Anti-fluoride activists should abandon their theories about aluminum foil hats | Michael Vagg

Politics and religion are the classic topics to avoid when enjoying a dinner party. In Australia, you can now add fluoridation of water to that list.

It’s hard to understand what could result in a respected high-ranking official being molested and bizarre threatened at a public gathering after presenting herself to a city council on the benefits of fluoride, but it helps to realize that Much at stake for them is anti-fluoride activists. They have dedicated their entire worldview to what is perhaps the most embarrassing sketchy conspiracy theory of all.

In short, anti-fluoride activists believe in different versions of some basic memes. The first is that fluoride in drinking water is harmful because it changes your brain in some way. The emergence of the trope “Fluoride is a mind-altering chemical” goes back to post-war Europe and the dissolution of the German chemical company IG Farben. The company was at times the fourth largest company in the world and produced dyes and industrial chemicals that were fundamental to German industrial power. Due to its close involvement with the Hitler regime and atrocities (the company provided Zyklon B for gas chambers), it was disbanded after the war and many of its executives were tried for war crimes.

The amount of aluminum foil hats makes the leap to believe that IG Farben had plans to fluoridate occupied countries during the war because they found that fluoridation “easily damages a certain part of the brain” (usually called the pineal gland), which would make the population either more docile or dumber depending on your pet theory.

Even if it is true that IG Farben had these plans, they would not have worked. The pineal gland has nothing to do with obedience or the defense of the organism’s freedom from state interference. There’s no credible science to prove that the tiny deposits of calcium and fluoride that build up in the pineal gland interfere with its function at all. Here is all of the PubMed literature on the subject – the texts that reference it are almost entirely obscure rat studies. Nothing about changing your behavior or lowering your IQ.

Others believe that fluoridation of water was invented by chemical companies to allow them to simultaneously raise money for their lawsuits and dispose of their industrial by-products by putting together fake science to show that they increase the rate of tooth decay. While it’s true that much of the fluoride added to water supplies is obtained cheaply from industry, that’s as far as it goes. The massive flaw in this line of reasoning is that there is simply no evidence that fluoridation of water will harm anyone. Where is the damage? Where is the generation of disabled children promised by anti-fluoride activists? Why does nothing happen to cities, regions or even countries that fluoridate water, apart from fewer fillings?

If you believe fluoride is an industrial toxin, you have to deny decades of evidence that fluoride does not cause ill effects at low levels. Oh, and also believe that the “industry” is paying the “government” to keep it quiet while the industrial dumping of chemical waste into the public water supply takes place, and that city water engineers have either picked up or sunk in fluoride-induced slavery to theirs invisible gentlemen.

The other main argument is the belief in “mass medication”. You can see how it would be attractive to a certain type of citizen who believes that government shouldn’t force people to take “medication”, even for their own good. In the US, courts have repeatedly upheld the state’s right to fluoridation for the benefit of its people, given the no harm and overwhelming evidence of a cost-effective benefit. Both sides have repeatedly made their best arguments in front of judges, and the anti-fluoride side never won. Fluoride is not a drug. If anything, it’s a supplement. Many anti-fluoride activists take all sorts of exotic supplements to “detoxify” themselves from exposure to fluoride, but seem unaware of the irony.

It is true that not every country fluorinates its water. Some jurisdictions have bought into the anti-fluoride hype, including in continental Europe. For some it is an economic decision – the decentralized water supply means that the costs for fluoridation are very high. In Australia we can and should make an effort, because the risks associated with general anesthesia for removing teeth in children are orders of magnitude higher than the non-existent risks of water fluoridation.

A summary of the economic and health benefits of fluoridation can be found here. Anti-fluoride activists may keep coming back like zombies, but their reasoning remains brain dead.

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