On Jan. 29, Windsor city council voted 8 to 3 to end the addition of fluoride to the city’s water supply. Local dentists are appalled. And with good reason: Water fluoridation (typically at the rate of 0.5 to 1.0 mg/L) is a safe and cost-effective practice that is supported by six decades of epidemiological data.
And winds up with:
The episode is also a wake-up call for ordinary Canadians who get their health news from reputable sources — such as their own conventionally accredited dentists and doctors, and from peer-reviewed medical literature. In Windsor, this silent majority is now waking up to a city in which a beneficial trace additive now will be absent from the water supply, all because of a small but committed cadre of Internet-educated activists and the naive municipal politicians they co-opted.
In Windsor, and in cities all across Canada, this silent majority will have to become less silent. Otherwise, public health increasingly will fall under the sway of scientifically ignorant individuals.
Fair enough. But there's a real lack of self-awareness here. Jonathon, after all, is comment pages editor at the National Post, and under his watch it has for years entertained junk science from Global Warming deniers. Sometimes this nonsense has been confined to the OpEd pages; sometimes its made the news, and sometimes the claims have been so egregiously false that defamation suits have been the result.
And as I have written on several occasions, you can't open the floodgates a little way. You can't set teh crazy just a little bit free. When you start smearing a particular scientific field, you get mud over the whole edifice. A small but committed group of Internet-educated activists have managed to hold sway over the public in the case of the global warming issue as well as with fluoridation. And they have educated themselves reading, among other things, Mr. Kay's own newspaper. If he wants to start laying blame on "scientifically ignorant individuals", he should be looking in the mirror and at the people around him.
By the way, a detailed discussion of arguments against fluoridation can be found here; they don't strike me as very good, but they are not all obviously insane either.