Laughing at Mendeleyev

A portrait of Russian chemist Дмитрий Иванович...

A portrait of Russian chemist Дмитрий Иванович Менделеев (Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleyev), February 1834–2 Feb 1907. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a sturdy, practical, follow-the-rules medical doctor–the kind the institutions meant to turn out–well, that is, until I stayed home to homeschool my kids–taking a fresh look at food and nutritional guidelines has blown my light bulb.  Currently, I’m sorting through fiber as it relates to butyrate production.  I’m learning all “fiber” is not “fiber.”  Can it get any more confusing?

Anyhow, this fall I have been teaching two chemistry classes to our homeschool group’s students.  Seeing the chemistry again has been rejuvenating (and somewhat exhausting), but it was a personal chemistry story that caught my attention.  Mendeleyev (or Mendeleev) geniously created the periodic table, well before we knew about protons and all the existing elements.  When he organized the table, he left gaps in appropriate places for undiscovered elements and predicted their properties based on his observations.  It was brilliant.

“The scientific community laughed at Mendeleyev…
… until a French scientist discovered one of his predicted elements in 1875.”

We would all do well to not laugh, particularly when we think we know.

Periodic table of the chemical elements Españo...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)








Source of information and quote:   Discovery Education website.  2006.

10 thoughts on “Laughing at Mendeleyev

  1. Julie

    Brilliant, indeed!! Yet another story of a successful person who stood up for what they believed depite what others even those in “authority” said or believed. I love stories like this! Thanks for sharing!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      It must have been very hard to be disrespected and ridiculed by peers. A person doesn’t want to follow a path that is incorrect, especially a scientist. However, when a person can see the evidence that others are ignoring or refusing to observe, and presents it to others to see and analyze–and they just laugh, belittle, cut down, or demonize rather than choosing to say, “Huh. Tell me how you arrived at that conclusion…” Then the world loses. Thanks for commenting, Julie. I hope you are having a really good weekend.

  2. All Seasons Cyclist

    This reminds me of Dr. Kilmer S. McCully. He received his M.D. degree cum laude from Harvard Medical School in 1959 and ended up teaching at Harvard for 14 years. Because he rejected the etched-in-stone cholesterol theory and believed that high homocysteine level were the major factor in arteriosclerosis, he was forced out of his job at Harvard and then blackballed from every other job he tried to find.

    His basic theory is that high homocysteine levels are the result of a deficiency of vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid (mainly due to eating over-processed foods). His book, The Heart Revolution, is one of my favorites! He spends a great deal of time explaining what happens when food is processed (or over-processed).

    There was a great article about his vindication in The New York Times Magazine at:

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Wow. Thank you so much! It was about during my residency that we started checking and treating high homocysteine levels! However, I never received the part about why the levels would be high! Ever. Now I know the story behind it; I knew none of that! And I never thought about it. I never took it the next step. I feel very disappointed in medicine. I never realized how cookie cutter it was. How cookie cutter I was. Now I sit around and think about how I can effect change for families and kids. Change is super hard when you are entrenched and only a rare treating medical doctor will come out and say at the very least, “You need to be eating a whole foods diet.” People don’t really want to change. They don’t believe their food could be causing X, Y, or culminating in Z. Thank you for the link and for your generous comments! I am off to check it out!

      1. All Seasons Cyclist

        Dr. McCully was very close to the Paleo diet in his book — and I mean REALLY close. His section on processed foods is the best I’ve ever read. If you do pick up his book I’d like to know what you think about it!

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Interesting that he was close to Paleo. So many of these diets are similar! I really enjoy determining their common ground, their strength? And then seeing where they differ and wondering why they would differ. Will check it out!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.