Opinions vs Facts; What is a Theory?

As more and more people start learning from non-traditional sources, like the Internet, there will inevitably be more disagreements and arguments and often in the middle of these fights you will hear (or read) someone yell “Well that’s your OPINION!”. It’s often said as a slur, meant to end an argument that one cannot win without fully giving in and agreeing with the other party.  Of course very rarely does it actually end the argument, it’s actually more likely to spiral a relatively calm debate into a full temper tantrum.  Essentially, by telling someone the info they gave you is an opinion (rather than a fact), you told them that they’re stupid, uneducated and are plain wrong.

In truth, there are very few (if any) facts period, everything we learn is actually someone else’s opinion or theory.  Take a second for that to sink in.  That’s right when you go to school and learn about say nutrition, you are learning someone else’s opinions and assumptions.  Your doctor learned someone else’s opinions regarding medicine and makes assumptions based on those opinions.  Wow.  Yes I did just say that but before you start yelling at me in the comments take a second and open your mind.

How did the practice of medicine start? I imagine someone wasn’t feeling well then ate something and felt better, then the next time they felt unwell they ate that same thing and again like magic they felt better.  They then told someone else who wasn’t feeling well to eat that same thing and the other person also felt better, and now when anyone feels unwell they eat that same thing and most feel better.  So here we have a person who assumed that what they ate was what made them feel better they also assumed that it would make someone else feel better. In their opinion (or from their viewpoint) they were the same and thus the same treatment would work. But of course as we know now what works for some (even for most) might not work for everyone.  Of course I don’t know if this is how medicine actually started but this is my theory on the matter.

So what is a theory? You guessed it; it’s an assumption based on observable data.

Now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with fur babies, and the answer is everything!  I often here people say well I don’t agree with what my vet told me to do but they’re a vet. Or I don’t really like using _____ but the trainer said it’s the best thing. Or we’ll the breeder said this was the best/ the only thing I can use.  I usually want to smack and shake these people back to reality, your gut is telling you something is wrong. Do not ignore your gut! Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to question anyone, yes that includes me. Remember every single person who tells you something is telling you their opinion.  And it never hurts to get a second or even third opinion.

Of course there are limits, and there are things you really should trust your vet on.  For example if your vet refuses an operation or a medication ask why don’t just dismiss their opinion.  If your vet says no to specific foods, maybe that food will counteract a medication or maybe it will give a false positive on a blood test.  There really is a lot to learn when it comes to medicine, and while it is based on theories, opinions and assumptions your vet has had a lot more experience than you (and me).

My rule of thumb… leave medicine and surgery to the doctors; and question everything.

-FM

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