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Pseudo-Scientific Thinking and the Horse

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  • Pseudo-Scientific Thinking and the Horse

    Does anyone else find that strange and totally illogical thinking exists more in the horse world than elsewhere? Ideas that were discarded in the human medical world 100 years ago still exist in the horse world. Recently, me: "My horse is gassy, and every time he passes gas he moans. This is unusual. He has never moaned when farting before. Should I be worried about this?" Fellow horse person: "It's hazy today. That must be causing it. Better give him a peppermint." Am I alone in noticing that otherwise quite intelligent people let their brains go out the window when it comes to horses? I was thinking specifically of bodily horse care, lotions and potions and unguents, but it just occurred to me that the topic could apply to behavioral science/training as well.

  • #2
    I have noticed it, too. Some of the things that some horse people believe completely boggle my mind. I think it has something to do with the fact that horsekeeping is very tradition-based, and many of these traditions date back hundreds of years, back when some of these off-the-wall ideas actually were scientifically-accepted ideas. Just my theory on it.
    Happiness is the sweet smell of horses, leather, and hay.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Yeah, we place a very high value on what grandpa said, or, in some circles, what trainer's trainer said. And that isn't to say that everything they had to offer was wrong. Aspirin was found from a weird old fashioned remedy. But it was PROVED, through scientific trials. I'm talking about thoughts that continue to be passed on that have no proof whatsoever, they don't even have regular old logical thinking behind them.

      Comment


      • #4
        My theory: owning a horse is often built upon a childhood fantasy. So all things horsey tend to start deep in that part of the primitive brain that wants things emotionally without involving higher cognitive functions. Stuff of fantasy totally by-passes the frontal lobe.

        And nobody want someone to tap them on the shoulder and say 'excuse me, but your fantasy is not sustainable, nor rational', so its often best to keep mouths directly attached to a frontal lobe shut.
        Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org

        Comment


        • #5
          Is there really an abundance of science to be had?

          ie: compared to the amount of information available for feeding the human athlete there seems to be very little science behind feeding the horse athlete. Same with farrier work- I'm not seeing nearly enough science there.

          Otherwise, over the past 20 years or so I do see science as being much more accepted than it ever was. Particularly within the past five years there is much more focus on the difference between belief and scientific fact.

          Personally, science doesn't have all the answers (never will), so if someone wants to be honest about it and say "I know there's no real data to support this but I do it anyway because I feel it works best for me." I'm going to be totally OK with that. I just don't like to hear belief stated as fact.

          Comment


          • #6
            Just owning a horse sets us apart from the "intelligent world."...lol..

            Comment


            • #7
              It isn't just psuedo science, it is common sense that sometimes goes out the window. My father was a leading TB bloodstock agent and he observed that some people who made their fortunes with their sharp minds and judgement, just as quickly discarded their critical skills when it had to do with horses. He felt his job was to help them make wise decisions despite their frequent lapses in judgement.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Katy Watts View Post
                My theory: owning a horse is often built upon a childhood fantasy. So all things horsey tend to start deep in that part of the primitive brain that wants things emotionally without involving higher cognitive functions. Stuff of fantasy totally by-passes the frontal lobe.

                And nobody want someone to tap them on the shoulder and say 'excuse me, but your fantasy is not sustainable, nor rational', so its often best to keep mouths directly attached to a frontal lobe shut.
                That would be one general direction of thought I might be inclined to take as well.

                I'd also add that horses can be surrogate children for some people, or may fulfill some other emotional desire. Even if it's just a therapeutic relationship of simply working with another being who wants nothing more from you than some scratches and some treats. For some people horses are just "safe", and that can provide a strong sense of security for an individual, in this world that in so many ways is becoming increasingly hostile, predatory, and unforgiving.

                An issue with "scientists" as humans.... Is that many in their quest for "facts", may narrow their scope of exploration for those facts into studying states of existence that are isolated, sequestered, sterile, and disconnected (etc.), from the multitude of complexities and interconnections that certainly do exist between all things in ways known and unknown.

                Reproducing results in a controlled environment is great. But the universe is not a controlled environment, and all of those uncertainty factors out there do effect events, and how things unfold in the course of time.

                I might make a preliminary assertion, that it is the self aware nature of the individual that gives rise to what one might call a first level of "subjectively relevant truths". If all of us guide our lives from a perspective of our own unique "relevant truths" then fact is only that which anyone might believe it to be.

                The difficulty arises when either the individuals truth is non-serving for the individual, it becomes encumbering upon others, or conflict arrises out of what two or more individuals hold a truth to be.

                But in principle, even one relevant to science, the awareness of an individuals perception is not a thing that science can measure with any accuracy, so all of science is tainted by the individuality of the scientists, who are really only persons with their own sense of awareness.

                Science is great for uncovering the "truths" of the physical world as they apply to all things. Science is not a very suitable method for determining what any single individual perceives the world to be, from the point of view of the individual.

                Yet which has more validity as being real, the awareness of the individual, or an incorporeal fact?

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  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!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    alterhorse, I composed my comment while you posted yours. Fascinating stuff! I need more time to think about and respond to that. Trust COTH to make you think!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mayhew View Post
                      Yeah, we place a very high value on what grandpa said, or, in some circles, what trainer's trainer said.
                      That's really common around here, and it's really sad.

                      I never had a grandma, grandpa, or even a dad so thankfully, I've been conditioned to seek new answers .

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Does anyone else find that strange and totally illogical thinking exists more in the horse world than elsewhere? Ideas that were discarded in the human medical world 100 years ago still exist in the horse world. Recently, me: "My horse is gassy, and every time he passes gas he moans. This is unusual. He has never moaned when farting before. Should I be worried about this?" Fellow horse person: "It's hazy today. That must be causing it. Better give him a peppermint." Am I alone in noticing that otherwise quite intelligent people let their brains go out the window when it comes to horses? I was thinking specifically of bodily horse care, lotions and potions and unguents, but it just occurred to me that the topic could apply to behavioral science/training as well.
                        I've said it a million times:
                        Horse women are nuts.

                        Illogical, emotional, irrational.

                        And broke.

                        Horses are livestock...not some fantasy, mystical, noble steed.

                        Well, they're the MOST AWESOME livestock EVAH and I adore them!

                        The BBS/BSS lives on strong and prolific in the horse world.

                        And while it's usually not an actual issue most of the time...unfortunately it becomes an enormous issue when it comes to the business side or legislative side of the equine industry.

                        Sadly during those instances it goes from Equine to Eek-whine.
                        You jump in the saddle,
                        Hold onto the bridle!
                        Jump in the line!
                        ...Belefonte

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Many good points, but I think Katy has her arrow closest to the gold. People who are into horses have a lot of emotional investment in them, and although that's certainly true of many other things, the horse world in particular seems to lend itself to the propagation of a lot of magical thinking and fantasy-land stuff.

                          Someone who is "stuck" perpetually in the "my pretty pony" stage or who romanticizes all things equine is going to have a much shorter path to the world of "holistic spiritual connections" and old wives tales and the like than someone who sees the horse as an athlete, as livestock, as an asset, as a competition partner, or even a pet or a friend.

                          ALL of those things are fine, by the way, but some of them come from more mature parts of our brain than others.

                          Also I think horse people have a wide stubborn/independent streak (kind of by default) that makes them SERIOUSLY want to cling to tribal customs and conventional wisdom. ESPECIALLY if these things were learned at the knee of someone whom they venerated. Dispensing with dearly-held notions is HARD, and rather than be dispassionate and ruthless about chucking outdated notions, some of us look FURIOUSLY for ways to prove that they were right all along!

                          That is real pseudoscience by my definition: formulating a conclusion FIRST and then going all out to find evidence to support it.

                          But I also have no way of knowing, since I don't live in those worlds, if people with exotic reptiles, orchids, tropical fish, or other needy species don't have the same population of slightly kooky people.
                          Click here before you buy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Horse people are near the top of the list of This Animal Sucked Out My Brain.

                            However there is a sect that tops them.

                            The exotic animal as a pet owners. Way worse.

                            Talk to anyone who has/had pets like a wolf/hybrid, large cat, etc. It's most obvious in those.

                            The worst ones are the ones who will avow "The rest are like that, not me"
                            You jump in the saddle,
                            Hold onto the bridle!
                            Jump in the line!
                            ...Belefonte

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'd say be careful. Science has never claimed to be the end of all knowledge. The only people who really talk about scientific fact are non-scientists. Science is all about supporting or refuting the null -the hypothesis that the treatment has no effect. Science is cynical. So don't automatically ignore a home remedy because it has superstitions attached to it. Take the OP's post for example. The active ingredient in the remedy was the peppermint oil. Regardless of whether one associates the weather with the cause of flatulence, or whether the flatulence should be a concern, the peppermint oil in the candy worked beautifully to relax the pylorus and ease the gas.

                              I worked in AIDS drug development for many years and we had one classification of drug called "natural products". Essentially stuff that was scraped off trees, ground up bugs, etc. Why? We were looking for new HIV compounds. This was a good approach in cancer (Taxol from the Yew tree) and it served effectively in AIDS research (Calanolide).

                              Old wives tales should not automatically be dismissed. Just because you collect pot liquor after a certain ritual doesn't make pot liquor nonsense. It was an excellent source of minerals and vitamins for someone who was ill.

                              Science can take us to alot of places we have to find our way back from. For example, we've become so comfortable with antibiotics that we've painted ourselves into a corner with regard to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

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

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Very few people here dismiss natural remedies as bogus. Rather, the opposite seems to predominate: the goofier among us insist that natural means "completely safe, harmless and without risk". The rest of us bang our heads collectively on various walls trying to insist that many natural remedies are in fact extremely potent and are de facto pharmaceuticals.

                                But it is nearly impossible to remove that varnish of "natural is safer" and "all chemicals are bad" when that thinking is entrenched.

                                We then get chastised for not having "open minds" and how we all do nothing but look at test tubes and petri dishes all day, since that is, after all, what science MEANS.

                                And peppermint is BAD for reflux. A double-edged sword that can make stomach problems better OR worse, depending upon the actual diagnosis.
                                Click here before you buy.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                  Very few people here dismiss natural remedies as bogus. Rather, the opposite seems to predominate: the goofier among us insist that natural means "completely safe, harmless and without risk". The rest of us bang our heads collectively on various walls trying to insist that many natural remedies are in fact extremely potent and are de facto pharmaceuticals.

                                  But it is nearly impossible to remove that varnish of "natural is safer" and "all chemicals are bad" when that thinking is entrenched.

                                  We then get chastised for not having "open minds" and how we all do nothing but look at test tubes and petri dishes all day, since that is, after all, what science MEANS.

                                  And peppermint is BAD for reflux. A double-edged sword that can make stomach problems better OR worse, depending upon the actual diagnosis.
                                  I don't post hardly on this forum because there are only so many ways you can say something obvious without insulting someone's intelligence and that, eventually, can get you banned.

                                  I think that the lack of basic scientific knowledge, I mean grade school basic stuff, is appalling.
                                  Without that, those that promote so much alternative modalities can't even know how, well, not quite like they think the real world we know works.

                                  I don't think in our information age this is getting better, but with all the snake oil salesmen out there, there are more than ever gullible followers of all kinds of hopefully harmless, at times right down harmful, unproven products and technologies.

                                  Yes, the more someone believes by faith, the more totally convinced they seem to become.
                                  The more we know about science, the more tentative our knowledge is, as we know we are only sure until something better/different comes along that supports or not what we think we know.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I'd like to suggest that what we see here is just a slice of a general anti-intellectual pie that dominates our society right now. One of the things I am eternally grateful for is PubMed (and also, in an earlier time, Medline), an on-line biological medical search engine for up-to-date scientific articles. Although not all of the articles on PubMed are open to the public for free, one can do a literature search with key words for their equine health related issue and often find peer reviewed scientific literature on the subject and abstracts are always available. I enjoy using the COTH forums, and have connected with many fine people this way. But when it comes to scientific information, I always think it is best to actually consult well designed scientific studies. If something is beyond one's ability to understand it (as will often be the case unless one is a specialist in that area as many of the articles are written for a specialist audience), one can often take the abstract to one's vet for discussion.
                                    I am genuinely impressed that the majority of people are not using COTH forums as a substitute for good medical information. People tend to share very good lnks to reliable information.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Anti-intellectualism? Just because you understand that science is a discipline like any other discipline? I think it's just the other side of an era in which people bought all kinds of belief simply because it was delivered by a man in a white lab coat.

                                      Cynicism is healthy, it's encouraged in science. The only people who embrace science like a religion are non-scientists.

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

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                                        Anti-intellectualism? Just because you understand that science is a discipline like any other discipline? I think it's just the other side of an era in which people bought all kinds of belief simply because it was delivered by a man in a white lab coat.

                                        Cynicism is healthy, it's encouraged in science. The only people who embrace science like a religion are non-scientists.

                                        Paula
                                        Anti-intellectualism, not new, still relevant:

                                        http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/reviews/...4-70317-0.html

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