By Marolee Smith, candidate for Port Angeles City Council
“Trust us, We’re Experts!” More on the fluoride saga
I don’t know if you’ve been to a city council meeting, but the audience is much larger, with more people for-and-against fluoride. We’ve had some ringers from out-of-town (like Dr. Bill Osmundson, DDS, MPH, a speaker who tours on behalf of the Fluoride Action Network. Likable guy, only I didn’t like that he misrepresented himself as being from Neah Bay, or Forks, or whatever). We have the local dentists show up en mass and parrot the stance of the American Dental Association.
It is disturbing.
First, it is bothersome that the dentists have swallowed this hook-line-and-sinker, and are using tactics right out of the playbook on how to oppose the anti-fluoride lobby. These tactics: call it pseudo-science, repeat the interest in health, talk about children (because puppies and kittens aren’t relevant in this argument), push “saving the children” as an emotional issue, and lastly, promote that “experts” are those that know best.
There is a fantastic book (out of print, but still available) by Shelton Rampton and John Stauber written in 2001 called “Trust Us, We’re Experts!” (ISBN: 1-58542-139-1) In it they explore the cult of expertise and how these experts influence decisions based on manipulation.
The whole fluoride issue has been bothering me — both in how the “experts” are promoting themselves, and how the studies cited are often from 40’s and 50’s science. I’m sorry, but this science has been proven, repeatedly to be beyond questionable.
I grew up in the 60’s. I was fed a steady diet of experts promoting products. The tobacco lobby was right there with doctors, and dentists, promoting how healthy it was to smoke (based on 1940’s science). The propaganda overlord behind this was Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, the so-called father of Public Relations. Bernays was the driving force on behalf of the tobacco industry, who campaigned for American women to take up smoking as an act of feminist liberation, calling cigarettes “torches of freedom”.
What Noam Chomsky said of Bernays: “His major coup, the one that really propelled him into fame in the late 1920s, was getting women to smoke. Women didn’t smoke in those days and he ran huge campaigns for Chesterfield. You know all the techniques—models and movie stars with cigarettes coming out of their mouths and that kind of thing. He got enormous praise for that. So he became a leading figure of the industry, and his book was the real manual.”
Bernays encouraged Dr. Spock to update his baby-raising bible to include recommending women “light one up” to help the breast milk flow. No doubt, he was behind the tobacco ads that featured children, and babies, and even had cartoon characters (like the Flintstones) smoking in ads. But, more importantly, Bernays was the one who went to work in the shadows for Alcoa Aluminum to promote fluoride as safe.
He used the same science behind the promotion of “healthy” smoking, to promote fluoride. The same master of propaganda, pushed fluoride on unsuspecting consumers, “for the children“. (Oddly enough, it is the same thing you’ll hear the local dentists often repeating.)
The pro-fluoride lobby is reading from Bernays playbook. In fact, all the local dentists keep repeating the exact same messages.
After reading all about Bernays, and his Propaganda manual, it makes me wonder who is really BEHIND the push to keep fluoride in the water. And, why are our educated, intelligent dentists so brainwashed that they keep repeating the well worn Bernays-ian influenced talking points. Why are the local dentists to threatened by any other, conflicting opinions? How strongly is these pro-fluoride messages pushed in dental school?
“Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group” — Edward L. Bernays.
Oscar Ewing, head of Alcoa Aluminum hired Edward L. Bernays. (This is a well researched source to review, and the source of the following information. http://templeton01436.blogspot.com/2013/11/edward-l-bernays-and-selling-of.html)
“As a retrospective scientific article pointed out about the fluoridation movement, one of its widely distributed dossiers listed opponents of fluoridation “in alphabetical order reputable scientists, convicted felons, food faddists, scientific organizations, and the Ku Klux Klan.” (Bette Hileman, “Fluoridation of Water,” Chemical and Engineering News 66 [August 1, 1988], p. 37; quoted in Griffiths, p. 63)”“In his 1928 book Propaganda, Bernays laid bare the devices he would use: Speaking of the “mechanism which controls the public mind,” which people like himself could manipulate, Bernays added that “Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…” And the process of manipulating leaders of groups, “either with or without their conscious cooperation,” will “automatically influence” the members of such groups. In describing his practices as PR man for Beech-Nut Bacon, Bernays tells how he would suggest to physicians to say publicly that “it is wholesome to eat bacon.” For, Bernays added, he “knows as a mathematical certainty that large numbers of persons will follow the advice of their doctors because he (the PR man) understands the psychological relationship of dependence of men on their physicians.” (Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda [New York: Liveright, 1928], pp. 9, 18, 49, 53. Quoted in Griffiths, p.63) Add “dentists” to the equation, and substitute “fluoride” for “bacon,” and we have the essence of the Bernays propaganda campaign. Add “dentists” to the equation, and substitute “fluoride” for “bacon,” and we have the essence of the Bernays propaganda campaign.Before the Bernays campaign, fluoride was largely known in the public mind as the chief ingredient of bug and rat poison; after the campaign, it was widely hailed as a safe provider of healthy teeth and gleaming smiles.
And award-winning BBC producer and investigative journalist Christopher Bryson writes:
[Bernays] operated from the same office building, One Wall Street, where the Alcoa lawyer Oscar Ewing had also worked. In 1950 Ewing had been the top government official to sign off on the endorsement of water fluoridation, as Federal Security Administrator in charge of the US Public Health Service.
“Do you recall working with Oscar Ewing on fluoridation?” I asked Bernays.
“Yes” he replied. “
The questions residents of Port Angeles should be asking: Why the hard push to keep fluoride in OUR water? How is the city benefiting?
I find it curious that when Detroit, Michigan filed for bankruptcy, and they cut every service possible, except adding fluoride to the water supply. (Source: http://www.infowars.com/bankrupt-detroit-still-paying-for-fluoride-even-during-water-shut-down/) This was when the city was shutting OFF water to up to 3000 homes every week, because they couldn’t afford to provide services.
“In Detroit, after becoming the largest American city to file for bankruptcy, there is a move to quickly begin water shut-off to “protect the city’s budget.” Yet there is still money to be found by the city to purchase hydrofluorosilicic acid (fluoride) from private companies to add to the water supply. In fact, it is mandated, by Detroit city ordinance:
“§ 56-2-58 Authorized. The board of water commissioners, in cooperation with the department of health of the city, is hereby authorized and directed to institute fluoridation of the water supply of the city and to do all things necessary to carry out the directive set forth in this section.”
What’s more, the more I look into fluoride the more I find that all the noise — studies, and health effects, the assertions of “pseudo science” and why we need it, and why we don’t — obscures the real risks of fluoride. I am part Mohawk (St Regis Tribe). Few people know of what these people have had to endure. (source: http://www.primitivism.com/fluoride.htm)
“Cows crawled around the pasture on their bellies, inching along like giant snails. So crippled by bone disease they could not stand up, this was the only way they could graze. Some died kneeling after giving birth to stunted calves. Others kept on crawling until, no longer able to chew because their teeth had crumbled down to the nerves, they began to starve….
These were the cattle of the Mohawk Indians on the New York-Canadian St. Regis Reservation during the period 1960-75, when industrial pollution devastated the herd and along with it, the Mohawks’ way of life. Crops and trees withered, birds and bees fled from this remnant of land the Mohawk still call Akwesasne, “the land where the partridge drums.” Today, nets cast into the St. Lawrence River by Mohawk fishers bring up ulcerated fish with spinal deformities. Mohawk children, too, have shown signs of damage to bones and teeth.
In 1980, the Mohawks filed a $150 million lawsuit for damage to themselves and their property against the companies responsible for the pollution: the Reynolds Metals Co. and the Aluminum Co. of America (ALCOA). But five years of legal costs bankrupted the tribe and they settled for $650,000 in damages to their cows; the court, however, left the door open for a future Mohawk suit for damage to their own health. After all, commented human rights lawyer Robert Pritchard, “What judge wants to go down in history as being the judge who approved the annihilation of the Indians by fluoride emissions?”
For nearly 50 years, the U.S. government and media have been telling the public that fluoride is safe and beneficial–it is supposed to reduce cavities, especially in children. Manufacturers add it to toothpaste, municipalities put it in the public’s drinking water. The only people who question the safety of fluoride, says the government, are quacks and lunatics–particularly of the far-right-wing variety. But fluoride has another side the government never mentions. It is a toxic industrial pollutant–one of the oldest and biggest of them all. For decades, U.S. industrial plants have rained heavy doses of waste fluoride on people, such as the Mohawks. The nation, however, has been successfully conditioned to think of fluoride solely as a benevolent substance and to dismiss as a crackpot anyone who claims otherwise.
In recent years, because of rampant environmental damage, some of the worst fluoride pollution plants such as those at Akwesasne have been forced to reduce their emissions, but not terminate them. At Akwesasne, cows still live only half their normal lifespan. Nationwide, fluoride remains one of industry’s largest pollutants”
We have known since the 1930’s that there were health issues (for cattle and humans) from over-exposure to fluoride.
Port Angeles citizens voted down (in an advisory vote a decade ago) the addition of fluoride to our water. It was pushed through, anyway by the city council. I should say RUSHED through. Now, nine-full-months before the contract expires the city council is rushing to push their hidden agenda to renew a contract with whom?
The dentists are out in force, and as much as I hate to go there, this quote by Adolph Hitler (on propaganda) seems to be right on the mark: “But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success.” It is a good quote, if you don’t bring along the baggage of the speaker. Repeating things, confined to a few sort points, is what I am seeing at these council meetings. The anti-fluoride group goes off in a million directions, the ex-health director for Clallam County, the current one, and a dozen (or so) dentists keep repeating themselves.
“Democracy is not about trust; it is about distrust. It is about accountability, exposure, open debate, critical challenge, and popular input and feedback from the citizenry. It is about responsible government. We have to get our fellow Americans to trust their leaders less and themselves more, trust their own questions and suspicions, and their own desire to know what is going on.” —Michael Parenti (an American political scientist, historian, and cultural critic who writes on scholarly and popular subjects.)
I want to know: Who is behind this, and why is our city council so complicit?
Why was it so important to push this agenda, front-and-center, now? Was it because all of the council candidates are against fluoridation? (It was an item of the questions asked by the PDN as part of the voter’s guide.)
Why is this happening, now, when this town is, historically, lackadaisical when it comes to most everything?
I’m sure tonight’s city council meeting will have a dozen speakers against and a dozen speakers for fluoridation, and the city council will suffer through, trying to look (mildly) interested. It really does feel like the writing is already on the all, and this is just a series of events, to make it LOOK as if the council is weighing a decision (that has already been made).
I, for one, would like to know what the real agenda is, here.