Why does the Morgellons idea persist, when there is no evidence to support it? Medical professionals say that people who self-diagnose with “Morgellons” actually have a variety of illnesses, and many have some kind of mistaken belief regarding fibers emerging from their skin. After years of people making claims of fibers, no dermatologist has ever seen these fibers emerging. Yet the idea persists.
Will it continue to persist? How will the idea evolve? We can get some insight here by looking at a similar idea, that of “chemtrails“.
Both ideas had a very similar start. People noticed something that seemed unusual to them. With Morgellons, they found if they looked very closely at their skin, then they would find tiny fibers, which they could not recall finding before. With chemtrails, they noticed that some vapor trails behind planes lasted a lot longer than other, which they could not recall seeing happen before.
Then they noticed a connection with their health. With Morgellons, they found the fibers in their excoriations, so assumed they must be connected. With chemtrails, they noticed that sometimes when the trails lasted a long time, they felt unwell, so they must be connected. Quacks move in, and begin to encourage the belief in Morgellons (or Chemtrails), so they can sell their snake-oil.
Then the theories started, with Morgellons it was a new disease, or escaped nano-technology, or genetic modification. With chemtrails, it was a secret population reduction program, or a mass inoculation, or experiment, or weather modification.
Both ideas grew on the internet. With a hundred million people on the internet, if only one in a million people agree with you, that’s a hundred people. Like-minded people group together, and discuss their experiences and theories. Eventually enough people write to their local TV station, and they get some media coverage.
Then comes science. With Morgellons, it is noted that fibers are everywhere, and you will inevitably get them on your skin and in your lesions. It is noted that the hundreds of medical conditions can give a set of symptoms that fit Morgellons, and there is no evidence of a distinct disease. With chemtrails, it is noted that it’s perfectly normal for some trails to persist, depending on the weather, and that trails just like these have been observed since the 1940s.
So, once it was explained, did people stop believing in these ideas? Some did, but the ideas live on. Hard-core believers simply rejected the evidence presented, claiming the scientists were either stupid, or part of a conspiracy. More level-headed believers simply modified their belief – now just SOME of the trails looked suspicious, or SOME of the fibers were a minor side effect. The pages describing the theories remain up on the internet, and new believers find them every day. The ideas live on.
Chemtrails is a little more advanced in its progression as an idea, and we can predict what will happen with Morgellons by looking at Chemtrails. Specifically, the CDC investigation. With chemtrails, the air-force looked into chemtrail theory, and put out a document explaining exactly what is going on. This had no impact. People simply ignored the science in the document, and claimed it was part of a conspiracy. With Morgellons, the CDC will produce a report, basically saying there is no new disease, but there is a lot of Delusions of Parasitosis, triggered by various physical ailments, and they will explain this and recommend what doctors should do. This will have NO EFFECT on the belief in Morgellons. People will either ignore it, or say it’s part of a conspiracy, or simply say the CDC was wrong.
A while ago I created this fake CDC paper on Morgellons. Nobody really batted an eye. It was discussed briefly on Morgellons discussion boards, but the actual implications of the paper were basically ignored. The problem is that the actual CDC report on Morgellons, that will probably be written in 2008, is going to look very similar to this fake paper. The reaction amongst believers is going to be the same, and the same as the reactions that chemtrail believers had to official explanations of their observations.