Windshields and Morgellons

People are ill, people have various real physical symptoms, and people are not all getting cured. Nobody denies this. Nobody is suggestion that people are “imagining” sores or “imagining” pain. The symptoms are real.

But, the fundamental question is: can the symptoms be explained by existing conditions, or is there evidence of a new disease, called “Morgellons”?

If you have a car, you will at some point in your life get a ding in your windshield. Suppose thousands of people got these dings, is this evidence of anything? It’s possible to believe so:

On April 15, 1954, Bellingham, Seattle and other Washington communities are in the grip of a strange phenomenon — tiny holes, pits, and dings have seemingly appeared in the windshields of cars at an unprecedented rate. Initially thought to be the work of vandals, the pitting rate grows so quickly that panicked residents soon suspect everything from cosmic rays to sand-flea eggs to fallout from H-bomb tests. By the next day, pleas are sent to government officials asking for help in solving what would become known as the Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic.

Obviously windshield dings are real and nothing new. But what causes people to suddenly notice them, and believe that something new is happening? The article concludes:

The Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic of 1954 did indeed become a textbook example of collective delusion, sometimes mistakenly referred to as “mass hysteria.” To this day, sociologists and psychologists refer to the incident in their courses and writings alongside other similar events, such as Orson Welles’ Martian invasion panic of 1938, and supposed sightings of the “Jersey Devil” on the East Coast in 1909.

The Seattle pitting incident contains many key factors that play a part in collective delusion. These include ambiguity, the spread of rumors and false but plausible beliefs, mass media influence, recent geo-political events, and the reinforcement of false beliefs by authority figures (in this case, the police, military, and political figures).

This combination of factors, added to the simple fact that for the first time people actually looked “at” their windshields instead of “through” them, caused the hubbub. No vandals. No atomic fallout. No sand-fleas. No cosmic rays. No electronic oscillations. Just a bunch of window dings that were there from the start.

With Morgellons, people are sick for all the usual reasons. Then they look at their skin, and see the normal things you find on anyone’s skin, but because this is the first time they have closely examined their skin, they see specks and fibers. Then they self-diagnose with Morgellons. Sure, maybe Morgellons is a new distinct condition, but there is no more evidence to suggest this than there was evidence to suggest that H-bomb fallout was pitting windshields in Washington, back in 1954.