If there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that there is a very close relationship between antivaccine grift and COVID-19 grift and that relationship is conspiracy theories. It’s a relationship that manifested itself very early in the pandemic, as far back as January, when antivaxxers had started blaming the flu vaccine for susceptibility to what was then called the novel coronavirus based on a conspiracy theory. It’s an antivaccine/COVID-19 lie that has persisted with an oddly specific estimate of how much more susceptible the flu vaccine supposedly makes you to COVID-19, an estimate based on the utter misinterpretation of a single study. Soon, antivaxxers were claiming that COVID-19 was actually due to a failed vaccine against SARS, the coronavirus that threatened the world in 2002-2003 but ultimately did not cause nearly as much suffering and death as COVID-19 has so far. (This was back in January, too, before COVID-19 had even really become apparent in the US and was primarily ravaging Wuhan, China and other places in Asia.) It wasn’t very long before the antivaccine movement launched a pre-emptive disinformation war against any COVID-19 vaccine that might be developed, a disinformation war that has continued to this day and intensified. As of last month, antivaxxers had become so prominent in the antimask COVID-19 denialist conspiracy theory movements that they were being featured at conferences by COVID-19 pandemic deniers and minimizers, along with QAnon conspiracy theory cranks. So it should come as no surprise that yet another antivaxxer has jumped on the COVID-19 denial grift train. I’m referring to Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, an antivaccine pediatrician who had become prominent in the antivaccine movement years ago and has now shown up in a video called COVID-19 Exposed, with a New Age woomeister named Jason Shurka.
When last we encountered Larry Palevsky, it was February, again before the pandemic had really started to hit the US hard. He was testifying before the Connecticut legislature, which was at the time considering passing legislation to remove the religious exemption to school vaccine mandates. (Guess which side he took?) As I discussed at the time, his testimony was an endless font of antivaccine misinformation and disinformation, basically an antivax greatest hits. Last year, when measles outbreaks were popping up all over the US, thanks to fear of the MMR vaccine stoked by antivaxxers, Palevsky was a frequent featured speaker at antivaccine rallies, “informational” events, and protests, such as ones held in Harlem and Monsey, NY, where he helped stoke antivaccine sentiments among the Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn and New Jersey. As I’ve said many times, although I find any antivaccine physician to be someone who brings dishonor on the entire medical profession, that sentiment goes double or triple (at least) for antivaccine pediatricians like Dr. Palevsky, as pediatricians are the ones who should most understand the benefits of vaccines and that they do not cause autism. Indeed, I’ve often wondered how Dr. Palevsky and antivaccine pediatricians like him keep their medical licenses, given that being antivaccine is practicing so far below the standard of care as to be malpractice at least and definitely bad enough that such physicians should never see another patient again.
So what is Dr. Palevsky up to now? Surprise! Surprise! He’s jumped on the COVID-19 denial grift train! So, unsurprisingly, he’s being lionized at that wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery, Age of Autism, for this interview:
It’s a 30 minute video, some of which has been transcribed on AoA, the rest of which I suffered through, mostly. Unsurprisingly, the video starts out with a montage of news reports about COVID and included this:
The interviewer Jason Shurka (who, quite frankly, I don’t recall ever having encountered before) then introduces Larry Palevsky as someone who’s going to share “his truth.” I always chuckle when I hear the word “truth” preceded by a possessive adjective like “his” or “her” or “their.” What this tells me immediately is that what we’re going to hear is opinion, often flagrantly wrong opinion, gussied up as “his truth.” It’s also claimed that Palevsky will be “revealing the scientifically backed TRUTH” about COVID-19. Given his past track record, I laughed again, as that was the same claim that he likes to make whenever he spouts ridiculous takes on vaccines. As for Jason Shurka, he touts himself as an “author, entrepreneur, and investor.” He’s clearly into woo, too, given this blurb on his website:
We live in a society that focuses on the unimportant things in life. Our society has taught us fear, anxiety and worry, amongst many other poisonous emotions. Our society has led us to become insensitive to the vibrations around us, and therefore disconnected from our souls within us.
The reality is, we are limitless beings who have the potential to reach and attain whatever it is that we desire. Limitation only exists in the mind. Imagine being in complete control of what manifests into your life. Imagine being able to use your thoughts for your own benefit without letting them take over you and your emotions. Imagine being able to heal your own internal blockages with the use of your mind, instead of the use of sedative drugs. Well, you no longer have to imagine.
My first book, Forming the Formless, and my second book, The Language of Energy, both focus on teaching how to access your limitless nature through the teaching of guided thought, words, emotions and actions.
Imagine living in a world without time and space, without walls, without borders, without wars, without disease, without vaccines, without toxins, without drugs, and without doctors. A world of Love, brotherhood, and harmony. A world of happiness, wealth, eternal abundance and equality. A world without a false religion and a fake book of laws that controls us. A world in which we are the law itself. A world of justice. A world without false rabbis, false priests, or any other corrupt religious leaders. A world without corrupt lawyers, judges or politicians. It is doable. It has already happened and it will happen again!
Here’s a hint. Whenever you see someone refer to the “vibrations around us” and “energy” in the context of “healing your own internal blockages with the use of your mind,” you know you’re into serious, grade-A woo with echoes of The Secret. Of course, then there’s his apparent latest book, The Pyramid Code. (Holy 1970s, Batman! That’s some old woo!) In addition, Shurka appears to be seriously antivaccine, too, given the passage above and how he brags that Palevsky was his doctor ever since he was a little kid. (Wait, what? I thought Palevsky is a pediatrician. Usually pediatricians transfer care of patients to an adult doctor no later than when the patient hits age 21.) Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, Palevsky is an “integrative medicine doctor,” and his practice offers “holistic pediatric services” that include a whole heapin’ helpin’ of quackery, including cleanses, homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and more.
The early part of the interview features Dr. Palevsky pontificating about his background in which he at first implied that he’s spent most of his career working in hospitals, emergency rooms, neonatal ICUs, and other critical care situations. Then he says that, for the last 20 years, he has had a private practice in “holistic pediatrics.” Given that Dr. Palevsky finished his residency in 1990, that means he’s really spent the bulk of his career catering to woo-loving parents in New York City and probably hasn’t treated a really sick child in an acute care setting in two decades.
Shurka then goes on about how we’re not dealing with “COVID-19” correctly and how viruses are really hear to help us. (Oh, really? Tell that to the 230K+ and counting Americans who have died of COVID-19 and the likely millions who’ve survived it but with debilitating post-COVID syndromes.) Palevsky seems to humor him by pontificating about how, unlike bacteria, viruses are not truly “alive” (although calling them “dead” seems to me to be a stretch given that calling something “dead” implies that it was at one time alive) and how viruses cannot replicate without hijacking the genetic machinery of a living organism. (I bet you can see where this is going) and having something “turn it on.” So, in Palevsky’s view, a virus by itself is inert, which is true, but rather beside the point in the context of a pandemic.
This lets Palevsky pivot to saying how we have viruses in us now that are being “turned on and off” by our thoughts, foods, the weather, changes in the season, by emotions, by stressors, and, of course, by chemicals and toxins. Yes, this is where he goes where I thought he was going, into germ theory denial. To him, viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, are harmless in and of themselves and need “something” to “turn them on.” This is, of course, only sort of true. Many are the viruses that are perfectly capable of infecting you and causing disease regardless of how healthy you are, the foods you eat, and your thoughts and emotions. He then pivots to the deceptive claim that the human body was born with a half a million viruses embedded in our genetic code. Yes, that’s true. We have lots of what are called human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) embedded in our genomes, and there are some viruses for which integration into the genome is mandatory for viral replication. I even just recently described in the context of discussing some amazing quackery for COVID-19 how some non-retroviruses have left fragments of their genome in the human genome but do not represent a mechanism by which COVID-19 emerged. In any event, Dr. Palevsky then says:
So we in our society, in our culture, actually walk around believing that viruses aren’t in our body until somebody who is sick gives them to us, and that’s actually incorrect. What’s even more interesting is that the body contains over 100 trillion bacteria, and viruses are capable of being embedded inside the bacteria as well. So you have more than half a million viruses coded within our genetics and you have over 100 trillion bacteria that are lining us. We have the potential to be more virus than we are human. And that’s the problem. We’re always considering that the only way to be exposed to a virus is for someone who’s sick to give it to us, and we don’t understand that viruses are constantly replicating inside our body, inside our cells, are constantly replicating in bacteria. We’re constantly breathing in viruses through the air, and we’re not sick.
That means that viruses do not make us sick unless there are conditions within the body and conditions outside the body that signal the turning on and the turning off of these viruses. There’s got to be something different about this virus, and I think that there is. And the reason I think that there’s something different is that every one of the symptoms in a viral illness leads to an externalized expression of symptoms. When something is being removed from the body, there’s discharge of toxicity. This SARS-CoV-2 illness does not present with discharge. This SARS-CoV-2 illness does not present with the classic externalization of symptoms like every other virus. This illness presents with an internalization of symptoms.
That last part doesn’t even make any sense! Palevsky goes on to say that what we see in COVID-19 is hypoxia, organ system failure, difficulty breathing, loss of sense of taste and smell, neurologic symptoms, and that doesn’t sound like a viral illness? He further goes on to claim that this is “not the way classic viral illnesses present” and this is “not the way that respiratory viruses present.”
WTF? “Doesn’t sound like a viral illness?” What does Dr. Palevsky think a viral illness should look like? In fact, all those symptoms are quite consistent with a viral illness in which the virus can infect multiple organ systems and provoke a cytokine storm! The weirdest thing about COVID-19, to me at least, was its ability to cause “silent hypoxia,” in which the patient has a low oxygen content in his blood, but, instead of feeling shortness of breath proportional to what hypoxia of such severity would usually produce, looks and feels fairly good—for a while, before the crash comes. Also, what about the vast majority of COVID-19 patients who do present with disease like that caused by “classic respiratory viruses” and coronaviruses, with cough, fever, malaise, and a flu-like syndrome from which they recover. Palevsky is cherry picking the patients who develop severe life-threatening disease and representing them as the typical course of the disease, when they’re not. While it’s true that a minority of patients present with such severe disease (a minority that gets larger and larger the older the patient is and the more comorbid conditions he has), most patients have mild to moderate symptoms—and many are completely asymptomatic. (These patients who are asymptomatic or only have mild disease are the ones most likely to spread the COVID-19.)
Unsurprisingly, Dr. Palevsky appears to be antimask, too. Shurka presents the mask issue as a false dichotomy, harping on some early bad messaging on masks, playing a clip of Anthony Fauci saying early in the pandemic that people shouldn’t be wearing masks and then showing a later clip of Fauci saying people should wear masks. (Geez, real scientists change their minds in response to new data. How is this so hard for quacks to understand?) Palevsky goes on to pontificate how we can be “exposed to hundreds of trillions of organisms and not get sick,” a point that is (sort of) true but irrelevant to pathogenic organisms. Just because we’ve come to an “accommodation” with trillions of organisms living on and in our bodies says nothing about organisms that don’t have the characteristics to be part of that microbiome and virome and instead infect, replicate, and destroy. Seriously, how did this man get through medical school and residency and not understand this basic point about pathogenic microorganisms. Annoyingly, he dismisses asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 by saying that we’ve “always” been able to pass organisms between us without symptoms. Again, this is (sort of) true, but irrelevant to COVID-19, nor does it imply that we shouldn’t wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Palevsky harps and harps and harps on the supposed “belief” that we don’t have bacteria or viruses in us unless we get them from someone else who is sick also irritated the hell out of me. I mean, come on! So what if laypeople believe this. Physicians and scientists are well aware of the benign organisms that live on and in us and (usually) don’t cause disease, one exception being when we become immunosuppressed or when antibiotics kill off the beneficial and protective bacteria, thus letting the harmful bacteria normally kept in check by them to replicate. This is not rocket science, and I suspect that Palevsky knows damned well that scientists and doctors don’t push the message that we don’t have any viruses or bacteria in oru bodies other than what we get from sick people. He’s pushing that message as the dominant narrative in order to weave a conspiracy theory that doctors are hiding the “truth” about viruses and bacteria from you. (Don’t even get me started on how at multiple points he appears to conflate bacteriophages, viruses that can only infect bacteria and not animal cells, with viruses that infect human cells.) The point where Palevsky says that he was routinely exposed to sick children coughing and puking on him and he “rarely got sick” also irritated the hell out of me. How is it that Dr. Palevsky doesn’t know that the reason for that is that he had likely been exposed to those organisms before and was therefore immune?
When Palevsky next opined that we have to “change our thinking” to realize that “exposures to organisms do not make us sick,” I almost lost it. I mean, holy Béchamps! He’s basically parroting an updated version of the discredited theory that bacteria and pathogenic organisms are not the cause of disease but a manifestation of disease (i.e, that it’s the “terrain,” not the microbe). Basically, his modification is that the terrain “turns on” COVID-19. Again, just because exposure to most viruses and bacteria doesn’t make us sick does not imply anything about pathogenic microbes, which are defined as pathogenic because exposure to them can and does make us sick! He then uses the discredited idea that women living together will sync their menstrual periods to argue that “simultaneous” manifestation of symptoms doesn’t necessarily imply contagiousness in COVID-19.
Later in the interview, he rails against “censorship” and invokes more misinformatoin:
There were other doctors all around the world who spoke out about it and said, “Wait a second, this doesn’t present like a real viral illness. There’s something different about this. We need to be treating it differently than the way we’re being told to treat it.”
He was censored and other physicians were censored, and it made many of us in the medical community step back and say, “Why are we being forced to speak a narrative that isn’t consistent with what we’re seeing in the field, in the clinical situation.
So it raised a big question mark for a lot of people: Why would scientific information be censored? Here we have a viral illness that we’re being told is a viral illness, and yet doctors around the world have been treating thousands of patients with two medications that treat parasites.
Why would a drug like hydroxchloroquine and a drug like ivermectin, both of which treat parasitic infections, why would the use of those drugs in the early stages of a SARS-CoV-2 infection make patients so much better so quickly?
If this is a virus, why would medications that treat parasites make patients improve? So even asking the question is going to be censored.
Somehow we’ve allowed ourselves to swallow this information that a respiratory virus is now working to give us a blood disorder and clotting factors that are making people sick, when no one has really explained the mechanism by which that happens.
We’re just accepting, oh it’s a virus. It must be a virus, when yet there are many other things that could explain this including hydrogen cyanide, electro—magnetic radiation or some parasites when inhaled or ingested that could be leading to some of the clinical symptoms that we’re seeing.
Seriously, how is this man still a practicing pediatrician? Hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work. Drugs can have pleiotropic mechanisms. The controversy about hypoxia and ventilators early in the pandemic had nothing to do with whether doctors thought SARS-CoV-2 was a respiratory virus and everything to do with when and how best to use ventilators and the possibility that the overaggressive early use of ventilators might not do any good and might even cause harm. These are controversies that, over the months, have been slowly resolving themselves in the scientific literature, but Dr. Palevsky acts as though they are still a thing. Hydroxychloroquine almost certainly does not work against COVID-19, as randomized controlled clinical trials have shown time and time again. As for that last bit, come on! You don’t see COVID-19 without the virus! That argument from incredulity about how a respiratory virus couldn’t possibly cause a clotting disorder is medical stupidity of the highest order, too.
In the last half of the interview, Shurka goes full COVID-19 conspiracy theorist, and Dr. Palevsky humors him. For instance, Shurka goes on and on about the standard “plandemic” nonsense invoking previous pandemic preparedness exercises carried out by various organizations and asks, “Is it possible that this ‘pandemic’ is actually a ‘PLAN-demic’?”
Dr. Palevsky in response, cries “Censorship!” in such as way as to validate Shurka’s ramblings:
What is a medical doctor or a scientist or even a lay person supposed when we see that the illness that people are getting with COVID 19 is supposed to be a coronavirus infection, and yet it’s not even close to being consistent with the way coronavirus operates in the body?
What is a medical doctor or a scientist or a lay person supposed when he or she finds out that Anthony Fauci is quoted in January of 2017 at a Georgetown University dinner saying there will be a surprise outbreak during the Trump administration.
Every time these questions have been raised, people have been censored. When we’ve talked about the use of two anti-parasite drugs effectively helping as a treatment for people who got sick early on and they got better really quickly.
Why is that information censored?
Why are the questions that I ask censored?
“Censored.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
I’ve now documented more times than I can recall how antivaccine grifters like Dr. Palevsky have take so quickly to COVID-19 conspiracy theories and grift. That’s because, behind every form of science denial, there is at least one conspiracy theory, usually many, and there is a huge resemblance between antivaccine conspiracy theories that posit that the CDC/government/medical profession “knows” that vaccines cause autism and all manner of medical problems but that it’s “hiding” or suppressing the evidence and COVID-19 conspiracy theories that posit that SARS-CoV-2 was a “plandemic” and that the CDC/government/medical profession is “suppressing” the evidence.
Of course, there’s the grift, too. There is always the grift.