reviewed here, all but two included at least one antiscientific construct. Widespread comparative analyses of chiropractic philosophies are recommended as a means of promoting a more critical, scientific attitude and, thereby increased clinical research activity in chiropractic.

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