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.

Preempting the annual misrepresentation of NZ dental health data by anti-fluoride activists - Open Parachute

Jan 23, 2019

The latest NZ school dental service data again confirms that community water fluoridation is effective. The data show benefits of up to about 30% improvement in oral health. But, anti-fluoride activists will, once again, reject this evidence and instead cherry-pick the data to support their claims. The NZ Ministry of Health (MoH) has posted the latest summary of child dental health collected by the dental health service. So it is time for local anti-fluoride activists to indulge in their annual activity of cherry-picking and misrepresentation to claim the data “proves” community water fluoridation (CWF) is ineffective (see my comment on last year’s misrepresentation – Anti-fluoridationists misrepresent New Zealand dental data – an annual event). I haven’t seen this year’s expected press release from Fluoride Free NZ. I may have missed it or perhaps they haven’t got their A into G yet … Read More

Fluoridation: Another study shows stopping fluoridation bad for child tooth decay - Open Parachute

Dec 20, 2018

  Stopping community water fluoridation in Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, caused an increase in child tooth decay In the last week, Windsor in Ontario, Canada, voted to reinstate community water fluoridation (CWF) 5 years after it was stopped because of opposition. This time the City Council was swayed by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s Oral Health 2018 Report which found the percentage of children with tooth decay or requiring urgent care increased by 51 per cent since fluoridation had stopped. Now a new study reports similar increases in child tooth decay after stopping CWF in the Alaskan capital, Juneau. This paper reports the study results for Juneau: Meyer, J., Maragaritis, V., & Mendelshon, A. (2018). Consequences of community water fluoridation cessation for Medicaid-eligible children and adolescents in Juneau, Alaska. BMC Oral Health, 18:215 Juneau – an ideal community for the study Juneau … Read More

Protection of teeth by fluoride confirmed – yet again - Open Parachute

Nov 26, 2018

The protective role of fluoride in teeth has been confirmed, yet again. A new study nicely demonstrates how incorporation of even a small amount of fluoride into the surface layer of teeth protects them from the acid attack which leads to tooth decay. Researchers measured the ablation, or loss of surface material from hydroxyapatite before fluoridation and after fluoridation. It showed a clear difference due to inhibition of ablation by fluoride. The research findings are published in: Faidt, T., Friedrichs, A., Grandthyll, S., Spengler, C., Jacobs, K., & Müller, F. (2018). Effect of fluoride treatment on the acid-resistance of hydroxyapatite. Langmuir Measuring ablation Samples were etched with a sodium acetate buffer at pH 4.5 which simulated the effect of an acid attack on teeth resulting from the formation of acid when sugars are microbiologically decomposed in the mouth. The degree of … Read More

Nuclear dangers if INF treaty abandoned could be worse than in the 1980s - Open Parachute

Oct 25, 2018

The 1980s were an eventful time in New Zealand. Older readers may remember the Springbok tour, the behaviour of Mr Muldoon, the National Party Prime minister in the early 80s, the snap election (over a proposed nuclear-free bill), the election of Labour in 1984, the French terrorist bombing of a ship in Auckland harbour, the local terrorist bombing of the Wellington trade union centre and murder of its caretaker Ernie Abbott, and New Zealand’s proud international stance opposing nuclear weapons. An exciting time, but a very worrying time. Even in New Zealand, we were concerned about the nuclear arms race, and particularly the buildup of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe. These were extremely dangerous as they significantly shortened any warning time of a nuclear attack to mere minutes and produced a trigger-happy situation. “Use them or lose them” became a real military … Read More

A more convincing take on prenatal maternal dietary effects on child IQ - Open Parachute

Sep 17, 2018

Prenatal maternal nutrition is more likely to influence child cognitive abilities than fluoride. A new paper shows this by considering the effects of good or bad prenatal nutrition for the women in the Basash et al., (2016)  study that anti-fluoride campaigners promote. The new data shows that nutrition is more important than fluoride. The Bashash et al. (2016) reported a weak relationship between prenatal maternal urinary fluoride and child cognitive outcomes or IQ (see Fluoridation: “debating” the science?). Anti-fluoride campaigners latched on to the paper because it seems to offer critical “evidence” for their claims that community water fluoridation lowers IQ. They argue that IQ, rather than the risk of dental fluorosis, should be the main consideration when considering community water fluoridation. But a new study shows that prenatal maternal nutrition is a better predictor of neurodevelopmental outcomes for children than is … Read More

Fluoridation: “debating” the science? - Open Parachute

Sep 11, 2018

New Zealand last week saw another “debate challenge” from anti-fluoride activists. But are their regular challenges serious? And do gladiatorial “debates” before partisan audiences have any value in science anyway? These people often back away when their bluff is called. Their challenges have more to do with political tactics than any elaboration or clarification of the science. They appeal to the macho and combative attitudes of the intended audience. One thing for sure, such “debates” do not advance scientific knowledge one iota – nor are they meant to. The anti-fluoride hero is always victorious in the eyes of the partisan and faithful audience. Image credit: The Real Lives of the Gladiators of Rome – The Unfathomable Sport of Life and Death Three Wise Men – the anti-fluoride activists Paul Connett, Declan Waugh and Vivyian Howard – visited New Zealand last … Read More

August ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking - Open Parachute

Sep 01, 2018

I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your blog is unexpectedly missing or the numbers seem very low please check this out. After correcting send me the URL for your site meter and I can correct the information in the database. Similarly, if your blog data in this list seems out of whack, please check your site meter. Usually, the problem is that for some reason your site meter is no longer working. Sitemeter is no longer working so the total number of NZ blogs in this list has been drastically reduced. I recommend anyone with Sitemeter consider transferring to one of the other meters. See  NZ Blog Rankings FAQ. This list is compiled automatically from … Read More

Who is weaponising the vaccination debate? - Open Parachute

Aug 29, 2018

The media are promoting a new scientific paper on the vaccination debate. Their interest is undoubtedly driven by the study’s conclusion that “Russian trolls” (and by implication the Russian state) are amplifying this debate to promote discord in the US. The title describes this as “Weaponization of Health Communication.” I am very cynical. After all, the media loves to dramatise these matters – and scientists are not immune to the temptation of taking advantage of this and the current political environment. The data the authors present is weak and has a far more reasonable explanation than the one they assume. Yes, I may well be called a “Russian troll” or one of “Putin’s Useful Idiots” (and it wouldn’t be the first time) for expressing these doubts. But I have read the paper and this was helpful as it provides sources enabling … Read More

Political interference prevents investigators from considering the “bleeding obvious” - Open Parachute

Aug 08, 2018

Official investigations contaminated by political pressure are hardly likely to be transparent or give rational answers to problems. Once politics is in the driving seat, the political aims become the driving force behind any conclusions. The “novichok” poisonings Many people see this as the basic problem with the investigation of the nerve agent poisonings in Salisbury and Amesbury, UK. Political forces took this over in the very early days and used the incidents to precipitate a very serious international crisis. Claims were made without evidence – and now it is hard to see how the investigation can ever recover from such a high-level interference. Right at the beginning, many people drew attention to the fact that these accidents occurred only kilometres away from a government defence laboratory which holds stocks of nerve agents. I did myself – see Where … Read More

July ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking - Open Parachute

Aug 01, 2018

I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your blog is unexpectedly missing or the numbers seem very low please check this out. After correcting send me the URL for your site meter and I can correct the information in the database. Similarly, if your blog data in this list seems out of whack, please check your site meter. Usually, the problem is that for some reason your site meter is no longer working. Sitemeter is no longer working so the total number of NZ blogs in this list has been drastically reduced. I recommend anyone with Sitemeter consider transferring to one of the other meters. See  NZ Blog Rankings FAQ. This list is compiled automatically … Read More