Fluoride fear-mongers

By Phil Elmore

Two weeks ago in Technocracy, I set out to debunk some of the most glaring conspiracy theories surrounding fluoride – the levels of which are regulated to roughly one part per million in the drinking water of 170 million Americans. From the outset, my column, “Is fluoride part of globalist plot?” made no attempt to determine whether your government should regulate drinking-water fluoride levels. Part of the mission of Technocracy, however, is to identify ways in which technology affects your life and especially your liberty. Very frequently, we identify a given technology and warn you about it. We explain to you why you should be concerned about the use and abuse of this technology by your government and by your fellow citizens.

If this is true, it stands to reason that when a technology is not necessarily dangerous or worrisome to you, we should inform you of this. It was my conclusion, in the July 22, 2010, installment of Technocracy, that the fears commonly cited regarding fluoride are baseless. They are unfounded conspiracy theories whose propagation serves no one. I did not say this for any other reason than because it is true. To assess the purpose and place of technology in your life requires reasoned, rational thought. It requires judgment. It requires a dedication to what is true, regardless of wishful thinking and regardless of political affiliation.

I am blessed to write for a site whose editors permit dissent. When previously I spoke out against the myth of vaccine-caused autism, WND ran a guest column by Cynthia Cournoyer. Her intent was to refute my piece. I later, on one of my own sites, posted a lengthy rebuttal to her attempt. Other than permitting me to participate in this free exchange of ideas, WND’s management made no attempt to dissuade me, censure me, discourage me or pressure me to change my opinion. I believe this is the mark of a news and opinion source whose staff believe in truth and reason above agenda and advocacy. I believe this even when I disagree with the prevailing editorial sentiment of this site – although I agree with that cumulative opinion far more often than I don’t.

With none of this dedication to truth over argument, a certain conspiracy-theory website ran a column last week blithely accusing me of saying that “fluoride is good for you.” The article’s authors claim they are motivated to “correct” my “misconceptions.” The piece is a childish, sensational, hysterical appeal to emotion that is typical of conspiracy theorists’ inability – or unwillingness – to reason.

While the nature of and the most accurate means to determine toxicity is still debated, my critics completely ignore one of the most basic concepts in science. They obsessively and hysterically share excerpts from material safety data sheets for hydrofluorosilicic acid and sodium silicofluoride to impress on the reader just how … sciencey … is their argument that these are deadly POISONS. Why, how could anyone want to put them in water? In so doing they ignore the very obvious concept that the dose of any substance determines its toxicity. Concentrated chemicals that are deadly to human beings, once properly diluted, can have many benign and even beneficial applications. My critics are so busy pointing at dangerous-looking labels that they deliberately overlook this point.

Cornell University’s Nancy Trautmann points out that the caffeine in a normal person’s diet does not make one sick – but only 50 times that amount could kill a human being. Nicotine, taken by countless smokers, is not itself immediately fatal – but concentrated it is a deadly assassin’s poison. Spinach contains oxalic acid; if you ate 10 or 20 pounds of it in one sitting, it would damage your kidneys and probably kill you. Vitamin D, which is added to milk, will in high doses cause high blood pressure, kidney stones and even deafness and death.

That’s right – even vitamin D, in the concentrations my critics believe they can know to be harmful simply by eyeballing them in a water-treatment facility, is highly toxic. How, oh how, can we justify adding this lethal chemical to our children’s milk? I’ll pause now to wring my hands dramatically.

Those who propagate fluoride conspiracy theories repeat incessantly the myth that fluoride’s long-term effects have not been studied and that it has been shown to cause cancer. Both the ADA and the CDC have cited more than 50 human epidemiology studies conducted since 1945 that show no credible evidence of cancer caused by naturally occurring fluoride or by drinking-water fluoridation programs. The ADA’s fact sheet on fluoride points out that two cancer studies in the early 1990s used much higher than optimal sodium fluoride levels on rats and mice. Even taken together, the “equivocal” results of two animal studies failed to produce an association between fluoride and cancer – nor have subsequent studies done so, no matter how many times A.K. Susheela grimly repeats the accented mantra, “Fluoride is poison, fluoride is poison!”

Proponents of the deadly-fluoride myth claim that a vast conspiracy promotes false safety results while suppressing genuine evidence of the harm supposedly caused by fluoridated drinking water. This is very convenient for true believers in this myth – because, by definition, such shadowy conspiracy theories and cabals of globalist operatives can neither be proved nor disproved. Any evidence that refutes such theories is automatically suspect, while any evidence the conspiracy theorists cannot produce is presumed to have been “suppressed” by the very cabal that is supposedly working so hard to poison you.

Despite their puerile reasoning and wide-eyed hysteria, my critics are correct about one thing: The only winners in this debate about fluoride are indeed part of an industry. In this case, that industry is fear. The product is conspiracy theory, and the snake-oil salesmen are those peddling baseless accusations to demonize a technology that, while it may indeed be a government overreach, is still not the diabolical plot they wish you to buy.