An open letter to Paul Connet and the anti-fluoride movement

Paul Connett and Vyvyan Howard have, through the local Fluoride Free New Zealand activist group, published an open letter addressed to NZ scientists and educators (see An Open Letter To NZ Scientists And Educators). It is strange to encourage scientific exchanges through press releases but if they are seriously interested in an exchange of informed scientific opinion on the research they mention I am all for it.

In fact, I renew my offer to Paul Connett for a new exchange on the new relevant research along the lines of the highly successful scientific exchange we had in 2013/2014 summarised in Conett & Perrott (2014) The Fluoride Debate.

Connett and Howard say they felt “let down” by the reception they received in their 2018 visit. But they should realise this sort of ridicule is inevitable when a supposedly scientific message is promoted by activist fringe groups with known funding by big business (in this case the “natural”/alternative health industry). The science should be treated more respectably and discussed in a proper scientific forum or via a proper scientific exchange rather than political style activist meetings.

It is this sort of respectable, informed and open scientific exchange I am offering to Paul Connett and Vyvyan Hoard.

Connett and Howard argue that there has recently been  “a dramatic change in the quality of these [fluoride] studies.” I agree that new research occurs all the time and there is plenty of scope upgrading of the scientific exchange we had in 2013/2014 to cover that new research. Consideration of the new research requires the objective, critical and intelligent consideration scientists are well used to and this is not helped by activist propaganda meetings. So I encourage Connett and Howard to accept my offer. after all, if they are confident in their own analysis of this research what do they have to lose?

Inaccuracies in “open letter”

One can see an “Open letter” as displaying a willingness to enter into a proper scientific exchange. However, Connett and Vivyan’s open letter includes inaccuracies and misinformation on the new research which simply demonstrates that a one-sided presentation cannot present the research findings properly.

For example, they misrepresent the 2014 New Zealand fluoridation review of Eason et al (2014). Health effects of water fluoridation: A review of the scientific evidence. Even to the extent of mistaking the authors (not Gluckman & Skegg as they claim) and misrepresenting the small mistake made in the summary which was later corrected. That attitude does not bode well for the proper consideration of the research.

Connett and Howard concentrate on new research relating child IQ to fluoride intake but they ignore completely the fact that all the research comparing IQ in fluoridated and unfluoridated areas show absolutely no effect. I have summarised the results for the three papers involve in this table.

Instead, they concentrated on a few extremely weak relationships reported in a few papers. But even here they get this wrong – for example, they say there is “a loss of about 4 IQ points in offspring for a range of 1 mg/liter of fluoride in mother’s urine.” The paper they refer to (Green et al 2019) actually found no statistically significant relationship between child IQ and maternal urinary fluoride for all children considered. The relationship Connett and Howard mention was actually for male children (no relationship for female children or for all children) and was very weak. These sort of weak relationships are commonly found in epidemiological research and are usually meaningless. In this case, Connett and Howard have simply cherry-picked one value and misrepresented it as applying to all children.

Both the Green et al (2019) and Till et al (2020) papers Connett and Howard refer to suffer from selecting a few weak statistically significant relationships and ignoring the larger number of non-significant relationships they found for the data they investigated. Connett and Howard also completely ignored the new studies that don’t fit their claims. For example that of Santa-Marina et al (2019). Fluorinated water consumption in pregnancy and neuropsychological development of children at 14 months and 4 years of age. which showed an opposite positive relationship of child IQ with maternal urinary fluoride. Similar they ignored the large Swedish study of Aggeborn & Öhman (2020). The Effects of Fluoride in the Drinking Water showing no effect of fluoride on IQ but positive effects on oral health and employment possibilities in later life.

In conclusion, I reiterate that genuine open scientific exchanges do not take place via press release and activist meetings. However, the fact that Connett and Howard have issued an “Open Letter” could be interpreted as inviting others to participate in a proper exchange. I endorse that concept and offer Connett and Howard space for a free and open exchange on the new research at this blog site.

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7 responses to “An open letter to Paul Connet and the anti-fluoride movement

  1. If The science is so good maybe you could explain why there is no way to comment on the Fluoride Free N.Z Facebook page?.
    If the science is so good, why is it not endorsed by the top Medical and Dental institutions?I.E
    Harvard School of Dental Medicine?

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  2. I’m holding my breath waiting on those two to take you up on your offer, Ken

    Steven D. Slott, DDS

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  3. Bill Osmunson DDS MPH

    If I were Paul, I would ignore your request because you cherry pick the evidence, only picking studies you attempt to be more competent than the authors and peer reviewers.

    First, essential questions need answers and I have asked the questions repeatedly and I have not seen your answers.

    #1. What dosage of fluoride prevents dental caries?

    #2. What range of fluoride exposure are individuals receiving?

    #3. What dosage of fluoride do you consider to cause risk?

    Science deals in data, and avoids opinions. I’m requesting hard data, scientific data you rely on for fluoride exposure as expressed in milligrams of fluoride per kilogram of body weight per day.

    You claim to be scientists but rely too much on cherry picking data from studies, your opinions, emotions, and endorsements rather than hard data.

    Where is your data?

    Thanks, in advance, for considering these three most fundamental questions.

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  4. Sure Bill – you clearly wish to distort the meaning of a free and open scientific exchange.

    Look at the exchange I had with Paul in 2013/2014. It was free and open. And uncensored. See Connett & Perrott (2014) – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/298124881_The_fluoride_debate.

    Yes, Paul cherry-picked evidence but it was up to me to point out the limitations in his presentation and interpretation – which I did to the best of my ability at the time.

    He of course had the same right to point out where he thought I was cherry-picking and misinterpreting evidence.

    That is why a free, open exchange is so good scientifically. I think the exchange was useful and informative. The pdf version is still being downloaded and thousands of people have read it.

    Paul withdrew from our exchange and asked me never to contact him again. He does not want to expose himself to open scientific discussion and prefers attempting to misinform the scientifically illiterate about the science. In New Zealand, he restricted himself to meeting with ideologically motivated anti-fluoride activists – who, of course, are not interested in a true scientific analysis of studies. No wonder he was ridiculed by students and ignored by university staff.

    Coincidentally, all the anti-fluoride organisations in the US and NZ at the same time introduced a ban on me. Preventing me from commenting on any of the forums they control. Deleting me from mailing lists.

    You have also been offered, as an interim president of FAN, such an open scientific exchanger but equivocated – first agreeing, sending something completely inappropriate and refusing to do any editing or provide images, and then withdrawing. You then went on to lie about the experience, claiming I was the one who reneged. You also wane ton to slander me, claiming I was receiving funding from the Russian Federation!! Yes, you introduced the worst of US politics into what should have been a straightforward scientific discussion.

    I guess you can not be trusted with a simple transaction like this, let alone a proper presentation of the science.

    Bill, you refused to apologise for your lies and for your slander and consequently I moderate you. Obviously, such behaviour cannot be tolerated here and I will continue to moderate you.

    Go and present your silly questions to Paul Connett – and remind him that he has the opportunity of a genuinely open and free, uncensored, scientific exchange in New Zealand if he can overcome his own childish reaction to the last one.

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  5. Bill, I repeat, you refused to apologise for your lies and for your slander and consequently I moderate you. Obviously, such behaviour cannot be tolerated here and I will continue to moderate you.

    I have absolutely no problem dealing with the ideologically motivated commenters here who indulge in personal attacks. I simply ignore the attacks and move on to the specific scientific claims that are making. After all, science is the important issue and misinformation needs to be challenged. I don’t automatically censor anit-fluoride commenters even though I face a worlkd-wide banning of participation in anti-fluoride forums after my online exchange with Paul Connett in 2013/2014.

    However, you lied by claiming that I prevented a planned scientific exchange with you when you were the one who pulled out “on advice from your colleagues.” Obviously, your FAN colleagues, including Paul Connett, pressured you to withdraw. You also indulged in personal slander by asserting I received funding from the Russian Federation for my writing on the fluoride issue. That was your attempt to inject here the very most obscene, and maddest, of US politics. That is sickening. And I will not allow such lies and slander to continue here.

    Your sentence in moderation resulted from these lies and slander. I will remove moderation only after you apologise for this unacceptable behaviour.

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  6. Bill,

    Maybe you should think your three questions through?

    I can answer your specific questions without resorting to literature:

    #1. What dosage of fluoride prevents dental caries? No-one knows. CWF is about reducing dental caries, not preventing. Even in the areas with endemic fluorosis some individuals will be found with caries.

    #2. What range of fluoride exposure are individuals receiving? From zero to areas of endemic fluorosis.

    #3. What dosage of fluoride do you consider to cause risk? Well, I can’t answer a question specifically aimed at Ken, but I would consider this a vague question, in that you need to define the term “risk” and then how to determine “dosage”. If you don’t, the answers could be interpreted as nonsensical and result in mutual misunderstanding.

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  7. No Bill. You continue your lies and slander. Pathetically, as you refuse to see the irony in criticising my maintaining moderation over you because of this behaviour (playing god) while you and your organisation have imposed a worldwide banning of me and other scientists from your anti-fluoride forms. Apparently, because Paul Connett was upset about our scientific exchange where his claims were challenged with science (see Connett & Perrott 2014. The Fluoride Debate – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/298124881_The_fluoride_debate)

    You remain in moderation.

    Like

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