Fact Check: Video's Purported 'Morgellons' In Respirator Masks Could NOT Be Nano-Robots -- 'Nano' Is Not Visible To Human Eye

Fact Check

  • by: Dean Miller
Fact Check: Video's Purported 'Morgellons' In Respirator Masks Could NOT Be Nano-Robots -- 'Nano' Is Not Visible To Human Eye Can't See Nano

Do respirator masks prescribed to reduce viral spread contain nano-robot parasites called Morgellons? No, that's not true: "Nano" describes structures one billionth of a meter across, which makes the video images impossible, since it shows a fingertip alongside the purported nano-bot. Scientists have been unable to verify the existence of any parasite that could be causing "Morgellons Disease," which the Mayo Clinic describes as a "controversial unexplained skin condition" that some doctors describe as a delusional infestation and others say is just fibers from band-aids or clothing that get stuck in sores or scabs and which patients misidentify as parasitic worms or nano-bots.

The claim about man-made nano-size parasites in masks has circulated widely on social media, including in this January 8, 2022, Facebook video (archived here) where it was published under the title "You need to watch this!" It opened:

Do you know where Morgellons came from?

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Morgellon Adam.jpg

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Jan 19 22:16:14 2022 UTC)

The narrator of the video excerpt used in the Facebook video post says, at the 02:18 mark:

They are 100% manmade through nano-technology ... You don't believe us? Let us show you the evidence. Which by the way is very easy to find. All you have to do is a little experiment. Let's start with a mask, shall we? Place the mask over a bowl of hot water which resembles the effect of your exhalation ... Now put the mask on the microscope and behold, Morgellons in your face mass, manmade nano-bot technology fibers that behave like parasites that are activated when you breathe ...

The claims are impossible on their own terms.

FALSE CLAIM: The pictured nano-bot "Morgellon" is too large: approximately 1/50th the width of a human fingertip

The fingertip is approximately 50 times wider than the worm-shaped item. Something built at nano scale is defined as a one-billionth part. In the case of measurement, one-billionth of a meter long or across. A typical fingertip would be millions of times wider than a nano-robot.

FALSE CLAIM: A nano-bot "Morgellon" would be visible to the human eye, as is the fingertip

Objects made at nano-scale cannot be seen with a light microscope, since they are smaller than the wavelength of light. Engineers and scientists working at nano-scale use scanning electron microscopes and other technologies that make visible that which is a thousandth the thickness of a human hair. Whatever light-based viewing mechanism is used in the video, it shows the fingertip at approximately full-size, at which magnification a nano-object would be invisible.

Science blogger Paige Brown Jarreau, a biologist/agricultural engineer with a Ph.D. in communications, frames the invisibility of nano-objects to humans as follows: "It's difficult to imagine just how small that is, so here are some examples: A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick."

CONTESTED CLAIM: That "Morgellons" exist

Scientists at the Mayo Clinic, a Rochester, Minnesota research center and medical school that employs about 4,500 physicians and scientists, describe Morgellons Disease as follows:

Some doctors recognize the condition as a delusional infestation and treat it with cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs and counseling. Others think the symptoms are related to an infectious process in skin cells. Further study is needed.

The most recent peer-reviewed index item on Morgellons Disease in the National Library of Medicine is a January 2021 article from the peer-reviewed science journal Hand, titled: "Morgellons Disease: The Spread of a Mass Psychogenic Illness via the Internet and Its Implications in Hand Surgery." It was co-authored by four medical doctors specializing in plastic surgery.

The Facebook post is based on a film available on the internet that proposes numerous conspiracy theories to explain the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Dean Miller

Lead Stories Managing Editor Dean Miller has edited daily and weekly newspapers, worked as a reporter for more than a decade and is co-author of two non-fiction books. After a Harvard Nieman Fellowship, he served as Director of Stony Brook University's Center for News Literacy for six years, then as Senior Vice President/Content at Connecticut Public Broadcasting. Most recently, he wrote the twice-weekly "Save the Free Press" column for The Seattle Times. 

Read more about or contact Dean Miller

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