Nothing to fear but WiFi and fluoride

The tinfoil hat is now thoroughly mainstream garb

Nothing to fear but wifi and fluoride and . . . 

Steve Cole/Getty Images

As the cholera outbreak in Haiti continues to worsen, the population is getting increasingly desperate. In some areas, mobs have embarked on genuine witch hunts, attacking people accused of using black magic to deliberately spread the disease. At least 12 people suspected of being witches were stoned or hacked to death last week, their corpses dragged into the street and burned.

Haiti’s descent into superstition in the face of chaos might afford us a few drops of condescension to mix with our pity at the country’s fate. But it bears keeping in mind that when it comes to confronting fears, Canadians are no less prone to fits of magical thinking.

For example, back in October, parents at an elementary school in Ontario voted overwhelmingly to ban WiFi in the classroom*. Were the parents concerned that surfing the Net during class might be bad for learning? No, they were reacting to symptoms reported by their kids that included dizziness, nausea, and headaches, and which mysteriously disappeared on weekends and holidays. Deftly elbowing past the obvious explanation—going to school makes most kids want to barf—parents concluded that the in-school wireless must be to blame. And so out went the Internet routers, despite assurances from the province’s chief medical officer that they posed absolutely no threat to students.

Then, at the end of November, the Waterloo regional council voted to stop the 43-year practice of adding fluoride to the municipal drinking water, after two local residents complained that it was making them sick. Forget the fact that the only known side effect from water fluoridation—from too-high fluoride levels, specifically—is something called dental fluorosis, a.k.a. stained teeth, and that the ban was implemented despite strong opposition from the very people who stand to benefit most from the ban, namely, local dentists. Waterloo residents are now revealed as the Birthers of dental hygiene, sticking to their thesis precisely because it is so implausible.

And just last week, a small Okanagan fruit company announced that it would seek approval from U.S. regulators for its new “arctic” apple. The apple’s principal selling point is that it doesn’t turn brown when exposed to the air, which led consumer groups to immediately denounce it as “the botox apple.” Ignore that nothing had been added or injected into the apple; the company simply figured out how to switch off the gene that produces the browning enzyme.

Anyway, these are only the latest additions to what is becoming a lengthy and persistent list of public fears. A few weeks ago, the World Health Organization released a report that concluded that Canada’s lonely crusade against bisphenol-A (we were the first country to ban it) is at best “premature,” given there is very little evidence that it is harmful to humans. And then there are the familiar fears over cancer-causing cellphones, autism-causing vaccines, and the Frankenstein’s monster that is genetically modified food, which serve as the background radiation of intellectual discourse in this country’s conversation, frying every attempt at rational thought.

These cases have three things in common. First, they are all fears directed at technologies or policies with a clear public benefit. Second, the worry is always about some invisible or undetectable feature of our micro-environment, the alleged negative effects conjured out of radio waves, parts-per-billion, and statistical anomalies. And finally, the strong public resistance to these activities takes place not despite official statements that they are completely safe, but in many cases because of those assurances. In short, the tinfoil hat that was once the mark of the conspiracy theorist and the anti-state paranoiac is now thoroughly mainstream garb.

It is customary to blame the media for peddling hysteria and alarm, and there’s something to that. Politicians have to take some of the blame as well—they happily jump on any passing craze if there looks to be an electoral advantage in it. But both the media and politicians are merely playing to the crowd, happy to exploit our fears. They don’t actually create these fears, and while some researchers have proposed that our extreme risk-aversion has biological roots—only the ape that was afraid of everything managed to survive on the African savannah—our malaise actually stems from a deep-seated distrust of modernity itself.

Sometimes it seems that every society has a fixed “fear budget” to devote to things worth worrying about. In Haiti, the fear over cholera is very real, and the scapegoating of innocent citizens as witches only compounds the tragedy. But in a rich, safe, and supposedly enlightened country like Canada, we have nothing worth spending our fear budget on. Instead, we’ve developed what looks like a sort of public safety autoimmune disorder, where our anxieties are increasingly directed at the technologies, the medicines, and the markets that are the basis of civilization.

Humans may never be able to fully escape the temptation of magical thinking. But where the gangs stalking the streets of Chambellan or Jeremie are at least trying to exorcise something genuinely horrific from their midst, our own superstition here in Canada is all the more pathetic for being directed at the very source of our good fortune.

*****

*CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the classroom WiFi had been shut off.




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Nothing to fear but WiFi and fluoride

  1. Nothing to fear but this article!

    1) "Then, at the end of November, the Waterloo regional council voted to stop the 43-year practice of adding fluoride to the municipal drinking water, after two local residents complained that it was making them sick."
    This is totally misleading. Council voted AFTER a public referendum and NOT because 2 people complained! Additionally, poke around the Interwebs for (sodium) fluoride and one will quickly see that it's not as harmless as the media, and this article, would make it out to be.

    2) "despite assurances from the province's chief medical officer that they posed absolutely no threat to students."
    And where are the links to the studies to back this up? Since microwave ovens (albeit at much higher wattage) operate at the same frequency, there maybe something to the claims. Or maybe there is something wrong with the air filtration or maybe…

    3) "A few weeks ago, the World Health Organization released a report that concluded that Canada's lonely crusade against bisphenol-A (we were the first country to ban it) is at best “premature,” given there is very little evidence that it is harmful to humans." The WHO? Really, this same bunch that are in tight with big pharma and corporate planet earth…

    And the foolishness goes on. Genetically modified food is AOK according to this author…where are the studies to back this up? Vaccines? Do you even know what they put in them as adjuvants? How about mercury and aluminum for starters…

    It's because of articles like this that we have everything to fear….

    • "How about mercury and aluminum for starters… "

      The poison is in the dose. There's no credible evidence adjuvants and preservatives in vaccines are at levels even close to being toxic. They're at trace levels. You find similar trace toxins in a mother's milk.

      • "How about mercury and aluminum for starters… "

        Well, thimerisol in the flu vaccine…but it's out of every other vaccine now. And the actual mercury found in a flu shot is about the same as in a can of tuna.

        And you forgot the dreaded Squalene. You're slipping on your fear mongering.

        Dose, poison. Karl has it down.

        • *chuckle*, so I post a comment questioning the facts of the article and suggesting some other concerns and I'm labeled a fear monger. Obviously no reasonable discourse is possible with you MostlyCivil, unfortunate.

          • Well, yes, you questioned the facts.

            What you didn't do was offer any substantial alternative suppositions. You made a suggestiion that the Chief Medical Officer of Health in Ontario reference was spurios, and asked for the links. I trust you can use google. Instead, you chose to cast doubt on the study with a gentle "then where is it?" tactic, then say microwave ovens may be dangerous without offerig any proof yourself.

            And, finally, you discount the motives and findings of the WHO with a dismissive "oh, they're all owned by the big-pharma". That sir, is classic conspiracy theory. Posit that actual studies can' t be trusted by making unfounded claims about the evil, money-grubbing scientists.

            You are here to fear monger, sir.

      • Yes, the poison is in the dose, the same dose one gets year over year over year and being that the damage from mercury and aluminum are cumulative…

        • If Potter isn't allowed to make a statement of fact without posting the studies, then neither are you.

          Feel free to back up your claims with credible sources.

    • Nice hat. Tinfoil?

      I thought for sure you'd bring up our precious bodily fluids.

      • Nice reply. Take you long to come up with that one? I find it quite amusing how quickly people attack when someone is just questioning information as presented. Keep your head in the sand touquer and you'll be AOK.

    • SoccerDad– you realize that statistically, your kids have a far higher risk of injury or death from *playing soccer* than from flouride or bisphenol, right? I guess some risks are inherently morally superior to take?

      • Hey, Derek, it's time you should learn how to spell, let alone replicate the word fluoride (not flouride, what's that?) correctly.

        • Oops, my blad /my aplologliels on the tlypo, but my point still stands.

    • "And the foolishness goes on. Genetically modified food is AOK according to this author…where are the studies to back this up?"

      Where's the evidence to say it ISN'T? You cite no alternative sources to the original article yet bemoan his lack of sources. Come back when you have something to support your claims and I'll think about taking you seriously. Until that point you are simply a fearmonger.

    • “Since microwave ovens (albeit at much higher wattage) operate at the same frequency, there maybe something to the claims.”
      Lying in the sun all day without sunblock is dangerous. Therefore, I should blow out that candle immediately! After all, the sun and the candle both produce light (albeit at very different wattage).

  2. You got a problem with democracy?

    • Sometimes. Physics, biology and chemistry are not determined based on popular vote, so maybe scientific decisions in the world deserve better?

    • Having people agree with a unfounded idea only proves the lack of effort at understanding. (ie People are too lazy to learn.)

    • Yes, actually. If 51% of the population says you ought to die, are they justified in coming for you? "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." ~Sir Winston. In view of that wisdom, there ought to be things that are out of the hands of the mob.

  3. Andrew Potter has apparently done no research whatsoever before writing this absurd article. It's statements like his that are truly dangerous, in particular: "the only known side effect from water fluoridation—from too-high fluoride levels, specifically—is something called dental fluorosis." In fact, Mr. Potter, one of the most unfortunate side effects from too-high fluoride levels is DEATH. Acute fluoride poisoning (from any source, including drinking water), disrupts calcium levels, and will result in death via cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, and cause kidney failure.

    • That's true. Of course, the same could be said of any number of natural or synthetic substances. For example, salt is made up of an explosive metal (Sodium) and a poisonous gas with a history of use as a chemical weapon (chlorine). And yet, we can't live without it.

      I can find one example of death from fluoridation, in a village in Alaska where fluoridation equipment malfunctioned and "overdosed" the water supply. Am I missing something?

      • It's not what *you're* missing, it's what's missing everywhere else: actual data. The problem is displayed here:

        "I can find…"

        You put in more effort than Mary did.

    • The poison is the dose. The poison is the dose. The poison is the dose.

      Repeat as necessary.

      To round out your concerns, google the negative health effects of tooth decay. You'll find one of the more unfortunate side effects is DEATH (to borrow your cap-lock sense of gravity).

    • Oooh, this is a fun little game. You can play along!

      In fact, Mr. Potter, one of the most unfortunate side effects from too-high water levels is DEATH. Acute water poisoning (from any source, including drinking water), disrupts electrolyte levels, and will result in death via swelling of the brain.

      In fact, Mr. Potter, one of the most unfortunate side effects from too-high oxygen levels is DEATH. Acute oxygen exposure (from any source, including the air you breath), disrupts…well, just about everything, causing oxidation and ultimately DEATH FROM OLD AGE.

  4. Quick correction, it was the City of Waterloo that voted to end flouridization, not the Region. Kitchener and Cambridge are largely unaffected by this (except for where the water treatment facilities overlap in KW)

  5. There is scientific evidence, apparently, that GMOd food will affect the bacteria in our innards . . changing them.

    • Citation please.

  6. and governments and doctors and pharma companies all did their best to ensure us that Thalidomide was deemed save as well.

    • I guess we should never do anything, eat anything, drink anything, use any medication, or change anything ever then. Good argument.

    • They all work together in a giant conspiracy to both kill us all, and somehow make a profit from us when we're dead?

      Wha?

    • Len: Science is what FIGURED OUT that thalidomide was a problem.

    • He does have a point. Science makes mistakes — as does any philosophy.

      That said, science does seem to be the quickest to find its own mistakes and correct them.

      So maybe there was something to the wi-fi complaint.. fortunately, science gives us an easy way to find out.. have the head-aches, nausea, etc, cleared up since wi-fi was removed? If so, then that suggests it is somehow the culprit. Some schools have notoriously old fixtures/fittings, etc, perhaps the radio-waves were interacting with them in some manner to cause illness that it normally wouldn't.

      On the other hand, if they haven't cleared up, then we know that wasn't the problem, and the school can move the stuff back in.

      That Potter is poo-pooing what is essentially the best way to detect if something really is a problem — conduct an experiment — is hardly atypical for him. Real information isn't terribly important so long as he can troll folks into giving Maclean's more ad views in his articles..

      ..something I suppose I'm guilty of here now as well.

      In my defence, however, they don't give the byline on the "most recent" list.

  7. It's like the conspiracy nuts spend all day searching news sites for somebody writing about flouride and the like, leaping in so they can say "vaccines have mercury in them and mercury kills, unlike polio. I know because I read it on the Internet."

    Well, now you've read this on the Internet, so you believe-everything-anyone-tells-you types can go back to living as safely as the rest of us.

    • So, you've read it on the internet too!, didn't you?
      Be safe

  8. Utterly stupid anti-science nonsense.

    What IS it about people that makes them want to go back to the Dark Ages??

    • "What IS it about people that makes them want to go back to the Dark Ages?? "

      Two things: The fact that people tend to like simple answers that require neither proof or specialized knowledge (i.e. effort or ability), and the fact that for most conspiracy theorists (and religious groups) being the only ones who know "The Truth" makes them somehow "Special".

  9. It's only the top 1% of humanity, the individuals who were capable of critical thinking, that pulled the rest out of the caves about 10,000 years ago. So it's no surprise that the lack of critical thought is still so pervasive. Just look at how popular astrology continues to be, for example, or quack medicine such as homeopathy.

    • Good point.

      • Having demonstrated that you are a member of the other 99% for a long time in this forum I'd say your endorsement is pretty weak tea emily. As for Jim…your source for your statistic? I' m guessing it was pulled of some orifice. I wonder if Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot considered themselves part of the 1%

        • LOL you're the one disagreeing with science, cutie.

          The 1% is IQ, not nutbar leaders.

        • What a ridiculous non-argument, even apart from the ad hominem attacks.

          By definition EVERYONE believes their own world-view is the "right" one, so we can dismiss your last comment (Godwin's law and all that). What differs, and the point that Jim is trying to make, is a person's ability to construct a coherent explanation for things and to demonstrate the fallacies in the explanations of others. Again, it's a near-tautology that the "top 1%" – or whatever figure you use and however you choose to define it – will be those most capable of doing this.

          Facts are not decided democratically, and bad ideas should not be given equal consideration.

    • You left out lottery tickets, and I am not so sure of the percentage, but your overall point is a good one.

      Adult humans are extremely gifted with the talent of irrational thinking. Just look at how popular it is to "stimulate" economies with nothing, and express surprise when things don't work out so well.

    • Here's a fun one.. depending on where you are on the nature vs. nurture argument, there actually may be some merit to astrology.

      How so? Like this:

      If you're a strong believer in nurture over nature, then who you are will depend in large part on who your parents are and how they raised you.

      But more than that, who your parents are may also have an effect on when you were conceived — if they prefer to get snuggly in the cold depths of winter, for instance, odds are that you're a fall baby. If, instead, it's the hot and steamy summer nights that drove their affection, probability increases that you're a spring chicken.

      Astrology was developed from watching people, and noting certain similar characteristics. Well, if you go by this parents determine not only who you grow up as, but also when you were born, then people born around the same time would likely have parents with similar characteristics, and would thus likely have similar characteristics with other people born around the same time.

      Of course, such personality characteristics would tend to be extremely general, but that doesn't mean that they're not there at all.

      I just find it kind of fun to think that something like astrology, which science so completely discards, may actually have a very small bit of scientific truth deep behind it.

  10. Glad Canada was described as "supposedly" enlightened.

    • As compared to the Tea Party US where all this nonsense started?

      • blinding stupidity is just as common here as it is there.

  11. I have no opinion on wifi, however I do know that fluoride is actively added to water as "a prevention, or mitigation, of a disease or disase state in humans" which under the Food and Drug Act makes it a drug administered for a medical purpose. Whether it is effecitive or harmful is open to research (most research demonstrates it is at best marginally effective). Regardless, it is a clear violation of law as citizens are being drugged without their consent. Perhaps Mr Potter will start advocating for birth control hormones in high school drinking fountains, because teenage pregnancy is such a public policy head ache?

    The toxic industrial waste (by product of stack scrubbers in fertilizer manufacturing industry) masquerading as sodium fluoride (the only pro fluoridation product that has been studied) is not your parents, or grandparents fluoride. It is a witches brew of heavy metals and impurities thay would cost millions to dispose of in toxic waste dumps…instead it is added to our drinking water as a public health measure.

    • Speaking of industrial waste, did you know that dihydrogen monoxide is used for industrial cleaning purposes and is a waste product of many industrial processes, yet it's pumped into our drinking water every day?

      • Also, literally hundreds of millions of people have died from asphyxia due to suffocation caused by dihydrogen monoxide entering their lungs and preventing the absorption of oxygen, leading to cerebral hypoxia.

      • And it's naturally occuring. We can't even ban it!!!

        • Ah well, it's natural, so it must be ok. Like botulism. Botulism is natural. Pasteurized food? Unnatural.

    • I guess the chlorination of that same water to kill coliform bacteria is also a clear violation of law, too? Or are you a fan of that one, so your consent makes it ok for all of us?

  12. It is not just a Canadian issue – this supposed lack of enlightenment. Our neighbors to the south are also very suspicious of scientists and the government. 2010 has been the year to mark the worst outbreak of whooping cough in 50 years in California with 5 infants dying from the illness and another 900 confirmed cases. There are yet 600 more suspected cases. The state's medical experts are asking that all people get immunized as adults immunity wanes and they can pass the illness on to the babies, however they are having little success with getting people in to be immunized. We have also had one baby die in Canada. What I would like to know is what exactly those who fear immunization think the side effects of a vaccine could be that would be worse than the death of an infant.

    • "What I would like to know is what exactly those who fear immunization think the side effects of a vaccine could be that would be worse than the death of an infant."

      Death from he vaccine, dear heart… infants, children, youths and adults of every age, especially the elderly. For a "health care insider" you show a great lack of knowledge and compassion.

      • But that is just it, Geekwithmuscles, unless you are allergic to the components of the vaccine, it is highly unlikely you will die from the vaccine. My knowledge comes from science. My compassion is real. Please produce real statistics that show that vaccines kill people if you can. There is ample proof, they save lives.

  13. It's not flouride we need to be worried about.

    It's dihydrogen monoxide. Dihydrogen monoxide is a colorless and odorless chemical compound and also referred to by some as dihydrogen oxide, hydrogen hydroxide, hydronium hydroxide, or simply hydric acid.

    It's widely used and unsuspecting people ingest it everyday!

    • Damn. Someone beat me to it!

      • Dihydrogen monoxide is one of CR's favourite gag lines…you'll get used to it.

      • Let's face it, a thread like this is just a race to the DHMO jokes.

  14. Mr Potter:

    Clarification please: "For example, back in October, a school in Ontario bowed to pressure from parents and banned WiFi in the classroom. "

    Nope: Some parents on a parent council wanted it banned, and voted that way. School has not banned it, and the school board has publicly said no, we're not banning it.

    Please correct this quickly, as it keeps spreading.
    http://www.simcoe.com/news/article/907366–wifi-w

      • Indeed. The parents in Simcoe were told to go away. The "banning" story in Meaford was, as far as I can tell, started by The Sun chain, and repeated over and over.

  15. I note (with sadness CR) that no one challenged the statement that Fluoride is a drug administered without consent. As to all the BS about water…give me a break. As Dr Hardy Limeback found at U of T's preventative dentistry program, there is no compelling public health reason to add fluoride to water because it utterly fails to provide any benefit…the reason why it is added, further there are statistically significant risks for specific at risk groups ie.. osteo sarcoma for adolecent males (like Terry Fox).

    By definition fluroide is a drug when used to treat a disease condition (cavities, aka dental carries). So, an industrial toxin, classified as hazardous waste is good for your kids as long as the public water utility says it OK? Request some of the assays your water provider has had done on the substance they are putting in your water.

    • I completely agree. If people feel the need for fluoridation they can purchase a rinse but why should I have to be medicated because the population practices poor nutrition (the actual cause of weak enamel and cavities)?

    • On one level, I agree. Who the hell is the state to tell me "drink flouride in your water?" Just because I think it's a good thing, and would accept flouride in my water if given the choice, doesn't give me the power to force you doing the same.

      But if we're going to start a civil libertarian revolution of things the state shouldn't be telling us to do, flouridation of water is a long, long way down that list, just ahead of "why doesn't the close door button on elevators actually do anything?" The libertarian argument against flouridation has always sounded like the superstitious argument in fancy clothing: for example, you go into calling flouride "medication" with a definition that includes, among other things, vitamins.

  16. for those that think WiFi is safe you ott to do your research before you mouth off.You just haven't been burnt Yet.Wait for a while and keep your cell phone against your head while you spend your days near WiFi and towers.

    • TVs, computers and microwave ovens were going to kill us all too.

      • AM radio is giving us all cancer. Everybody time travel back to 1850!

    • Oh come on, Robert. I am using the wifi right now and I feel perf

  17. Lets add AGW to that list too…

    • Climate change due to atmospheric carbon dioxide is proven science.

      • http://my.auburnjournal.com/detail/166927.html

        Manipulated data combined with political motivation = Climategate. Though there is more, now thanks to WikiLeaks.

        "All these groups have actively modified the data to emphasize warming. D'Aleo and Watts' detailed the extent in their paper, “Surface Temperature Records: Policy-Driven Deception?” Reduction in the number of stations alone created a severe warming distortion. (Figure 2) All government weather offices have adjusted their data to reduce early temperatures, making the current readings seem warmer."

      • wictorwictor is a proven moron

  18. F this. I'm moving to England.

  19. While I appreciate and agree with AP's point, there are counterexamples such as thalidomide in which experts misled the public about the need for caution. The predictive power of science has advanced quite a bit since then but still it is empirical evidence that should always win out. In that sense, fluoride fighters and vaccine banners have earned the tinfoil in their hats; Wifighters somewhat less so and while I would personally eat the apple, I would certainly respect those that want to avoid genetically modified food.

    • We figure things out as we go on, and longer testing is something we've learned about.

      But a couple of thousand years of science, even with mistakes, is still better than blind superstition and making things up.

    • If you are going to drag out an example where experts mislead the public on the safety of a product, why don't you discuss smoking which is the only govt. sactioned cancer delivery system that continues to be sold despite the fact that EVERYBODY knows it kills the people who use it and injures those who are exposed to it! The thalidomide scandal is 50 years old for goodness sakes. 100 years ago, surgeons were cutting people open on the kitchen table without washing their hands if we are going to dig up all the history. Instead of picking on vaccines, which have studied exhaustively and proven to be safe, efficacious and in no way related to autism, why don't you reflect on the history of the birth control pill, which was given to woman without any medical trials on woman – science has come a long way baby!

  20. Thanks Andrew, for another sermon on how we should really just learn to keep to our stations and put more trust in our betters. Goodness knows nothing good ever came about from people kicking up a fuss.

    This is media over-amplification syndrome in action. Three incidents given, which other posters are suggesting you do not have a very good grasp of at least one of them, and you write as if the world was coming undone. You are really over reacting.

    • I'm torn. While I agree that the presentation and argumentation in this article is horrible, I don't think that stops Mr. Potter from being correct about the specifics on most of the points raised.

      No argument about it being overblown, though.

  21. Wow! I always thought that those folks reading Macleans were a somewhat enlightened bunch; was I wrong as far as the commenters are concerned. It's astounding to see how quickly the vultures descend when a question is asked or dissenting viewpoint presented.

    But don't worry, corporate earth and our benevolent governments will look after you, you can count on that one. They always have our best interests at heart eh?

    • It is not that "unenlightened" folks such as myself have blind faith that someone is looking out for us. It is that we do unbiased research and then weigh the risk and benefit of participating as informed citizens. The Walkerton water debacle has taught us all that even the best science can go wrong if someone doesn't add the right ingredients in the right amount. That doesn't mean we all stop drinking water.

  22. With H1N1 and Climategate off the top of my head, I think there are legitimate reasons why there is becoming a healthy distrust of governments… and especially a healthy distrust of anyone who is in support of any form of world governance. I just see fear-mongering in the effort to try and make it happen. Thankfully, they keep getting exposed.

    • Yes. H1N1 was dropped by giant black helicopters, who then headed up noth yo mely the ice caps with giant hairdryers.

      You saw through our clever plan. Well done.

  23. I have seen the effect of public hysteria first hand and it is truly scary how easily people can be driven in a mob or pack animal mentality. In 1987 I ran a brand new, state of the art building in mid-town Toronto. A major Canadian meat processing company had just leased the top five floors. They were a truly good tenant, but then suddenly dozens of the tenant's employees began to complain of headaches and feeling ill. It was touted as being sick building syndrome, a new phenomenon and not a good situation for a young building manager. One day in the midst of this pandemonium my day porter brought down a copy of Maclean's with a cover story: Is Your Building Making You Sick? There were literally a hundred copies which had been delivered and were now on employee's desks and in waiting rooms throughout the tenant's floors. I quietly had the cleaning staff remove all copies of the magazine over the next few days and, would you believe, the symptoms "mysteriously disappeared" and not a person never mentioned it again. Go figure…

    • It's interesting! I have many times seen the same thing with pesticide signs. The signs cause the symptoms! Complaints of illness begin a day or two ahead of any possible exposure, as the truck hadn't even left the bay yet to go to the location where the sign had been preposted. The power of suggestion is mighty. I haven't heard much about sick building syndrome lately, Maybe we are just happy to have a warm place to work in winter.

  24. Personally I don't think the "tinfoil hat" crowd is any greater in number today than 100 years ago, it's just so much easier for them to find each other in the age of communication technology.

    Any idiot can have a website misinforming as many as can find it online who don't have enough wit to check sources, or those looking to justify their prejudices.

    Superstition has always been a mainstay for the uneducated, and now it has fertile soil to grow in. So where's the shock in that?

  25. "Trust less and research more."

    But trust OUR research, the stuff done by scientists WE say are okay. And have a book for sale.

    • Most developed countries do not fluoridate but have decreased cavities often greater then the few who do. It is an american Experment promoted by polluting industries with fluoride toxicity lawsuits. The Fluoride Deception by Chris Bryson shows the once secret documents for those that care.
      Starting in 1985 Epa unions have sought to end fluoridation based upon fraud and ignored documents they have discovered. By 2005 11 EPA unions had asked congress and EPA management to halt fluoridation. By 29 Feb 2008 it was 19 EPA unions with 10,000 professionals. They are on the record saying our goal should be ZERO just like arsenic and lead also cumulative toxins in same toxic range. Only Republic of Ireland is mostly fluoridated in Europe and has huge dental problems compared with the others. 40.9% toothless over 65 vs 7% in England with 10% fluoridation. Ingested fluorides have almost no measurable benefit as any benefit is topical at much higher levels. Featherstone 2000 showed this best but many others also admit this is a topical benefit not systemic. Fluoridation is a improper delivery system that violates common sense and science.

  26. Until the mid 1960s' dentists were trained to put fillings in teeth on a preemptive basis. This is the main reason for high "cavity" rates pre 1970, childrens teeth were filled with amalgam before any actual cavity happened. This practice originated in dental school education in the early 20th century. Not surprisingly post 1970s' kids have a lot less amalgam in their mouths. Ask your dentist.

    Although it goes back some decades the fluoride argument was first promoted on a large scale by Crest toothpaste who claimed some very unscientific studies they paid for proved fluoride reduced cavities. This gained the use of fluoride credibilty with the public even though the studies were flawed in many ways.
    As far as the science supporting flouride reducing cavities by strengthening tooth enamel there isn't any. The science is based on studies of populations where cavity rates are compared in areas with different levels of flouride. There is no evidence ingesting fluoride strengthens tooth enamel. There is some evidence topical application may do so but this cannot be done with water.

    In Canada, the Calgary Health Authority looked into the science" in the 1990s' and couldn't justify fluoride science other than saying there was a scientific consensus it worked (like global warming this consensus is really opinion based on "cause and effect" studies, not hard science). Nonetheless they recommended cutting the current level of fluoride in the Calgary water supply in half.

    Of note is the fact the virtually no European nation mandates fluoride in water supplies. If the science is so proven why don't they? In fact the use of fluoride in public water supplies is primarily a North American one, driven by the "nanny" state.

    • By 2005 11 EPA unions had asked congress for a moratorium on fluoridation. This whistle blower revolt started in 1985 with a lawsuit in 1986 and by 2008 Feb 29 19 EPA unions have asked congress to halt fluoridation. No response yet and rarely mentioned in t6he articles. Three environmental groups just told the EPA a lawsuit was coming as they did not meet the Nov deadline to have a new MAX level for fluoride as directed to in March 2006 by NRC. The current level was voted 12-0 not protective.

  27. Some of the facts are true, some are distorted, and some are untrue.

    It would appear that Andrew has subscribed to the very thesis of his article; that our society sees all facts as untrue due to magical thinking and thereby ignoring the “official statements that they are completely safe”. His faith in these official statements are cocerning considering his public rofile as a qualified journalist.

    He should probably consider doing some of his own personal research into topics before putting his name to a position that is so patently wrong or leave some topics to those jounalists whose interests are health care.

    Doing a simple search of the following through whatever search engine is one’s site of choice clarifies the realities of flouride use.

    One of the Biggest Health Frauds EVER Perpetrated on the American People…

    Fluoride Damages Your Brain!

    The Fluoride Controversy

    The Fluoride Debate: A response to the American Dental Association’s booklet, “Fluoridation Facts”

    Fluoride Action Network (Excellent Resource, Very Up-to-Date)

    Scientific Literature on Fluoride

    Fluoride: Protected Pollutant or Panacea? (Elkie Babiuk’s site)

    New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation

    Fluoride Controversy, the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients

    More Scientific Facts on Fluoride

    Fluoride Research Journal

    America Overdosed on Fluoride – Lynn Landes (Includes e-mail correspondence inwhich an ADA spokesperson refutes news reports that non-fluoridated bottled water causes cavities, and what you can do to ban fluoride and educate others.)

    The Toxic Effects of Fluoride (Be aware that they are selling a fluoride removal system.)

    Fluoridation Debate (Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 105, Number 11, November 1997)

    Fluoridation: The Overdosing of America – Fact or Fiction? (Slides by Gerald H. Smith, D.D.S.)

    Darryl W. Roundy, D.C. – Fluoride Research

    Fluoridation Fluoride Toxic Chemicals In Your Water

    Does water fluoridation have negative side effects?

    By the way, Andrew, there are only true facts—be sure you are reporting on these when you are attempting to weave a theme amongst disparate thoughts, so you do not lessen your credibility with your readership.

  28. Over 90% of the valid science in the last 30 years and all of the science in the years prior to the fluoridation mania have all shown that fluoride compounds are detrimental to health. If teeth are harmed by ingestion of fluoride substances, i.e. fluorosis, then much more so the rest of our human anatomy. It's just not so obvious because of the immense capacity of of our body's resilience to adverse toxic ingestion. Check out this web page http://www.fluoridealert.org/health/ and see the plethora of references that point to the truth on the dangers of fluorides to health and well being. As one whose health has been terribly damaged by chronic fluoride poising over the years, I can attest to the fact that stopping most of this ingestion has allowed me to regain my health and well being. This is then an indisputable fact.

    • And the systematic review of something like 220 studies published in 2000 in the BMJ concluded:

      "Given the level of interest surrounding the issue of public water fluoridation, it is surprising to find that little high quality research has been undertaken. As such, this review should provide both researchers and commissioners of research with an overview of the methodological limitations of previous research.
      The evidence of a reduction in caries should be considered together with the increased prevalence of dental fluorosis. No clear evidence of other potential negative effects was found. This evidence on positive and negative effects needs to be considered along with the ethical, environmental, ecological, financial, and legal issues that surround any decisions about water fluoridation. Any future research into the safety and efficacy of water fluoridation should be carried out with appropriate methodology to improve the quality of the existing evidence base."

  29. Its Propaganda like this that exist that circulate dissinformation. Every one with half a brain that has not been calcified by Fluride woulds now that is detremental to the pineal gland and has NO dental benifits whatso ever. Also the only cholera that has been spread in Haiti is by the UN! WAKE UP!

    • Lachlan, could you provide research that links fluoride to a health effect in humans? The only research I can see is that of Dr. Luke of Surrey. Is that your source?

  30. Where has this guy been hiding under a rock, everyone knows Fluoride is poison.

    • So is chlorine. So is selenium. So is zinc. So is hydrogen. So is nitrogen. So is Vitamin A. The poison is in the dose.

  31. What would your assessment be of the systematic review carried out by the UK's York University and published in the BMJ in 2000. Their conclusions:

    "Given the level of interest surrounding the issue of public water fluoridation, it is surprising to find that little high quality research has been undertaken. As such, this review should provide both researchers and commissioners of research with an overview of the methodological limitations of previous research.
    The evidence of a reduction in caries should be considered together with the increased prevalence of dental fluorosis. No clear evidence of other potential negative effects was found. This evidence on positive and negative effects needs to be considered along with the ethical, environmental, ecological, financial, and legal issues that surround any decisions about water fluoridation. Any future research into the safety and efficacy of water fluoridation should be carried out with appropriate methodology to improve the quality of the existing evidence base. "

  32. having done considerable research myself into the wifi fear craze…the handful of self-proclaimed experts who say it's NOT safe (like Dr. Magda Havas) have as yet only offered "proof" that wouldn't fetch a passing mark at a grade school science fair…it's hooey!

    Do real science be silent

  33. oops….meant to say do real science OR be silent :-)

  34. I looked on pubmed for results of research on fluoride safety and one result I found very credible was from the European Archives of European Dentistry (PMID 19772843). It found there was "…no association between adverse events and water fluoridation."
    Another interesting place to look for credible medical information is on the Quackwatch website.

  35. "The only known side effect for water fluoridation is dental fluorosis" ?
    Are you kidding me?
    Fluoride has been shown to cause an increase in bone cancer, a lowering of IQ in children, increased Aluminum levels in the brain and brittle bones, among many other things.
    And large studies comparing cities that have fluoridated water to cities that don't have fluoridated water show no difference in tooth decay.
    Populations are swimming in fluoride not only in their water but their food and governments adding it to the water supplies is nothing more than involuntary mass medication.
    It came out in the Neurenburg trials that the Nazis added Fluoride to the water supply in their concentration camps. You can be sure that they did not do this to benefit the prisoners teeth.
    The fluoride waste that is generated in the manufacture of aluminum or phosphate fertilizer is considered a highly toxic industrial waste and it is illegal to dispose of it on land or in water. But apparently if they put it in the drinking supply they it is good for us?
    Water fluoridation is a massive health fraud and its negative effects have been suppressed for decades.
    This article is not journalism, it is garbage.
    There's a little thing called research, absolutely none of that was done here.
    Macleans is a joke.

  36. guys wt do u think the thesis of this article is??

  37. Wifi and emf are the same thing and there both attracted to iron and we humans have alot of iron and it is also attracted to your teeth

  38. People defending fluoride paranoia in these comments are all making the same error: confusing studies about the effects of fluoride at toxic levels with the effects of fluoridation at one part in a million. For example, the authors of the Harvard meta-study on IQ and fluoride, constantly cited here and elsewhere by fear mongers, were based on studies in China in places where there are levels way in excess of recommendations as a result of coal pollution and natural causes. They are explicit in stating that the results do NOT pertain to levels maintained in fluoridation programs in the US and elsewhere.

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