Thursday, December 22, 2016

#1766: Jim Humble

Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS) a solution of 28% sodium chlorite (NaClO2), a toxic industrial chemical known to cause fatal renal failure, in distilled water and prepared in a citric acid solution (thus forming chlorine dioxide, an oxidising agent used in water treatment and bleaching), named and promoted by former scientologist Jim Humble – especially in his 2006 self-published book The Miracle Mineral Solution of the 21st Century. MMS is promoted as a cure for HIV, malaria, viral hepatitis, the H1N1 flu virus, ebola, colds, acne, cancer and lots of other stuff (though on e.g. eBay it is generally sold as a water purifier to circumvent certain restrictions on pushing dangerous substances as medicine; at least one importer has been convicted in the UK). Of course, any remedy that is claimed to be effective against a wide range of unrelated diseases is bullshit (except to the extent that it might cause death, which sort of brings any other illness you might suffer from to an end and which MMS can, in fact, bring about), and Humble’s evidence is strictly limited to anecdotes, which are not supported by (and don’t support) anything. Even is skeptical, which is something to think about.

The treatment was first advertised to poor families in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as a low-cost solution to their medical needs, and though much of the marketing is targeted at religious cults or people in really desperate situations, MMS has recently been promoted as a “cure” for autistic children. Subjecting a child’s gastrointestinal system to industrial bleaching agents is child abuse, but MMS has nevertheless been promoted at the anti-vaccination movement’s annual quackfest Autism One, and seems to have gained some popularity due to credulous testimonials bandied around by people who don’t know how evidence and reason work. How it is supposed to work seems to be somewhat debated (on closed forums; report here) but apparently it is supposed to clear the body of mystery parasites known as “rope worms” and other pathogens that delusional users apparently believe cause autism (horror stories here; the most horrible part being, of course, how MMS fans, like the religious fanatics they are, take any (negative) effect of the treatment on the patient to be a good sign). The idea is, needless to say, one step up from autism-is-caused-by-evil-spirits and one notch below autism-is-caused-by-imbalance-of-the-humors, and has nothing to do with anything resembling science or minimal knowledge of how the body works. (And of course: the parasites are caused by vaccines – adopting one crazy delusion doesn’t mean that you have to give up the others; they all fit together in a grand unified system of depraved nonsense).

As a matter of fact, authorities have – for once – tended to take MMS seriously as the insanity it is both in Europe and the US (see here for a good summary, and here for fair and balanced coverage). Because of reports including nausea, vomiting, and dangerously low blood pressure as a result of dehydration following instructed use of Humble’s bleach product, the FDA has advised consumers to dispose of the product immediately, and (e.g.) Irish parents who have used MMS on their children are facing criminal investigations. In the US, Kerri Rivera – the main promoter of MMS as an autism cure – was subpoenaed in the wake of her presentation at the 2015 Autism One conference, and after proving (of course) to be unable to present anything resembling evidence for the benefit of MMS she was forced to sign an agreement barring her from further promoting it or appearing at conferences in the state of Illinois. There have been legal backfires as well. In 2015 Louis Daniel Smith was found guilty of selling industrial bleach as a miracle cure for various diseases including cancer, AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, lyme disease, asthma and colds (three of his alleged co-conspirators, Chris Olson, Tammy Olson and Karis DeLong, pleaded guilty to introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce before the trial). Rivera claims MMS is most most effective when doses are timed to cycles of the moon: “full moon because the parasites go into the gut during the full moon and the new moon and they mate,” says Rivera.

Jim Humble himself is the self-styled archbishop of The Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, and tends to present himself as some sort of messiah; a report from a secret meeting of his church is here. MMS is described as a “sacrament”, though that is probably mostly for legal purposes. Humble lists an impressive CV (hard to back up, of course), including having cured malaria (though of course the Red Cross is desperately trying to cover up the remarkable results for unclear reasons but a tendency toward conspiracy). As for evidence, well, he’s got some testimonials – e.g. from Lindsay “Bionic woman” Wagner –  and seems not to understand why anyone would ask for anything else. Among the more interesting details of his background is his claim to have been sent to earth from a “Planet of the Gods” in the Andromeda galaxy on a mining mission, which is also how he discovered the miracle cure. He also has plenty of stories of how he has been pushing his dangerous nonsense to poor areas of Africa as a cure for malaria, which is not funny. Humble seems to have had a particular success with cults (the CBC recently covered the trend among certain religious groups using MMS for healing purposes, for instance) – though I suppose most of his groups of fans may come close to fit that description in any case – where Humble can really emphasize the magic properties of his bleach product to audiences receptive to that kind of crazy. Humble’s “archbishop” Mark Grenon says that if you get breast cancer you brought it on yourself, and that women should rely on MMS, not mammograms, surgery, and chemotherapy.

Diagnosis: The mind boggles at the insanity of it all – and it attracts otherwise ordinary-looking people in a manner reminiscent of standard horror movie tropes about dark cults. Humble himself is either a very cynical liar or a complete idiot. Those are not mutually exclusive attributes.

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