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Name: pam
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Question:
what kind of bacteria or parasite etc. can come from the water and looks like a hairlike is sticky and gets in your tetth causes stomach problems. and when it is just out of my mouth squishy and when it is dry it scrivals up and is hard. has made my newborn son sick ky daughters sick . why is it that you can litearly put hand soap or anti-bacterial on and within seconds you can see what i call blue hairs. or it seems to have gotten bigger and is is whit or half black white?they are in my snot and flem. in my kids bowel movement i think i have contamiated water but no one believes me. it reminds me of a worm .i have to black things attached to twwo of myteeth (looks like a littli tick) can you halp me or am t really crazy? if you could recommend some one or somplace to help me.



Replies:
You may or may not be crazy, but that has nothing to do with what you see and what really is. Do you understand? It's important that you do. What really is, really is. What you see, you really see. Both are real, and let no one ever tell you differently.

The problem, which I think you understand, is that it is not always easy to INTERPRET correctly what you see. That is, it's not always easy to figure out what really is from what you really see. Sometimes you can be fooled, or you can fool yourself, because your brain does not interpret perfectly. We all work with this imperfect instrument, and do as best we can. The task of correct interpretation becomes much harder when you have to make judgements for others, who can't make them for themselves. As a mother you know this. You won't let stop you, right? Whatever is going on there, it's up to you to figure it out and take the correct action for your children -- it's YOUR responsibility -- and you have be as sure as sure can be that your brain's interpretation of what your eye's see is correct. Maybe your initial guess is correct, or maybe other peoples' initial guess is right, but it's up to you to decide, it's you that has to turn guesses into solid knowledge, and that means a lot of careful data gathering and being very skeptical about your brain's guesses until they are backed up with lots of hard facts from your eyes and ears.

Here are some rules that science finds very useful: Never doubt what you see. Your eyes and ears never lie. But be very, very reluctant about naming what you see. Don't say: ``I see a worm'' until you are absolutely sure you do. Continue as long as you can saying: ``I see something thin and wriggly, dark brown with rings, about 2 inches long.'' You see the difference? One is a clear statement of what your eyes see, and can never be wrong, and one is how your brain interprets what you see, and can all too easily be wrong.

Here are some facts I happen to know about parasites and such. Will you believe me? You shouldn't!! A mother can't afford to believe strangers writing to her over the Internet. But I *am* a respectable scientist -- you can and should check this -- and you might take my words as a starting point for your own research. Go to the library and get some books, or talk to a doctor with a respectable practise and a degree from a good school, and see whether what I say is true.

Here we go:

Bacteria are too small to see. Dirty water can be sterile (have no living thing in it), and crystal clear water can have giardia or other nastiness in it. You can't tell by looking. You can only tell with a microscope, and then only if you know what to look for, as bacteria and suchlike are strange-looking things, and it is easy to mistake a hair for one, or vice-versa.

Parasites can be big enough to see, but they, too, are hard to identify unless you are an expert. It's hard to know whether a hairlike sticky thing is just a sticky hair or bit of grass or some odd little beast.

Parasites that infect the sinus and nose, which you'd find in your snot, would not normally live in your bowels and be found in poop. It's two different environments, right? You wouldn't expect to find giraffes in the desert, or camels in the jungle. Same thing. You could have two problems, or it could be you're not seeing living things. Hard to tell, again, unless you're an expert, which I'm not and you're not.

If you don't trust your water, it's pretty easy to sterilize it. I go camping up in the mountains all the time and have to do this myself, because of course you can't trust water you take from a stream. Go to a camping store and get a book on camping and you will find some instructions. The best way is to boil it. There are no living creatures or eggs of living creatures that can stand 20 minutes of boiling. If you boil your water long enough, everything in it is DEAD, and nothing that used to be living in it can harm you. You can also add chlorine, iodine, or bleach, but this isn't so good because you are eating unpleasant chemicals.

Now if you boil your water, and you and your children are still sick, it isn't something living in the water, is it? This is called an experimental test of a guess. If you are a good scientist, you must trust your senses, remember? That means if you test your brain's guess that your eyes are showing you parasites in the water by boiling the water, and then your eyes tell you the children are still sick, you have to believe your eyes the second time as well as the first, and accept that your brain guessed wrong. Go on to the next guess.

Sometimes water isn't so good because it's got nonliving stuff dissolved in it. I lived in farmland once, and our well water was so full of iron it was brown, and tasted terrible. That much iron might make you queasy, I don't know. How can you test this? How about bottled water? If you get bottled water, and everyone is still sick, then it isn't the water at all. Next guess. And on you go. You'll figure it out eventually, but remember: trust what your senses tell you, but never trust what your brain guesses about it, because while your senses can't lie, alas, our brains are so often mistaken that they're hardly ever right the first time.

Grayce



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