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Where are the fluoride conspiracy nuts when we need them?

The recent news that fluoride in high doses—far higher than the amounts added to drinking water and toothpaste—is harmful to children’s brain development set off a new wave of conspiracy nuttiness; we might think of that as a revival of the lunatic fringe of the 1950s . . . .

But it’s never really died. Here’s a modern take. [2020 Note: I removed the link because it had broken and went to a payday loan site. Thanks, Derek! If you want to find a working fluoride conspiracy site just use Google.]

Thing is, I tend to agree that it’s a bad idea to put a known toxin in the water supply, even at low doses. But water fluoridation was always a crazy magnet far beyond any danger of the fluoride itself. As Richard Hofstadter put it in the classic “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”:

It is conceivable that at some time scientists may turn up conclusive evidence that this practice is, on balance, harmful; and such a discovery would prove the antifluoridationists quite right on the substance of their position. But it could hardly, at the same time, validate the contentions of those among them who, in characteristic paranoid fashion, have charged that fluoridation was an attempt to advance socialism under the guise of public health or to rot out the brains of the community by introducing chemicals in the water supply in order to make people more vulnerable to socialistic or communistic schemes.

Now: you’d think that anti-fluoridationists’ exaggerated vigilance at least would have an upside: that they’d always be on the prowl for any threat to our drinking water.

For instance, hydrofracking: Right now, giant entities really are screwing around with our drinking water. And it’s not even a private industry vs government thing; government is in league with them, sometimes forbidding us from even knowing what’s in the chemicals we’ll be drinking. (And if you don’t think we’ll be drinking them, you’re listening to the wrong people.)

But the people who flip out about fluoridation? They exist, and the batshit right wing that spawned them is stronger than ever. So where are they? Here’s a real-live problem, where dangerous chemicals really are being put into the ground where they will almost certainly wind up in our drinking water, and the antifluoridationists don’t lift a finger.

Conspiracy crazies, I am very disappointed in you.

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