How dare you ask for evidence?

Nice piece about Rhys Morgan in the Guardian.

So why does this floppy-haired teenager bother? Wouldn’t it be less hassle to focus on becoming even better at Team Fortress 2 or just kicking back and listening to his favourite bands, Muse and Radiohead?

“It can be nerve-wracking but I think that getting the message out there is a lot more important than me being sued,” says Morgan. “I think there’s a need for more people to speak out. I hate the idea of anyone being taken for a ride.”

And there you go. That’s what a lot of speakers-out think, and that’s why they speak out. Most of us weren’t clever and together and dedicated enough to do it at age 17, and if we had we wouldn’t have been worth listening to anyway, but the reasons are still the same.

But it was when Morgan was diagnosed with a serious illness – Crohn’s disease – that he plunged deep into the world of scepticism. While off school last year, he set about researching the disease and was alarmed at some of the “miracle cures” on offer. One particularly grabbed his attention: Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), which is described on its website as the “answer” to Aids, hepatitis A, B and C, malaria, herpes, TB and “most cancer”.

Morgan looked into MMS and was alarmed to find that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned that, when used as directed, the solution produced was “a potent bleach” and urged anyone using it to stop immediately and throw it away. Similar warnings have been issued in this country.

Bleach. Bleach!! People are peddling bleach as a treatment! That’s scary. (And puts me in mind of a horrible story about a volunteer at the zoo and some mice and a jar and some bleach…)

“A few people on support forums seemed to be pushing MMS on others. I started telling people on the forums, look, this treatment doesn’t seem to be that great.” He got “kicked off” one forum. “They told me I was being rude and inflammatory by questioning other people’s choices.”

Because medical treatments are just a matter of “choices,” and choosing the wrong one – say, bleach – won’t do any harm. Wouldn’t it be nice if people could learn to stop thinking that way?

So what does he believe in? Morgan does not hesitate: “Evidence-based medicine. If evidence can support something, I’m all for it. One thing that really gets me is when people claim sceptics have closed minds. That’s not true: a true sceptic will be convinced by evidence. And even if the evidence supported the most absurd claims, the sceptic would agree that it’s true.”

Is that rude and inflammatory or what?!



  1. coragyps says

    My company sells “MMS” (sodium chlorite) as a cure for iron sulfide in oilfield water. It works for that. But if it drips on some grass and dries up, the grass will spontaneously catch fire.

    Just what I want in my orange juice….

  2. Retired Prodigy Bill says

    Bravo for this young man.

    I recall a former boss of my saying that I was the most closed-minded person he knew. I asked him if he was insane, and he pointed out that my opinions didn’t change when confronted with opposing viewpoints. “That,” I told him, “is because everyone around here tries to use appeals to power or whim or authority instead of evidence. Just because an idiot sincerely believes something doesn’t mean I have to put my brain on the shelf.”

  3. csrster says

    It’s slightly disgraceful that the article totally fails to mention that Rhys’s spat with Burzynski was started by a dreadful, credulous article in The Observer, The Guardian’s Sunday sister-paper.

  4. timberwoof says

    Being right is a grave sin in the eyes of many people. Being right and demonstrating it is even worse, leading others to misuse the adjective “arrogant”.

    You go, Rhys Morgan. Be right. (And you, Bill. I think I had the same boss.)

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