Articles by JCS

No Spine Zone

Bill O’Reilly& Big $id in the No Spin Zone

No Spine Zone

By

JC Smith

 

God forbid, but imagine if Bill O’Reilly, Fox newsman extraordinaire, were to interview Big $id. After I read his book, The No Spin Zone, I realized his principle of “no spin” could easily be applied to the chiropractic profession and the hyperbole espoused by the Innatists. O’Reilly defines “spin” simply as distorting the truth (no, not in chiropractic).

 

As hard as it may be to imagine an interview by Bill O’Reilly with Big $id Williams, the king of chiropractic spin, I’ve taken the liberty to paste together a possible conversation. In this no spin zone, Big $id might have trouble justifying his rhetoric with O’Reilly, but here’s a shot using Big $id’s own quotes taken from his books, lectures and interviews, albeit out of context, of course. For those skeptics, I swear these are exact quotes by Big $id—no kidding—I couldn’t make this stuff up!

 

So, here goes a fictional interview with Bill O’Reilly and Big $id Williams.

 

O’Reilly: With us tonight is Sid E. Williams, the founder and president of Life University, the largest chiropractic college in the world. First of all, Dr. Sid, as he likes to be called, isn’t Life a strange name for a university?

 

Big $id: Nothing is bigger than Life. Ya folla?

 

O’Reilly: Well, not really, but let me read some facts about your Life that our viewing audience may not know. According to the January 17-18, 1996 editions of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper, in a two-part series about "The 'Life' and Times of Sid Williams," as well as a follow-up article, "Student DEBT", the writers revealed that Life College lead all professional colleges in student loan defaults to the tune of $28.2 million. The Associated Press picked up this story and distributed another embarrassing article entitled, "Life College Students Top Federal-Loan Default List." Apparently 25% of your graduates were defaulting on their student loans. My question, Dr. Sid, is: how do you explain why your chiropractic college had the largest default rate of any college in America?

 

Big $id: My students are not skunks or scalawags. They got trapped in something they can't help.

 

O’Reilly: I'm not certain how they "got trapped" in a loan program administered by Life University without someone there knowing what was happening. More recently, Life University has been dealt another public relations blow when the Chronicle of Higher Education revealed that you, Dr. Sid, were paid $900,923 in compensation, more than any other university president in the entire nation, including my alma mater, Harvard. As well, Dr. Sid’s wife, her sister, and his long-time sidekick, DD Humber, were also handsomely paid, yet none of you have any degrees in higher education. All totaled these four took home over $2.3 million in compensation for working at a non-profit institution. Allegedly your daughter, Kim, an assistant to you draws $400,000, raising the total to $2.7 million. And this revelation occurred just as 25 instructors were being fired for declining enrollment. Is the IRS aware of the nepotism and generous salaries you’re paying yourself and your family? What do you say to this, Dr. Sid?

 

Big $id: We're entrepreneurs.  Do you know what that means?  I have a service to perform.  I want to promote and advocate, promulgate and expand that service to as many people as I possible can for profit....It's got to be for profit.  We're professionals....We deserve a big income.

 

O’Reilly: Apparently so, and now I understand why you created the infamous Money Hum. I contend you might change it to the Money Scream since you’re the highest paid college president in the entire nation. Obviously you’ve somehow rationalized your humongous salary, but let me ask you to explain a few other outlandish statements attributed to you. According to Health magazine in 1993 you said, “Rigor mortis is the only thing we can’t help.” Are you serious, Dr. Williams?

 

Big $id:  Indeed, the list of specific conditions for which chiropractic care may be beneficial is endless. The authorities say that it can't be.  If you look in the dictionary, the definition of Chiropractic doesn't make any reference to the vivification of the body.  The authorities still don't recognize what we do…We say subluxations retard and impede the full expression of life in the system.  That's what WE say.  No one else says that.

 

O’Reilly: Well, I certainly can understand that, but don’t let me interrupt. Please explain how you do this.

 

Big $id: I make the adjustment; the person is demonstrating symptoms of cancer, peritonitis, pancreatitis, and appendicitis... I make the adjustment, and it clears out all the neuronal disturbance.  When can you expect results?  If you've cleared the subluxation out, the patient begins to improve when?  Now!  Not next year.  Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you clear the patient, the patient will respond and become better within minutes, within seconds; it's just that simple.    

 

O’Reilly: An instant cure for cancer, eh? You also mentioned “vivification,” Dr. Williams. I’m not certain our audience knows what you mean by that term. Please explain yourself.

 

Big $id: Our principles contend that the life force itself is interfered with when a vertebral subluxation is present and that individual cells can not receive the instruction they need to support the entire organism’s function at an optimal level.  I am aware that the life force has never been scientifically demonstrated, nor has the presence of Universal Intelligence been demonstrated.  Even so, the effects of Innate are demonstrable in our chiropractic clinics every day and should be measurable and documented in a research setting, and in accordance with established research standards.

 

O’Reilly: If, as you contend, this Innate is demonstrable, after all these years chiropractic has been around, why hasn’t either the BJ Palmer Research Clinic or your own Sid Williams Research Clinic proven it to be true?

 

Big $id: If you're selling chiropractic you don't have to understand chiropractic, you just have to start believing it, whether it's right or wrong. When I got that love for the product... When I could speak with absolute authority, I was ready to sell.  When you sell something you've got to talk like it's the latest word from God.  Ya folla? 

 

O’Reilly: Just wait a minute, Dr. Williams, I don’t “folla” because there’s too much spin going on here. Now you’re suggesting chiropractic care is the latest word from God?

 

Big $id: God spoke to me in very clear language on three different occasions during a five month period telling me to commence this work. A little gingerbread person appeared in my abstract part of me. He was lit up.  All of a sudden a little arrow come along -- just tricking along, beep, beep, beep.  I saw it clearly.  I see it now.  I never lost it. It comes on, hit him right in the neck.  What did the brightness, the bluish-white color of this little object, what happened to it?  It got dim.  Not completely dim.  But the significance of the full vitality of this lighted, living, iridescent being was diminished.

          Then the little arrow turned around and went the other way. And what happened?  The guy lit up again.  Man, I jumped up, I said, "Got it!"  It's the life, the vital energy, the vivification, the force inside the body that has knowledge, intelligence, wisdom, will, that does the healing.  And my job -- catch this -- my job centers at that time to learn how to make that correction.  Man, I was thrilled to death.  I had a reason for being.

         The second voice occurred in 1964 while at my Austell clinic.  I thought it was B.J. talking to me... I heard a voice right inside of my head and it was talking from the inside. The voice said, "I accept all cases regardless of the condition or the financial ability to pay."

 

O’Reilly: Whoa, Dr. Sid, my head is spinning with all this hyperbole. Are you sure chiropractors don’t do drugs, because you sound really far out right now and my viewers are probably very confused with what you’ve just said—“Gingerbread person…God speaking to you...hearing little voices in your head.” Are you sure you weren’t hallucinating or, perhaps, just aren’t a little bit schizophrenic?

 

Big $id: Life Foundation and the Life Principle offer the world its one hope for freedom from disease, self-annihilation and eventual oblivion. The DE principles and Lasting Purpose concept of giving, serving, loving from an inner abundance without thought of return would surely move the world's population to world peace.

 

O’Reilly: Now you’re telling us that chiropractic care will save the world from oblivion and lead it to world peace? Now I’m convinced you’re hallucinating. I’ve heard some mighty big spin before, but this takes the cake! What do scientists say about this?

 

Big $id: To hell with scientists. They haven’t proven a bumblebee could fly. It might take another thousand years to prove that it works. The scientists haven't proved aspirin yet, but they're out here scrambling and stumbling trying to cure diseases with drugs.  But what about the person who has diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthritis?  They can't cure it. Medicine overlooks the basic cause of all disease. No medicine is very effective in its place; however it is a simple fact that it is becoming obsolete.  The theory of medicine is false.

 

O’Reilly: So, according to you chiropractors, the whole theory of medicine should be thrown out?

 

Big $id: The idea is that since the chiropractor believes that subluxation correction can potentially cause any condition, he or she is justified in accepting all patients for care. I accept all cases regardless of the condition. These subluxations are held to be the most significant etiological factor in disease. 

           We have to rise above the obstacles that we perceive in our minds and make them assets.  What did we do?  We stepped over, forgot about medical ethics, business ethics...I'm going to reach out to people on a chiropractic basis.  That means every person who has a vertebral subluxation complex is going to be welcome for my care.

 

O’Reilly: I think my audience now understands why the AMA believes chiropractic is an unscientific cult that is a danger to society when Dr. Sid says that medicine and drugs are obsolete and that chiropractic care can cure the world of all disease and save it from oblivion. Is chiropractic some kind of weird science or cult religion?

 

Big $id: Chiropractic cannot be both a dangerous religious cult and a godsend to humanity. It ain't no religion...We don't have no prophet; we don't have no Scripture; we don't have no bible; we don't have no beliefs.

 

O’Reilly: But don't you lecture on "Innate as a divine force?"

 

Big $id: This is not beliefs, this is knowledge.  Ya folla?

 

O’Reilly: No, I don’t “folla,” but speaking of knowledge, we’ve read reports from two accreditation agencies, SACS and CCE, that professors contend there is a gross lack of academic freedom at Life Chiropractic. Also, the American Chiropractic Association, the major reputable national association and your rival, tells me you won’t allow their president to speak on campus to your students. As a journalist, you’re now stepping on sacred ground as far as I’m concerned. What do you say about limiting the freedom of speech on your campus?

 

Big $id: If you had some arrogant professor that would come in -- and we've had some -- that try to downgrade the chiropractic philosophical views, they just don't last long ... Fact our students get up and boo 'em out, might 'near, because they don't want anybody disturbing their faith ...And these people who come in and drop negative suggestions, drop negative ideas, trying to build a front, you ought to root 'em out and barbecue 'em out, far as that's concerned.  And you have to watch your allegiances or you'll become divided and I'll become a scoundrel, Dr. Nell will become a scoundrel, and half of your faculty men will become less because you've allowed your mind to justify ...

Information is wonderful.  But let it come in here to where we give it to you for free.

 

O’Reilly: Whoa, Dr. Sid, your spinning is out of control again. You say your information is free, but isn’t it true your college’s net assets in 1998 grossed over $78 million, and tuition at your college costs over $100,000. How can you say it’s free?

 

Big $id: [sitting stone-faced without a response, suddenly gets up and leaves the set with only one parting comment]

Nothing is bigger than Life. Enuf said!

 

Of course, this fictional account dramatizes the possible embarrassment and harm an Innatist like Big $id could do to our public image if he were interviewed on television. Not only is Big $id a time bomb waiting to explode in public again, similar to his disastrous “60 Minutes” interview with Mike Wallace years ago, but other accounts of spin in our profession exemplify the need for someone like O’Reilly within our profession to confront these extremists.

 

Indeed, if it weren’t for Gary Cuneo’s EVP ACA Weekly Reports, we’d never know what’s going on in this profession. For the most part, these maverick leaders are immune to the scrutiny of the press that all other public officials must endure. It’s a balance of power that is sorely missing in the chiropractic profession, especially when so much spin occurs in our profession.

 

Examples of chiropractic spin that have gone unchallenged include:

1)                  The ICA taking credit for the passage of the VA bill with a banner at Life Chiropractic College and news releases when, in fact, the ICA reps were not even present when the final hearing debate occurred in Congress.

2)                 Palmer Chiropractic College sabotaging the FSU chiro project by hiring three lobbyists to influence the legislators and the governor, allthewhile spinning to the chiro press that an FSU chiro college would “medicalize” chiro education, which was flatly denied in the MGT report.

3)                 PCC spinning to prospective students that National was going broke to discourage their enrollment at that fine institution.

4)                 Big $id spinning that Life cannot follow the CCE’s guideline for comprehensive diagnostics due to the Georgia state law.

5)                 Perhaps the biggest spin job is the elevation of chiro philosophy from a vitalistic foundation (the body is a self-healing organism) to a cult religion of Innatism.

6)                 BJ’s misguided spin that the VSC was the cause of all disease.

7)                 Practice managers who spin unethical methods to build a practice, and many of whom never have built a good practice themselves.

8)                Recently the WCA board member and White House CAM Commissioner, Dr. Veronica Gutierrez, gave her spin on the role of DCs, and she narrowed it down to the standard straight version, which excludes giving nutritional advice and PCP status.

 

There are a few sober critics within our profession who understand the spin that hurts our collective image. George McAndrews, ACA’s chief council for the Wilk plaintiffs, was so appalled by the resumption of false chiropractic advertising following the trial that he issued this statement chastising the spin some chiropractors have used.

 

      “Notwithstanding fifteen years of litigation in the Wilk case, I was appalled to see that a letter to the American Medical News published February 17, 1992 attempted to undo all of the beneficial results of the litigation and the opening of dialogue by reprinting a recent bizarre ad talking about how chiropractic care affects the immune system and how an untreated subluxation leads to death.”

                                    -George McAndrews, Open Letter, 3/17/92

 

Mr. McAndrews was more vociferous when he mentioned at the 1997 ACA convention, “5% of you are freaks, 5% of you are cultists, and the rest of you…keep your mouths shut!” He is painfully aware that the inability to censor these extremists is seen as tacit approval by the public and press.

 

According to George’s brother, Dr. Jerry McAndrews:

“I am reminded of the time my brother George spent a full  morning in the first trial in the Wilk case. He called me that noon and asked me, ‘What in the hell is the matter with you people?’ When I asked him what he meant, he said, ‘I just spent the worst period of my professional life trying to defend the behavior of some of the chiropractors out there who make claims far beyond any objective evidence. I felt like I should get up from my chair and go over and sit with the attorneys for the other side.’

“I apologized for the tough time ‘our’ behavior had caused for him. He then said, ‘Don’t get me wrong. The toughest part wasn’t the trash so many chiropractors put out, it was that I couldn’t find any evidence (for the then 80-some years of chiropractic’s existence) of a single chiropractor speaking out against the atrocious behavior.’ ”

 

Joe Keating, Jr, PhD and chiropractic historian, also describes how colleges like Life continue promote quackery without challenge to their spin on matters:

 

      “Are we not ultimately responsible, by our silence and tolerance

(grudging though it may be), for the outrageous claims and practices in our midst?  At one time or another I have seen on chiropractic college campuses all of the methods and heard all of the gooney rhetoric aired on ABC's recent program.  And this sort of stuff usually goes unchallenged at our schools!  Indeed, unsubstantiated claims for chiropractic care and uncritical attitudes toward practice standards are actively encouraged at tome of our institutions of "higher learning."  It wasn't so long ago that a college president suggested, "Rigor mortis is the only thing we can't help!"  But I can recall no great outcry nor objection from the ranks nor the leadership of the profession.”

                        -Keating, J., D.C. Magazine, 3/11/94. 

 

 

The No Spine Zone!

Chiropractic spinmeisters misinform students, the public, the press and politicians, yet no one in the chiro press confronts these distortions of the truth. They sway gullible people with appeals of power and prosperity, and they position themselves self-righteously as “defenders of the chiropractic principle” to justify their hyperbole, yet nothing is challenged. Allthewhile they obstruct, they mislead, and they exploit this profession, but the mainstream chiro press for fear of making waves says nothing.

 

Instead of a No Spin Zone that O’Reilly purports, it seems in chiropractic we have a No Spine Zone because our journalists and association leaders seem afraid to even broach these issues. Ironic, indeed, chiropractors without a backbone!

 

As Bill O’Reilly wrote in his book, “The No Spin Zone”:

“The Zone is no place for zealots, lemmings, or weak-minded followers. It is a state of mind that demands the discipline of clear thinking and the flexibility to change that thinking should the evidence dictate. Summing up, the No Spin Zone is not an easy place to be.

“Why? Because it’s far easier to let others form your opinions. You then don’t have to exercise your brain cells and the crowd will readily accept you. Politicians, commentators, and others vying to fill your headspace are eager to supply you with particular points of view. And increasingly, many Americans are buying into viewpoints that crush independent thinking. Why think when media talking heads and newspaper columnists will do that for you? After all, aren’t these people ‘experts’?”

 

Sadly, the ‘experts’ in chiro journalism have turned a blind eye to the shenanigans that have plagued this profession forever. Anyone remotely familiar with chiropractic’s intra-professional plight can easily see that the ideological spin from the radical extremists of BJ Palmer and Big $id advocates has kept this profession split, immersed in an ideological battle, politically weak for decades now, shunned by mainstream press, and queried by legitimate researchers and academics as a pseudo-scientific profession.

 

And how can any rational DC argue to defend against such attacks? I’d hate to be any of the leaders of reputable chiro associations and colleges trying to explain to the mainstream press how charlatans like Big $id and the Big Ea$y find a niche in our profession. These self-serving zealots making millions while exploiting naïve students and starving field doctors, allthewhile hiding behind hyperbole full of spin, seem to dominate in this profession, yet no one says anything about it, including the legitimate tabloids such as Dynamic Chiropractic, which many once looked upon as the more objective chiro journal in this profession. At least it began that way when Don Sr. was in charge before his untimely passing.

 

On rare occasion this tabloid has confronted topical issues in our profession. From my recollection, DC has taken on only a few questionable characters in chiropractic—David Singer and the Scientologists, Pete Fernandez and his CliniCorp scam, and Terry Wrongberg for disseminating misinformation about DC in his sorry tabloid.

 

But never has DC, TAC, the Journal of the GCA, or even JACA addressed the covert cultism that abounds in this profession, never has any mentioned the many scandals emanating from Life Chiropractic, nor have any exposed the spin from the Palmer administration when it sabotaged the FSU project with blatantly false spin about chiro education being taken over by medical folks. Indeed, if one were to read only these journals, you would never know these issues even existed! So, the spin continues unchallenged and we wonder why the cancer grows unabated.

 

Oddly, all have sidestepped the most important issues facing us—those obstructionists who fight against unity and academic progress in our profession, nor have they exposed the on-going cultism that permeates some factions in chiropractic. It certainly isn’t ignorance, so it must be the lack of editorial courage to address these sensitive issues.

 

Until we find leadership in the chiro press and in our national and state associations with the backbone to confront these problems, our image will continue to suffer as long as the spinmeisters have the voice they now do. Maybe it will take a new generation of better-educated collegiate students who are more objective, less naïve, less gullible, more akin to science and ethics, and less attracted to outlandish hyperbole to unravel this mess. Perhaps it will take more stringent requirements by CCE, or a university-based curriculum devoid of Palmer cultism as the MGT report in Florida recommended. Time will tell, but until this happens, this profession will remain awash in charlatanism and on the edge of academic and professional respectability.

 

Ya folla? Enuf said!

 

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