"Drugs are overprescribed... One reason for inappropriate prescribing may lie in the opaque relationship between the medical profession and the pharmacuetical [sic] industry. Major pharmaceutical companies, such as United Brands, sponsor medical conferences for doctors in luxury hotels. Moreover, there are no restrictions on general practitioners or hospital consultants investing in shares in the pharmaceutical or other healthcare industries or in private hospitals or clinics. The conflict of interest between the doctor as healer and the doctor as drug manufacturer needs to be recognised."The above pastiche of distrust and conspiracy comes not from an angel healing periodical but from Sinn Fein's health policy. Do read the whole thing if time allows. You will find no attempt to balance talk of financial irregularities in luxury hotels with promotion of best medical practice. There is no paragraph suggesting that your local GP is likely a decent sort, or that their offer of a flu jab may not be linked to a clandestine conspiracy.
Regular readers of this blog - a long-suffering and doubtless weary troop - will know that I've something of an interest in anti fluoridation campaigners in Ireland. An entry on Sinn Fein is therefore predictable - they've been tying up valuable county council time with anti fluoridation motions in Dublin and Cork, blithely ignoring that councils have no power to make such decisions. Their minister for environment, community and local government tried for a bill to have it banned. Why does Sinn Fein feel such rancour towards an intervention supported by the nation's medical and dental communities? The matter is hardly opaque. Six million English citizens drink fluoridated water, the rest do not. It is a simple effort to contrast the fluoridated and non fluoridated areas of our neighbours. Indeed I felt certain that Sinn Fein would leap at an opportunity to support a measure that leads to a 28% reduction in tooth decay for children in disadvantaged areas while nearly halving tooth decay related hospitalisation of children under five, but it seems they jumped the other way.
Have the boffins in Sinn Fein's underground laboratory make a game changing discovery? Has there been an explosion of new research that only they are publicising? Or are they merely casting aside best evidence and community benefit in favour of a populist publicity stunt?
To answer my question we must look at those who answers the questions posed by Sinn Fein. And who better to elucidate than Brian Stanley TD, spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government, who last year attempted to cease fluoridation?
"I am delighted to have two leading campaigners in Leinster House adding weight to our campaign. Both Aishling Fitzgibbon, aka Girl against Fluoride, and leading environmental scientist Declan Waugh." - Brian StanleyThis seems the total of his outside support. Stanley eschews the temptation to promote style over substance and introduces Aisling FitzGibbon first. Her credentials are impressive: as a Master Integrated Energy Therapist she has paid for a certificate that enables her to redirect healing angel rays into people's pets. For the right price she will 'cure' your vulnerable child of autism through a regimen that includes pumping bone broth up their anus. Naturally she opposes vaccination, describing it as her next step once fluoride is vanquished.
I had the pleasure of a radio interview with her campaign's creative manager. She charmed me with tales of how homosexuality is caused by women using contraception and regaled me with details of her attempt to infect her daughter with measles. It is a delight to imagine Sinn Fein's spokesperson for community reclining in leather armchair, sipping tea and absorbing such advice. I am atingle with anticipation to see how this shapes his future programmes and policies, especially given the esteem in which he obviously holds their views - he is, after all, listed on their supporters page and spoke at the launch of their naked calendar fundraiser.
But why content oneself with the talents of just one adviser?
Stanley was also kind enough to give prominence to the views of Declan Waugh. Describing him as a "leading environmental scientist" I couldn't help but wonder if the prefix mis- had been lost from the appellation. Like me he is a blogger with a science degree and no published peer reviewed work on fluoride. This has not prevented him from attempting to link the substance to every condition from SIDS, Down's Syndrome, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, cocaine addiction, metabolic disorders and diabetes. I'm confident he'll soon claim that red hair is a result of water fluoridation. Those of us curious as to why no reputable peer reviewed journal would be willing to publish his work must find ourselves torn between two possible conclusions: either his work isn't particularly good, or there's a vast worldwide conspiracy to suppress it.
Given Sinn Fein consider him a leading scientist and seek his council on matters of public health they may be inclined to give weight to the conspiracy theory. If you skip to the bottom half of this post you'll see Waugh's thoughts on a hypothesised global mind control project being run in tandem by the Russians and Americans via microwaves and WiFi. I had no idea Putin and Obama could pull off such a collaboration! For good measure the UK are beaming suicide rays into dissenters' houses. Waugh considers it both 'interesting and rather disturbing'. This may go some way to explaining why he suggests folks curtail their use of wireless networks.
More recently his endorsements have been bestowed on Red Ice Radio's attempt to pretend that childhood MMR vaccination causes autism, and that there is a global conspiracy (including, it seems, the CDC and British counterparts) to hide this. The radio show describes itself as covering topics on the global elite and says it is geared towards those who have broken free of mind control.
The show also dips its toe into pretending that HIV is unrelated to AIDS before saying that the Ebola epidemic doesn't actually exist, positing that the deaths caused are a result of malnutrition and vaccination. They describe Ebola as "a magnificent cover story" to enable the UN to keep west African citizens weak and dying so that their resources can be stolen.
"The ultimate payoff for the medical machine is drugs. Vaccines. Further conditioning of the population to accept vaccination... They could have released a toxic chemical in the country and called it Ebola."The daft conspiracy then posits that medical worker deaths are caused by wearing hazmat suits in warm environments before wrapping up by pretending that Ebola is a cover story intended by the medical community to sell vaccines. Feel free to jump to any point in the interview to hear something egregiously stupid.
Perhaps the above four unrelated worldwide conspiracies seem plausible to you. If so here are some other choice titbits from his Facebook page.
In this post he posits a paper that suggests rats who inhale mercury suffer brain damage is sufficient grounds to consider flu vaccines a risk for Alzheimers. This scaremongering comes courtesy of nameless scientists with no plausible explanation of why he suspects the elderly will be forced to snort liquid metal while getting their flu jabs. Will Sinn Fein be following his wisdom and phasing out flu jabs?
It's unfair for me to dwell exclusively on Sinn Fein's impact on science in Dublin am indebted to Niall Boylan of 4fm who invited Councillor Chris O'Leary on air, giving me opportunity to discuss with him the motivations behind his baffling motion to oppose fluoridation in Cork County. Listening to Boylan's show often reminds me that the oxygen of publicity can be enough to make daft schemes spontaneously combust.
Unfortunately there's no podcast so I'll have to paraphrase from memory. O'Leary relied heavily on Waugh till I brought up his predilection for global mind control plots, at which point he cited Dean Burk as being at the forefront of fluoride opposition in the United States. I told him this seemed unlikely, given Burk's death in the 80's. O'Leary then claimed that 26 European countries have ceased fluoridation due to health concerns. I asked if he would be kind enough to name three. He supplied one, Northern Ireland, and I admit I took us on something of a tangent on whether or not we should consider the Sterling region of this island as a separate and distinct European nation. No matter, O'Leary repeated his claim that Northern Ireland ceased fluoridation due to health concerns. I pointed out this was an absurd statement as they never had a fluoridation programme. (See page eight.) Further examples of the proffered 26 nations were not forthcoming.
I then asked the councillor if he felt San Pellegrino should carry a health warning. Its fluoride concentration is 0.6 parts per million, not too shy from my tap water's 0.7 parts per million. He felt it was in the public's interest to be so cautioned. In some ways I felt sorry for him - it's fairly obvious that this populist publicity stunt has been rolled out without any real thought or preparation, and individual councillors are being left to the tender mercies of a skeptical public. Later on Twitter he championed the right of people to choose on vaccinations, adding that #oneSizeDoesNotFitAll, a complaint rarely levelled at seatbelts.
Voters might be swayed by his proud fight against the HSE's promotion of vaccination but the optimist in me reads the responses to his twitter stand and feels it has cost him more support than it has gained. Indeed I wonder how it will affect the party. Within a week of his statement, fellow Cork Sinn Fein Councillor Thomas Gould also chose radio as the vehicle by which to share his distrust of mass vaccination, pharmaceutical companies and the medical establishment. Statements like these from public representatives help to explain why the mumps rate has more than doubled since last year.
Some will say that Sinn Fein are partnering with vaccine opponents in a tawdry grab for publicity. The more worrying hypothesis is that this is not the case, and that they consider conspiracy theorists and angel healers best placed to drive public health policy. I know many of you have sound and robust reasons to deny Sinn Fein a preference vote, and fluoridation may seem unimportant by contrast. For those outside this group I ask: if they eschew expert advice in favour of populism in a matter of health, what's to stop them taking the same approach with our economy?