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.

March ’18 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking - Open Parachute

Apr 02, 2018

Image credit: PABLO HELGUERA – Classical Cartoon At Noon: If Wagner Had A Blog 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 … Read More

A conference paper on the maternal neonatal urinary fluoride/child IQ study has problems - Unsorted

Mar 30, 2018

Image credit: Do new mothers doing a Ph.D. get enough support? The anti-fluoride movement has certainly mobilised over the neonatal maternal urinary fluoride study which reported an association with child IQ. They see it as the best thing since sliced bread and believe it should lead to the end of fluoridation worldwide. They also seem to be putting all their eggs in this one basket and have started a campaign aimed at stopping pregnant women from drinking fluoridated water (See Warning to Pregnant Women: Do Not Drink Fluoridated Water). So I was not surprised to see a newsletter this morning from the Fluoride Action Network reporting another output from this study – a conference paper (most likely a poster) presented at the  3rd Early Career Researchers Conference on Environmental Epidemiology. The meeting was in Freising, Germany, on 19-20 March 2018. I … Read More

The 52 IQ studies used by anti-fluoride campaigners - Open Parachute

Mar 28, 2018

Slide number 30 from Paul Connett presentation prepared for a talk at NZ Parliament buildings in February 2018. Continuing my critique of the presentation prepared by Paul Connett for his much-publicised meeting at Parliament Building in February. The meeting attracted only three MPs but his presentation is useful as it presents all the arguments anti-fluoride campaigners rely on at the moment. My previous articles on this presentation are Anti-fluoride activist commits “Death by PowerPoint” and Paul Connett’s misrepresentation of maternal F exposure study debunked. In this article, I deal with the argument presented in the slide above. it is an argument repeated again and again by activists. Connett has posted a more detailed list of these studies and his description of them in Fluoride & IQ: The 52 Studiesat the Fluoride Action Network website. Studies in areas of endemic … Read More

Why is it so difficult to get an open discussion on fluoridation? - Open Parachute

Mar 22, 2018

Yes, I know – everyone’s mind is already made up so participants just talk past each other. People’s positions on this and similar issues have become a matter of identity – people are driven by emotions, not information. But, the information is there – and while I agree many people are driven by emotions they often attempt to use that information to support their positions. In a sense, the information acts as a proxy for their real driving force – their emotions. Nevertheless, I have always considered a good-faith scientific exchange on issues like this is possible. I believe the exchange I had with Paul Connett, a US anti-fluoride campaigner, four years ago was a good example of what is possible (see Fluoride Debate or download Connett & Perrott (2014) – the pdf document of the exchange). So, I always look for the … Read More

Mary Byrne’s criticism is misplaced and avoids the real issues - Open Parachute

Mar 14, 2018

First, thanks to Mary Byrne and FFNZ for this response (see Anti-fluoride group coordinator responds to my article). Hopefully, this will help encourage some good faith scientific discussion of the issues involved in my original article (Paul Connett’s misrepresentation of maternal F exposure study debunked). I am pleased to promote such scientific exchange. I will deal with the issues Mary raised point by point. But first, let’s correct some misunderstandings. Mary claimed I am a “fluoride promoter” and had “sought to discredit the study via his blog posts and tweets.” I do not “promote fluoride.” My purpose on this issue has always been to expose the misinformation and distortion of the science surrounding community water fluoridation (CWF). I leave promotion of health policies to the health experts and authorities. I have not “sought to discredit the study.” The article Mary responded to … Read More

Anti-fluoride group coordinator responds to my article - Open Parachute

Mar 13, 2018

My recent article Paul Connett’s misrepresentation of maternal F exposure study debunked got some online feedback and criticism from anti-fluoride activists. Mary Byrne, National coordinator Fluoride Free New Zealand, wrote a response and requested it is published on SciBlogs “in the interests of putting the record straight and providing balance.” I welcome her response and have posted it here. Hopefully, this will satisfy her right of reply and help to develop some respectful, good faith, scientific exchange on the issue. I will respond to Mary’s article within a few days. Perrott wrong. New US Government study does find large, statistically significant, lowering of IQ in children prenatally exposed to fluoride By Mary Byrne, National coordinator Fluoride Free New Zealand. While the New Zealand Ministry of Health remains silent on a landmark, multi-million-dollar, US Government funded study (Bashash et al), and the Minister … Read More

Paul Connett’s misrepresentation of maternal F exposure study debunked - Open Parachute

Mar 06, 2018

Anti-fluoride campaigners are misrepresenting a recent Mexican study claiming its findings should cause governments around the world to abandon community water fluoridation (CWF). Their claims are unwarranted because the study has a high degree of uncertainty. Activists are misrepresenting the accuracy of the studies findings. Because Mexico has areas of endemic fluorosis the study itself is not relevant to CWF. Title slide for Paul Connett’s presentation to parliament Misrepresentation of the Mexican study was a central argument used by US anti-fluoride activist Paul Connett in his recent New Zealand speaking tour. This is shown in the Powerpoint presentation he prepared for his meeting at parliament buildings last month (see Anti-fluoride activist commits “Death by PowerPoint”). It may have not been used in the end as only 3 MPs turned up. But, given his status in the anti-fluoride movement, this … Read More

Opinion: Anti-fluoride activist commits “Death by PowerPoint” - Open Parachute

Feb 28, 2018

We have all sat through boring, and counterproductive, PowerPoint presentations. Boring because the presenter breaks all the rule relevant to the preparation of visual displays. And counterproductive because, in the end, the audience does not remember any of the information the presenter attempts to convey. David JP Phillips gives some relevant advice on PowerPoint preparation in the video above and similar advice is available online.  All this advice is very helpful for anyone preparing a presentation – although constant reminders of the points and frequent practice or experience are needed to take it on board. The PowerPoint programme seems to tempt even the best presenter to make fundamental mistakes which can reduce the effectiveness of their visual material. Learning from bad examples Examples of bad PowerPoint presentations are ubiquitous – but I urge readers to critically consider this recent … Read More

Paul Connett “updates” NZ MPs about fluoride - Open Parachute

Feb 22, 2018

 Data from Bashash et al., (2017). Despite a statistically significant relationship of child IQ with mothers prenatal urinary fluoride, this explains only about 3% of the huge scatter in the data. I haven’t followed the latest speaking tour of Paul Connett – organised by the local Fluoride Free NZ organisation. But I watched a TV interview with him this morning and came away thinking he is skating on very thin ice – scientifically. He has put all his eggs in one basket – promoting a Mexican study as the be-all and end-all of scientific research which should lead to the immediate ceasing of community water fluoridation. Paul is a leader of the anti-fluoride activist group the Fluoride Action Network and appears to love visiting New Zealand during our summer (and his winter). Local campaigners seem to idolise him – and … Read More

Anti-fluoride activists misrepresent another thyroid study - Open Parachute

Feb 15, 2018

Anti-fluoride activists closely follow the publication of results from fluoride studies and react to new scientific papers in one of the following ways: Use it to claim community water fluoridation (CWF) is harmful – even if this requires misrepresentation or distortion of the studies findings (a recent example is the prenatal fluoride/child IQ study of Bashash et al., (2017)  heavily promoted and misrepresented by Paul Connett in his current New Zealand talks). Viciously attack the study if it finds CWF beneficial and reports no harmful effects (remember their reaction to the NZ IQ-Fluoridation study of Broadbent et al., 2014). Do their best to ignore the study if it can’t be misrepresented and the media is not reporting it. Well, now we have a very new study from Iran reporting relationships between drinking water fluoride and thyroid problems and already we can … Read More