Another fluoridation whopper from Declan Waugh

Declan Waugh is a self-proclaimed “scientist and fluoride researcher” who seems to spend all his time misrepresenting and distorting  scientific literature and health data to promote his anti-fluoride cause. Waugh has an avid following, among fellow anti-fluoride activists and propagandists. The sad thing is that he “reports” do manage to fool some gullible people. The Hamilton City Council staff listed one of his reports at the top of the “list of scientific information” they relied on when they stopped fluoridation last year (see When politicians and bureaucrats decide the science). And the “Physicians and Scientists for Global responsibility, NZ” also relied heavily on this report in their anti-fluoridation submission to councils.

But Declan Waugh’s latest “scientific” gem is a real whopper. He has extracted data from a 1997 Finnish paper to produce “evidence” fluoridation causes all a sorts of ailments. In the process he surely can’t have missed the fact the authors found the same level of expressed symptoms from people who were drinking unfluoridated water but believed it was fluoridated. That is, the symptoms seem to have a psychological cause, the belief threat drinking water was fluoridated, and not a physical cause – fluoride in the water.

The paper is Lamberg, M., Hausen, H., & Vartiainen, T. (1997). Symptoms experienced during periods of actual and supposed water fluoridation. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 25(4), 291–5. Or see the full text.

Here is the image Waugh is promoting, and which is being repeated by anti-fluoride propagandist. For example fluoride Girl tweeted this:

@FluorideGirl: In Finland they Removed #fluoride in the tap water…Look at the reductions in diseases in just 3 months or 12 weeks!

And this links to Waugh’s Facebook image:

Seriously? Waugh’s bar graph will be interpreted by many as evidence 72% or more of people drinking fluoridated water report “nausea and vomiting” which disappear when fluoridation is stopped!

Intentionally dishonest!

Trouble is, that image is extremely dishonest and intentionally so. Waugh could not have extracted that data from the paper without seeing and understanding the data alongside it for people who were not drinking fluoridated water but believed they were. He has made 3 outrageous distortions to produce his data:

  1. He has ignored that actual data (in the same table) for % reduction of reported symptoms for both the group that had originally drunk fluoridated water, and the group who had originally drunk unfluoridated water in the mistaken belief it was fluoridated.
  2. He took his data from the information for all respondents, combining both groups in the final survey but ignored the column for people drinking unfluoridated water but believing it was fluoridated.
  3. He then took a “percentage of a percentage” so that, for example, although the percentage of respondents reported “Nausea and vomiting” when drinking fluoridated water was 3.8% (and 2.3% for the group who wrongly assumed they were drinking fluoridated water)  had dropped to 1.1% when knowingly drinking  unfluoridated water (a decline of 2.7% which was not statistically significant) his calculation produced a decline of 72%!

What a whopper!

An honest depiction of the data would have included both sets as below:


Very different to his figure.

Lamberg et al (1997) concluded:

“Since the occurrence and mean number of symptoms were fairly similar during actual and supposed fluoridation, the results do not support the theory that the symptoms considered in this study are caused by the physical effect of fluoridated water. On the other hand, the significant reduction in the number of symptoms only after the respondents had become aware of the discontinuation of fluoridation reveals that fluoridation may have psychological effects which present as perceived symptoms.”

The authors did toss a small glimmer of hope the hypochondriacs who claim fluoride sensitivity is real. The differences in reported decline in incidence of ailments between the fluoridated and supposed fluoridated groups are statistically insignificant for almost all the tested ailments. The exception was for “skin rashes” and the authors say:

“However, the significant decrease in the number of other skin rashes leaves room for speculation, seeming to favor the view that a small segment of the population may have some kind of intolerance to fluoride. This group of people should be studied further.”

The again, it is not uncommon to get a false positive when considering a large number of ailments in the same study.

“Tasting fluoride” in water

Nearly 10% of the respondent in the Finnish study claimed they could taste the fluoride in fluoridated water – which is known to be impossible for humans.

“However, the respondents made this claim equally often during actual and supposed fluoridation. As expected, the percentage reporting this “fluoride taste” dropped to nearly zero during known discontinuation of fluoridation in March. The psychological aspect is further confirmed by the fact that the illusory tasters seemed to be predisposed to perceived symptoms, as were also those who regarded fluoridation as a bad practice in general.”

No wonder the authors concluded:

“it seems likely that the prevalence of the symptoms
considered in the current study is connected with the psychological rather than with the physical effects of being exposed to fluoridated water.”

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31 responses to “Another fluoridation whopper from Declan Waugh

  1. I see the ‘experts ‘ commenting on the petone non fluoridated water today,say the same thing, they claim to be able to taste the fluoride in the water ,love to do a blind test


  2. I thought that was how a double blind study was done? Ken can you explain about double blind studies please I really would like to know, thank you in advance.


  3. Have a look at the Wikipedia description Cindy.


  4. It may have already been done Chris. This paper reports that humans cannot taste fluoride in water at these concentrations:

    Taves DR. Claims of harm from fluoridation. In: Johansen E, Taves DR, Olsen TO, eds. Continuing evaiuation of the use of fluorides. Seiecied symposia series. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Boulder: Westview Press, 1979; 295-321.


  5. You can’t taste the fluoride ion but you can taste and smell the polluted smoke stack scrubber liquor added to the public water supply.


  6. “Seriously? Waugh is claiming 72% of people drinking fluoridated water report β€œnausea and vomiting” which disappear when fluoridation is stopped!”

    Ken you are being dishonest and misrepresent the facts. There is a 72 % reduction, not 72 % of people.Just like Queensland reported a 60 % improvement in tooth decay and NZ a 40 % improvement both of which are actually only a tiny fraction of a tooth surface.


  7. Shane, there was a tiny, non-significant statistically, reduction which by manipulation Waugh has converted to a 72% figure. Very dishonesty. Then he ignores completely the data for the group who incorrectly thought they were fluoridated and weren’t – again, even more dishonest.

    How does he sleep straight in his bed at night? πŸ™‚

    Mind you, it won’t stop you, or fluoride girl, repeating Waugh’s rubbish – will it?


  8. waugh also says the wifi can fry your brain if you leave it on all night, and the girl against fluoride agreed with him, So what does that tell you


  9. Bit like the Broadbent study,


  10. 3.8% reducing to 1,1% is a 71% reduction of reported symptoms from the population of those who initially report them. A typical ploy to overstate a change.

    But I can’ t see how Ken gets “Waugh is claiming 72% of people drinking fluoridated water report β€œnausea and vomiting” which disappear when fluoridation is stopped”.


  11. I have altered the text slightly, Richard. While Waugh doesn’t actually make the specific claim many of his reader may interpret it that way, partly because of the large number and partly because his taking a percentage of a percentage is confusing and not obvious. The actual difference is not even statistically significant.


  12. “altered the text slightly” Ken the x axis clearly says Percentage Reduction in Reported Symptoms. You are chasing phantoms. I’m afraid you’ve been caught out at your own game.


  13. Shane, how do you interpret Waugh’s graph? That is a huge decline in reported ailments isn’t it 72%!

    And yet it is not statistically significant being only a 2.7 decline – no different than 0%.

    What message do you think Waugh intends to convey? Certainly not that there is no decline – and he hides the information on the data for the unfluoridated group who thought they were fluoridated.

    He has hidden the whole message from this paper and claims it shows something it doesn’t. Outright distortion.

    I have sent a message to Waugh pointing out what he is doing and of course no answer. He knows what he is doing. He is purposely misrepresenting the literature.


  14. Hey, Declan, if you’re paying attention to this, why don’t you come out and play? Come on, defend your hogwash before it is resigned to the floor of the birdcage, where it belongs.

    Steven D. Slott, DDS


  15. Hey, Declan, if you’re paying attention to this, why don’t you come out and play?

    He could well be one of the regular trolls, using a pseudonym, say, IAN or Shane, Sue.


  16. “He could be one of the regular trolls…”

    Good thought. They’re about on his level.

    Steven D. Slott, DDS


  17. Re: The inability of people being able to notice fluoride in the water supply – wasn’t there a case in (Norway?) where they either discontinued or recontinued fluoridation and there was a period of a few months whilst the public were unaware – and there were all sorts of placebo effects being reported?


  18. Christopher, That was the Finnish study Declan Waugh is distorting here.


  19. Anecdotally, I have heard of a time or two when fluoridation was scheduled to begin, but was delayed for one reason or another. People called the utilities people reporting all sorts of bad tastes, odors, and ailments coinciding with the scheduled beginning, not realizing that fluoridation had not yet begun. I have read this somewhere but have no documentation of it.

    Steven D. Slott, DDS


  20. Shane,

    You can’t taste the fluoride ion but you can taste and smell the polluted smoke stack scrubber liquor added to the public water supply

    mmmm…..really? Considering any ‘other’ particulates would be at levels far lower (to non existent) than fluoride, how does that work?

    You’re not a homoeopathist are you!?
    You weren’t succussed on the head as a baby? πŸ™‚

    (…thanks Ken)


  21. Shane thats the smell of these nasty chemtrails you dont know what the gubbermint is putting in them


  22. Shane doesn’t smell the fluoride ions, but does taste and smell a substance that that does not exist in his tap water. Wonder how that works…..

    Think Declan smells this non-existent substance as well?

    Steven D. Slott, DDS


  23. Pingback: Declan Waugh continues his distortion of Finnish fluoride research | Open Parachute

  24. Pingback: A challenge for Ken on fluoride hypersensitivity | Research Blog

  25. To: Steve Slott. You are correct in that water utilites sometimes fiddle with the actual start date of fluoridation because people report side effects. They secretly change the actual day fluroidation started and reveal it later. This happend in Los Angeles as I recall, and other cities in the U.S.


  26. Ken wrote: “The authors did toss a small glimmer of hope the hypochondriacs who claim fluoride sensitivity is real.” I have a bottle of U.S. sodium fluoride drops obtained by prescription. On the box label: “Adverse Reactions: Allergic rash and other idiosyncacies have been rarely reported.” That lines up perfectly with the Lamberg Fineland study which pointed out an association with skin rash. We have admissions of side effects on fluoride supplement product labels. These admissions are in medical reference books. Do you think this sensitiviity is not real? Are all the people who report skin rashes from fluoride supplements hypochondriacs?

    Some fluoridationists might admit sensitivity to fluroide supplements, but not to fluoridated water. From what I’ve seen, denials of sensititivy to fluoridated water typically ask the question: “where is the evidence, or scientific studies showing the existence of such people?” Anti-fluoridation literature has case studes of this, but since they were not published in a big medical journal many people are unaware of them. These reports are just like Feltman wrote, side effects from fluroide in water that go away when the switch to non-fluoridated water is made. And the side effects come back when fluoridated water is accidentally ingested, often unknowingly.

    I think there has been very little effort by government agencies or dental science to find out if sensitivity to fluoridated water is real. Just because there is a lack of study on this effect does not mean it’s not happening.

    In a similar manner, there are people sensitive to chloramine when it’s added to tap water. There have been no serious scientific efforts to actually examine or test these people, so their existence is denied.


  27. Doug

    Note the phrase “have been rarely reported”. This does not mean they exist, simply that they have been reported…….rarely.

    Fluoride has existed in water since the beginning of time. The “switch to non-fluoridated water” does not mean fluoride-free water. Any “side-effects” that exist with fluoridated water will not miraculously disappear with the switch to non-fluoridated water if they were indeed the result of fluoride.

    In 1971, the American Academy of Allergy reviewed the literature on fluoride allergy. This review included Feltman, et al.

    “The reports of fluoride allergy reviewed (3, 4, 5, 6, 7) listed a wide
    variety of symptons including vomiting, abdominal pain, headaches, scotomata, personality change, muscular weakness, painful numbness in extremities, joint pain, migraine headaches, dryness in the mouth, oral ulcers, convulsions, mental deterioration, colitis, pelvic hemorrhages, urticaria, nasal congestion, skin rashes, epigastric distress and hematemesis.

    The review of the reported allergic reactions showed no evidence that immunoΒ­logically mediated reaction of the Types I-IV had been presented. Secondly, the review of the cases reported demonstrated that there was insufficient clinical and laboratory evidence to state that true syndromes of fluoride allergy or intolerance exist.

    As a result of this review, the members of the Executive Committee of the
    American Academy of Allergy have adopted unanimously the following statement:

    “There is no evidence of allergy or intolerance to fluorides as used
    in the fluoridation of community water supplies.”


    Steven D. Slott, DDS


  28. I did not sayor imply all people reporting side effects are hypochondriacs. However there are definitrly some out there. Ever come across Dan Greenmouse?


  29. Anti-fluoridation literature has case studes of this,


    Yes folks, that’s what he wrote.

    “Anti-fluoridation literature”

    It’s out on its own that literature, it’s “special”.


  30. “Anti-fluoridation literature” = junk found in the “Journal fluoride”.

    Steven D. Slott, DDS


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