I’ve had a couple comments to update me on the results of the Portland debate over water fluoridation. The vote stood at no 69,303 (61%); yes 44,946 (39%) with the fluoridation proponents conceding.
In reality, I don’t care too much. A society can decide what measures of healthcare they want or don’t want, provided the quality of life of the community – especially the most vulnerable – is maintained if not improved upon via other methods.
What I find disappointing however is that this wasn’t a victory for the community or common-sense, but nothing more than a celebration of ignorance and anti-science. My initial article on the question of fluoridation in Portland came about from stumbling upon an article by the local chapter of the Sierra Club which opposed water fluoridation. For evidence to support this position, they relied on many of the bunkum claims sprouted by the anti-fluoridation camp (click here to read though my growing list of replies to these claims).
The Sierra Club is one of the oldest environmental groups and with a large membership, they have potential to do real good for increasing the sustainability of communities, while simultaneously buttressing up surrounding environments. Yet this can only come about if they base their position on strong evidence. The best evidence comes from scientific rigour. This thus allows us to provide strong justification and potential methodologies in which we can have the greatest confidence will achieve such goals for long term prosperity.
In this case however, the Sierra Club chose to reject the science and substitute unsubstantiated conspiracy ideation it its place. The credibility of the organisation is thus brought into question, now that they have sided with paranoia dating back to the Cold War.
How much of the actual vote resulted from the Sierra Club? I’m not certain. Clearly they are just one influence which resulted in this outcome.
It simply illustrates the argument I have long made that we are not “enlightened” in the modern age of technological advancement and incredible medical achievements. Most people cannot even explain how a simple light and switch circuit works, let alone explain why soap is more effective than just water. Most are simply passengers – something academia is not immune from either.
“Super foods” and “anti-oxidants” printed on a label boost sales, but nothing more so than Oprah’s endorsement. And don’t get me started on our devotion to growth within a finite resource base and lust for increasingly inefficient and outdated technology or simply larger versions, serving as little more than peacock feathers.
Those whom celebrate the “win” in Portland against fluoridation do so based on junk science and ideology. All that has changed from the world prior to the enlightenment is that our ideologies have become secular.
No different to New Age or Natural “medicine” this is a celebration of myth akin to Dark Age thinking (or nonthinking, if the truth be told). That such positions defy debunking, not because they are good arguments, but only because their proponents are immune to criticism, only pushes us further from where we ought to be and presents a worrying trend for the future of our children.