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July ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking Ken Perrott Aug 01

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 get-1000-visits-a-dayImage Credit: Learn Blog Tips

There are now over 300 blogs on the list, although I am weeding out those which are no longer active or have removed public access to sitemeters.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.

Here are the rankings of New Zealand blogs with publicly available statistics for July 2014. Ranking is by visit numbers. I have listed the blogs in the table below, together with monthly visits and page view numbers.

Meanwhile I am still keen to hear of any other blogs with publicly available sitemeter or visitor stats that I have missed. Contact me if you know of any or wish help adding publicly available stats to your bog.

You can see data for previous months at Blog Ranks

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Visit Rank Blog Visits/month Page Views/month
1 Whale oil beef hooked 2067499 3424236
2 Kiwiblog 464149 794565
3 The Daily Blog 226522 366224
4 The Standard 203712 444021
5 Transport Blog 156922 160849
6 The Dim-Post 56504 80703
7 Throng New Zealand 43672 79016
8 Liturgy 42217 56349
9 Sciblogs 41178 52242
10 NewZeal 37534 52102
11 Keeping Stock 34734 52677
12 No Right Turn 27462 37118
13 Homepaddock 25446 34940
14 No Minister 21899 28258
15 Bill Bennett 20405 23519
16 Music of sound 18992 23883
17 Imperator Fish 13118 17928
18 The REAL Steve Gray 12151 16927
19 TVHE 11599 13485
20 Offsetting Behaviour 11562 16470
21 Open Parachute 10050 13927
22 Social Media & the 2014 Election 10026 13317
23 Hot Topic 9917 16004
24 Keith Johnson Wellington NZ 9725 10103
25 Fields of Blood 9614 13736
26 Rugby Tips 9541 11665
27 13th Floor 9518 13051
28 MandM 8733 9655
29 Liberation 8583 11511
30 Right Reason 8181 12105
31 Dark Brightness 8070 8221
32 Lance Wiggs 7922 9023
33 Aotearoa: A wider perspective 7736 10104
34 Tikorangi The Jury Garden 7433 10289
35 Anglican down under 7102 9663
36 Autism & Oughtisms 6440 6500
37 Home education Foundation 6225 9224
38 Lindsay Mitchell 6031 7738
39 Matte Shot 5838 9196
40 Ben Ross: Auckland 5685 7658
40 Talking Auckland 5685 7658
42 Scepticon 4554 5110
43 Teaching the Teacher 4529 6138
44 Reading the maps 4422 5844
45 Mousehouse 4240 7206
46 Avalon’s Guide: Emigrate to New Zealand 4130 5256
47 Kiwi Cakes 3821 5351
48 In the back of the net 3718 5466
49 New Zealand Conservative 3422 5113
50 Quote Unquote 2614 2986
51 Canterbury Atheists 2561 3022
52 Episto 2524 3442
53 Vomkrieg 2479 4351
54 Waiology 2414 2946
55 Eye on the ICR 2405 3231
56 Open Parachute @ SciBlogs 2399 2802
57 Chris no-frills 2168 3148
58 Rodney’s Aviation Ramblings 2121 2685
59 Crime Watch 2066 3063
60 Otagosh 2040 3313
61 Pdubyah – a life just as ordinary 1955 3249
62 My thinks 1877 2073
63 Scotty Donaldson 1795 2221
64 The Woolshed Wargamer 1770 3000
65 Windy Hilltops 1636 2501
66 PM of NZ 1451 1733
67 Put ‘em all on an island 1410 1795
67 Anne Free Spirit 1410 2520
69 Socialist Aotearoa 1408 1613
70 james lin’s blog 1299 1314
71 Blessed Economist 1149 1401
71 ROI Marketing 1149 1660
73 Michael Jeans 1089 1446
74 Helen Heath 1065 1460
75 Life of Andrew 1047 1235
76 ICT Teaching and Learning  1039 1229
76 Life Behind the IRon Drape 1039 1660
78 Code for Life 1021 1139
79 Notes from the bartender 984 1108
80 Cut your hair 974 986
81 A communist at large 960 1274
82 Ideologically impure 953 1107
83 From the Earth’s End 896 1180
84 misc.ience @ Sciblogs 873 951
85 Man of Errors 846 944
86 Sustain:if:able Kiwi 828 1342
87 A Bee of a Certain Age 804 869
88 True Paradigm 796 1104
89 sticK 770 933
90 OracleNZ by Francisco Munoz Alvarez 759 1022
91 Einstein Music Journal# 750 810
92 Tales from a Café Chick# 720 1050
93 Stitchbird 715 1231
94 One Furious Llama 704 785
95 Media Sport and Other Rantings 700 791
96 Brad Heap 697 868
97 Undeniably Atheist 664 800
98 Capitalism is bad 640 1424
99 Life is not a race to be finished first 639 1069
100 Goings on at the Madbush Farm 633 770
101 Tauranga Blog 625 715
102 Room 5 @ Melville Intermediate School 600 810
103 Show your workings 598 785
104 AmeriNZ 588 908
105 White & Black 568 728
105 Halfdone 568 739
107 Tararua District Library 565 768
108 Get Out Gertrude! 546 676
109 roarprawn 516 684
110 Room One @ Auroa School 510 1650
111 Jo Blogs 508 991
112 Webweaver’s world 477 575
113 The IT Countrey Justice 476 635
114 The Fundy Post 453 586
115 Hitting Metal With A Hammer 447 620
116 Polit Ecol 441 497
117 Skeptiocon @ Sciblogs 426 457
118 Brennan McDonald 399 466
118 Four seasons in one 399 430
120 Exile in New zealand 396 637
121 Islamnz.com 391 759
122 Software development and stuff 348 373
123 Riddled 346 514
124 Artichoke 342 389
125 The Genetically Insane 341 423
126 The Gentically Insane 330 420
127 eyeCONTACT 326 399
128 Stratford Aerodrome 325 428
129 Stats Chat 320 460
130 Kidney Punch  315 344
131 Creative Voice# 300 390
132 Family integrity 290 333
133 Cimba7200’s thoughts 289 421
134 Anarchia 287 359
135 Moving the crowd 284 5168
136 goNZo Freakpower Brains Trust 281 312
137 Samuel Dennis 276 282
138 Kutarere’s Blog  275 325
139 Spatula Forum 272 307
140 Glennis’s Blog Page# 270 330
141 The Little Waaagh! That Could 261 313
142 Toni Twiss 253 254
143 Upstage 251 498
144 ElephaNZa  242 247
145 Taradale Blog# 240 330
145 Mountains of Our Minds# 240 300
147 Rest Area 300m 238 312
148 King’s High School Library 236 372
149 Glenview 9 233 267
150 kiwi simplexity 229 240
151 Perissodactyla 228 275
152 Something Interesting to read 227 262
153 $100 Dialysis 226 248
154 Pointless and adsurb 223 287
155 Derek’s blog 218 322
156 Science in a van 217 288
157 Manaia Kindergarten 216 328
158 MartinIsti Blog 215 270
159 Ruggerblogger 201 334
160 SmallTorque 194 234
161 Dad4justice 193 243
162 kiwiincanberra 187 298
162 Wokarella 187 298
164 Write to travel 183 242
165 Fuller’s watch# 180 300
165 Nelsonian’s life 180 300
165 AnneKcam
180 390
168 High voltage learning during the Christchurch earthquakes 179 315
169 UpsideBackwards 175 223
170 Sharlene says 164 394
171 At home with Rose 144 183
172 Dragonsinger 140 191
173 Recess Monkey 136 172
173 NZ First Youth 136 176
175 ZNO 132 157
176 Looking in the square 131 143
177 Sam Books and Thoughts 129 175
178 Korero Pt England 128 216
179 The Well read Kitty 125 136
180 Nine Inch Nails 120 150
181 Aphrodite rises 119 136
182 Journey to a mini me 118 146
183 jo russ photo diary 116 139
183 You’re Underthinking 116 120
183 Kiwidollar.com 116 133
186 Politicalisation 115 135
187 Springston School Library Blog 110 146
188 Lost Soul 109 130
189 Virtual North 108 236
190 Unity Blog 107 141
191 Pt England Scribes 100 128
192 Creative Collision 99 100
193 Canvassing for opinion 97 130
193 Ultimate Student 97 152
195 TimG_Oz Blog 94 115
196 John Macilree’s Weblog# 90 90
197 Prior Knowledge  89 93
198 Making IT Happen 84 112
198 Carolyn’s blog 84 112
200 Millenium X 83 133
201 Augmented Ether 79 102
202 Sleeping with books 76 80
203 New Zealand Indian Fine Arts Society 68 85
204 Sportsfreak 66 178
205 round design 64 66
206 John Macilree’s Blog 61 66
207 The Catalyst 60 90
207 Room 24, 2012 60 60
207 James McKerrow – Surveyor 1834-1919# 60 60
210 Whitireia Journalism School 57 66
211 Discovery Time 55 114
211 Shelly van Soest Artist 55 87
213 KJT 53 62
214 Social Policy Bonds Blog 50 62
215 Neil Stockley 48 55
216 Oracle of Okarito 47 55
217 The First Fifteen @ TIS 44 103
218 Busy Peas 43 51
219 University of Otago, Law Library Blog 39 58
220 Cycling in Christchurch 38 100
220 Woodleigh Nursery 38 807
222 Football Tragic NZ 36 36
222 Frontlawn 36 45
224 Nathanael Baker 31 40
224 Ellie Great 31 34
226 The Official Ebenezer Teichelmann Blog# 30 30
227 Save our schools NZ 28 31
228 Two Minutes Sport 27 85
228 Tangled up in purple 27 41
230 The Secret Life of Russ  26 31
230 A conservative perspective 26 30
232 Kyle MacDonald 24 36
233 Green is good 23 27
233 Mad Young Thing 23 25
235 Moments of Whimsy 21 36
236 Anticipating future impacts 20 24
236 Kiwiaventuras 20 25
238 SageNZ 18 24
238 Wysiwygpurple’s Blog 18 18
240 Palmerston North.ifo 17 23
240 New Zealand female Firefighter calendar 17 17
240 Rambling Reflections 17 17
243 But Now 16 16
244 LoveColour Blog 13 15
244 ah! New Year’s Resolution 13 13
246 Relatively science 12 14
247 Think Beyond 10 10
247 Infectious thoughts 10 10
247 In this moment 10 12
250 Blair for Mayor 9 9
250 global village governance 9 13
252 ICTPD 8 8
252 Grumpollie 8 11
252 Robtuckerpix’s Blog  8 9
255 A developing Geneticist 7 8
255 SilverSpikes Photography  7 25
255 Unknown Future 7 9
255 ZL2UCX’s Blog 7 8
259 Works in progress 6 6
259 ObservatioNZ 6 6
259 West City Darts 6 136
262 TraLIS blog 5 5
262 DMP Lead Free 5 5
262 Bob McKerrow – Wayfarer 5 6
265 Kiwi Chronicles 4 4
265 Liminal Spaces 4 8
265 Moderation Blog 4 4
265 Roger Nome’s progressive Politics 4 4
269 Here I stand 3 4
269 Mars 2 Earth 3 3
269 Porirua EMO 3 5
272 Scott & Sarah Kennedy 2 2
272 Uncensored 2 2
272 Born on State Highway 1 2 2
272 Yea or Nay 2 2
276 Love your work 1 3
276 Today is my birthday 1 1
276 The Meaning of Trees 1 1
276 amiria [blog] 1 3
276 pasture Harmonies 1 1

Declan Waugh continues his distortion of Finnish fluoride research Ken Perrott Jul 31

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In my last post (Another fluoridation whopper from Declan Waugh) I described how Declan Waugh (a self-professed “scientist and fluoride researcher”) badly misrepresented data from a Finnish study which had concluded the prevalence of ailments attributed to fluoridation were “likely connected with psychological rather than physical effects of being exposed to fluoridated water.”

However, he has continued with his distortion and misrepresentation of the data in this study.  On Monday he claimed:

“The study into health effects of cessation in artificial fluoridation in Finland published in 1997 reported that within THREE WEEKS of stopping fluoridation and without the public being aware it had ended, respiratory ailments reduced by 31 per cent in adults.”

On Tuesday he presented another of his infamous bar graphs (see below) derived from manipulating data in the paper.

Declan2

Here are my comments about this latest distortion.

1: The groups for the time when the drinking water was fluoridated and the time when it wasn’t (but people believed it was) were separate samples so any differences could simply reflect that fact. The authors noted people in the original fluoridated group “reported being slightly healthier than those in the” unfluoridated but unaware group. “Thus the smaller number of symptoms in the” later group “probably was not caused by cessation of fluoridation.”

“Taken altogether, two-thirds of the recorded symptoms were slightly more rare in [the unfluoridated but unaware group] than in [the fluoridated group]. For one-third of the symptoms, the situation was the opposite. However, the difference was statistically highly significant for only one symptom, “other skin rash”, which appeared more often in [the fluoridated group]  than in [the unfluoridated but unaware group].”

One reason for the differences in the reported health of the two samples (fluoridated and unfluoridated but unknown) could be beliefs about fluoridation. The table below shows that fewer people in the fluoridated group believed fluoridation beneficial. The authors point out that “In both groups the mean number of symptoms was lower among those who considered fluoridation to be good than among those who thought it was bad or who had no opinion.”

2: Again, Waugh has taken a “percentage of a percentage” in his recalculations. In the process converting statistically insignificant differences into what seem like very large effects. In the table below I have shown how ridiculous this is for the ‘urticaria’ symptom. This had a prevalence of 1.3% in the fluoridated group, 0.5% in the unfluoridated but unknown group and 1.5% in the last known unfluoridated  group. These differences have no statistical significance but Waugh’s graph shows a huge 62% difference!

3: Waugh also grossly distorted the numbers claiming “more than 2 thirds of people actually felt better after fluoridation was stopped and they didn’t know it had.” But the Finnish authors described the incidence of symptoms in the unflouridated group as only “slightly more rare” with only one difference being statistically signficant. In fact, the better health of the unfluoridated but unknown group is really limited to the fact that 65.5% reported no ailments compared with 63.5% of the  fluoridated group (see table below) – a mere 2%, not two-thirds!

Fluoridated (%) Stopped-Unknown (%) Stopped – known (%)
Beliefs about fluoridation
Good 39 45
Bad 20 15
No opinion 41 40
Ailments
Nettle rash (urticaria) 1.3 0.5 1.5
Other skin rash (eczema) 10.6 4.3 4.9
Insomnia 8.1 11.5 5.6
None of the  symptoms 36.5 34.5 50.1

Although Declan Waugh’s graphical presentation grossly distorts the true data in the paper I have expanded it in the figure below to include all the ailments. Waugh had deleted the data for one-third of the ailments – presumably because their negative “percentage reduction” would have interfered with the misrepresentation he wished to convey.

Declan4

Actually, I cannot leave this with Waugh’s distortion of the data producing such high figures. Here is a more realistic presentation of the difference in percentage of reported ailments. Please note, Lamberg et al (1997) report that only significant difference is for “other skin rash” which the authors commented on – “this group of people should be studied further.” All other differences are in the -4 to +4% range.

Declan5

Finally, a comment on an old study constantly being used by anti-fluoridation propagandists to “prove” claims of fluoride sensitivity. Waugh comments on the Lamberg et al (2007) study saying:

“Regretfully, the authors of this study did not refer to one of the only double blind clinical studies on fluoride every undertaken, and published, which also demonstrated similar outcomes from exposure to fluoride.”

He refers to the paper:

Feltman, Rueben; Kosel, G. (1961). Prenatal and postnatal ingestion of fluorides – fourteen years of investigation – final report. Journal of Dental Medicine, 16(4), 190–198.

Feltman & Kosel (1961) did state they observed possible side effects of the fluoride treatment (use of fluoride tablets):

“One percent of our cases presented evidence of undesirable side effects from fluoride therapy. It is pointed out that if a patient is affected by the fluoride, by this method, the allergen or intoxicant  can be removed readily from the diet by discontinuace of the dietary supoplement.”

However, the paper did not present any data for side effects to support the statement. It is impossible to judge the validity of their conclusion. And Waugh is not able to produce a fancy but misleading bar graph from Feltman & Kosel (1961) as there isn’t any data to work with.

Conclusion

Again, Declan Waugh has been caught out distorting data to produce a completely unwarranted conclusion. In the process he has produced fancy-looking bar graphs which are misleading. This is not valid scientific evidence. It is dishonest distortion

However, this won’t stop Declan Waugh and other anti-fluoride propagandists presenting his claims and bar graphs to gullible city councillors. They will no doubt accompany these distortions with citation of Feltman & Kosel (1961) and Lamberg et al (2007) to make their submissions look sciency and “authoritative.”

It’s about time we exposed these frauds.


Note: I sent Declan Waugh a message bringing his attention to my earlier article (Another fluoridation whopper from Declan Waugh) but got no response. So I repeat my offer to Waugh that he debate his claim here. I am happy to give space for him to argue his case so that a proper scientific exchange can occur.

See alsoFluoride sensitivity – all in the mind?

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Another fluoridation whopper from Declan Waugh Ken Perrott Jul 29

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Declan Waugh is a self-proclaimed “scientist and fluoride researcher” who seems to spend all his time misrepresenting and distorting  scientific literature and health data to promote his anti-fluoride cause. Waugh has an avid following, among fellow anti-fluoride activists and propagandists. The sad thing is that he “reports” do manage to fool some gullible people. The Hamilton City Council staff listed one of his reports at the top of the “list of scientific information” they relied on when they stopped fluoridation last year (see When politicians and bureaucrats decide the science). And the “Physicians and Scientists for Global responsibility, NZ” also relied heavily on this report in their anti-fluoridation submission to councils.

But Declan Waugh’s latest “scientific” gem is a real whopper. He has extracted data from a 1997 Finnish paper to produce “evidence” fluoridation causes all a sorts of ailments. In the process he surely can’t have missed the fact the authors found the same level of expressed symptoms from people who were drinking unfluoridated water but believed it was fluoridated. That is, the symptoms seem to have a psychological cause, the belief threat drinking water was fluoridated, and not a physical cause – fluoride in the water.

The paper is Lamberg, M., Hausen, H., & Vartiainen, T. (1997). Symptoms experienced during periods of actual and supposed water fluoridation. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 25(4), 291–5. Or see the full text.

Here is the image Waugh is promoting, and which is being repeated by anti-fluoride propagandist. For example fluoride Girl tweeted this:

@FluorideGirl: In Finland they Removed #fluoride in the tap water…Look at the reductions in diseases in just 3 months or 12 weeks! http://t.co/Lofb16ucnC

And this links to Waugh’s Facebook image:

Seriously? Waugh’s bar graph will be interpreted by many as evidence 72% or more of people drinking fluoridated water report “nausea and vomiting” which disappear when fluoridation is stopped!

Intentionally dishonest!

Trouble is, that image is extremely dishonest and intentionally so. Waugh could not have extracted that data from the paper without seeing and understanding the data alongside it for people who were not drinking fluoridated water but believed they were. He has made 3 outrageous distortions to produce his data:

  1. He has ignored that actual data (in the same table) for % reduction of reported symptoms for both the group that had originally drunk fluoridated water, and the group who had originally drunk unfluoridated water in the mistaken belief it was fluoridated.
  2. He took his data from the information for all respondents, combining both groups in the final survey but ignored the column for people drinking unfluoridated water but believing it was fluoridated.
  3. He then took a “percentage of a percentage” so that, for example, although the percentage of respondents reported “Nausea and vomiting” when drinking fluoridated water was 3.8% (and 2.3% for the group who wrongly assumed they were drinking fluoridated water)  had dropped to 1.1% when knowingly drinking  unfluoridated water (a decline of 2.7% which was not statistically significant) his calculation produced a decline of 72%!

What a whopper!

An honest depiction of the data would have included both sets as below:

Waughs-cockup

Very different to his figure.

Lamberg et al (1997) concluded:

“Since the occurrence and mean number of symptoms were fairly similar during actual and supposed fluoridation, the results do not support the theory that the symptoms considered in this study are caused by the physical effect of fluoridated water. On the other hand, the significant reduction in the number of symptoms only after the respondents had become aware of the discontinuation of fluoridation reveals that fluoridation may have psychological effects which present as perceived symptoms.”

The authors did toss a small glimmer of hope the hypochondriacs who claim fluoride sensitivity is real. The differences in reported decline in incidence of ailments between the fluoridated and supposed fluoridated groups are statistically insignificant for almost all the tested ailments. The exception was for “skin rashes” and the authors say:

“However, the significant decrease in the number of other skin rashes leaves room for speculation, seeming to favor the view that a small segment of the population may have some kind of intolerance to fluoride. This group of people should be studied further.”

The again, it is not uncommon to get a false positive when considering a large number of ailments in the same study.

“Tasting fluoride” in water

Nearly 10% of the respondent in the Finnish study claimed they could taste the fluoride in fluoridated water – which is known to be impossible for humans.

“However, the respondents made this claim equally often during actual and supposed fluoridation. As expected, the percentage reporting this “fluoride taste” dropped to nearly zero during known discontinuation of fluoridation in March. The psychological aspect is further confirmed by the fact that the illusory tasters seemed to be predisposed to perceived symptoms, as were also those who regarded fluoridation as a bad practice in general.”

No wonder the authors concluded:

“it seems likely that the prevalence of the symptoms
considered in the current study is connected with the psychological rather than with the physical effects of being exposed to fluoridated water.”

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I am still waiting for my cheque Ken Perrott Jul 27

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LiarI have often said I wonder how some of the anti-science propagandists sleep straight in their beds at night. Lately this refers to various members of the local anti-fluoridation movement and their claims.

Pity I am not the litigious sort – there could be a bit of money in a recent claim because it slanders me, and a fellow SciBlogger, personally

Lynn Jordan, the Wellington representative of Fluoride Free NZ recently declared (under her on-line pseudonym “Penelope Paisley”) on Fluoride Free Hamilton NZ:

Penelope Paisley Peter- you asked what Debz and Ken get out of it. Ken and Alison are getting paid to blog about fluoridation. “

As I said, I am still waiting for my cheque.

Apparently Lynn’s “evidence” for this is the fact that this blog, and Alison’s Bioblog, are both syndicated on the NZ SciBlog platform as Open Parachute and  BioBlog.

I certainly appreciate my association with NZ SciBlogs, and I am sure Alison does to. But neither of us expect payment – nor is SciBlogs in a position to pay its syndicated bloggers or its full bloggers (of which there are now quite a few  –  check them out).

Lyn may not like the fact that Alison and I have blogged about the scientific aspects of fluoridation, and in the process revealed the misinformation and distortion promoted by Lynn and her fellow activists, but that does not provide a basis for her claim. She is simply telling porkies in an attempt to shoot the messengers and avoid the message.

Why is “Penelope” telling porkies?

At this stage I have no interest in making an income, either through blogging or anything else. It feels good as a retiree not to feel obliged to support, or suffer the control of, an employer. Of course, it may well be different for Lynn. In my post The irony of some peer-review and citation complaints I wrote this about her:

“Penelope” is the on-line name used by Lynn Jordan – the  Fluoride Free NZ Committee member for Wellington. She also practices as a  cranio-sacral therapist in Wellington. Cranial-sacral therapy is an alternative or “natural” therapy which Edzard Ernst  described as more or less bogus (see Up the garden path: craniosacral therapy).

Obviously she has ideological and financial committment to the “natural” health business. She relies on it for her income. If you were spiteful you might even think  she is paid to advance propaganda and to attack those who support an evidence based approach to health. But I wouldn’t possibly make that claim.

By the way, in the best tradition of astroturfing, Lynn  often sends submissions to councils opposing fluoridation under the name of an organisation NZ Health Professionals Opposing Fluoridation. What the hell is a “cranial-sacral therapist doing representing health professionals? I leave that to your imagination but it hardly adds credibility, does it?

Mind you, many councillors seem to be gullible. They certainly were in Hamilton last year.

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An answer to the anti-fluoride critics – in one image Ken Perrott Jul 24

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Undeserved-Reputations-Fluoride-724x1024

Click image to enlarge. 

The chemical website Compound Interest, is producing a series of infograms to communicate some chemistry.  Here is an excellent one they produced on fluoride. I think it would make a great poster.

It is accompanied by some straightforward text describing the science behind fluoridation and countering a lot of the misinformation anti-fluoride propagandists promote.

Worth reading. See Fluoride & Water Fluoridation – An Undeserved Reputation?

The chemically minded may also be interested is some of their other infograms –  here are just a few examples:

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Elected officials must ignore activists and listen to own voters Ken Perrott Jul 18

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Seel

Karen Williams Seel, a member of the county board of commissioners in Pinellas County, Fla.

A recent US blog article made some very pertinent points about the role of elected officials, such a local body councillors, on important social health issues like fluoridation.  These officials have a responsibilty to avoid pressure from misinfomred activists and must instead  listen to their constituents.

Karen Williams Seel, who wrote the article Fluoridation: Elected officials have a critical duty is a member of the county board of commissioners in Pinellas County, Fla., USA. Three years ago, the board voted 4-3 to stop fluoridating its water supply but reversed that decision in 2012 after voters defeated two incumbent commissioners who had voted against fluoridation. In both instances, Seel voted in favor of fluoridation.

She wrote:

“As Americans increasingly seek health information online, elected officials and other policymakers need to recognize that anti-fluoride activists have created a web-based panoply of false fears. For many fluoride critics, these online messages are the source of their concerns. This spring, for instance, a New York resident wrote a letter to his local newspaper, saying he “was surfing the Web and came across information on water fluoridation and the dangers that lie within this practice.”

And

“Public officials have a responsibility to listen to their constituents. We also have a duty to not allow false fear to drive public health decisions. We should direct our constituents to reputable websites like these sites. We shouldn’t let “guess what I read on the internet” be the reason that we abandon a proven, safe practice like water fluoridation.”

Rotorua District Councillors should take Seel’s points on board as they confront their own decisions about Rotorua’s fluoridation and how to consult citizens on it (see Council votes for referendum on fluoridation).

They should also beware of the”Tribunal” trap the Hamilton City Council fell into which effectively led to them being captured by politically and ideologically motivated anti-fluoridation activists, ignoring the information from scientific and health professionals, and ignoring the views of voters. A mistake which eventually led to pressure for another referendum and a reversal of the council’s faulty decision.

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The irony of some peer-review and citation complaints Ken Perrott Jul 15

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peer_review

Anti-fluoridation propagandists and other promoters of pseudoscience have a sort of “love-hate” attitude towards science and the scientific literature.

On the one hand they love to cite scientific papers they claim support their message. Very often the citation is completely unwarranted, misrepresents the paper or even distorts the findings reported. Declan Waugh stands out as a repeat offender of such misrepresentation and distortion of the literature on the fluoride issue.

But, on the other hand they sort of recognise that they cannot rely on support from the scientific literature so will often denigrate the scientific process. Sort of having a bob each way.

A sordid affair

“Penelope Paisley” at Fluoride Free Hamilton NZ  is indulging in the latter by posting a link to a news report about exposure of a “peer review  and citation ring” at the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC). This was reported at Retraction Watch in its article SAGE Publications busts “peer review and citation ring,” 60 papers retracted.

Besides retraction of the 60 papers this exposure led to the editor in chief of the journal resigning and a  professor in Taiwan who was responsible for the ring resigning from his employment.

A sordid affair which unfortunately does happen from time to time in the scientific community. We are, after all, human.

But it is ironic for local anti-fluoride propagandists to “point the finger” at this case. Periodically they promote “their own” peer-reviewed paper from a journal with a somewhat similar scandal. I wrote about this in Peer review, shonky journals and misrepresenting fluoride science.

The hypocrisy of the complaint

The paper is Peckham & Awofeso (2014), Water Fluoridation: A Critical Review of the Physiological Effects of Ingested Fluoride as a Public Health Intervention, The Scientific World Journal Volume 2014 (2014). It has been heavily promoted in the anti-fluoride social media –  “natural” health web sites, blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter.

However, The Scientific World Journal was described as a” bottom feeding” journal because of its approach to peer review and citation.  It relies on author fees, and not subscriptions, and is therefore open to the charge that it provides an easy way for unscrupulous authors to buy space for their articles. It was banned from lists of impact ratings because it allowed the unethical practice of self-citation.

So there is one irony in anti-fluoride propagandists’ exposure of  a shoddy incident in science publishing – they happy to use it to attack the scientific publishing process in general while on the other hand giving support to a similar shoddy case because it supports their word-view.

But there is another irony. “Penelope” is the on-line name used by Lynn Jordan – the  Fluoride Free NZ Committee member for Wellington. She also practices as a  cranio-sacral therapist in Wellington. Cranial-sacral therapy is an alternative or “natural” therapy which Edzard Ernst  described as more or less bogus (see Up the garden path: craniosacral therapy). I imagine that “Penelope” consults very few peer-reviewed scientific journals as part of her job. More likely she relies on “natural” health and pseudoscientific publications and on-line sites.

The irony here is that the “natural” health and pseudoscience publication industry will never have a scandal involving peer review and citation. Peer review and responsible citation is completely outside the ethos that guides them.

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Ken Ring pontificates on climate change Ken Perrott Jul 13

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Another of Ken Ring’s “self help” books – Pawmistry: How to Read Your Cat’s Paws

Ken Ring runs a business predicting the weather. Apparently in that sort of business, and with the clients he has, conflict with evidence-based science and scientists is good for business. So,  it isn’t not surprising to find him trolling the internet debating issues from weather and climate change to earthquakes.

But his contribution to a recent debate on the NZ Skeptics Facebook page is a shocker. Here is his simple experiment proving that carbon dioxide does not influence climate and anthropogenic climate change is a fraud:

  • Ken Ring “Christopher, no, CO2 does not affect temperature at all. A bottle of Coke won’t warm a room, but a warmer room will increase the pressure of CO2 in the bottle. 

And just to dig the hole even deeper he adds:

  • Ken Ring “Ok William, just shake the bottle of Coke in a cold room and then open it. See if it warms the room. Then shake one in a warm room and open it. Note the difference. James, there is hardly any CO2 in the atmosphere. Roughly 99% of all the CO2 in the world is in the ocean or in the ground. Tiny fact you may have overlooked.”
Not the sort of thing that should inspire confidence of his scientific skills amongst prospective customers. But then again, with some people this sort of thing goes down well.

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Anti-science US Congressman on House science Committee! Ken Perrott Jul 10

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This guy is spouting a  bunch of simple-minded anti-scientific rubbish. Not surprising in itself – he is actually opening a climate change denial conference in th US – one of the semi-annual get-togethers of climate change denialists organised by the Heartland Institute.

No – the surprise is that this guy, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), is a member of the House Science Committee, which oversees US federal policy on science and innovation.  The House Science Committee!

Bloody hell! How does that happen. Here is someone whose standard of scientific understanding is no higher than some of the anti-science blog commenters we get here – and they are on the US House Science Committee.

Thanks to: US Congressman Opens Climate Change Denial Conference with Rant Against Water Fluoridation.

“Creative” reporting of fluoridation science Ken Perrott Jul 07

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duane

I am all for genuine creativity in science, and elsewhere. But some people seem to think anything goes when the are promoting their ideology or political views.

Again and again I come across campaigners , especially in areas like “natural” health, climate change denial and promotion of creationism, who seem to think “creative embellishment – or outright distortion – is OK when claim that science is “on their side.”

Here’s a typical example from Fluoride Free NZ (FFNZ) who are attempting to deny the science indicating that fluorosilicates used for fluoridation of water supplies decompose to form the fluoride anion. They are desperate to assert that fluorosilicate species remain and these “might” be toxic.

FFNZ cites the National Toxicology Program (NTP), part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. But puts words into their mouths to create exactly the opposite conclusion to tat which should be taken from that web site.

According to FFNZ:

the NTP “says the assumption that fluoridation chemicals disassociate into free fluoride ions is not supported by experimental evidence. This is good to remember when the fluoridationists claim that fluoride, is fluoride is fluoride. They are operating on belief rather than scientific fact.”

But the NTP says nothing of the sort. The page simply lists a 1999 nomination, from a “private individual”, for research to consider possible toxicity. Yes, the “private individual” gives as grounds “lack of toxicity information; assumed complete dissociation to free fluoride under normal conditions of use not supported by experimental evidence.” But that is the view of the nominator – not of NTP.

In fact, the NTP has a statement making clear that selection of an agent for study does not imply support for the nominators views:

” Selection of an agent for a study does not imply that the agent is hazardous or a potential carcinogen in laboratory animals; likewise, an agent not selected for toxicologic study by the Program should not be taken to mean that the agent is not potentially hazardous or potentially carcinogenic in laboratory rodents.”

Interestingly the cited web page includes “The following information related to “fluorosilicates  “including history from earlier or later nominations for this same agent.” Specifically  Nomination Background a pdf document “Review of Toxicological Literature.” It is a comprehensive review, but on page 4 it says:

“In water, fluorosilicic acid readily hydrolyzes to hydrofluoric acid and various forms of amorphous and hydrated silica. At the concentration usually used for water fluoridation, 99% hydrolysis occurs and the pH drops to 4.2. As pH increases, hydrolysis increases. At the pH of drinking water, the degree of hydrolysis is “essentially 100%” (Crosby, 1969; Urbansky and Schock, 2000).

H2SiF6(aq) + 4 H2O    →    6 HF(aq) + Si(OH)4(aq)”

Exactly the opposite of what FFNZ assert!

Now who is ” operating on belief rather than scientific fact.”

A clear example of extreme confirmation bias amounting to complete distortion.

For more information on the science of the decomposition of fluorosilicates in water have a read of Declan Waugh’s misinformation on fluorosilicic acid and An open letter to Declan Waugh – new mechanism for fluoride toxicity?

Credit: Thanks to Duane for the image.

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