Tag Archives: lies

Anti-fluoridationists misrepresent new dental data for New Zealand children

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Another whopper from the anti-fluoridation movement in New Zealand.

They claimed yesterday that “data released by the Ministry of Health today confirm that water fluoridation is having no noticeable effect in reducing tooth decay” (see DHB Data Show No Benefit From Water Fluoridation).

Yet a simple scan of the data (which can be downloaded from the MoH website) shows this to be patently untrue.

Here is a graphical summary of the New Zealand-wide data for 5-year-olds and year 8 children. It is for 2014 and I have separated the data ethnically as well as presenting the summary for all children (“total”).

DMFT and dmft = decayed, missing and filled teeth.

2014_5_years

214---8-yrNow – don’t these figures show the press release headline and the first sentence  are completely dishonest?

The data for all children (“total”) Maori and “other” show children in fluoridated areas have a higher percentage of caries-free teeth and a lower mean value of decayed, missing and filled teeth. The data for Pacifica are less definite – because the vast majority of Pacific children live in fluoridated areas. I discussed this further in my last post A challenge to anti-fluoridationers to justify their misrepresentation of New Zealand research.

Cherry-picking

So the headline and main message of the anti-fluoridationists press release were outright lies. However, they will fall back on the claim that the press release does contain some facts.  But these are just cherry-picked snippets taken out of context to confirm the bias of the anti-fluoride mind.

For example, comparing data for Christchurch and Nelson-Marlborough with those for  Auckland and Counties-Manukau is just disingenuous if the ethnic differences (which we know clearly play a role in oral health) are not considered. Similarly, reference to the 2o14 “overturning” of the Hamilton Council decision to stop fluoridation is just silly considering that there are no separate data for the city and the Hamilton Council fiasco over water fluoridation overlapped the period the data covers.

Of course, this press release has been processed through the international anti-fluoridation – “natural”/alternative health media channels so expect to be bombarded with international reports based on these lies.

The lesson from this little story – don’t take claims made by anti-fluoridation campaigners, or similar activists with an anti-science agenda, at face value. Always check them out.

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Lying to children

I recently criticised some creationists for misrepresenting scientific knowledge and lying about evolutionary science to children (see “Biblically correct” child abuse?). This upset a few commenters. I know people have all sorts of issues over the term “child abuse” but found one of the commenters justifications disconcerting.

Referring to teaching 6 day creationism to children he says: “Let’s say that I taught my children a lie. But that lie gave them hope and joy and purpose to their dying day. What have I done wrong?”

Now, I think there are several issues here:

  • The assumption that “6 day creationism” will somehow give “hope and joy and purpose to their dying day.”
  • The assumption that a real understanding of our world, and humanity’s endeavours to understand it somehow doesn’t give hope joy and purpose. My observation and experience is exactly the opposite.
  • Alongside these lies about science go lies about fellow humans. Scientists are presented as delusioned, if not outright evil atheists. Great thinkers like Charles Darwin are presented as responsible for the evils of Nazism. Scientists are presented as suppressing the truth – as in videos like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. This creates a dangerous “Them and Us” situation for children (unfortunately not uncommon with religious traditions).
  • How will children judge such parents? It’s one thing to recognise that a parent was honestly prejudiced, misinformed or blind on scientific issues. It’s another to realise that one’s parents were dishonest and actively set out to deny you access to science, to an understanding of reality, as a child.
  • The belief that children remain children, and therefore gullible to believing fairy stories, for the rest of their lives is silly. Our children do, in fact, grow up to become completely autonomous human beings. They think for themselves. Parental beliefs and prejudices are only one amongst many inputs to the opinion-forming processes of individuals.

You know, one’s children may even grow up to accept scientific knowledge, while at the same time preserving the better parts of the religious tradition. They may even value the creation mythology of that tradition.

But I can’t help feeling that they will resent parents who attempted to use that tradition and its myths to deny them access to the great wealth of humanity’s scientific knowledge. They might even feel that they have been a little but abused.

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Lies and misinformation

I suppose we should be used to it by now. Whenever atheists assert a human right to publicly talk about their beliefs they are attacked. And the attackers don’t worry too much about truth. You only have to look through some of the reviews of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins to find liberal use of straw men, misrepresentation and lies. Many of these reviewers don’t appear to have even read the book they attack.

The recent Atheist Alliance International Convention has come in for its share of misrepresentation. The anti-liberal Cybercast News Service used the headline Religion Must Be Destroyed, Atheist Alliance Declares but did not bother providing any evidence of such a declaration from the convention in its article! And the website Bibleanswer.org gave us the headline: DEMOCRATIC PARTY: sponsors National Athiest Convention; where are your tax dollars going? And what was their evidence for this? “The Atheist Alliance International describes itself as a ‘democratic national atheist organization in the United States.'”

You really have to wonder about how these people think. On the one hand they claim a higher morality because they belief in a god who will punish them for transgression. Yet, on the other hand, they are prepared to tell such outright lies. Does their god allows them to lie when it comes to atheists?

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