The British Veterinary Voodoo Society
In light of the gratifyingly supportive attitude of professional bodies (including the RCVS and a number of UK veterinary schools) towards systems of medicine based on magical thinking, the BVVS believes the time has come to extend our professional scope beyond the areas covered at present, and exploit the full potential of the discipline.
Sir J. G. Frazer (1922) analysed the principles of Sympathetic Magic and divided the discipline into two categories: Homoeopathic Magic (Law of Similarity) (or 'like produces like'), and Contagious Magic (Law of Contact). Although Frazer did not include Hahnemann's medical homoeopathy among his examples of the former category, there is no doubt that it demonstrates every criterion necessary for such inclusion (Stevens, 2001).
If we further investigate the use of Homoeopathic Magic for healing, we in fact encounter the discipline of puppet healing, or Voodoo, just as frequently as traditional 'homeopathic medicine'. The tag 'similia similibus' is commonly applied to this methodology just as to Hahnemann's (for example Sophistes, 1996; Lambert, 1998), and given the obvious potential of the subject and its consonance with an already accepted branch of veterinary medicine it is astonishing that it has attracted so little interest within the profession.
The principle of voodoo healing is simple. As 'like affects like', an appropriately manufactured and treated wax doll or cloth puppet may substitute for the patient, and manipulations performed on the doll substitute for those performed on the patient. Techniques of visualisation and channelling of healing are easy to learn, and it is possible to combine voodoo with 'conventional' or allopathic medicine simply by administering the medicine to the doll rather than to the patient.
In addition, just as our homoeopathic colleagues have extended their interest to the field of Contagious Magic (radionics and related subjects), voodoo may be extended in the same direction. The image may be identified with its subject by the embedding of ousia - items connected with the subject such as a hair or nail clipping, or even a blood sample. This greatly enhances the therapeutic effects of voodoo procedures, and in particular allows the practice of voodoo at considerable distances from the patient, even over the telephone or the Internet.
Voodoo has much to commend it in veterinary practice:
Client acceptability. As magical thinking is a fundamental attribute of human cognition (touching wood, not walking under ladders, Friday the 13th etc.), voodoo ideas instinctively resonate with the client, who seldom has any difficulty in accepting their 'natural healing' potential.
Potential for profit. Materials to make dolls are inexpensive, and beeswax may be reused on multiple occasions. Even where pharmaceuticals are employed, the amount required to influence a puppet is considerably less than the dose for a large dog or a farm animal, leaving a far greater profit margin than in conventional medicine.
Safety. As the remedy or healing manipulation is applied to the doll rather than to the patient, the danger of side-effects or adverse effects is obviously eliminated. In addition, operator safety is clearly much enhanced, as there is little or no risk of being scratched, bitten or kicked by a doll!
Scientific credibility. Clinical trials are still in their early stages, however we are confident that by performing a sufficient number of small, poorly-controlled investigations we will easily generate enough p<0.05 outcomes to be able to claim with absolute assurance that the method is well proven by properly conducted double-blind research.
Faith-based practice. Voodoo has recently achieved recognition as an official religion in Haiti.
Aims of the Society
FRAZER, J. G. (1922) Sympathetic Magic. Ch. 3 of The Golden Bough, a Study in Magic and Religion, 4th edn. Public domain text, several editions in print.
LAMBERT, M. (1998) Review of Magic in the Ancient World, by F. Graf. Scholia Reviews, 18:7.
SOPHISTES, A. (1996) Construction and use of ancient Greek poppets. In Biblioteka Arcana, University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
STEVENS, P. (2001) Magical thinking in complementary and alternative medicine. Skeptical Inquirer, 25:6.
When things are exceedingly laughable, it is a little unreasonable to demand of us an imperturbable gravity. (Prizewinning critique of homoeopathy, Rhode Island Medical Society, 1851.)
Keeping an open mind: the research
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Homoeopathy and science
Medicine and magic
History of the BVVS
Letters from the Veterinary Times
Critical review of BBC2 Horizon programme
The Task Force for Veterinary Science
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What Alternative Health Practitioners might not tell you
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Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division
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Homeopathy and its Founder
Alternative Medicine and the Laws of Physics
Veterinary Medicine and the Philosophy of Science
Magical Thinking in Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Magic of Signs: a non-local interpretation of homeopathy
The Scientific Evidence on Homeopathy
Critical thinking, Homoeopathy and Veterinary Medicine
Is Homeopathy 'New Science' or 'New Age'?
Homeopathy and its Kindred Delusions
(article from 1842)
Good clean fun
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All the idiocy that fits
And another article
I am succussed and diluted
Homeopathy, and what it's really worth
The Improbable Science Page
No fun at all
British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons
Homeopathic Professionals Teaching Group
The Faculty of Homeopaths
Bizarre, but educational
The Provings of New Homoeopathic Remedies
Otherhealth (formerly Homeopathy Home)