Roger Stratford, a local aspiring politician, wants scientist to shut up. He is campaigning against the fluoridation of Hamilton’s water supply (we have a referendum coming up) and is a member of Fluoride Free Hamilton. He is also campaigning for a seat on the Hamilton City Council.
But Roger seems to have a King Canute-like (or is it Walter Mitty-like) perception of his own powers. The Waikato Times this morning reports he wrote to the University of Waikato’s Chemistry Department requesting that it’s staff stop communicating their science (see Anti-fluoride campaigner tries to silence science). He objects to:
“the degree of casual support emanating from the chemistry department in local papers in support of the practice [of fluoridating water] . . . At Fluoride Free Hamilton we intend to limit the debate to the social science and public health aspects of fluoridation. . . . It would be appreciated if we could receive some confirmation from the chemistry department that it will remain publicly neutral on the matter. . . . Fluoride Free Hamilton does not have any issues with the chemistry department academically, it is the implications of modern science in which we differ.”
What a cheek – Fluoride Free Hamilton and Roger Stratford want a deal! They will talk only about social science and the chemists can STFU. Well, we all know that most of the issues around fluoridation are scientific, and mostly chemical. And the anti-fluoridation activists are spreading misinformation about that chemistry as fast and as widely as they possibly can.
What was Roger thinking?
My first whiff of Roger’s stupidity came with a comment of his on the Fluoride Free Hamilton Facebook page:
“In my experience as a student the chemistry department doesn’t negotiate on anything, it was just a throwaway line of mine to get that Archer fellow from blogging. There is no reason to be alarmed.”
Well, I guess that’s a political answer – an implied but not a factual denial. Mind you, very quickly the comments on the Fluoride Free Hamilton Facebook page changed – see if you can guess what was deleted:
Well, I suppose that is politics. It is really a bit much to expect honesty and integrity from politicians, or from political activists like the Fluoride Free groups.
But I object very strongly to politicians, and political activists, who will do their earnest best to spread misinformation about science – and then tell scientists they have no right to comment on the issues.