Connett’s hypocrisy on fluoride & IQ

Lapdog-Media-Catchphrase2

The “natural” health media – a guaranteed outlet for anti-fluoride misinformation. Credit: Survival Joe’s

In my exchange with Paul Connett (see Fluoride debate: Final article – Ken PerrottI called him out over the tactics he used to rubbish the science supporting fluoridation:

“Paul’s book, The Case Against Fluoride, provides clear examples of a formula he uses to cast doubt on existing science, build up a library of claimed negative effects of fluoride in the human body and to suggest the scientific community conspires to suppress research findings and prevent important research from going ahead. It’s the sort of stuff ideologically driven opponents of fluoridation lap up enthusiastically. These tactics are not new – we have seen it all before with the creationists and the climate change deniers.”

I described his well-worn 3-step formula:

1: Advance a claim with no real evidence:

A): Establish a logical possibility.

B): Use poor research evidence.

2: Collect together any sources which can be interpreted to support the speculation

3: Use the lack of reputable sources for his claims as evidence of a conspiracy not to do the research.

I should have added another step

4: Launch a media campaign against honest research conflicting with your bias.

Because this is how Connett is currently reacting to recently published New Zealand research on the fluoride – IQ issue. I am referring to the paper by Broadbent et al (2014) (see Fluoridating water does not lower IQ – New Zealand research).

Pretending to call for good research

Connett often makes claims based on poor quality research or speculation, acknowledges the evidence is poor and his claims speculative, but asserts his speculations warrant new  research. In his book he often followed  a poorly supported claim (there are many of these in the book) with something like – “These speculations need to be investigated.”     

Connett’s promotion of the myth that fluoride effects children’s IQ is a typical example. On page 156 of his book he writes:

“there are about twenty studies (albeit with questioned methodologies in some cases) suggesting potential damage to the brains of young children.”

And

“We do not claim that these IQ studies add up to conclusive evidence that water fluoridation impairs cognitive development. . . . . it is wise to sit up and pay attention. The health authorities and governments of fluoridating countries show little sign of doing that.”

See what he has done?

  • Used a number of poor reports to “suggest” “potential damage to the brains of young children.”
  • Acknowledged the poor quality (of at least “some”) of the reports. (see my articles Quality and selection counts in fluoride research and Repeating bad science on fluoride for a discussion on their quality).
  • Acknowledged this does not amount to anything like “conclusive evidence” for the claim he is making.
  • But – we should “sit up and pay attention” – get stuck in and check out his speculative claims. And then he whines that because his claims are not taken seriously there must be some sort of conspiracy causing ” health authorities and governments of fluoridating countries” to look the other way.

 

But of course he will do nothing to initiate further work himself and he doesn’t really want anyone else to do it either. He prefers to stick with his speculative bias and works hard to spread this myth.

Researchers do not “look the other way”

It’s not as of researcher have ignored the publications Connett relies on. They have been mentioned in reviews – even in New Zealand (see for example the National Fluoridation Service review 2013). While these reviews do not think the quality of Connett’s citations are convincing some of them have kept the question open suggesting further work. In my exchange with Connett I similarly wrote:

“Think about it, if there really was this effect from salt, milk or water fluoridation wouldn’t we be aware of it by now? After all, many countries do collect the sort of data about their populations, especially children, which would show any effect.

Maybe publication of the Choi et al (2012) meta-review will encourage more specialists to extract this data in their own countries and publish analyses.”

We collect this sort of data in New Zealand. It has been analysed and and this analysis reported in the paper Connett attacks. This shows no effect of fluoridation on the IQ of children. Further, this study is of higher quality than the ones Connett relies on because  the data was sufficiently extensive to allow consideration of confounding effects (eg. breastfeeding, education, income level, etc.).

Connett’s reaction

Having acknowledged the poor quality of the citations he used, and considering Connett’s expressed concern for possible effects on children’s IQ, we might have expected him to welcome publication of a high quality study. But no – it seems to have put him into a spin. He clearly wishes it would go away as it doesn’t  support his political message.

As the leader of a political activist organisation his immediate reaction is to send out a press release (Study Claiming Fluoride Does Not Lower IQ is Flawed) in the name of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) to condemn the paper. He claims the paper “is scientifically flawed and reveals blatant examiner bias.”

Well, that’s clearly a case of the pot calling the kettle black – considering his own bias (he is after all head of a world-wide activist organisation campaigning against fluoride) and his support for (and use of) scientifically flawed reports.

Of course if Connett is at all genuine in his specific criticism of the NZ paper he should do the normal thing in science – submit a letter to the journal outlining his criticisms. He knows that – after all he has done it before. He has only 3 scientific publications related to fluoride and  2 were letters to the editor critiquing published papers.

I urge him (and his local followers who are also campaigning to discredit the NZ research) to take this simple step – present their claims and criticism in the scientific journal. After all, one doesn’t progress science by press release and social network campaigns.

But Connett is using political techniques in his attempt to counter a significant contribution to the scientific research on possible dangers of fluoridation. These techniques are hardly new and are used extensively by Connett (FAN) and its subsidiary (Fluoride Action Network of NZ/Fluoride Free NZ – FANNZ/FFNZ) in New Zealand. The pattern seems to be:

  1. Issue a press release with headings, quotes and claims that can be picked up by others.
  2. Ensure your activist organisation promotes the press release via letters to the editor and by social networks like blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Tame organisations and publications concentrating on alternative health and medicine will be sure to reproduce the press release as an article – they might even send you some cash for this.
  4. Heavily promote these articles via letters to the editor and by social networks like blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
  5. With luck a main stream media publication may reproduce the press release, if only in part.
  6. Heavily promote any such article via letters to the editor and by social networks like blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
  7. Include these derogatory claims in submissions to local body councils.
  8. Go back to step 1.

As most of this promotion takes place on the internet such activity inevitably pushes the story up near the top of Google searches. Headlines like “Study Claiming Fluoride Does Not Lower IQ is Flawed” (the one used in this press release) become very visible to searchers who can be very uncritical in their searches. And of course the news headlines announcing the NZ research (“No Fluoride IQ Effects” and Water Fluoridation Does not Lower IQ“) are way down the google list because it doesn’t  get promoted in this cynical way.

All this parallels a similar promotion started 2 years ago and still circulating in letters to the editor and social networks like blogs, Facebook and Twitter. We are hounded by messages like “Havard Study confirms Fluoride reduces Children’s IQ,” “Fluoride officially classified as a neurotoxin by world’s most prestigious medical journal,” etc.

A political activist agenda

Connett exposes his unscientific political agenda in his attacks on the New Zealand research. he has suddenly found the ability to critically analyse published research – an ability all scientists should have. But he showed a complete lack of this ability with his judgements on his claimed “substantial body of evidence showing fluoride’s potential to harm the developing brain at relatively low exposure levels.”

But a real scientific critique only has value when presented in the proper place – in this case The American Journal of Public Health which published the New Zealand research. By restricting his critique to press releases, “alternative” and “natural” health publications and social media like Facebook and Twitter Connett once again shows his agenda is political activism and not scientific honesty.

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24 responses to “Connett’s hypocrisy on fluoride & IQ

  1. I know ASWLA is just a drive-by troll. But the paper linked was discussed by me in the article Repeating bad science on fluoride

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  2. Define, ‘troll’ Ken? These are letters archived by volunteers – letters written by 1000’s of different people, from all over Australia, many, with medical and Scientific credentials; but, NONE of the letters are responded to, by ‘authorities’ and politicians – which says much. The authorities, politicians, et al, cannot provide the answers.

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  3. And, BTW.. you can’t even spell Science it seems. http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/repeating-bad-sicence-on-fluoride/

    You dismiss everything. Except pro industrial waste. Tell me, where is the SCIENCE for long-term effects on daily ingestion of Arsenic, Uranium, Cadmium and Lead? All co-contaminents of the slurry waste from the Aluminium mix call ‘hydrofluorosilic acid’ ??? Please give us that link. If you cannot, then, we rest our case.

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  4. I define a drive-by troll as someone who simply pastes a link with no comment. I don’t think it is very intelligent – after all if the person had actually read the paper they might have something to say.

    Do you know how many times fluoride is mentioned in this paper – and what evidence they cite for the comment on fluoride?

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  5. You want a link to contaminants in fluoridation chemicals. Well, for a start you could read my article Fluoridation: emotionally misrepresenting contamination.

    The fact that I use mainly Aussie certificates of analysis should warm your heart.

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  6. A ‘person’ does not have to make comment, if they direct someone. Opinion, was not given by ASWLA. Just a link. Lets allow the public to do their own research shall we Ken? You are better off, remaining silent, if all you can give, is an insult (ie. ‘troll’) to a link given by a blog put together by 1000’s of the Australian public seeking direct answers to their questions — which of course, has yet to be responded to by the politicians and medico’s and bodies, forcing this chemical waste into our drinking water.

    BTW… you digress Ken – you still have not given us the link to the SCIENCE for long-term effects on daily ingestion of Arsenic, Uranium, Cadmium and Lead? All co-contaminents of the slurry waste from the Aluminium mix call ‘hydrofluorosilic acid’ – and make that, the SCIENCE for the benefits to teeth; and, all other bodily organs. If you cannot cough up these links, I suggest, you make no comment, if to just throw name calling around.

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  7. Oh, your opinions again, eh? Where is the Scientific studies Ken, for LONG TERM INGESTION……?

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  8. And it is also clear, you try ‘warm’ a heart, with no knowledge of that person’s emotional responses; not very ‘romantic’, at all…. so, Ken, instead, redeem your emotional bone, and please provide us all, the SCIENCE (cold, detached, clinical, peer reviewed – since you hate dealing with and are not very good at, anything pertaining to ‘emotional’ intelligence) to the long term studies done, using the information typical of the monthly fluctuations of analyses found in the FOI you claim have no impact on human health; and can therefore be assumed, to beneficial to our teeth as well….??! We’d like to see that information – for kidney patients, indigenous populations, the elderly, very young and, ill (in general). How DO co-contaminents affect all these sub-populations, if there is no Science proving just how – arsenic, as just one of those many co-contaminents, for example – assists LONG-TERM tooth and gum health health?? And prove to us all, that arsenic, or any of the other co-contaminents found in the slurry mix, does not affect the soft tissues of other organs/systems LONG TERM? Please give us that information, and we will leave this debate for good. Cough up Ken. If you don’t mind. We’ll check back for this research in a day or so.

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  9. THAT information – long-term ingestion studies — would warm many hearts…..

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  10. How about starting by telling us why you posted the link? Given that the paper has been discussed he in depth it is not as if we were unaware of it.

    You could well have something to say about the paper (I am being kind because I don’t think you have actually read it). If so, why not say it, instead of diverting to issues not covered by the paper or my article here? Or do you diver because you have absolutely nothing to say about it?

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  11. Tell me how much arsenic is in the normal fluoridation chemical.

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  12. Christopher Atkinson

    My, ASSWLA you are uptight!

    Could you please provide the Sciency peer reviewed longitudinal studies that PROVE dihydrogen monoxide does not cause renal failure, death or cancer? :-)

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  13. Link trolling, all cap shouting, triple question marks; dear, dear me.

    And Mr Shouty man is demanding studies into imaginary problems.

    Here’s a hint for Mr Shouty man: provide evidence of the existence of a problem before you demand evidence that the problem doesn’t exist.

    [Caveat - Mr Shouty man may indeed be a Ms Shouty woman.]

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  14. Gee. Fred’s nose is out of joint, isn’t it? He has a real hero worship problem.

    Who is he when he is at home – one of Paul’s management crew in FAN?

    >

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  15. Ken, actually I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Connett, although I will certainly try to see him speak now. But after I read your attack on the guy whose book I recently read (and agree with) I wanted to see if what you said about his lack of credentials was accurate in any way. I found just the opposite with a simple Google search, something you clearly didn’t do, or wanted to share with the rest of us. Most of the info I posted was easily accessed here (you’ll notice I cut and pasted most of his expert testimony info): http://www.americanhealthstudies.org/connett.bio.html

    I then started researching each of these speeches he gave to make sure these facts were accurate, and I found out they were. I admit I was a bit of a potty mouth, and I mean no disrespect to women or female dogs in my use of the word “bitch;” although I still don’t have respect for you. However, this is a debate that can get rather emotional, and you along with all of the other proponents, seem to have no problem calling opponents of fluoridation plenty of rude, distasteful names, and attacking their credentials so I threw it back at ya.

    So before you try to use lies to discredit Mr. Connett in the future, remember that there is this amazing thing called the interweb, and your bullshit can be thrown back in your face as quickly as I can do a Google search.

    It doesn’t take a scientific expert to realize that the public drinking water supply shouldn’t be used to deliver supplementation or preventative medical treatments…of ANY KIND! That sort of thing ought to be left between a medical practitioner and their patents.

    Boom,

    Fred Norris

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  16. Fred, I suggest you stick with taking responsibility for your own excesses and stop inventing those for others as an excuse.

    I have read Paul’s book too. He gave it to me to read. In our debate I commented on the tactics used in his book, as I did too in this article above. I am also aware of his CV – he presented it to me at great length. He is not a modest man.

    You are stuck with the fact that Paul has done no original research on the subject. He has no proper peer reviewed scientific research papers on it. His published work is all part of his political activism.

    Now, what lie have I told about Paul? And can you explain to me why he has refused to cite our debate in any of his presentations or on his web site? Has he got someone to hide?

    By the way, you assure me you claim you found Paul’s “facts” to be accurate – what criteria did you use? Can you give an give an example?

    >

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  17. Christopher Atkinson

    Mmmm….I wonder how long before the emotional Fred runs away – seeing as he can ‘t back up his claims…

    Anyway, just for entertainment value (try not to laugh too loudly!); taken from the afamildura blog Fred has just commented on…

    “What (most) people don’t know about the Pineal Gland is that it connects your soul to your body. Once your pineal gland is activated to the world of spirituality, it may seem as if you have the godlike power of knowing everything that’s going around you. A properly tuned pineal gland will take you to the other dimension, which is also known astral projection or remote viewing. This proper frequency can be achieved through meditation, yoga or some sort of occult method.”

    So Fred, do you agree with Danny here? (Tears of laughter streaming down my face)
    Or just some of it? (Oh this hurts – my sides splitting)

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  18. Christopher Atkinson

    Fascinating Fred…I had a quick look at the references you provided via Connets CV

    http://www.americanhealthstudies.org/connett.bio.html

    You will be interested to note that this reference..

    2006, Connett P, Water fluoridation: Critical difference was overlooked. British Medicalk Journal, Jun 16;322(7300):1486-

    Refers to a non existent journal…. “British Medicalk Journal”, perhaps Connet made a typo in his CV and meant ” British Medical Journal”

    (Who makes a mistake on their CV…?)

    Anyway, I will give the fair Doctor benefit of doubt here.

    So I try and find this article in the British Medical Journal and go figure…I can’t find it!!

    In 2006 there are four journals 3rd June, 7553, 10th June, 7554, 17th June, 7555 and 24th June 7556.

    None dated 16th June.

    Oddly, the Volume number, 322 appears correct for this time but the journal number 7330 is way off as you can see (7553- 7556)

    So…I try to look it up via the journal number 7300. This is where it gets interesting…

    This journal was printed in 2001, NOT 2006 (Another typo maybe? or something more dishonest?) – 13 years ago!

    This reference relates to a LETTER TO THE EDITOR written by Connet regarding a meta analysis of fluoridation and Bone Fractures that concluded ” the evidence relating fluoridation to fractures is weak and shows no significant effect either way”

    Are you serious Fred?

    This reference is;

    Not research
    Not peer reviewed
    littered with mistakes
    Opinion

    Do you have the courage of your convictions to comment?

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  19. Clearly, whoever wrote that pineal gland stuff has escaped from a home for the bewildered.

    Oh. I see now, a banana wrote it. That explains everything. (Author at end of article: http://jhaines6.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/pineal-gland-the-point-of-connection-between-the-body-and-the-soul/ )

    One of Deepak’s bananas, for sure. With extra woo.

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  20. Christopher Atkinson

    Wow Fred,

    I had a look at the other “Paper” Mr Dr Professor Connet wrote on Fluoride.

    Int J Occup Environ Health. 2006 Jan-Mar;12(1):88-91.

    Looks like this is just another “comment” or “opinion” on some real research.

    In this Journal, Connet appears to simply comment on how he disagrees with two previous articles that he disagrees with…have a guess…yep you got it – these two articles use scientific evidence (not opinion) to support public fluoridation

    Note that these are the only two “Papers” Connet has included in his CV that purport to be written on Fluoride.

    Don’t you think it is more than just a little dishonest to use personal opinions, send them off to a journal for publication and then cite them as “Papers” on your CV?

    The wool sure has been pulled over your eyes, I bet you feel a bit silly now.

    It’s all out there for the world to see Fred
    Feel free to call me out, show me where I have made a mistake…go on…

    Call me names if you wish :-)

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  21. Dear Fred Norris,

    So before you try to use lies to discredit Mr. Connett in the future, remember that there is this amazing thing called the interweb, and your bullshit can be thrown back in your face as quickly as I can do a Google search.

    I think Mr Connett has done quite enough to discredit himself, don';t you think?

    C’mon Fred….waiting. You seem pretty savvy when it comes to the “interweb” thingy.

    Perhaps we could have a “Research” duel – you with your dodgy google references and me with reputable research techniques and see who can come up with the most accurate information?

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  22. Christopher Atkinson

    …and there is a deafening silence with no one being able to shed any light on these discrepancies in Dr Connets CV

    Like

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