the chiropractic

Obama take heed!

H.L. Mencken was far too pessimistic about human nature, so his article on the chiropractic has got me thinking about where good sense comes from. The chiropractic was founded by an utter crackpot, but today only some chiropractors are crackpots. Over the years the discipline has moved in the direction of paying more attention to anatomy and physiology than to the bilgewater it was founded on (not a mixed metaphor).

In Mencken’s day, the chiropractic was still 100% nonsense. He contrasted it with osteopathy, an earlier crackpot movement which had moved toward good sense and was partly supplanted by the chiropractic.

Hmm.... The public showed a pattern of fads, and the specialists a pattern of gradually correcting their mistakes. Doesn’t that seem fairly general? Who volunteers to stretch the idea out of shape and explain the Renaissance in terms of these two patterns?

But what I really want to know is—who volunteers to start the right fad? A fad that attracted patients with striking claims (“cure cancer in 34 simple steps!”) and yet was based on good sense in the first place could easily displace the Medical Establishment with its high prices and poor service.

Original version, July 2008.
Updated and added here March 2010.