William H. Lincoln, LL.B.
This document was issued in 1956 during the author’s six year-period of service as a City Councilman in Detroit, Michigan. His superb analysis generated nationwide interest and has influenced many other legislators. Although written long ago, it still captures the essence of what legislators face today and lights the way for responsible decision-making.
From 1960 to 1977, Mr. Lincoln was Judge of the Wayne County Probate Court, Juvenile Division, and chaired or served on dozens of committees that sponsored new programs or legislation. In 1971-2, he was President of the National Council of Juvenile Court judges. Now retired and living near Harbor Beach, Michigan, he is one of only two Michigan judges to have had a courthouse named after him.
This memorandum is in reply to those people who have contacted me concerning the matter of fluoridating Detroit’s water supply. One thing is due every citizen and that is the very clear assurance that a public official has carefully studied a problem, and has applied his very best thinking to the matter; this I have done. This is a statement of how I came to favor fluoridation of water.
Prior to becoming a member of the City Council, in November, 1954, 1 had little knowledge of the subject and no opinion whatsoever as to its merits. All the literature furnished me during the first part of 1955 opposed fluoridation, and I would have voted against it at that time.
For some six months, my study was directed solely to anti-fluoridation literature, which continued to arrive in the mail. I read it. With me reading and research is a habit that began on the farm with the aid of a kerosene lamp, and persisted through and beyond nine and a half years of college.
Conflicting expert testimony is an old story with me. In eleven years as an attorney, over five of which were spent in the Prosecutor’s Office or the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, I have had considerable experience in dealing with and challenging the statements of doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, engineers, appraisers, etc. In their respective fields you can find a few experts who can and do testify convincingly and persuasively to what is in fact nonsense, and without the slightest doubt some of these few are sincere as they proceed with perfect logic along to the grand fallacy. No special talent for examining expert testimony is claimed by myself, other than that which may have come through experience. Certainly this experience has made me a skeptic as far as “expert opinion” is concerned that goes for both sides of every issue.
The very first document ever given to me opposing fluoridation contained what was purported to be an excerpt from a statement issued by the U.S. Public Health Service. It would lead one to believe that the U.S. Public Health Service opposed fluoridation. As a matter of fact, this extremely conservative and cautious agency favors fluoridation. This particular piece of literature also quoted a law case in a manner that would lead one to believe that a particular State’s Supreme Court had ruled against fluoridation. A check of the case showed that the good doctor who published the pamphlet was indulging in a somewhat sharp practice, engaged in by some attorneys; i.e., that of quoting a dissenting judge without indicating the ruling of the entire court. This led me to check into the legal question more thoroughly. Those who oppose fluoridation don’t have a legal leg to stand on. Many states have upheld the practice of fluoridation; none that I find has barred it. People still continue to send me literature belaboring the legal aspect of the problem. If anyone can cite a single State Supreme Court case that has ruled against fluoridation, please send the citation to me.
The fact that something is legal doesn’t necessarily make it right. But it is worthwhile noting that those who claim fluoridation can harm some people haven’t been able to make their claim stick in court where they can be subjected to cross-examination. There isn’t the slightest doubt in my mind that if those who oppose fluoridation were able to make even a plausible case for their claim that fluoridation can harm some people, the state courts would have long ago outlawed the use of it in community water supplies. If the courts viewed it in the nature of an experiment, you can be sure it would have been stopped. This is not enough to convince me. Some things are true even though not plausible. It is within the realm of possibility that the fluoridation of water supplies might do some harm, and the courts still rule fluoridation of water supplies legal. However, the fact that State Supreme Courts have consistently ruled in favor of fluoridation makes 9/ 10ths of the claims made in the literature opposing fluoridation fantastic. Those who oppose fluoridation seem to be abandoning taking the matter to court. Why? Amid all these assertions, can’t some doctor come up with some evidence that will establish even a substantial possibility in the minds of the judges of one State Supreme Court that fluoridation harms people in some way? The answer to this is very clear — they can’t.
The fact that some of the assertions by those who opposed fluoridation proved to be without merit did not persuade me to support fluoridation. It is an error to assume that all is false because part is false. I still felt that where there was smoke there must be fire, and I began checking footnotes, and what was supposed to be original sources in numerous publications concerning statements made by those who oppose fluoridation. We are now referring specifically to medical matters. The result was even more revealing than my check of statements concerning legal aspects of the problem. For a time I attempted to obtain reports by myself. Later I developed the habit of asking Dr. Molner, Commissioner of the Department of Health, to dig them up for me. Here is an example of how I went about to check one matter:
There is a report by F. B. Exner, M.D., F.A.C.R., entitled FLUORIDATION OF PUBLIC WATER SUPPLIES, a report prepared for the City of New York. The address is 509 Olive Way, Seattle 1, Washington. Copies are available for $1 each or less if ordered in quantity. Each Councilman must have received at least one copy of this publication. Several copies have been mailed to me by individuals who oppose fluoridation, and a considerable number of others have cited Dr. Exner’s work as an authority. This particular publication is enough to scare a man out of ten years’ growth. Several Councilmen have mentioned it to me. They were particularly impressed by two pictures, on page 29, of individuals having teeth about as discolored and mottled as a 26-year old horse that we had back on the farm. Dr. Exner claimed that this condition was caused by drinking water with a fluorine content of even less than that advocated by the U.S. Public Health Service. The good doctor states that he had direct evidence. One of the pictures is supposed to be a citizen of Denver, Colorado. In his statements concerning this individual, Dr. Exner made reference to an article printed in a 1933 Colorado Medical journal. I obtained this article, and its author (Boissevain) does not have any specific example of mottled teeth in Denver, or any picture whatsoever of a Denver citizen. Where Dr. Exner obtained his picture I don’t know, but he didn’t get it from the article he cited. Dr. Exner’s wording is such that the casual reader is led to believe that it was the Boissevain article from which he got the picture, but a careful reading indicates that there is no flat assertion to this effect. Dr. Exner cleverly leads his readers to believe something, but upon thorough investigation he leaves them completely up-in-the-air. If he has any evidence for his assertions, he wouldn’t go through all these gymnastics in order to come up with nothing.
The footnote on the first page of Dr. Exner’s report is quite revealing. Here is what it says:
This study was made for the City of New York by request of Mr. Arthur Ford, Commissioner of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity. I want to express my indebtedness to Alderson Fry, LL.B., lean Ashford, M.A., and Willford MacFadden, B.A., of the University of Washington Health Sciences Library, for invaluable assistance in securing hard-to-get references. Without their help, this work would not have been possible. FRE.
Now I have checked a number of other of Dr. Exner’s assertions and references, and they just plain don’t stand-up. The sources and authority which the good doctor cites are unavailable to most people, and would be extremely difficult for me to obtain were I not a member of the Common Council.
Mr. Remus, General Manager of the Detroit Water Supply, used Mr. Ford of New York as his authority for opposing fluoridation. In Mr. Remus’ report to the Common Council he even enclosed a statement from Mr. Ford. Now it is interesting to note that Mr. Ford in turn uses Dr. Exner as his authority.
I have expended considerable time and effort checking the original sources cited by those who favor fluoridation as well as those who oppose it. If you did this you would understand why those who oppose fluoridation can’t make a court case stick. They just plain don’t have any case. That is probably the reason why there are so many fantastic assertions in anti-fluoridation literature. This is an old technique-make so many charges that some doubt or fear is bound to rub off, no matter how baseless the charges happen to be.
I am aware of the fact that there are people who oppose fluoridation who are intelligent, educated and wholly ethical in their approach. One of these people is a relative who has a Ph.D., in Chemistry, and who has a very commanding position in one of the largest research laboratories in the United States. We have had considerable correspondence on the subject, and one conversation during the past year. Originally, he listed half-a-dozen reasons why he opposed fluoridation. A list of questions was submitted to him in order that I could more fully understand his thinking. At that time I did not favor fluoridation, but was still feeling my way on the matter.
Since then he has reexamined his original assertions and has shifted his position to the point where he says he opposes it on “principle.” He has abandoned his original objections which fell in the field of chemistry and medicine. I am not surprised at this course of events for I have seen the same sort of thing happen when examining or cross-examining expert witnesses in many fields. just because a man is highly trained in a particular field it does not mean that he is qualified to speak on some particular problem which falls in that field. He may never have had occasion to apply himself to a particular problem. Once a person decides to be against something, one excuse seems to be about as good as another.
NOW THE CASE FOR FLUORIDATION IS SIMPLE. IT STOPS TOOTH DECAY, NOT COMPLETELY, BUT IF TAKEN FROM BIRTH THROUGH THE EARLY TEENS, IT WILL ELIMINATE ANYWHERE FROM 60% TO 70% OF TOOTH DECAY. I AM NOT GOING TO ARGUE ABOUT PERCENT. IF IT WERE ONLY 50%, FLUORIDATION WOULD STILL DO A WORLD OF GOOD.
MORE THAN 30 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES NOW DRINK FLUORIDATED WATER. Over 3 million of them are drinking naturally fluoridated water. As far as naturally occurring fluorides are concerned, this has been going on for generations. It is true that some people are drinking naturally fluoridated water where the fluoride content is far greater than that advocated by the U.S. Public Health Service or that which is put into the water in a mechanically controlled manner.
Drinking one part in a million or slightly more of fluoridated water has harmed no one; it has done a lot of good. The evidence to this is so overwhelming that I personally accepted it as a fact for almost six months while I still opposed fluoridation on principle.
A good many people oppose fluoridation on principle. I think I understand how they feel because of my own experience. What convinced me might well have no effect on anyone else. There is no use talking about principle until you are completely satisfied that fluoridation will do a lot of good and make a healthier generation of people. At that point you will most certainly feel compelled to examine very carefully the question of whether or not it is harmful to anyone. It is only after you have firmly convinced yourself that fluoridation harms no one; that it is a great and positive good, that you can approach the problem of principle. Personally, I felt compelled again and again to reexamine my position because it just didn’t seem good horse sense to oppose a matter on principle when it would be of such great benefit to so many millions of people.
No scientific discovery that brings a great and positive good has ever been withheld from the people indefinitely. Granted that there is very apt to be great opposition to discoveries that bring any sweeping change; there is no doubt in my mind, however, that the force of a discovery that will benefit all future generations will in the end prevail. Fluoridating water does no violence to anything that was handed down from Mt. Sinai.
True, the thought of enforced mass medication is obnoxious to me. In answer to this, those who favor fluoridation point out that fluoridation of water is not mass medication, but rather a mass preventive; that it doesn’t cure anything. Somehow I have never been impressed with this line of reasoning. As far as this issue is concerned, I don’t see any difference between calling fluoridation mass medication or a mass preventive. Does it really make any difference? It’s a distinction without a difference. Anyway it’s no answer to anyone who is opposed to mass medication to tell them that fluoridation is a mass preventive. If you can’t buy that answer neither can L
But consider this — when I visited Grand Rapids and looked over their fluoridation setup, I learned that they obtained their water supply from Lake Michigan, and that Lake Michigan already has a very slight trace of fluorides in it-not enough to serve the purpose of retarding tooth decay, but perhaps only 1/20th of what is needed.
There is a universal presence of fluorides in water, plant and animal life; infinitesimal as it may be, it is still there. It is self-evident that a certain amount of fluoride is entirely compatible with human health, and’ indeed to plant and animal life everywhere.
Fluorides like other trace substances have been around since time began, and even the strongest opponents of fluoridation do not deny that several trace substances are needed for proper human growth and general health. Scientists have located a trace substance (fluoride) already present in many water supplies in sufficient quantities to decrease tooth decay and at the same time do no harm to people.
Scientists advocate putting this trace substance (fluoride) in other water supplies where only a “fraction of a trace” is present.
Is this mass medication? Is this a mass preventive? Call it what you will, it is neither a sin nor a shame. It is common sense.
Take another look! James Monroe fought the adoption of the Constitution of the United States “on principle.” He took another look and became the 5th President of the United States. The reason I bring this up is that in some anti-fluoridation literature, I saw a quotation from James Monroe as authority for a very high-sounding principle. People don’t have much difficulty in agreeing on principles, but be very careful how you apply these principles to a particular case. Monroe applied some mighty fine principles in a mighty bad manner and wound up fighting the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. But, Monroe took a second look and maybe you should, too!
The Detroit Board of Education required my children to have a card from the doctor showing that they had been vaccinated as well as inoculated against various diseases before they would be admitted to the Edgar Guest School. I am for it! and I don’t mind it being called enforced mass medication or anything else.
But get this straight! Although the Board of Education asks and strongly urges students to produce a card signed by a physician indicating that they have had immunization shots for various diseases, they cannot force children to have them. Thousands of children never get this much-needed protection.
As I am writing this the Detroit newspapers are carrying stories of over 80 diphtheria cases in Detroit and five deaths so far. Many parents who should have had their children immunized against diphtheria before are now acting. Maybe it would be better if those who were concerned (the children) had a voice in this matter. It is my guess that there are some 80 children who could give a better argument against these arguments against enforced mass medication or enforced mass prevention. Of course 80 children is the wrong figure. it is too late for five of them to have any opinion on anything.
There is a difference between bad teeth and diphtheria or any communicable disease. Much is made of this by those who oppose fluoridation, and I have discussed this point in this memorandum, but right now we are discussing the principle of enforced mass medication.
Those who oppose fluoridation will have to do something more than say that fluoridation is objectionable because it is an enforced mass preventive. The graveyards are filled with people who died needlessly because of this type of thinking. It is impossible for me to embrace a line of thinking that is so clearly refuted by thousands of tombstones.
The Detroit Water Board is putting poison in Detroit’s water supply every day, and it’s good for you. They put chlorine in it-the stuff that they killed men with in the First World War. They put enough of it in the water supply to kill the bugs; if they didn’t, thousands of people would die of dysentery or other water-borne diseases. This is an enforced mass preventive or medication or whatever you want to call it, and you are for it and you know it.
It is strongly contended that enforced mass medication may be proper where there is a communicable disease, but it is a far different thing to have enforced mass medication where no communicable disease is involved. I belabored this point in my own mind for a considerable length of time. Of course tooth decay isn’t contagious, but so what? Do you claim that it is good? Of course it isn’t. Bad teeth have caused a lot of discomfort and pain. Bad teeth have also caused a lot of ill health. Everyone knows this is true if they only stop and think.
There is no question that anything that will generally improve the condition of teeth, will generally improve the health and energy of the people. Many of the great afflictions of mankind are not contagious, such as poor eyesight, automobile accidents, arthritis, rheumatism, fallen arches, cancer, heart disease, and a host of other things.
I sort of grew into the position that there is no valid reason for opposing fluoridation on principle. I can only say that the real cause of my difficulty was that the matter had become somewhat fixed in my mind before I had accepted the fact that fluoridation harmed no one and was a great and positive good. Everyone is subject to abusing their mental processes with ideas that become fixed before they have carefully examined the matter. There is nothing so respected as an old abuse.
When I was a child attending a 1-room country schoolhouse, smallpox broke out in the area. My father combined farming with being the local township health officer, director of a school board, as well as being father-confessor for a number of individuals who found the game laws obnoxious to them. Father stood for no nonsense as far as smallpox was concerned. My grandmother lived with us and she was one of eleven children, four of whom were wiped out by smallpox at one crack. She allowed that smallpox was “worse than Indians on the warpath.” There is no question that my father’s thinking was conditioned a good deal by her description of people dying without doctors or proper care; of mass burials and the terror and tragedy that had entered her life over sixty years before.
Now a Public Health Officer has a lot of authority, even though he happens to be a farmer with an eighth grade education. Father obtained the services of a physician from the State Department of Health, and had all the citizens of the township assemble at the various country schools for mass vaccination; that is with the exception of one family who flatly refused to be vaccinated or have their children vaccinated. My father quickly ordered the children who were not vaccinated to stay home from school, and there they stayed until all danger of the epidemic had passed. As a matter of fact, none of the children who were not vaccinated got the smallpox. They lived off the immunity of their neighbors. This, also, was an enforced mass preventive.
This smallpox episode is indelibly impressed upon my mind. There was violent and bitter objection on the part of a considerable number of people to my father’s mandate that either you get vaccinated or you stay home; also, his uncompromising insistence that everyone be vaccinated. A good many people got very sore arms from the vaccination; the sorer their arms got the sorer their heads got. The children at school started taking it out on me. Their parents didn’t help much by saying that it was time that my father was thrown out of office. These things hit me as a small boy harder than my father, who didn’t seem to mind. He knew that he couldn’t get rich out of either farming or holding public office.
There wasn’t really an epidemic — it was nipped in the bud. Out of a half-dozen cases, there was one death. The soreheads vanished with the sore arms. That was about 1927 an today everyone up there gets vaccinated, and no questions are asked. It’s about as popular as baptism.
This first-hand experience can’t help but impress me far more than it could impress anyone by telling them about it. When people put up such a kick over vaccination which can save their lives, it is not at all surprising that there is opposition to fluoridation which can only save teeth.
I received some very strong letters on fluoridation. But this fluoridation storm is only a summer breeze to the storm that broke about me as a child.
Fluoridation is different from vaccination, but one thing about these problems is the same. They both involve the kind of decision that once you are sure you are right you go ahead. I think this particular experience as a child, more than any other, has made me take the long view on the fluoridation matter.
Father died (1937) in office some ten years after this episode-but not from the smallpox. He had a lot of people at his funeral, some of whom wouldn’t have been there if he hadn’t been so mulish about this vaccination business. I hope everyone at my funeral has good teeth.
Some people complain about the cost of fluoridation. Recently, I read a report by Gerald 1. Cox, Ph.D., Professor of Dental Research at the University of Pittsburgh, who said that ten cents worth of fluoridation will save forty dollars worth of dental bills; that is interesting, but I am not convinced because of this statement. For all I know, the doctor may be fifty to seventy-five percent off, but the answer is still the same, It’s even a better bargain than when the white man purchased Manhattan Island from the Indians.
Some weeks ago, I spent a day in Grand Rapids inspecting their equipment and reports on fluoridation. Most of the day was spent with the chemist in their water plant, and considerable time with several physicians in their Health Department. They have been fluoridating water in Grand Rapids for over ten years. Their reports certainly give the lie to a lot of statements made by antifluoridation literature about what has happened there. From their death rate, and also specific death rates on specific causes of death, they might even make a case for asserting that fluoridation improved health on other than the teeth factor. However, the general health level of the people is rising all over the United States and, of course, there is really no evidence that fluoridation helps anything but teeth, but their carefully documented reports clearly refute the charges made by those who oppose fluoridation. Anti-fluoridation literature usually throws a few left hooks at Grand Rapids. I have heard all sorts of wild statements concerning death rates, and also death rates on specific illnesses in this City. The U.S. Health Service has worked with them in the particular project of fluoridation. They have carefully inspected and supervised it every step of the way. They worked with their water department and with their health department. The carefully documented reports of their health department clearly indicate that Grand Rapids is becoming a healthier place to live in all the time. There is not the slightest evidence that fluoridation has hurt anybody. There is, however, conclusive evidence that the children who have drunk fluoridated water for the maximum period have reduced their tooth decay by not less than 60%.
But let’s go back to the cost argument. In Grand Rapids the cost is less than the cost of two ice cream cones a year per person of their total population; that means, roughly, 13¢ a person. What if the cost were five times this amount? The answer would still be the same. Detroit is spending about seven million dollars to widen Woodward Avenue, three blocks, only, between City Hall and Jefferson; this is supposed to make the scenery better for you when you approach the Civic Center (I voted against this widening). Anyway, this seven million dollars would fluoridate the entire City water supply, and buy all equipment, for about thirteen years. The equipment should last far beyond the thirteen year period.
To oppose fluoridation on the grounds that it is only effective when the fluoridated water is drunk when a person is in the early teens or younger is a selfish shortsighted argument when you get right down to it, So, just what is all the argument about? A good percent of what most of us earn goes for our children. What’s the cost of a few more ice cream cones a year when you are spending it on something that is of some great and positive benefit? If you don’t have children you pay anyway. Take a look at the school tax bill on real estate; also, 1/3rd of the sales tax goes back to the schools. In case you haven’t thought of it, you are paying the dentists’ bills in one way or another for the children of parents who are on welfare.
It is for the children that America labors, and that’s all right with me. Besides leaving the next generation with the national debt and the atomic bomb, I see nothing wrong with leaving them better teeth, particularly at such bargain rates.
Fluoridation isn’t going to help you if you put your teeth in a glass of water at night, but it will help all of the children, and if you think you are paying too much for other peoples’ children, then give thirteen cents or even twenty-five cents less to the community fund next year-that will cover it. Now, of course, I am not really telling anyone to give less to the community fund, but I think I am showing that the argument about cost is nonsense.
Quit arguing that fluoridating the water supply is the wrong way to do the job. It’s cheap — it’s the most effective way; it’s the only way the job will be done. Fluoridation of the entire water supply is the cheapest and most efficient method of doing it; if it isn’t done this way it just isn’t going to be done. Let’s quit throwing up a lot of theoretical objections and start getting practical. So what if most of it goes down the drain without being consumed by those Who will benefit by it. Does this really bother you? We put chlorine in all the water now and a lot of it goes for industrial uses and other uses where it wouldn’t be needed. It is still the best way. If the result is accomplished and the cost low, or within reason, then the method is efficient regardless of the amount that goes down the drain.
Anyway, why waste time arguing with an ex-farm boy that he should only spray half the potato patch. If you say it’s not the same thing, I will agree, but the argument for using anything but the water supply for fluoridation makes about as much sense as spraying half a potato patch.
Most people who have talked with me and argued the cost factor have, as a matter of fact, known little or nothing about the actual cost.
Some people have written to me saying that they oppose fluoridation because they know that some other people oppose all forms of medication on religious principles, and that I should respect their beliefs. No persons have contacted me to say that they themselves oppose fluoridation because they themselves hold a particular religious belief. When someone does state that he is speaking for himself, I will answer him. To those who prefer to speak for these individuals, I would like to ask you why you don’t insist on the Detroit Water Department stopping its practice of putting chlorine in the water. This practice is equally objectionable on this particular point. In other words, if a religious principle is involved, it is as objectionable to put chlorine in the water as it is to put in fluorine. Don’t back out on this just because you know that thousands of Detroit citizens would die of dysentery and other diseases if they stopped putting chlorine in the water. If you are going to speak for those who you assume oppose fluoridation on religious principles, you should be logical and also insist that Detroit cease chlorinating its water supply. Now is as good a time as any to shift your objection to some other point.
Some people object to fluoridating the water because they point out that fluorine is a poison, and that it is used to kill rats. So what?! Chlorine is also a poison, and was used to kill men in the first world war. Iodine is a poison, but when put into salt in small quantities it will stop goiters — go to the cupboard and take a look. There is a good chance that you have purchased iodized salt. You are eating poison, but taken in small quantities, it is good for you.
Everyday Detroit dumps large quantities of chlorine (poison) into its water supply, with excellent results. They dump in enough to kill the bugs, but they do not put in enough to harm anyone. Incidentally, many of the arguments used against fluoridation of water were also used against chlorination of water supplies a generation or so ago; this poison pitch is one of them, and it just doesn’t add up. The real issue is whether or not one part or slightly more of fluorine to a million parts of water is harmful — it isn’t! For a person to rest his case on the assertion that fluorine is a poison is something like asserting that you can drown in water and therefore don’t take a bath. Kind of foolish, isn’t it?
If you are dead set against fluoridation, one excuse is as good as another. Many of the people who have contacted me have clearly indicated that they never intend to reexamine their present position, and this goes for some who are for fluoridation as well as some who are against it.
Here are some national bodies that have endorsed fluoridation of water supplies:
- American Medical Association
- American Dental Association
- American Public Health Association
- American Pharmaceutical Association
- American Nurses Association
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- National Research Council
- National Institute of Municipal Law Officers
- American Water Works Association
- American Hospital Association
- U.S. Public Health Service
- National Congress of Parents and Teachers.
The list of medical and other organizations that endorse fluoridation at the level of the various states would be much longer; the list of city and villages even longer. Detroit’s Department of Health endorses fluoridation.
Again, I can’t blame anyone for not accepting the word of all these various organizations. I didn’t-I did my own investigating and formed my own opinion. We agree-but not because they said it, rather because they have a legal marriage with the facts.
If you believe that fluoridation will harm you, I can only say that if I thought there was one chance in a million that it would, I would vote against it. Regardless of anything that I may have said, I have a very deep and abiding respect for the opinions of other people. I even respect the beliefs of a woman who came to our home when I was a young boy and bitterly complained that the smallpox vaccination, which my father had insisted on, not only had given her a sore arm but had also greatly aggravated her rheumatism. She was certain, but the judgment of the ages is against her.
Fluoridation is not a new and untried experiment. Millions of people have drunk naturally fluoridated water for generations. Many more millions have drunk artificially fluoridated water for varying lengths of time (Grand Rapids for over ten years). Again, I repeat, over 30 million people in the United States are now drinking fluoridated water.
The United States Public Health Service; local health services; and state health services have checked and checked, and checked again. It is not only a preponderance of evidence that favors fluoridation-it is overwhelming evidence and overwhelming authority-medical and scientific.
The United States Public Health Service waited until thousands of tests were made; until they investigated case after case of alleged harm from fluoridation before they endorsed it. Why should the fact that a few doctors cry out against it disturb you in the face of such overwhelming proof? Of course, these doctors are sincere. So were the doctors who opposed putting chlorine in water; so were the doctors who opposed vaccination. When you listen to the voices of the doctors who oppose fluoridation, you are listening to the echoes of the voices of doctors who opposed chlorination of water and vaccination; they have passed the point of no return in their thinking. They will continue to make charge after charge, and cite case after case of some individual supposedly harmed by drinking fluoridated water, but these charges can never stand-up against the facts. How much proof do you ask? Shouldn’t the experience based on five million users be enough? Certainly, ten million ought to be enough, and if 30 million won’t convince you then 100 million will never convince you. Do you give any weight to the U.S. Public Health Service in the careful and thorough investigation over many years, in many areas, and under many conditions? Do you think the doctors in the State Health Department are stupid or that they lack skill or integrity?
Come to think of it, isn’t a large amount of this anti-fluoridation literature just a bit hysterical on the face of it — some of it has to be to sell for a dollar a copy.
I have, to the best of my ability, examined this problem as conscientiously as I have examined any problem. I cannot honestly berate any person or individual for not being convinced by reason of the fact that 30 million people now use fluoridated water, or the fact that the U.S. Public Health Service; the State and City Health Departments endorse its use. I, too, was unwilling to accept their judgment. I insisted on checking the original sources and citations of authority in many articles. I insisted on going to Grand Rapids in studying the matter firsthand; in seeing the reports of their Health Department. I insisted on examining and reexamining my position again and again — all aspects of the case, including the contention that fluoridation should be opposed on principle. I have been unreasonable beyond justification in the proof that I have demanded, It is with complete certainty that I will support fluoridation with all the resources at my command, because it is the only action that I can justify to myself and to you.
This article was posted on July 8, 2002.