A Critical Look at Paul Connett and
his Fluoride Action Network

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Paul Connett, Ph.D., a retired chemistry professor, is executive director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and its parent organization, the American Environmental Health Studies Project. His followers are sufficiently organized that any community that considers fluoridating its water supply will hear from them by e-mail and possibly in other ways.

Fluoridation is supported by major health organizations and government agencies throughout the developed world and has been listed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention among the 20th Century's ten great public health achievements [1]. But Connett would have you believe that fluoridation is ineffective, unsafe, and unethical [2]. In effect, he would like you to believe that he's smarter than all of them put together.

 

Connett is not simple to write about because his output is so great that covering everything he says would take an enormous amount of time. About 30 years ago, the anti-fluoridation forces were spearheaded by John Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D. (1943-2000), who, like Connett, wrote a lot and traveled widely to present his viewpoint [3]. Though public health officials regarded him as a terrorist, to the uninformed he seemed credible, and his activities have frightened many communities into opposing fluoridation. In 1985, a team of public health experts from the Ohio Department of Health published a book analyzing his eight-page pamphlet, "A Lifesaver's Guide to Fluoridation." [4] This pamphlet, which was invariably distributed wherever community fluoridation was considered, cited 250 references that supposedly backed up Yiamouyiannis's claims that fluoridation is ineffective and dangerous. However, when the Ohio team traced the references, they found that almost half had no relevance to community water fluoridation and many others actually supported fluoridation but were selectively quoted and misrepresented. Eighty-six citations, for example, referred to studies conducted on plants or animals [5].

A similar analysis of Connett's writings is needed. During the next year, with help from several colleagues, I plan to dissect the September 2012 version of Connett's article "50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation" and post the analysis of each point to Dental Watch as is is done.

Meanwhile, here's something to think about. Over the years, antifluoridationists have offered hundreds of objections. By 1960, the number was so great that a team at the University of Michigan published an 85-page book that classified and rebutted more than 200 of them [6]. Since that time, hundreds more have surfaced. But the sheer number should tell us something. If even one objection were valid, do you think fluoridation would still be with us?

References

  1. Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Fluoridation of drinking water to prevent dental caries. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 48:933-940, 1999.
  2. Connett P. 50 reasons to oppose fluoridation. FAN Web site, Sept 2012.
  3. Barrett S. Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, fluoridation opponent dead at 58. Quackwatch, Feb 6, 2013.
  4. Yiamouyiannis J. Lifesavers guide to fluoridation. Risks/benefits evaluated in the 1982 question and answer report. Delaware, OH: Safe Water Foundation, 1982.
  5. Wulf C and others. Abuse of the Scientific Literature in an Antifluoridation Pamphlet. Columbus, OH: American Oral Health Institute, 1985, 1988.
  6. Elwell KR, Easlick KA. Classification and Appraisal of Objections to Fluoridation. Ann Arbor MI: University of Michigan, 1960.

This article was posted on April 9, 2013.

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