Public Policy l Fluoridation Facts 95 Targeting Politicians and Community Leaders: Antifluoridation websites contain draft letters to be sent to newspaper publishers, water departments, and community public officials warning them of their “liability” should they support or endorse water fluoridation. Leaders are urged to remain “neutral” and allow fluoridation decisions to be put to a public vote, therefore, relieving the leaders of any and all responsibility in the matter. Antifluoridationists use the time gained to conduct a public referendum to bombard the public with misinformation designed to turn public opinion against fluoridation. Unproven Claims: Antifluoridationists have repeatedly claimed fluoridation causes an entire laundry list of human illnesses, including AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Down Syndrome, genetic damage, heart disease, lower intelligence, kidney disease, osteoporosis and hip fractures. None of these claims has a basis in fact. These allegations are often repeated so frequently during campaigns that the public assumes they must be true. Their appearance in print, even if only in letters to the editor of the local newspaper, reinforces the allegation’s credibility. With just a small amount of doubt established, the opposition slogan, “If in doubt, vote it out,” often rings true with voters. Innuendo: The statement, “Fifty years ago physicians and dentists posed for cigarette ads,” is an example of innuendo or, more specifically, guilt by association. Even though fluoridation is not mentioned, individuals are expected to make the connection that the medical community changed its position on smoking so it is possible health professionals are wrong about fluoridation, too. Outdated Studies and Statements from “Experts”: Antifluoridation websites often offer a list of “respected medical professionals and scientists” who have spoken out against fluoridation. One of those often quoted is Dr. Charles Gordon Heyd who is noted to be a Past President of the American Medical Association (AMA). What is not disclosed is the source of the quote or that Dr. Heyd was President of the AMA in 1936 almost ten years before water fluoridation trials began. His decades-old quote certainly does not represent the current AMA position of support for water fluoridation and is characteristic of antifluoridationists’ use of items that are out of date. Additionally, antifluoridationists have claimed that fourteen Nobel Prize winners have “opposed or expressed reservations about fluoridation.” It should be noted that the vast majority of these individuals were awarded their prizes from 1929 through 1958. Statements Out of Context: One of the most repeated antifluoridation statements is, “Fluoride is a toxic chemical. Don’t let them put it in our water.” This statement ignores the scientific principle that toxicity is related to dosage and not just to exposure to a substance. Examples of other substances that can be harmful in the wrong amounts, but beneficial in the correct amounts, are salt, vitamins A and D, iron, iodine, aspirin and even water itself. Conspiracy Theories: Hardly a fluoridation campaign goes by without those opposed to fluoridation bringing up any number of conspiracy theories about fluoridation. Whether it is the claim that scientists from the original atomic bomb program secretly shaped and guided the early Newburgh, NY, fluoridation trial or that chemtrails are a government plot to spread fluoride, these claims have no basis in fact. Even the belief that fluoridation was a communist plot to destroy America was famously parodied in the 1964 movie Dr. Strangelove. Over the decades, those opposed to fluoridation have used propaganda schemes and conspiracy theories that reflected the social and political environment of the times. Today, “follow the money” is a common theme as the opposition claims that the beverage industry, the companies supplying fluoride additives and others are financially backing researchers, as well as dental and medical groups, who are promoting fluoridation. None of these claims has a basis in fact. Figure 5. Opposition Tactics
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