I recently gave a day of holistic lectures at the Iowa State Veterinary Medical Association Winter Conference. I was warmly welcomed by the meeting staff and just about everyone who attended my lectures. I say “just about everyone” because there was one veterinarian in the audience of about 50, who for the entire morning portion of my presentation, loudly opposed nearly everything I had to say.
Now, I fully understand that most conventional veterinarians are challenged by much of what I present. In my opening lecture, I very systematically offered research that is troubling for those vets who strongly adhere to the concept of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM). (I discuss the many problems with EBM here).
Well, my friend in the back of the room was incensed at my assault on all he holds dear. He repeatedly interrupted me with his contradictory comments. I cannot imagine any other speaker at a professional conference being treated so rudely by any audience member.
Between his snipes I talked about confirmation bias. That’s the tendency we all have to regard information that reinforces our opinions as true, while attacking or ignoring evidence that refutes our point of view. I also demonstrated how we all can become entrapped in certain paradigms that shape how we see the world. Apparently, none of this sunk in for Dr. EBM.
During my second lecture, which was on natural nutrition, I presented research on the benefits of raw diets. Soon, Dr. EBM started up again trying to refute my studies with others. He announced that during the 15 minute break he had looked ahead at what I was about to present. Then, he ran to the nearest computer and downloaded studies that he thought would prove me wrong. (You have to admire his determination to be a pain in the ass).
We went back and forth for some time. My lecture was starting to devolve into a debate. I was determined stand my ground. I was presenting plenty of scientific studies to back up my points. Finally, an even louder audience member called out Dr. EBM as to why he was so unprofessionally harassing me. We didn’t hear back from my friend the rest of the day.
The funny thing is that Dr. EBM unwittingly gave the audience a perfect demonstration of confirmation bias. He didn’t have to waste his time listening to me presenting “incorrect” information. He already knew the “truth.” Instead of giving my studies serious consideration, he clung to his opinions, oblivious to ideas that lay outside his paradigm.
After the lecture several audience members actually apologized for Dr. EBM’s behavior. The following week, the conference organizers told me that I had very positive reviews, except for one – and they thought that I would know who that came from. (Apparently his reputation preceded him). They recommended me for future lectures. Thanks Dr. EBM!
Have you ever been attacked for your holistic point of view?
I love the term EBM because we have our own “evidence” in our household. An 8 year old male dog that gives his 4 year old female offspring a total run for her money with energy, stamina, … Before using a raw diet that was not the case on so many fronts. It’s hard to get your mind out of the ruts that we have worn into them, but as we see our own daily “evidence” all the way down to better doggy breath, whiter teeth, better concentration in training, better coat, etc, we have confidently moved out of the standard “ruts” of thinking. We have our own evidence – that is powerful stuff! Others now comment on our dogs health as well.
The only type of “attack” from feeding raw was that it was somehow dangerous, like some sort of poison. We came to grips with the fact that it is no different than handling raw meat for ourselves – we thoroughly was our hands cutting surfaces and utensils after handling it.
And that the single “fact” that the food was raw and could hurt our pets – ummmm, many dogs will eat rotting trash, a carcass or similar delicacy with little or no ill effects is further evidence that they are built to handle a HEALTHY raw diet.
Well said. The proof is in the pudding.
This can be a good thing because you were able to address some untruths that Dr DBM believes and that perhaps others in the room believed before you were able to elaborate with factual truth. If one Dr. left the conference changed ,it will have been worth it all. It looks to me like Dr. DBM looked like the jerk that he was. It’s a tough road that you are helping to pioneer. It’s a shame that after all these years, this is frowned upon by the veterinary profession.. and medical profession as well.
To answer your quesion? Yes I am attacked quite often by the veterinarians in my area. I am not attacked to to my face but to their clients who learn from me how to keep their pets healthy, something that they should be learning from their veterinarian. Thanks for all that you do! You’re great!
Thanks Karen. I will indeed keep plugging away.
I’m betting I know just who that EBM troll was, too. He’s rather infamous for being arrogant, smug, and apparently rather ignorant as well. (My opinion and I’m not a vet, but have observed his troll-like behavior online before.) It’s as I’ve told Dana Scott and Susan Thixton in posts a few times: They only fight what they see as a threat. If you’re no threat, there’s no reason to raise such a fuss. I’m glad someone had the sense of professionalism to point out his uncouth and unprofessional behavior. If he truly felt compelled to object or discuss what he views as objections to your talk, there is a time and place for that. Heckling during a lecture is not it. I hope he got his backside handed to him. Re: your question, I have learned to stand my ground pretty well. As I type this, my husband and I are in deep mourning for our sweet 16 year old girl, Bijou, who died suddenly after having a biopsy (no apparent complications; but that night she was in a great deal of pain and once that was eased with the pain medication, she went to sleep and slipped away.) Everyone is stunned. The nodule which was biopsied will no doubt come back as cancer. (Our vet tech basically told us after her death that she didn’t think it would be benign because it was far more extensive and invasive than the superficial nodule they had thought it was.) The surgery was minor, non-invasive, but our baby is gone — presumably from the cancer. As my sister said, she was the “healthiest sick dog you’d ever know”! Nothing has really shown up in her blood work over the past year and a half except a slightly elevated ALT. She LOVED her raw diet and ate it all every meal. She gained weight (not excessively) and she was energetic and still enjoyed her life immensely and gave the neighbors’ dogs a run for their money through the fence. Now she’s gone. The fact that she did NOT appear sick is testimony enough for us. I read once that the goal is to have the animal thriving until the very end. We did. I thank God for that because most dogs become sick and start a slow decline which is painful to watch in and of itself. We will continue with our other dog on the path we are on. Nothing and no one will deter us from it — and we’ve already made a convert in our vet who does acupuncture as he has declared he’s going to start doing what we are doing with our dogs (now our one dog). Raw food, and titers. That’s a big key of what we do. The tide is turning and the EBMers are scared. If clients can be convinced, they will either have to join the ranks or lose business. Too bad their emphasis is on the money and not on the good of the animals. Keep fighting the good fight.
To anyone who has negative commons about natural nutrition and its ability to maintain health and immunity I now suggest they follow a diet of fast food from the top chains and gauge their response. When they back off and see that as an unwise choice, I remind them that with all the manufactured food we have, we have forgotten what real food is, and real food is the cornerstone of our existence. I recently called out a blogger on Huffington Post. She was listing the Top 10 ways to maintain health in dogs and cats by getting tips from a MANUFACTURER! I reminded her that healthy food isn’t manufactured–it’s grown or raised. If anyone continues to argue this, they are not worth listening to, like Dr. EBM.
Wow! That is all I can say. Seriously. I feel for you just from reading this. This had to be really difficult!! It is a shame people have such closed minds. Fight the good fight, my friend. You are winning people over 1 by 1. (Side note, sorry I didn’t see you at Midwest Veterinary Conference last weekend. I had planned to come and see you but couldn’t drag myself out of the behavior lectures!)
After the lecture I thought of all the things I should have said (like we always do). I should have told him, “I would be happy to debate you some time but right now I’m being paid to lecture and that’s what I’m going to do.” (I’m pretty sure the audience would have applauded) I just got sucked in a little at a time and refused to retreat. Sorry I missed you at MVC. Looks like they had some great behavior lectures.
Could Dr. EBM stand for Exasperating Bowel Movement? 😉
That would work.
In answer to your question, yes I have been attacked for my holistic point of view. I own a pet supply retail store in Clearfield PA. called Waggin’ Trains and I sell a wellness and weight loss system for people called Yoli. We get so frustrated with two of the vets in our town. One bashes all our products, one won’t send a single person to us because we inevitably fix things through nutrition they did not. One’s only food recommendation is no red dye and every dog that goes with any digestive ailment is told to eliminate red dye. I have at least 500 people in town that have dogs with red dye allergies. The other vet says it does not matter what you feed as long as AAFCO approved it. All AAFCO approved foods are equal. Both will vaccinate a very ill dog while they are there with multiple vaccines. Both had no idea what I was talking about when I asked if their rabies vaccines were thimerosal free. The third vet that I do like told me there is no scientific evidence that thimerosal causes adverse reactions. We are attacked most frequently by the veterinary community. We do not dispense medical advice but we do try to lead people to alternative therapies and a more holistic approach to dog rearing. We are not anti conventional medicine either. I think we have a nice balanced approach. It is sad when an industry as large as the animal medical industry is still in the dark ages and I had to drive 3 hours to you in Beaver Falls for acupuncture. In one consultation, by taking an extensive history, you recommended 2 supplements and acupuncture. You tied together what seemed like an array of isolated symptoms that for years and at least 6 vets went unresolved. I could never get anyone to look at everything together because they could not see the connection. My first visit to you yielded the results I had been seeking for years. And guess what….it was all holistic based. Lastly, I’ve been attacked since beginning a journey improving myself, losing 60 pounds, becoming pain free, stomping out menopause symptoms and regaining the energy I had in my youth. By alkalizing my body, improving my gut health and changing my diet by following the Yoli Better Body System, I have people telling me that the meal plan alone would have done that…the products I sell play no part. Guess what…I ate clean for 12 weeks and I still was low energy, in pain and not losing weight. It gets frustrating…but I’ve just come to accept that I can only influence people when they are ready. So I just keep the info out there in hopes of reaching people at the right time. I suspect it is very much the same for you. I am so happy that you are trying to blaze a trail through the veterinary community. I know there are a lot of vets that do want to provide better care and information. I am sure they are dealing with busy practices and it is hard to implement. It takes a burning desire to find the time and energy to begin down that road. I admire you for being that spark. Keep up the good work!!
Thanks Shari – You keep up the good work too. Now, don’t you feel better for having vented your frustration? I know I do. We can all support each other on this holistic journey. That’s what this blog is for.
Dr. Doug, I am really past the frustration point. I am in the resignation stage with dog and people information. I truly believe it is important to keep telling the story and hope it falls on ears that are ready to hear.
Shari – It can be very draining. Maybe you can take a break and hopefully come back when you’re ready to take up the fight again.
Ok, I’m convinced & I know nothing about raw diets, other than they exist & some breeders & owners feed their dogs the raw meat. But with a bit more research into the specifics, I will transition my beautiful Dachshunds that I love dearly, over to a raw diet. I wish I lived closer to your area Dr D, for I would bring my babies to you without question! I lost a beautiful Golden a few years back to another Dr EBM here in Orange Park Fl who killed him in surgery when he really did not need it had the snobby vet known what he was doing. I have also lost a beautiful black lab & a beautiful Maine Coon cat 1 year after my black lab died…both from cancer. I never fully realized how bad we pet parents have been rooked by the pet food industry but we have. Several years back the episode with China & the horrible deaths of so many pets opened my eyes to something’s really wrong with what we’re feeding our 4 legged babies, but the 2 deaths of my 12 yr old lab & 8 yr old cat to cancer really told me what we are feeding our babies is killing them. I will STOP feeding mine the food I’ve become very suspicious of & definitely switch them to a raw food diet. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us & do not let the Dr EBMs slow you down! Tell them they are welcome to leave if they continue to be rude!! And trust me, I’m an RN & the Dr EBMs are present in people medicine too…just as rude & obnoxious!! Each one of them out there will have to attone for their mis~doings!! Thank you again & please continue your education of us all…and PLEASE come to Jacksonville Fl to share your knowledge!!!!