Ken Perrott

Dr Ken Perrott trained as a chemist and his research background is in surface chemistry, soil science and fertiliser chemistry. After working in the DSIR (Chemistry Division and Soil Bureau), MAF, MAFTech and AgResearch he is now retired. Ken enjoys discussion of the wider social and philosophical issue surrounding science. Unfortunately these issues are often misrepresented in our society and he believe scientists have a responsibility to counter unscientific thinking and movements. This is one of the reasons Ken got into blogging, starting up Open Parachute in the middle of 2007.

Anti-fluoridationists commonly misrepresent Ministry of Health data - Open Parachute

May 24, 2017

Anti-fluoride activists tell porkies about the Ministry of Health’s data on child dental health. They cherry-pick the data to make it appear that community water fluoridation is ineffective. And when challenged to discuss the issue they run away. I am currently dealing with family issues so am reposting this article, “A challenge to anti-fluoridationers to justify their misrepresentation of New Zealand research”  from April 2016.  It shows how local anti-fluoride activists are misrepresenting the Ministry of Health’s data on child oral health One of the frustrations I have with the fluoridation issue is the refusal of anti-fluoride activists to engage on the science. They will pontificate, but they won’t engage in discussion. On the surface, one would think there is a difference of opinion or interpretation of scientific issues and that could be resolved by discussion. Yet local anti-fluoride campaigners refuse … Read More

ChildSmile – a complement, not an alternative, to fluoridation - Open Parachute

May 18, 2017

Local antifluoride activists are busy presenting ChildSmile and similar programmes as alternatives to fluoridation. They aren’t – and New Zealand District health Boards already operate elements of these programmes where they consider them effective. I am currently dealing with family issues so am reposting this article, “ChildSmile dental health – its pros and cons” from September 2015.   There is some local interest in the Scottish ChildSmile dental health programme. Partly because anti-fluoride campaigners are promoting it to local bodies as an alternative to community water fluoridation (CWF). Their interest is possibly due to the opt-in nature of the programme which they see as satisfying their demands for “freedom of choice” (in this case the choice means excluding their own children from the programme which, after all, does include fluoride treatments). However, health professionals in the UK are more balanced … Read More

Fluoridation helps protect adult teeth as well as children’s - Open Parachute

May 16, 2017

Recent research reveals that community water fluoridation benefits adults as well as children. While research into the effects of fluoridation in adults started earlier than for children, early studies suffered from a lack of information on effects of socioeconomic status and other confounding factors.  Recent studies with adults have been more robust but there is still some confusion – especially since the often cited recent Cochrane systematic survey of the scientific literature on fluoridation was unable to draw conclusions on this because of the strict inclusion criteria used was not suitable. This new study checked the effects of lifetime access to fluoridation on the dental health of adults from a city in southern Brazil.  It concluded that lifetime access to community water fluoridation is associated with lower tooth decay in adults. The study is: Peres, M. A., Peres, K. G., Barbato, P. R., & … Read More

Fluoridation: the truth about heavy metal contamination - Open Parachute

May 12, 2017

Anti-fluoride activists going on about contaminants in drinking water due to fluoridation have it all wrong. If they avoided their knee-jerk, chemophobic reactions to certificates of analysis and did some calculations they would realise they are making a fuss about absolutely nothing. I am currently absorbed in dealing with family issues at the moment so am reposting this article, “Chemophobic scaremongering: Much ado about absolutely nothing.” Unfortunately is is still very much relevant. Sometimes anti-fluoride propagandists end up shooting themselves in the foot. This always seems to happen when they produce “evidence’ that fluoridating chemicals are loaded with toxic heavy metals. It feels like shooting fish in a barrel to debunk their use of analytical figures because the data they produce always shows them to be completely wrong. I wrote about this before in Fluoridation: emotionally misrepresenting contamination. So, I am effectively repeating myself … Read More

Visualising the numbers – The Fallen of World War II - Open Parachute

May 09, 2017

Today and tomorrow we remember the end of the war in Europe 72 years ago. I think this video provides a fitting illustration of what that war meant to nations and families around the world – and why we commemorate its end. It’s also an excellent example of what can be done with data visualisation. I don’t think I have seen a better presentation of the reality of that war – of the numbers of soldiers and civilians killed in the different countries during that war. Something to aspire to for anyone involved in data presentation.   … Read More

Bottle fed infants: fluoridated water not a problem - Open Parachute

May 04, 2017

New recommended fluoride dietary intakes by infants and young children in Australia and New Zealand were recently published. The updated values are available online at Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. This is a regular update – the Australian National Health and Medical research council advises these recommendations be reviewed every 5 years. But the new recommendations are interesting because the upper limit for fluoride intake for infants and young children is substantially higher than the previously recommended upper limit. Public health policy in Australia and New Zealand aims to adjust fluoride intake at the population level to be high enough to prevent dental caries but low enough not to cause moderate or severe dental fluorosis or other adverse effects. But health professionals have noted an anomaly in recent years.  Dietary intake of fluoride by children may exceed the previously recommended upper levels – even when … Read More

April ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking - Open Parachute

May 02, 2017

 Here are the rankings of New Zealand blogs with publicly available statistics for April 2017 There are about 300 blogs on the list, although I am weeding out those which are no longer active or have removed public access to sitemeters. (Let me know if I weed out yours by mistake or get your stats wrong). Every month I get queries from people wanting their own blog included. I encourage and am happy to respond to queries but have prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) people can check out. Have a look at NZ Blog Rankings FAQ. This is particularly helpful to those wondering how to set up sitemeters. Please note, the system is automatic and relies on blogs having sitemeters which allow public access to the stats. Ranking is by visit numbers. I have … Read More

Citing scientific studies and the arrogance of ignorance - Open Parachute

Apr 27, 2017

One thing that gets me going (as readers here probably know) is the way scientific citations are cherry-picked and dragged in to support biased positions. It’s a common form of confirmation bias in the fluoridation debate. And I get even angrier when the perpetrators cherry-picking citations will then claim they “have science on their side.” Parroting citations and (often unconnected) claims are not what science is about! So I was very pleased to see this article “Why Citing a Scientific Study Does Not Finish An Argument“ by Jonny Anomaly and Brian Boutwell at Quillette. They point out that throwing down a gauntlet like “actually, studies show . . . “ often kills the discussion: “It’s hard to know what to say when people cite scientific studies to prove their point. Sometimes we know the … Read More

Debating science - Open Parachute

Apr 25, 2017

This last week has certainly raised the profile of the “science debate” in New Zealand. Most importantly we saw big turnouts for the Science March in several major cities – a demonstration that lots of scientists and supporters of science feel that science could be threatened – or at least that it is unappreciated by the politicians and other decision-makers. Maybe even by a section of the public. And at the other end of importance, we saw a childish spat by local anti-fluoride activists who had attempted to use a member of Parliament’s experience of miscarriages to make the scaremongering claim that these were caused by community water fluoridation. Then they attempted to divert attention from the embarrassing (for them) widespread condemnation by promoting, through their own press releases,  the fake news they had organised a “TV debate” on fluoridation with … Read More

No, fluoridation is not associated with leading causes of death - Open Parachute

Apr 16, 2017

We are all going to die but fluoridation isn’t killing us. Oh, dear – the local anti-fluoridation people are at it again. More cases of fiddling statistics  – and yet again the guilty party is the US anti-fluoridation activist Karen Favazza Spencer. She should really take some advice about statistics. Although I suspect she doesn’t care – she is just once again cherry picking in an attempt to paint a bad picture of community water fluoridation. In this case, she claims the death rates for the leading causes of death in the USA are up to 30% higher in the more fluoridated states than in the less fluoridated ones. And here is her cherry-picked table to “prove it. Her conclusions are wrong, of course. Look at what we find if we use the data for all the … Read More