Last night I was waiting for the cricket highlights on BBC2 and I got the stream going a little bit before 19:00. This meant that I saw the last five minutes or so of some nature programme [Animal Park] covering koala bears at some sanctuary. I didn’t pay enough attention to know where it was set. The gist of this bit of the programme seemed to be wondering whether any of the female koalas were pregnant or at least feeding a joey in the pouch, let’s go with “with child”. To help figure this out and rather than manhandling the koalas they got someone in who had an infrared camera to remotely measure the body temperature of the bears [not bears]. This person was introduced as an “animal osteopath” and I was suckered in to everything that person said.
I’m going to write this communication “live” in the sense that it will be a diary of the next hour as I have a look at whatever the fuck an animal osteopath is. Firstly, let me tell you that human osteopathy is mostly bollocks and doesn’t do anything. I have looked into this along with reading many books concerning osteopathy. I wrote a communication about it in 2014 where I explained what osteopathy does and does not do. TLDR – it does very little except remove money from people. Now I’m really curious about animal osteopathy and what that might be so it’s time to get googling and see what stuff comes up. My initial heuristic is that it’s bollocks, but if I am wrong I will say so later on.
Let’s look at what the “animal osteopath” brought to the television programme. They had a IR camera and could measure temperature of the koalas remotely. The first temperature reading was taken from a male [who couldn’t possibly be “with child”] and the temperature was noted. As far as I can tell this has little to do with female koala temperatures and while it seems quite reasonable it really isn’t. Who is to say that male and female koalas have the same body temperatures over the surface of their bodies? Who is to say what the normal range of temperatures of koalas is? Why was this introduced as though it was scientific when it absolutely was not? Oh, it makes good television I suppose but it was not good method.
Next a couple of the female koalas were temperature measured remotely and the “theory” was that if they had a joey in the pouch then maybe the temperature would be higher in that area of the body. This was not even backed in science. They didn’t announce that we “know” that temperatures are higher where joeys are feeding. This was a first and therefore any differences they find might be down to koala physiology rather than anything else. What sort of temperature difference would be enough to convince the show that a koala was pregnant? All of this reeked of “made for TV” rather than any groundings in science. I’ve just looked up how big joeys are and they are initially the size of a jelly bean and therefore any temperature difference wouldn’t be measurable through the skin and fur of the pouch.
So, the entire process covered on television to decide whether the koalas are pregnant was utter theatre. I doubt very much that this is a valid method and it quite clearly wasn’t standard as the presenters were very much explaining this was a new thing. This brings me to the “animal osteopath”. You don’t need to be an osteopath to operate a IR camera. You don’t need to be anyone specially training. You point the thing and take spot measurements. Why an animal osteopath was introduced I don’t know. They could have had Geoff who lives next door and uses his IR camera to spot couples in flagrante in the bushes near his house. This did not require an animal osteopath.
Human osteopathy is bollocks and so let’s see what animal osteopathy is like. I honestly can’t imagine it’s going to be more evidence based. I somewhere suspect that they make shit up like other osteopaths, but let’s see. A quick google search brings me results for general osteopathy but I’m going to see what courses there are to learn animal osteopathy first and then look over the website of a practitioner.
The first animal based advert within Google was for the above people who train osteopaths and are actually linked to the European School Of Osteopathy which is down the road from me. The website seems to offer courses in horse and dog osteopathy and not much else. It’s a well designed website and offers many courses for people who are interested in animal osteopathy. Their courses are accredited by the ESO so I think I’ll have a look at what they say about animals and shit.
The ESO website is mostly about human osteopathy but they mention a little about animal osteopathy and link to the Association Of Animal Osteopaths. This website design looks very much like AOI and so it’s time to investigate who governs who and whether they are independent and also, it’s time to remember that just because there’s a national association it doesn’t mean that it’s regulated or even science. There’s an international association of osteopaths and that’s bollocks for humans. The top two names in the AAO are also the top two names in AOI and so there’s an overlap there of who checks the work for who. One organisation looks as though it checks the work of the other but they are the same people.
I doubt very much that animal osteopathy has any real effect on animals. Wikipeida doesn’t even link to anything about animal osteopathy, you just get linked to the page for normal osteopathy and so the conclusion is that it does very little. We know that the “placebo” effect operates on those humans who have animals treated with alternative medicine [ie not medicine] and I don’t think there’s any real documented scientific evidence to claim that animal osteopathy is a real thing. I suspect that with people appearing on television and being given credence by that appearance this thing will continue and people will pay money to experience a thing that is not real. Oh well.
This is communication 1912 and so here are some things that happened in that year:
- First presentation of continental drift theory.
- Airships used in war for the first time, by Italy.
- Lawrence Oates says “I am just going outside and may be some time”.
- Vitamins are identified.