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F- Yeah

May 2, 2013

All we have on our side is science—plain talk about water fluoridation, currently a hot-button issue in Portland, Oregon, from the Portland Mercury:
The Sanest Arguments Against Fluoride… And Why They’re Still Wrong.

UPDATE 5/22/2013

And so it goes. Unsurprisingly, really, Portland’s measure 26-151 was defeated—the army of large, lumbering and exceedingly loud Davids against fluoridation, armed only with their fear, uncertainty and doubt (and volume, volume, volume) managed to trounce the squeaky little science nerd Goliath.

Sure, more kids—mostly poor ones—will live shorter, more painful lives… but the effect is small, and plays out over decades, so it’s unlikely that today’s victors will ever be forced to confront the real consequences of this decision.

Supposedly, the pro-fluoridation side actually outspent the anti-, but if so not much of it was visible, or audible—all of the radio ads I heard and the vast majority of lawn signs I saw were against the measure, even if we ignore the pro-fluoridation signs that disappeared or were vandalized along the way.

To coin a phrase, though: “Reality is that which doesn’t go away just because 60% of Portland votes against it.”

At least we’ve protected the purity of our chlorinated, sodium-hydroxidated, and (in summer when well water is added to the mix, as it is routinely), naturally fluoridated (to the tune of 0.1ppm) Portland tap.

And, from the comments in this (long, after-the-fact, and oft-derailed) Metafilter thread:

We pretend like an anti vote is a vote for humanity. But it’s not, it’s selfish. Why aren’t we waving signs against chlorine, even though chlorine in toxic levels will kill, kill, kill you? Is it because chlorine keeps ALL of us safe? We all need chlorine, rich, poor, young, old, and so THAT chemical is okey-doke. I see too much intellectual dishonesty in the anti argument to respect it. But get me some socialized medicine in the U.S.A. and I’ll drop the fluoride thing. (Here’s an article from Scientific American—that rogue journal: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/overthinking-it/2013/05/22/why-portland-is-wrong-about-water-fluoridation/).

UPDATE 5/22/2013
And now the science-fictional blog io9 weighs in. The followup comment about how exactly the pro-fluoridation campaign bungled this one so badly (hint: it wasn’t because they were wrong about the science) was especially insightful.

And so it goes…

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