Christopher Kent DC, JD
The Faulty Premise of Membership Numbers

In regards to the accreditation crisis, it has occurred to me that the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE), and seemingly everyone else, is operating under the false premises that only membership organizations are legitimate, that minorities don’t count, and that belonging to a membership organization is the only way to establish the number of adherents to a given philosophical orientation. If they can get you to accept faulty premises, they can suck you in to their strategy. So let’s analyze these:

1. Only membership organizations are legitimate. This is absurd on its face. But let’s examine it anyway. In my opinion, it is little more than an excuse to exclude participation by groups such as the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation (FVS) and the Movement for Chiropractic Quality and Integrity (MCQI), and making the International Federation of Chiropractors and Organizations (IFCO) the only organization not in the pocket of the Cartel.

The largest stakeholder group directly affected by CCE is excluded—the students. They are the ones to whom CCE should first be answerable. This is a big deal. To suggest that the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and the International Chiropractor’s Association (ICA) have student members, and they are therefore represented, is ridiculous. The interests of field doctors are significantly different from those of students. Students are the ones directly affected by accreditation decisions and access to licensure.

In the 21st century, membership groups are declining. Witness the phenomenon in other professions, such as medicine. Only a small minority of practicing physicians in the US are members. One estimate places the percentage around 15%. This is down from the 1950s, when approximately 75% of practicing physicians in the US were AMA members. In the case of chiropractic organizations, even if one accepts the numbers presented at NACIQI, it is clear that ACA MEMBERS ARE A SMALL MINORITY OF THE PROFESSION.

Let’s do some math.

According to the latest ICA IRS Form 990 that could be found online, income from membership dues was $983,410. Full voting membership fourth year or more after graduation is $600/yr.

983,410 divided by 600 is 1,606 (rounded to whole number) full dues equivalents.

Add this to ACA’s 6,179 members, and you get 7,785 combined membership in the ICA and ACA. Of course, if one includes students and discounted or free dues, more can be claimed.

Number of estimated active chiropractors in the US ranges from 49,100 to 86,000.

Who is representing the vast majority of US chiropractors? No one. The Cartel has shut them out.

Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the role of social media in galvanizing movements is delusional.

2. Minorities don’t count. In his March 15, 2012 letter to the CCE, Assistant Secretary of Education Eduardo M. Ochoa wrote:

“The dissenting voices in my judgment are a small minority in the profession.”

I am flabbergasted that an administration committed to minority rights and needs would actually put such a thing in writing! There are two serious problems with this. First, this is no more a matter of opinion than the number of light bulbs in the Oval Office. You just have to have the data. The fact that Assistant Secretary Ochoa doesn’t have the data doesn’t give him the right to default to opinion on matters of fact.

Furthermore, the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is often quoted as saying, "Education is also the civil rights issue of our generation." I am sure that both Democrats and Republicans would be interested in a statement by the administration that ostensibly states that minority rights are to be ignored. We must not play down this outrageous statement.

3. Belonging to a membership organization is the only way to establish the number of adherents to a given philosophical orientation. Once again, this implied premise has no merit. All liberals aren’t members of the Democratic Party, all conservatives are not members of the Republican Party, and only a small minority of gun owners are members of the NRA. Similarly, the overwhelming majority of chiropractors do not belong to a membership organization, yet clearly have opinions regarding their profession.

As of right now there is no organized group (or unorganized) within the profession that can claim to represent the majority of chiropractors and related stakeholders in the profession.