Few topics evoke more public debate in the United States than the issues pertaining to public health. Advocates for the preservation of many public policies tend to emphasize moral, patriotic, economic, religious, or host of other justifications for the citizenry to support a policy, rather than requiring scientifically-sound proof of whether such policies were necessary in the first place. This is not by mistake, but by design; it is an outcome of a Kansas City shuffle, which involves the American public as a willing participant in a con game that benefited a special interest.
[Kansas City Shuffle is a colloquial term describing a situation in which a willing participant in a con game is simultaneously being conned himself.]
“A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful”
“The activity of secretly planning with other people to do something bad or illegal”
The Cambridge dictionary goes on to explain that a conspiracy theory is “A belief that an unpleasant event or situation is the result of a secret plan made by powerful people.” Ordinary people often do not hesitate a moment to label someone a “Conspiracy Theorist” for an ad hominem purpose. Even when unable to define that term without consulting a dictionary first, they still feel no intellectual discomfort in nonchalantly and dismissively labeling others. It is an approach frequently used to cover an intellectual weakness on a topic about which they possess little knowledge.
Secret plans to do something illegal and harmful are created every day. Our civilization would not exist without conspiracies. In fact, we could say that conspiracies to (insert your favorite topic here) are an essential driving force in the evolution of our society. Medicare frauds, illegal gambling rings, political quid pro quo, billion-dollar non-competitive government contracts followed by various kickbacks, and many more are engraved in the social fabric.
Society cannot exist without crooks who conspire to take advantage of the populace. The Kennedy dynasty, for example, was formed on illegal activity of its patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. The Bush dynasty would not fare as well if Prescott Sheldon Bush Sr. did not cover his tracks and make himself immune from prosecution by creating and fundraising in support of the United Service Organization (USO).
The poster boy for the crooks, Richard Nixon, conspired with South Vietnam’s officials to prolong the Vietnam War (and subsequently extend the bombing campaigns in Cambodia and Laos), contributing to an enormous number of lost lives on all sides. Professional crooks were preceded and followed by many others throughout history.
For the amateurs, true conspiracies can only exist in the past. The professionals’ only concern is the present and future. Their relationship, however, is symbiotic.
Even the most powerful crooks cannot operate without public support. This is where the amateurs come in. The enlisted masses of ordinary citizens provide public opinion. Their most important contribution is to generate overwhelming support for governmental policies and simultaneously feel that the policies are beneficial to the citizenry. (Individuals and organizations that may not support such a viewpoint, or who seek to provide an alternative solution, are labeled as quacks and conspiracy theorists.)
Many governmental policies are designed for exactly the opposite purpose. They benefit a special interest, while the rest of the nation is stuck with the bill. But ordinary people cannot accept the possibility of their role as culprits against themselves; the masses refuse to consider and accept alternatives, thereby prolonging the life of the conspiracy and public policy. This is why, for the amateurs, conspiracy theories can only exist in the past; i.e., “It happened before our time; today we would not allow such a mistake.” It is a form of responsibility deflection.
As a result, people are often more willing to go along with something that may not be beneficial for them, rather than fight it. By so doing, they are voluntarily extending the conspiracy.
Two examples of voluntary support for a conspiracy upon which this essay focuses are municipal water fluoridation, which has been ongoing for over half-century, and the so-called sugar conspiracy of the 1960s and 1970s. Whoever mentions any of these two topics at a cocktail party—where cocktails are made from sugary drinks and water from municipal supply among other ingredients—becomes an instant conspiracy theorist in the eyes of friends and colleagues.
Policy, Evolution and History
For sake of brevity, because a detailed elaboration on such topics could be exceptionally lengthy, I will make the following passages rather brief and address the questions of “Is fluoridated-water and processed-sugar consumption necessary to live a healthy life, no worse than without consuming them?” and “Was public policy designed to support water fluoridation and an increase in sugar consumption equally as necessary?”
In a casual or even more professional attempt to find people with detailed knowledge of the history of debates pertaining to water fluoridation and processed sugar consumption—prior to becoming public policies—one would be hard pressed to find too many of them. Most Americans are unaware that their ancestors were initially overwhelmingly opposed to both for simple reasons: they considered them unnecessary, unhealthy, and scientifically unproven. In simple words, early on the population wanted scientific proof that taking something against their will (sodium fluoride in municipal water) and in quantities much greater than ever before in human history (processed sugar), while replacing an essential nutrient (fat) before we begin to talk.
A more thorough look into the process of implementation of fluoride and sugar policies reveals that unbiased, sound, and thorough scientific debate did not happen. Today, the advocates against these policies have to provide scientific proof against fluoride and sugar (guilty until proven innocent), because “The science is settled.” This is what we can hear from dentists about fluoride and sugar producing companies about benefits of sugar.
In the evolution of sugar and fluoride debates, the mainstream opinion became an alternative view, while the conspiracies evolved into an unquestionable mainstream gospel. And the public went along with it listening to the “preachers.”
Dentists are among the most vocal proponents in support of water fluoridation, despite possessing little if any knowledge of how fluoride affects the human body; they are not toxicologists. Dentists’ opinions and conclusions are not based on their own scientific research in a domain of toxicology. Yet the public tends to take their views and recommendations on water fluoridation for granted, because “The science is settled.” (Science was also settled about nicotine consumption, lead and asbestos-based products in households and gasoline, and many other supposedly harmless human creations.)
To clarify, fluoride in tooth paste is a pharmaceutical grade fluoride, unlike that introduced to the water supply system; it is an industrial byproduct. The former is applied topically on teeth and not allowed to be swallowed, while the latter is applied systemically in immeasurable quantities through mouth and skin. This is an enormous difference. Either way, fluoride—like processed sugar—has never been needed in human evolution and it is not a nutrient.
BBC journalist Christopher Bryson’s book The Fluoride Deception is a result of a thorough investigative work on the topic of water fluoridation in the United States, and the conspiracy that made it become a public policy. It proved that our ancestors were correct to be skeptical about unwilling impositions.
Figure 1. An interview with Mr. Bryson about his work and the book
In the domain of sugar consumption and its benefits to humans, the conspiratorial framework was nearly identical. Recent scholarly papers have revealed the sugar industry’s plans, intentions, and impact toward public policies that benefited the industry. An article Sugar Industry Influence on the Scientific Agenda of the National Institute of Dental Research’s 1971 National Caries Program: A Historical Analysis of Internal Documents (Kearns, Glantz, and Schmidt, 2015), for example, provides an insight on these very issues. Dr. John Yudkin, a nutritionist and an early critic of sugar, wrote Pure, White, and Deadly to alert a general populace about the dangers of processed sugar, eventually inspiring other scientists to take a closer look at this topic, including Robert Lustig.
Figure 2. Professor Robert Lustig’s lecture on sugar.
[In his book, Dr. Yudkin’s comments on water fluoridation are positive, confirming that just because a person can be an expert in one field (in his instance science of nutrition) that does not mean he is an expert in another field—a note all dentists should keep in mind while discussing the issue of fluoride in the water supply.]
The “Optimal” Defense Versus Individual Freedom
The most remarkable aspect of the current defense for water fluoridation is that its proponents do not even care if its initial introduction was the product of a conspiracy. The current defense of fluoridation is that it helps humans even more today than ever before. It does it via an optimal supply level of seven parts per million in drinking water. One major reason why it helps, they say, is because we consume much more added sugar today; hence, this type of mass medication must continue in order to fight sugar. (If sugar intake is ten times higher per capita today than it was 80 or 100 years ago, should not we increase the consumption of fluoride to levels ten times higher than before?)
The defense is brilliant for many reasons, but one in particular. It deflects the conversation from an issue of mass medication in its relation to personal freedom. Fluoride is the only medicine that masses of people must take against their will, and in quantities they cannot control. No other substance on this planet is involuntarily consumed on such a large scale.
When a physician proscribes a medication, he/she does not write the level, but the amount necessary to consume in order to achieve certain levels of health conditions. This is determined on the basis of already-identified symptoms. If symptoms do not exist, medicine is not prescribed. Fluoride, an uncontrolled preventive medicine against symptoms that may or may not exist in the future, however, is “prescribed” en masse. Meanwhile, because of different lifestyles, people ingest different amounts and much higher levels than what we may think.
Fluoride is not only consumed by drinking a glass of water. It comes in packaged food, bath water, vegetables grown in the garden, meat purchased in a store, in a bottle of wine or beer, fertilizers (sodium fluoride is a byproduct of the fertilizer industry from processing of phosphate), and many other forms resulting in exceeding the “optimal” range per capita.
Every conspiracy and every public policy cannot be devoid of its geographic aspect. It is possible to measure the origins of certain actions, their diffusion and distribution, interaction and patterns; hence, geographic analysis provides us with better understanding of causes and manifestations of particular actions.
Does water fluoridation work and make us healthy? [Please remember that teeth are exposed human bones; i.e., what is happening in our mouth is also occurring in the rest of our body in regard to bone density and quality.] To answer that question, a geographer would look at historic data in a particular area and compare it to contemporary conditions. He/she would also compare it with the areas where water fluoridation was never conducted, or has been banned for a long time.
If bringing a substance foreign to a human body in uncontrolled quantities in order to make us healthy (i.e., help reduce cavities) is the way to go, then the results should not only be evident, but overwhelmingly evident.
[The reader may want to learn more about potential dangers of fluoride and the magnitude of its impact on dental fluorosis among children as a result of water fluoridation and compare that with potential benefits of water fluoridation. Also consider reading studies about fluoride as a neurotoxin and its impact on children.]
An example of what a geographer or skilled non-geographer employing spatial analysis may find is illustrated in the figure below. As an island inhabited by people primarily of the same genetic and cultural background, Ireland is an interesting area in which to study the topic of water fluoridation.
The Republic of Ireland is one of only three countries in Europe that fluoridates its water supply (and by extension beer like Guinness), but it is the only one with a nationwide requirement. The other two are United Kingdom (only in parts of England) and Spain. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland do not fluoridate their water supply. Without even asking if the parts of England where water is fluoridated exhibits better health patterns than the rest, let us compare the health of the Irish on both sides of the border.
Figure 4 (Source). The only significant lifestyle difference applied to entire populations between two political units on the island of Ireland is that Northern Ireland does not fluoridate the municipal water supply. Yet, there is a clear difference in cancer rates between Northern Ireland (green; lower rates) and the Republic of Ireland (purple; higher rates).
Considering that the American culture is an offshoot of the European culture, and that a majority of contemporary Americans are descendants of Europeans, it would be appropriate to compare fluoride-relevant data between the European countries and the United States. Of particular significance is that most Europeans arrived to the United States in a very short period of not more than a century; hence, most of their descendants are only third or fourth generation Americans. In evolutionary terms, this is hardly a period of time long enough to make major genetic changes between the two populations, contemporary Americans and Europeans. It is enough time, however, to evaluate whether the Europeans’ rates of teeth cavities are much higher than among the Americans, considering the great benefit of fluoride. They are not.
Spatial Special Relationship
In geographic science the concept of contagious diffusion means that the spread of cultural traits will be faster in culturally alike regions. People will more rapidly accept a particular behavior if it originates from those who are culturally closest to themselves.
Interestingly, the strongest support for public water fluoridation has been in Anglophone countries. Water fluoridation began in the United States and spread worldwide, but found a much stronger acceptance in English-speaking countries than elsewhere.
It is also rather interesting that English-speaking countries of the developed world have experienced a rapid increase in obesity rates in recent times, following the Americans’ footsteps in sugar consumption. A lot of sugar consumption leads to a lot of dental cavities, hence the frequent calls for an even greater need for fluoride to remain in these regions. Defense of fluoride is now based on its symbiotic relationship with processed sugar.
For the Greater Good of the Greater Number
Last year I, like the rest of Seattle’s residents, received a letter outlining the quality of residential water supply. It included a detail about the reduction of fluoride levels in my drinking water to, of course, a new optimal. Meanwhile in Portland, a short ride south from Seattle, and in some other counties of Oregon, municipal water does not contain fluoride. Their optimal level is zero, yet the sky has not fallen and children still have their teeth. In some corners of Oregon those who want to consume fluoride have many options available, but doing so via mass medication is not one of them.
A great majority of this planet’s residents are not exposed to forced public medication. In the eyes of fluoride advocates these people and their leaders must be rather uninformed and stupid. They are missing out on a benefit that would significantly increase their well-being.
Might billions of people, from Germans and French to Japanese and Chinese, simply be so ignorant that they are unable to see the benefit of fluoride? Or could it be that they have carefully evaluated the real benefits—having over half century of empirical evidence available since the beginning of water fluoridation—and made a decision not to import neurotoxin into their bodies? Perhaps they can also recognize a conspiracy disguised as a public policy when they see one.
In The Secret Team’s Methodology and Cultural Geographic Legacy, which covers some methods in the professionals approach to some geopolitical issues, I noted “Yet, it is exactly the reluctance to accept the reality that certain actions will produce particular outcomes that gets us in trouble. Pause for a moment and consider historical moments and periods that we, today, look upon thinking ‘How could they have not seen that coming?’ in regard to past generations’ mistakes. Such an attitude stems from each new generation’s belief in its own intellectual superiority in decision making compared to that of previous generations.”
In the light of contemporary social and political developments in the United States, it is appropriate to conclude with questions: “In what other conspiracies is the American public currently participating, thereby supporting the professionals?” and “Which crooks are behind the latest Kansas City shuffle, influencing governmental policies and impacting the lives of ordinary people?”
Revelation and Restriction
People who have introduced fluoride to the American water supply are dead. Others, who introduced the anti-fat and pro-sugar food pyramid and mandated FDA dietary recommendation, are soon to be all dead. The original crooks are gone.
Why is it then that their legacy is so strong even as more evidence surfaces about fluoride and sugar conspiracy? How come it was much faster to implement these policies, yet is taking excruciatingly long to remove them?
The answer is two-fold. First, the amateurs are keeping the “benefits” mantra strong. Second, public policies cannot be removed overnight, because the politicians would pay the price and people would sue local, state, and federal government en masse for prolonging deliberate poisoning of the population.
Individual lawsuits are already in progress. Most recent update about the current status of a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been discussed on Corbett Report with the guest Paul Connett from the Fluoride Action Network.