DS Danyl Strype Public Seen by 428

We could take a number of leads from Dr Ben Goldacre for a Pirate health policy, particularly projects like BetterData, RandomizeMe, and PrescribingAnalytics:

He has done a couple of excellent TED talks on the way bad science is used to justify dodgy health interventions:

Our health policy could also take a position on Pharmac, and the use of patents by pharmaceutical corporations to extract billions from governments, and in many cases make medicines unaffordable by larger portions of the world's population.

One of the first contentious health issues we've debated is water fluoridation.

Strypey did an Official Information Act request (using FYI.org.nz) about the chemicals used in water fluoridation, and who supplies them:

Most of the Councils which responded said they used HFA (hydrofluorosilicic acid) sourced from the NZ of Orica, an Ozzie mining chemicals company. It turns out it’s true that their HFA is made from byproducts (they use the euphemism “co-products”) of superphosphate fertilizer production:

An employee of the Palmerston North City Council also included an ingredients list, also from Orica, which seems to indicate that the HFA they use has measurable amounts of barium, cadmium, chromium, and arsenic (1.1g mg/kg!)

This 2013 article from the peer-review journal Environmental Science and Policy suggests that Sodium Fluoride (NaSF) is safer, although more costly, than Hydrofluorosilicic Acid (HFSA):

"HFSA, a liquid, contains significant amounts of arsenic (As). HFSA and NaSF have been shown to leach lead (Pb) from water delivery plumbing, while NaF has been shown not to do so."


Andrew Reitemeyer Fri 25 Apr 2014 7:55PM

Andrew your appeals to authority ( https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/appeal-to-authority) can be easily countered with cases where the medical profession has ignored evidence that shows that established practice was dangerous. For example: the routine use of clinical x-rays for pregnant women went on for 25 years after clear evidence was found that it was causing childhood cancers.

Semmelweis died before his hand-washing routine for doctors was accepted.

But you claim the ministry of health would warn us of any problems that turn up. It is a political body and just as vulnerable to lobbying as any other government department. With the same logic one can say that the cabinet has the best information regarding all aspects of the TPPA and we should trust them blindly to negotiate and sign it in total secrecy,.

It is the role of the populace, in a democracy, to continually question and hold to account those placed in authority. Any deviation from this is a step towards athoritarianism.


Andrew McPherson Sun 27 Apr 2014 1:13PM

I accept that this is a democracy, but as Isaac Asimov said "There is a weird belief that your democratic opinions count for more than my scientific knowledge."
I should not have to remind you that I am not stopping you from getting a scientific education to be in a position to decide for yourself, however as I already have a scientific education, I am better qualified to state the facts than a BA or MBA graduate serving sandwiches and freaking out about the trace chemicals in their water, but not the carcinogenic chemicals in what they smoke.

But seriously, what kind of conspiracy is it ? The dentists want us all to have good teeth, less fillings and no root canals ? Sounds pretty lame for a true delusional conspiracy, if the paranoid and delusional people really came up with a conspiracy like that, wouldn't it really be spread through the aeroplane exhaust fumes so that it would poison everyone and make them sterile ? Oh, no... That's chemtrails, a completely fucked up level of derp by half-wits who don't even understand basic chemistry or physics.

Gosh, perhaps there are a whole lot of people who don't understand basic science and are basically scared of things they don't understand ?
Perhaps there is such a thing as fear of the unknown ?
Perhaps then there is a valid reason why we should ignore the entire anti-fluoride argument as it is essentially a fear of the unknown by the neo-luddite community who would rather we all had bad teeth, if any, or dentures.

It is the duty of everyone who can claim to think logically, to actually be able to understand both the argument and the scientific truth. As scientific truth is the only reality that we live, all authority can be only be validated from science.


Hubat McJuhes Mon 28 Apr 2014 10:32AM

@andrewreitemeyer The word 'conspiracy' has only be used by you and you alone, with the only exception of @andrewreitemeyer in direct response to your suspicion, explaining why this is NOT about actual or imagined conspiracies.

There appears to be at least two different products which are widely used around NZ for fluoridation programs. One of them appears to be composed explicitly for this purpose. The other one appears to be derived from by-products of an industrial process - basically reconditioned waste, refurbished to meet minimum criteria to be deemed acceptable.

The assumption has been raised that the latter might be cheaper and that this could explain the wide adoption of the product with the lesser quality. This assumption is pretty much the opposite of a conspiracy theory; it completely complies to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor , so much to scientific correctness.

Lesser quality can be read as: containing highly toxic substances. These are applied to all citizens, be it newborns or otherwise sensitive people as well as animals, be it pets or farm animals and soil. Because some of them bio-accumulate, your implicit statement that they can be regarded as traces and therefore ignored (which is anyway only your assumption as you have not given any numbers) is invalid.

Your argument, that those complaining are happily and recklessly accepting higher risks in other contexts is firstly again only an unfounded assumption of yours and secondly irrelevant as (given you are right) consciously accepted risk can not compare to one you have no control over.

The question raised here is really: Are we maybe by using the cheaper product for our otherwise unquestioned fluoridation programs paying much, much more in the long run, not only if taken the long term health care costs but also the social and environmental costs into account?


Andrew McPherson Mon 28 Apr 2014 1:11PM

Strictly speaking we would have already seen long term health care costs rise a few decades ago, if that was the case.
However, what we have seen is that the longevity of the population is rising to the point where the major parties are arguing about the pension age needing to be raised in 20 years time.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 29 Apr 2014 9:24AM

@strypey is currently in the process to gather information of the products currently used. Do you, @andrewmcpherson, have information about the products and their compounds that have been used some decades ago? I am sure @strypey would be interested in those statistics.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 29 Apr 2014 9:28AM

@andrew BTW, not that I would argue that this is an argument for anything; but as you where mentioning it:


Andrew Reitemeyer Tue 29 Apr 2014 6:49PM

"Scientific truth" is an oxymoron. The scientific method requires one to constantly question and test existing working hypotheses there cannot be any absolute truth in science. Also Andrew, your claims would be more acceptable if you could point us to peer reviewed research rather than relatives and anecdotes - these cannot and do not deserve to be answered.


Andrew McPherson Tue 29 Apr 2014 6:56PM

$2508 per person per year. Yet the health system has noticeably improved over time, even in the last 30 years (which is not the same as what I said would be the case).

  1. It is not my field of study, nor is it a good use of my time to restudy the previous products. I have a different element to study.

Andrew McPherson Tue 29 Apr 2014 7:11PM

@andrewreitemeyer It is neither my field nor yours, and I have little time to find peer reviewed research in this field. I have more significant research to conduct with my limited time in the specialities I concentrate on.
I have six major projects which require more attention than a diversion into a doctorate of medicine will provide, furthermore it is not going to be a useful use of my time to do so, as I have already used all my available student loan years in 9 years of tertiary study.
As I can neither afford to put my life on hold for 6 years, nor will I be able to pay the fees required, then this $100k question you want me to burrow to answer is unreasonable in the extreme.


Andrew Reitemeyer Tue 29 Apr 2014 7:54PM

Finding research on the net is relatively easy using google scholar or any of the opens science journals found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open-access_journals.
When Strypey revealed his FOI I was also sceptical but there was adequate research to show that the fluoride formulation, that New Zealand uses, is questionable at best and contrary to expert opinion. In my opinion the matter deserves further investigation. You have not produced any solid evidence to the contrary.

I am not asking that you do the research yourself - merely take the time to a little surfing.

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