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  1. #61
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    This is more directed at the OP than the science debate, though I'm sure it has merit to the debate as well.

    I think, to some extent, we all venture into the realm of pseudoscience. This morning, for example, I woke up all stuffy and sninus-y, and the first thing I thought was that I'd best make a big pot of pho with jalapenos. "Pho with jalapenos" is not a medical recommendation that any medical professional has made to me- it is something that I know, from personal experience, makes me feel better when I get all stuffy and sninus-y. The science could be that the capscacin from the pepper causes my sninus to release all that nasty snot that's up there, and the warmness of the soup helps raise my body temperature, but in that moment, I'm not caring about the science. I just wanna feel better.

    And we do all sorts of things like this- breathe in some peppermint oil steam for congestion, drink a Sprite for a bellyache, drink a flat Coke for nausea, suck on a peppermint for anxiety, wear socks with Vapo-Rub for a cold, chew on ice for a fever, eat a spoonful of honey for a sore throat... things that may have some scientific basis somewhere, but for which we have relied on experiencial data to "know" that it works. And generally speaking, these sorts of "home remedies" are innocuous. They vary in basis- old wives, sailors, and nomadic peoples are often to blame for the origins of these "cures."

    When we then reflect these "home remedies" onto our animals, I see it more as a hopeful sort of these things working across species. Some things do have a basis- feeding horses stout beer or yoghurt, putting Listerine on swelling, the 1001 uses for Dawn dish detergent, for example- and there is probably some "science" behind it, but again, people are banking off of the experiential. Your average person speaking to your average person does not say, "In order to make your horse's coat colour pop, I recommend feeding a few dashes of paprika, because the chemical compound of xx activates a reaction in yy, allowing for cellular production of zz, resulting in a redder coat." Instead, they usually say something like, "Oh yeah, my friend had a dull chestnut. They fed him a few sprinkles of paprika, which is the main ingredient in some of those coat-enhancing supplements, and a lot cheaper. He was super-shiny red by show season!"

    Your average person lives in a world of data through experience. We did not learn to keep our hands out of a burning fire by reading scientific studies on the effects of fire on hands- we learned by touching the fire and realising it is hot.

    We also have a really hard time keeping experiences to ourselves. Person A gives their horse a peppermint during a gas colic episode- possibly even without knowing the horse is having a gas colic episode. Gas colic clears up, so the correlation in Person A's head is "peppermint = end of gas colic." When asked about a situation, people immediately reference their own experiences, so Person A will remember "peppermint = end of gas colic," and share that as her own experience. Just as if anyone asked me what I do when I'm feeling stuffy and sninusy, I would say, "I eat a big bowl of homemade pho with jalapenos."



  2. #62
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    And that's how we learn. I love the pho example because it is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. BTW I love pho! So regardless of whether the pho relieves your congestion from the peppers, the heat, some interesting molecular combination beyond your ken is irrelevant to its working. Do we call the pho recipe inferior because it hasn't been peer-reviewed? I say no, because most of what we learn to do in response to illness, etc. is not peer reviewed except by your peers -your mom, dad, granny, friend, etc. The idea that somehow pepper pho should be looked down upon when compared to sinus medication because Glaxo Smithkline did some serious R&D is an unfortunate bias. Indeed, a knowledgeable doctor might say, "You know what might work -try some hot pepper soup"!

    Sometimes the mundane part of the recipe is the key. For example, back in the day when urine might have been used as a remedy the physician would insist on urine from a young boy. It turns out this is the cleanest pee. Or a hedge witch might insist that you gather a certain herb only at certain time of day. Turns out that various chemicals ebb and flow in concentration in plants throughout the cycle of a day.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by mayhew View Post
    I'm so glad it's not just me! So far as lack of real science goes, I think veterinary science has come a long way in the last 50 years. I have so much respect for vets, large animal in particular, because you know that none of them are in it for the pay. I haven't yet heard a vet spouting nonsense. A farrier, yes, but she gave such a great natural trim that I just smiled and nodded. Recently my vet drew blood for a Coggins. He just walked in, horse was in his pen which is about the size of a round pen, he looked everywhere but the horse, walked in a circle around the horse first, and before you knew it, had the blood drawn from a loose horse. Horse didn't even know that he had had blood drawn. I know that is just plain horse sense, but on the same day he prescribed an ointment for scratches that fixed the horse in a matter of days. Various homemade remedies had kept the horse in scratches for weeks. I don't mean to be totally negative, though. I have seen a mixture of DMSO and Furacin take my gelding's swelling down in a hind leg injury that swelled beyond all proportion to the small scratch that he got, overnight. I would consider both of those medications to be fairly old-fashioned. I don't mean to say that old-fashioned should be thrown out. Just that scientific reason should be applied before we start messing with our horses!
    You must live in the only district in the country where vets don't spout nonsense, this is really hilarious. I just had a women ask me why her vet could not recommend anything related to nutrition or possible immune system disorders with a horse that has been eaten up with sweet itch. My response is because most do not care nor do they want to know about nutritional matters, that is for the nutritionist. Here give her steroids and antibiotics.
    "I have brought on the hatred of Wall Street and I relish it".
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt



  4. #64
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    See, I don't think using hot peppers to unclog sinuses means one is being "pseudoscientific". It is doing something based on previous observations. That is ENTIRELY scientific.

    Again, NOT ALL SCIENCE is in the realm of controlled trials and test tubes!!! That is ONE way of doing it. A child choosing not to stick his finger on a hot stove is another way--observation = learning = science!

    I reserve the term "pseudoscience" for people that are wilfully FAKING IT to some end that has nothing to do with a genuine desire to know more.

    Bad science =/= pseudoscience

    Preliminary science =/= pseudoscience

    Outdated science =/= pseudoscience

    (again, one can substitute "knowledge" for "science" if the term science is offensive or has connotations that the writer doesn't intend--I see the terms as essentially interchangeable)
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  5. #65
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    btw re: humans - what about the placebo affect? our minds are very powerful - and sometimes believing is all that is needed to cure what ails us :-)



  6. #66
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    There are various definitions for pseudoscience. I like this one best:
    : a system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific.

    It's when people pretend that something has a scientific basis, when there is really no good evidence. It's the pretending that makes it offensive, not the fact that no one as gotten around to applying scientific methodology to prove effectiveness. Those of us that value science hate to see it's reputation tarnished by misuse or misrepresentation.

    Folk medicine only falls under the category of pseudoscience if people infer it has been proven effective when it has not. Or use scientific sounding terms as a facade with nothing real behind it. If people say 'hey, this seems to work for me, it's worth a try' I'm OK with that approach.



  7. #67
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    Katy,

    I like what you say about people getting caught up in these various horse-related theories because they are unable to admit they are afraid to ride. I am this is not the reality across the board, but for those for whom this is the challenge, maybe they and their peers just need to be comfortable with it. Why not say, "I love my horse, I love being around my horse, but I am afraid to ride"? If they get their therapy by grooming, massaging, etc. on the ground, then they shouldn't feel that there is something missing. Obviously nothing is missing.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    See, I don't think using hot peppers to unclog sinuses means one is being "pseudoscientific". It is doing something based on previous observations. That is ENTIRELY scientific.

    Again, NOT ALL SCIENCE is in the realm of controlled trials and test tubes!!! That is ONE way of doing it. A child choosing not to stick his finger on a hot stove is another way--observation = learning = science!

    I reserve the term "pseudoscience" for people that are wilfully FAKING IT to some end that has nothing to do with a genuine desire to know more.

    Bad science =/= pseudoscience

    Preliminary science =/= pseudoscience

    Outdated science =/= pseudoscience

    (again, one can substitute "knowledge" for "science" if the term science is offensive or has connotations that the writer doesn't intend--I see the terms as essentially interchangeable)
    I think you have presented a sound, rational, logical, point of view.

    Horses can do science too. Ever watch a clever pony work out how to open a stall door?

    The ponies behavior falls squarly within the basic tenet scientific exploration.

    That the pony does not have the ability to call it science, does not make the process any less scientific.

    If ponies can do science, then maybe science really isn't all that spechal!

    My apologies to all the venerable Mr Spocks out there for creating yet another fallacy.

    I just can't stay in that rigid sort of world, I can visit as needed, but it's more fun to remain open to some sense of the infinite. History is full of stories of the spark of enlightenment striking during moments of mental liberty.



  9. #69
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    If ponies can do science, then maybe science really isn't all that spechal!
    Of COURSE it isn't special! It is, in fact, completely humble. And yet we would be in bad shape without it. Fact is, we ALL do it, EVERY day. It needs no exaltation or elevation to something only smart people can do or that is only performed in laboratories.

    Is anyone hearing me when I say that to "perform science" requires only a brain and the application of one or the other of our senses and maybe some motor skills? Sheesh.

    But turning beliefs and desires and personal agendas into "science" by the random application of chunks of information, nope. That doesn't fly. Because it is stupid, and humans (and ponies) are ALSO quite capable in that department, too.

    it's more fun to remain open to some sense of the infinite
    Here's a shocker for you. It isn't that hard to go back and forth.
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  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    Of COURSE it isn't special! It is, in fact, completely humble. And yet we would be in bad shape without it. Fact is, we ALL do it, EVERY day. It needs no exaltation or elevation to something only smart people can do or that is only performed in laboratories.

    Is anyone hearing me when I say that to "perform science" requires only a brain and the application of one or the other of our senses and maybe some motor skills? Sheesh.
    Yes!

    But turning beliefs and desires and personal agendas into "science" by the random application of chunks of information, nope. That doesn't fly. Because it is stupid, and humans (and ponies) are ALSO quite capable in that department, too.
    The key word here is "turning" something into science that is actually not science.

    Let's test the statement by changing the word "science" into "Knowledge".

    ......turning beliefs and desires and personal agendas into "Knowledge" by the random application of chunks of information...........

    Do you still stand by it? If so why? How is that not like a definition for art?

    Here's a shocker for you. It isn't that hard to go back and forth.
    Apparently not for some!



  11. #71
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    And that's how we learn. I love the pho example because it is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about.
    I love it too, because it's a wonderful example of pseudo-science at work and demonstrates how the human brain is wired to default to superstitious thinking. I eat hot soup/ I feel better/ ergo I believe the hot soup caused my congestion to clear up is an entirely fallacious logical chain. It's possible the hot soup cleared up the congestion; but not proven. Any of a number of other things could have caused the congestion to clear up, for example, standing upright, the simple passage of time, or even the placebo effect- I firmly believe eating hot soup makes me feel better, so it does.
    You'll notice that MANY of the weirdo horse things people do are based on similar chains of faulty reasoning- horse has a cut, I apply a homeopathic cream to it, and wow the cut heals. Obviously the cream worked! overlooking entirely the fact that cut would have healed no matter what, and since there's no control, it's possible the cream actually delayed the healing process. You can't tell.
    Personal experiences are the WORST way to "learn" about cause and effect. In science they are called "case reports" and are considered to not be evidence of any kind.
    When we are rating the strength of evidence supporting "practices" we usually use a rating scale where the best evidence comes from multiple well-designed controlled trials, and the worst evidence comes from "expert opinion", namely, what people believe to be true based on personal experiences.

    People in general are hard-wired to find it difficult to comprehend this. That their "personal experiences" are the worst way to learn "the truth" about anything.



  12. #72
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    I hang garlic around my horses' necks.
    I find it to be an excellent elephant repellent.
    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.



  13. #73
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    Personal experience = Pseudoscience. Interesting. Well there are those who will swear by aspirin and pooh pooh willow bark tea...

    Pah! You know what? Never mind. I've got a couple of science classes to go teach.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  14. #74
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    katy - i am curious - did you do studies for your supplements?



  15. #75
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    ......turning beliefs and desires and personal agendas into "Knowledge" by the random application of chunks of information...........

    Do you still stand by it? If so why? How is that not like a definition for art?
    Yes, I still stand by it. One can twist facts or factoids into many different shapes and call it "knowledge". But if one is doing so by the wilful misapplication or SELECTIVE use of generally available knowledge, one is practicing pseudoscience.

    You can call it art if you wish, I guess. But knowledge generally presumes "verifiable" the way I'm choosing to use the term. I'm not talking about knowledge as in "I had a dream about a rabbit last night" or "I had an unhappy childhood" or "I'm hungry". These are personal bits of knowledge that are entirely real but not able to be observed by others. I'd stick "art" in that realm before I'd stick it in the realm of "sodium chloride is a white crystalline substance which readily dissolves at a predictable rate in room-temperature water".

    [numerous examples deleted as I'm well aware I belabor the point]
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  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by wendy View Post
    I love it too, because it's a wonderful example of pseudo-science at work and demonstrates how the human brain is wired to default to superstitious thinking. I eat hot soup/ I feel better/ ergo I believe the hot soup caused my congestion to clear up is an entirely fallacious logical chain. It's possible the hot soup cleared up the congestion; but not proven. Any of a number of other things could have caused the congestion to clear up, for example, standing upright, the simple passage of time, or even the placebo effect- I firmly believe eating hot soup makes me feel better, so it does.
    You'll notice that MANY of the weirdo horse things people do are based on similar chains of faulty reasoning- horse has a cut, I apply a homeopathic cream to it, and wow the cut heals. Obviously the cream worked! overlooking entirely the fact that cut would have healed no matter what, and since there's no control, it's possible the cream actually delayed the healing process. You can't tell.
    Personal experiences are the WORST way to "learn" about cause and effect. In science they are called "case reports" and are considered to not be evidence of any kind.
    When we are rating the strength of evidence supporting "practices" we usually use a rating scale where the best evidence comes from multiple well-designed controlled trials, and the worst evidence comes from "expert opinion", namely, what people believe to be true based on personal experiences.

    People in general are hard-wired to find it difficult to comprehend this. That their "personal experiences" are the worst way to learn "the truth" about anything.
    Wendy personal experience certainly can be considered evidence in science.



  17. #77
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    "Levels of Evidence" is the concept that is relevant here. In my world (and most others as well) we rank evidence according to how well it is laid out/supported/gathered/synthesized.

    Level 1 = supported by randomized, controlled trials.
    Level 2 = supported by non-randomized trials, still with some controls in place to reduce bias, but some flaws in design that make the data less than "pure"
    Level 3 = supported by observational or retrospective trials or bodies of data only
    Level 4 = observational, non-controlled studies.

    Level 4 is as low as the Scientific (big "S") community goes, but of course one could probably list 5 (a collection of anecdotes) and 6 (my own personal experience) or some other definitions. The power and strength of the data in terms of being confident about conclusions drawn is lower with each step down from 1-4. The data are the data, and one singular piece of data is not "wrong" if it comes from a level 4 type of study, but the ability to stand on firm ground in formulating conclusions is better with level 1 evidence.

    So a piece of evidence is still a piece of evidence. (assuming it was collected correctly, etc.) But putting all the pieces together is the tough part.

    Many veterinary studies get to about a level 3 at best and virtually ALL "nutraceutical" studies (if there even are any) are lucky to be a level 4.
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  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghazzu View Post
    I hang garlic around my horses' necks.
    I find it to be an excellent elephant repellent.



  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbm View Post
    katy - i am curious - did you do studies for your supplements?
    Nope, other than my own on/off on/off , try to keep everything else the same (which is often impossible) and pay attention to any changes on my own horses. My most robust evidence is when I used chromium on/off 3 different times, I could feel a difference in the hardness of my horses cresty neck in a few days. And my horses used to stand out in a crowd they were so shiny. And I kept them alive for 11 years past when all my vets thought they should be put down. Hardly publishable, but it sold me on the concept, and I was very frugal with supplements. That's all we can do, as DW has pointed out there is very little robust scientific evidence for supplements, even the the NRC guidelines.

    Again lack of science does not make pseudoscience. It's misrepresenting or inferring that something has scientifically proven when it has not that creates the 'pseudo'.

    I have been up front about this, and careful in my promotional material to say 'I feel these products have been helpful for my horses' and the repeat sales indicate others think they are helpful as well. I'm not misrepresenting them as being proven.



  20. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    Yes, I still stand by it. One can twist facts or factoids into many different shapes and call it "knowledge". But if one is doing so by the wilful misapplication or SELECTIVE use of generally available knowledge, one is practicing pseudoscience.
    "wilful misapplication or SELECTIVE use of generally available knowledge "

    This seems to imply a criteria of a willful misappropriation of factoids to constitute a determination of pseudoscience.

    Which is very interesting.. So what of the purely ignorant basing knowledge on personal observation. or second hand accounts, if we can't call that pseudoscience, what is the word we use to describe that? Do we then cross over into the realm of "Naivete"? If so I'm fine with that.

    You can call it art if you wish, I guess. But knowledge generally presumes "verifiable" the way I'm choosing to use the term. I'm not talking about knowledge as in "I had a dream about a rabbit last night" or "I had an unhappy childhood" or "I'm hungry". These are personal bits of knowledge that are entirely real but not able to be observed by others. I'd stick "art" in that realm before I'd stick it in the realm of "sodium chloride is a white crystalline substance which readily dissolves at a predictable rate in room-temperature water".
    I think we have to acknowledge inspiration, dreams, and spontaneous personal revelations, as part of the process of the discovery of actual knowledge.

    Is there really such a difference between art and science in their respective creative methodologies? Granted that once a hypothesis is in existence, the application of scientific method may provide evidence to either support or dismiss the concept.

    I'm interested in the origins of knowledge, and that brings us back to an exploration of thought itself.

    Summary: The seeds of fact may arise out of musings of nonsense.

    There's a reverse pathway to follow...

    Start at:

    "sodium chloride is a white crystalline substance which readily dissolves at a predictable rate in room-temperature water"

    Then travel backwards until the the moment of discovery, then ask what precipitated that discovery.



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