All posts by Brennen McKenzie

Dr. McKenzie has always pursued a wide range of interests both within and outside of veterinary medicine. After completing a bachelor’s degree with majors in English Literature and Biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz, he followed the dream of becoming a primatologist. He obtained a Master’s in Physiology and Animal Behavior and worked for several years in environmental and behavioral enrichment for captive primates. Switching gears, Dr. McKenzie then attended the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and began working as a small animal general practice veterinarian. In the course of trying to improve his knowledge and better educate his clients, he discovered evidence-based veterinary medicine, and he has served as President of the Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Association. This has led to numerous opportunities for speaking to veterinarians and the general public about evidence-based veterinary medicine and some of its ideological competitors. Dr. McKenzie has also reached out to the public through SkeptVet Blog, his contributions to the Private-investigator-detective Blog, and media interviews on veterinary medical topics. While working as a practitioner, speaking, and writing, Dr. McKenzie has continued to pursue post-graduate training and completed his MSc in Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2015. In his sparse free time, Dr. McKenzie enjoys reading, hiking, playing his mandolin, travelling with his family, and sitting on the couch with his dogs watching the hummingbirds and woodpeckers outside his living room window.

What’s the Truth behind The Truth About Pet Cancer?

The Truth About Pet Cancer (TAPC) is a slick bit of propaganda. Although it contains some interesting, even promising ideas, these are unfortunately served with a heavy seasoning of misinformation and fear-mongering. Hypotheses and opinions are presented as established facts, and anyone who disagrees is suggested to be ignorant at best, venal and corrupt at worst.

/ July 13, 2018

Veterinary Chiropractic

People are sometimes surprised to learn that all the heavy hitters of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, etc., are inflicted on animals as well as humans. I’ve written about veterinary homeopathy, and the associated manufactroversy, in a previous post, and today I thought I’d take a look at veterinary chiropractic. The Players In most states, chiropractic is defined in terms of...

/ April 12, 2013

An Age of Endarkenment? The American Veterinary Medical Association and Homeopathy

It can be frustrating, and sometimes even a little depressing, to be a skeptic. Promoting reason and science-based medicine often feels like a Sisyphean effort that garners lots of hostility and ad hominem attacks from proponents of pseudoscience and few concrete victories. But once in a while, something happens to give a little hope and inspiration. In 2010, for example, the House...

/ January 26, 2013

Chinese Systematic Reviews of Acupuncture

I’ll begin with the possibly shocking admission that I’m a strong supporter of the collection of ideas and techniques known as evidence-based medicine (EBM). I’m even the current President of the Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Association (EBVMA). This may seem a bit heretical in this context, since EBM  takes a lot of heat in this blog. But as Dr. Atwood has said, “we...

/ October 12, 2012

Testing the “individualization” of CAM treatments

One of the common claims of alternative medicine practitioners is that they individualize their treatment while conventional medicine treats all patients the same. This is nonsense on several levels, but it is also a common excuse for why randomized clinical trials cannot be performed, or cannot be viewed as reliable evidence, in evaluating some alternative therapies. However, some trials have been done...

/ July 6, 2012

Lessons from History of Medical Delusions

A brief reference on the web site The Quackometer recently drew my attention to a very short book (really more of a pamphlet, in the historical sense) by Dr. Worthington Hooker, Lessons from the History of Medical Delusions, which I thought might be of interest to readers of this blog. Though published in 1850, the book contains many eloquent observations that are...

/ February 17, 2012

Why Do We Really Need Clinical Trials?

A point I make over and over again when talking about new or alternative therapies that are not supported by good clinical trial evidence is that lower-level evidence, such as theoretical justifications, anecdotes, and pre-clinical research like in vitro studies and animal model testing, can only be suggestive, never reliable proof of safety or efficacy. It is necessary to begin evaluating a...

/ January 6, 2012

The Top Ten Pet Supplements: Do They Work?

An Embarrassment of Riches? Much has been written here about the dietary supplement business, a multibillion dollar industry with powerful political connections, and about the woeful inadequacy of regulation which allows widespread marketing of supplements without a solid basis in science or scientific evidence.  The veterinary supplement market is a pittance compared to the human market, but still a billion-dollar pittance that...

/ May 19, 2011

How popular is acupuncture?

Everybody’s Doing It One argument that often comes up when skeptics and proponents of so-called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) debate is the question of the popularity of various CAM practices. Advocates of CAM often claim these practices are widely used and growing rapidly in popularity. Obviously, CAM proponents have an interest in characterizing their practices as widely accepted and utilized. Even...

/ March 25, 2011

Complementary and alternative medicine in hospice care

A number of news outlets (e.g. Bloomberg Business Week, MSN.Com, US News, etc) have recently reported that use of complementary and alternative therapies (CAT) is widespread in hospice care facilities. This is based on a report from the Centers for Disease Control, Complementary and Alternative Therapies in Hospice: The National Home and Hospice Care Survey, Untied States, 2007. According to most news...

/ February 3, 2011