The Morgellons story that is fed to the media contains several talking points that the reporters gladly repeat, ignoring the most obvious of explanations. Fibers are found on the skin. Fuzzballs are somehow deemed to look unusual. Fibers are found to glow under UV light. Patients’ physical symptoms are dismissed as psychological. Patients did not make their own lesions.

One that comes up over and over, is that Morgellons is found most in California, Texas and Florida, and there are hotspots of it in various cities. This is generally quite explainable by the fact that more people live in those states, and cities, so obviously there would be more cases there. But there is one claim that seems to actually give weight to the MRFs claim of an unusual distribution. From their web site:

Although California represents 12% of the US population, 24% of all families in the U.S. who have registered with the Morgellons Research Foundation reside in California

So that’s twice as many cases as you would expect by random chance! Clearly something is going on! Does this prove Morgellons?

Firstly, it simply shows that the MRF database does not represent a random sampling of the US population. You could interpret this in a number of ways, both pro and con. If Morgellons were an infectious disease, then you could argue that you would expect a more even spread, and the concentration in California perhaps indicates it’s something environmental, like ticks. (unfortunately, most ticks are in the Eastern US).

But we don’t really need to reach very far for explanations. Indeed, we should be remembering Occam here, and not introducing new entities into the mix. The reason for the high concentration of cases in California can be found on one page of the MRF’s web site, their list of television news stories about Morgellons.

One thing that becomes clear is that there are simply a lot of television shows on Morgellons that showed in California. I broke it down into California and Texas

Station City State Shows Population (Metro) Exposure
KTVU San Francisco CA 3 7,236,391 21,709,173
KCBS Los Angeles CA 2 12,950,129 25,900,258
KGTV San Diego CA 1 2,941,454 2,941,454
CBS5 San Francisco CA 1 7,236,391 7,236,391
        TOTAL CA 57,787,276
KXAN Austin TX 1 1,513,565 1,513,565
KVUE Austin TX 1 1,513,565 1,513,565
KPRC Houston TX 1 5,539,949 5,539,949
WOAI San Antonio TX 1 1,942,217 1,942,217
KHOU Houston TX 1 5,539,949 5,539,949
KENS San Antonio TX 3 1,942,217 5,826,651
        TOTAL TX 21,875,896

Look how much bigger the cities are in California. Even though the number of shows is about the same, there’s nearly three times the audience exposure in CA as there is in TX. When you take the relative population of CA (36.5Million) and TX(23.5 MIllion), you come up with a figure of 1.7 times. That 1.7 times as many people (as a percentage of the state population) in California saw a local TV show on Morgellons as did in Texas (math: (57.7/36.5)/(21.8/23.5) = 1.7). Given that the Texas figures are also going to be above the national average, due to its extensive local TV coverage, then it’s hardly surprising that California has 2 times the national average of the incidence of people who heard about Morgellons and decided to visit the MRF web site, and eventually register.

So you see, the MRF’s database IS a random sampling of the US population. Just weighted by media coverage.

14 Responses to “Why California?”

  1. Well, let’s see…there’s John Fowler, who started it, early on, on the local news in California, and Patrick Frazier with “Body Bugs”, does well in Florida, and, oh, I don’t know, the news in San Antonio, too, has spread plenty of propaganda to help push this thing along. Nobody hears anything about “morgellons disease” on the local news where I live, ever.

    So, where are “the MAIN ‘medical professionals’ on morgellons disease located”? I think everyone sees where I’m going with this.

  2. I doubt that the Morgies do, so I’ll spell it out. Stricker’s practice is in California. And after Savely got kicked out of Texas, she went to work with him. Also, when the MRF came out with those statistics, Harvey worked in Texas. And one of the hot spots is Round Rock, Texas, which is the home of Republic Broadcasting Company. That’s one of the locations where a discussion on Morgellons was aired with Leitao and Savely.

  3. I think this is another indication that the message the MRF attempts to convey, and the truth, are two totally different things.

  4. So many of these patients (and that goes for the other movement these “leaders” are in charge of) fear that the government is controlling their minds. I can’t help but view those who are so easily using these patients to their advantage to be the ones who are guilty of mind control and brainwashing.

  5. Anyone still read lymebusters? Thought this was interesting discussion for some reason:

  6. 911, it’s certainly related. If you do a google search for “dismissed as psychological”, you get Morgellons, but you also get these two links:

    It’s a similar situation: people with MUPS fixate on a particular cause, with no evidence. Advocacy groups spin science to the media. The second article is a ridiculous spin, if you read the actual report they are referring to:


    Click here:

    Page 76 to 77

    We are now offically in front of Congress with money being ear-marked to support research via the CDC–so is this delusional too?

    Get down off your Morgellonswatch horse and finally admit you are wrong.

    Thanks you.

  8. Hi Randy. Actually there is no money being specifically earmarked. It’s just a general encouragement for the CDC to hurry up and figure it out. I certainly wish they would too, so I’m all for it. You know there are a lot of members on that committee, and they can stick anything they want in there. There is usually a lot of pork, but also lobbyists can be satisfied with just some extra language sometimes. Probably just more good work by pez (

    Nobody denies that “Morgellons” exists, the disagreement is to WHAT Morgellons is. Is there evidence that it is a distinct disease? Is there evidence about the fibers? Is there enough evidence for the CDC to investigate?

    I have mixed feelings about the CDC investigation. On the one hand it’s great that some real science will be brought to bear on the subject. But on the other, it’s sad that that it’s being done on the basis of a PR campaign, at the expense of other public health issues. It’s also a problem that it’s taking so long, as even if it comes out that Morgellon is just a mixture of existing diseases, and the fibers are a mistaken component, the validation provided by the CDC involvement is causing people to make poor health care decisions, like taking fish antibiotics and horse de-wormers.

    Lots of things are not delusional. Morgellons is not a delusion – it’s a lot more complex than that. I wrote a post about that.

  9. Hi, Randy. Concerning the hurthle cells that had been found in your thyroid, how are you treating that condition?


    I think the Morgellons-Disease-Research’s Morgellons Poll is very assistive towards understanding what “morgellons disease patients” have in common.

    Please note the participants’ answers to questions numbers 15, 17, ad 24…

    15. Please provide your medical history (i.e.: do you or have you had any other diseases? Cancer, Lyme, Thyroid, AIDS, other?).
    17. Any medications you have taken or are taking?
    24. What did other doctors diagnose you with (i.e.: folleculitis? Scabies? DOP – delusional parasitosis)?

  10. this is real. i was living a normal healty life before i got this. how can anyone deny the legions that are right in front of your face. people are suffering and i don’t what it is or how i got this, but it is real and it is a living hell. hearing people who don’t have this–deny this, is like the people who were in denial when Hitler was killing people. you are not helping when you even dare to say that those who suffer from this are delusional. i hope they figure this out for the sake of those who have this and not for those who have doubts that this is real.

  11. And we have just invoked Godwin’s Law. I know from experience with a self-professed CFS patient (who refuses to even try at least one demonstratedly helpful treatment because it involves anti-depressants, and who has been known to self-induce or deliberately exacerbate symptoms) that when the only argument someone with a factitious disorder can produce is ad hominem hysteria against anyone who dares ask for actual evidence, that person has a lot riding on his/her “sufferer” status and is highly invested in playing the role of victim.

  12. I have a great deal of trouble getting my head around factitious disorders. What a waste of life it would be to play the role of victim. Human beings are not “made” this way. I am convinced these people are ill, not attention seeking. An underlying physical disease untreated could cause unusual behaviour ie. your patient deliberately excerbating symptoms.

    Why would you treat fatigue with an antidepressant, which is for the treatment of depression? I guess it shuts the patient up, alters their brain, thus allowing the causative agent responsible for CFS (and many other diseases) to move onto other cells in the body resulting in a disabling disease.

    Mycoplasma has out smarted the anti depressants & anti pyschotics on the market resulting in a new epidemic of once known to be “rare” diseases such as Delusions of Parasitosis. As well as the emergence of Body Dysmorphic Disorder & Morgellons Disease.

    To disbelieve a person who has symptoms of Morgellons Disease is just the ticket required for this condition to proliferate. Not nice hey?

  13. You’d have to convince me this is a real disease (which hasn’t happened) before I’ll believe someone claiming to have it, and you’re going to have to show me some actual evidence on this mysteriously sentient “mycoplasma” before I’ll agree that it even exists. As for antidepressants and CFS, I’m quite sure you can find some actual science on this one, I’m going on statements from CFS patients who’ve been helped by this (and depression can affect energy levels, as I can testify, being depressive myself).

    And about someone choosing to play the victim? Happens all the time. If you’re the poor helpless victim, you get attention and sympathy, people don’t expect much from you, and you can probably sucker someone into taking care of you. Some think this is a good deal. Those with a little something called “self-respect” do not.

  14. I’m not a psychiatrist or any other type of medical professional, nor do I claim to be. I’m a reasonably well-informed layperson. What I’ve read about depression (which does not come from any anti-psychiatry sources such as Morgellons support groups, Scientology, or others that insist that mental health professionals are out to deliberately harm patients) suggests that both heredity and environment are involved, the relative importance of each varying from patient to patient, which does make sense to me. The known fact that a lot of depression patients are helped by medication does strongly indicate that by whichever cause, the depression patient’s neuro-chemistry is abnormal and in many cases can be corrected if the patient is willing to seek help rather than cry “I’m a victim!” constantly.

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