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View Diary: Who wants fluoride in their beer? (148 comments)

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  •  Okay, a few thoughts: (2+ / 0-)
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    Catte Nappe, N in Seattle

    I'll start with the good.  First, for an advocacy site, they do a much better job citing their sources than others (I got a headache trying to research claims from an anti-GMO site earlier this year); they're using much better sources than most, and in general, they do a reasonably good job of explaining some of the deficiencies of the studies they're using.  For me this is the gold standard of good science writing: recognizing that studies have limitations, and being clear about the scope of those limitations.  So by and large, I'm impressed with the site's handling of the science.  Obviously I haven't had time to read every study cited in here, but I'm willing to take them more seriously because they're at least shown a willingness to treat the science more seriously.  

    I do have some criticisms, though.  First, and possibly because it's an advocacy site, it's trying so hard to undercut fluoride at every opportunity that it runs into problems.  For example, on the one hand we reference studies that topical rather than consumed fluoride is what protects teeth, and on the other, we have a section on fluoride and bone density that's actually about direct fluoride treatment rather than consumed fluoride.  What is the relevance of that, given that clinical trials were unsuccessful, and no one actually supports direct fluoride treatment for bone fractures?  It can't be a relative statement about fluoride safety, because consumption isn't the same as direct treatment (as the site itself acknowledges in re: dental care.)  It starts getting into what I said above about confirmation bias: anything that can be construed bad about fluoride is included, regardless of relevance, because this is first and foremost an advocacy group.

    Second, I have the same concern above about using the NRC data so concretely, given that the NRC itself gives a heavy caveat about the levels of exposure studied and the actual exposure (especially now, post-2011 drop in fluoridation level).   Sura 109 cited the famous Paracelsus quote above, and it's a good warning to consider when gauging the health/risks of chemicals.  For comparison's sake, in a comment above Horace cited chlorination of water as a "benefits outweigh the risks" case, but you'd never know that from a similarly brief scan of recent studies.   Turns out chlorine can do nasty things to your body, and if that's what you're focusing on, it looks like a barrage of danger, and how could anyone possibly support this? (but fwiw, I agree with Horace).

    So in sum: if I have time later today I'll revisit the site and track down the original of some of these studies to get a sense of how well they're being communicated, and I do think it's doing a reasonably good job in some respects, but I reserve the right to keep these doubts in mind.  Thanks again for the link!

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Sun May 19, 2013 at 12:12:48 PM PDT

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