Friday, February 03, 2017

"Miracle" Mineral Solution (MMS) aka Bleach.

This is my response to a question on "Miracle" Mineral Solution (MMS), or to give it it's scientific name, bleach, on the following video:

The video claims MMS cures "... Cancer, Aids, Diabetes, Malaria, The Common Cold, Herpes, Parkinsons, Arthritis ... Pretty much every disease that exists on this planet today and plagues humanity ..."

That's one whopping big claim, given that each of these diseases have completely different causes. Even cancer itself isn't one disease with one cause.

It saddens me that people hear a claim like that and aren't immediately skeptical.

Firstly, here is the comment:

"Andrew,  how can you have so much faith in science? I am not against it all.  I feel that science has done a lot of good. But I also know that there is corruption. There is pressure for publishing and so the easiest way is to confirm another discovery than it is to bring out a new one.  The less publishing, the less grants and money.  The more you publish going against established science, the more likely you will end up broke and homeless.  This is why I do not have the faith in science that you do and so I will have an open mind and research some things on my own or give things a try when I've read enough reviews."

My reply:

I trust science because it works. We have dialysis machines, Space stations, LHC, Heart transplants, the internet and medications that demonstrably work.

Individual scientists may be corrupt. But they are generally caught (because we find out their ideas don't work and aren't repeatable).

That's what the scientific method is all about. An idea becomes a hypothesis. That is, it becomes an idea framed in such a way that you can attempt to prove it is wrong. You attempt to prove it is wrong through experiments (which are highly structured and follow certain guidlelines such as recording every piece of data before, during and after).

You then write a highly structured paper, showing your precise methods and equipment, how you measured your findings, chose your control groups (precisely so that others can repeat what you did).  You paper is then reviewed by other scientists that work for scientific journals and if your methodology is correct and you don't appear not to have cheated then the paper is published in a journal.

But that is not the end by any means. Once published. The entire scientific community (in fact the entire population) is at liberty to read the paper and try the experiment for themselves and, in turn publish their results, or write review papers describing why they think the results are invalid, or do other experiments trying to disprove the findings of the first paper.

This process takes, literally, years. After all of this, if there is nothing that disproves the hypothesis, the idea become accepted. At this point, other papers are written based on the first paper, expanding on those ideas. At any point, these papers may find a flaw in the 1st paper. If this is the case, the 1st paper's ideas are re-examined and, if necessary, that entire field of science may have to be re thought, re structured or even dismissed altogether. This has sometimes happened in the past (phlogiston).

In the case of medication. The rules are even stricter. There are a long and stringent set of tests (that take years) that a drug must go through (by scientists not linked with the company). Testing how well it really works. Testing side effects, testing dosages, testing dosages for children, the different effects of the drug on different condition etc...

Not only are these tests stringent but they are changed all the time in light of any new evidence from previous trials.

It would be extraordinarily difficult to try and get a fraud through this process. Some have tried but they are generally caught.

The worst case of a drug causing problems was probably thalidomide, which did get through to the public, but only because it had never been intended as a drug for morning sickness. And it certainly wasn't fraud. As soon as the link to birth defects was confirmed, the drug was withdrawn. Immediately.

Do some drug companies try to bypass this? Of course. But they are found out because they end up not meeting the strict requirements involved in getting a drug to market.

"alternative" medicine, like this bleach concoction, never, ever has to meet these tests. Ever. And it's sold in old water bottles by some dodgy bloke on the internet.

And to address your point about publishing. Merely publishing is not enough to attract grants. Not even slightly. People start granting money to a scientist once his papers start being quoted in other papers. In other words, his papers appear to be effective. (See the Science Citation Index).

The most difficult thing about science is letting go of a much treasured idea for which there is no evidence, or more usually, for which the evidence is against.

Science is about looking at how the world works, not hoping the world works in a particular way, then trying to prove it. On the whole, scientists are generally trying to disprove ideas, including their own.

So you see, that's why I trust science. It is good to have an open mind, but not a mind so open that it just accepts claims at face value. If this bleach really is effective, why are it's producers not carrying out controlled experiments on it? Why are they not writing papers and submitting them to scientific journals. If they really thought it worked, they would be.
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