Another Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics who should know better

With the current outbreak of measles centered around Disneyland, we’ve been paying a lot of attention to what 2014’s Douchebag of the Year, Dr. Robert “Bob” Sears had to say about vaccines. As it turns out, it’s nothing but a bunch of whining and finger-pointing at us “stupid” people. We’ve also been watching “pediatrician to the stars” Dr. Jay Gordon, MD, FAAAAAAAAAAAAP. (Too many A’s?) He’s been more reserved in what he’s had to say about measles, but there are strong hints that he may or may not have believed BS Hooker’s horrible attempt at epidemiology.

Today we got a tip that there is another pediatrician out there. By “out there,” we mean out there in outer space when it comes about medicine. This is yet another pediatrician who should know better, but doesn’t seem to. It’s another person who committed themselves to the healing arts and then just apparently threw reality out the window and went with the quackery. What follows is from his “about” page, and it contains plenty that should make you shudder at the thought of him having a say in anyone’s healthcare:

“Dr. Palevsky is a renowned board certified pediatrician, sought-after lecturer, and published author, who utilizes a holistic approach to children’s wellness and illness. In his current practice, Dr. Palevsky provides patients and their families with personalized, comprehensive consultations to address their children’s wellness, and acute and chronic illnesses.”

The key word in that paragraph is “holistic.” While it is a good idea to treat the whole person and not just the one symptom when dealing with a patient, the word “holistic” has taken on a different meaning as of yet. It’s kind of like the word “gluten.” It used to mean something that certain people could not eat because of an allergy. Now it means absolute poison. (Spoiler alert: Corn is “gluten free” because it’s corn, not because it ever had gluten in it.) Lately, “holistic health” has come to be synonymous with a wide array of Supplements, Complimentary, and Alternative Medicine (or S.C.A.M., for short). But let’s keep reading:

“He offers consultations and educational programs to families and practitioners in the areas of preventive and holistic health; childhood development; lifestyle changes; nutrition for adults, infants and children; safe, alternative treatments for common and difficult to treat acute and chronic pediatric and adult conditions; vaccination controversies; mindful parenting; and rethinking the medical paradigm.”

Did you catch it? “Vaccination controversies.” I wonder what that is all about? Here’s what Dr. Palevsky had to say to fellow quack Dr. Joseph Mercola:

“When I went through medical school, I was taught that vaccines were completely safe and completely effective, and I had noThey’re (sic) reason to believe otherwise. All the information that I was taught was pretty standard in all the medical schools and the teachings and scientific literature throughout the country. I had no reason to disbelieve it.

Over the years, I kept practicing medicine and using vaccines and thinking that my approach to vaccines was completely onboard with everything else I was taught.

But more and more, I kept seeing that my experience of the world, my experience in using and reading about vaccines, and hearing what parents were saying about vaccines were very different from what I was taught in medical school and my residency training.

… and it became clearer to me as I read the research, listened to more and more parents, and found other practitioners who also shared the same concern that vaccines had not been completely proven safe or even completely effective, based on the literature that we have today.

… It didn’t appear that the scientific studies that we were given were actually appropriately designed to prove and test the safety and efficacy.

It also came to my attention that there were ingredients in there that were not properly tested, that the comparison groups were not appropriately set up, and that conclusions made about vaccine safety and efficacy just did not fit the scientific standards that I was trained to uphold in my medical school training.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Palevsky appears to have abandoned what he was taught in an accredited institution of higher learning, what was based on verifiable evidence and gone through the rigors of scientific discovery, and exchanged it with anecdotes and hearsay from like-minded people. Evidence be damned. If the people around you say something that jives with your way of seeing the world, that must be correct and not what we know from centuries of scientific knowledge. If something “appears” to be wrong, then don’t learn why it’s wrong, just write it off altogether. If something is not “completely” safe and “completely” effective then it is worthless.

Alright, so we know he’s anti-vaccine. What else does he say about himself on his about page?

“In using his “whole child” wellness philosophy, Dr. Palevsky recommends and incorporates the teachings and therapies of nutritional science, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy, cranial-sacral therapy, environmental medicine, homeopathy, and essential oils, along with natural healing modalities such as aromatherapy, yoga, Reiki, meditation, reflexology, and mindfulness.”

We’re going to just go ahead and stop right there. We don’t need to read any further to know that Dr. Palevsky has abandoned everything that made him a pediatrician and seems to now be embracing the magical arts. After all, that is what homeopathy, Reiki, and reflexology are… They’re magic. It’s pure and unadulterated magic that has failed time after time to stand up to scientific scrutiny. Seriously, there hasn’t been any evidence that any of it works beyond the placebo effect.

As Dr. Mark Crislip has stated, adding apple pie to cow dung doesn’t make the apple pie taste better. Likewise, adding a thin veil of medicine through the letters after his name doesn’t make Dr. Palevsky’s quackery any more legitimate. It makes his claims of being a man of medicine worthless.

To seal our indictment of Dr. Palevsky (and we’re using “doctor” very loosely at this point), here’s an excellent piece-by-piece rebuttal of his statements by “Sullivan” at Left Brain Right Brain. In that rebuttal and in this page on Dr. Palevsky’s website, you’ll notice that Dr. Palevsky seems to have abandoned Germ Theory:

“Acute symptoms, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, cough, runny nose, mucus production and wheezing, are all important ways in which children discharge stored accumulations of wastes or toxins from their bodies. These toxins enter and are stored in their bodies from repeated exposures to in utero, air, food, water, skin, nervous system stress, and injected materials, that for whatever reason, don’t easily exit their bodies through the normal means of detoxification. These toxins are too irritating to children’s bodies and must be removed. Eventually, a critical level of the toxins is reached, and children get sick with symptoms to purge them. Children, therefore, must be allowed to be sick, in order for them to get well.”

Really? Then why does Dr. Palevsky recommend the following in a different page?

“If your child is less than 3 months old and has a fever, please go to the nearest emergency room.

If your child has a fever and a rash of little dots under the skin, please go to the nearest emergency room.

If your child has a fever, neck pain and the light is bothering him/her, please go to the nearest emergency room.

If your child has a fever, along with urinary complaints, swollen joints, inability to walk, or other complaints that concern you, please seek immediate medical attention.

If along with your child’s cough, your child is having difficulty breathing, is breathing rapidly, is wheezing, has a mental status change (see Pediatric Checklist), or is an infant below 4 months of age with a cough, please seek immediate medical attention.”

Why, Dr. Palevsky? Why go to the nearest emergency room if these are all just things that the child’s wonderful self-cleaning, self-healing body will take care of? I think he wrote this as a cover-your-ass set of recommendations because the bullshit he spills previously can get him in hot water if a child ends up having meningitis or measles and the parents go with “cranial-sacral therapy,” whatever the hell that is.

The most telling part of his website is the following statement found all the way at the bottom of most pages:

“Disclaimer: All material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. Consult with your health care provider regarding the advisability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your individual situation.”

In other words, “I’m not saying what I’m saying, I’m just saying.”

We at The Poxes believe that it is about time that the American Academy of Pediatrics take a really long, hard look at some of its members (the physicians with the “FAAP” after their name) who have abandoned science and embraced magic and attempt to use that magic to convince people that scientifically proven preventative and therapeutic measures like vaccines and antibiotics are not necessary. Because, with “fellows” like these, the AAP doesn’t need any enemies.

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I see what you did

There is this neat little trick that some antivaxers are using to try and convince the unknowing public that vaccines are evil. They will say that the polio vaccine is to be blamed for most cases of polio in the world today. And, you now what? They’re right, but it’s a trick. It’s like seeing an object disappear during a magic show and having the magician tell you, “See? It disappeared!” Well, yes, it disappeared, but there was more to it.

There used to be a time when polio was rampant not only here but all over the world. Thousands and thousands of children came down with the disease and many of them would be left paralyzed or disabled for the rest of their lives. They contracted polio through the fecal-oral route. That is, they ate something contaminated with polio. For young children, that something would often be food or water contaminated with stool from people with polio. Or they would give it to one another through their interactions, through normal child’s play.

Then two vaccines came along. One, the injected vaccine, has a dead virus in it. It’s not as effective as the other one, the oral vaccine. The oral vaccine – abbreviated as OVP – has a live, attenuated virus. By “attenuated” we mean that it is incapable of causing disease, for the most part. We’ll look at the “for the most part” part in a second.

That attenuated virus is consumed through the mouth. Mine tasted like orange. I remember it clearly. The virus then makes its way to the gut, where it triggers an immune response. The immune response kills the attenuated virus and grants the person life-long immunity. But there was one more benefit with this vaccine. Apparently, the attenuated virus would be shed in the stool of children who received the vaccine, passing it on to unvaccinated children, also immunizing them.

The current strategy is to go into a place teeming with polio, give the oral vaccine, let that immunity spread around, and then kill-off the last of the polio with the injectable vaccine. But, remember that “for the most part” part? Well, the have been instances where the oral vaccine causes disease in someone who gets it because their immune system is not up to the challenge for some reason like an underlying disease or condition, poor nutrition, etc. remember, these are very poor places in the world that are being vaccinated.

There have also been instances where children who receive the oral vaccine and shed the virus shed it to someone who cannot deal with the virus. Again, this could be because of an underlying condition. One typical case is a baby who is immunized and goes to visit their grandparents a few hours later. Some of the attenuated virus is left in the child’s mouth, and the child drools over grandpa or grandma. Because grandpa and grandma are elderly, they are not able to combat the virus very well.

And then there are instances where the population only gets immunized partially because the campaign gets interrupted for some reason like a breakout of war or a change in the political will. When that happens, the virus is being shed and transmitted, but it gains the ability to infect better and cause disease because, just like it was “bred” to be less pathogenic, jumping from one person to another also allows it to be bred into a strain that causes disease.

When anti-vaccine groups say that the polio vaccine causes most cases of polio, they are correct, but they are not telling you the whole story. They will not tell you that the vaccine has stopped epidemics of polio in their tracks, that the polio vaccine given in a completed program prevents polio better than anything, and that those cases that do happen because of the vaccine are by far less than the cases that would occur without the vaccine. It’s a fog and mirrors type of situation.

Now that you know all this, you can counter their claims with a simple question: “What would the number of cases of polio be without the vaccine, and would they be less or more severe?”

Then watch them squirm or call you a pharma shill.

Fun with homeopathy and math, again

After the last discussion on homeopathy, someone asked me to give a description of what a 200C homeopathic remedy would have to start out with in order to have at least one molecule at the end of the dilution. So let’s use the example of sugar (glucose) and see how much sugar we would need to get at least one molecule of sugar in a liter (1,000 mL) 200C remedy. We will use math for this, so hold on to your butts.

Remember that Avogadro’s constant states that there are 6.02×10^23 molecules of glucose in 180 grams of the stuff. So, if we add 180 grams of sugar to a liter of water, we will be adding 6.02×10^23 molecules of glucose into that liter. Remember that diluting that initial solution 1C (by one hundred) will leave us with 1.8 grams per liter or 6.02×10^21 molecules of glucose per liter. Finally, remember that we have to do this 200 times (to get to 200C), and that doign this makes us run out of molecules at around the 8th or 9th C dilution. After that, we are diluting water with water.

But what if we want to make sure there is at least one molecule of sugar at the end, at the 200th C dilution?

In that case, we work backwards with the assertion that there is one molecule per liter at 200C. To go to 199C, we would have to concentrate (the opposite of dilute) the solution by a factor of 100, leaving us with 100 molecules in the 199C dilution. Moving up to 198C, we have 10,000 molecules (100 multiplied by 100). Not quite Avogadro’s constant yet. Let’s go to 197C, and see that we have 1,000,000 molecules (10,000 multiplied by 100). Have you noticed the trend?

For every C concentration, we are adding two zeroes to the right of the 1 that we started with at 200C. So, after 200 concentrations, we will have 400 zeroes to the right of the 1. That’s an enormous number of molecules.

How enormous? Taking into consideration that Avogadro’s constant is 6.02 followed by 21 zeroes to make up just one mole, 1×10^400 molecules make up… well… a lot of moles.

Seriously, I don’t have a calculator with me with a display big enough for all those zeroes. I plugged in 1×10^400 into my mac’s calculator and it laughed at me! I tried to divide that number by Avogadro’s constant to get the number of moles, and the damn thing grew legs and walked away, cursing at me.

No, the computer didn’t do that. But if you believe homeopathy then the computer doing that doesn’t seem so far fetched.

If you multiply all those moles times 180 grams, you will have a lot of tons of sugar that you need to somehow cram into one liter of water in order to dilute that liter of water by 100 two-hundred times to get a final 200C homeopathic remedy that has at least one molecule per liter.

Did you catch that?

One molecule per liter. One. You have a 1 in 1,000 chance of catching that molecule if you only take one milliliter of the final solution – the remedy – at a time.

Even if you go from 30C to an original solution, you add 60 zeroes to the right of the 1, which is still a huge number, you will have 1.66×10^36 moles of sugar at your beginning solution. At 180 grams per mole, you’re looking at about 3×10^38 grams of sugar that will need to be put in one liter of water.

You’re going to need a lot of sugar. So…

Now do you see why homeopathy is more about magical thinking than any sort of science or medicine?