My Dad sent me an article today about Portland’s ongoing debate about putting fluoride in their water.
There’s a lot of interesting science around water fluoridation, but that’s not what caught my eye. What I noticed was this paragraph:
Almost every credible national, state, and local health and science organization—private and public—gives its blessing to optimal levels of water fluoridation: The American Medical Association, the American Dental Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which named the measure one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. They all agree that fluoridated water is perfectly safe and extremely effective at preventing tooth decay.
I was intrigued by that paragraph because the link they provide for the organizations that support water fluoridation has 11 pages of organization names and their statements supporting it.
While there’s many well known names on there, I was thinking about how hard it really is to know about lesser known organizations, and how easy it is to confuse various organization names.
Example: the American Medical Association is one of the biggest medical groups in the country. The Association of American Physicians is a group dedicated to furthering biomedical research. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is a group dedicated to “fighting socialized medicine and the government takeover of medicine”.
Now you might recognize the difference between the first one and the other two, but my guess is most people will not remember which one is which 20 minutes after you finish reading this blog post.
Now I’m certainly not saying that these 11 pages are crap…there’s some big names on that list. What I am saying is that random names of groups is something people must take some due diligence to investigate. I’m sure that the anti-fluoridation people could also come up with a long list of organizations that support them, even if it represented far fewer people. In this age of propaganda, we must remember that organization names alone may not be enough to convince people. Too much data causes overload, and we can’t blame people for this. Now go brush your teeth.