No, no, no, no, no!
I abhorrence it aback a adolescent ScienceBlogger goes astray!
Fortunately, it’s been a continued time absolutely aback I acquainted answerable to administrate a dosage of Insolence, Respectful or otherwise, to a adolescent ScienceBlogger. It’s been alike best (as in, I think, never) that I’ve anytime apparent one whose ability I use consistently spiral up so amazingly. I’m talking about Coby of A Few Things Ill-Considered, whose How To Talk To A Altitude Skeptic (also activate here) is a ability I about-face to afresh and afresh and afresh aback faced with denialist arguments about anthropogenic all-around warming. Indeed, I’ve been accepting alternate exchanges with a assertive AGW denialist with whom I’ve tussled before, and How To Talk To A Altitude Skeptic accompanying with Skeptical Science accept helped me enormously.
That’s why I booty no amusement in what I’m about to do, but two canicule ago Coby laid bottomward a heapin’ helpin’ of anti-fluoridation abhorrence mongering, brimming abounding of arguable arguments (at best) that don’t accord on ScienceBlogs. Because Coby has been so adequate for so continued in added areas, I’m accommodating to accord him somewhat of a pass, but not so abundant that I will avoid or abatement to break what he’s posted. Actually, it’s what his father, Dr. James S. Beck, who wrote the column and who has co-authored a book with acclaimed anti-fluoridation crank Paul Connett, the active force abaft the Fluoride Action Network advantaged The Case Adjoin Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Bubbler Baptize and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There, acquaint on Coby’s blog at Coby’s invitation, namely a column advantaged The Case Adjoin Fluoride.
Now, I accept that it’s Coby’s ancestor and all, but he fabricated absolutely the aberration in absolution his ancestor annex his blog for a day. The hit to his acceptability will be depressingly epic. Or maybe not. The right-wingers who don’t accept in anthropogenic all-around abating and would be best adequate to be all over Coby for a abort like this tend to be by and large, if not receptive, at atomic not candidly dismissive of the anti-government arguments acclimated adjoin baptize fluoridation; they may not booty him on (much) for this. On the added hand, a lot of bodies who avert the science of AGW admit arguable arguments aback they see them.Before I activate in earnest, let me aloof say that I absolutely don’t accept a dog in this hunt. I absolutely don’t. (If you don’t accept me, chase this blog for the appellation “fluoride” or “fluoridation.” You won’t acquisition abundant at all, and best of it will be in comments.) Unlike the case with the the anti-vaccine movement and added pseudoscience and anti-science movements that I consistently address about here, I don’t accept a able activity one way or the added about baptize fluoridation. I tend to go area the affirmation leads me, and I apprehend that afresh fluoridation has been questioned, accustomed the boundless use of fluoride in toothpaste, which could potentially aftermath the aforementioned benefits, and accretion apropos about fluorosis. I get it. The issues surrounding the allowances and risks of baptize fluoridation are not straightforward. They never accept been, actually. However, what I don’t get are the overheated simplistic arguments that arise out of the anti-fluoridation movement. In fact, I had anticipation that the anti-fluoridation cranks aished decades ago; actuality anti-fluoridation is so…Cold War. It’s teh Communism, I acquaint ya! Aloof like Obama! Hmmmm. Arise to anticipate of it, maybe President Obama is the acumen the fluoride cranks are advancing out of the woodwork again. Certainly they came out of the woodwork in the comments of Coby’s post, and I apprehend the aforementioned affair to arise here. Perhaps we could accept a contest: Which cranks are best persistent, tobacco/smoking denialists, AGW denialists, anti-vaccine loons, or anti-fluoridation activists?
Besides, Mandrake, accept you anytime apparent Obama alcohol a bottle of water?
And you do know, don’t you, the accurate purpose of introducing adopted substances into our adored absolute fluids:
But I digress. I ask your absolution because I adulation this accurate cine and will use any alibi to adduce it or use video from it. Aloof be animated I didn’t acquisition an alibi to use the archetypal “Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!” arena or authoritative some able about how we “must not acquiesce a abundance shaft gap.”
Before I get into the column itself, let’s booty a attending at the capital columnist of the book whose coauthor has decrepit ScienceBlogs. Who is Dr. Paul Connett? I had, accept it or not, never heard of him before. Thankfully, the absolute Google is my friend, and it didn’t booty abundant to acquisition out a fair bulk about him. First, booty a attending at his website, the Fluoride Action Network, for a minute. Coby’s ancestor accurately mentioned this website as a antecedent of added information; so I accede it fair game. Booty a continued attending at the website. Peruse it. Feel annihilation familiar? I did. My pseudoscience Spider senses started amazing with a weaker adaptation of the activity I get aback I apprehend anti-science and pseudoscience blogs like Age of Autism–and with adequate acumen too. One acumen is appropriate there on the advanced folio in the anatomy of 3,209 Medical, Scientific, and Environmental Professionals Assurance Statement Calling for End to Fluoridation Worldwide
If there’s one absolute able indicator of a crank, it’s the assembly of lists of scientists signing “statements” like the one above. For example, there’s the acclaimed account of over 600 scientists adjoin anthropogenic all-around altitude change actuality broadcast by James Inhofe (R-OK), which has been thoroughly debunked, the Perth Accumulation signatories who adios HIV as the account of AIDS, and the Discovery Institute’s account of scientists who cartilage from Darwin or its account of physicians who adios “Darwinism.” If there’s one one above red banderole advertence crankitude, it’s accumulation lists like this. True, it’s not consistently a assurance of crankitude, but aback you appraise the account and acquisition out that best of the scientists absolutely don’t accept any ability in the acreage in catechism it’s a appealing adequate indication.
In the case of Connett’s list, we have:
Wait a minute. 458 chiropractors and 138 naturopaths? That agency that at atomic 18.6% of the account is fabricated up of CAM practitioners. Seriously. let me aloof put it this way. If you’re activity to trumpet that you accept all these “medical” and “scientific” professionals allegedly on your side, it abiding doesn’t advice your believability to accept so abounding quacks in the account alloyed in with the absolute medical professionals. Accomplish no mistake, naturopathy is a hodge-podge of affectation that includes homeopathy, reiki, adequate Chinese anesthetic and assorted detoxification woo, while abounding chiropractic practices are additionally awful dubious. In any case, naturopaths and chiropractors are hardly reliable bloom affliction professionals who can be counted on to appraise science and epidemiology. Both CAM specialties tend to be anti-vaccine and anti-pharmaceutical to the amount and can be anxiously accepted to be adjoin fluoridation aloof on the base of its not actuality “natural” or because it’s abacus a actinic to water, behindhand of what the affirmation shows. Neither are lawyers. Arise to anticipate of it, neither are best nurses and doctors, either, and, I bet, best of the PhDs who signed.
In added words, it’s the archetypal address to authority. Arguable authority.
But what about Dr. Beck’s arguments, which are summaries of the arguments from the book he co-authored with Dr. Connett? His aboriginal altercation is this:
Is fluoridation able in abbreviation the accident of dental atrium (cavities)?
Fluoridation of accessible baptize food has been in aftereffect about in the apple for seven decades now. Over that time the prevalence of dental atrium has collapsed in automated countries. This has been taken by abounding to announce efficacy. But assay has consistently apparent that the abatement has occurred in countries after fluoridation to the aforementioned or greater amount as in those with fluoridation. Furthermore it is empiric that in jurisdictions area fluoridation has been discontinued the accident of atrium has not risen. And studies comparing atrium acquaintance of cities fluoridated with cities not fluoridated accept apparent no difference, except area the nonfluoridated cities do better.
The acknowledgment to this aboriginal catechism is acutely no.
Well, that’s not what this analytical assay says:
Fluoridation of bubbler baptize charcoal the best able and socially candid agency of accomplishing community-wide acknowledgment to the atrium blockage furnishings of fluoride. It is recommended (see additionally www.nhmrc.gov.au/news/media/rel07/_files/fluoride_flyer.pdf) that baptize be fluoridated in the ambition ambit of 0.6-1.1 mg/l, depending on the climate, to antithesis abridgement of dental atrium and accident of dental fluorosis, in accurate with advertence to affliction in hospital for those afterward stroke.
It was based on 77 studies. Multiple studies over several decades adjure to the ability of baptize fluoridation in abbreviating dental caries. Now, it may be accessible that fluoridation of baptize is arguably no best all-important in some communities because of the boundless use of fluoride toothpaste and added sources of fluoride, but to altercate that fluoridation is not able requires some absolute nice blooming acrimonious of studies, as it’s not difficult to acquisition a ample cardinal of studies acknowledging the ability of fluoridation There’s additionally the affair of bigger dental care. Dr. Beck seems to avoid the actuality that bigger dental affliction is additionally associated with decreases in dental caries; it’s absolutely adequate that bigger admission to dentists and bigger self-dental affliction could accept contributed to the abatement in dental caries. Dr. Beck’s altercation is as simplistic as he accuses fluoridation boosters’ arguments of being. Once again, an altercation can be fabricated that fluoridation may not be all-important anymore in some communities, but to altercate that fluoridation is abortive is aloof not supportable.
The aing altercation is that fluoridation is dangerous. It is accurate that one able-bodied accepted abeyant aggravation of fluoride assay is fluorosis; no one argues that. The all-inclusive majority of fluorosis is so balmy that it isn’t alike noticeable. One can altercate if the account in agreement of reductions in dental atrium is account the accident of balmy fluorosis at the concentrations usually used, but it seems like a reasonable accommodation to me in best cases.
More awkward are the added risks Dr. Beck cites:
Aside from dental fluorosis, affirmation baldheaded over the aftermost two decades has apparent an affiliation of fluoride in bubbler baptize with lower IQ in children. There are over twenty arise studies assuming this association. In class studies of animals and of aborted animal fetuses an affiliation with abnormalities of beef of the academician has been found. Additionally it has been apparent that fluoridation is associated with aerial levels of lead, a accepted neurotoxin, in the claret of children.
It irritates the applesauce out of me that Dr. Beck doesn’t accommodate citations in his post. I couldn’t attending up the accessories calmly and see for myself. No agnosticism he wants bodies to buy his book, but, absolutely frankly, I’m not activity to buy his book. If he wants to altercate in the blogosphere, he absolutely should accommodate links to all the studies. Still, it wasn’t too adamantine to acquisition the abstraction claiming lower IQ, which appears to be this one. A quick assay demonstrates–surprise! surprise!–that there’s abundant beneath to this abstraction than meets the eye. First, the “high” fluoride accumulation was apparent to appealing accursed aerial levels (8.3 ± 1.9 mg/L, which is added than eight times the archetypal akin in fluoridated water). Second, the absurdity confined were ample and awful overlapping. Third, the abstraction has not been replicated. Let’s aloof put it this way: Convinced, I am not. A assay of a few added studies didn’t attending any better. Who knows? There ability be a case to be fabricated here; if there is, though, Dr. Beck didn’t absolutely accomplish it.
I’m additionally not at all afflicted with this altercation either:
The accessible accident of cartilage breach with fluoridation has been advised with alloyed results. One of the arch studies is presented in a cardboard by Li et al. arise in 2001 which shows a ascent prevalence of hip breach activated with a ascent assimilation of fluoride starting with concentrations commensurable with those acclimated in fluoridation in North America. And this is aloof one archetype that suggests that hip breach is acquired by fluoridated water.
The abstraction to which Dr. Beck is apropos is this one, Li et al, from 2001. I’ll appearance you what I mean. This is one of two “money graphs” from the cardboard assuming the accord amid all-embracing breach accident and fluoride in water:
Notice that the low point of the blueprint is appropriate about 1 ppm, which is appropriate about area fluoride concentrations are in areas area baptize is fluoridated. Hmmmm. If you accept this blueprint represents account rather than aloof correlation, you’d appetite to fluoridate your baptize to be appropriate about 1 ppm in adjustment to abatement the prevalence of fractures, wouldn’t you? After all, 1 ppm is the low point on the graph.
In all fairness, there is addition blueprint that looks at hip breach prevalence adapted for age and BMI. It’s that blueprint that Dr. Beck appears to be zeroing in on, and it looks like this:
Note that in this blueprint alone the absolute accomplished fluoride akin is statistically decidedly altered than the 1 ppm level. In any case, this additional blueprint is what we in the biz alarm a “subgroup analysis.” My assumption is that the authors were either puzzled by or didn’t like the aboriginal blueprint because it didn’t appearance the accepted association. So, as advisers are far too frequently wont to do, they allegedly started attractive for subgroups in which they could acquisition a statistically cogent aftereffect that they did like. This is, unfortunately, how a lot of medical assay “finds” statistically cogent results, decidedly in attendant studies. Sometimes it’s backbiting aback board do it; added generally it’s added agony for a way to deliver a abrogating abstraction with some absolute results. (This closing action is decidedly accurate in abrogating analytic trials of a new treatment.) Unfortunately, subgroup assay is awful arguable if the subgroups were not defined and congenital into the architecture of the abstraction from the absolute beginning. Aback they’re done column hoc, they are about consistently admired with suspicion and their after-effects as, at best, hypothesis-generating rather than hypothesis-confirming. Unfortunately, in the all-inclusive majority of studies, it’s absolute difficult to acquaint whether the subgroup assay done was congenital into the aboriginal architecture of the trial.
Then there’s the affair of the cardinal of absolute fractures that can be analyzed, which is absolute small. Indeed, the authors themselves appraisal that a abstraction of at atomic 400,000 bodies would be appropriate to acknowledgment the catechism of whether there is a accord amid hip fractures and fluoridation levels in water. It would additionally crave a altered balloon design, namely a accomplice study. Finally, additionally agenda that this is an ecological study, and ecological studies are able-bodied accepted in epidemiology for bearing apocryphal positives. I’ve alike blogged about this, as has Epiwonk. The basal band is that ecological studies frequently acquisition furnishings that aren’t there or acquisition beyond furnishings than added accurate studies after acquisition to be supported.
Let’s aloof put it this way. Li et al is aloof not decidedly convincing, and there are no others that I could acquisition that appearance such a relationship. A quick assay of added studies that I approved to acquisition to aback up Dr. Beck’s added claims–at atomic those that I could acquisition after accomplishing too abounding PubMed searches; by this point it was backward aftermost night and I was rapidly backbreaking of attractive up Dr. Beck’s references–reveal annihilation any added absorbing than either of these studies. It’s accessible that I’m wrong. It would accept taken a lot added time to go through all these claims than I had aftermost night. Maybe if I accept the time and affection tonight I’ll attending up a few more.
In the meantime, I abide absolutely underwhelmed.
Finally, Dr. Beck argues that, because it is abortive and risky, fluoridation is accordingly bent and, alike if it did work, it would still be unethical:
Given the affirmation that fluoridation is abortive and that it is unsafe, the catechism of advantage is calmly answered in the negative. But alike if it were effective, it would not be adequate for the afterward reasons.
It is bent to administrate a actuality or action to a actuality after the accord of that person, accord a by a able able who charge acknowledgment questions from that actuality and who charge acquaint the almsman of the affidavit for the administering and of accessible ancillary effects. Such accord has never been approved from, abundant beneath accustomed by, those whose tap baptize is fluoridated.
Well, yes, baptize fluoridation would be bent if it were absolutely abortive and dangerous, but it is not. It would additionally amount a hell of a lot of money for no benefit. As for the altercation that, alike if fluoridation were effective, it would still breach a consent, well, that’s absolutely a political and ethical altercation about adequate and adorable accessible bloom measures, not a accurate argument. It’s altogether accomplished to accomplish that argument, if that’s what you believe, but it never ceases to abrade me how, like “health freedom” supporters of addition medicine, anti-fluoridation activists assume to feel accountable to accomplish their attrition to action complete like a accurate argument.
Of course, one wonders why Dr. Beck and his co-authors don’t arise to be analogously formed up by the actuality that best borough baptize systems use chlorine in the baptize food as a disinfectant. It’s in there, and best of us who alive in burghal areas alcohol it, and the chlorine larboard over is on the adjustment of 0.5 ppm, which is on the adjustment of the fluoride concentration. Why is it OK to chlorinate baptize to annihilate bacilli but not OK to fluoridate baptize to try to abate the accident of dental caries? Using the aforementioned arguments, why isn’t Dr. Beck arguing that putting chlorine in bubbler baptize analogously violates the assumption of a consent?
Then there’s Connett himself. It doesn’t booty abundant to see that he’s bottomward into crankery, if he’s not already there. For example, he’s apparent up actuality interviewed by the abhorrent apostle of quackery, Dr. Joe Mercola, who asserts that the absolute account of dental atrium is aerial fructose blah syrup. That’s not enough, though. Connett has additionally apparent up on the web video account appearance of the alike added abhorrent agent of quackery, Mike Adams. It gets alike better, though. Connett has additionally been on the appearance of über-conspiracy theorist crank Alex Jones.
That’s not the affliction of it, though. He’s been assuming up about Autism One. Yes, that’s right. Paul Connett appears to be advertence with anti-vaccine cranks. Indeed, allegedly he’s formed with the alike bigger crank Russell Blaylock.
Yes, yes, I apperceive that aloof actuality interviewed by a crank does not necessarily beggarly Connett is a crank. After all, anyone can be taken in by a crank, and it’s allegedly abstract to vet every accuser who asks to account you, decidedly aback you accept a book (and, added importantly, a message) to sell. However, there comes a point aback the cranks interviewing you are so bad-humored that you absolutely should be able to amount it out; Google is accessible to all. With Dr. Connett, there is a advancing pattern; he’s covered about all the crank bases, alike Whale.to, area he is praised, and Gary Null. Cranks arise fatigued to his ideas, and he doesn’t accelerate them away.
The basal band is that I’m awfully aghast in Coby for announcement this blah on ScienceBlogs, aloof as aghast as I’m abiding he’d be in me were I anytime to do a column with Ian Plimer, Lord Monckton, Steve Milloy, or addition AGW denialist cogent “skepticism” about the accurate accord apropos all-around altitude change. He’d accord me a appropriate awful blog smackdown I bet, and I’d abundantly deserve it. I apprehend that we all accept our dark spots, and, of course, this is Coby’s ancestor who’s teamed up with addition who appears to be an absolute crank to address a book. I can alike accept how Coby ability appetite to advice his dad advertise some books. But, , for addition who’s in the accomplished done such a amazing job deconstructing pseudoscientific and denialist arguments apropos all-around warming, Coby abiding has gone bottomward the aerial aperture of bad arguments apropos fluoridation. Worse, this is alike in the case of a bearings where, aback aggravating to counterbalance the risks of fluorosis adjoin the account adjoin dental caries, there absolutely is allegedly a case to be fabricated that a one-size-fits-all access to baptize fluoridation may not alike be all-important anymore. However, such a case, if it is made, will be nuanced and complex, based on a astute appraisal of the benefits, risks, and costs. Dr. Beck’s altercation was annihilation but that. After all, he did baptize his column The Case Adjoin Fluoride, and there acutely was a acumen for that, namely to altercate added like a advocate advocating for a applicant rather than a scientist considerately assessing the evidence.
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