Daniel David Palmer, a Chiropractic Founder

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Medicine has undergone many significant changes and paradigmatic shifts in the course of its evolution. It is a multidimensional discipline, which means that there are many medical theories and practices of both scientific and pseudoscientific origin. One of such pseudoscientific practices is chiropractors, an approach to treating people with a very dubious reputation, as there are cases where it has harmed patients and even led to their death (BBC News, 2019). One needs to research the story of its founder, Daniel David Palmer, to assess the status and future of chiropractic medicine. This work aims to explore the life of Daniel David Palmer as a pioneer in chiropractic medicine.

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Recent global pandemic events have attracted specialists’ attention in many medical disciplines, and chiropractic is no exception. It is necessary to mention that chiropractic is “a system of healing based on the theory that disease in the human body results from a lack of normal nerve function” (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, n.d., para. 1). A while ago, there was a significant dispute where many scientists criticized the claim that chiropractic improves the immune system and helps people avoid COVID-19 infection (Cote et al., 2020). The root of the initial false claims that chiropractic protects people from COVID-19 was misleading anecdotal evidence.


As noted above, chiropractic is a treatment method developed by Daniel David Palmer at the dawn of modern medicine. According to experts, “D.D. Palmer is known as The Discoverer of chiropractic and The Founder of the chiropractic profession” (The Palmer family heritage and the history of Palmer College of Chiropractic, n.d., para. 1). The reason why chiropractic is considered pseudo- and unscientific nowadays is that Palmer did not have a medical degree. Moreover, he developed his therapy based only on observation, inference, and a single successful case.

Despite his lack of knowledge in medicine, his initial treatment approaches were progressive and even safer than conventional ones back then. According to Johnson (2020), “his healing methods seem far safer compared to the heroic procedures offered by regular medicine at that time” (p. 1). Palmer was a schoolteacher, but his love of reading allowed him to develop significant theoretical knowledge of medicine (Johnson, 2020). It is also worth noting that he had well-developed logical reasoning (Johnson, 2020). Initially, the first doctor of chiropractic care practiced a magnetic healer, but the case of Harvey Lillard changed his whole methodology of treatment. He manually manipulated the patient’s back which cured his deafness (Johnson, 2020). Later Palmer developed the idea that the neck, spine, and the nerves surrounding them are the keys to human health and disease. 1895 was the first chiropractic treatment year, and in 1987 Palmer opened the first vocational school (Johnson, 2020). This is the story of how chiropractic became a medical school. It was initially a progressive and much safer practice, but the pseudoscientific methodology made it controversial and dangerous.

As one can see, anecdotal evidence, the basis of which was the hypothesis, became the core of all chiropractic care. It is a wrong and pseudoscientific approach to medicine because anecdotal evidence has a weak persuasive potential in this field (Hornikx, 2018). Anecdotal evidence often leads to flawed research and, consequently, flawed science (Michal et al., 2021). Anecdotal evidence alone is insufficient to develop new medical practices and methods, and such an approach to intervention is considered unscientific, time-consuming, potentially harmful, and resource-intensive.


This work reviews and analyzes an episode in the life of Daniel David Palmer when he became the founder of chiropractic. There was examined the former and current status of chiropractic care. Moreover, it has been explained why chiropractic care today is a controversial and harmful therapy. It is safe to say that Palmer contributed to the development of medicine, especially manual therapy, but now many chiropractic techniques are outdated, and the approach itself needs significant revision.


BBC News. (2019). Man ‘broke neck during chiropractor treatment’ in York. BBC. Web.

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Côté, P., Bussières, A., Cassidy, J. D., Hartvigsen, J., Kawchuk, G. N., Leboeuf-Yde, C., Mior, S., … & Schneider, M. (2020). A united statement of the global chiropractic research community against the pseudoscientific claim that chiropractic care boosts immunity. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 28(1), 1-5. Web.

Hornikx, J. (2018). Combining anecdotal and statistical evidence in real-life discourse: Comprehension and persuasiveness. Discourse Processes, 55(3), 324-336. Web.

Johnson, C. D. (2020). Chiropractic day: A historical review of a day worth celebrating. Journal of Chiropractic Humanities, 27, 1-10. Web.

Michal, A. L., Zhong, Y., & Shah, P. (2021). When and why do people act on flawed science? Effects of anecdotes and prior beliefs on evidence-based decision-making. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 6(1), 1-23. Web.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (n.d.). Chiropractic. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Web.

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The Palmer family heritage and the history of Palmer College of Chiropractic. (n.d.). Palmer College of Chiropractic. Web.

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NursingBird. (2022, July 23). Daniel David Palmer, a Chiropractic Founder. Retrieved from https://nursingbird.com/daniel-david-palmer-a-chiropractic-founder/


NursingBird. (2022, July 23). Daniel David Palmer, a Chiropractic Founder. https://nursingbird.com/daniel-david-palmer-a-chiropractic-founder/

Work Cited

"Daniel David Palmer, a Chiropractic Founder." NursingBird, 23 July 2022, nursingbird.com/daniel-david-palmer-a-chiropractic-founder/.


NursingBird. (2022) 'Daniel David Palmer, a Chiropractic Founder'. 23 July.


NursingBird. 2022. "Daniel David Palmer, a Chiropractic Founder." July 23, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/daniel-david-palmer-a-chiropractic-founder/.

1. NursingBird. "Daniel David Palmer, a Chiropractic Founder." July 23, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/daniel-david-palmer-a-chiropractic-founder/.


NursingBird. "Daniel David Palmer, a Chiropractic Founder." July 23, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/daniel-david-palmer-a-chiropractic-founder/.