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.

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

Blatant misreporting of latest OPCW report on chemical weapons in Syria - Open Parachute

Jul 10, 2018

BBC caught out promoting fake news about OPCW report The Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reports no evidence of banned chemical weapons use by the Syrian government in Douma last April. This conflicts with the strong claims of NATO states and most of the mainstream media at the time. It also shows that the illegal missile attacks by France, UK and USA (FUKUS) on Syria at the time (see The “heart of the Syrian chemical weapons programme” destroyed?) were completely unjustified. While the NATO governments involved have yet to respond to the OPCW report (let alone make apologies for their actions) many mainstream media outlets seem determined to continue promoting fake news when it comes to Syria. Some major news outlets have completely misrepresented the OPCW findings. OPCW has problems but got this one right I … Read More

June ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking - Open Parachute

Jul 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

Anti-fluoride campaigners exhaust their legal channels with another loss - Open Parachute

Jun 28, 2018

The NZ Supreme Court has delivered its judgments and local anti-fluoride campaigners (and their big business supporters) seem to have come to the end of the line with their legal actions to prevent community water fluoridation (see Supreme Court rules against Taranaki anti-fluoride campaigners and Supreme Court rules South Taranaki fluoridation allowed). Specifically, the Supreme Court delivered two judgments rejecting three appeals by NZ Health Inc. These appeals arose from High Court rejection of challenges by New Health NZ to prevent South Taranaki District Council from fluoridating drinking water in Patea and Waverly. While dealing with local situations these legal actions, ongoing since the end of 2012, inhibited other councils throughout New Zealand from making fluoridation decisions for fear of the cost involved in possible legal defences. In effect, the Supreme Court judgements free up other councils to go ahead with … Read More

May ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking - Open Parachute

Jun 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 please check this out. 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 composed automatically from the data in the various site meters used. Read More