Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Philosophical Weeding

The movie inspired the Trust, to fund improvements to the slums of Kenya.

My analogy is that minds do not only require weeding but a constant attention. This is education. Knowledge must be reestablished in each generation whilst our ignorance is a billion years old, an observation reflected in the saying, attributed to many: 'The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.' So the wise go by the evidence of experience as a part of knowledge, not it's Trump, not by using the encounter as yet another form of confirmation. Know one thing first - your mind was never 'built' by processes that favored the thinker but far more so those that assisted the survivor. What exists now however is a world far different from the environments that evolution acted within. The presence of postmodernism, which became the rule of no rules, of 'alternative facts' and contradiction, the pressures of academic globalization (the (over?) capitalization of education) and the unprecedented rise of the Internet have led to the spectacular profusion, or perhaps just the recognition?, of our addiction to beliefs which are not only bizarre but unmistakably anti scientific, overtly paranoid.

Humans are natural fools, all included, easily tricked by our own perceptions but also why we find the theatre and music so entrancing to begin with, why drugs and other behaviors are addictive and why we can revel in the simplicity of the direct experience, what to us feels numinous, magical but which is just a product of wonder, never to be confused with understanding. And, uniquely, we are also the only creature with the capacity to learn, to the extent we do, if we choose to. What learning we have achieved however did not come from wrote learning, from mere repetition of what others had already discovered. This is not learning at all, only mimicry, barely more than a chimp is able to do. Real learning is quite a different affair because it depends upon realizing the failed attempt - the test. without which we are unable to discern whether or not we have achieved success or failure. An honest process values falsification and philosophical cowardice avoids it. And it is here that most problems begin, not with the information, but with a mind that is such an efficient trickster that it would call our own ignorance and imagination real and guarantee it's immunity from reason.

The largest hole in education is actually epistemological, not informational. It is that we do not teach ourselves or our children to value thinking, nor what methods lead to a well examined life, only to value tradition and it's ability to overrule intellect absolutely. Tradition has no error correction systems or processes, being repetition only. Any claim that something supernatural for example is unapproachable by thinking alone has, if you notice, just contradicted itself. What is it that writes the words? Only fools and charlatans claim to be directed by unseen forces but one need only look around to see the armies of the similarly decent but gullible, the followers, to understand how easy it is for the anti intellectual to profit. We do not educate ourselves as to why our own minds would find themselves so effortlessly misled and why honesty is so elusive.

"If you cannot determine if your belief is false, how can you determine if it is true?"

If there was one line to recall for the budding wise person it would be this. Learn it by wrote and then apply the axiom, the truth of it, not to the speculative but the mundane, the ordinary. Try it out upon each and every question. Is there an elephant in the moon? Is there any possible way to say it's false? Then how can we determine it's true? The point is never to engage in wars of beliefs but to examine the manner in which we believe we establish reliable ones and, importantly, if we are honest enough to say we'd throw them away should they fail to meet that standard. Is it better to run across roads? Can we determine if the claim is false? Obviously yes, therefore we can determine it's truth. Is there a Universal Intelligence (the hub of chiropractic philosophy)? And the answer "We can't measure it yet", is not open minded, it is at best credulous and at worst the rule to begin prevarication - to lie that we know when all we are is ignorant. We have done nothing but avoided an honest response, an open exchange. You have witnessed the beginning of the worst of humanity - the beginning of a fraud.

So explained is the Poppers rule of falsification, what he defined as science and interestingly what he did not define as truth. He also mistook falsification for what it ultimately was - the kernel of ethics. So I disagree. Truth, as in an absolute, is as elusive as anything which cannot be determined - we do not even know if 'truth' is true, so quite the self contradiction, but we do know of many millions of true statements and we know there is only one reliable epistemology for it. So to pretend that truth is eternally uncertain is to render the whole excise one of masturbation, each in their corner going at it. Philosophers often make too much of grand visions while discounting reality. Only last night my daughter and I invented a 'dichotomous key', a way for working out problems (generally of natural classification), where each question only has two possible answers - yes or no. And so we worked through many true and false statements. Not only did we but as a result we came to understand the manner in which we begin to understand, not by jumping to the conclusion (I like to believe that Cassowaries are more closely related to Ostriches (so I can pass a test without needing to know or understand)), but by using an intelligent methodology - an honest approach, not a foolish one. So the word 'truth' is often uttered but never clarified and is always the perfect habitat or camouflage for bad ideas. "Who can say what's true?", is used by those who are afraid to learn, never those honest enough to take note that they do so all the time. "Is your name Susan?" Yes. "Then it's true?" Yes. To tie reality up in the 'truth' which no philosopher can find is finding nothing but bad arguments and lending a hand to confusion. It is not wise nor is it education. You might be more familiar with: "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Scientists, and those who fancy themselves as one, love to parrot this Carl Sagan quote, usually only the first half because the other: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" is not palatable if all one wishes to do is avoid embarrassment and pretend to know something.

Most problems emerge because of our very human proclivity for making up complete bullshit and calling it science and philosophy. We don't care if what we say is sound or robust, only that we pretend to ourselves and others similarly selfish or credulous, that it is. It doesn't matter if we can determine whether or not our beliefs are false only that we claim them to be true and you might be surprised at how much utter garbage is published in clinical sciences for example for the simple reason that it's epistemology - how the ideas were put together - was largely driven by traditions of faith thinking (whether or not it felt right or was a part of a gurus anecdote). To wit - There are dozens of derivations of Applied Kinesiology for the uncomplicated reality that it was stagecraft to begin with and consists of (genuinely honest) people with a slim grasp of neuroscience and epistemology stringing together what looks like something happening, when what is occurring is the equivalent of self delusion. Even the best scientists such as the Nobel Laurette, Richard Feynman, warned us against ourselves so this is the biggest mistake - we prefer to allow our colleagues to remain ignorant and are not ethically bothered that they continue to sell it to the public. This is not unusual but what is unethical, unprofessional, is to fail to bring it up. So while I appear to be a vicious critic, I write this because we are a profession, not a Sunday school. Without trying to sound to sentimental, I care, a far more persuasive compassion than the hollow claims of 'love'. In all but rare exceptions that word is only fit for pop songs, platitudes and the genuine experience.

As I've illustrated in my daughters example, such a 'method' of justification extends well beyond opinion and anecdote leading it away from religious attempts at comprehension towards reliable knowledge. Religions are a perfect vehicle for community and a shared sense of purpose however a wise person would be asking exactly how those purposes were defined. Questions are a right. To listen is the professionals duty, otherwise our methods only lead back to our own assertions, the purely circular argument. Why bother fooling ourselves? Why not just admit to preferences and excuse them from rational discourse? Preference is what I like to wear not what a truth might be. The answer of course is that our minds evolved to be quite naturally fond of fictions, not organized methods of thinking or problem solving, so repeating errors is something we do best. The fool pretends that enthusiasm or rank insistence is the equivalent of knowledge because hundreds of millennia of dumb survival ensured that each ancestor had no real way to discern whether or not the rumbling earth wasn't an irritated and clearly enormous monster or invisible being. Confidence mixed with rapid reaction was a clear winner in the evolutionary stakes, the equivalent 'formative years' as a species there was the purely pragmatic process of selection and survival. But it is wrong to assume that this narrative is nihilistic. Quite the contrary, our common story binds us all together, beyond the tiny tribal perspective. Traditions built on faith pretend unity and practice ideological secession, such a dull, repetitive and dangerous cycle.

Being a wise and intelligent species overall is a difficult challenge but hypothetically possible if education is put to the fore, not aligned with epistemologies designed to propel us in reverse. Best to begin with teaching children how to weed their minds of ideas that were honestly tested and found lacking.  We can be even smarter gardeners and examine the parasitic idea to see what went wrong and how to build a better comprehension. Only then can we build knowledge and retain the better idea, the better ethic and perhaps a better world.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Rewriting Professional Ethics

The paranoid have all the facts ((paraphrase) William S. Burroughs).

And the wise never will.

So often our hindsight lays clear what the better approach should have been, or at least what might not be worth repeating. This isn't unusual and is expressed and experienced so often in our lives, often to the point of exasperation. So it's a truth to say that significant discoveries are 'obvious' only with hindsight, that we wonder why on earth we never saw it. It's plain but common self deception (this 'curse of knowledge'), that many things simply appear easy to comprehend even though, when asked to expand, most are unclear of what it is they say they know is true. It just is apparently. The mind never evolved to be an epistemologist only a survivor, and it takes a great deal of effort, initially, to quiet that strong tendency to simply stop thinking altogether and revert to what we understand best - our own ignorance. If we bother to dispense with our preferences and study evolution honestly, without the need to inject cherished beliefs (whatever they might be) - the process that built us and our nature is clear for all to see. It was one of humanities greatest ideas, discoveries, facts. To attempt to understand most things without the desire to know, and just pretend to, is to repeat the error.

My focus over the past 5 or so years has been to deal with a profusion of information in an attempt to better grasp it and teach it with simplicity and clarity, and the question, although there have been so many, boiled down to this - why do we think and behave in this manner? It does not, or rather should not, dwell on the appearances of behavior as so many of the social sciences have done. It is not a problem to observe (and they do this very well), but to do so without knowledge of evolution is to have 'one hand tied behind our backs'. Reflexes, thinking, the way we make philosophy and science and social dynamics are only comprehensible by referring back to evolution, in itself revised but only to find it more robust than before. To think otherwise is to think it rational to claim that tomorrow, who knows, the earth may be flat again. And the only groups which view evolution as a threat are those built on faith, who not only have a different narrative but one built upon little but anecdote, popularity, the ease with which errors are perceived as true and the non sequitur, upon the minds own 'faith thinking'. Even the various faiths disagree most vehemently with each other, to the point of ultimate absurdity. Why any should believe that science has anything to do with any ones gods is the symptom of dogmatism generally - they all have all their own facts which are only distinguishable from each other by how far each is prepared to leap backwards into it's past.

Traditional Chiropractors, those who view their work as the opportunity, their mission or service to spread the faith of chiropractic philosophy do so within an ethical void. Even the US Central Command contains within it's rules the directive to avoid using the services to "proselytize any religion, faith or practice..." even though the rule is often broken. In Australia however, the current ethics codes are being re scrutinized and in my opinion the simple adoption of this phrase would achieve two things simply. It is easy to insert while revision is largely waste and it sends a simple message - in democratic countries, anyone has the right to practice and believe any of the thousands of faiths (such as the faith of Universal Intelligence, the Major Premise of Stephenson's Green Books), but that no one in a professional capacity has such a right.

Where I sit in my office I see no stained glass, no crucifix, no Dreamtime, no statue of Buddha but I admire and respect a secular law which allows all to be practiced personally, tribally. Those objects and images might matter to me in some way but my office is it's own sanctuary of professional ethics, and here the rules are clear. In the Australian code it says that while I may "hold personal beliefs and values" they do not transfer over to those held by a professional. The state has no right to demand that I stop believing in a Dreamtime for example but neither do I have the right to recast, revise or rework professional ethics to suit my own personal Universal one. Giving humans so much philosophical leash only leads to them feathering their own nests, we see our worst. As a result, Vitalism has morphed into a distinctly fundamentalist and repellent US style evangelism. If it were ethical to dispense with rules altogether (which is what a chiropractic faith desires) so then all rules of professional conduct are reduced to anecdote. If, in principle, it were philosophically moral to use cultural preference as profession and science then it would be ethical to allow a child to die if I thought it best to administer dance instead of proper care. No one would be offended if culture accompanied, but not informed, modern professional practice, but this is never the objective of fundamentalists. Theirs is a particularly Trojan horse, complete with it's own parasites, it's merchants and charlatans, and it is for them that the codes of conduct must state the obvious, not be indifferent to the fatuous comeback of "That's about personal belief" as if it was just fine and dandy that a professional used the same epistemology. And this comment came directly from the keyboard, to me, from the minister for health. If I can use cultural anecdote as professional collateral then why do we believe that such a rule applied 'equitably' doesn't allow the professional to manufacture lies relabelled as expert opinion? It happens all the time. Anecdote is not a measure of a professional standard but something which must be understood as a potential, and commonly significant, bias. But what if I claim my anecdote to be truth? Then we have the rule of anarchy posing as profession. A dunces cap on a well dressed person, the emperor with new clothes.

The code is not direct enough. We have a significant problem in my profession because humans easily confuse their own tribes with what a fact is and then foist it, their own unwillingness to know, only to pretend, upon an unsuspecting public. And with this lack of interest in knowledge, their credulity, consequently comes a low standard of care. Predatory behavior, clutching at children and families 'for life', taking advantage of fear and uncertainty to trigger a lifetimes 'need' for care. No one ever suggested that a chiropractor not practice in a 'family' setting but this is not that. To the evangelist a family is not people, just a flock for the faith - to feed or fleece or fuck. People who hold political positions advertise themselves as miracle workers and teach others that they too can perform miracles through faith alone, directing them away from, never towards, learning only some illiterate imitation. Their 'miracles' are not some colloquial aside but as an article of their faith in the UI, as a professional service. Professional development points are awarded to people known to be conspiracy theorists, taking donations from some of the worlds most credulous and paranoid ringmasters who believe that subluxations are Satan's work, the proceeds of which have funded a hijacked research body, now a vehicle for creationism, for the teaching of vitalism (spirit worship) as if it still represented a science which it failed to do over 300 years before. It is fraud and the ethical codes have allowed it to happen because ethics (a subject I still manage to teach) is, if taught well, offensive to frauds. Other professionals still have quite the tendency to deal with corruption by shooting it's whistle blowers, not correcting the problem. I even had the CEO of the board advise me that it was "my job" to correct the damage done to students (who attend a publicly funded University) by offering basement level external 'education' which included indoctrination into the faith of UI, sealed by the implementing of the siege mentality. A major tactic of  fundamentalist 'education' is to repeat the same thing, play music, and try to generate a few tears, basically invigorate the individuals desire to intellectually masturbate and stop thinking altogether. People demand 'rights!' as professionals while the bulk of the profession chooses to remain indifferent and the only expansion in the profession has gone along legitimate lines - by publicly stating that the past belongs to itself, by releasing ourselves from the ideological servitude of paranoia.

We are professionals.

We are neither religions, faiths or practises.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Chiropractic Philosophy And Gun Control

Intelligence or ethics is no prerequisite for power.

The world always provides fodder for war, intrigue and black humor. As I was listening to the radio this morning, I heard a US politician apologize (excuse) for the most recent gunning down of civilians. 26 lay dead, 20 more injured, as the 'tactically dressed' man opened fire on a congregation inside a small Texas church. Just as predictably as gun violence in the USA, any perceived threat is met not with reason but primitive reactions. People might tell you that they are complex creatures (we are) but that doesn't extend to complex thoughts, to well reasoned actions, at all. 

The right screams for rights and the left for what appears to be the same, the right to life, but what is apparent is the inability of people to learn. When Obama brought in laws that sought to restrict gun ownership the US responded with such paranoia that the gun industry expanded. Laws that looked as though they would achieve one thing, established quite the opposite.

Similarly, although the figures are not nearly as clear, or present at all, the growing vocal opposition to the religion called chiropractic philosophy (unethical by professional standards), may well aid it. Ideological wars are as common as breakfasts as far as human society is concerned, since the human mind evolved to be an excellent tribe member not a wise rational thinker. So although the church of the Universal Intelligence (chiropractic philosophy) is only an effective tool for attracting our worst qualities (narcissism, creationism, fundamentalism, fraud, stupidity), those traits are widely shared by humanity. While we all hope that our species will exceed it's most base desires we cannot escape the fact that we are first and foremost a species, creatures, not a collection of magically driven beings destined for enlightenment. But the fact is that the later non explanation is more intuitively popular and is far more easily believed if education is crippled, faith thinking elevated, professional boundaries breached and ethics slaughtered. Humans only learn by finding out they were wrong not by pretending to be right and spending a life perfecting ignorance. This is exactly what happens when you live through an identity which, in your mind, is utterly irreversible, dogmatic, a fundamentalism, a 'true belief' that is it's own absurdity. If we cannot test anything, we do not have a 'yet' we have a 'nothing yet' and to pretend otherwise is to ossify any intelligence we ever had. We may just as well be back 'in the cave'. So a dogmatic profession will continue to exist but it has never expanded unless local associations have chosen to respect learning, not use it to promulgate it's faith.

Does this mean that we should abandon oppositions to ridiculous gun laws (I personally have a license so the matter is not one of extremes) or the intrusion of religion into education and professionalism (the stupid claim that creationism can replace evolution), faith into education, hubris into candour? While it will always be easy to offend people one need not try, one need only point towards the honest answer and wait for the outfall so the decision is easy - remain indifferent or press on. I suggest the later. If a god was found lurking, hand held high, if there was anything at all except insistence from 'philosophers', then we would honestly include a god as fact in the record and teach accordingly. But to inject dogma into education (as if it were fact) in the absence of anything but force, nothing but a persistent philosophical whining, is to practice nothing more intellectual than swinging a club. It may well bring you comfort to believe all sorts of things but it never amounts to education and certainly not a profession.

So you may be interested to learn that when the politician from the USA rationalized the murder of 26 people in a small town in Texas he used the only logic that paranoia knows - he never mentioned the issues of mental health or firearms, he said it wasn't as bad as Hitler. Similar logic is the sine qua non of the paranoid gun owner and traditional chiropractor. But one need not give up a belief to hold a more ethical position. There is nothing wrong with believing in spirits only pretending you know. After all, Martin Luther still believed in a god concept but pressed for reformation. He agreed on a god but disagreed with the rules and so contradicted his own god (apparently). No one on earth can show the former as a truth only the later - that the religions practiced in a void of reason and ethics are even worse than the weak apologetics that remains, but at least it is not the pure totalitarianism that having a single tribe at the helm would give although that is easy to achieve. One need only ensure that the subject is never brought up, that the need to remain 'civil' to stupidity is more important than ethics and life itself. This is our problem.

But we are a profession.

We are not a faith.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Legitimate Questions - A letter to a Young Colleague

"Hey guys I'm a 1st year Chiro student and I have 2 question that I am struggling to find the answer to. Why do we put ourselves into boxes? Mechanistic or Vitalistic! And what do the people in the middle of the spectrum call themselves?"

This question was recently posted on a large (roughly 2,600 member) Facebook page populated by a collection of students, practitioners, researchers and educators. I've been all these at some stage or another in some shape or form. Overall the environment, of this particular forum, is supportive but also supports or promotes objectivity as a fundamental axiom or 'law' considering that we are inside a profession. Professional bodies hold a 'social contract. That assumes that not all ideas are equal and that environment is, in itself, the only one which supports the ethic of professionalism, that despite personal preferences, we all exist primarily for the benefit of others, the public, our patients, and must subject our own opinions and those of the profession to the scrutiny of high intellectual standards - we assume that learning is lifelong and can only proceed if we accept that some ideas will be shown to be forlorn, wrong, and should be discarded, again, for the benefit of society. We accept that the process of being a professional means you may well be wrong, that there are ways to determine this and that we will all follow evidence and good reason above personal belief and speculation.

The query itself is quite possibly the first natural, legitimate, brief and significant question posed by all students as they grapple with what is often a remarkably shallow chiropractic philosophical pool. And the reality is that efforts to expand the profession and truly make it 'Great' are hampered not simply by external pressures (common to all) but the insistence by many that 'Unity' can be achieved by demanding that people 'choose' which un-unified end of a false philosophical spectrum they inhabit.

It's a mouthful. But wait. It is important to understand ourselves if we are to sort out such common (and philosophically falsely based) schisms.


My experience is that most staff members, let alone students, can't exactly define either term (vitalism, mechanism (and a dozen or more others)) and therefore what they mean when those terms are applied to the world around us. Yet many identify strongly with something they appear to understand rather poorly - and that question is a matter of IDENTITY or TRIBALISM. Once a human has identified with a tribal belief it is generally resistant to new or contradictory information. 

We might consider a profession to be a type of tribe but it has quite specific rules and expectations (see above) which are not shared by other ideologies or belief systems.

The minds we have, evolved to be very good at socialisation and re-confirmation for the reason that it seemed to aid our survival if the group 'stuck together'. Sticking together can be enormously beneficial. For professionals, the question should always be - "What exactly are we sticking together for?" That intuitive tribal urge however also means that the beliefs we form are resistant to alteration. Habit's stick whether 'good' or 'bad' and it's also why science (testing hypotheses) has been such a reliable system of knowledge gathering whereas personal faith or revelation is not as neither one can actually be tested beyond opinion.

So tribalism is real and can be very useful. Unfortunately it doesn't necessarily mean that the tribal principles or ethics or information are necessarily sound or true.

Vitalism was a mechanism

A chief (perhaps the only argument) in favour of vitalism is it's assumed difference from mechanism (literally "what makes this 'go' or 'work'? What's it's mechanism?). Something which seems entirely glossed over (by adherents of vitalism) is that Vitalism was a scientific theory ('science' was called natural philosophy back then) over 200 years ago. Most straightforwardly 'Vitalism' was defined as a soul or spirit (later elan vital), basically the quality or process that was thought to make the non-living into living. It was, and here is an irony worth pausing upon, the proposed mechanism that explained why there was 'life' or 'not life'. It was the asserted or claimed mechanism for biology and living systems.

So despite many still believing that something like a soul might exist, no one on the planet has actually found evidence of such a phenomena but, importantly, this is where we need to stop and dissect the issue a little more else we will assume that people are being told that they have to stop believing in something like a spirit, a soul or any of a thousand other forms of supernatural belief.

No middle ground

One responder to the question simply said "What do you call people in the middle of the spectrum between astronomy and astrology? The point being of course that there is no middle between explanations since found to be false (technically superseded) and explanations which actually do work. Imagine measuring the success of Usain Bolt by constantly referring back to the guy who came last, or suggesting 5th place (middle) were both just as 'winning' as first place.

In physics, Newton broke through a conceptual barrier with the theory (the explanation for why his observations worked) that gravity was an attractive force. Einstein came along and leaped out of the conceptual box again and now we understand that a theory which uses a 'magical attractive force' to explain gravity isn't as good an explanation as that mass distorts the geometry of space/time. The FACT is that the explanation is better. The FACT is that vitalism only explained things when the human understanding of biology was 'naive'. To understand 'vitalism' listen to a child explain how living things work - that is as far as we could get when we knew almost nothing about the natural world (circa 1800).

Another way to think of vitalism is that it's one of thousands of labels for our ignorance. Instead of saying "I don't know" we say "that must be what vitalism is" in which case we fool ourselves into believing that we just understood something whereas we have just reinforced a childlike view of the natural world.

Similarly there is no legitimate 'middle' between a flat OR spherical earth, we know it's one and not the other at all. There is no halfway, or 'box', between preformationism and what's really inside a sperm. Preformationism was the theory, plausible at a time when we knew very little about biology, that humans grew from fully formed miniatures housed inside the sperm. If you think about it (and try to strip away what we do know about cellular biology) it actually appears as though a 'miniature' human just 'inflates' inside the mother, pops out and keeps increasing in size. We simply found that this didn't explain anything once we could actually see inside a cell. What clearly happened was that preformationism wasn't anything at all except an idea which was wrong.

Preformation - It seemed perfectly logical to assume that within each sperm was a fully formed human which expanded as it grew. It was never found. So can it still be there but we can't measure it "yet"?

Always "not yet"

I've been in quite a few conversations with vitalists and they will often say "Ok, I know we can't measure it yet" but they appear unaware that there is no 'it' to measure. Perhaps 'it's' something else entirely. On the balance of probabilities we will continue to discover more about how the universe naturally works. (which immediately means it's natural not supernatural (since we can't ever seem to find anything supernatural)).

The most that can be said about the supernatural is that it's a popular word for things no one can seem to verify. Anything we have no evidence for might be called supernatural. Santa is technically supernatural but of course we accept it as myth. Similarly, devoted Muslims don't run about praying to the Greek pantheon of supernatural beings just their own. To them (and every other devotee of another faith) all the other faiths are myth. It all becomes absurd. Confine this to personal belief and not much trouble occurs but inject it into a profession and the sky falls.

The list of discarded or superseded theories is long and full of concepts we didn't see then discard, they were simply wrong, never found, and now populate the history of mistakes. Vitalists can never actually agree on what it is they're talking about except to agree that they'll keep assuming it means something else which can't be measured "yet". It's also why discussing vitalism with someone who doesn't want to understand it's history will prefer to be perplexed, exchanging that natural sense of awe and wonder we all experience for it's facsimile, ignorance itself. They will use awe and wonder (which is our basic human ignorance (not a bad thing)) to reassert their own need to pretend that vitalism is an explanation.

That has quite serious consequences as it simply becomes a reason to stop thinking.

Flogging a Dead Horse

People have invented 'neo-vitalism' more recently in an attempt to reinvigorate or bring back to life something which never worked in the first place. 'Neo' is attached to 'emergence' and even 'quantum mechanics' but in all cases it's assumed to still be there, as yet unmeasured. That sounds slightly plausible and 'open-minded' until we realise that we can't yet measure anything we can't measure but we can claim we can't measure anything! We can make anything up and assert or claim that it's there but we can't measure it yet. Dragons, gods, ghosts, magic teapots, anything, yet!

Mechanisms - Understanding or Incomprehension?

Other complex physical processes (often termed mechanisms or mechanistic) were found but let's remind ourselves again that vitalism WAS a purported mechanism. The most that can be said for vitalism comes from dualism (the very real sense or feeling that 'me' or 'I' is somehow different from 'my body') but even that is explained rather well via the mechanisms of neuroscience and evolution (more on that below). The mind evolved with the quality of imagination. It is possible to imagine being in two places, imagine what might be around the corner or imagine that someone is in your house, but that is a real process inside the brain not the actual ability to project consciousness across a room. Dualism and cognitive neuroscience is a whole other discussion, I mention it here to demonstrate, again, that vitalism as a mechanism never helped explain anything at all.

Epistemology - The thinking behind beliefs.

Having once seriously believed in something like vitalism I understand how compelling the notion is. Just imagine being able to use The Force, because as ridiculous as that sounds the philosophy (the thinking) behind behind every supernatural belief out there is fundamentally the same type of epistemology, that something I can imagine is also felt to be real (that's how the mind works). What we can imagine can be real but a mind does not readily distinguish between real/not real. Intuition only feels that what we imagine is true by default. This is how all beliefs are initially generated and we also know that as far as understanding complex things (like biology (and generally everything really)) intuition is not reliable, it just feels very reliable. it also reminds us that ethics, the sense that we better check our guess (for the benefit of others) against reason and evidence is essential for professionals.

Vitalism simply never explained any part of biology however, the founder, DD Palmer, was a spiritualist who believed that the teachings of chiropractic were given to him from the "other world". His hypothesis was that subluxations interrupted the communication between 'god' and 'soul' (Universal and Innate) via the nervous system. The neurological system is, of course, biology, so vitalism doesn't explain it, evolution via natural selection (which is biological theory) does. In fact if you replace any legitimate theory with 'false explanation' you'll get incomprehension. Again think back to preformationism and ask yourself how that would play out in science and health care today (if all professionals used preference as the chief epistemology in their decision making)?


Vitalism shares an uncomfortable relationship with creationism, the move by religious fundamentalism in the USA to inject the teaching of biblical genesis into public education. When early efforts to do this were blocked by the Supreme court, creationists manufactured 'Intelligent Design', called it a 'theory' and popularised an invention by the Tobacco Industry in 1979 to teach 'The Controversy' to combat the "body of fact" within the minds of the public (basically sow confusion when explanation was required in order to avoid the actual explanation and protect the preferred version/sales). We now see this played out in US politics and the re-emergence of fundamentalism and blatant church state boundary crossing into education and politics. Think 'Alternative facts'.

'Mechanism' is never a valid criticism

Mechanism as a philosophical opposite to vitalism is a red herring, a decoy, a non argument. Creationism/Vitalism repeats the same false dichotomy, and error of reasoning, that any issue ONLY has two possible outcomes. In this case it is that you MUST choose either vitalism OR mechanism. The first is generally associated with being open minded, inclusive, loving, kind, etc, while the later is dismissed as 'reductionistic', limiting, dehumanizing, etc. Again, there are valid points if the discussion is well played out but as presented it's worthless rhetoric, as valid as listening to the worst political monologue. 

These days I'm technically an 'atheist' (don't believe in a god concept) however I was a Buddhist for 12 years (which is technically a-theist) so what did it mean? First of all it meant I was remarkably arrogant. I found theistic explanations of the supernatural to be wrong but was quite happy to embrace other explanations which, although more sophisticated, were just as 'not actually there'. These days I'm quite happy to defend the useful aspects of religious traditions as well as criticise the downright dangerous aspects. If you allow your mind to fall victim to a false dilemma/dichotomy you wont be able to think too much about anything just the old 'whose side' do I take schtick.

This is reflected in the first big opposition movements to the teaching of evolution last century when Darwinism was accused of being immoral and dehumanising despite the fact that critics had never bothered to comprehend it in the first place (the same has always occurred when facts clashed with theology). People of all persuasions, used to the supposed sanctity of faith, simply were not used to such an obvious 'assault' on their scripture by basic facts, in this case (natural selection) a fact of astounding philosophical import - that humans were another species of animal and there didn't appear to be any one's version of a god present in the process. Not even Buddha or Vishnu or a thousand other revelations seemed invited either but all faiths fumed in unison and ran about trying to manage the problem. They were all wrong again, no one had asked their permission to have their traditions down graded and by gum the legitimate authorities of a million disparate celestial dictatorships had to be reasserted no matter what.

It didn't help that people such as HL Mencken (who was 'anti-religion' and probably anti-Semitic as well) spread the dogma that evolution meant we were all just savages who had to forget about the 'weak' in order to prosper - that shit has nothing to do with the theory of evolution or science or mechanism or philosophy at all. It only has to do with human nature and our ability to be selfish, narrow minded, poo flinging apes when there's also an opportunity to create art, literature, science and philosophy. 

It's just true -M'kay?

Basically, both 'Vitalism' and 'Creationism' contend that their explanation is true, M'kay?, and simply don't care that only 0.05% of biologists in the USA accept Creationism as a 'theory' (because they are creationists) while 99.85% do not (and many of those are also religious). But if your self image/identity as a professional is sold as being dependent upon an essentially faith based position we have both philosophical, scientific and significant professional issues because while it's fine for ME to believe whatever, in my own mind, in my own home, I can't just waltz into my office, with the responsibility to others, and claim that science or philosophy proves that my adjustments allow Jesus, or whatever explanation I prefer, to flow about the body chomping up bad things. That's the 'chiropractic philosophy' we can all do without.

Are Vitalists, Vitalists? OR Please shit on my floor OR Silence is Consent.

I find that most who like the idea of vitalism are actually drawn to holism and humanism which have nothing directly to do with faith based beliefs. Humanism (that individuals deserve rights or a 'say') was a response against centralised theocracy (god based governments). That point of confusion (The Incessant 'Controversy') is used by people such as Billy DeMoss, organiser of Caljam 2017 'The Love Tour'. Caljam has hosted some of the planets dizziest conspiracy theorists and they have zero room for anything approaching discussion, scrutiny, disagreement or objectivity. Those who constantly preach the greatest love generally display the worst passive aggressive tendencies (you do get this sort of thing in other industries by the way so don't think it's just chiropractic. I say that as reassurance to you not as an excuse for us or anyone else). Billy's latest offering, posted up on YouTube was titled 'Nazi Vaccine Regime' in Australia. Pure crazy. Apparently vaccination is "Satan's Work" (yes he did say that!) and apparently this demonstrates the level of 'love' held by Principled Vitalistic ChiropracTORs. Something to reflect on. So when anyone insists that everyone, regardless of their behaviour, should be offered a due respect I say bugger off. If a person defecates on your floor you don't say "Oh, goodness, perhaps you'd prefer the living room?"

So note particularly those who say they disapprove (the 'moderate vitalist') of the 'Billy's' but never publicly call for their de-registration. Such types will hold up a banner of 'Individual rights' and never reflect on the fact that they are basically saying 'rights' means sitting on a fence with your 'freedom' banner while people have the right to lie through their teeth and defraud and intellectually disable a population. That is not any right but the right to leverage stupidity and danger. Simple solution - make a stand. Silence is just consent.

The 'innocent bystander' is not a protection for a professional. If you don't want to get involved that's fine but don't expect to be able to 'preach' love or reason while others get run over. That level of dumb will be pointed out pretty quickly. If it does happen then the best approach is to remember that this is why we bother creating these types of groups, because we are responsible for others. I often use the example of teaching children to safely cross a road and another was my younger self learning how to use guns. One day I showed my Aunt how to check the barrel of a rifle by looking down the sharp end (I'd taken 'lessons' from a movie I think, much like an 'education' from Sherman College). My 'freedom' to express myself was met with a slap over the head and "Don't ever do that again!". I was ashamed and hurt (the whole family was watching). My Aunt said "Don't ever check a gun like that!" 

It seems like a ridiculous example but it's ethically very sound. We are responsible to others - Vitalists will argue that the bullet can come out sideways or backwards or invisibly. (Note that 'subluxations' are discussed like this as well because faith never wants to be bothered with facts). They want the freedom to tell the public, that the public has the right to choose whatever their version is, etc. That's how stupid and unethical vitalism has become.

The reason we don't speak up is that most humans avoid trouble, naturally. We are easily indoctrinated into believing that a chiropractor just has to be kind of 'vitalistic', and are told that a strong profession must band together in UNITY. Policing unprofessionalism has fallen directly on those who choose to speak up because, again, our job is to protect the public good, not use this profession or science or philosophy as a personal platform for faith. We are bound by codes of ethics not personal satisfaction.

Here's another irony - vitalists will argue that criticism only comes from 'outside', from medicine, etc and that 'good' chiropractors must always support each other. It's bullshit. Much of our professions problem is that we are not seen to effectively self regulate. When colleagues go 'rogue' we stay silent, the tribe demands wagon circling, and that is professionally disastrous. The public sees us covering up and not acting in a manner they expect from 'experts' so this inward looking stance simply backfires on us.

If you end up swallowing Vitalism as anything like an explanation for biology or clinical reasoning or ethics this is precisely the level of thinking you'll have to adopt. Any supernatural or paranormal explanation as either science or serious philosophy requires you to STOP thinking because none of those claims can be investigated to begin with, therefore any 'evidence' or 'proof' is distortion or just personal opinion, pure conspiracy, not science or philosophy and certainly not professionalism.

If you are religious and have taken immediate offence, or if this all appears rather too 'heavy' then don't worry too much. It's all easy to ignore but I'd offer this. You can ignore it in your personal life just not inside a profession. In that sense the Tribe has spoken. We have no right to mess around with the facts and pretend that 'evidence based' is just a matter of preference, politics or personal faith.

Scientia est potentia - Knowledge is power.


Douglas Scown

Friday, February 10, 2017

Faith. Just Religion?

My profession, as many are aware, has an historical embrace of supernaturalism. The founder, DD Palmer was a spiritualist, very common at the time (early 20th Century), which saw an enormous popularity in the notion that one could communicate with dead people (as well as being particularly good business for charlatans). I say this quite bluntly, not to single our Palmer (plenty of 'respectable' people were fooled) as spiritualism is technically defined as believing that one can communicate with the 'spirits' of the dead, their ghosts. I've been increasingly in agreement with the opinion of Philosopher Peter Boghossian that faith be redefined as 'pretending to know things you don't know' and this is why.

We will never eradicate faith or we could argue that it would be as successful as disposing of a mind built by evolution and which happens to have gained the quality of being a dualistic processor. This is quite different from the older idea we had concerning dualism. You may have heard of Cartesian Dualism, Descartes notion that the material and immaterial were ontologically distinct but nevertheless somehow interacting. The observation is intuitively sound.

What the hell did that mean?

You've probably heard of the cliche 'mind/matter' or some will add 'spirit/mind/matter'. Ontology is the study of what it means to be or the nature of being. So conversations about reality, which have gone on for thousands of years, sought to make sense of this world around us. Generally, with a few exceptions, these efforts were extraordinary failures, yet they, the idea that when we say 'spirit' or even 'mind/matter', that we are talking about real things or processes or qualities, remained. The short answer here is that we only know of the matter part and that this is most likely because that is what naturalism is, that when we go looking for explanations or things or phenomena, we've found just that, explanations, natural ones, naturally. And at each stage people have simply, quite lazily remarked that just because magical x wasn't found it still might (just you wait!!). What no one has actually found is a spirit or any evidence (apart from opinion) that 'mind' isn't just (and I really should never say 'just', as it infers lesser or not complete)) what happens when the matter does it's thing. Naturalism is cool. Pretending can be amusing but like any old story the assertion is now quite preposterously dogeared.

But here's the really interesting thing - reality feels dual, we feel dual, most humans feel dual. But even that feeling of a separate and distinct quality is, when you sit down and ponder it, what has to happen if we are to have even one thought. When we think we think 'about' something. There's 'me' thinking (another apparent separate stuff) about (more) you (and you're quite different from me). Try to imagine (imagination can't work without a 'dual' processor) anything at all and you'll notice that you simply can't do it and not be dual, or more accurately, process in such a manner that you can't notice a difference in there somewhere.

To the average inhabitant of the planet this will effortlessly play itself out no matter what idea or collection of sensations we come across. The mind (we also know quite well now) will process most information heuristically. It will rapidly throw out solutions to problems (such as get up/out of the way/friend?:)/foe?!/dunno/right/wrong) in such seamless fashion as to leave us unaware of exactly why we made such decisions. Most heuristics are not all accurate, they just 'work' sufficiently well that we don't get killed too frequently or in large enough numbers. So to be able to process at the speeds required to 'work' well enough, it, the mind, the activity of the brain, is largely 'dumb' a great deal of the time. We are covered by, or a collection of, illusions of sensation. We are a city of cells with cities of cells living in us and on us about which we are unaware and they of us or the others, in the sense of 'consciously aware'. Most illusions work to shore up little imperfections so they don't get in the way. Optical illusions are the easiest to comprehend. We cannot 'see', are not conscious of our retinal blind spots. They'd get in the way, so the brain just photoshops it out, covers the error and let's us on our way.

Wow. Isn't that evidence for Intelligent Design, the glory of a god or Vitalism (take your pick)?

Daniel Dennett (philosopher and neuroscientist) offered that faith (pretending you know the answer) was just an opportunity to stop thinking. In philosophy it's called the argument from ignorance or incredulity. You just stop, inject your 'wonder tissue' (the special fix all magic glue) and dust off, none the wiser and probably less so. Certainly that approach never found anything out. If you want that reality go to Afghanistan or 1066 in your holistic wayback machine.

If it ever answered anything other than 'I feel it's true and it works for me' (which is something we all tend to do) then faith would deserve the status it has claimed all these centuries. That's all it is and as you can see it's a robust human quality of the mind. If you can imagine what a city or a flying machine or a gene or a abcdefgh might look like you can easily pretend to know what a god or spirit or ghost or fairy looks like. You can even feel quite strongly that it talks to you and tells you secrets about cosmic consciousness and world peace. This is where art and literature and ISIS come from. Imagine growing up in such environments (where the rule is to never question the 'pretending to know quite ridiculous stuff' and you'll have real trouble NOT imagining that it's real, which quite ironically is more difficult because you know you can't find it anywhere except in your heart or balls or ego or somewhere else special). We can imagine a great deal but what it often imagines is just that, imaginary.

If adults kept this level of reasoning to themselves the world would be pretty good but, well, we're built for it, blame evolution, another irony as it is yet another scientific powerhouse of an idea which failed (once again), to need to invite any ones god to the party. I can just imagine it, a million celestial entities screeching "But what about MEeeee?!"

Can't hear them? No matter, their sycophants are only and always too happy to voice what they regard is it's opinion. Moreover don't get mad with me. The sycophants are usually too busy arguing with each other to care about an atheist. That's another good point (I have many), IF people kept BIG faith to themselves (as opposed to the little faiths we all tend to indulge in) I wouldn't even have the need to write, but more on that below.

Yesterday I was sentenced to have to read yet another metatheory paper regarding why we still need to take magical thinking seriously. It makes no difference that it was about 'vitalism' because it could work as well with 'insert any bloody imaginary thing' which science never found (then claim science found it). The argument was, as usual, incomprehensible from a critical thinking point of view and led off with why vitalists can comprehend complexity without needing to dwell on details, which reminds me of Doug's holistic mechanic video (it's a cracker). That this still gets significant airplay (albeit only in CAM mags) in academia used to make me wonder when it would be over but it wont.

Magic goes down (apparently) and bequeaths upon the person the ability to know all AKA - Pretending to know you know more (Vitalists 'see' emergent global structure' like Palmer saw dead people) means you know more. Ya know? AKA The Arrows Knows Metatheory.

The above 'metatheory' is basically a philosophy 101 ballsup. For any simple argument to be basically sound the assertions (the labels) have to be valid (we gotta have something to support the claim and vitalism has zero except blank assertion - it's always "We found this stuff and we reckon the magic stuff is there as well") and the reasoning (the connections) must be, well, reasonable. It doesn't take much, yet a few highly spurious headings linked by crayon = a metatheory is asinine.

The diagram could be cogent. Rub out the bit on the left. No one ever found it and what we do know came via mechanism. Even the term 'emergence' was invented by scientists grappling with, but never rejecting or downplaying by any stretch, mechanism. Emergence never meant "invite magic" it meant "complex systems are really hard to predict" a feeling which always applied to investigation. It's always been hard. Ignorance always looks to itself to claim knowledge or perhaps we could do with reminding ourselves about the cognitive bias the  'Curse of Knowledge' (it's a mind bender) - think of something you know, now try to know what you knew before you knew that. When we know, we forget how hard it was to learn it. Vitalists are always trying to downplay mechanism by, ironically using it (whilst not understanding it). It's preposterously arrogant. The only argument against reduction which is valid is a comment on people not reduction. It is Dennetts Greedy Reductionism.

But saying that something is just bullshit will never do. Like the dualistic mind, the only possible way to know if you have a good idea is to subject yourself to truly awful ones and, like a small child dissecting any toy or insect, notice why or if it works and how. See if you can put it back together and 'Pump' it for life, for an answer. Is it sound, can you still wind it up and make it mobile or does it break? Yes, all vitalistic propositions are the proverbial house of cards but faith (a thought set upon nothing but pretense) is the toughest interlocutor. Given the precarious nature of it one might wonder why it doesn't fall with a slightest puff, but it wont, Only honest competitors concede the possibility of failure whereas faith is immune to evidence and only honesty (and bravery) can change that. The authors of the paper above will most likely die convinced that vitalism was something but I'd offer this - much more is to be gained by people publishing negative results. Vitalistic articles would serve the world well to say - it's popular but, shit, we aint found nothin.

Vitalism suffers from intellectual cowardice (or if that is too abrupt try a 'lack of intellectual humility' and other valuable suggestions), whilst the history of science and philosophy is populated with figures who came to grief almost exclusively by questioning 'the gods' or inadvertently discovering great ideas that didn't invite them or congratulate them or pat them.

With regular monotony, individuals who like the idea of spirits (vitalisms) will quote various philosophers or scientists in the belief that they support their own conclusions. I've sat in vitalist coaching classes while they waxed lyrical about Socrates and the Socratic Method (I'm a great fan) except Socrates was put to death for questioning the very concept of 'gods' etc. No small irony there. If you want to bring up and suggest you value the philosophical approach of any person you should take care to notice exactly what it was they stood for.

No wonder the comedian Louis CK referred to 'god' as the 'shitty girlfriend' (and no wonder that vitalists and others who grasp onto their faith a little too tightly seem to lack humor. Strong faith builds many safe spaces which eschew serious self reflection. A sense of the ridiculous may well be the only solution to it or the only measure of successful 'deconversion').

Supporters never question, always ask 'why is this still so good again?' not 'why would this not be a good idea? Should I understand the critic?' which would after all mean that one was interested in satisfying curiosity not merely comforting themselves. It would mean they were really thinking about it. Faith warns to avoid any real introspection. The evidence is absent and the arguments atrocious but that is the beauty of truly bad ideas. Without Vitalism or any other example of pretending to know things we don't know, we would not have the sounding board of greatness.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Chiropractic Spectrophobia - Fear of Ones Own Reflections

Feb 8th 2017

I have two lovely daughters, neither one of whom appears to bare much resemblance to me. I call them 'carriers'. I know that I passed on fifty percent of my genetic material to each of them but, perhaps fortunately, their biology chose not to express it just yet.

Yesterday I reached the altogether insignificant age of fifty four and wished I hadn't been so adamant, upon using the metaphor of a 'view from the mountaintop' when I reached fifty, which felt like quite a milestone, since the only path from the pinnacle was down, another step closer to my own end.

Best not waste any more time.

My two girls (and yes they are both bright and athletic and good looking, their mothers side) go to two separate, and quite different (in many respects), schools. Brisbane State High School is where my youngest and all of her friends alighted to after leaving the local primary school, a 'feeder' for the now prestigious and well populated 'school of excellence'. The other couldn't wait to leave the same large primary school with it's socially dynamic (and for her quite frustrating) culture. "Dad, one day they're all Besties, the next they're fighting. It's exhausting!" So the elder daughter chose a small Catholic girls school and has thrived ever since.

But both schools carry motto's in the classical Latin style inherited from ancient Greek. Moreover, some precepts can be interpreted in a number of ways, allow for discernment or considered judgement. Others are, ironically, quite indiscriminate by virtue of their inability to be considered in any but overtly simplistic terms.

People often regard motto's as nothing more than historical markers but humans need signposts, good ones, not just any empty slogan, lukewarm rhetoric or catchy phrase we feel briefly inspired by but, like any Marvel movie can't manage to recall five minutes later. More still are nothing but dogmatic.

It's no accident that schools still endorse classical motto's which direct our minds towards both a rich classical philosophical past and a future which will be well served by the continued thought provoking use of it. What is important? What is worth a (very brief) lifetimes focus and why is my profession struggling to get it right?

Sherman College has a motto, borrowed from our own tradition or at least the spiritualism of it's founder DD Palmer, which is supposed to inspire in us an awe and wonder of a Universal Intelligence that provides us with life, what he regarded as a god concept. It should be pointed out that spiritualism was a rather more individually narcissistic faith. Not only was there a 'god' and 'souls' but they spoke directly to him, even authoring some his work by some method of celestial dictation. This type of naive solipsism quickly gained a place within the young profession.  It is of course an overtly religious or faith based claim, not only popular in the USA but vocal. American's like you to know how much they pretend to know about a god. However, it's far less than this. Most private schools such as the one I attended were essentially built by religious orders, who have historically had the advantage of financial protection. That they also came to control education, at least initially, was also just historical. Their claim now to knowledge is just that, a claim, the actual production of understanding having passed onto a broader secular education propelled by the discoveries of science. It is now assumed, in most 'progressive' nations (although that appears to be under renewed pressure) that personal faith is an issue quite separate from other pursuits, certainly professional ones, whereas the faith inside chiropractic invites faith healers, crass pretense, piety and ignorance.

Sherman College of Chiropractic represents the 20% who view vitalism as just another term for the product of a Universal Intelligence, a doctrine of a pure religious nature akin to Creationism (That Biblical Genesis, not evolution, not science, is the legitimate explanation (theory) for the nature of living things). Many who blindly ascribe to Intelligent Design are not even aware of exactly what the doctrine assumes nor that creationists really care who shares this particularly distorted view of reality. Their only aim is the complete replacement of science with it, with their faith. Sherman's motto is ADIO which stands for 'Above, Down, Inside, Out' as in (the magic comes from up there, and goes this way). That's all the 'science' it contains. At Life University they have a sculpture of a safety pin which is meant to illustrate what happens when the spine is subluxated - the pin is opened and the life force interrupted and closed only by an adjustment and only from a 'principled' or faithful chiropracTOR, when the lights are switched back on.

In the past when I've brought up the observation that faith (pretending to know) cannot be a legitimate replacement for scientific fact it has been met primarily with either nervous dismissal ("I don't want to get into the matter of personal belief") or abject hostility ("How dare you question the truth or you are just one of those materialists" (precisely the same responses, nothing more than reflexive offence, as when one questions any other tightly held, moralistic faith position). The later position - hostile rejection - is, in fact, not the main problem. The chief issue is what Elie Wiesel, survivor of Auschwitz and life long Holocaust 'Rememberer', repeatedly pointed out was sheer indifference, that hatred does not oppose love, ignorance does.

Faith by it's very definition disrupts the later. When a person claims that a mystical life force approaches anything like scientific fact (let alone robust Theory) it is not only wrong it is the duty of professionals to point that uncomfortable fact out. If we do not we cannot blame the more informed for having done so. In these cases it is like blaming the doctor for removing the knife because of the patients objections, the 'caught with one's hands in the cookie jar' analogy, yet still claiming that the hand isn't real or belongs to someone else or got stuck under it's own volition, an 'alternative hand' like an 'alternative fact'.

Our lady's College (where my eldest attends) has inscribed on it's helm - Ad Altiora (go higher, ever higher) which is also shared by numerous other schools both religious and secular. Brisbane State has - Scientia est Potentia (Knowledge (or Understanding) is Power), mine was - Sapere aude (dare to be wise, to know, to think for yourself). In comparison, chiropractic movements which aim or claim to be the 'leaders' in thought and vision can never seem to embrace motto's which would invite both believer and non believer to rise above more than weak consensus. We've had the pleading fiction of 'Unity through diversity' or 'Vitalism and Value' which have the same five minute burn of any postmodern ad campaign and only served as forms of Orwellian doublespeak to give the illusion of placating differences of opinion. Since the profession has a significant minority committed to creationism and educational erosion, unity, via accepting such 'diversity' amounts to the embrace of anything and certainly silence to it. That level of philosophical cogency (and the inspiration it affords) can be applied to any public service portal or fascist movement. It can be read is 'diverse' ways but only invites the dominant factions to press their preferred concept of 'what a true thing' is onto the whole. It turned our association into nothing more than a union, certainly not a receptacle for a public ethic. It turns the public into parishioners, the flock, to be herded and not the central focus of all codes of conduct which place the patients interests quite clearly above ours, clearly above issues of personal practitioner faith. For a professional their raison d'etre IS the ethic - Servire Populo (to serve the people (not ourselves or our brand of religion)) or perhaps ut intellectus (to offer understanding)?

The modern vitalism movement, helped along by the intellectually castrating effects of 'philosophical' relativism (from whence came Unity through Diversity and Value added Vitalisms) has, most unfortunately, fully embraced fundamentalism (Intelligent Design). They now think nothing of awarding and inviting narcissists to spread the credulous and overtly fascist  #CWD (Chiropractic World Domination) #Resistance is Futile, as if this represents anything other than the complete breakdown of civil discourse and the suffocation of rational, ethical critical inquiry, the strangulation of the profession itself.

The great irony is that these groups (representing approximately 20% of the profession) accept the 10% market penetration, that the profession occupies a marginal position. Their explanation of course is Jehovan - the problem isn't ours, it's that everyone else hasn't accepted the correct path to salvation, that being being blocked by 'evil' conspiracies to prevent the 'truth' from getting out, a type of thinking which only inspires the need to redouble evangelical efforts to convert a public, to become even more conspiracy driven, less comprehensible and to eschew responsibility for faults or self reflection or candour. The only things that appear to matter to the organizers of such movements, for example, is faith and personal success. If you just believe you will thrive, or if you are thriving that is the only gauge of success. Such models are achingly self absorbed and adolescent, invite prevarication, base ignorance and low standards. The motto may as well be - submit ac die (submit or die), tuendam fidum (defend the faith) or Me Solum! (Only ME!). All you must do is believe and convert because we already know that we hold the key to life itself. I actually sat in coaching classes with a man (a very politically and, distressingly, educationally influential one) who stated emphatically that the only goal was to get everyone and their family in for lifetime care (at twice a fortnight no less). It didn't matter that you hadn't met them before because you already knew what their only problem was. There was nothing which was not cultish about this behaviour but like 80% I left and like 80% I had no idea what to do about it. Accepting a 'diversity' where one believes that low level education can be effectively repaired by cheap enthusiasm and blind faith, not intellect or knowledge or ethics or professional standards represents that 10% sticking point.

If 80% are prepared to believe that this deserves no criticism, or silent consent, wishful thinking, base stupidity or political protection, then we do not deserve a larger market share. The public like what we do and also generally despise and are afraid of the credulous and purely anti vaccine rhetoric. I'm often asked (by the public or friends outside my profession) as to why this is the case. Most, like myself, accept that vaccines are not perfect and are sometimes harmful (this should be too obvious to ever have to mention) but that life without them (and significantly the science necessary to have developed them and everything else we blindly depend upon and ignorantly assume to have popped into existence) is not a period in human history any rational person would journey back to. The anti vaccine movement, on the other hand, is effectively devoid of any reason whatsoever and I have never encountered such a witheringly ill informed, ill willed and wilfully aggressive group outside of religious fundamentalism. They behave just like any other severely self marginalized collection of fearful humans who can only grapple with reality by grasping onto some version of a utopia (to 'defend' themselves from the dystopia which is out to 'get' them).

It's like this I now explain - If you have been indoctrinated, either by blind acceptance, peer pressure or supermarket style philosophical 'reasoning', by your professional culture, into believing that it's plausible to vaccinate via adjustments to the spine, you get pure opposition to vaccination, pure opposition to medicine. You get a cult. Such movements preach 'love and acceptance' but require daily injections of fear, superstition, conspiracy and unquestioning agreement to exist. It creates a marginal profession because it's effectively separated from the standards which would lead to expansion and inclusion (and therefore exposure to the very people we claim to want to help). You might not like some of the things your colleagues say but the culture demands a unified approach. It demands that we accept the 'diversity' of opinion even if it includes creationism whilst the profession also claims to be 'evidence based.' In effect it wants the right to claim cogency without having to shoulder the responsibility of demonstrating it. It wants the adulation just not the burden of proof. We simply reserve the right to lie to the public because it suits us.

We have become so afraid of our own reflection that we've taught ourselves to ignore it and cast the blame elsewhere. So practiced are we at this reflexive stance that it's taken years to quietly begin to dismantle the edifice of our own emotional revulsion to simple honesty for fear that candour and critical re-eavaluation would be our end. Quite the contrary. Breaking through that wall of dissonance, having the balls to suffer threats and stupidity and embarrassment from within AND outside the profession has at least begun to present the only real chance we have at legitimacy, maturity and expansion. 20% of this profession do deserve a good life along with other cults and marginal unregistered groups. They have that freedom and deserve it's protection, in this country at least.

But WE are a profession.

We are not a faith.