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.

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

Anti-fluoridationists exploit infant deaths by fiddling statistics - Open Parachute

Apr 09, 2017

The local anti-fluoride people have not stopped rabbiting away with their “science” – searching for anything bad they can argue is caused by community water fluoridation. The latest claim they make – fluoridation is responsible for infant deaths! And they have some statistics to “prove” this. The table below presented by well-known US anti-fluoride activist, Karen Favazza Spencer, in her article America First – Chemical Warfare on Infants: That table is simply lifted from a conspiracy style web page Why Pregnant Women Should Not Drink Fluoridated Water. OK – these statistics might fool some people – especially if you have a bias to confirm. But the more critical person might pick up that these figures are most likely cherry-picked and want to see the full data set or some analysis of the data.   It’s not hard … Read More

March ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking - Open Parachute

Apr 01, 2017

Here are the rankings of New Zealand blogs with publicly available statistics for March 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

Another anti-fluoridation whopper - Open Parachute

Mar 31, 2017

We are all used to political activists fiddling statistics – but this has gone too far. Local anti-fluoride activists are so narcissistic they are now presenting their own clamouring as representing public opinion – even putting figures to it. I find this really offensive. As a Hamiltonian, I objected to the undemocratic put our council took in stopping fluoridation in 2013. The attitude of voters was clear from a previous referendum which showed overwhelming support for this safe and effective social health measure. Protests led to another referendum in October 21013 and again overwhelming support for community water fluoridation (CWF). A clear result and several months later the council reversed its stance –  we now have community water fluoridation again. Yet anti-fluoride activists argued to reject the referendum result – so what is all the talk now about Patea and Waverly? Are … Read More

Fluoridation: Making sense of the Ministry of Health data - Open Parachute

Mar 28, 2017

Every year local anti-fluoride activists eagerly await release of the latest Ministry of Health (MoH) data on the oral health of New Zealand School children. These data are a mine of examples which can be cherry-picked to argue that community water fluoridation is ineffective – or even that the oral health of children in non-fluoridated areas is better than fluoridated areas. Well, the latest data (for 2015) has just been released and the anti-fluoridationist reaction is typical. They are presenting selected data to argue that “the gap [between the numbers of caries-free children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas] has become practically non-existent.” And the make a big thing of comparing this “practically non-existent” gap with the 40% difference claim they attribute to the MoH. Needless to say, they are wrong. Let’s have a look at what the 2105 … Read More

Activist confusion at fluoridation bill hearing (and coffee) - Open Parachute

Mar 24, 2017

I have been in Wellington for the Parliamentary select committee hearings on fluoridation. Well, that was the excuse – I was really there to catch up with my family (always a joy and am amazed at how tall my grandson has become) and to enjoy the great food in Wellington cafes. Havana Coffee Works in Tory Street, Wellington. Great coffee and chance to see roasting in action. On the site of what was the old Wellington Milk Department in the 1950s. This time I also set out to acquire some freshly-roasted coffee beans from one if the many roasters in Wellington. The Havana roaster turned out to be a surprise. Not only are their coffee beans excellent ( I am looking forward to getting home and drinking coffee made with them) – they are based in Tory Street as the site of … Read More

Anti-fluoride authors indulge in data manipulation and statistical porkies - Open Parachute

Mar 12, 2017

Darrell Huff & Irving Geis wrote a classic book – How to Lie With Statistics. They outline various ways data can be presented to give the wrong story. However, there is an even more naive use of statistics to misrepresent data – just declare that a relationship is statistically significant, don’t show any data or statistical analysis. Unfortunately, many people are fooled by the use of those magical words – “statistically significant.” I suppose the lay person could be excused – although it would pay even them to be a bit more sceptical about such claims. But it seems that even some “scientific” journals, or perhaps inadequate peer reviewers, can be fooled by those magical words. Here is an example in the paper by Hirzy et al., (2015) in the journal Fluoride. (Yes, I know, this journal is well known for … Read More

February ’17 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking - Open Parachute

Mar 01, 2017

Here are the rankings of New Zealand blogs with publicly available statistics for February 2017. Ranking is by visit numbers. 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. I … Read More

EPA comprehensively debunks anti-fluoride claims of a fluoride-IQ effect - Unsorted

Feb 26, 2017

The US environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied an anti-fluoride petition to ban community water fluoridation. The document outlining its reasons for declining the petition is valuable because it considers all the arguments and evidence presented in the petition and comprehensively shows them to be misleading or even false. This is a humiliating defeat for the petitioners – the US  Fluoride Action Network (FAN), Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and Moms Against Fluoridation. FAN, and in particular Michael Connett, had put a lot of work into their petition. The petition is a 76-page document, heavily referenced and, importantly, presenting all the best arguments that FAN could find. FAN did not keep any of their powder dry. FAN propaganda video promoting their petition to the EPA … Read More