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.