Declan Waugh claims it’s “clear as day”

Declan Waugh is an anti-fluoride propagandist who specialises in naively distorting scientific and medical information to “prove” community water fluoridation (CWF) is dangerous. A common tactic of his is to select, really cherry-pick, medical data to show the mortality or disease prevalence is greater in the Republic of Ireland – and other countries with CWF, than the rest of the world.

Similarly, he often cherry-picks data to “prove” a sudden increase in disease or deaths in Ireland after the introduction of CWF in the late 1960s. He has recently pulled this trick with Irish data for vascular diseases. It’s a simple (and naive) recipe. He has found data in a report and selected parts of it to fit his message – ignoring everything else and specifically discussion of the trends in the data by the specialists.

So he has produced this graph:

Declan-lie

You can see the point he is trying to drive home – but lets look at all the data in that table Waugh used from the cited “50 years of Heart Disease in Ireland“:

Looking at all the data

Irish-deaths

Perhaps we should consider the death rate – deaths/100,000 to correct for changes in total population

Ireland---heart

Another factor is changes of coding and diagnostic criteria used for reporting causes of death and details of vascular disease. The report lists a number of changes occurring in the periods 1958-1967, 1968 – 1978 and 1979 – 1999. It also refers to “the lack of specification of diagnoses during the early years covered by this review.” What this means is that some of the changes, especially the apparently sudden changes, may represent nothing more than changes in diagnostic criteria.

Waugh also simplifies the date that fluoridation commenced in Ireland – claiming 1965. The Irish Forum on fluoridation 2002 reported that CWF started in Dublin in 1974, in Cork in 1965 and over the next 5 years in other areas. This suggests another reason to be careful about interpreting sudden changes in data during 1964 – 1970 as due solely to introduction of CWF.

So things are nowhere as simple as Declan Waugh presents it. Of course they never are. The intelligent reader should read the report and not just rely on cherry-picked data and motivated rationalisation resulting from confirmation bias.

A more rational understanding

The report itself  states that Ireland does have a high mortality rate from cardiovascular disease, particularly compared with Europe. The report says:

“One way or another, the data from the 1950’s and 1960’s point to an ongoing epidemic of heart disease in Ireland for at least half a century. This is evidenced by the fact that in 1950, 31% of all deaths were due to vascular diseases.”

Although:

“The low rates of IHD mortality in the 1950’s and 1960’s is almost certainly a reflection of difficulties encountered in accurately diagnosing cardiac conditions at that time. Thus, many IHD deaths may have been coded to the ‘catch all’ category of ‘Other Myocardial Degeneration’ (ICD 422).”

And the decline in death rates since 1985:

“is the consequence of a multifaceted approach to the problem. Specifically it has been suggested that a proportion of the decline, ranging from 25% to 50%, may be due to primary prevention. A proportion of the decline (40% to 50%) may be related to early intervention and treatment of acute cardiovascular events and a proportion is due to secondary prevention among those with established disease (13-16). Data from the WHO MONICA project in 37 countries further suggested that a proportion of the decline in mortality may be related to economic
success (17).”

Another complicating factor has been “changes in the demographic structure of the population.”

So there you go. One can understand these fluctuations in death rate from cardiovascular disease using the normal factors related to changes in diagnosis, diet and health care, and treatment of cardiovascular events. No need to drag in the “universal demon” of fluoride.

Only one example

This is only one example of the sort of tricks Declan Waugh uses in his reports. He pretends to be a “scientist and fluoride researcher” and this, together with extensive scientific citation and dogmatic claims does fool some people. It fooled the Hamilton City Council in their consideration of CWF last year (see When politicians and bureaucrats decide the science).

He is dishonest – but his tactics are difficult to counter. It takes far less effort to present a naively “sciency” looking lie than to reasearch and communicate the facts. As they say, a lie can get half way around the world before truth can get its boots on.

IMG_0650

And that’s what Declan Waugh relies on. That is why he does not allow peer review of any of his reports. That is why he will not engage in an exchange with critics of his reports.

He knows he has critics. Just the other day on his Facebook page he moaned:

“There are some sick people out there in twitter land who joke about the graphics I produce. . . .they will present any possible excuse to try and discredit the association while point blankly refusing to even consider the biological mechanisms by which fluoride contributes to disease.”

Well, Declan, it is part of the scientific ethos to engage with your critics. Respond to their criticisms – show where and why you think they are wrong – or acknowledge your mistakes. You refuse to do that because you “point blankly” refuse to “even consider” the discussion and evidence of the experts who write the papers and reports you cherry pick from.

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9 responses to “Declan Waugh claims it’s “clear as day”

  1. Since when do the DHB’s, Ministry of Health, D0C, and Professor Gluckman etc. engage with their critics? Paul Connett will be back in NZ in February – more meetings with no one prepared to front up as usual?

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  2. You know I have engaged with Paul Connett – and am happy to do so again (although he spat the dummy last time so I dont think he will accept another discussion offer).

    He is easy to expose.

    Like

  3. I suppose you are still waiting for Declan to debate you? Reading between the lines, you would have more luck sleeping with MissWorld

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  4. For awhile, a year or two ago, Connett’s minions were citing Waugh’s junk frequently as support for their claims. I haven’t seen any of them even mention Waugh in months. It seems as though even Connett has distanced himself from Waugh now. If Connett…….who links himself with with people like Mercola, Alex Jones, IAOMT, and any other dubious source of funds for his little family business and world travels….. doesn’t buy into somebody’s antifluoridationist hogwash, man you know it’s some pretty foul stuff.

    Steven D. Slott, DDS

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  5. Yes, Steve, I have even come across anti-fluoride activists who dissociate themselves publicly from Declan Waugh.

    However, I think he still needs debunking, or at least demonstrations of his dishonest approach, because he still gets used by some people and groups as an “authority.” For example, in the Hamilton City Council (NZ) consideration of the fluoridation issue last year the council staff listed one if Waugh’s reports at the top of the lost of scientific support for their decision to stop fluoridation. I can’t work out why no-one pointed out to the council how dishonest that report was.

    Another example is a local science activist group (Scientists and Physicians for Global Responsibility) which has a document opposing fluoridation almost completely relying on Declan Waugh’s material.

    So I don’t think we should just ignore him yet. Perhaps people like Connett should be publicly asked if they endorse Waugh’s material and if not, why not?

    >

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  6. I agree 100%, Ken. Waugh is a true menace and needs to be exposed at every opportunity. I think he had a hand in the Israeli travesty, as well. You are doing an outstanding job of exposing his rubbish for what it is. Keep it up. If I can find a good opportunity, I’ll see if I can get Connett’s position on Waugh, publicly.

    Steven D. Slott, DDS

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  7. Here’s one of the “sick” comments from Twitter that Waugh complains about:

    @DeclanWaugh You completely missed the fact that heart disease increased after launch of @rte TV in ’62. Not fluoridation in ’65
    @mediabite

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  8. There might even be something in the rte TV observation, certainly an increase in hours of sedentary behaviour, such as in front of a television screen, has more far data that associates it with risk of cardiovascular disease than does fluoridation.

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  9. Here is another satirical Twitter comment on Waugh’s methodology.

    @PadraigMcL Widespread fluoridation of water in 70s has cut Irish road deaths.
    @DeclanWaugh @carolmhunt
    #waughchart pic.twitter.com/MY4Df9E2FJ
    ROAD DEATHS

    Like

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