I love my commenters. Some of them are really, really smart. I'd like to share an exchange with you, but first the context.
Morgellons syndrome is a label created by an American woman to describe a group of people who all believe they have mysterious fibers coming out of their skin. I've posted a bit on this before, but basically, there is not evidence of a discrete disease entity here, other than, perhaps delusions of parasitosis.
When these fibers and sores are examined by reputable medical authorities, they are invariably bits of environmental fluff, such as clothing fibers. There are a few Morgellons-friendly people who are not experts in fiber analysis, pathology, or medicine (yes, Randy Wymore, I'm talking to you) who claim that these fibers are "like nothing we've every seen." Conveniently, there are no peer-reviewed analyses of these pathology samples.
So in a recent thread (ha!) when Morgellons came up, an interesting exchange took place (you can read the original, but here I've extracted the good bits, and simply labeled the commenter as Thinker and Believer).
Joint efforts by Oklahoma State University, Center for Health Sciences faculty, and the Tulsa Police Department Forensic Science lab have confirmed that the unusual fibers from the skin of Morgellons sufferers are neither textile nor known environmental contaminants. Forensic microscopic analyses showed that the fibers were not extruded and neither end was sheared, as would have been expected with commercially synthesized textile fibers, nor were they cotton or other naturally occurring plant or animal fibers. FTIR-spectroscopy analyses suggest that the fibers are a relatively pure organic substance but they do not match any known compounds. The vivid blue and red colors of the fibers are not pigments or dyes in any conventional sense, as they are not extractable using various solvents or detergents. Concentrated acid, bleach, and hydrogen peroxide change the colors, suggesting that the colors may be associated with a particular ionized state of atoms in the fibers. The fibers are extremely temperature stable and GC-mass spec resulted in only the release of carbon dioxide. Preliminary SEM elemental analysis suggests the presence of calcium, chromium and silver. Further SEM, spectroscopy, PCR, and other experiments are ongoing.
Sounds very science-y, no?
Does anyone else notice the the disconnect here? It's an organic compound that's temperature stable and consist of inorganic materials. And the leading scientist plans to use PCR on a material he's just determined doesn't contain any DNA (you get very distinctive patters in the GCMS for organic molecules, while he only sees CO2).
I also like his use of SEM for elemental analysis (most likely he's using EDS to determine surface chemistry, what you often get as a combined instrument with an SEM).
Yeah, determining at least the elemental composition of an unknown substance is really not that hard, and doesn't require SEM. People do it in undergrad chemistry labs all the time. There are whole academic departments that do a pretty good job of identifying natural products... maybe they should get some of those experts to have a look if they think these are truly microbe-produced somehow.
"Does anyone else notice the the disconnect here? It's an organic compound that's temperature stable and consist of inorganic materials."
Yes, we notice this!!!!! This is nothing like anyone has seen before. Morgellons doesn't play by the rules.
Ugh. The "rule" in this case are the basic laws of the universe. Ugh.
The basic laws of the universe as it was in the GE-free Era dose not apply any more!
What we have here is "special pleading". The Believers wish to be exempt from the basic laws of the universe. When challenged on that, they claim that genetic engineering has altered these laws. Of course, genetics follows the same laws as anything else. The fundamental misunderstanding of science is so deep that I'm not sure what can be done to overcome it.