Friendly Fire


“That enemy, of course, is this profession itself – and those elements within it that are unwilling to deal forthrightly with the charlatans, hucksters, profiteers, and wild-eyed ‘philosophers’ who put their own selfish interest ahead of science and the ethical and professional demands that every true healer must shoulder.”[1]

Mark Goodin, lobbyist for the American Chiropractic Association

Friendly Fire
I would be remiss to suggest all of chiropractic’s problems came alone from the AMA and I would certainly be disingenuous to ignore the two main characters in the chiropractic profession who fueled the fire of public skepticism, the wrath of the AMA, and even the ire of the chiropractic profession – BJ Palmer and his protégé, Sidney E. Williams.

This professional warfare with medicine was not only about a dramatically different philosophy of science, but the people who led chiropractic were often just as paradoxical themselves, starting with DD and his son, BJ, who led the profession from 1913 until his death. Friendly fire would best describe much of the damage inflicted on chiropractic and the leader of this internal warfare was BJ Palmer.

Damage from Friendly Fire

After DD Palmer was jailed in 1906 and spent 17 days in jail, he finally elected to pay the fine to be released only to discover he no longer owned his college. DD let himself be persuaded to transfer his interests to the name of BJ’s wife, Mabel. When DD was finally released, he was given a rude welcome, indeed.

BJ met him at the door of the school and denied him entry. He was told he could not come into the building or for that matter the grounds. He was further advised he had no property interests there of any kind.[2]

Shortly thereafter, a divorce between DD and BJ Palmer resulted in DD selling the school of chiropractic to his son for $2,196.79, various books, and some specimens from the osteological collection. This schism would become well known in the profession when DD wrote of his dislike of his only son:

Little did I then think that BJ Palmer, my only son, would prove to be the sneak thief who would try to appropriate the credit of originality and would desire to rob his father of the honor justly due him. Little did I think then, that my only son would play the Judas, put me in prison, rob me financially and of credit justly due me. [3]

As soon as the sale of the school was finalized, DD went to the West Coast, where he helped to start chiropractic schools in California and Oregon.[4] Apparently he became disillusioned with his son and supporters.

Avaricious, hoggish greed has caused my imprisonment and created a few cowards, who try to undermine my honor, because I am ahead of the times and possess by hard stud that which the other fellow desires to rob me of. In a few years I will have passed to the beyond, then I will receive the honor and respect due the man who gave Chiropractic to the world.[5]

BJ continued to suppress DD’s claim to fame when his new book, The Chiropractor’s Adjuster, was released.

All copies were quickly bought up and destroyed. You could not get a copy any place, at any rice, after the first issue came out… the book wasn’t reprinted for half a century, some five years after BJ Palmer’s death.[6]

By 1906, a faculty revolt occurred at the Palmer School of Chiropractic by members who disagreed with BJ’s dogmatic stance on limiting his curriculum to only spinal adjustments. Recall that neither DD nor BJ Palmer had any formal training in higher education, but unlike his father, BJ, a high school dropout, was renowned to have a resentment toward formal education.

This faculty revolt led to the development of the National College of Chiropractic in Chicago led by JFA Howard. Other chiropractic educators pursued academic advancements in science and education differing from the Palmers, such as Willard Carver, Solon Langworthy, and Joy Loban who began their own chiropractic colleges, as well as Tullius Ratledge in California. Many others promoted the rational, scientific branch of the chiropractic tree, including John J. Nugent, William C. Schulze, Joe Janse, and Orville Hidde.

At the American School of Chiropractic & Nature Cure, Solon Langworthy in 1906 also published the first textbook on chiropractic, Modernized Chiropractic – Special Philosophy; A Distinct System. Langworthy took a different route for chiropractic education than the Palmers by providing a curriculum of study instead of a single course and brought chiropractic into the scientific arena. He narrowed the scope of chiropractic to the treatment of the spine and nerve, leaving blood to the osteopath.

He was the first to use the term “subluxation” to describe the misalignment, the first to refer to the brain as the source of all life force, and the first to make reference to the “supremacy of the nerves” in contradistinction to the osteopathic claim of “supremacy of the blood.”[7]

BJ responded to Langworthy’s book with his own feeble attempt in 1906 with The Science of Chiropractic: Its Principles and Adjustments (The Palmer School of Chiropractic, Publisher, Davenport Iowa, USA, 1906) that, however, “turned out to be up to the scientific and literary standard of a seventh-grade drop-out.”[8] Among other revelations, BJ announced there was no such thing as the sympathetic nervous system, to which DD responded in his 1910 book:

Dr. BJ Palmer is the first man to go on record who says that there are no spinal or sympathetic nerves; that all nerves are rooted in the brain, pass down and in the spinal cord, through the intervertebral foramina, and from thence to the various parts to which they are assigned.

The sympathetic nervous system, although its functions may not express any intelligence to BJ, existed and had a name long before he had; and, in all probability, will continue to exist long after his name is forgotten. His excommunication of them will neither deprive them of their existence, nor lessen their functions.[9]

I am truly ashamed to have such ignorance passed off for Chiropractic. Therefore I will continue to adjust all dislocations found in Chiropractic literature. Such clothing does not belong to Chiropractic, does not fit the boy Chiro. It makes a laughing stock both of him and those who accept such teachings. [10]

It is no wonder that he writes of himself, “His every thought is a gem, and when compiled in this fashion are treasure houses of knowledge.” It would be nearer the truth to say that his thoughts are frequently the outburst of egotistical ignorance, filling his cranium and others with a lot of rubbish that retards Chiropractic.[11]

DD Palmer often criticized and feuded with his son over BJ’s claim to be the developer of chiropractic: “The only principle added by BJ Palmer was that of greed and graft, aspiring to be the discoverer, developer, founder and the fountain head of a science brought forth by his father while he was a lad in his teens.”[12] BJ was only 14 years old when his father began the chiropractic college in Davenport.

DD Palmer resented BJ’s attempt to replace him as the Fountainhead of Chiropractic:

Dr. BJ Palmer anticipated that some sneak thief would try to appropriate the credit of originality and would desire to rob his father of the honor justly due him; hence his reason for compiling his original writings. [13]

Undoubtedly political medicine did not need any more motivation in its war on chiropractic as a competitor with a different ideology and treatments, but these very eccentric leaders were obvious targets that offered easy justification to stereotype and brand the entire chiropractic profession as quacks. BJ’s cynicism was best remembered when he stated, “Education constipates the mind.”[14] And his protégé, Sid Williams, had a similar attitude: “Rigor mortis is the only thing we can’t help!”[15] and he scoffed at the scientific mindset and even declared, “To hell with the scientists. They haven’t proven a bumble bee could fly.”[16]

These ridiculous statements might have been disregarded as foolishness of eccentrics except for the fact that both of them were presidents of the largest chiropractic colleges of their time.

In fact, mainstream chiropractic has fought wars on two fronts – the medical genocidal war on one front and an internal civil war with radical chiropractors on the other front who opposed progress in education, politics, and inter-professional relations. To say the least, mainstream chiropractors remain caught between a rock and a hard place.

On the far-right, conservative end of the chiropractic spectrum were those chiropractors who fueled the fire of public skepticism, the wrath of the AMA, and even the ire of the mainstream chiropractic profession. Foremost was BJ Palmer and, later, his protégé Sidney E. Williams, who both turned out to be principally business entrepreneurs who made millions, but they were also by today’s standards unqualified chiropractic college presidents and controversial dogmatic political leaders who were at the forefront of the profession for nearly a century with an autocratic ‘rule or ruin’ style that alienated medical foes and chiropractors alike. Ironically, their dogmatism eventually led to their own ruin, but not before it ruined the image of the entire profession.

These two iconoclastic leaders became the bane of mainstream chiropractors by their radical politics, bizarre personal behavior, and grandiose hyperbole that embarrassed and hindered the entire profession throughout the 20th century. A former American Chiropractic Association lobbyist would describe this radical branch of the profession as “the charlatans, hucksters, profiteers, and wild-eyed ‘philosophers’ who put their own selfish interest ahead of science and the ethical and professional demands that every true healer must shoulder.”[17]

Their ilk remain today a thorn in the side of the mainstream profession with resistance to chiropractic political unity, resistance to improving chiropractic education, and their personal profiteering – typical of the “greed and graft” that DD Palmer noticed a century before. Indeed, since day one, most chiropractors have found themselves in a civil war that still lingers on between rational and radical chiropractic.

A pioneering orthopedic physician, Paul Goodley, MD, founder of the American Association of Orthopaedic Medicine, leading orthopedic physician and champion of manual medicine/spinal manipulation in his book, Release from Pain: Don’t be a victim of the pain pandemic,[18] spoke of this antipathy toward manipulative therapy as a direct result of these charlatans.

“Eventually, the prejudice against manipulation self-perpetuated and evidence was always available to justify this attitude. There have always been [chiropractic] charlatans…So, instead of the manipulative fundamental dynamically developing as a cohesive, trustworthy guide within traditional medicine, it was discredited as the synonymous derelict symbol of its most despised competitor – chiropractic.”

Sadly, this ageless healing art has been ignored and despised for being competition with the monopolistic medical profession and justified by the poor image stemming from the chiropractic charlatans.

Undoubtedly political medicine did not need any more motivation in its quest to monopolize healthcare in its war on chiropractic, but these two charismatic and very eccentric leaders were easy targets that offered easy justification to stereotype and brand the entire chiropractic profession as cultists. Indeed, these two iconoclastic leaders became the bane of chiropractic by their radical politics and bizarre behavior that embarrassed and hindered the entire profession.

Both of these so-called chiropractic “philosophers” began their careers as soldiers of the faith who became business entrepreneurs, motivational speakers, journalists, and chiropractic college presidents although neither had any degrees in higher education.

Both would rise to fame and fortune only to fall to disgrace and rejection by the very profession they had hoped to save from medical persecution and lead to glory in their unholy war against medicine.

Regrettably, just as there were medical bigots totally intolerant of manipulative therapy despite its storied history, so too there were chiropractors who were insanely resentful of medicine no matter the benefits of medical care. Indeed, an anti-anything-medical attitude still exists in some quarters of chiropractic fueled by this iconoclastic leadership.

There is no telling how the chiropractic profession would have evolved without these two iconoclasts if they had been reputable educators and political figureheads instead of leaders laden with Napoleonic ambition and financial conflicts of interests. Nonetheless, that was not to be chiropractic’s fate; instead the public image of chiropractic for the most part became that of these two charismatic and highly visible leaders who were often the subject of television programs and newspaper articles.

“Most Dangerous Man”

If Morris Fishbein was the leading medical autocrat in the first half of the 20th century, then BJ Palmer was his equivalent in chiropractic during the same era. After BJ’s death in 1961, Sid Williams assumed the role of chiropractic’s most visible political spokesman and president of the largest chiropractic college in the world.

Like Fishbein, BJ Palmer was a prolific writer and spokesman for the profession. He was author of at least 28 books, most of them 800 to 900 pages long. He published a weekly newspaper for chiropractors for 30 years “writing every word.”[19]

BJ Palmer inherited his father’s propensity to write with over seventy books during his lifetime (1882-1961), most notably two of his many Green Books, The Subluxation Specific, The Adjustment Specific: An Exposition Of The Cause Of All Dis-ease (Palmer, BJ, Davenport, Iowa: Palmer School of Chiropractic, 1934.) and The Bigness Of The Fellow Within, (Palmer, BJ, Davenport, Iowa: Chiropractic Fountainhead, 1949). BJ also wrote what is now considered his most scholarly work of his career, An Invisible Government(Published in 1917, The Universal Chiropractors Association, Davenport, Iowa) which offered a scathing indictment of the “medical trust” and its efforts to monopolize health care. “Maliciousness based on prejudice,” he suggested, was at the heart of the medical trust. [20]

BJ Palmer was also a strong advocate of advertising. He owned the first radio station WOC (Wonders of Chiropractic) in 1910, which was the second oldest station in the United States and the radio station where future U.S. President Ronald Reagan got his start re-creating Chicago Cubs baseball games.[21] In 1930 Palmer bought WHO (With Hands Only) radio in Des Moines. In 1949 he began WOC-TV in Davenport and in 1954 WHO-TV.

He also urged his followers to advertise in this poem:


When things ain’t going right with you, and you can’t make them gee;

When business matters look real blue, and you fear bankruptcy;

When cobwebs gather on your stock and customers are rare;

When all your assets are in hock, don’t cuss and tear your hair;

Just listen to our good advice and take it if you’re wise;

Take a course at The P.S.C. and then go advertise,

And advertise from morn to night; don’t overlook a day,

And soon you’ll see the world go bright, and things will come your way;

Invest in good publicity, and fortune you will greet,

And in a little while you’ll be ’way up on East street.[22]

Although BJ Palmer is regarded as the Developer of chiropractic and a virtual saint by many chiropracTORs, the medical profession hated him and many mainstream chiropractors also resented his autocratic nature. Years later Sid Williams would refer to himself as “The Defender of ChiropracTIC” although now he is fighting on two fronts, the AMA and the mainstream of the chiropractic profession as well.

According to historian Joseph Keating, PhD, BJ Palmer delighted in responding to the criticisms from political medicine. He taunted them, and turned the would-be negative publicity they heaped upon him to his advantage. He had built his “science” with printer’s ink, he declared, and would buy it by the “train load.” The “P.T. Barnum of Science” knew few limits in his capacity to spread the gospel of chiropractic and the legend of the Palmer School of Chiropractic. [23]

When the Illinois Medical Journal branded him “the most dangerous man in Iowa out of a prison cell” and as an “insane…paranoiac, a man whose irresponsibility is criminal,” BJ delighted in his infamy and responded with posters depicting himself in front of prison gates.[24]

Palmer built his school and the profession by promoting “BJ Himself.” This image from boxes of “The Chiropractor” brand of cigars shows a muscle bound BJ straddling the planet while the art, science, and philosophy radiate in multiple halos from his head. Davenport is the center of planet Earth. The UCA became BJ’s vehicle for controlling the profession beyond the walls of the Palmer School.[25]

Rule or Ruin

From the mainstream chiropractic perspective, he was the first fundamentalist demagogue to ‘rule or ruin’ the profession as his autocratic management became known. He burnt bridges with the mainstream, contributed to the eccentric image, and obstructed legislative progress in order to maintain his control of the profession.

Historian Pierre-Louis Gaucher-Peslherbe, DC, PhD appraised BJ Palmer’s personality:[26]

If one had to choose a word to describe BJ’s approach, it could only Messianism. Where the father sought to increase his knowledge in order to refine his techniques, the son was only interested in increasing his audience. If we add to this a compulsive need to dominate the audience he attracted, we have the key to BJ Palmer’s personality.

He crushed all objections by ad hominem and questioning the motivation of any opponent. As he claimed to be chiropractic incarnate, above and beyond all doubt, to question the Word he spoke would be tantamount to mounting an attack on the science, art, and philosophy all at the same time.

Under BJ Palmer chiropractic became a closed shop, cut off from developments in the world of science, and it is therefore not surprising that it began to develop a special chiropractic physiology, histology, etc., and place emphasis on clinical results at the expense of basic research.

BJ Palmer eventually lost in his attempt to rule, and the chiropractic profession lost as well living in the ruins of the internal civil war he began that continues to this day supported by his philosophical ilk and academic protégés such as Sid Williams who followed in his footsteps.

Not only did the mainstream medical and chiropractic associations hold poor opinions of BJ, so did his father, DD, who wrote of his son’s encroachment upon his leadership.

The word Innate and its use, as one of the principles added to Chiropractic literature, was originated by me, as were all the principles of Chiropractic. The only principle added by BJ Palmer was that of greed and graft, aspiring to be the discoverer, developer, founder and the fountain head of a science brought forth by his father while he was a lad in his teens.[27]

DD had other disparaging remarks about BJ:

In regards to BJ: The knowhow, skill and practice makes one proficient in the art. This self-labeled philosophical Chiropractor knows but little about the philosophy of Chiropractic.[28]

Dr. BJ Palmer is the first man to go on record who says that there are no spinal or sympathetic nerves; that all nerves are rooted in the brain, pass down and in the spinal cord, through the intervertebral foramina, and from thence to the various parts to which they are assigned. Even the optic nerve, which is a very few inches in length, becomes a part of the spinal cord, emerges from the spinal canal through the cervical intervertebral foramen, then back to the eye and from thence to the brain. I am at a loss to know what those nine divisions of the optic nerve are. I am also ignorant of such a nerve as the “big optic nerve of medicine.” It was be a “big” fellow to “contain all functions but visual.” It must have got mixed up with ophthalmology.

I am truly ashamed to have such ignorance passed off for Chiropractic. Therefore I will continue to adjust all dislocations found in Chiropractic literature. Such clothing does not belong to Chiropractic, does not fit the boy Chiro. It makes a laughing stock both of him and those who accept such teachings. [29]

It is no wonder that he writes of himself, “His every thought is a gem, and when compiled in this fashion are treasure houses of knowledge.” It would be nearer the truth to say that his thoughts are frequently the outburst of egotistical ignorance, filling his cranium and others with a lot of rubbish that retards Chiropractic.[30]

I understand since the publication of number two Adjuster, that the kidnaper, the pseudo fountain head the would-be developer, has entered his private office, muffled the bell, hung up the receiver and shut himself up like clam. He knows I am fishing for him. The adjuster has his sleeves rolled up to his shoulders, pen and ink at hand, his Underwood typewriter oiled and a 32 c. p. to furnish light by night. If you have any more dares, just throw them out “The man who is right and knows she is right,” cannot afford to allow another to steal his belongings and lie him out of his property rights. [31]

There was a prevailing belief that the BJ vs. DD feud was so strong that it allegedly led BJ to kill his father after DD began teaching at a rival chiropractic college owned by Joy Loban.

In 1912 and 1913 he even taught at the Universal College. It is possible that this made BJ Palmer so angry, for he saw what Loban had done as total betrayal, that it was a factor in the accident in which DD Palmer allegedly was knocked down by a car driven by his son. BJ insisted that it was a genuine accident but his father believed the contrary. It was claimed to be as a result of this accident that three months later DD Palmer died in Los Angeles, where he had lived for over two years…the cause of death was given as typhoid fever (and it is easy to imagine what DD Palmer would have thought of this!), aggravated by a “tendency to cerebral congestion that had been present for some years.”[32]

Even the Los Angeles Times reported DD’s death on Oct. 22, 1913, citing in its headline:

“Dead From Blow of Son’s Auto.

Accident in parade of national Convention at Davenport,
Enlivened by Alleged Jealousy Between Two,
Ends Fatally – Father Resented Loss of First Place in Line.”

Dr. Palmer was injured six weeks ago while attending the national convention of chiropractic, held in Davenport, Iowa, in September. The accident occurred during the parade of the convention members, Dr. Palmer being struck by the automobile driven by his son, Dr. BJ Palmer, who is the present head of the Davenport College of Chiropractic, the school founded by his father. Dr. Palmer was always very proud of the college, but owning to an estrangement between father and son, which occurred ten years ago, Dr. Palmer Sr. has of late years devoted himself to the Los Angeles college.

During the convention in Davenport last September, Dr. Palmer is said to have resented very bitterly the fact that his son had been assigned first place in the street parade and refused to ride in one of the automobiles following the one occupied by his son. While the parade was in progress the elder man stepped out in front of the line and was accidentally struck in the back by his son’s automobile. The shock proved too much for one of his age and he never regained his strength.

This allegation has been refuted by historian JC Keating as a myth:

Old Dad Chiro died of auto injuries sustained when B.J. Palmer attempted patricide: This contention is absurd in several respects. Firstly, we know that Dad Chiro’s death certificate indicates typhoid fever as the cause of death (Gielow, 1981); I am unaware that trauma is considered an etiology for this disorder. We also know that Joy Loban, DC, executor of DD’s estate, voluntarily withdrew a civil suit claiming damages against B.J. Palmer, and that several grand juries repeatedly refused to bring criminal charges against the son. More importantly, the claim of patricide is absurd on its face. If BJ had desired to murder his father, why do it at the front of a parade with many witnesses? Lastly, Dr. Carl Cleveland Jr.’s grandmother, Sylva L. Ashworth, DC, a 1910 graduate of the PSC, related to Carl that she had been there on that fateful day in August 1913, had witnessed the events, and recalls that DD was not struck by BJ’s car, rather, that the founder had stumbled and that she had helped him to his feet. So why has this myth persisted so durably? Perhaps because BJ gave the profession so many other reasons to dislike him, and some of us cannot resist finding homicide credible? Yet logic and the available facts really do not support the perpetuation of this myth.[33]

The controversy did not end at DD’s death when his estate filed a damage action for $50,000 against BJ Palmer. In addition to the civil action, a criminal action was brought against the defendant, the estate asking for an indictment against him on the ground of criminal negligence. Two grand juries heard this complaint, but dismissed it while threatening to conduct an investigation against the instigators hinting at personal prejudice as the motive for the action.[34]

Just as any leader has supporters and detractors, so did BJ who controlled this profession after the death of his father in 1913 until his own death in 1961 at the age of 79. Unlike other chiropractors of his era, BJ was not interested in an eclectic approach to healing, instead he focused solely upon the chiropractic adjustment as the cure-all for any ailment.

This myopia would haunt the chiropractic profession to the present day by creating a split philosophically and clinically within the profession. Hyperbole and showmanship rather than science, research, and higher education were BJ’s cornerstones and became the model for his successors.

For clarification, both Palmers referred to those “straights” who followed did only specific spinal adjustments as “chiropracTORs” who practiced “principled chiropracTIC” as opposed to chiropractors who did full spine “manipulation”, adjunctive therapies, and diagnostics, known within the profession as “mixers.”

Initially, BJ gave himself the moniker as the Defender of chiropractors along with his legal aide, attorney Tom Morris, who protected the profession and individual chiropractors from legal harassment by the AMA, but as the Developer of chiropractic education, his efforts were seen as less impressive by the chiropractic profession. Before his father, DD, died, he was offended that BJ who was only 14 years old in 1896, would try to supplant his father:

Sheep’s clothing will not change the nature of the wolf, neither will second-hand goods become first handed because of their being placed in a fountain. Water will not wash out deception, fraud and chicanery. Such trickery will not satisfy the public or the avariciousness of one who is “waiting just like a hungry wolf for a dinner.”[35]

Within a relatively short time early in his career, BJ became known as “BJ the Obstructionist” by his academic rivals for his efforts to contain chiropractic to his limited chiropracTIC perspective.

Unquestionably one lasting legacy that haunted him to his death stemmed from his ‘rule or ruin’ policy that put his chiropracTIC stance at odds with many progressive chiropractors who disliked his political autocracy, philosophical dogma, anti-educated mindset, restrictive clinical practice, and his entrepreneurial exploits.

BJ wrote of the conflict between the two factions when he testified in behalf of the medical opponents in California in 1933 in the Superior Court in the County of Santa Clara. He explained in his book, The Subluxation Specific – the Adjustment Specific: An Exposition of the Cause of All Dis-ease, (1934, the Palmer School of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa, USA):

The Chiropractic profession has been divided. One group are convinced that CHIROPRACTIC is an all-complete, all-sufficient philosophy, science, and art, needing no subtraction or addition to its elements; that support but weakens it; that contradictory principles or practices deny its objective. Te other group believe that additional subjects, altho medical in principle and practice, help a Chiropractor to render a more all-around practice building value; that “chiropractic” as they understood it is “limited” in its application, etc. Between these groups, there has been no quarter asked or delivered. The Author of this work is the recognized leader of the “straight” group.

Text Box: The first and only time the legal and lawful rights of this conflicting question have reached a Superior Court, where the merit of both sides of this raging conflict has been tired, where both sides had their “day in Court” was tried October, 1933, in California. The Author of this work was the leading expert witness for the “straight” side of that issue.[36]

The following accounts of BJ of Davenport were accumulated by Joseph Keating, PhD, historian of the chiropractic profession.[37] Dr. Keating lists the chronology of events from which I excerpt a few of the comments by BJ’s professional rivals to illustrate his unseemly control over the education, politics, and profession as a whole.

The largest conflicts between BJ and the progressive elements in chiropractic focused on two issues—improving education and broadening the scope of chiropractic practice—both opposed by BJ in the first half of the 20th century and later this policy was continued in the second half of the 20th century by his protégé, Sidney E. Williams, founder and president of Life Chiropractic College for 28 years until his ouster in 2002.

Aside from the damage done to the chiropractic profession by Fishbein and the AMA’s Committee on Quackery , these two chiropracTIC demagogues did more internal harm to the profession than the public would ever know. Ironically, it was the stated goal of the AMA to encourage the warring factions within chiropractic, and BJ and Williams played right into this ploy; hence many believe they both were willing to ruin the profession in order to rule it.

As far back as 1912 when BJ was only 30 years old and president of Palmer School of Chiropractic, his megalomania began to emerge, evoking a courageous call for reform by a rival chiropractic college president, CE Moyers, who was adamant that BJ was an enemy to chiropractic education and political progress:

“The question of legislation for Chiropractic is today the paramount issue, but the American Medical Trust is not our worst enemy in our fight for laws. The worst enemy is the faker in the Chiropractic school business, and the prince of all of them is B.J. Palmer. There is little doubt but what when you go before the legislature with a prayer for laws you will be met by your enemy with the advertising matter of the “Fountain Head”. This same individual has done more to degrade the profession and Chiropractic than all other agents combined.” [38]

Criticism in 1917 by another college president, J.M. McLeese, DC, echoed similar animosity when he labeled BJ as the “Kaiser of Chiropractic”:

“…had Dr. Palmer been an educated medical man, the science would have been placed on a higher plane much sooner than it has…not that Dr. Palmer should have had an Allopathic education, but that he should have been better educated in anatomy, physiology, pathology, in fact, a fairly reliable knowledge of the human body, of which everyone must admit he was most ignorant. We all agree that one can know too much of that which is not true, but an educated man is much more likely to make a better success of the study of any science than one who is not so fortunately endowed. And the writer is positive that had the elder Dr. Palmer (as well as his son) a more liberal education in their early years of life, they would never have made the wild claims that they did for chiropractic, especially in the early years before the science had been really put on any sort of a scientific basis.”[39]

BJ Palmer often defended the anti-intellectualism that permeated the chiropracTIC faction with his infamous statement that “education constipates the mind.” Having never attended college himself, BJ’s cynicism became the mantra of his lineage of colleges begun by his philosophical ilk.

“Education constipates the mind. I would rather be a chiropractor with one simple principle and practice that works, and get people well, and be called ‘ignorant,’ than be a supra-educated medical man with millions of arbitrary and empiric theories, none of which work or get sick people well…[40]

B.J.’s myopic attitude toward education is further stated by Keating:

And there was the developer’s well-known attitudes about college education. It was his father’s bias; and B.J., the 10th-grade drop-out, carried it with him throughout his career as head of the world’s largest chiropractic school. Indeed, a serious dispute between B.J. and son Dave revolved around the latter’s intent to pursue studies at the University of Pennsylvania. B.J.’s scorn for university training also paralleled his belief that organized medicine’s ever-rising education standards were a ploy to keep the lower classes of society out of the professions and in a servile status. Palmer suggested that he’d rather train a plumber to be a chiropractor than a “college man,” because the latter required a de-medicalization of thinking before he could learn chiropractic. “Education equals constipation,” he insisted, and most colleges, he believed, filled their pupils with useless theories that ill-prepared them for the practical realities of modern life.[41]

According to Reed Phillips, DC, PhD, former president of the Los Angeles Chiropractic College and historian, “Even field practitioners were concerned and dismayed over the profession’s reluctance to lift the source of the river to a higher level”[42]:

I have known the heads of certain schools who actually go so far as to say that they prefer as students the blank, unlettered, unlearned and untrained minds, as they usually make the best chiropractors, knowing full-well the impossibility of getting trained minds to follow their foolish philosophies. This is not fiction, but a fact. Could anything be more disgusting or preposterous! That is what is killing us, this seeming encouragement of ignorance.[43]

Not only did BJ keep his college in an anti-intellectual grasp, he also kept a tight hold on the emerging politics of the profession. A letter circulated in 1919 by OC Clark characterized BJ’s obstructionist attitude:

It is a well known fact that Dr. B.J. Palmer has always been opposed to even the most mild regulation of Chiropractic. It is well understood he has killed more Chiropractic bills in legislation and has caused more trouble with various state boards where license is obtainable than any other man in the world.[44]

Since BJ himself was self-educated who failed to appreciate the critical thinking of a truly academic environment, he never emphasized academic excellence as many did on his faculty who abandoned Davenport and began colleges elsewhere, most notably, the National College of Chiropractic in Chicago in 1906 begun by JFA Howard and former Palmer instructors.

Another upstart chiropractic college was the Universal Chiropractic College in Davenport whose president W.J. McCartney DC in 1922 authored “Housecleaning from another angle”in which he confronts the “seeming encouragement of ignorance” image created by BJ Palmer.

It is foolish philosophy of some of us and our money-grabbing propensities that the public cannot and will not swallow; so that it becomes not so much a question with them of straight or mixing, but of lying chiropractors….

That is what is killing us, this seeming encouragement of ignorance.

We must agree among ourselves before we can command the respect of the world, and we can never agree among ourselves as long as so much of the silly piffle that is put forth by this school or by that school as chiropractic philosophy is believed in as gospel truth by so many.[45]

Beginning of the End

By the 1920s, BJ’s popularity began to wane due to his dogmatic stance on many issues within chiropractic. In 1924, BJ Palmer saw a newly invented device, the Neurocalometerby Dossa D. Evins, as the answer to his legal and financial problems. At the center of the rebellion to oust BJ was his demand that all members of his political association, the Universal Chiropractic Association (UCA), must lease his Neurocalometer (NCM), a hand-held heat-detecting device supposedly used to find vertebral subluxations.

Never to shy away from hyperbole, according to BJ the NCM was “THE MOST VALUABLE INVENTION of the age because it picks, proves and locates THE CAUSE OF ALL DIS-EASES of the human race.”[46]

The NCM was not available for purchase and could only be acquired through a ten-year lease costing more than $2,000, an exorbitant sum in the 1920s. Although Palmer initially threatened to sue anyone infringing on his patents, the NCM spawned nearly twenty varieties of spinal heat-sensing devices. Generally reliable as thermometers, these instruments have not been validated for the purpose of subluxation detection.[47]

In 1933, BJ dedicated his book, The Subluxation Specific – The Adjustment Specific, to Evins who died in 1932 saying, “So long as the Neurocalometer is, the name of Doss D. Evins will be a household thanks. Millions of lives, with their added millions of years, have been and will be saved because of him.[48]

As the owner of the patent on the Neurocalometer, he planned to limit it to 5000, and lease them only to members of the UCA. He then claimed that the Neurocalometer was the only way to accurately locate subluxations, preventing over 20,000 mixers from being able to defend their method of practice. [49]

There was uproar among chiropractors, and even Tom Morris, BJ Palmer’s old ally and president of the UCA, displayed his dismay by resigning.

Only a few days after BJ had introduced the Neurocalometer (NCM), he insisted that ownership of a NCM lease become a mandatory requirement for UCA membership. “[It was] the most valuable invention of the age because it picks, proves and locates the cause of all dis-eases of the human race,” Palmer wrote in 1924. [50]

Whether or not his NCM was effective was not the issue as much as the 7000% interest BJ demanded on a leased device that could be made for $30.

The cost of the NCM was enormous — $2,500 plus $100 a month. According to Heath Quigley, “… in that time, and in that economy, the cost was staggering. For example, an expensive care cost $1,000 and an average home could be purchased for $3,500.”[51]

This contentious issue passed the board of the UCA by only one vote, but this short term victory proved to be his eventual downfall because within a year the membership had fallen off so drastically that collapse of the UCA was imminent. Attendance at Lyceum dropped from more than 8,000 in 1921 to only 700 in 1926.[52] By 1929, the PSC had fewer than three hundred students and was virtually bankrupt.[53]

When the UCA famed legal counsel, Tom Morris, refused to endorse the NCM along with other members, the resentful BJ resigned as Secretary-Treasurer of the Universal Chiropractic Association and started the International Chiropractors Association instead, splitting the membership. [54]

Even the Medical Mussolini himself, Morris Fishbein, wrote of the controversial NCM in his book, The Medical Follies (New York, Boni & Liveright, 1925):

So BJ suddenly appeared on the horizon with a little device of his own called the “neurocalometer” – “the little wonder instrument which so accurately locates impinged nerves.” BJ is too wise to discard chiropractic ideas in favor of any theory of vibrations, and thus to sacrifice the identity of his hereditary science. But he does develop “a little wonder instrument” to put on the spine t tell the chiropractor where to do his pushing. In a letter issued from the chiropractic fountain head on December 15, 1924, a prospective student was urged to enroll promptly in order to take advantage of current prices on this device:

The neurocalometer is not sold, but is leased for a period of ten years. As you may know, the original lease price for ten years was $620, soon increased to $1,200, later to $15,00, and then to the present price of $2,200, with the prospect of an increase at an early date to $3,000.

But if the aspirant for chiropractic honors would enroll in the January, 1925, class at Davenport (either cash or deferred payment), he was told, he could get a neurocalometer with his diploma, or even six months later at the current lease price. All he had to do was to pay $200 down and then $50 a month for sixteen months. The neurocalometer is simply one of those sensitive little electro-thermal devices called thermopiles which produce a weak electrical current with any change of temperature. BJ says it shows such a change when the nerve coming out of the hole in the spinal column is being pressed upon. But apparently he hasn’t been able to convince all the rest of the chiropractors that the device is a scientific one. Here and there previous graduates of the Palmer School, as well as chiropractors of other educational ancestry, have begun to object to its intrusion into the field. Here are the resolutions adopted by the Hoosier Chiropractor’s Association, printed in its Central States Bulletin:

Whereas, apparently in order to intimidate chiropractors, to hold a monopoly upon the chiropractic profession and to increase his own personal fortune by perhaps two millions of dollars, BJ Palmer has and is attempting to force the lease of an instrument called the neurocalometer upon chiropractors who in turn are required to extort from their patients an exorbitant fee for its use;

Whereas, the neurocalometer has been carefully examined and tested by members of this Association, and found to be merely an instrument to be used to enable the user to increase his charges which increase in his income as been boasted about by many of the users:

Whereas, by these tests which were made without prejudice or favor, it has been found that said instrument cannot in any way be relied upon, neither does it add in the least in rendering more efficient chiropractic service, nor can any advantage to the patient be accomplished by its use;

Whereas, the statements of BJ Palmer since the introduction of said instrument have been damaging and apparently made with malice aforethought;

Therefore be it resolved, that we, the members of the HCA do hereby condemn the use of the neurocalometer;

Be it further resolved, that we go on record as warning all chiropractic patients of the inefficiency of the neurocalometer and against the compulsory exploitation of prices by those chiropractors employing the use of said instrument;

Be it further resolved, that one copy of the resolution be sent to BJ Palmer and that we hereby authorize the publication of this resolution when deemed proper by chiropractors.

And the editor of the publication continues:

The issue is clear cut. Palmer has made the division, it is Palmer and one thousand chiropractors against the field. Every chiropractor must take his stand and choose his side. It might further be added that not all of the thousand will remain put to the neurocalometer idea. Already reports are current that suits have been filed for the return of the money paid on the lease; reports that chiropractors are retuning the machines because they will not do what is claimed … Had only a few purchased the leases, BJ would have had little ammunition and chiropractic would have been little harmed from his ruthless onslaughts. Every time he fails to sell a lease it means about $2,000 less for him to use in his national advertising by way of radio, magazines, etc. A day of adjustment in the future is certain.

Fishbein summarizes his chapter on Chiropractic and this NCM issue:

It has been said that osteopathy is essentially a method of entering the practice of medicine by the back door. Chiropractic, by contrast, is an attempt to arrive through the cellar. The man who applies at the back door at least makes himself presentable. The one who comes through the cellar is besmirched with dust and grime; he carries a crowbar and he may wear a mask.[55]

Later in 1924, BJ’s and Tom Morris’ legal strategy to exploit “going to jail for chiro” also fell to criticism in an article, “Time for a New Deal” in the Bulletin of the American Chiropractic Association, a rival of BJ’s group:

The go-to-jail policy is a failure. Those misguided and unfortunate chiropractors who have allowed themselves to be sent to jail are losers by it and no one is a gainer. The plan worked in California when it was first tried, but the novelty has worn off and the public is no longer interested, and talk of martyrdom is greeted with a yawn. Why sacrifice men needlessly? We recommend compliance with the law. It is easier to comply with the law than to destroy.[56]

By 1928, BJ’s autocracy was obvious to every leader within chiropractic, and foremost was Craig M. Kightlinger, DC, PhC, President of New York-Eastern Chiropractic Institute, who authored “Natural Law” to illuminate upon the impact of BJ, both good and bad, upon the profession.

Chiropractic was discovered by one man and developed by another, and we must give full credit to him who discovered it and still greater credit to him who has developed it. We cannot forget the many trying times that the developer of our science went through to keep it alive and to bring it to a point where it could stand on its feet. To him we owe more than we can ever repay and to him is due the fact that the Science of Chiropractic is where it is today. He took us through the Dark Ages of the development, but now the time has come when once again the Natural Law must be taken into account and the leader of old must either sit at the council table and consult with the minds of the many or take his place on the side lines and let the march of Progress pass…

There is nothing the matter with Chiropractic. There is a great deal the matter with Chiropractors. They have never been used to thinking for themselves. The time has arrived when they must think for themselves and must lead themselves, or they will go the way of all who oppose the progress of Natural Law and be forced into oblivion.[57]

Not only was BJ’s authority challenged by emerging politicos and educators in the field, but so was his revered “chiropractic philosophy,” the mainstay of BJ’s influence upon the profession to this day.

In 1929, Charles H. Wood DC published “Chiropractic Philosophy” in which he explains the difference between philosophy and theory:

In the first place, ‘chiropractic philosophy’ should be called ‘chiropractic theory,’ because it is based upon a theory and only a theory, just like the medical man bases his philosophy in the practice of medicine upon the germ theory. All theories as to the cause and cure of disease must depend upon clinical evidence offered by the treatment of a great number of patients who are afflicted with sickness…[58]

BJ’s autocratic leadership method was challenged again publicly in 1933 by CM Guyselman, DC, and secretary of Michigan Board of Chiropractic Examiners, who wrote a letter to BJ Palmer:

Dear Doctor:

If you could bring yourself to believe that there are a few, at least, sincere, honest and well-meaning chiropractors in this profession – other than yourself – you, perhaps, would refrain from doing some of the things which you do.[59]

Dr. Guyselman’s remarks came after BJ’s ‘rule or ruin’ policy to control the entire profession of chiropractic were opposed by state associations in Kentucky, California, Georgia, and Oregon. Apparently BJ didn’t believe in state rights to self-determination and thus stymied any attempts to broaden the scope of care offered by chiropractors who were trained in adjunctive therapies and differential diagnosis other than only spinal manipulation.

In 1931, a public letter, “Kentucky Resents Misrepresentation,” from Lillard T. Marshall, DC, to B.J. Palmer, he complained of BJ’s interference in Kentucky.[60]

Dear B.J.:

After reading the F.H.N. [Fountain Head Newsletter] during the last few months, I am thoroughly convinced, as are many other Chiropractors, that you are determined to do your utmost to destroy the National Chiropractic Association and the International Chiropractic Congress, but you can never do it. Your every action and word also indicates that your only motive is a selfish one that you are attempting to place yourself in the position of leadership which you once enjoyed.”

An editorial written in 1932 by Loran M. Rogers, DC, in the Journal of the International Chiropractic Congress revealed the contradictions in BJ’s advice on advertising and practice. Again, the emperor’s clothing appeared to be unraveling when his courtesans openly challenged BJ’s behavior.

BJ Contradictions

It has been called to our attention that Dr. B.J. Palmer has, in a recent issue of the F.H.N., criticized the I.C.C. JOURNAL for accepting advertising of modalities and adjuncts in order to get its message before the profession.

It is deucedly inconsistent, to say the least, for B.J. Palmer to criticize others for advertising things other than “straight Chiropractic” when HE attempts to SELL such adjuncts as the NCM and such modalities as the BJ-WOC Exerciser to the profession, and particularly and especially when HE accepts strictly medical advertising, such as medicines, drugs and cough syrups over Radio station WOC [BJ’s World of Chiropractic] which first announces that “this program is coming to you from the Palmer School of Chiropractic Studios in Davenport” and then comes glowing testimonials as to the efficacy of REM for COUGHS, ARZEN and MISTOL for COLDS, NUJOL for CONSTIPATION, BAYER ASPIRIN for PAIN, etc, among the conglomeration of MIXED and MEDICAL PROGRAMS. Chiropractors are having difficulty explaining to their patients why B.J. Palmer accepts advertising over Station WOC which directly challenges the Chiropractic Principle which HE professes to advocate.[61]

In 1934 W. Franklin Morris, DC, authored “Quo Vadis: The chiropractic legal pathway in California,” and ridiculed BJ’s “philosophical” stance against broadening the scope of care by chiropractors in California. This was equivalent to professional heresy to oppose and defy “B. Jabus” as BJ was mockingly referred to by his combative colleagues.

It will be observed that the intention of the suit is to limit the construction of this defining clause, and to cause Chiropractic to be construed as being the adjusting of the movable 24 segments of the vertebral column to ‘relieve pressure on nerves,’ and nothing else.”[62]

Dr. Palmer, familiarly know as B. Jabus, took the stand and testified that Chiropractic consists of normal transmission of “mental impulses” through all intervertebral foramina, and that when this situation maintains, the organism must be well. This conclusion, B. Jabus maintains, is based upon the philosophy that disease cannot exist if and when mental impulses are normally transmitted through all intervertebral foramina.

The president of Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, W.A. Budden, DC, ND, in 1935 mentioned in this excerpt the interference by BJ who sided with the medical society against chiropractors who wanted to expand their scope of practice.

The closing days of the campaign were perhaps the most painful, not because of the attitude of the medics, but because they brought to light what appeared to be clear evidence that an erstwhile leader of the Chiropractic world had gone over to the enemy irrevocably – that he had, in fact, burned his boats.

Two days before the election the state newspapers carried large advertisements advising the people that “America’s Leading Chiropractor, B.J. Palmer – agrees with the entire medical profession of Oregon” in urging people to vote against the amendment and for the strengthening of medical monopoly.[63]

In 1958, one ICA member in Georgia, believed to be Sid Williams, under the influence of BJ had introduced in the Georgia legislature a bill to limit chiropractors. The bill would have prohibited chiropractors from “employing the use of vitamins, physiotherapy, electrotherapy, or hydrotherapy,” in addition to canceling the educational license renewal provision to upgrade continuing education.

According to an editorial by LM Rogers, DC,

Running true to form, B.J. Palmer appeared before the legislature, as well as on television, in support of this restrictive and limiting legislation, to create division and dissension. We are happy to state that through efforts of the Georgia Chiropractic Association, this abortive attempt at further restriction of chiropractors was indefinitely postponed and, we are advised, is dead for this session.

Thus, once again we see the private Palmer interests, with their specific technic approach, attempting to deny doctors of chiropractic the legal right to the use of natural forces, such as heat, light, air, water, and diet which are common property for use by all of the healing arts even used by laymen, in fact, without restriction.[64]

In 1991, RC Schafer, DC and noted author, wrote about shocking experiences in his personal encounters with BJ Palmer titled “Viewpoint: The State of Our Art; The Imbroglio of the Professional Greyhound.” [65]

Every profession has its radical fringes. Our service is no exception. What bothers me about many on the fanatical right is not their philosophy — each to their own. The irritant is their blind devotion to the memory of B.J. Palmer, a man that most of his current disciples never met, never knew.

There is no doubt that iconoclast B.J. was a skilled salesman, but he never started or maintained a chiropractic practice or established a chiropractic college. He lacked formal education, but he was not ‘dumb.’ He passionately emulated P.T. Barnum and Elbert Hubbard. His writings were self-published, but his worshipers bought them despite their price or substance. He sermonized frequently, but his peers did not consider him an educator — except in promoting his dogmatic doctrinaires through mesmerizing rhetoric…

B.J. knew how to hypnotize an audience, and how to use this to make himself rich. A graduate was not considered a ‘specific, pure, unadulterated chiropractor’ unless he left Lyceum with a life-size bust and a half dozen portraits ‘in various thought poses’ of the overseer of the Fountainhead…Yes, he knew how to sell.

He became a world traveler, the president of five corporations, and an acknowledged collector of fine art. There is no doubt that he possessed business and organizational talent. As self-acclaimed ‘keeper of the flame,’ he was suffocating and ruthless to anyone who dared oppose him. Dissent was not tolerated at the school, in his businesses, or at home according to his son, David. Yet, this autocrat knew how to retain the blind loyalty of his disciples, which in his later years consisted of a fundamentalist minority. He was described as an eccentric, a hypocrite, a tyrant, and a genius.

I remember him as a bigot and outlandishly vulgar person. At an early age, I lived for 18 months in an apartment on Brady Street, directly across from the Palmer School of Chiropractic when my father was a student there in the late 1930s. One day I saw B.J. approach and spit in the face of two students who were walking on the sidewalk near ‘Lit’le Bit of Heaven,’ [BJ’s personal garden]. I could not understand this and asked my dad what could cause such behavior. I was told that B.J. vehemently hated Jews and so acted on occasion — yet he would accept their tuition. It was common knowledge that B.J., like Charles Lindbergh, openly supported Hitler in the 1930s.

Fifteen years pass and I find myself in practice for a couple of years and recently married. I proudly asked my bride to join me at the New York State Chiropractic Convention, which I believe was held in Binghamton that year. The social highlight was a formal dinner. The doctors were dressed in their best suits and their ladies beamed in their elegant formals because Bartlett Joshua Palmer, the ‘hope of mankind,’ the eminent ‘developer of chiropractic,’ had accepted the organization’s invitation to be the after-dinner speaker. The room was majestically furnished, crystal chandeliers sparkled, table candles twinkled, and shortly after dinner the kingly B.J. was introduced in terms befitting royalty. The room hushed in respectful silence. One could hear a feather drop.

“Charismatic” B.J., then the center of the chiropractic solar system, spoke for only a few minutes. His sole topic was a humorless story about two bums masturbating, which he embellished with strikingly picturesque elocution and gesticulation. B.J. was a little fellow when he entered that room; he was smaller when he left.

After dinner I nudged my best friend sitting next to me, a recent Palmer graduate, and whispered, ‘Is it true he has dementia? Why else would he tell a raunchy story like that with the ladies present? I’m thoroughly embarrassed.’ My friend replied. ‘Oh, that’s just B.J. You’ll remember him for it, and that’s what he wants.’

My friend was right. After 40 years, I remember him for that.

The Crash of 1929 wiped out much of BJ Palmer’s personal fortune. BJ’s wife, Mabel, who held most of their property in her name for legal purposes, died in 1949, leaving everything to her side of the family. The only thing BJ got was permission to stay in his own house in Davenport as a guest. Embittered, he retreated to what had been his summer home in Sarasota, eventually returning to Palmer only for the summer Lyceums, where his voice was ever fainter.[66]

For the last thirty seven years of his life, he would “become a prophet scorned, relegated to a philosophical Mecca that could no longer command annual pilgrimages of unquestioning followers,”[67] “a titular leader only, keeping the flame for a fundamentalist minority and doing battle with most of the profession.”[68] Not surprisingly, this would become fifty years later the same plight of his protégé, Sid Williams.

Near the end of his life in 1961, BJ’s hold on chiropractic had eroded. State associations were expanding their scope of practice, chiropractic colleges under the auspice of federal and regional educational accreditation regulations raised their standards, and progressive political leadership demanded a change of course from BJ’s rule or ruin to a more accommodating attitude of unity within the profession.

Never to be outdone, BJ wrote in 1959 a scathing commentary, “Shall Chiropractic Survive?” in which he blasted this new wave in chiropractic. In a humorous response, Orval L. Hidde, DC, JD, mockingly summarized the impact of the fading demagogue upon the profession. It should be noted that Dr. Hidde was involved in securing federal recognition of the Council on Chiropractic Education, an agency BJ opposed and a position later continued by his foremost follower, Sid Williams.

His commentary needs slight clarification to know that “Mr. Head ‘TIC’ or ‘TOR’ refers to BJ himself.

A last-stand blast by Mr. Head TIC[69]

A fiery, seventy-two page death rattle from the HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ was heard reverberating about the country a few weeks ago. I have always been awed by the struggle put up by most forms of life as they approach death. I have similarly been awed at the struggle put up by the various ‘ism’ and ‘ic’ groups of our time as they strive to maintain their autocratic position in the face of enlightenment and progress. The most pathognomonic sign of a decaying autocracy is the rashness and irrationality of its voice and actions. Vicious libel, untruths, quotes out of context, and self-deification constitute the mal-nutritious diet upon which their pathological minds feed.

As one reads through this disorganized ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ epistle, his emotions are mixed with both humor and disgust; humor over the assuring manner in which ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ predicts his plight, and disgust over the manner in which he accepts his demise. One can easily imagine the confusion and fright rampant at the fountainhead as it runs dry. Think of the anguish of the self-deified ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ as the cataleptic shouts of ‘Amen’ continue to grow dimmer. Think of the mental atrophy at the thought of the sloganed halls headed for disuse.

Is it any wonder that Mr. HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ is disgruntled with the higher educational requirements? How can you get educated people to bow, chant, and follow like the uneducated mass?

The educated man is the man who is striking the death blow to the dynasty of Mr. HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR.’

The educated man asks questions – he wants to know why. He wants his science to be based on demonstrable scientific principle and not on the prattlings of the ‘mental impulse and innate intelligence from above down and inside out’ yesterday, today, and forever, without change.

The educated man realizes that these terms are not scientific scrutiny.

The educated man knows that his science works, and also knows that it can be explained in sound anatomical and physiological terms which cannot be disputed or be made a sham of by allied professions. He also realizes that no mortal who lives today, or who has lived in the past, or who will live in the future, will ever generate an idea, philosophy, or art, which cannot be improved upon or be better understood, or be made more efficient in its application.

The educated man knows that progress is the necessary life blood of any human endeavor. He knows that freedom of thought and unrestricted research and testing of his scientific principle can only add to its acceptability and to its soundness.

Yes, by all means, Mr. HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ would have his brainwashed ‘tics’ and ‘tors’ refrain from attending compulsory educational sessions for license renewal, for thousands have left his fold after attending such sessions and discovering that vistas of intellectual opportunity await them at such sessions which not only increase their therapeutic skills, but enhance the quality of their public service. The attitude of Mr. HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ toward compulsory educational requirements seems to be the same as it is toward his profession generally, i.e., once you have been through the sloganed halls of the ‘mental impulse’ and ‘innate intelligence’ you then possess an omnipotent aura from ‘above down’ and ‘inside out.’ This brazen one-track philosophy has supposedly equipped his ‘tic’ and ‘tor’ slaves forever.

Yes, Mr. HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ would be happy if he could continue to control the literature of his profession, its thinking, convention speakers, and the like. We know of several other contemporary ‘ism’ dynasties who seek to do the same. Mr. HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ is quite emphatic in his epistle that there is only one man capable of leading the international ‘tics’ and ‘tors,’ not only this year as in the past, but every year to come. This man is Mr. HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ himself.

We agree with him on this point, for we do not believe that another man exists who could attach the artificial credence to the dogma of Mr. HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ as does Mr. HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ himself.

In closing, we simply make this comment of observation. Mr. HEAD ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’s’ seventy-two page death rattle would have been more appropriately entitled: Shall ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ survive? Ironically, he provides his readers with the answer and reaffirms it on each of the seventy-two pages. It is an emphatic no, for it has been said that ‘the mills of the gods grind slowly but surely’ and surely the reign of ‘TIC’ and ‘TOR’ is grinding to an end.

The Death of a Chiropractic Salesman

BJ spent the last lonely years of his life in constant pain, first from ulcers, then from cancer of the colon, which he aggravated by trying to treat it with chiropractic. When he finally consented to surgery and had part of the colon removed, it was too late and he died in 1961.[70]

The death of BJ Palmer came with mixed emotions for the profession. On one hand, his followers mourn the loss of their patron saint while on the other hand the rest of the profession and the AMA were glad to see this chiropractic demagogue go. Sadly, his campaign of ‘rule or ruin’ was embraced by Sidney Williams who carried BJ’s torch until his own similar demise in 2002.

The following announcement of BJ’s death by LM Rogers in the Journal of the National Chiropractic Association included the sentiments of many chiropractors: “May, 1961, then, ushers in a new era of golden opportunity for the growth and expansion of the profession,” a clear indication that his passing would bring hope and progress to the profession.[71]

Death of BJ Palmer Announced

We regret to inform the profession of the passing on May 27 of one of its most notable pioneers – Dr. B.J. Palmer, president of the Palmer School of Chiropractic and of the International Chiropractors’ Association.

Dr. Palmer died at the age of 79 at his home in Sarasota, Florida, after suffering with cancer for several months. He maintained the vigorous spirit for which he was noted up until the end.

“B.J.,” as he liked to be known, was a worthy adversary and thrived on controversy. He asked no quarter and gave none to his opponents, and they were many, both within and without the profession. His positive character and strong convictions brooked no opposition. Even in the public arena, no holds were barred, so far as ‘B.J.’ was concerned. He was a leader with a depth of conviction and as such helped to make the chiropractic profession what it is today. His strong personality enabled him to hold the leadership of a segment of the profession all through the years, despite disagreement with all and sundry.

It must be said, in all justice, that he was a great pioneer whose contributions to chiropractic in the early years were manifold. That his nature did not include the spirit of compromise and co-operation is to be regretted. Conflict and controversy were, indeed, grist for his mental mill on which he thrived.

“B.J.” is credited with the statement that ‘If chiropractic can wipe out acute and chronic disease, a human being ought to live until he wears out. He ought to die as the light of a candle goes out – burning with a bright flame to the end of the wick, then a short sputtering dimness, a final sputter and darkness.’

And so the flame of life has flickered out on this dynamic, pioneering spirit and he has gone to join many other pioneer spirits. His was a restless soul and he was active until near the end. May God, in his wisdom and mercy, give peace and rest to his restless soul. He had no rest on this earth. With his passing an era of controversy in chiropractic should come to a close. The pioneering phase, with its inevitable conflicts, is now behind us as a profession. We salute the memory of ‘B.J.,’ then, for his many contributions to that pioneering era in chiropractic history.

May, 1961, then, ushers in a new era of golden opportunity for the growth and expansion of the profession. With a spirit of tolerance, understanding, and co-operation during the coming years, this profession can reach new heights in official recognition and universal acceptance in the interests of the public health and welfare.

BJ’s entrepreneurial efforts often superseded his educational interest, his chiropracTIC dogma stagnated education and research, and his political obstructionism thwarted legislative development in this profession for decades.

In fact, his agenda was laden with an anachronistic attitude that would have even shock “ol’ Dad Chiro” himself as DD was referred to, which may explain the schism in their relationship when DD left to the West Coast in 1910 to start chiropractic colleges in Portland and Los Angeles. Regrettably, DD died in 1913, so his impact upon the profession was overshadowed by his Napoleonic son.

According to Donald Kern, DC, and current president of Palmer College of Chiropractic, BJ was an extremely successful businessman that set the tone of his many followers for many reasons.

He traveled the world many times lecturing on chiropractic and hosted at his home people such as Samuel Clemmons, Elbert Hubbard, Albert Einstein, Eli Whitney and others. BJ gave Ronald Reagan his first job as a Sportscaster for his radio station WOC.

In his world travels he collected oriental artifacts (his collection is the largest private collection in the USA), hence his wealth was evident. Don’t forget his other lucrative interests of the first radio station west of the Mississippi and the first color TV stations west of the same stream – again, no delusions of wealth; he had it.

He also traveled the USA defending chiropractors who were arrested for practicing chiropractic without a license. During the vaudeville days he had an agreement that if a performer would mention chiropractic favorably during their act, they could receive free chiropractic care from any Palmer graduate. Those alumni who did not honor this agreement could send BJ their statement and he would pay for it.

His faculty did not always agree with his decisions and some left to form schools of their own. Palmer graduates have served as presidents of more chiropractic colleges than the alumni of any other school. Some alumni got upset when he started using x-rays, some because of the Neurocalometer invention, going to HIO [upper cervical only], and going back to full spine.

I think a lot of emphasis is placed on BJ and not enough on David Palmer, who raised the academic standards and guided Palmer towards accreditation.[72]

After his death in 1978, Palmer College was headed by David Palmer, BJ’s only child who, unlike his father, was a graduate from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. If DD was considered the “Founder,” and BJ the “Defender and Developer” of chiropractic, David D. Palmer was best known as the “Educator.” David Palmer assumed the presidency of Palmer in 1961 and his initial step toward accreditation was to change the corporate name of the Palmer School of Chiropractic to Palmer College of Chiropractic.

The College received full accreditation from the Council on Chiropractic Education and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Today PCC has three campuses at Davenport, Iowa, Port Orange, Florida, and San Jose, California, and remains the Fountain Head of chiropractic to many in the profession.

Nonetheless, BJ’s imprint upon the chiropractic profession is a lasting mark as indelible as that of Morris Fishbein’s impact upon the medical profession. If Morris Fishbein represented the ills of the AMA demagoguery, until his death in 1961, BJ Palmer represented the same strident attitude among chiropractors with his ‘rule or ruin’ leadership. Although he certainly claimed to be the Developer of chiropractic (much to the objections of his father, DD), to many chiropractors, he also was a pain in the neck.

Chiropractic Scalawags

BJ’s autocratic and eccentric personality would become the lasting legacy imitated by future chiropractic charlatans posing as educators at diploma mills, yellow journalists of free chiropractic tabloids, leaders of vendor-driven political alliances, technique gurus, chiropractic self-proclaimed philosophers who espoused BJ’s dogma as if it were gospel, devotees such as Jimmie Parker, Sid Williams, Reggie Gold, Fred Barge, Thom Gelardi, Joe Flesia, Guy Riekeman and a myriad of truth-seekers, wild-eyed philosophers, and practice management advisors teaching the tricks of the trade—all in the name of BJ and “principled chiropractic.”

Without a doubt, BJ the Entrepreneur created problems for the mainstream chiropractic profession with his many protégés who patterned themselves after his iconoclastic personality and capitalist spirit. Needless to say, their impact continued to be a stumbling block for progress and reform within the profession, a point not lost to Jerry McAndrews, former president of PCC after David Palmer passed.

Until belief-like ‘faith’ is removed from our midst, then the person with the loud voice, the nice clothes, the four-color brochures, and the methods to compound incomes will carry the day. [73]

I’m praying for the day when our real scientists can say, ‘Chiropractic works, and here’s why.’ Perhaps that’s a challenge for the next wave of chiropractors—those better-educated, evidence-based, bio-mechanists, who will improve our technology and explain the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of the force behind the matter.”

Thank heavens we have an increasingly emerging group which collectively says, ‘we’ve had enough.’ This group supports new journals, reads them, begins to reject the smoke of the past, and begins to demand that the language be accurate. Eventually, the misuse of ‘chiropractic philosophy’ will disappear and we will find the ‘philosophy of the science of chiropractic’ in its place. It already sounds stimulating.

The impact of the peculiar and dogmatic behavior by some chiropractors was also mentioned before the ACA House of Delegates on May 13, 1992, when Mr. Mark Goodin, the ACA’s legislative consultant, used even harsher terms in his opinion of chiropractic’s image and political dilemma.

That enemy, of course, is this profession itself – and those elements within it that are unwilling to deal forthrightly with the charlatans, hucksters, profiteers, and wild-eyed ‘philosophers’ who put their own selfish interest ahead of science and the ethical and professional demands that every true healer must shoulder.

You know who they are. They exist in virtually every community in which you practice. Their garish yellow page advertisements hawk free exams and x-rays – tests that, lo and behold, discover a variety of subluxation-related ailments which, if not treated immediately, threaten the life of the unwitting patient. They intentionally promote and practice the over-utilization of chiropractic.

They pass themselves off as ‘educators,’ but cut corners and counsel their students with messianic appeals on ego and self-promotion. They spend their out-of-practice careers in a cause to stop legitimate reform. They bring nothing of value to the future of this profession – but will resist, oppose, reject, undercut, and nit-pick any effort to lift it up through higher accreditation, more comprehensive education, real standards of care and more ethical practice requirements.

They are the small, but vocal class of professional naysayers who continue to enrich themselves, all the while dragging down an entire profession which now stands at the very brink of long-term success or instant failure and continued ignominy… The question that vexes me most is why? Why does this profession continue to tolerate their excesses?[74]

Foremost at the top of this list of those “charlatans, hucksters, profiteers, and wild-eyed ‘philosophers’” was Sidney E.



Williams, a Georgia native and BJ sycophant who graduated from PSC and later founded Life Chiropractic College in 1974.

Sid Williams exemplified how one man’s misguided ambition can affect the image of an entire profession. During his 40-year career as a political leader, motivational speaker, and college president, he stereotyped the chiropractic profession to the entire country, if not the world. To this day, just like the historic impact of BJ Palmer and Morris Fishbein upon chiropractic and medicine, this one person embodies the nefarious image that lingers on in the contemporary chiropractic profess

The seeds of his ambition were sown while a student when Williams allegedly walk around the Palmer campus with a white robe and long hair where he began his career as a motivational speaker espousing the teachings of BJ blended with his ol’ time Southern Pentecostal style.

Williams often told a story how he honed his salesmanship skills by “loving the pots and pans” that he sold while a student at PSC that eventually led to his mantra, his “Lasting Purpose: To Give, To Love, To Serve out of one’s own abundance.” As you will soon learn, truer hypocrisy was never spoken.

He began his chiropractic career as a high-volume, low-cost practitioner in Atlanta in the 1950s who operated a chain of clinics in the poorer black areas of the west end of Atlanta where he gave free chicken dinners to attract new patients and used a ‘box-on-the-wall’ pay-what-you-can collection gimmick. He later bragged to students of his clinical prowess to see over one thousand patient visits weekly. His motto was to “accept all case regardless of condition or financial ability to pay,” a reckless policy to say the least, albeit noble sounding to impressionable students.

He began speaking at motivational seminars in front of downtrodden chiropractors that later gave birth to his own Pentecostal-styled “Dynamic Essentials” seminar where he uplifted aimless young chiropractors seeking the path to business success, inner happiness, and a BJ-inspired philosophical practice that became known as “chirovangelism.”

BJ Palmer, and many of his disciples had made a pseudo-religion — chirovangelism — of this vitalism and this has been a source of controversy for over 110 years now. Indeed, this is the cult of chiropractic.

In 1951 BJ Palmer wrote a letter to Dr. Marcus Bach of the School of Religion, State University of Iowa, regarding the difference between “Cult vs. Science.”

“The difference between a ‘cult’ and a ‘science’ is that a ‘cult’ is mental with no matter; a ‘science’ is matter with no mental. Chiropractic unites the mental AND matter and makes them work together. Chiropractic therefore is, strictly, neither a ‘cult’ NOR a ‘science.’”[75]

At the 1959 Homecoming at Palmer College of Chiropractic, BJ Palmer gave this speech exemplifying the chirovangelism of ol’ time chiropractic:

“In studying Innate, we have accomplished what all religions have always wanted to do, viz., make ‘The Kingdom of God Is Within You’ a tangible working integral part of living man. We have accomplished what medical therapies have always failed to do but wanted to do, viz., found a specific cause for all dis-ease (as there is but one) and a specific for the correction of that cause, thus making a living healthy sane God live healthily and sanely in man.”

“‘Verily, I say unto you, all power cometh from within,’ is no longer a mysticism of the East, but a practical, working, human principal of the West. Chiropractors who apply the science are proving the wisdom of Him who said, ‘there is nothing from without a man that entering into him can defile him,’ germ theorists and dietitians, notwithstanding.”

“Innate is God in human beings; is good in human beings, is life in human beings, is health in human beings, is sane in human beings. Let Innate flow in and through us and we can accomplish the great wonders.”

“Within us, it is said “The Kingdom of God is within you.” It is! Innate Intelligence is the Great I am that I am. Innate Intelligence is the internal source of all and everything.”

“Within all natural animals, including man and woman, courses in active flow the wisdom of all time, the sage of the ages call it what you may—Universal Intelligence, God, Jehovah, etc.”

“May God flow from ABOVE-DOWN its bounteous strengths, courages, and understandings to carry on; and may your Innate receive and act on that free flow of wisdom from ABOVE-DOWN-INSIDE-OUT; for you HAVE in YOUR possession a sacred trust. Guard it well.”

“Theles (about 500 BC) saw fit to think he had divided man. The soul, spirit—what we Chiropractors call Innate Intelligence—was one half.

This half was given to religions, theosophies, etc. The corporeal, matter was the other half. This was given to physicians because they studied, taught, prescribed and practiced with and upon the physical.”

“Chiropractic is almost a LIVING GOD-like religion IN MAN which no man has any right to TRY TO CAST OUT OF MAN, OR TO SAY THAT GOD IN MAN MUST GO, merely because some are so blind they can’t see, so deaf they won’t hear, so insensible they can’t sense its greatness IN man as a living entity…Yet perhaps Chiropractic—its philosophy offers the best understanding of the relationship of God and man that can be found in any of our philosophies.”[76]

BJ Palmer’s speech is appealing to those chiropractors who seek a spiritual link between God and chiropractic — chirovangelism. Indeed, ultimately when they ask: what is the primordial difference between life and death? – this Above-Down, Inside-Out philosophy answers this question.

From its website, the philosophy of DE is described:

Dynamic Essentials or DE is a powerful catalyst to personal change and growth. Dynamic Essentials recognizes that Chiropractors go through a long, strenuous and sometimes deficient educational process. This educational process often disregards Chiropractic’s founding principles and scoffs at the idea that there is more to life than what science can easily prove. With respect for Chiropractic’s founding principles and the principle that the “Power that made the body, heals the body,” Dynamic Essentials focuses on our responsibility as Chiropractors to lay hands on the sick and oppressed and see them recover.

At DE we agree with the adage that states: “Once you get the big idea, all else follows.”[77]

Charles Thomas, historian at Life College from 1992 to 1995, described his initial experience listening to Sid Williams preached at his DE meeting:

The meeting was scheduled to begin at three. By a quarter to four, I was already getting restive; due to family obligations, I had to leave by four-thirty at the latest. But I would learn that Dr. Sid would refuse to enter any hall where he was speaking until every last seat was filled and there were standees along each wall.

Toward four I suddenly heard excited whispering running through the crowd, which took up a steadily swelling chant: “Sid! Sid! Sid! Sid!” to a burst of wild applause the man depicted in the portrait and the statue on campus, albeit with completely white hair and waistline gone to pot, made his triumphal entry down the main aisle, while his followers, some standing on their chairs, reached out to touch him or elbowed each other for a chance to shake his hand. Some of them held up their children so they could see him. As he reached the podium and took u the microphone, I prepared myself for what I seriously expected to be a spell-binding, charismatic address.

And for the next thirty minutes, I listened to the worst public speaker I had ever heard. Dr. Sid used no notes or outline. His rhetoric made Joyce’s writing look rigidly structured by comparison. In that one half hour he stared five stories he never finished. Couched in a broad southern accent, his discourse was a mélange in which practice-building gimmicks, New Age spiritualism, old-time Baptist religion, scatological humor, and pseudo-science vied wildly for equal time in terms of grammatical atrocities and malapropisms, he butchered the language as enthusiastically and horribly as his sister-in-law (Mildred Lee).

In a mere thirty minutes, I learned that Dr Sid’s role models were evangelists and faith healers and that his personal values were relentlessly authoritarian. That was when anything could be made of his talk at all. Most of the cornpone verbiage was what psychiatrists call “word soup”. Thoroughly appalled, I looked to the people around me for confirmation of my assessment of this pathetic performance. It was a mistake. Their worshipful, bovine faces were turned lovingly to Dr. Sid, wearing absent half-smiles, eyes shining, giving flesh to the old saw “hanging on every word”. In a flash I realized where I was and what this was, and devoutly wished to be anywhere else.[78]

Thomas’s unpublished manuscript, “Life College: Inside An American Cult,” is an intriguing exposé of Sid Williams, his family members, the development of Life College, and the fascinating yet sordid politics of a twisted affair.

Rule or Ruin: Part Two

Despite Williams’ claim to have the “big idea”, what followed years later was a disaster for him personally and the entire chiropractic profession’s image. This one man alone set back the collective image of chiropractic academia, political power, and public relations.

It is ironic that Williams’ idea of a “deficient educational process” would come back to haunt him as an educator but, as a motivator and BJ disciple, he found his niche and a huge source of income. Williams mimicked BJ as a chiropractic entrepreneur who first became a practice management guru, a supply vendor, and motivational speaker at Parker Seminars before he began the next phase of his career when he and his DE followers opened his own college in Marietta, Georgia in 1974 to train students to his scheme of chiropracTIC, just as BJ had done.

While his chirovangelism sounded poetic to young practitioners and idealistic students, his reality was completely different. He operated with an autocratic administration comprised of his three family members – wife, Nell, the College Vice President, his sister-in-law, Mildred Lee, the school’s Personnel Director, and his daughter, Kim, a Life graduate who became a Department Head at the college less than two years after graduation – and his lifelong friend, DD Humber, another Vice President. None had degrees in higher education nor did any have any previous experience operating a college – indeed, all were academic imposters.

Nepotism and greed were the hallmarks of his college along with an anachronistic academic attitude that focused simply on “detect and correct vertebral subluxations” to the exclusion of diagnostics or adjunct therapies—the Palmer chiropracTIC “straight” version from yesteryear that became the deficient “big idea” that led to the loss of accreditation of his college.

Sid Williams often said, “Rigor mortis is the only thing we can’t help!”[79] and he scoffed at the scientific mindset and even declared, “To hell with the scientists. They haven’t proven a bumble bee could fly.”[80]

In April of 1994, the American Chiropractic Association had had enough of this academic charlatan and openly denounced Williams in a news release and repudiated statements he has made about the profession.[81] The ACA made clear that it was distancing itself from Williams’ chirovangelism.

The American Chiropractic Association stands firmly behind the scientific method and believes that scientifically based outcome and other studies, as well as cooperation with other health care providers and basic scientists, offers the profession of chiropractic its best hope of fulfilling its obligations and responsibilities to the public it serves. Accordingly, the ACA rejects the actual or apparent unscientific bias of Dr. Williams, as exemplified by the above cited quotations, as well as others.

In its closing remarks, the ACA noted, that it “has always stood and continues to stand for responsible, professional, cost-conscious and scientific health care, without sectarianism, cultism, hucksterism and other behavior not focused on the ultimate welfare of patients.”

Williams was very open that his strong suit rested with his charismatic rhetoric and not a scholarly approach. Even the name of Williams’ college, “Life,” is symbolic of his delusion grandeur when he often pronounced at his DE seminars that “Nothing is bigger than life.” In his effort to appear profound, he actually appeared bizarre to the mainstream profession and to the public.

Indeed, Life Chiropractic College was a throwback to the pre-accreditation days at Palmer School of Chiropractic in many ways. The curriculum was elementary and laden with more chiropracTIC philosophy than actual science, and his philosophy sermons of chirovangelism resembled a Southern Pentecostal revival more than a scholarly presentation by a learned academician. “Dr. Sid” as he preferred to be called, resembled a Mafioso don more than a college president with his iron-handed management style — fear rather than respect ruled at his college and no one dared to question his authority.

Hidden not that far beneath his chirovangelism was a strong motivation of greed illustrated by a chant created by Williams—the infamous “Money Hum” that he enthusiastically led students to chant at his weekly mandatory seminars on campus.

Start imagining yourself ultra, ultra, ultra wealthy. Just see bales and piles of money, just everywhere. Gold or diamonds or whatever it is turns you on… Start down at the bottom and get you a handful of it. In your mind’s eye, say Mmmmmmooonnneeeyyy!!!

It is unconscionable that any college president would stoop to such an unethical and greedy motivating chant, but it was par for the course at Life College. Sadly, students didn’t fall far from the tree when they entered the field causing scores of insurance fraud cases and student loan defaults.

Unfortunately, Life has never appeared eager to offer the best quality of education as much as it is known for being a virtual diploma mill aimed at large numbers. Indeed, student loan monies were obviously the carrot behind the dream of Williams to be the biggest chiropractic college in the world with the largest budget.

Despite the trend to evidence-based education and practice in mainstream chiropractic, Life remained an enclave that promoted the chirovangelism of yesteryear as noted by Charles Lantz, DC, PhD, and former Director of Research at Life Chiropractic College who witnessed the chiropracTIC gobbledygook firsthand.

It only takes one ‘The Power that Made the Body Heals the Body’ sermon to undo several semesters of efforts to teach critical thinking and an appreciation of the ‘rigueur de science’.

Who wants the rigors of critical thinking when they can zone out on the intoxicating siren song of Innatism, or the giddy ecstasy attained from chanting the mantra S-U-B-L-U-X-A-T-I-O-N?[82]

Political Ploys

Williams also patterned himself after BJ with his own ‘rule or ruin’ attitude. During his 28-year reign of academic terror, Williams constantly interfered with the Georgia Chiropractic Association’s (GCA) attempt to improve the profession by expanding an outdated scope law that dated to 1944 and severely handcuffed chiropractors’ ability to practice what they were taught in standard, broad-based chiropractic colleges.

Too many times when the GCA politicked before legislative hearings at the state capital to update and expand an outdated scope of practice law, the Medical Association of Georgia would simply stand back and let Williams argue their case against broadening the practice of chiropractors beyond the narrow definition that his Palmer chirovangelism dictated. His followers formed “chiropractic councils” in many states that similarly opposed progressive legislation.

Along with the entourage of followers from his college, Williams would march into the capitol to tell the legislators in this rough Southern drawl that “as the president of Life College, I represent chiropracTIC in this state, and all principled chiropracTORs do is detect and correct vertebral subluxations, ya folla?”

Aside from his statewide ambition to rule the state of chiropractic in Georgia, Williams’ national political ambition climaxed when he won the presidency of the InternationalChiropractors Association (ICA) in 1982 by means of shady maneuvering.

Although the upstart birth child of BJ Palmer when he was ousted from the Universal Chiropractic Association, the ICA fell from grace since its takeover in 1982 when a group of ultra-right wing conservatives headed by Sid Williams was able to stage a political coupwhen the ICA election was held in Atlanta.

Williams cleverly arranged to have his DE seminar meeting at the same time in the same hotel. Supposedly, he even offered to fly for free his many supporters in from Michigan in exchange for their votes, adding to his throng of DE followers, Life faculty members (who Williams forced to join the ICA or else lose their jobs) and recent Life graduates mesmerized by Williams.

According to affidavits, faculty members like Paula Marshall testified that “If I wanted to keep my job at the college, I had to join the ICA and had to vote for Dr. Sid Williams for president of ICA.”[83]

With his many supporters summoned there to vote for him, combined with the requirement at that time of ICA members to actually be present on site to vote, he won the election in his own backyard.

Afterwards the ICA delegates voted to allow mail voting to avoid similar sham elections in the future, but the damage was already done as Williams walked away with his presidential election, much to the chagrin of moderate ICA members. As luck would have it, when it came time to pay the Michigan DE cronies for their travel expenses, Williams reneged on his deal and stuck them with the bill.

Many good ICA moderates quit the ICA after Williams gained control. Joe Mazzarelli and Jerry McAndrews, ICA Board members, asked those in the Representatives Assembly who did not feel comfortable in the ICA with the new Williams administration to simply leave and several hundred did so. Some reports say that eventually over 4,000 members left after Williams’ coup.

After 53 officers and the board leadership members resigned from the ICA and joined the ACA in protest of the new Williams leadership, unfortunately it left Williams with complete control of ICA. Williams’ purge of intellectual and political dissidents was complete, much to his delight despite the declining ICA membership to only 1,800.

After Williams’ reign as ICA president ended in 1985, he remained in control for the next ten years as Chairman of the ICA. Much to Williams’ surprise, the next ICA election for president saw Dr. Mike Pedigo (co-plaintiff in the Wilk trial) upset Williams’ choice, Dr. Bob Hulsebus, to succeed him. Pedigo even won the state of Georgia by the slim margin of just four votes, showing the growing dissatisfaction of Williams’ leadership in his home state.

Williams actively politicked against Pedigo before and during his reign as president of the ICA because Pedigo, a progressive moderate, made it known that he wanted a merger between the ICA and ACA to strengthen chiropractic’s profession’s political strength with one voice on Capitol Hill as well as to consolidate duplicated administrative and overhead expenses. Apparently political pragmatism had no place in Williams’ vision for the ICA if his continued resistance to unity was any indication.

“It failed pure and simply because of fear of the unknown,” said one former player who wishes to remain anonymous. “Dr. Williams and his friends like Gerry Clum and Jimmie Gregg spread lies about what merger would mean. They ran ads with big pictures of hypodermic needles saying ‘if merger happens it won’t be long until we would be doing drugs and surgery.’ This misinformation occurred in spite of the fact that the merger document clearly stated that drugs and surgery were not a part of chiropractic.”

Presently the ICA is a shell of its illustrious past while the ACA has flourished under a progressive leadership that has achieved many legislative victories for chiropractic on Capitol Hill. Not surprisingly, Pedigo also switched his affiliation to the ACA and became the first person to become president of both the ICA and ACA.

The End of Life

Not only did Williams’ autocratic leadership cause the eventual downfall of the once respectable ICA, his ‘rule or ruin’ leadership style would soon foretell the saga of Life Chiropractic College, a huge public embarrassment that stained the image of the entire chiropractic profession. Even BJ’s antics never amounted to the shame Williams brought upon the profession.

Just as the flamboyant BJ was infatuated with the Ringling Bros. Circus and held seminars under a big tent at Palmer College in Davenport, Sid Williams never shrank from the limelight in Atlanta with numerous appearances on television and the subject of many articles in magazines or newspapers.

His local Atlanta TV ads promoting his college were unforgettable with his thick Southern accent and his wild eyebrow appearance. Years after his ouster as president of Life, people still recall his tacky ads that stereotyped the image of all chiropractors, even those without a Southern drawl.

Williams had every reason to be proud of himself. By the mid-1990s, Life had become the largest college of chiropractic in the world with an annual budget approaching $73 million, but the tide was soon to change when regional and federal academic agencies began to take a hard look at his college administration.

When revelations in the media emerged about his large compensation and academic incompetence, combined with his fiery denials and his inarticulate Southern jargon, he appeared as an uneducated redneck rather than an academician dedicated to higher learning. In every way, Life College was his cash cow and he milked it as long as he could despite the impending investigations and media exposure that revealed the underbelly of Life.

No less than “60 Minutes” with Mike Wallace aired a segment, “Chiropractors” on April 22, 1979, which focused on Dr. Williams and other dubious characters in chiropractic. Mike Wallace’s skepticism of Dr. Williams came through loud and clear to his audience when Williams and his patients gave Wallace their “cure-all” testimonials.[84] The bewilderment on Mike Wallace’s face spoke volumes of his skepticism, undoubtedly the same disbelief of his many viewers.

The segment also included interviews with two chiropractors from Florida who were not supporters of Sid or Life College. Malcolm Haber and Herbert Poinsett bluntly told Wallace that “they’re practicing quackery – outright quackery and asserted that Williams must be ‘delusional’ or ‘con artists’.”[85]

During the last week of February 1979, Mike Wallace showed up on Life’s campus to shoot a segment called “Chiropractors”. While filming was in progress, the doors to the college’s assembly hall were locked and all recording equipment removed as part of an agreement between CBS and the college.[86]

Wallace closed his program by referring to “Life Chiropractic College, located in Marietta, Georgia, where the students can deliver the gospel of chiropractic as well as Dr. Sid.”

“Hey, Mike, change that!” Williams protested, “Don’t be saying ‘the gosapel’ [sic].”

“Listen, Dr. Sid, you run the damn college,” Wallace retorted coolly, “I’ll run the program.”[87]

Another serious shot across his bow came from a 1980 article in the National Enquirerrevealing the greedy nature of the Williams’ professional seminar in an article titled, “Course teaches greedy chiropractors how to get rich by cheating patients” written by Lee Harrison. His expose showed the obvious tacky nature of this supposed professional seminar.[88]

Harrison wrote, “Behind closed doors at a luxurious Atlanta hotel, chiseling chiropractors… 400 of these smooth-talking charlatans met recently for one purpose—to learn new ways to cash in on your pain and misery.”

After numerous examples of outrageous ploys to exploit patients, Harrison ended his article with a statement by a Williams’ devotee, Dr. John Cowan. “I love chiropractic because I love money. As chiropractors we have such difficult decisions to make in our lives. Why, just the other day I had to decide whether to take a steam bath at my home or swim in my big pool. Last month alone I made $55,000. Sometimes I just don’t know how to spend it all. But I usually find a way.”

This troubling article was just the start for more embarrassments and set the tone of what became the public image of Life as a diploma mill led by a clan of academic imposters and greedy supporters.

The trickle of bad public relations turned into a tsunami when the Atlanta Constitutionnewspaper also published numerous articles about troubling instances at Life, including an exposé on the huge student loan default problem at Life whose students were responsible for 25% of all loan defaults. In the January 17-18, 1996, editions of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper appeared a two-part series about “The ‘Life’ and Times of Sid Williams”[89] as well as a revealing follow-up article, “Student DEBT”, about Life University leading all professional colleges in student loan defaults to the tune of $28.2 million.[90] The Associated Press picked up this story and distributed another embarrassing article entitled, “Life University Students Top Federal-loan Default List.”[91]

Williams’ ineloquent response was just as embarrassing: “My students are not skunks or scalawags. They got trapped in something they can’t help.” No one is certain how they “got trapped” in a loan program administered by Life without someone there knowing what was happening.

This academic fiasco was publicly revealed by the editors Chronicle of Higher Education(CHE), a journal that is read by every college president and administrator in the nation; without question, most were aghast at the revelations at Life. The CHE discovered the combined salaries of Life’s executive staff in the range of $2.7 million at a non-profit organization that brought in over $73 million annually at its height.

To say Life was a cash cow for Williams is an understatement considering he was paid more than the presidents of both Harvard and Yale.[92] According to the AJC editorial:

Among other things, the accreditation panels criticized the school’s financial management: The Williams dynasty draws massive salaries by any university’s standards. In 1997 (the latest figures for Life’s salaries from the Chronicle of Higher Education), Williams’ salary was more than $900,923; his wife’s was nearly $500,000; his sister-in-law, assistant vice president Mildred Kimbrough, more than $323,000; and his longtime friend, Vice President Durie Humber, $625,870. While her salary is not available [allegedly in the $400,000 range], Williams’ daughter, Kim, is also employed in the administration.

By comparison, Harvard’s president earned $380,000 in 2000 and Yale’s president, $552,000.

It is hard to imagine that Sid Williams’ compensation alone was more than the combined salaries of the presidents of Harvard and Yale. Imagine what legitimate educators must have thought to hear that a president of a chiropractic college in Marietta earned more than all other college presidents. By the way, his income from his DE seminars and his family-owned Si-Nel chiropractic supply company that had exclusive rights to the students at Life were omitted from his nearly one million dollar compensation mentioned in the AJCeditorial.

Meanwhile, the Williams’ clan underpaid those teachers who remained (reportedly PhDs at Life earn 25% less than junior high school teachers in Cobb County), and they over-charge their students with outrageous tuition (you could attend Harvard for less). Indeed, Life College was a gold mine for the Williams clan of academic imposters until the bubble finally burst when Life lost its accreditation and the board fired them all.

Another allegedly irregularity rumored by students was their complaint that they starved for two months waiting for their funds to be released. Students contend that Dr. Williams funneled their student loan money through his private bank account collecting interest before he released it, accumulating over $13 million in this scam.

His omnipotence as an autocratic college president was not lost on anyone. “It’s hard to tell where Sidney E. Williams ends and Life University begins,” wrote Welch Suggs for The Chronicle of Higher Education in 1999.[93]

Throughout the campus of converted warehouses in this fast-growing suburb of Atlanta, Mr. Williams can be seen grinning down from life-sized portraits. He preaches on the university’s primary mission — educating chiropractors — from closed-circuit television monitors in almost every hallway. A bronze bust of him gazes out at the foyer of the main administrative offices. With his gravelly Georgia accent; intense, deep-set eyes; and natty suits, he cuts a vivid figure…Before getting in, he tells one last story, about a trip he took to Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, Okla., site of a 60-foot-tall sculpture of a pair of praying hands.

Life is constructing its own sculpture of hands, of similar size, Mr. Williams says. They will mime one of chiropractic’s symbols: one hand outstretched, and the other grasping the wrist of the first hand, like a chiropractor giving an adjustment. They will be modeled on Mr. Williams’ hands — with his Georgia Tech football rings — preserved for as long as the university stands. ‘That’s where I’m going to put them,’ he says, pointing out a spot by the university’s bell tower, which is dedicated to the memory of chiropractors who were jailed for practicing their craft.

With the larger-than-life hands, it will be even harder to tell where Mr. Williams ends and the university starts.

Undoubtedly Williams’ brand of chiropracTIC education became a huge concern for the accrediting bodies — the federal Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) and the regional Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). In June 2001, CCE put Life on public probation status, which is the final step before loss of accreditation. The regional accrediting body, SACS, required Life to comply with 52 recommendations to rework its self-study report, which kicked off the 10-year accreditation review.

Noting many academic deficiencies, when the CCE tried to upgrade Life’s curriculum, Williams objected. “These conspirators would convince us that the ‘scientific approach’ to chiropractic is the only approach acceptable to the public community, the professionals, the legislatures.”[94]

Ironically, Williams was obviously not a student of history because he ignored similar events leading to his downfall that paralleled the fall of BJ Palmer with his autocratic leadership. Once the tide turned against him in the court of public opinion along with the intra-professional animosity he created for himself with his ‘rule or ruin’ policy, Dr. Sid had no one to rescue his sinking ship and, to be honest, many chiropractors were happy to watch him drown in his own egomania.

Williams’ fleecing of chiropractic emerged in articles such as the one in the CHE, theNational Enquirer, the Atlantic Monthly, to name but a few, or the numerous newspaper articles in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Marietta Daily Journal that wrote a near-daily journal of the end of Life.

Dr. Joe Brimhall, the chairman of the Commission on Accreditation of the CCE, accompanied an on-campus team investigation of Life and reviewed its dire findings with Williams. Supposedly they sat knee-to-knee in Williams’ executive office as Brimhall listed the many violations of the accreditation codes. Rather than a reconciliatory attitude, with his typical autocratic confidence, Williams laughed in his face, rejected his advice, and threatened to sue the CCE if Life lost its accreditation, which he later did with his customary unapologetic attitude.

On June 10, 2002 Dr. Sid Williams was notified by the CCE’s Commission on Accreditation that Life’s application for reaffirmation of accreditation was denied. Obviously with CCE’s requirement to produce primary care providers, (PCPs) and with Georgia state law requiring PCP duties by chiropractors, Williams’ refusal to produce adequate academic training for PCPs was a huge problem.

A report on Life University from SACS cited more than 50 violations at the private college in areas ranging from administration, academic support and finances. The 100-page report, based on a visit by a team of accreditation experts, clearly stated the problems as mentioned in this Marietta Daily Journal article, “Accreditation agency cites problems at Life,” by Chris Joyner: [95]

The primary issues, according to the letter, include this substandard preparation of chiropractic students. CCE’s investigation revealed that many students are entering their final quarter of training with a majority of their clinical experience unfulfilled.

An average of 30 percent of students have fallen short in seeing the proper number of patients over the past two years, including 41 percent in the latest quarter, according to the letter. CCE also states it appeared nothing has been done by Life to correct the problem.

Qualifications of faculty members also came under the scrutiny of the CCE during the investigation.

“Although all the faculty in the clinic system appear to meet the minimum requirement of the CCE Standards, it is apparent that the faculty in the Certification Clinic do not meet the internal experiential requirements of the outpatient clinic system,” the letter states. “This places the least experienced faculty in direct supervision of students who are just entering the clinic system and learning to care for patients.”

The investigation also found a large number of faculty with “adverse” ratings in the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards database of disciplinary actions — with most of the poor ratings due to non-payment of student loans.

According to the letter, that suggests Life may be hiring chiropractors who have not been successful in private practice, which could result in poor role modeling for students.

The other areas of concern in the letter included:

Lack of direct supervision of students by advisors and clinic doctors during clinical activities.
Poor instruction of proper case management skills.
Lack of assistance by Life to provide sufficient numbers of patients, and instruction on how to acquire patients, as well as dealing with third-party payer systems, including Medicare and private insurance companies.
Lack of preparation of students in terms of diagnosing problems with patients.
Life’s mockery of “higher” education with unqualified instructors and academic censorship were serious concerns of both SACS and CCE. As well, it was well known that academic freedom at Life just didn’t exist—either toe the line or else leave. As reported in the Marietta Daily Journal’s article:

… the SACS team found teachers in math, philosophy, economics and other fields who had little experience with the topics as students, much less as teachers…The Visiting Committee found that numerous faculty were teaching basic science courses in the Doctor of Chiropractic Program without holding a doctorate in the sciences…The team also noted faculty at Life are paid lower than teachers at comparable universities and make reference to ‘numerous communications that the [SACS’] Commission on Colleges office has received from alumni and former employees expressing the belief that academic freedom is constrained by the senior-level management of Life University. [96]

The main internal oversight control of Williams’ antics, the Board of Trustees, was also cited by SACS for its ineptitude. It is well known that Williams and handpick his cronies who willingly acquiesced and allowed Williams to walk over them at his pleasure as noted by SACS. “The SACS committee even noted the college’s Board of Trustees is of little influence when compared to Williams,” according to the MDJ article.

CCE determined that Life’s core curriculum simply failed to produce competent primary care physicians (PCPs) as required by CCE standards and state laws for doctors of chiropractic (DCs). Aside from rendering treatment, PCPs are held to a higher measure than therapists because PCPs must be able to render a diagnosis and manage the patient’s health care as well as provide treatment or to refer when necessary.

CCE found:

Basic, clinical, and chiropractic science course work is not presented in a manner conducive to the adequate training of primary care physicians…students are not trained and prepared to render a competent diagnosis that integrates findings and indications, including the identification of the pathophysiologic processes responsible for the patient’s clinical presentation, sufficient to direct decisions regarding patient management. [97]

In effect, by ignoring differential diagnostics, Life was producing “chiropractic therapists” instead of “doctors of chiropractic,” an outdated pre-CCE version of “straight” chiropracTIC education from the 1950s when Dr. Williams was a student at Palmer College, but considered inadequate by today’s CCE federal standards.

This Enron-type scandal began at Life in the early 1980s when the federal government initially included chiropractic students in its graduate student loan program for health professionals. Williams found this to be a huge source of income and he immediately and dramatically increased tuition costs to match the limits of these student HEAL loans of $15,000 as he fought to keep the entrance requirements at the rock bottom; total costs for a four-year stint exceeded $100,000 for a chiropractic degree.

With minimal entrance requirements compared to other chiropractic colleges and a massive TV recruiting budget, Life quickly grew more than any other chiropractic college in history. According to the 1998 IRS filing, Life University’s net assets were $73,299,581, and its total expenses were $53,508,620. Not bad for a so-called non-profit, 501(c) organization. One interesting “income-producing activity” of note was the $177,305 earned from parking fines at Life. Apparently Williams designed his campus to have too few parking lots for his students, so he bought his own towing business to profit by this oversight.

In September 1998, the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) increased the prerequisite grade point average for students entering accredited chiropractic programs from 2.25 to 2.50 on a 4.00 scale. This decision came after the CCE study, “Predicting Chiropractic Student Performance,” that based academic success by two yardsticks: grade-point average (GPA) and test scores on Parts I and II of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.[98]

Although other college presidents like James Winterstein of National College had already raised his college’s entrance requirements beyond the minimum professional and federal accrediting standards,[99] of course, Sid Williams objected in order to maintain his diploma mill. Williams argued against the CCE when it proposed to raise the minimum GPA for students that, in effect, ‘good grades don’t translate into good doctors’ and citing his wish to have more chirovangelists in the field like Billy Graham: [100]

We all appreciate academic honors and hold in high regard those among us who are top achievers. However, we have all observed that a high grade point average in the classroom often is a poor predictor of performance in the field. Educators have long known that some 90 percent of the facts and figures learned in class are soon forgotten. It’s fine and good to have a plaque to hang on the wall, but when we are looking at a dying world that is already suffering because of man’s inhumanity to man, we don’t need to add to that suffering by establishing criteria that are not really relevant to professional skills.

I am convinced that curtailing the production of qualified chiropractic practitioners through the imposition of unnecessarily higher academic requirements would needlessly slow the growth of our profession and also deny many fully capable, friendly, compassionate, professional, intelligent people the opportunity to serve humanity through the unique science of chiropractic.

What our profession needs is more pioneers – more evangelists for chiropractic. We need to follow the successful example of religion and send chiropractic missionaries to every village in the world where they are needed. What we need is some chiropractic Billy Grahams who truly believe in their profession and who can convincingly take the message to the world.

This battle over raising GPA standards and Williams’ awkward justification to keep the low spoke volumes about his disregard for improving academics. This was just one battle that Williams fought the CCE, and plenty more to come, such as the inadequate curriculum at Life.

When the accreditation battles with SACS and CCE surfaced, students realized that Life was in trouble. According to the SACS report, enrollment began declining at a rapid rate—from 13,858 students in 1997 to a projected enrollment of 9,648 that coming fall, and by 2002 only 8,520 students were expected to be enrolled, a decline of 20.7% from fiscal year 1997, causing a budget deficit of $2.3 million in 1999, $1.7 million in 2000, and from fiscal year 2001 a $3.3 million drop in tuition revenue was expected. The university expected to lose more than $4 million each year over the next two years, according to the report. The report also found $1.9 million in deficit spending on sports and $600,000 for TV ads. [101]

In effect, Life had been a chiropractic college on steroids with a bludgeoning student body that flooded the state with grads—the 2000 census showed Georgia had the fifth-most chiropractors in the entire nation along with the sixth-lowest gross income. In its short 28-year existence, Life had graduated over 12,000 students, nearly 1/5th of all chiropractors worldwide. As well, Life graduates led the entire nation in student loan defaults at an astounding 25% rate, and Life grads have led many state licensure exams in failure rates.

Indeed, when a storefront across the street from the campus openly sold pirated tests to Life students without any objection from Williams, it was obvious Life was a farce and had to be stopped.

Aside from the failure of Life to produce competent PCPs, it also had many problems in its student clinics with clinical doctors inexperienced in actual practice and too few qualified instructors (PhDs) on staff in the classrooms. CCE and SACS discovered many on staff were recent grads posing as instructors and clinical doctors despite the fact many had no professional experience in the field. In effect, Life’s classrooms and clinics often had the blind leading the blind.

The SACS inspection team determined the school’s Doctor of Chiropractic program “lacks depth in the areas of diagnosis and management of patient care beyond the chiropractic analysis and adjustment” and teaches treatment methods “inconsistent with the current practice of chiropractic.”

Both the CCE and SACS reports also noted the lack of budgeting for genuine research at Life. According to the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics, in its first 25 years, Life published a grand total of 7 peer-reviewed papers while National College of Chiropractic published over 220in the same time period.[102]

The CCE and SACS reports noted complaints by the faculty about the repressive academic environment at Life. Williams banned books, censored instructors, purged dissidents, and prohibited rival political leaders, including the president of the American Chiropractic Association. Apparently, the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s had bypassed Life; the only one free to speak at Life was Williams himself. He treated his students and staff as children, and often told them, “I’m the daddy.”

It was obvious that Williams had out-lived his usefulness to the chiropractic profession. By now he had shown himself to be an imposter as a college president who had made a mockery of chiropractic higher education. With a water-downed curriculum, too few qualified instructors, enormous amounts of students with questionable academic and clinical training, a repressive academic atmosphere, and a nepotic administration, Life had earned its reputation as a diploma mill that flooded the profession with many ill-trained practitioners.

Inexplicably, Williams published in his own magazine, Today’s Chiropractic, his Jan/Feb 1998 editorial “Learning a Lesson from the Snake Oil Salesman,” in which he stated the only adjunctive therapy he recommends is the “You’re Better” protocol where, like the snake oil salesman, patients are told they are “better” although nothing of therapeutic importance has been done.
In this 1998 article aimed to challenge the CCE standards and to condemn “mixers,” in fact he exposes his true nature as chiropractic’s leading snake oil salesman—a true Freudian slip if ever one has been said! Who needs diagnostics or proper clinical skills when one can use the “You’re Better” protocol?

The CCE report also stated:

“The program was unable to provide evidence that assures doctor of chiropractic degree candidates demonstrate an understanding of the clinical indications for and the relative value of diagnostic studies. Moreover, there was no evidence of demonstrating understanding of federal and state regulatory guidelines governing procedures and the use of equipment employed in diagnostic studies.”

Even after Life had lost its accreditation, Williams remained in denial of his shoddy educational program despite the obvious facts. “I do not think the academics of this university are deficient. The program at Life University is far beyond many of the accredited universities. Students get a superior education.”[103]

While Williams espoused his delusional beliefs, the fact is the scores on the national board exams proved differently according to the editors of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

A report submitted in May to the Council on Chiropractic Education shows Life students trailed behind the national average in each section of the National Board Part I exam administered in spring 2001…In the anatomy portion of the exam, 83 percent of Life students passed on a first attempt, 7 percent below the national mean. Students also trailed behind their peers in the physiology, chemistry, pathology and public health portions, the report shows.[104]

Life’s Last Gasp

The news of the CCE loss of accreditation created a bunker mentality for the Williams clan and when they did resurface, Williams began his spin campaign.

After almost a week spent below the radar, Williams made his first public comments Thursday about his school’s loss of accreditation. In an event that often seemed more like a gospel revival than a student assembly, Williams attempted to rally student support for the school and the chiropractic profession.[105]

“This is not a war against Life University,” he said. “It’s a war against chiropractic, and I want you to remember that…Remember this,” he told several hundred in the Life gymnasium, “it ain’t over til it’s over.” [106]

Rather than admitting his outdated brand of curriculum eschews primary care physician responsibilities, or the fact that he operates a college with overly-crowded classrooms with too few competent instructors, espouses a routine cookie-cutter subluxation-only diagnosis in his under-regulated student clinics, and subscribes openly to nepotism with greed and cronyism reigning supreme in his administration, Williams’ camouflage of the real issues was obviously designed to hoodwink students and sycophantic followers.

Not many chiropractors and officials were fooled by his spin. According to the AJC,

“Linda Denham, a past president of the Georgia Board of Chiropractic Examiners, [and Life grad] pointed to the below-average passing rates of students on the national exams. ‘All you have to do is look at the numbers,’ she said. ‘The numbers don’t lie. The numbers don’t have a philosophy.’” [107]

Fortunately, not all students were deceived by this obvious con game as evident by the massive exodus of hundreds of students, some of whom filed class action lawsuits against Williams and Life.[108] “We believed we were paying a tremendous amount of money for graduate program. We expected a first-rate education. And as it turned out, we were getting a second-rate education. The pulling of accreditation only confirms the fact that we were getting a second-rate education.”

The poor quality of education was not lost on legitimate chiropractic educators like David Seaman, MS, DC, Palmer-Florida instructor, and ACA Academician of the Year, 2006:

“As for students, this situation is a monumental disaster. 22-year-olds enter chiropractic college, expecting a professional education, but are exposed to the insanity. They desire to keep an open mind, but are bombarded with dogma by the straights.”[109]

The loss of accreditation created a tsunami of problems not only for the image of chiropractic and Life as a diploma mill, but for the Life students who suffered greatly as this note from this concerned Life student mentioned:

“I am in the thirteenth quarter and can proudly say that I never drank the ‘purple Kool-Aid’. The majority of my fellow classmates share the same sentiment. Right now they’re alot of very good future Doctors of Chiropractic who may not reach their dreams because of the actions of one man. That is the ultimate tragedy…Most of us were clueless to the shenanigans of Sid when we came here and are now stuck hoping and praying we can make it out.”[110]

With the public opinion turning against him, many of Williams’ advisors urged him to step down, including the editors of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“In order to save Life University, the school of chiropractic founded by ‘Dr. Sid’ Williams, the entire family must surrender control. Williams’ resignation alone is not enough… If the school is to survive, it can no longer be the family business. The founder and his family must separate themselves immediately from the day-to-day operations. Otherwise, the school will die, along with Williams’ dream and the careers of thousands of students.” [111]

This charade at the world’s largest chiropractic college was a stake in the heart to chiropractic’s reputation in Georgia and nationally. The impact upon the image of chiropractic education was tarnished badly due to this fiasco and would later haunt the profession when FSU attempted to institute a graduate level chiropractic program only a few years later. Actually, the Florida Chiropractic Association began the Florida State University (FSU) chiropractic program effort in response to the chaotic situation at Life College. Rather than a blessing for the southeast, his college became an embarrassment that set back the acceptance of chiropractic terribly.

Dr. Williams resigned as President of Life University as a direct result of this incident and the corporate board which had loosely governed the university was dissolved. An appeal kept the accreditation in force until October of that year, but by November enrollment at the school had fallen to 865 students.

In a lawsuit filed by Life against CCE in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Judge Charles E. Moye, Jr. granted an injunction on February 10, 2003, retroactively restoring Life’s accreditation.

It should be noted that the selection of Judge Moye was viewed suspiciously by those involved—he was called from retirement, he had never done a case such as this with a federal agency, never had a federal agency been overruled by such a judge, and most strangely, he called the hearing on a Monday morning at 8 AM for a hearing to commence at 10 AM in Atlanta. Needless to say, the federal agency in Washington, DC, had no forewarning of this hearing, so at the last moment it had to rely upon an assistant federal attorney in Atlanta who had no background in this case.

From those in attendance, the judge seemed to be more concerned about the economic impact of the college upon the community instead of the findings of the CCE. Some believe that Williams’ generosity with campaign donations throughout his career may have influenced this selection and the court’s decision, but the reasoning behind the judge’s decision may never be known since he immediately sealed the court records and prohibited anyone from discussing the case. Very suspicious conduct, indeed.

Williams attempted to convince the court and the media that the loss of CCE accreditation was due to its wish to eliminate “straight” chiropracTIC education. In the AJC article, Williams made the CCE his scapegoat, a federal agency he claimed had run amok:[112]

“It is now painfully obvious that the accrediting body has an agenda that includes no other goals but putting Life University out of business,” Williams said, adding that the council’s decision “will set chiropractic back many decades.”

“The actions of the CCE, with the impact they have had on the lives of thousands, and with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in the education marketplace, demand the scrutiny of all government agencies,” Williams said in a statement Wednesday.

Williams also listed a litany of concerns and issues that he said will be the subject of extensive debate and possible litigation over the next couple of months.

For example, he argues that the council is discriminating against conservative schools that base their chiropractic education on the traditional “subluxation” approach, which contends that many ailments can be solved with adjustments to the spinal vertebrae.

The council “wants to drive chiropractic education across the traditional boundaries at the expense of core ideas of chiropractic,” Williams wrote.”

It should be noted that this was not an indictment on the entire chiropractic profession as Williams suggested, but it was a denunciation on bad chiropractic education. Chiropractic was simply the discipline being taught in this case and the inadequacy of the educational training was solely the issue. Instead of admitting his education was inferior, Williams’ spin was simply a case of a rogue accrediting commission.

The following excerpt came from the CCE’s response to the motion for a preliminary injunction by Williams and Life’s allegations, which paints a much different story than the spin from Life.[113]

“Far from being an accrediting agency that has ‘run amok,’ CCE has afforded Life multiple opportunities over a period of more than seven years to address concerns about its compliance with accrediting standards. These concerns involved issues that are at the core of the quality of any institution or program in the health care field – whether Life was providing education and training that produced qualified, competent health care providers. Among other things, since 1995, the COA has raised concerns about the clinical training of Life’s students (e.g., whether they can competently diagnose a patient’s problems and determine an appropriate course of treatment), about the qualifications of Life’s faculty, and about Life’s lack of commitment to ongoing institutional planning and improvement. Instead of addressing and resolving these concerns, Life’s leadership obstinately refused to make changes to its educational program that its own faculty and administrators recognized were necessary, and continuously sought to deflect attention to matters of process and procedure that it manufactured. This strategy continues before this Court as Life mischaracterizes, misreads, and misstates pertinent CCE policies and procedures, and avoids entirely any discussion of the record of its non-compliance with substantive standards of educational quality.”

His own academic deans analyzed the situation and made recommendations to save Life, but in every instance, Williams refused to follow their advice or the three CCE consultants and even ridiculed the legislative help offered by the Georgia Board of Chiropractic Examiners. As Meredith Gonyea, PhD and CCE adviser to Life mentioned, “If anyone claims to be blindsided in this matter, it’s only because he was wearing blinders.”[114]

The faculty at Life knew the CCE Commission on Accreditation had spoken the truth on the matter since they worked with Williams’ clan daily and saw their shortcomings. They also tired of the untruths and misinformation that came from the Williams’ clan. It became obvious he wasn’t interested in improving his college as much as he was solely interested in his autocratic control—no one could tell this “daddy” what to do.

Disgruntled staff and faculty members also filed lawsuits allegedly for wrongful dismissal and anti-Semantic remarks made to Jewish professors by Williams.[115],[116],[117]

When his own faculty openly criticizes and sues the boss, you know if anything had run amok, it was the administration at this diploma mill. An appraisal of this sad situation appeared in the Marietta Daily Journal, “An Open Letter to the Chiropractic Profession and the Public in Response to Dr. Sid E. Williams & his Supporters”[118] An excerpt appears below:

We as faculty are tired of the ivory tower policies. We are tired of watching our school and countless individuals suffer due to selfish interests. We admonish those still in a position to do something about this predicament to take Dr. Williams’ example as what NOT to do. It’s time to change. It’s time to move beyond Sid Williams. The past is just that and we feel a call to arms in the name of what is right.

The argument is not about philosophy of chiropractic, but about the level of quality of chiropractic care the public deserves. We maintain the public deserves the highest quality of care possible. Therefore, we ask Dr. Williams and his supporters to stop turning their lack of professional integrity into a philosophical debate – a facade that has placed the lives of many in a precarious struggle.

It was Dr. Williams, his administration and the Board of Trustees at Life University who repeatedly failed to act when the Council on Chiropractic Education cited specific weaknesses in the educational processes at Life. Weaknesses that he and the Board did not allow the faculty to correct. It is time for the likeminded students, faculty and constituents of Life that remain here to stand up. It may be our last chance. We have the ability and talent to create a vibrant institution; we need only be allowed to do what needs to be done. We care deeply about this institution and this profession and pray that we will all do the right thing.

Concerned Faculty of Life University

Needless to add, the pleas from the faculty fell on deaf ears. Williams’ stance proved defenseless, the college lost its accreditation, students fled like rats off a sinking ship, many students filed a class action lawsuit against Williams, jobs were lost, and the image of the entire chiropractic profession suffered when its largest college went down.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this autocrat never did admit his guilt, still in denial as to the real cause of the loss of accreditation.

“Williams never accepted responsibility for the chiropractic program’s losing its accreditation. It wasn’t his management style or his views on chiropractic that caused the program to get in hot water with the Council on Chiropractic Education, he said.

“‘I have opinions, and very strong opinions, but I’d rather not comment, other than it was the decision of the chiropractic commission on accreditation. It was their decision.

“‘Obviously, I’d be a poor president if I didn’t believe that we should have been accredited. We all put a superb effort into this. We had plenty of time to prepare and we were superb. But in their opinion, it wasn’t good enough. I’m not accusing anybody of anything. I’m not accusing the commission of any wrongdoing, except we believe we made it,’ Williams said.” [119]

After Williams was fired, he nearly bankrupted the struggling college when he received a $5 million settlement from Life for his interest in the college. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Charles Ribley, noted in a Marietta Daily Journal article concerning the huge $5 million settlement:

“I think it showed a lack of integrity, and I don’t think he is being responsible to the school he founded…It’s a large expense for the school,” Ribley said. “It is causing a considerable dent.” Ribley said he could not speculate whether the school could make all of its payments. “It is questionable whether we can afford the payments because of the unpredictability of student enrollment,” he said.[120]

Just as BJ Palmer outlived his usefulness at Palmer School of Chiropractic, the same can be said of Sid Williams who outlived his value to the chiropractic education and became a liability to the reputation and future growth of Life University. His tragic flaws of arrogance and stubbornness proved to be fatal and his so-called “Lasting Purpose” had become the profession’s lasting problem.

A fighter all his life, Williams’ 28-year reign came to an end not as the glorious president of the largest chiropractic college in the world, but as a broken and embarrassed man seen by all as a greedy tyrant and academic imposter. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, [121]

“He said he was disappointed his planned exit follows the loss of accreditation. ‘I’ve had some … defeats in life. This is one of the more bitter of those, because it comes from my colleagues, the chiropractors,’ Williams said.”

Life historian Charles Thomas was prophetic on the fall of Williams and Life College years before it actually happened. In 1995 he saw the writing on the walls of Life that few others could read.

The history of Life College that I had been hired to research and compile could never, in the end, be written – not the truth, at least not as commissioned by the man how had all unknowing hired me. The saga was a witch’s brew that immediately began to seep down through the fissures of insanity in the cauldron where it had been concocted. Its parent Dynamic Essentials was appalling without being arresting, a cult without the grand vision (however it had ultimately been twisted) of a Jonestown – blind conformity without the guts for spiked Kool-Aid. The college itself was a fantastic Cerberean monster: one head a circus of nepotistic managerial incompetence, another a neo-spiritualist bone-popping medicine show, and the third itself a tri-level triumph of trans-national medical fraud, extorting fortunes from, in turn, student tuition, government loans, and hordes of gullible “patients”. It was a story that should and could not be told between the leather-bound covers of a reverential, commemorative volume on the college’s twentieth anniversary and the chiropractic centennial. It was rather a syllabus on the pitfalls of personalized management, an essay on the sociology of cults, or the transcript-in-waiting of hearings by the appropriate state and federal authorities (with the IRS sitting in) – or perhaps all of the above, under the umbrella of a national television news exposé. [122]

Déjà Vu: Life After Williams

Few Atlantans have forgotten the turmoil in 2002 when Life University lost its accreditation causing thousands of students and faculty to flee to other colleges. Despite the hallow claims of the embattled Life administration blaming the accreditation agencies that both had placed Life on public sanction for numerous legitimate academic violations.

After a change of the guard at Life and a lot of work to upgrade its deficiencies, on November 12, 2005, the CCE’s Commission on Accreditation formally accredited the Doctor of Chiropractic program at Life University College of Chiropractic. In 2004, enrollment had risen back up to less than 2,000 chiropractic students.[123]

Although Life University is back as an accredited college, one may wonder if it had learned its lesson. It is still headed by a charismatic, vendor-driven president sans any degree in higher education, and a chiropracTIC board dedicated to a vitalistic philosophy. Once again Life leads in student default rates. In 2008, Life University again led every healthcare college with $14,995,531, and chiropractic colleges as a whole lead every health discipline with $64,461,158 according to Health Education Assistance Loans (HEAL).[124]

The damage done to the college’s students and faculty was pale in comparison to the damage Life caused to the image of the entire chiropractic profession, most of whom did not support the antics of Sid Williams and his clan of academic imposters.

To be sure, Williams has always been a black sheep within the mainstream chiropractic community and few tears were shed with his ouster or the loss of accreditation. Many chiropractors hoped this would stop the flood from this diploma mill, only now to see this college be revived from near death under its new president bent on the same agend.

One would think the Board of Trustees at Life would have learned its lesson with an academic awakening, but apparently not — Life is back on track with the same goals to be the largest with the highest paid president, Guy Riekeman, who was hired by Life soon after he had been removed as president of Palmer College in Davenport the year before after a near-revolt by the Palmer faculty concerning his chiropracTIC leanings and the invasion of its campus by his vendor friends and practice manager gurus.

Needless to say, his appointment was met with bewilderment and in 2009 he mirrored Williams with a compensation package of $753,106, second in Georgia only to James Wagner, the president of Emory University, and higher than the salaries of the presidents of UGA, Georgia State University, Medical College Of Georgia, and Georgia Tech.

To the further disbelief of many within the chiropractic profession, Riekeman announced January 28, 2010, as Founder’s Day to pay tribute to Sid and Nell Williams. This shocking tribute does not come without a price, literally and figuratively speaking, inasmuch as zealot DE sycophants of Williams have allegedly donated a “7-figure” amount for this objectionable gesture according to a member of the BOT.[125]

This bribe may sway Life’s administration, but it can only be viewed by the public and the mainstream chiropractic profession as a bizarre recognition to the man who nearly destroyed it. This absurdity is equivalent to a freed Iraq paying homage posthumously to Saddam. No amount of money can overcome the irony to honor the very person who left Life in ruins and the profession’s image in tatters.

Chiropractic’s Call for Reform

Unfortunately, ethical and hard-working chiropractors are tarnished from both sides – or as they say down South, “caught between a rock and a hard place.” If it is not political medicine or the media bashing chiropractic, other chiropractors find ways to embarrass our profession as seen with Sid Williams.

In 1988, Patricia B. Arthur, DC, a plaintiff in the Wilk et al. v. AMA et al. lawsuit, was asked for her opinion of the trial.

There are many times when I am asked to address my feelings regarding the decision of the U.S. District Court under Judge Getzendanner’s banner announcement, and my gut reaction is to jump for joy. But, alas, as reality of the situation hits home, I find myself backing off my joyous interlude.

Instead, as I look around the profession, I am amazed at the unconscionable scam artists who call themselves “chiropractors!” For 12 years the plaintiffs in the Wilk v. AMA lawsuit have lived in sheer hell, with blatant terror, indescribable emotional and professional insult and character assassination by the countless attorneys working for the many AMA defendant factions.

Needless to say, the rampant abuse of shady practice management gimmicks, sucking the insurance companies dry with bogus, and sometimes fraudulent, practice schemes and the obvious lack of powerful Peer Review committees have instilled an almost irreversible cloud over chiropractic. Added to this injury, the insult of intra-professional back-stabbing, name-calling infighting has further deteriorated our proud heritage into a public display of chaos.

In light of what has been said, is it any wonder the medical community could not, and would not, seek parity with us?! My plaudits to George McAndrews, a man torn by his love and dedication to the chiropractic profession, and his fierce battle to gain the recognition chiropractic deserves by trying to overcome the adversity of not only the medical community, but the over-powering scum in the chiropractic profession![126]

The need for reform within chiropractic is not new. In 1992 Mr. George McAndrews, the ACA’s legal counsel, wrote in the ACA Journal his opinion of chiropractic’s image:

I believe this is the era of image. It is time for the ‘dewierdization’ of the profession… An aura of ‘weirdness’ is the necessary consequence of some chiropractic literature, advertisements… a sampling of yellow page ads makes one wonder if chiropractors are financial advisors or health care professionals… it is time to isolate the rascals.[127]

Undoubtedly this explains in 1997 why Mr. McAndrews proclaimed years later at the ACA convention in Vancouver, BC, “5% of you are cultists, 5% of you are freaks, and the rest of you who offer care that uplifts the quality of life for millions of Americans keep your mouths shut.” [128]

Fortunately, neither George nor his brother, Jerry, kept their mouths shut on these important issues. Mr. McAndrews challenged the profession:

Make no doubt about it, no one is running from the subluxation complex. Society and the political and economic worlds in which we exist have simply put the theory under a microscope: either prove it exists and that real health problems are affected by it or surrender all right to be compensated for taking care of the phenomena. Argument will no longer suffice–data, results, costs are the order of the day.

Cute phrases like ‘Above-down, inside-out’ or ‘The Big Idea,’ may be soul-stirring at chiropractic conclaves; they are meaningless to economic experts (or even to HMOs) who must deal with the real problems of health care costs. It is the demagogues who fear real research and fear advances in real knowledge who threaten your philosophy and your profession. Fact has a way of squeezing myth. Sometimes what is credible is not true.

Beliefs die hard. Again, I believe that research can result in an explosion of need for the services of chiropractors. I believe that certain headaches, ulcers, respiratory problems, allergies, etc. may prove to be singularly responsive to correction of the so-called subluxation complex. It will be a real shame if the fringe elements and the demigods in the profession destroy any hope of survivability by putting chiropractic in a death grip while the American Chiropractic Association and other research oriented bodies [NCMIC, FCER] attempt to deal with the real problems of the 1990’s–research and active representation before government and third party payers.

The fact that Palmer, as brilliant as he was, or some other leader said something does not alone make it true. Chiropractic is a health care profession that is based on scientific principles. It is not a religion. [129]

George’s late brother, Jerry McAndrews, DC, former Palmer Chiropractic College president, ICA EVP who initiated the Wilk antitrust action, and ACA spokesman, disliked the anti-social stance our radical demagogues took on every issue. While the “philosophers” preached their anti-anything-medical dogma, little did they realize the public wasn’t buying their chiropracTIC rap:

For all these problems, the reward seems to be an image more of ‘anti-medicine’ and ‘anti-science’ than one of ‘pro-chiropractic.’ The confusion to the public and the power brokers is extreme. They simply will not tolerate anecdotal stories about the lack of benefits of the mainstream health delivery system. [130]

He also commented on the need for progress and reform in the profession.

Thank heavens we have an increasingly emerging group which collectively says, ‘we’ve had enough.’ This group supports new journals, reads them, begins to reject the smoke of the past, begins to demand that the language be accurate. Eventually, the misuse of ‘chiropractic philosophy’ will disappear and we will find the ‘philosophy of the science of chiropractic’ in its place. It already sounds stimulating.

Writers have mentioned the need for chiropractic to clean up its act of undocumented claims but, for the most part, it falls on deaf ears. Joe Keating, PhD, columnist for the Dynamic Chiropractic tabloid, has long railed against the unsubstantiated claims made by many chiropractors. In his article, “It Works, It Works, It Works,” he mentioned Dr. McAndrews’ plight to make chiropractic’s case in court while withstanding the unsubstantiated claims, and warned that such ‘unsubstantiated ads’ are doing the profession ‘enormous damage.’

“Will Mr. McAndrews’ warning against unsubstantiated claims be

heard in chiropractic? Perhaps not so long as a majority of

chiropractors continue to perceive ‘philosophy’ (and marketing) as

defensive crutches against the historic assault by organized

medicine, and as substitutes for hard core scientific information.

The anti-scientific traditions in the profession are very strong,

and although blatant anti-competitive activities by AMA et al. have

been ruled illegal, criticism of the chiropractic profession (and

posting of killer subluxation advertisements on hospital bulletin

boards) are clearly within the free speech prerogatives of any

would-be critics. The more we stretch the available scientific data

to support ‘what we always knew was true,’ the more we can

expect to be held up to ridicule. The chiropractic profession dearly

needs an attitude adjustment.”[131]

Regrettably, these chiropracTIC issues have shrouded the mainstream chiropractic profession image and proven effectiveness with musculoskeletal disorders and kept alive the medical bias that impedes the integration of chiropractic care into the mainstream healthcare delivery system. Indeed, it is very difficult to gain public acceptance when the most vocal leaders appear eccentric and bizarre.

Dr. Keating also described how chiropracTIC promotes “gobbledygook” without challenge on these matters. The following excerpt is a clear summation of the call for reform in chiropractic.

Chiropractors have gained some credibility in recent years as providers of quality health care services for patients with disorders of the musculoskeletal system. However, the chiropractic profession has long been and continues to be ridiculed for advocating the broader clinical utility of manipulative procedures, for example, for patients with cancer, diseases of the viscera, cardiovascular disorders and psychiatric conditions. The persistence of these broader claims despite the absence of scientific evidence is partly attributable to dogmatic adherence to rigid, unchanging, and largely unchallenged theories of disease causation (e.g., subluxation) and intervention. Indeed, some chiropractors take pride in the supposedly unchanging character of chiropractic paradigms.[132]

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 some 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.[133]

Political forces have also operated to harden dogmatic attitudes within the profession: in the face of a continuing survival struggle with organized medicine chiropractors have been reluctant to challenge the ideas that bind them together politically. When up to one’s elbows in alligators, one doesn’t worry about water temperature; in the face of continuing criticism from medicine, chiropractors have been reluctant to engage in the sorts of self-criticism and self-analysis from which genuine philosophy and science must grow. [134]

Chiropractic remains a controversial profession between a rock and a hard place for a variety of reasons. Honest chiropractors will continue to be perceived as second-class professionals who are cut out of the loop by political medicine and who suffer a poor public image from a medically-minded press as well as from dumb behavior by “scalawag” chiropracTORs.

Pran Manga, PhD, medical economist and lead author of the Manga Report, mentioned to me that most chiropractors don’t seem overly concerned about their poor image.

It is clear to me that a thorough and serious review of chiro ethics and professionalism is in order, long overdue in fact…chiros do not rate very high among health care professions for being concerned about professional ethics…I say this as one who teaches and has taught bioethics for 14 years.[135]

Dr. Louis Sportelli, former ACA chairman, Past President of the World Federation of Chiropractic, and an ethics columnist in the Dynamic Chiropractic journal, has long written of the dilemmas facing chiropractic.

In a 1991 column, Dr. Sportelli wrote about The Collective Image of the Profession. [136]

If I had to select one area to which I would direct our energies, it would be to enhance the personal image of the DC and the collective image of the profession. My objective would be to build a better knowledge of chiropractic benefits with the consumer and a better working relationship with the medical community.

This is not to say that there still is not medical opposition to chiropractic. But this new decade needs to be fought not with confrontational debates about what the AMA did 30 years ago, but rather on the basis of current research which validates the therapeutic effectiveness of the chiropractic spinal manipulation for a variety of conditions. And we need to go even one step farther: to dare to say that chiropractic spinal manipulation is better than all the conventional treatment provided previously.

In 1995 he also wrote of the challenge the chiropractic profession faces from within by chiropractic’s own demagogues and scalawags in an intriguing article, The Pursuit of Image, Chiropractic in the Next Millennium. [137]

I issue a warning to the chiropractic demagogues who still have their claws on elements of our profession; those who use their ‘celebrity’ status to undermine ethics and values; those whose voices are loud, but whose messages are abusive: You do not speak for modern chiropractic, any more than Hollywood speaks for America.

Many chiropractors have accepted the responsibility to raise our educational standards, increase research output, improve patient care excellence, and to bolster the professional image. In fact, many chiropractors today are employed as primary care physicians, public health officials, some work alongside MDs in the VA and military health services, and many in the growing field of sports medicine.

Indeed, this isn’t your granddaddy’s chiropractic any more, nor is it the same as BJ and Sid Williams envisioned.

Mr. Mark Goodin, former ACA lobbyist, warned of this sordid situation caused by the charlatans and wild-eyed philosophers:

They are the small, but vocal class of professional naysayers who continue to enrich themselves, all the while dragging down an entire profession which now stands at the very brink of long-term success or instant failure and continued ignominy… The question that vexes me most is why? Why does this profession continue to tolerate their excesses?[138]

I daresay if the chiropractic profession had policed itself by demanding higher ethics as well as promoting progress, research, and reform, chiropractic as a healing art would be more advanced in this important aspect of the body and neuromusculoskeletal health.

It is past time to stop the demagogues and scalawags. It is time for more progress and meaningful reform.

[1] Mark Goodin, “Winning The Battle In Legislative And Regulatory Arenas,” Journal of the American Chiropractic Association, (July, 1992): 45-47.

[2] V Gielow, “Old Dad Chiro: a biography of D.D. Palmer,” Davenport IA., Bawden Brothers, (1981): 115-116.

[3] DD Palmer, The Chiropractor’s Adjuster: The Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic, Portland, Oregon, Portland Printing House Company (1910) p. 629

[4] From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Daniel David Palmer or D.D. Palmer (March 7, 1845 – October 20, 1913) was the founder of Chiropractic.

[5] DD Palmer, ibid, pp. 333-343.

[6] AJ Terrett, “The Genius Of D. D. Palmer: An Exploration Of The Origin Of Chiropractic In His Time,” Chiropractic History 11/1 (Jun 1991):31-8.

[7] Norman Gevitz (ed.), “Other healers: unorthodox Medicine in American,” Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 1988, p. 160.

[8] Charles Thomas, “Life College: Inside an American Cult,” unpublished manuscript, 1993. p. 31.

[9] DD Palmer, ibid. 606

[10] Ibid. 426

[11] Ibid. 678.

[12] Ibid. 315.

[13] Palmer, ibid. p. 629

[14] JC Keating, “B.J. of Davenport: The Early Years of Chiropractic,” (AHC, 1997)

[15] Sid E. Williams, Health, July 1993.

[16] Sid E. Williams, Campus Life, December 1993

[17] Mark Goodin, “Winning The Battle In Legislative And Regulatory Arenas,” Journal of the American Chiropractic Association, (July, 1929): 45-47.

[18] PH Goodley, Release from Pain, Don’t be a victim of the pain pandemic, 2005.e-book,

[19] L.M. Rogers, D.C. authors “Editorial” Journal of the National Chiropractic Association, 31/7 (July, 1961): 5

[20] Keating ,ibid., p. 16.

[21] “Davenport History 2”. Quad City Memory. Retrieved 2007-12-18.

[22] BJ Palmer, “Advertise,” Fountain Head News, AC 22; 6/15 (Dec 16, 1916): 1.

[23] Joseph Keating, Jr., PhD, “Building the Palmer Enterprises, 1913-1924 – Part 1,” Dynamic Chiropractic 17/13 (June 14, 1999): 16.

[24] Theresa Gromala, ,“Broadsides, Epigrams, and Testimonials: The Evolution of Chiropractic Advertising,” Chiropractic History, 4/1 (1984): 40-45.

[25] Joseph C. Keating, Jr., Ph.D. “The Gestation & Difficult Birth of the American Chiropractic Association,”National Institute of Chiropractic Research

[26] Pierre-Louis Gaucher-Peslherbe, DC, PhD, “Chiropractic: Early Concepts in Their Historical Setting,” National College of Chiropractic publisher, (1993): 159-60

[27] Palmer, DD, ibid. p. 315

[28] Ibid. p. 408

[29] Ibid. p. 426

[30] Ibid. p. 678

[31] Ibid. p. 689

[32] Ibid. p. 166.

[33] Joseph Keating, Jr., PhD, “Dispelling Some Myths About Old Dad Chiro,” Dynamic Chiropractic 11/09 (April 23, 1993)

[34] “Palmer Damage Suit Dismissed,’ Davenport Democrat & Leader (Dec. 28, 1914):14.

[35] Palmer, ibid. p. 728

[36] BJ Palmer, “The Subluxation Specific – the Adjustment Specific: An Exposition of the Cause of All Dis-ease,” pp. 18-19.

[37] JC Keating,,” B.J. of Davenport: The Early Years of Chiropractic,” (AHC, 1997)

[38] CE Moyers, DC, President & General Manager of the Universal Chiropractic College (UCC) 1912 (Dec 10).

[39] J.M. McLeese, D.C., National (School) Journal of Chiropractic includes: a National grad and future resident and owner of Texas Chiropractic College, authors “Live and let live*” (Sept1917): 6-8.

[40] JC Keating, “ B.J. of Davenport: The Early Years of Chiropractic,” (AHC, 1997)

[41] JC Keating, “Courtrooms & Legislative Halls.” in: B.J. of Davenport, the Early Years of Chiropractic. Assoc. for the History of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa. 1997, pg. 123.

[42] Reed Phillips, ,”Education and the Chiropractic Profession,” Dynamic Chiropractic –16/7 (March 23, 1998)

[43] Keating, ibid. pp. 179.

[44] O.G. Clark, D.C., Fountain Head News [A.C. 25] [9(10)] includes reprint of letter (Nov 22, 1919):

[45] W.J. McCartney DC (National (College) Journal of Chiropractic 11/5 authors “Housecleaning from another angle” (Dec 1922): 4-7.

[46] Keating, Ibid.

[47] Joseph C. Keating, Jr., Ph.D., Carl S. Cleveland III, D.C., Michael Menke, M.A., D.C., “Chiropractic History: a Primer,” (c) 2004, Association for the History of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa, p. 13.

[48] BJ Palmer, The Subluxation Specific – The Adjustment Specific, p. 7.

[49] J Moore, “The Neurocalometer: Watershed In The Evolution Of A New Profession.” Chiropr Hist 15/2(1995): 51–4.

[50] BJ Palmer. Fountain Head News [A.C. 29] 13/25 (Aug 9, 1924): 6

[51] W. Heath Quigley, “The Last Days of BJ Palmer: Revolutionary Confronts Reality,” Journal of Chiropractic History 9/2 (1989): 12.

[52] Kathleen Crisp, “Lyceums: Origins of Chiropractic Continuing Education,” Today’s Chiropractic 19/6 (November/December 1990).

[53] Gevitz, ibid. p. 165.

[54] JC Keating, “ B.J. of Davenport: The Early Years of Chiropractic,” (AHC, 1997)

[55] Fishbein, Medical Follies, pp. 94-98.

[56] “Time for a New Deal,” Bulletin of the ACA [1(2)]: reprinted (July 1924) from the UCC Bulletin of (May, 1924): 8

[57] Craig M Kightlinger, DC, PhC, President of New York-Eastern Chiropractic Institute, authors “Natural Law” (1928): 9-10.

[58] Charles H. Wood DC, Chirogram: publishes “Chiropractic philosophy” (1929 Feb): 1.

[59]CM Guyselman, DC, The Chiropractic Journal (NCA) 1/10 (1933 Oct): 22.

[60] Lillard T. Marshall, DC, Journal of the National Chiropractic Association 1/6 (Sept 1931): BA Sauer DC, editor.

[61] Loran M. Rogers D.C. , “Editorial Comment,” Journal of the International Chiropractic Congress 1/5 (1932Apr): 4.

[62] W. Franklin Morris, D.C. of Oakland authors “Quo Vadis: The Chiropractic Legal Pathway In California” which discusses the Steele case in San Jose court (p. 24).

[63] W.A. Budden, D.C., N.D., president of Western States College, The Chiropractic Journal (NCA) 4/2 (1935 Feb): 9-10, 38).

[64] L.M. Rogers, DC, editorial discusses politics between ICA and Georgia Chiropractic Association Journal of the National Chiropractic Association 28/3 (1958 Mar): (6, 75).

[65] RC Schafer, DC, “The Imbroglio of the Professional Greyhound,” Dynamic Chiropractic 9/17 (Aug 16, 1991): 1.

[66] Charles Thomas, ibid. p. 36.

[67] Russell Gibbons, “Assessing the Oracle at the Fountainhead: BJ Palmer and His Times,” Journal of Chiropractic History 7/1 (1987).

[68] Scott Haldeman, “Modern Developments in the Principles and Practice of Chiropractic,” Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York (1980): 10

[69] Orval L. Hidde, D.C. “A Last-Stand Blast By Mr. Head Tic, Himself, Fades To A Faint Whisper In The Field,” Journal of the National Chiropractic Association 29/1 (1959 Jan): 12, 68; a response to B.J. Palmer’s “Shall Chiropractic Survive?”; reprinted from the November-December 19 issue of the Wisconsin Chiropractor.

[70] Charles Thomas, ibid. p. 36.

[71] L.M. Rogers, D.C., Editorial, Journal of the National Chiropractic Association 31/7(July 1961): 5.

[72] Donald Kern, DC, private communication, (7-14-09)

[73] J. McAndrews via personal communication. May 8, 1998

[74] Mark Goodin, “Winning The Battle In Legislative And Regulatory Arenas,” Journal of the American Chiropractic Association,(July, 1992): 45-47.

[75] BJ Palmer letter to Dr. Marchus Bach, School of Religion, State University of Iowa, Iowa City IA (May 15, 1951)

[76] BJ Palmer, “Giant versus Pygmy,” A portion delivered at the 47th Annual PSC Lyceum and Homecoming, Palmer School Chiropractic, Davenport, 1959


[78] Charles Thomas, “Life College: Inside an American Cult,” unpublished manuscript, (1993): 9-11.

[79] Sid E. Williams, Health, July 1993.

[80] Sid E. Williams, Campus Life, December 1993

[81] Associated Press, “ACA Disavows Dr. Sid Williams,” April 1, 1994

[82] Charles Lantz, ,DC, PhD, private communication, 2002

[83] “Report of the CCE Investigating Team on Complaints from Life Chiropractic College,” Exhibit 1, affidavit of Paula Marshall, August 6, 1984.

[84] “60 Minutes Visits Life College, Dr. Williams,” Today’s Chiropractic, March/April 1979.

[85] Charles Thomas, ibid. p. 166.

[86] David Martin, “Millions of Avid ’60 Minutes Fans Give ‘the Devil’ His Due,” Marietta Daily Journal, (March 1, 1979)

[87] Charles Thomas, ibid. p. 164.

[88] Lee Harrison, “Course Teaches Greedy Chiropractors How To Get Rich By Cheating Patients,” National Enquirer, (Nov. 18, 1980)

[89] Bette Harrison, “The ‘Life’ and Times of Sid Williams”, The Atlanta Constitution, Jan. 17, 1995

[90] M.A.J., McKenna, Ann Hardie, “Student DEBT”, The Atlanta Constitution, Jan. 18, 1995

[91] The Associated Press, “Life College Students Lead Federal-loan Default List”, Jan. 19, 1995

[92] Our Opinions: “University no longer one man’s life,” AJC editorial, 6-14-02.

[93] Welch Suggs, “At Life U., an Omnipresent President Pushes the Institution and Its Specialty,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 8, 1999.

[94] Sid E Williams, Quo Vadis, December, 1993.

[95] Chris Joyner, “Accreditation Agency Cites Problems At Life,” Marietta Daily Journal, 6-22-01.

[96] Chris Joyner, ibid.

[97] Mike Sampogna, “Complaints vs. Life University Mount,” Marietta Daily Journal, 7-8-02

[98] Editorial Staff, “Study IDs Most Important Factors in Chiropractic Student Performance,” Dynamic Chiropractic,17/13 (June 14, 1999)

[99] A. May, “Raising The Bar: Pre-Chiropractic Admissions Requirements,” Journal of the American Chiropractic Association 36/10 (Oct 1999): 20, 22-24.

[100] S. Williams, “It’s Time To Put People First,” Today’s Chiropractic (March/April 1999): 6-12.

[101] Joyner, ibid.

[102] DM Marchiori, W Meeker, C Hawk, CR Long, “Research Productivity Of Chiropractic College Faculty,” J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 21/1 (1998 Jan):8-13.

[103] “Life University founder steps back from helm,” AJC, 6-15-02

[104] Our Opinions: “University No Longer One Man’s Life,” AJC, 6-14-02

[105] David Burch, “Life Founder Plans To Step Down: Group Says Move Won’t Affect Loss Of Accreditation,” MDJonline, 6-14-02

[106] “Accreditation Trouble Roils Life Students: Don’t Give Up, Graduates Told,” AJC, 6-17-02

[107] “Life U Reports Sub-Par Scores: National Exam Pass Rates Cited,” AJC, 6-15-02

[108] Phillip Giltman, “75 Join Suit Against Life * Seek Class-Action Status,” Marietta Daily Journal, November 1, 2002

[109] David Seaman via Private communication, 2008

[110] Anonymous Life student via Private communication, 2002.

[111] Our Opinions: “University no longer one man’s life,” AJC editorial, 6-14-02

[112] “Students file suit against Life U,” AJC Nov. 30, 2002

[113] Phillip Giltman, “CCE Responds In Open Letter To Life Criticism,” Marietta Daily Journal, November 15, 2002.

[114] Private communication, 2002.

[115] Jeffrey Widmer, “Former Professors Suing Life,” Marietta Daily Journal, January 12, 2001.

[116] From staff reports, “Judge: Ex-Life U. Professors Can Sue University founder,” Marietta Daily Journal, December 20, 2002.

[117] From staff reports, “Life U. Bias Suit Set To Go To Court,” Marietta Daily Journal, September 13, 2003.

[118] Phillip Giltman, “Faculty Members: Only Life To Blame: Dispute Notion School Was Unfairly targeted,” Marietta Daily Journal, November 2, 2002

[119] “Life U Severs Ties To Leader Williams Quits, At Least For Now,” AJC, 7-9-02

[120] “Chair Blasts Life Founder’s Compensation Williams, Wife Will Receive Nearly $5M,” Marietta Daily Journal, Feb. 21, 2003

[121] “Life to Team with Chiropractic College,” AJC, 6-26-02

[122] Charles Thomas, ibid. p. 264.

[123] Life University Information, U.S. College Search,


[125] Tom Klapp via personal communication, 12-11-09.

[126] Patricia B. Arthur, “Despite Victory, Cloud Hangs Over Chiropractic,” ACA Journal of Chiropractic 25/9 (Sept 1988):39

[127] George McAndrews, Journal of the American Chiropractic Association, 1992.

[128] George McAndrews, speech before ACA Convention, Vancouver, B.C., July 20, 1998.

[129] George McAndrews via private communication. March 24, 1992

[130] J. McAndrews via private communication. May 11, 1993

[131] JC Keating and TF Bergmann, “It works, it works, it works!,” Dynamic Chiropractic, Sept. 25, 1992.

[132] Joseph C Keating, Jr., PhD, D.D. “Palmer’s Forgotten Theories of Chiropractic,” A Presentation to the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, February 18, 1995.

[133] JC Keating, D.C. Magazine, 3/11/94.

[134] Joseph C. Keating, J r., PhD, “The Evolution of Palmer’s Metaphors and Hypotheses,” Philosophical Constructs for the Chiropractic Profession 2/1 (Summer 1992): 9-19.

[135] private communication, June 17, 1999

[136] Louis Sportelli, “The Collective Image of the Profession,” Dynamic Chiropractic, 9/17 (August 16, 1991):

[137] Louis Sportelli, “The Pursuit of Image, Chiropractic in the Next Millennium,” JACA 32/5 (May, 1995): 29.

[138] Mark Goodin, “Winning The Battle In Legislative And Regulatory Arenas,” Journal of the American Chiropractic Association,(July, 1992): 45-47.