I’ve written a couple of times about Dr. Andrew Jones, a vet from Canada who makes his living selling alternative therapies and “veterinary secrets” online. Dr. Jones was once a practicing veterinarian, not just an online huckster and snake oil salesman. However, despite repeated warnings and fines from the regulatory authorities, he refused to stop making unfounded and illegal claims, drumming up business by claiming the rest of the veterinary profession were incompetent and greedy and suppressing “The Truth” about alternative therapies. Rather than abide by reasonable standards of respectful, professional behavior, he choose to surrender his license to practice medicine.
The ruling against him by the regulatory board sums up how Dr. Jones operated, and how he continues to conduct himself:
This Panel was dismayed, disheartened and discouraged by the extent to which the Respondent, Dr Andrew Jones, expresses a disparaging attitude towards his colleagues and his profession throughout his writings.
The Panel considered Dr Jones’ marketing material a serious example of his unprofessional behaviour in that his marketing material has an all pervading, persistent theme of denigrating other members of his profession in order to draw attention to himself. In his self-laudatory statements, Dr Jones’ constant harangues serve to throw the veterinary profession into disrepute.
Giving up his license undoubtedly freed him to fully indulge his primary marketing strategy, sowing fear and mistrust of science-based medicine in order to sell questionable alternatives and quackery. What is more, it allows him to portray himself as an altruistic “outsider” speaking truth to power and caring only for the welfare of animals and their human companions. He manages to put quite a self-serving spin on his legal troubles, casting himself as a martyr oppressed by malign forces out to crush alternative medicine.
Clearly the College of Veterinarians wants me to stop publishing on the Internet, especially alternative dog and cat health information…The profession loses as the College of Veterinarians has directed disproportionate resources towards prosecuting me, and further muzzled any current practicing Veterinarians who are inclined to speak out. Who wins? A small group of conservative Veterinarians who want to keep practicing Veterinary medicine conventionally, with no room for dissenting opinions.
Ultimately, someone has to make a stand, and I am frankly tired of The College of Veterinarians being the big Bully on the playground that no one is willing to stand up to.
As silly and disingenuous as this image is, it certainly resonates with his supporters, who are vehement, even hysterical in their response to any criticism of Dr. Jones. In a follow-up to my post about Dr. Jones, I shared some of the bizarre and childish comments from his defenders, including these gems:
This idiot must not have much to do, or the jam to say who he is. That makes him a weak minded, useless piece of dog poop!
What a spineless excuse for a human being.
a highly volatile dictatorial site run by a wannabe megalomaniac. A truly disturbed person with a anger management issue venting via their little site to their own personal herd of sycophants. I would dismiss them like a fly on your arm. Just troubled souls with no purpose.
Just another stooge for corporate interests such as big pharma
You are a lying scumbag…… eat dog shit and die !!!! you evil money monger !!!!
Certainly, Dr. Jones sets the tone on his site with his own persistent slurs on the veterinary profession. Posts like “Why I am ashamed to be a vet: a shocking expose of the profession” and “Bad Vets,” and his book, “Veterinary Secrets: How conventional veterinary medicine may be harming your pet and what you can do about it” illustrate his attack-dog marketing style, and the enormous ego it takes to decide that nearly the entire veterinary profession is ignorant or venal and only you and a select few know The Truth.
And for someone whose business model is founded on denigrating other veterinarians, Dr. Jones seems to have a fairly thin skin. His response to my first post about him ignored all the issues and simply whined about my supposed anonymity. And though that little kerfuffle was three years ago, apparently Dr. Jones still harbors some resentment.
He recently wrote a post entitled Scientific Evidence for Homeopathy. This is ludicrously misnamed since he actually avoids scientific evidence almost entirely. I have reviewed the research on homeopathy in detail, documenting the case against it, responding in careful detail to the poor evidence presented to defend it. Dr. Jones ignores all of this, instead choosing to mention one medical institution that has bought into homeopathy, cite one research study (which has been critically reviewed and shown not to be reliable), and finally fall back on the refuge of quacks through the ages—personal anecdotes.
I noticed this post when it came out, mostly because Dr. Jones used a screenshot of a post from this blog to illustrate the science-based view of homeopathy. In the piece, Dr. Jones disparagingly refers to the majority of scientists and the medical profession, including myself, who acknowledge the failure of homeopathy in scientific tests as “so called torch bearers of ‘evidence based whatever’” and suggests that rather than warn the public that homeopathy is quackery we “sip on some soothing chamomile tea.”
Despite the reference to my blog, I didn’t see any reason to respond to the post since nothing of substance was said, and I’ve answered these sort of vacuous clichés many times. However, a reader subsequently pointed out a little detail I’d missed which I thought nicely illustrated the reality behind Dr. Jones’ carefully crafted image. Though he casts himself as altruistic and noble, standing up against the bullies, cynics, and hateful stooges of industry, occasionally little windows open up in this saintly façade. In this case, Dr. Jones couldn’t help but express his real feelings when he captured and named the screenshot of my blog:
Though it’s been three years since I wrote about Dr. Jones, and despite his own “persistent theme of denigrating other members of his profession in order to draw attention to himself…in his self-laudatory statements,” Dr. Jones apparently still harbors some pretty personal anger about the criticisms of him I have made, and he expresses this in as silly and unprofessional a manner as the supporters I quoted above.
Dr Jones likes to characterize those who criticize his nonsense or his method of promoting it as angry, threatened, or somehow acting on malign personal motives. In the past, Dr. Jones characterized my criticism as expressing “a strong dislike” of him. This is merely a projection of his own narcissism. I have no personal feelings about Dr. Jones, and his claims and actions do not directly affect me in any way, neither personally nor professionally. I believe he is either deluded or dishonest in many of his claims, such as the claim that homeopathy has any therapeutic value. And I believe pet owners and our animal companions would be better off if he were not spreading misinformation on the internet. But he has the right to spread it, just as I have the right to identify it as the nonsense it is.
If Dr. Jones chooses to claim publically that science-based veterinary medicine is useless or harmful and that other veterinarians are misguided or venal, and he does so in order to sell his own products, he ought to expect some criticism. If he really believes in what he is peddling, he would be far more successful in defusing this criticism by backing up his claims with real evidence, rather than making silly, snide comments about “evidence-based whatever” and sneaking grade-school insults into his posts.