Vets and Homeopathy

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This blog is in response to a question from Ger.

Thanks for the questions. I have not read the websites you referred me to, but do have some comments.

First, homeopathy has no scientific basis and further, there is no clinical evidence that it works. Instead of reinventing the wheel here, I refer anyone interested to Science-Based Medicine. Homeopathy has 76 posts by the SBM contributors. There are other sites and sources but I would start there. (For example, Harriet Hall has a nice article at and Skeptic published another at

Second, I would say the same thing about homeopathy that I say about evolution to creationists. The scientific data is not in question. What the creationist/homeopathy seeker is probably having trouble with is analyzing the data. That gets us back to critical thinking and books and websites like:

The Skeptics Society and Skeptic magazine;


The Skeptics Guide to the Universe;



How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age;

Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunkby Massimo Pigliucci;

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan.

Between the above websites and Science-Based Medicine, a person should be able to read the science about homeopathy as well as at least start learning how to analyze issues like homeopathy.

Third, this raises the question, why would a MD or DVM administer or prescribe homeopathy (or any therapy that has no empirical or scientific evidence)? There are at least 3 reasons why a vet or MD would promote/prescribe therapies that have no scientific basis.1. The clinician might just be uninformed on this issue. Personally, I do not think this is a viable excuse as professionals are supposed to be skeptics and not prescribe without reason. Primum non nocere. 2. The clinician might not care about the science, just about making money. A certain percentage of patients, be they human or animal, are going to get better regardless of what you do. (Especially if some of the symptoms are subjective.) So, if you want to make some money, with very little chance of adverse side effects, in the hope that the patient will get better regardless, homeopathy will make you some money. If the patient gets better, you can take credit and if not, then you appear open-minded and caring to those who do not understand homeopathy (in other words, the person who asked about it in the first place). This is unethical. 3. The clinician simply is not scientifically competent. Its not that he has failed to research the subject, he has, he just does not understand the science. This is a very poor reflection on the clinician’s training (med school, vet school, and or residency).

Finally, I should add that doctors who prescribe homeopathy might not be totally incompetent or unethical. They might be good people who just have not gotten around to studying the subject (shame on them, they need to do that and soon!) and who are very caring and competent in all other areas of medicine. But the fact that a doctor (DVM or MD) promotes or prescribes homeopathy should raise red flags.

The above is important to the animal activist for the following. If an animal protectionist or antivivisectionist studies critical thinking and reads some good science books occasionally, she will soon find that the same fallacies are used by vivisection activists, creationists, and proponents of alternative medicine (medicine that is not based on science), and other purveyors of nonsense. She will see a lot of ad hoc arguments, ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments and so forth. There are a limited number of ways to make nonsense look like sense whether one is

actively trying to make sense out of nonsense (in other words if one is lying) or if one has been duped and is merely repeating what one has been told.

I have often said that if the animal activist understands critical thinking, he can make life very difficult for the purveyors of nonsense. Like vivisection activists.


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