CF 154: The Shake-Up With WFC’s Research Committee Today we’re going to talk about the research committee shake-up at the WFC. I’ve wondered for months now what exactly happened with shake-up and it hasn’t been easy to figure it out either. Who is to blame and what companies are to blame as well? We’ll get knee deep into it in this episode. But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music
OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun, profitable, and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around. We’re the fun kind of research. Not the stuffy, high-brow kind of research. We’re research talk over a couple of beers. I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast. If you haven’t yet I have a few things you should do.
- Like our Facebook page,
- Join our private Facebook group and interact, and then
- go review our podcast on iTunes and other podcast platforms.
- We also have an evidence-based brochure and poster store at chiropracticforward.com
- While you’re there, join our weekly email newsletter. No spam, just a reminder when the newest episodes go live. Nothing special so don’t worry about signing up. Just one a week friends. Check your JUNK folder!!
Do it do it do it. You have found yourself smack dab in the middle of Episode #154 Now if you missed last week’s episode , we talked about how some chiropractors could be better and being careful which guru you’re going to place your faith in. Some are just absolute loons and only driven by profit, not results and not the patient.
The saying is, when you’re focused on the outcomes, you’ll never have to worry about the income. Make sure you don’t miss that info. Keep up with the class. While we’re on the topic of being smart, did you know that you can use our website as a resource? Quick and easy, you can go to chiropracticforward.com, click on Episodes, and use the search function
On the personal end of things…..
Chugging along. Making friends and influencing people. That’s how we do it here. Actually, that’s not true. I’m sure I got the vitalists all fired up last week and probably will this week as well. I’ll probably get some companies fired up too. We’ll see. It doesn’t have a thing to do with anything chiropractic but I’ve mentioned a time or two here that I’m branching out and, as a retirement plan, I’m working on a little side gig in the voice over / voice artist industry. This stuff is fascinating y’all. It really is.
So I went through the steps you’re supposed to go through in getting yourself all set up and now, here I am, I got a commercial demo done. If you’re just feeling goofy and bored, go to jeffwilliamsvoice.com and there’s a demo there you can listen to. Turns out I have the John Deere, Ford truck, eat this burger type of voice and I’m totally OK with that. Anyway, after you get a demo, you start submitting to talent agencies around the world. Well, hell….I don’t have all day to spend on doing this stuff so I can only get a few per day and there are tons of them.
But, in just the first round or so of submissions, I already got signed up with a talent agent out in San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as interest from a talent agency in Barcelona Spain and potentially a marketing firm down in Dallas/Ft. Worth. . So….how damn cool is that? Maybe, one of these days, my side gig takes over my day job. I’m not holding my breath though. But, seriously, my buddy has done it for about 7 years and he’s making six figures. Can you imagine making a good 6 figure salary but no employees, no overhead, you can make that money in your basement in your underwear (sorry for the visual there), and you can do it from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection?
Well, it’s a cool idea and a lot of folks get to do it that way. Who knows? It’s a lot of luck and all that stuff but I’ve never been one that was afraid to take chances or afraid to fall on my face. Either way, it’s exciting and isn’t that what it’s about? Keeping life interesting and exciting? That reminds me, if you need a voice over for a youtube video, your podcast intro, or any commercial you’re doing, remember ol Uncle Jeffro here. I got you covered!
Now, let’s get to spilling the tea shall we? I have to start by saying, I don’t love talking about this stuff. I don’t at all. It makes me uncomfortable. Mostly because some of my friends won’t like it. I work with a lot of chiropractors around the nation in different capacities and to be honest, while we work FOR the chiropractic profession, we don’t see eye to eye with each other on WHAT chiropractic is. Still, they’re my friends. So what do I do? Do I just say nothing about things I know they won’t agree with? Or do I talk about it and give my view point on them?
Well, I have a podcast so I guess I talk about it. I could stay out of the messiness of our profession and avoid tough subjects all together I guess. But who ever changed anything by taking that sort of stance? That’s not really any kind of stance at all is it? You change things by standing up, somewhere, and supporting your convictions. So that’s where i’m at. I don’t like. I’m uncomfortable with it, honestly. But the show must go on. Let’s start with what happened. Dr. Greg Kawchuk was the head of the World Federation of Chiropractic. I’m a fan of Dr. Kawchuk. so when I saw on Facebook or Twitter or somewhere that he resigned his post as head of the WFC research committee, it had me a bit miffed. Not only that but a lot of HUGE chiropractors on the committee left with him. Researchers on the level of Jan Hartvigsen for example.
To be specific, those that resigned are
- Greg Kawchuk DC PhD Canada – Chair
- Simon French, PhD, MPH, BAppSc(Chiro) Australia
- Iben Axén DC PhD Sweden
- Jan Hartvigsen DC PhD Denmark
- Martin Descarreaux DC, PhD Canada
- Carolina Kolberg DC PhD Brazil
Every single one of these researchers has been in the episodes we have released. They are big time for our profession. The vitalists, unfortunately, have labeled them subluxation deniers. I label them scientists but….whatever. I say tomato, they say dumb stuff. Their statement of resignation went like this, “Effective immediately, we (Greg Kawchuk (Chair), Iben Axen’, Martin Descarreaux, Simon French, Jan Hartvigsen, and Caroline Kolberg) resign from the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) Research Committee.
We no longer feel it is possible to function as independent academics in our roles on the committee. We urge the WFC to continue to promote the EPIC principles (Evidence-based, People-centered, Interprofessional and Collaborative), and to protect its core values from potential conflicts and outside influence. We wish the best for the WFC and our colleagues who serve on its Research Committee.” Now, it wasn’t all bad because they put Dr. Christine Goertz into the post as the head of the WFC committee and if you’re a listener here at the Chiropractic Forward evidence-based chiropractic podcast…..well then you know what a fan of Dr. Goertz we are. She’s a chiropractic treasure.
But, when I first heard the news, as you can imagine, and as you probably felt when you heard, it was a bit concerning for our profession to lose so many high profile, top-level researchers at once. What’s that going to mean for our profession and why did this happen in the first place? I started paying attention. I started looking for information. What the heck happened? But nothing. Not only nothing on the story but nobody was talking about it either. Like….it was just another event that happened on just another day. No big deal. When, in reality, at least to research consumers such as myself, it was a huge deal! Why did this happen and what the hell is the story?
Well, I’m going to give away the ending here before we really dive in, I’m not 100% sure but at least now I have an idea. A generaly idea. When I decided I was going to do this episode, I put it in our private Facebook group. We only have around 450 members approximately. Again, in case you don’t know, we have a public Chiropractic Forward page. That’s just to get the word out about the podcast and market the podcast. Then we also have a Chiropractic Forward private group where we can share research papers, we can discuss amongst ourselves, and all that good stuff and we can do it privately. I encourage you all to join the private group.
Not if you’re a vitalist. That’s not the group for you. But if you’re evidence-based and patient-centered, then you’re a good fit. Anyway, I posted in there that I wanted to do this episode and if anyone had the back story, please send me a private message about it. That I wanted to get it figured out and tell our audience.
There was a lot of interest in the episode but nobody knew the story about what happened. I asked elsewhere. Nobody knew but everyone wanted to know. I even asked Dr. Kawchuk himself and he was tied up in a research project. Dangit. Unfortunately, the research community’s lack of open communication on this matter has left this up to others to define the narrative. For example, when Googling up this story, I got an article by Matthew McCoy. The ever-so-nutsy vitalist out in Georgia. The townhall crier and huckster of woo. Yes, he’s one of them setting the narrative.
Also, one of the top hits was by our global hater for the ages, Edzard Ernst. What a toolbag. Yes, our global hater sets the narrative on what is happening in the chiropractic world. But nothing from the evidence-based, patient-centered side of the profession. What in the hell is going on here, people? Why in the hell are you all sitting on your hands? Why are you not talking about this, writing about this, yelling about this, or at least pushing back on this? Are we spineless? No pun intended by the way.
It’s just astonishing to me that so little is written about it and that the only information you can find on it is created by flat-earthers or by the apex of chiropractic haters. Finally, one of my colleagues here in the U.S. contacted me through text and we set up a phone call. They gave me the story as well as they understood it and that’s what I’m going to give you. Thank you to this colleague for shedding as much light on this story as you could. I really do appreciate it and I’m pretty sure the rest of our audience does as well.
If we are being fair, a small part of it appears to be Dr. Kawchuk’s fault, a very large part of it seems to fall on the vitalist, subluxation or nothing, rah rah rah crowd, and an even bigger aspect of the whole enchilada I believe can be directly pointed at the WFC’s corporate sponsors that backed the vitalist, subluxation is the only way crowd. I personally blame the companies. Without them bullying the WFC with sponsorship dollars, this wouldn’t have happened regardless of the rest of the dominoes that fell.
Let’s back up a bit. It sounds like it all begin in Berlin in 2019. Those of us paying attention know that it goes back much further than that though don’t we? Oh yeah, with the evidence-based, patient-centered model becoming more and more prevalent and moving the vitalists more and more to the fringe of the world, the louder the minority has become. Still, it appears, Berlin 2019 at the WFC conference was the final straw. Dr. Greg Kawchuk, who again, I’m a fan of, was one of the speakers at the event. His presentation was not vitalist/subluxation friendly.
Word on the street is that his speech was met with cheers but was also met with water bottles being thrown up on the stage and antics like that. Because, you know….our profession is divided in two in case you’ve been hiding in a cave. So, cheers makes sense. I don’t know what makes the other side think it’s OK to throw stuff on the stage but who knows? Maybe that’s just a dumb little European quirk. I had the opportunity to see almost the exact same speech at the Forward ’19 event in St. Louis a little over a year ago. I absolutely loved it. And, no….it was not subluxation friendly. Here was the difference in the speech I saw in St. Louis and the one that was given in Berlin.
Dr. Kawchuk, it is suggested, made a quip during his speech that taking a child to a vitalistic chiropractor is similar to taking a child to a Catholic priest. There are no recordings in existence of this version of the speech but I believe the basic gist of the comment was that if you’re willing to take your kid to a vitalist for 60+ visits, then you should leave your kids with a Catholic priest. OK, let’s address this because this one comment is what the ICA hung their hat on so I think it’s a pivotal thing. I think it’s also why this part of the speech was dropped when I heard it in St. Louis. It is my understanding, first of all, that Dr. Kawchuk wrote a letter of apology but it was perceived as having some “Yeah, but…” sentiment attached so maybe it didn’t come off as sincere as his detractors would want.
But here’s the thing, it wouldn’t have mattered how sincere the apology was, they found something to hang their hat on. They found an achilles heel and they weren’t going to let go of it. Regardless of what Greg said to them about it. Can I just say that I’m a Christian and I’m used to getting made fun of by so many out there in the world. It almost doesn’t even affect me anymore. Notice I said ‘almost’.
Now, I’m not Catholic. But Catholics are Christians so, by association, I should be rather offended as well right? I suppose if I were of the easily offended mindset, I would be. But I’m not because I see it all for what it’s worth. Number one: the Catholic church has had quite a well-chronicled issue in the past with priests and misconduct. I don’t know how you could argue with that and someone bringing it up has become VERY commonplace. That doesn’t make Greg’s comment any more out of place than the 100 other people I have seen mention or make fun of it on Facebook over the past 3-5 years. It’s become very common. Doesn’t make it right but it does make it common.
Number Two: did that belong in this speech? Well, I wasn’t the speaker so how do I know. I know that I saw the same speech last year without the comment and it seemed very effective and very welcome to everyone that was in attendance. So, it appears it would have been just as good and ultimately less offensive to some. Knowing what we now know, it doesn’t appear that it was a good choice to go with for that particular speech to that particular crowd. I would say that I enjoy a great and entertaining speech and the one I saw in St. Louis by Dr. Kawchuk was just that. It was actually pretty dang amazing.
I became an instant fan and hearing of the Catholic priest comment later on did nothing to dampen my fandom. I suggest people lighten the hell up and quit being so damned dramatic. Water off a duck’s back. Oh my goodness, someone said something you didn’t like or agree with? Poor thing. Bless your heart. So, Greg gave them something to hold onto and go on the attack with. OK. Do you think the ICA got irate over the priest comment? Or do you think they got irate because the speech was anti-vitalist, anti-subluxation?
Honestly….think about it. Let’s be smart. Which do you think it was? It should already be clear what I think it is. So, the speech is made and the vitalists lose their damned minds and the ICA decides to deal with this travesty. Nobody but the higher ups over there know exactly how it all went down but, by all appearances, it looks like they started leaning on sponsors to pull support from the WFC until changes that the ICA deemed appropriate were made. So, basically, the ICA decided to be a bully and start flexing on the playground.
They could read the tea leaves and with scientists like Kawchuk, Hartvigsen, and the others steering, the future wasn’t so bright for the ICA bullies so they started figuring out how to pull the purse strings. That’s what it looks like to me. It looks like companies like ChiroHealth and Foot Levelers leaned on the WFC to remove Kawchuk. In advance of that, Greg just resigned. Then, the other top-level researchers resigned in solidarity and, I would imagine, in protest to what was happening.
And I don’t blame them one bit. Here’s the thing here; it is my opinion and the opinion of others that these vendors used our money that we paid them to bully the WFC at the urging of the ICA to oust Kawchuk. And it is my opinion that they used one sour comment to do it. When I feel pretty sure that they bullied the WFC simply because they didn’t like that the speech and the research committee seemed anti-subluxation. Here are the companies that pulled support simultaneously at this pivotal time for the WFC:
- Standard Process
- ChiroHealthUSA – USA
- Chiro Diplomatic Corps
- NCMIC – USA
- National Chiropractic Council – USA
- Koala Mattress – Australia
- Life Chiropractic College West – USA
- Life University – USA
- Lloyd Table Inc – USA
- Breakthrough Coaching – USA
- Chiropractic Education Australia Ltd. – Australia
- Da Vinci Labs – USA
- Integrated Assessment Services Inc. – Canada
- Japan Federation of Chiropractic Professionals – Japan
- Mettler Electronics Corp. – USA
- Tokyo College of Chiropractic (Formerly RMIT University) – Japan
It looks like vendors like ChiroHealth, Foot Levelers, and several others used the money we paid them, to then turn around and bully the WFC research committee because they gave a speech that was anti-subluxation. Used. Our. Money. I repeated that for a reason. They use our money to get rid of the world’s biggest and best researchers because they didn’t like what they said. On the other hand, these are the companies that continued to financially support and sponsor the WFC:
- Palmer College of Chiropractic
- Parker University
- Logan Chiropractic College
- New York Chiropractic College
- Southern California University of Health Sciences
- University of Bridgeport
- University of Western States
- National University of Health Sciences
- Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
- Anglo European College of Chiropractic
- Madrid College of Chiropractic
- Nordisk Institute
- Dynamic Chiropractic
- The American Chiropractor
- Chiropractic Economics
I would like to thank this group that chose to continue to support the WFC, thus continue to support research and science. Thank you for not being bullied by the ICA and the loud minority. Now, let’s be fair. Maybe it was just that times are tough. COVID has us all down. I know it’s got me down. Did they pull or reduce support for the WFC because of the ‘Rona? How are we to know? I don’t know. You don’t know either. But it seems pretty danged coordinated in conjunction with Dr. Kawchuk’s resignation doesn’t it? I mean….doesn’t it? It’s your choice to continue working with these companies but I’ll tell you this much, being evidence-based as I am….I will be second-guessing my commitment and participation with them going forward.
Honestly, how could you not? As my colleague so eloquently stated to me, “Their power is our power.” Again, nobody knows the exact motivation of these companies. I sure as hell don’t. I just know what it looks like. What if enough of us contacted these companies and griped about this? We can collectively tell them we don’t approve of that sort of influence. We don’t approve of them using our money to bully our research community.
What if this were to serve as a rallying cry for activism over apathy? For a bunch of crappy stuff to take place, all it takes is for good people to just sit on their hands and do nothing. This can be a rally cry for the WFC and Dr. Goertz, for the ACA, CARL, for the FTCA, and for this Chiropractic Forward Podcast. But, as my esteemed colleague said, there’s a cover charge to getting your voice heard and social media doesn’t quite cut it. Now, how much of all of this was theater and how much was legitimate?
If Kawchuk was going to be let go because of the financial pressure by the ICA and these companies, was his resignation simply to keep the ICA from getting a win? It seems they reduce exposure by just going to their universities and doing their research there anyway. They’re not out front taking all of the heat and they’re still doing all of their research and all that anyway. Makes you wonder why anyone would want to be out front like that anyway, doesn’t it? I don’t think it was theater.
I think Greg got tired of dealing with the vitalist crap and said to hell with you people. I think the ICA bullied these companies and the WFC to push him out under the guise of a priest comment but really because they didn’t like the anti-subluxation sentiment of the research coming out of the WFC. And I think the companies did exactly what the ICA wanted them to do. So, I think the vitalists and subluxation people won at the end of the day. It’s all looking like a bunch of stinky garbage on the part of the vitalists but, sometimes those unafraid to get down in the slop are the ones that win the battle. Doesn’t mean they win the war. Just the battle.
Here’s what I believe. I believe right and truth win every single time. Eventually. So, let’s look at it from that perspective. There are mountains of papers supporting spinal manipulative therapy. There is a paucity as the researchers say….a paucity of solid, respectable research backing the vitalistic, subluxation theory that was generated in the late 1800’s. Here in 2020..it just hasn’t formulated into a solid, well-researched fact, folks. I’m sorry. Don’t punish the messenger. Anecdotal evidence and charismatic gurus with guitars don’t make it true or make it right.
Here’s something else I believe strongly, when you have people like McCoy and Edzard Ernst setting the narrative for our profession because we’re not willing to discuss something openly, well, then we’re just asking for it, folks. You either want a well-respected profession or you don’t. Or, do you want a split all together? The Primary Spine Practitioner program through the University of Pittsburgh may be a good first step for some of you that are bent on the separation. Can’t we all just get along? I don’t see it happening. I really don’t. I don’t see how our profession can be unified.
Vitalists refuse to follow or even notice solid research that doesn’t confirm their bias. Outright refuse. They insist it’s appropriate to see regular healthy people once per week for life. Evidence says that’s not appropriate so, therefore, evidence-based chiropractors say it’s inappropriate and it gives us a bad name. So, what do you do about that? You can’t fix it. Evidence based folks can’t continue in a profession where part of the crowd makes them appear illegitimate.
Vitalists refuse to conform to any appearances of being evidence-based. So, what’s the answer? You tell me. I don’t see a clear answer. I think it lies with the middle group that is neither evidence-based or vitalistic. They’re just out there making a living and getting through their days but are pretty much apathetic to either. When something happens that activates that group, I think that’s what will be the deciding factor on where this profession goes.
I disagree with 99.9% of everything Edzard Ernst says but I agree with this comment wholeheartedly when he says, “In my view, the problem of the chiropractic profession is unsolvable. Giving up Palmer’s obsolete nonsense of vitalism, innate intelligence, subluxation, etc. is an essential precondition for joining the 21st century. Yet, doing so would abandon any identity chiropractors will ever have and render them physiotherapists in all but name, Neither solution bodes well for the future of the profession.”
I would say that he left out the fact that many PTs are now adding spinal manipulative therapy to their arsenal so maybe PTs are rendering themselves chiropractors rather than the other way around? I would also add to Ernst’s comment that a recent nationwide poll showed that people go to chiropractors to get rid of their pain. They do not go for wellness, vitalism, weekly visits, or innate intelligence talk. In the comments of Ernst’s post a chiropractor chimed in and said that in his opinion, the profession has a better chance of providing a valuable healthcare service without the ICA members which make up only about 5% of the profession tagging along and raising a stink whenever someone challenges their model or views.
Researchers should have the freedom to speak thei truth without fear of reprisal of companies that we essentially fund. It goes a hell of a lot deeper than a bad joke folks. It’s an attack on evidence-based chiropractic and an attack on the research community. And we’d better all start seeing it that way because now, the ICA has a win and you can believe they’ll be back for more. If these companies reduced or withheld funding to pressure the WFC based on the ICA’s pressure, we should let these companies know how we feel about it. I see chiropractors going forward in the world treating pain, following current research, and current widely accepted guidelines. Guidelines that are based in the research literature. I see a profession that accepts a certain standard and a profession that hopefully begins to take policing its own seriously.
Otherwise, we’ll continue to be the pimple on healthcare’s butt. And that’s the way I see it. And before anyone says it, I’ll say it first…no, I do not want to be a medical doctor. No desire at all. But being a chiropractor doesn’t mean that I have to blindly accept and promote a philosophy from the late 1800’s. They are not mutually exclusive. In any way. The adjustment is the cornerstone of my personal practice and the way I treat patients. It’s just not the end-all-be-all of what I do. And all of this mess when we are at the precipice of actually breaking through in the healthcare industry. I’ve said it so many times on this podcast but there is no better time to be a chiropractor.
Y’all, it’s a perfect storm. The opioid crisis. The research backs every freaking thing we do OUTSIDE of the subluxation theory. Literallly everything we do. Spinal manipulative therapy, exercise/rehab, low level laser, massage, acupuncture, balance and proprioceptive training, and things like that. Research backs it all up. It just can’t back up the subluxation stuff. But we are at a point that we can actually get more patients in our doors if we are a respectable, evidence-based, patient-centered profession. Again, you can disagree with me. You can cuss me. But you’ll always know where I stand and according to me, I stand for what’s right, I stand for the truth, ethics, morality, and I stand for patients and their right to be treated like respected individuals and not targets that have to be closed.
IF we can’t agree on that, then maybe you can at least respect me and respect the fact that I’m willing to make a stand for what I believe in. Because honestly, I don’t see a lot of folks standing up on this deal. Maybe it’s just me. I would assume these things would be common sense. Alright, that’s it. Y’all be safe. Keep changing our profession from your little corner of the world. Keep taking care of yourselves and everyone around you. Tough times are upon us but, the sun will shine again. Trust it, believe it, count on it. Let’s get to the message. Same as it is every week. Store Remember the evidence-informed brochures and posters at chiropracticforward.com.