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I came up with the image above after a quick glance at a “report” promoted by the local Fluoride Free groups and Paul Connett’s Fluoride Alert organisation. (Scientific and Critical Analysis of the 2014 New Zealand Fluoridation Report). It illustrates the incestuous network of authors and “peer reviewers” involved in producing the “report.” I have also illustrated connections of these people to a number of anti fluoride organisations and 2 publications.
The first column lists the authors in red, and their claimed peer reviewers in green. The third column lists the anti-fluoride organisations and several publications these people are connected to.
The middle column lists some other people who are also connected to these organisations and publications. I have already reviewed Kathleen Theissen’s article (see Peer review of an anti-fluoride “peer review”) and will get around to reviewing the other 2 articles (by H.S. Miclen and Stan Litras) later.
Meanwhile, lets just consider the connections between these authors, “peer reviewers” and anti-fluoride organisations.
Taking in each other’s laundry
Most of these names are familiar to anyone who has followed the anti-fluoride movement. That fact in itself shows how this report can in no way be seen as “expert,” “independent” or at all credible. Some details on the illustrated people, organisations and publications.
NRC Review minority: There were several disagreements on the 12 member panel which produce the 2006 NRC report “Fluoride in drinking water. A scientific review of EPA’s standards” because 3 members were anti-fluoride. They were Robert Issacson, Hardy Limeback and Kathleen Theissen. Hardy Limeback is involved in several anti-fluoride activist groups.
Kathleen Theissen appears not to be organisationally involved but regularly makes anti-fluoridation submissions when the issue is debated.
UPDATE: Steve Slott has reminded me of this example of Theissen’s lack of credibility as a peer reviewer of fluoridation-related papers:
“In July 2013, Douglas Main, that freelance reporter and bastion of “objectivity”, interviewed Thiessen to get her opinion on Hirzy’s study on which he based his petition to the EPA.
From the article:
“Experts not involved with Hirzy’s study agreed with its findings.”
“I think this is a reasonable study, and that they haven’t inflated anything,” said Kathleen Thiessen, a senior scientist at SENES Oak Ridge Inc., a health and environmental risk assessment company.”
When the EPA reviewers looked at Hirzy’s study they found that he had made a 70-fold miscalculation in his study. When corrected for that error, the EPA reviewers found that Hirzy’s data actually demonstrated the exact opposite of what he had concluded.
Seems Thiessen either didn’t bother to read Hirzy”s study prior to commenting on it, or she overlooked his glaring error, too.”
Fluoride/ISFR: The International Society for Fluoride Reasearch (ISFR) publishes the journal Fluoride and organises regular conferences. They provide an avenue for authors to publish anti-fluoride articles, and generally poor quality research from areas where endemic fluorosis is common which may not be acceptable in the normal scientific journal.
The Society is based in New Zealand and is registered here as a charity. Bruce Spittle is the treasurer and journal managing editor.
FTRC/Second look: The anti-fluoride organisation and web site Second Look as set up the Fluoride Toxicity Research Collaborative (FTRC). It appears to be a weak attempt to provide a front “scientific institute” for anti-fluoride activists who want to present themselves as scientific experts.
This reminds me of the creationist Biologic Institute set up by the intelligent design creationists at the Discovery Institute. Actually, the Intelligent Design “pretend” scientific journal Bio-complexity also reminds me of the anti-fluoride journal Fluoride.
The FTRC lists the following staff:
- Russell Blaylock, M.D., FTRC Medical Director
- Hardy Limeback, Ph.D., D.D.S, FTRC Principle Investigator
- Phyllis J. Mullenix, PhD., FTRC Research Program Director
- Aliss Terpstra, RNCP, FTRC Research Coordinator
So far they claim to have sponsored (financed?) 2 research papers only by Phyllis Mullinex. Have a read of them and make up your own mind about their quality.
Case Against Fluoride: This is Paul Connett’s book The Case against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There. It is usually treated as a holy scripture in the anti-fluoridation movement. His co-authors were H. S. Micklen and James Beck.
Connett is very proud of this book and relies on it to support his claim to be a “world expert” on fluoridation.
Fluorine in Medicine: This is the sole scientific paper that Paul Connett can claim authorship (actually co-authorship) to:
Strunecká, A. ., & Patočka, J.; Connett, P. (2004). Fluorine in medicine. Journal of Applied Biomedicine, 2, 141–150.
The senior author Anna Strunecká is also part of the anti-fluoride network illustrated above. I am personally very suspicious of the quality of the journal which published this paper – anti-fluoride people have a history of placing poor quality papers in suspect journals purely to attain some sort of scientific credibility.
FIND: The Fluoride Information Network for Dentists is one of the local Fluoride Free’s astroturf organisations claiming about 8 members but only Stan Litras is active. Stan uses his FIND hat for his anti-fluoride press releases – such as the one promoting the “report” considered here.
NZ Tour of Don Quixote & Sancho Panza: Sorry, can’t help thinking of these two when the upcoming NZ tour of Paul Connett and Bill Hirzy is mentioned. They do seem to be charging local fluoridation windmills with meetings in Taupo and Auckland.
William Hirzy: He is Paul Connett’s wingman on the Don Quixote & Sancho Panza Tour. Unlike Paul’s sole co-authorship he actually has 2 published scientific papers related to fluoridation where he appears as senior author. (See “Comparison of hydrofluorosilicic acid and pharmaceutical sodium fluoride as fluoridating agents—A cost–benefit analysis“ and “Corrigendum to “Comparison of hydrofluorosilicic acid and pharmaceutical sodium fluoride as fluoridating agents—A cost–benefit analysis” [Environ. Sci. Policy 29 (2013) 81–86]“)
The “credibility” of his “expertise” on the subject is shown by the fact his second paper was necessary to correct the huge arithmetic mistake he made in the first paper!
Perhaps you can see why the Connett/Hirzy act brings Done Quixote and Sancho Panza to my mind.
The “report” is discredited even before addressing the arguments presented – simply because of the well-known anti-fluoride stance of all the authors and “peer-reviewers.” The diagrammatic network shows just how incestuous the “report” is. It is simply an attempt to put a “sciency” face on their political stand and their attack on the Royal Society Review.
As a scientific presentation it is a farce.