How the Neurocalometer Changed Everything

February 19, 2010 · Filed Under Herb Newborg 

In the early twenties, Chiropractic was almost at the height of its prosperity.

The end of the war had brought home the youth of the country and they had filled the colleges. Chiropractic schools shared in the avalanche of new students, who sought to take up a career.

In the summer of 1923, when the Chiropractors assembled in Davenport for the annual Lyceum and convention, the atmosphere just radiated prosperity and good times among the chiropractors.

Destiny had come to favor Chiropractic and it was evident in many ways.

It was one of the most colorful events that had taken place in nearly all of Chiropractic history up to that time. It marked a new milestone for the profession.

The Chiropractors who had come to Davenport looked the part of successful practitioners. They were all exceedingly well-dressed and their pockets were full of money. It was the time when the country was heading for its era of prosperity and the people were for the most part rather well off. In addition to looking well-dressed and having pockets full of money, many had come with their automobiles.

Then, to add further to the scene of good times, nearly all of the Chiropractors appeared to be well and happy.

It should be remembered that these Chiropractors had been mostly ill at one time. They were former patients, who had been given up to die, or had been suffering with illness and disease over a long period of time. Their funds had been very meager in those days, when they sought to study for a career in Chiropractic.

B.J. was the great leader of the profession; the genius of Chiropractic — but he was hopelessly insolvent financially. He was in debt for several hundred thousand dollars.

The money, which the school had made during the previous years, B.J. had squandered, largely on objects of art and travel.

As he looked at the men and women, who had come back to Davenport to rejoice at their prosperity and talk over old times, B.J. compared his status with those of his former students.

They had become well and they had become rich in their practices. He had become poor and practically bankrupt in his work of teaching the science, art and philosophy of Chiropractic.

According to Dr. Frank Elliott’s confidential records of the events that actually took place at that time, shortly thereafter Dossa Evins first came to B.J. to tell him about the Neurocalometer he was working on.

B.J. turned it down flatly and in a single moment.

He did not even stop to consider it. He made up his mind in an instant. It meant nothing to him — and he could not see any value in it.

B.J. told Evins to see Dr. Elliott and maybe he would try and help him do something with it.

Evins went to Elliott and Dr. Elliott saw the value in what Evins was trying to perfect.

But, the next year, when it looked like the Dossa Evins patent would be granted, B.J. suddenly saw that his one opportunity to make money again, to pay off his debts and the chance to build up a new fund so that he too could continue the important work be had begun had been missed.

Fate Intervenes

The following year, when the patent counsel had reported that the Neurocalometer was approved by the patent office as a new invention, Dossa Evins went to B.J. and told him about it.

To B.J., the files show, it meant the end of his life; the end of his career. He said that he had been a fool to turn down the chance that Evins gave him the year before to get in on one of the most important developments in Chiropractic history up to that time. He pointed out that he was broke and hopelessly in debt.

He said to Dossa Evins and to Frank Elliott that they would be the ones now to capture all of the laurels in Chiropractic and that they would not only become famous, but would reap a fortune out of it.

He was now licked, he said.

But, Dossa Evins and Frank Elliott replied that they had come to offer it to him — not merely to show it to him. That he could obtain all of the patent rights and go forward to bring it to the profession — giving them only a share of the profits.

B.J. was absolutely stunned by their behavior. He got in touch with Tom Morris and a demonstration was arranged. The test was performed on Tom Morris, as B.J. looked on.

The demonstration was a success and steps were taken to prepare the necessary agreements.

The files of Dr. Elliott offer a record of the exact conversations that took place. The circumstances are carefully described and reported by him.

Shortly thereafter, the attitude of B.J. toward his fellow-Chiropractors appeared to change. The man, who had no love for money all the previous years, and who delegated to others the task of attending to financial affairs for him, suddenly took on the outward appearance that he was greedy for wealth.

He was accused of blackmailing the members of his profession. He stated that anyone, who did not purchase a Neurocalometer would find himself without a profession to follow. He said it would be impossible for anyone thereafter to practice Chiropractic, if he did not own such an instrument.

What followed was the beginning of the end of B.J.’s role as leader of the chiropractic profession, based partly on the events that followed the introduction of the Neurocalometer.

But the Neurocalometer forever impacted the future of the chiropractic profession in another way that is known to very few, even those that are fully aware of the impact of its introduction on B.J.’s leadership role.

The AMA Campaign to Contain and Eliminate Chiropractic

The most violent crusade ever launched against the profession in all of its history was started by the American Medical Association (AMA), which had its offices in Chicago.

Morris Fishbein had just become the editor of its Journal. Fishbein took to the road to lecture to mass audiences all through the Midwest in a campaign to cripple the Chiropractic profession and to wreck the other remaining separate sciences that were flourishing.

A wave of hate and prejudice began to sweep across the country. Chiropractic had been denounced not only as “unscientific”; it was about to be denounced as “dangerous”.

To see how this came about, let us look at what was filed with the Examiner in the United States Patent Office in 1924.

When Dossa Evins filed his application in 1924 for a process patent covering a method of ascertaining pathological conditions by a difference in body surface temperatures, the patent examiner had interposed objections to the claim.

The briefs filed by the Patent Office asserted that the “methods or modes of treatment by physicians of certain diseases are not patentable.”

An “office rule” had been established in the patent office. They had arbitrarily ruled that they would no longer allow patents covering medical discoveries.

They had become aware of the changing ideas about the healing properties of the body, and had tried to stop anyone trying to obtain a monopoly on “curing the body” by a special method.

The following from their brief will show you how they applied the rule:

“The methods of modes of treatment by physicians is not patentable.

“They are discoveries, which may in the majority of cases, under certain conditions, accomplish certain results, but no particular method or mode of treatment under all circumstances and under all conditions will produce upon all persons, the same results; and, hence, to grant a patent for a particular mode of treatment, would have a tendency to deceive the public by leading them to believe that the method therein described and claimed will produce the desired results in all cases.

“I do not think that the statue providing for the issuance of patents was ever intended to cover cases of this kind.

“It should be reasonably certain in every case that the intervention sought to be patented will produce a certain result; this cannot be said of any mode of treatment used by physicians in curing diseases.

“The mode of treatment resorted to by the applicant must be treated solely as a discovery.”

To answer the objections of the Patent Examiner, Dossa Evins reported to his patent attorneys in Chicago that it was imperative to have his application favorably considered, because there had arisen a serious situation within the profession. Dossa Evins pointed out that many had come to have grave concern over the conventional thrust and the force applied to adjust patients. He reported that many Chiropractors had injured their patients, causing them great harm. His patent attorneys probably had come to learn of the famous Nellie Revell case the year before.

To prevent Chiropractors hurting their patients, to help them make their adjustments accurately, to even prevent a Chiropractor producing a new subluxation by the force of his thrust, Dossa Evins had pointed out that his “discovery and invention” was of the highest importance to the profession.

B.J. had at first refused to consider the ideas presented to him by Dossa Evins and B.J. had referred him to Dr. Frank Elliott.

Consequently, B.J. knew nothing of what was being done in the patent office and what statements were being made in support of the patent application.

Patent counsel for Dossa Evins did not realize at the time that the profession had to be protected in its public relations. All they were concerned about was to get a patent for their client.

They advised Frank Elliott to appear before the Examiner in the Patent Office and to tell him that if he did not waive the office rule, which they had established, and if they rejected the application of Dossa Evins, that steps would be taken to appeal to the Supreme Court for an adjudication of the right of the patent office to fix such limitations without having the right to do so under the patent laws.

Then, a supplemental brief was filed by the attorneys for Dossa Evins and the statements in that brief are of the greatest importance to us as we study the historical events that transpired shortly thereafter.

Without realizing that the medical profession would be receiving its most powerful weapon against Chiropractic, the following revelations were disclosed in the reply brief:-

“Heretofore, attempted correction of subluxations or nerve impingements has been guesswork, due to the fact that it was impossible to accurately locate the point of impingement — that is, the point where the nerve along the spine was subjected to pressure.

“Prior to applicant’s process, an adjustment of the spine was very likely to produce the very condition, which the adjustment was supposed to remedy, due to two facts: first, because there was no way of accurately locating the point where the nerve was compressed and hence an adjustment was liable to be made at the wrong point, and thus produce a compression of a nerve, where it did not previously exist.

“Second, even though there was a proper location of the nerve impingement, it was impossible to know when a correct adjustment had been made, and the chances were that too much of an adjustment would be made and the nerve on the other side of the spinal column thus be compressed.

“It will be seen, therefore, that prior to applicant’s process, the adjustment was uncertain, unscientific, and liable to cause injury rather than to correct the abnormal condition presented for correction.

“Applicant’s process has entirely obviated all these difficulties, and has changed that which has heretofore been uncertain, unscientific — in fact, guess-work — and even dangerous — and has now made it possible to produce scientifically correct and accurate adjustments of the spine.”

Imagine a brief filed in the United States Patent Office setting forth that the science of Chiropractic is “uncertain”; that it is “unscientific”; that it is just “guess-work”; and that it is “dangerous”?

The patent office granted Dossa Evins a patent covering his “new discovery and invention”, but Dossa Evins had given to the medical profession the most devastating arguments they could now assert against Chiropractic.

For, no sooner had the profession started to quarrel about the sales program of the Neurocalometer, and no sooner had the news reached the public that even the Neurocalometer was not what was claimed for it, history shows that the greatest explosion was touched off by the medical profession. They actually went to war against the Chiropractic profession. Brigades got into action and Chiropractors everywhere across the nation were now being arrested in wholesale lots.

The entire profession was thrown into turmoil by an AMA smear campaign whose effects linger to this very day by one of our own providing the AMA its most powerful weapon against Chiropractic.

Source: The Lerner Report

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3 Responses to “How the Neurocalometer Changed Everything”

  1. Dr. Brandon Harshe on February 20th, 2010 9:30 am

    WOW! That was an amazing article. I found it very interesting how Dossa Evins inadvertently began chiropractic’s problems. Pretty eye-opening.

  2. Steve Agocs, D.C. on February 20th, 2010 10:11 am

    This is a good article, thanks for sharing it! This is a new twist on an old story I haven’t seen before. I’d heard mixed things about the Lerner Report as a resource, questioning its veracity on some matters, but I’d like to know more about these confidential files and documents of Frank Elliot.

  3. Robert Affolter on February 20th, 2010 11:53 am

    Great article. However, while the neurocalometer may have given the AMA more ammunition, the real war was “science” vs. “religion”. Allopathic medicine was given favor by the government after the Flexner Report in 1910. The Flexner Report recommended standardized medical education and stated the medical education should be “arduous and expensive”. That had the effect of limiting the number of schools and doctors, increasing the prestige of physicians and thus driving up the cost of health care.
    The rant against chiropractic as “unscientific” is based on the idea that science must be based on atheism. It is an interesting coincidence that the neurocalometer was developed at the same time that the fight for teaching evolution in the public schools was being fought – see Scopes Monkey Trial.
    Thanks for a great article.

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