Skip to main content

Archived Comments for: Gimme that old time religion: the influence of the healthcare belief system of chiropractic's early leaders on the development of x-ray imaging in the profession

Back to article

  1. Comment to the article

    Mark Lopes, Gonstead Clinical Studies Society

    24 February 2015

    This article on religiousness and x-ray in chiropractic by Dr. Young, includes errors and speculation.

    He states: “There are two rules that are common to all these chiropractic techniques: the chiropractic subluxation is the primary basis of disease in humans, and plain film radiographs must be obtained to detect or define it.” This statement is without proof. See the Textbook of Clinical Chiropractic (Gonstead) for counter evidence.

    He states: “The more recently developed system Chiropractic BioPhysics utilized a credulous approach in their research, gathering evidence for spinal subluxation as visualized on radiographs, an assumption granted prior to commencement of data collection.” Yet reputable science journals published many of their studies. Also, the founder of CBP, Don Harrison, DC, PhD was an atheist.

    He reports: “‘The Gonstead Chiropractor goes beyond what many chiropractors consider a spinal assessment by conducting a thorough analysis of your spine using five criteria to detect the presence of the ‘vertebral subluxation complex.’  It seemed that in contrast to evidence-based healthcare, the epistemology of ‘appeal to authority’ was generally found to be highly valued in these systems,” yet there is no evidence of appeal to authority.

    He states special language is religion-like. However, given that chiropractic is a particular field, some nomenclature not common to other health care fields exists when common terms are not available for a unique entity, such as a “Nasium” radiograph.

    There’s this erroneous statement:  “They make no attempt to review other knowledge, to test their own methods for specific end results, or to compare their methods with others.” Yet, many studies and texts from techniques exist and each cite many outside references.

    Further supposed proof of religiousness: case studies are termed sacred stories. Radiographic analysis with the same methods for each patient is ritualistic, yet DACBRs have long taught the ABCs of radiography. The biblically named town a technique founder practiced is his proof of religiousness.

    His numerous speculative assertions leave misguided impressions about the profession.


    Mark A. Lopes, D.C.

    Competing interests

  2. Response to Dr Mark Lopes

    Kenneth Young, Murdoch University

    24 February 2015

    I would like to thank Dr Lopes for taking the time to read the paper and examine it in detail. However, I refute the assertion of errors and speculation. I will address each item in turn.

    First, I cite and reference in the paper that for the Gonstead system: “…full-spine radiographs are taken in the standing, weight-bearing position to fully substantiate the examination findings,” and  “When the pelvic girdle or any of the vertebrae become tilted or rotated out of their proper position, dramatic changes may occur in the body.”

    Second, although there are indeed many publications on the radiographic elements of Chiropractic BioPhysics, I found no moderate- or high-level studies giving evidence for improved patient outcomes. Unfortunately, Dr Lopes failed to cite any, either. As for the assumption that chiropractic subluxations be visualized on radiographs, it certainly is granted, otherwise the elaborate systems for measuring them on radiographs would not exist. The reference to Don Harrison’s atheism is a non sequitur. Personal religion may or may not have any relation to the credulousness with which a technique proponent writes about chiropractic subluxation.

    Third, the beatification of Clarence Gonstead and the reverence for his theories are appeals to authority. states that Gonstead’s methods are still taught “in their original format,” [] and that “Gonstead procedures are the result of extensive clinical research by Clarence S. Gonstead.” []

    Regarding special language and lack of meaningful research by the techniques, the explanations are in the paper. Next, the comparison of a standardized approach to interpreting radiographs with the rigid systems of visualizing chiropractic subluxations is inappropriate.

    Finally, I never assert “proof” of anything. Rather, I conclude that these technique systems reflect a healthcare system of belief, similar to that of early chiropractic leaders, and containing qualities in common with religious systems of belief. The evidence cited supports this conclusion.

    Kenneth J Young

    Competing interests

    I declare that I have no competing interests.