This morning I received an email in my Shepherd account announcing that recruiters from Sherman College would be on-campus later this week. No big deal, right? Colleges cross-pollinate like this all the time, looking for potential graduate students or transfers, things like that. Except that the full name of the institution in question (as will come as no surprise to anyone who’s noticed this article’s title) is Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic.
Not all chiropractors are bad.
Correction: not all chiropractors are all bad. The field can be very roughly divided into two categories, straight and mixed. Both claim that health can be improved by correcting spinal misalignments called subluxations. “Mixers,” as they are often called, take a broader view when treating patients, and many attempt to integrate their practices into traditional medicine. “Straights” believe that the treatment of subluxations is the only legitimate occupation of a chiropractor, and that virtually all illnesses are the result of interruptions in the flow of nerve energy. The founder of chiropractic, Daniel David Palmer, even taught that medical diagnosis was unnecessary, and that doctors treated only symptoms whereas his methods addressed the true cause of disease.
Today most chiropractors, straight and mixed, take a more reasonable view. There are a few left, the so-called “superstraights,” who still adhere to Palmer’s teachings, but there are also large numbers of reformers who reject the subluxation theory altogether. This is a good thing, since there is no such thing as a subluxation. Visiting a chiropractor, straight or mixed, will probably net you the same long-term benefits as regular visits to a hypnotist or an astrologer. Chiropractic care won’t hurt you, but it amounts to a very expensive placebo. Patients suffering from back pain or other spinal issues would be far better off under the care of an osteopath, orthopedist, or other trained physician.
So why is Sherman College allowed to send recruiters to the campus of Shepherd University? Who invited these people? Who gave them permission to do this? I’d like to think that most of my fellow students would be far too skeptical and sophisticated to consider a career in this insidiously pervasive and lucrative pseudoscience. But let’s be honest here — I’d be a fucking idiot to think that. There’s a guy in my creative writing class who’s going to graduate in a few weeks, despite not knowing his skinny white ass from the planet Neptune, though I think he’s going into law enforcement. I bet Sherman picks up one or two new recruits off their visit.
I hope Shepherd affords a similar opportunity to the University of Sedona. Just in the interest of fairness, you understand. And could we get some Scientologists in to pass out flyers and administer personality tests? Why favor one flavor of quackery over another?
(By the way, the best site I’ve found, and the one I used as a source for this article, is Chirobase, by Stephen Barrett, M.D. This article, an account by Dr. Barrett of his visit to a chiropractor trained at Sherman College, was of particular interest.)