The SkeptVet & the Media

As I’ve often pointed out, the majority of the information on complementary and alternative therapies for pets available on the internet comes from companies or advocates selling these products and services. One of the reasons I write this blog is to make sure that the skeptical and evidence-based perspective on these practices is available for people to consider and to balance against the marketing and hype. And because this perspective is inherently less appealing to most people than optimistic anecdotes and testimonials, and since it draws a fair bit of hostile response, there are few individuals available to provide this point of view.

Because of this, I am often approached by journalists who are looking for someone willing to provide a skeptical “balance” to articles in the media about alternative veterinary therapies. The articles themselves, unfortunately, are often quite credulous or play to the heartwarming anecdote rather than the scientific evidence. But I still feel it important that pet owners are aware of the scientific and skeptical perspective so that they have the opportunity to consider the evidence before making healthcare choices for their pets.

Therefore, I usually agree to be interviewed for these articles even if I often end up being portrayed negatively or being the “token skeptic” in a piece generally very positive to a therapy I am critical of. On the other hand, sometimes I find I am asked to provide a negative perspective on a therapy I actually have a positive view of, since people sometimes mistake skepticism for a globally negative attitude towards new or unfamiliar ideas, rather than simply as an attitude of requiring substantive evidence before drawing conclusions about a claim.

I have kept track of many of the articles for which I have been interviewed since one of my interests is the portrayal of science and alternative medicine in the media. I have posted this list here, since the articles may be of interest to some readers. However, I must emphasize that just because an article is listed here or I have been quoted, I do not necessarily agree with the claims or perspective of that article. Even my own quotes, I have found, can sometimes be arranged so as to create a misleading impression of my views on the subject being discussed. Therefore, I do not necessarily endorse the claims or arguments presented in these articles, even if they are supported by selective citation of my comments. Certainly, there are many points I do agree with in some of these, but I only take credit or blame for my own words in their full context.

Vet says pet pot could fix one of most common owner complaints
By Robin Roberts
Daily Brew, 2015

If Your Veterinarian Offers Acupuncture, Find a Different Vet: Sticking needles in your dog won’t make it feel better.
By Brian Palmer
Slate, 2014

Acupuncture for Your Dog
By Mary Helen Miller
WUTC radio story, 2014

Pet Lovers Beware: When The Drugs Don’t Work
By Peter Aldhous
Medium, 2014

Evidence, communication key to evaluating veterinarian
By Brennen McKenzie
SF, 2014

Spay & Neuter Quandary: Weighing the new options.
By Martha Connors
Bark Magazine, 2014

Homeopathy Debate Heats up as AVMA Policy Review Nears
By Heather Biele
DVM360 Magazine, 2014

Judging Merits of Homeopathy not an AVMA Objective
By Jennifer Fiala
VIN News Service, 2014

Raw Diets for Pets: Weighing the Pros & Cons
By Sandra Murphy
Natural Awakenings, 2013

Pet Psychics: Pet Mind Readers?
By Rutaksha Rawat
Creature Companion, 2013

Nutrition Plus A wide variety of supplements are popular among pet owners.
By Kerri Chladnicek
Veterinary Practice News, 2013

Stem Cell Therapy for Dogs: Unleashing Hope, Angst
By Tom Kisken
Ventura County Star, 2013

How much rawhide is too much for dogs?
By Brennen McKenzie
SF, 2012

The Promise of  Probiotics
By Elizabeth Devitt
Pet Age, 2012

Let the Evidence Show
By Mark Thill
Veterinary Advantage, 2012

Pet pointers: Meow-choo, Meow-choo! Sneezing in Cats, Diet and Kidney Disease
By Brennen McKenzie
San Jose Mercury News, 2011

How to Help Elderly Dogs with Degenerative Conditions
By Brennen McKenzie
San Jose Mercury News, 2011

Don’t Pamper Pets with Halloween Candy
By Brennen McKenzie
San Jose Mercury News, 2010





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One Response to The SkeptVet & the Media

  1. Pingback: Weekend reads: Maggie Simpson publishes a paper, why correcting the scientific record is hard - Retraction Watch at Retraction Watch

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