Professor Edzard Ernst, the scientist, author and champion of evidence-based-medicine has today self-published an article about alternative medicine for animals which he was originally invited to write for the Veterinary Record, but withdrew after apparently being told that: "A good number of vets use these therapies and a more balanced view that still sets out their efficacy (or otherwise) would be more useful for the readership."

In part one of the article, Professor Ernst made the case that homeopathy has no place in veterinary (or human) evidence-based medicine. 

In part two, he considered a number of other types of so-called alternative medicine (or 'SCAM', as he called it in the self-published version) for animals, including acupuncture, chiropractic, energy healing and dietary supplements, concluding that most such SCAMS are unproven and that 'arguably it is unethical to use unproven medicines in routine veterinary care'.

Now is it just me, or does anyone else find the Veterinary Record position rather worrying?

Surely a scientific journal should concern itself with one thing and one thing only: the search for scientific truth? Surely, therefore, the question of how many veterinary surgeons use a therapy is completely irrelevant. Or am I being idealistic? 

I also struggle with the idea that Professor Ernst could be told to go away and provide more balance.

How exactly is anyone supposed to balance the argument that there's no evidence that a therapy works? The only counter or balancing argument would be that it does. Catch 22.

Most learned people know that homeopathy is not just a little bit implausible, but completely off-the-scale-bonkers-in-a-'world-is-not-flat-sort-of-a-way', along with energy healing and chiropractic.

But acupuncture? I'll bet Professor Ernst's words will make for uncomfortable reading for some. That's precisely what seems to have made the Veterinary Record balk. But surely that's the whole point of science. To cause us all to challenge our beliefs, even (or especially) if it makes us uncomfortable.

You can read Professor Ernst's blog at: https://edzardernst.com/ 


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