Last spring I wrote an article about a Dr. Al Plechner, who claims to have discovered a glandular imbalance, which he has named Plechner Syndrome and which he claims is responsible for a wide range of health problems. Dr. Plechner’s web site includes many of the classic warning signs of medical nonsense, including: grand claims that a lone individual has discovered, through trial and error rather than formal scientific research, a major breakthrough that the rest of the medical profession has missed; that there is one entity responsible for an enormous number of seemingly unrelated diseases; that one simple therapy can cure or improve many seemingly unrelated diseases; that mysterious “toxins” in the environment can be blamed for health problems without specific evidence for such a connection; that anecdotes and personal experience is sufficient to demonstrate these claims; and that scientists and veterinarians who disagree with Dr. Plechner are motivated by ignorance, greed, or other malign motives rather than a genuine interest in the truth and the welfare of patients.
Following my earlier criticism of Dr. Andrew Jones (here and here), his followers leaped to his defense through a combination of anecdotes and personal attacks on me. The same has now happened with Dr. Plechner’s followers, and this time it appears he has actively solicited people to come forward in his defense. Starting a couple of days ago, I began receiving a number of comments on my original post, most offering anecdotes suggesting Dr. Plechner had helped their pets, often after conventional veterinarians have failed or given up. I have, according to my usual policy, approved these comments and tried to offer reasonable and polite responses. I am always open to constructive debate and discussion focused on ideas and facts.
A fair number of the comments have also included personal attacks or abusive language. I do not generally approve such comments since they are both uncivil and not productive. In the past, I have collected anonymous examples of the sort of abusive or hysterical hate mail I get just so people can understand the kind of tone and thought processes so often marshaled in support of unconventional medical practices. In this instance, a supporter of Dr. Plechner has forwarded to me an email in which Dr. Plechner asks his supporters to set me straight. I think this provides some additional insight into Dr. Plechner’s approach and why pet owners should be highly skeptical of his claims.
His original request to his followers is as follows:
When you have time to waste, Google drplechner.com and go to Plechner’s Syndrome and the Art of Making Things Up
Now I know why my son said, “Pop do not look at the comments against you on the internet”!
I think the time has come to have you comment on the statements that have been made about my faulty research!
What a shame that a person that is so “academically impaired”, has so little to do accept to show their “ignorance with an attitude”, by trying to discredit new research studies that have not been included in their education in schools of medical learning just yet.
Treating the cause of disease is just as important as treating the effects, if not even more important!
The fact that my profession does not know the cause of a disease at this time, does not mean that a cause does not still exist.
On line notifications like this only hurts the patients based upon this contributors ignorance!
I know how busy all of you are, but the time has come when venomous misconceptions like what this person is preaching, must end.
If you have time, I would really appreciate you sending your comments and experiences using Plechner’s Syndrome to the website information at the end of the article.
My only feeling is that this kind of article is only hurting people and animals with health problems and keeping them from getting proper treatment.
The time is coming, when my research findings will be accepted by the medical professions and make a huge difference for their patients.
Thank you for understanding and believing in me.
This message contains a number of clear examples of Dr. Plechner’s belief that he is a misunderstood visionary and that the reason the rest of the veterinary profession rejects his claims is because we are all ignorant. It is a remarkable display of arrogance to assume you are right and the vast majority of other medical professionals are wrong, so this somewhat contradicts the more sympathetic descriptions of Dr. Plechner by his supporters.
He also refers to “new research studies that have not been included in their education,” yet neither he nor any of his supporters ever produce any published research on his claims for us to evaluate.
And while I understand that no one likes to be criticized, it hardly supports Dr. Plechner’s case that he responds to this criticism not with evidence or substantive arguments but simply repeated assertions that he is right and the rest of us are wrong and with personal attacks on a critic he knows nothing about. Phrases like “academically impaired” and “ignorance with an attitude” are just vacuous, petty attempts to insult, not an argument against anything I have written. And “venomous misconceptions” is not only a silly attempt to imply some sinister motive for my lack of acceptance of his claim, but also a bit hypocritical given his personal attacks in this message to his supporters.
In a follow-up message thanking one of his supporters for defending him, Dr. Plechner goes further, revealing his conspiracy theory driven agenda and his underlying rejection of the scientific and medical profession generally.
One crucial pt to always keep in mind: “Follow the money trail”
“HE WHO PAYS THE PIPER, CALLS THE TUNE”
Much of so called ‘science’ operates on this basis.
And most of the medical/ big pharma colluded industry has a cozy little relationship with
government, msm and the educational institutes to boot.
We should class them as ‘Disease Care’ providers, and not Health Care!
Once again the pharma shill gambit and the blithe dismissal of all doctors who don’t agree with Dr. Plechner as greedy and more concerned about money than about the welfare of their patients. This sort of insulting nonsense deserves no respect or response other than to show it for what it is and let the public judge whether it is fair and reasonable or extreme and self-serving.
While some of Dr. Plechner’s supporters have, as I pointed out earlier, have been civil and even thoughtful in their defense of him, others have been even less reasonable and less substantive in their attacks on his critics than he has. Here are some samples from comments and messages posted to this site or sent directly to me. Such hysterical ranting and abuse belongs in the realm of debates about religious cults, not about the causes and treatments of disease in our animal companions.
“That Skep Vet is a jerk”
“Some scientist YOU are!!! With NO evidence or EXPERIENCE of using Dr. Plechner’s Protocol, you have MADE UP a MOST INCREDIBLE diatribe which amounts to character assassination. This article is outright libelous you should be sued for for an attempt to destroy the reputation of someone who has worked hard for fifty years and has saved countless lives. You have NO actual scientific experience with this protocol, yet you have judged it in the extreme. HOW can you do this and call yourself a scientist??? Talk about a personality disorder, this is cognitive dissonance.
The truth is geniuses are ahead of their times and the little minds always do what you are doing.”
“Well, the above diatribe from one self-proclaimed know-it-all,”skeptvet,” just goes to prove that any pompous ass with a computer and keyboard can make denouncements of Biblical proportions denigrating the findings of others, about which they neither have any direct knowledge or proof to the contrary.
Yes, Mr. or Mrs. Skeptvet, we who have first hand experience with Dr. Plechner and what’s possible when the mind is not a steel trap, encourage you to waste more of your time, attempting to deny and negate the life work of one man who has actually been in the thick of it for 5 decades. A man who has demonstrated his enormous heart and compassion and humanity countless times, while you’ve been at your keyboard, “working” hard at slicing and dicing someone’s reputation.
We absolutely encourage you to waste more of your value-less time, along with all the other flat-earthers. Opinions cannot sway those with FIRST-HAND knowledge of what works! I bet we could give a damn whether science agrees or not.
Personally, I’d rather have a live cat and pass (or piss) on the studies.”
It seems pretty clear from the information cited in my original post, and from the responses of Dr. Plechner and his supporters to that critique, that Dr. Plechner believes himself to be a visionary possessed on an insight not appreciated by the rest of the veterinary profession, and that his followers are willing to accept his claims based on anecdotes alone, without concern for whether there is any real scientific evidence to support them. That is, of course, their right. However, history is littered with the work of such iconoclastic visionaries who were wrong, and justly forgotten. And, unfortunately, history is also littered with people hurt and killed by mistaken beliefs about health and ineffective or dangerous medical therapies, and a greater understanding of the value of scientific assessment of these therapies could have saved many of them
As I’ve discussed before, the kind and brilliant pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, guided much of the childcare practices in the English-speaking world for decades with his incredibly popular book Baby and Child Care. Among his many insights, unfortunately, was a tragic mistake. Based on his own experience and reasoning, he decided the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) could be lowered by putting babies to sleep on their bellies, so they wouldn’t choke if they vomited. Most parents from the 50s to the 90s followed this advice. But from the 1970s, there was good scientific evidence Dr. Spock was wrong. A systematic reviews of the subject has concluded that:
Advice to put infants to sleep on the front for nearly a half century was contrary to evidence available from 1970 that this was likely to be harmful. Systematic review of preventable risk factors for SIDS from 1970 would have led to earlier recognition of the risks of sleeping on the front and might have prevented over 10 000 infant deaths in the UK and at least 50 000 in Europe, the USA, and Australasia.
When a campaign was instituted in the U.K. to reverse the practice Dr. Spock had recommended, the number of SIDS cases dropped dramatically. That is the danger or following the intuition or experience of one person, however smart or well-intentioned, and ignoring the need for real scientific evidence. I bear no personal ill will to Dr. Plechner, but I stand by my assessment that his claims are implausible, not supported by meaningful scientific evidence, and a dangerous assertion of the intuition of the individual over objective research as the measure of medical hypotheses.