Jewell professor disputes false claim on “Fox and Friends”

William Jewell College professor Dr. Lilah Rahn-Lee responds to Pete Hegseth’s false claim on Fox and Friends that “germs are not real.”

On an afternoon segment of show “Fox and Friends” Feb. 11, televison personality Pete Hegseth announced that he has not washed his hands in ten years.

The commentator proudly announced that he “innoculates [him]self” after explaining that “germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them. Therefore, they’re not real,” Hegseth said in the segment.

Co-hosts of the show expressed their confusion at the declaration and one emitted an audible groan, captured by the audio of the live show.

Scientists refute this strain of thought and maintain that just because things cannot be seen by the human eye does not mean that they are not real. In fact, there are several phenomena which we cannot see yet experience in our day to day lives, including the wind, gravity and oxygen.

Often times we recognize the things we can not see through their effects on things we can see – in the case of germs, we recognize them in the illnesses they cause.

The claim that germs are not real – which Hegseth continues to advocate, sending out a flurry of tweets with the hashtag “#Dontwash”  shortly after the segment aired – places him in the camp of germ-theory denialists, a group denying the existence of microorganisms as cause of disease and popularizing an “alt-med” belief .

Those committed to the theories of alternative medicine tend to prefer natural therapies over prescribed medicines, including osteopath, herbal medicine, massage, acupuncture, homeopath and chiropractic.

Many people use these treatments to supplement – rather than substitute – modern medicine. Yet, as national politics become increasingly polarized, the effects are beginning to show on healthcare and the distribution of medicine.

As William Jewell College’s own professor of microbiology, Dr. Lilah Rahn-Lee, explains, society could face serious consequences if large numbers of people refuse to accept the principles of modern medicine and the existence of germs.

“Bacteria don’t care about us, they’re going to be there whether we think about them or not. Your life is shaped by germs and bacteria whether you want to think about it that way or not,” said Rahn-Lee. “You’re probably going to have a better and more productive way of thinking about and interacting with the world if you choose to accept this evidence.”

Rahn-Lee has office hours Tuesday 10:00-11:30 a.m. and Thursday 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. in White Science room 139 and would be happy to answer questions about germs and show members of the Jewell community bacteria through a microscope.

Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe

Sofia is a senior chemistry and communication major at William Jewell College. Currently she serves as the Editor in Chief of the Hilltop Monitor.

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