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“I made a personal choice for my family”

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I know, I know, snark, derision, and contempt aren’t effective. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be damned amusing.

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  • Pingback: The Nickronomicon » A New Perspective…()

  • LosGatosCA

    Willfully ignorant people can’t be persuaded by facts they have already chosen to ignore.

    That sums up about 47% of the nation on various subjects.

  • Marek

    Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Or so I’ve heard.

  • Derelict

    Laugh if you want, but the chain of reasoning he uses is EXACTLY what you run into in all sorts of actual policy discussions. For example, there’s currently a hot debate over whether to fluoridate the water supply. The anti-fluoride folks are touting some sort of deep conspiracy theory whereby industries that produce fluoride as part of their waste stream are paying the American Dental Association to push fluoridating water so the industries can dump their waste into the water supply legally. Local dentists are also somehow being paid off through this conspiracy.

    It’s a form of aggressive ignorance that’s sweeping the country.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Ignorance would be a state of lacking knowledge. This is a state of active destruction of knowledge.

      • Mr. Rogers

        I’ve adopted the phrase “Commoditized Ignorance” because someone is making money selling them this tripe.

    • c u n d gulag

      I sometimes wonder if the Fluoride in the water didn’t just harden people’s teeth but also their hearts, and hardened their heads even more!

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      i tend to think it’s paranoia more than ignorance. they in fact think they *do* “know better”

      • Aimai

        Well—it is agressive ignorance because, like the anti vaxxers–they ignore the evidence of massive corporatist conspiracies that are poisoning their actual communities in favor of a kind of retail paranoia that focuses on the harm that is done to specifically their child, or the harm that is done by a single chemical which they could see is being introduced for an actual reason. Its the same thing that makes people hysterically opposed to the mercury in the vaccine but indifferent to the dumping of mercury into the atmosphere that has made eating bluefish risky for years. Any moderately well informed person could look up and see smokestacks belching toxins, and pig farms flushing waste into groundwater but instead they prefer to focus on minute amounts of toxins in the vaccine.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          i suppose you’re basically right. i imagine they choose to focus on things like vaccinating their children because they think they can *control* that in a way they can’t control smokestack emissions

        • gmack

          Just to add to this: The phenomenon you point to also highlights the collapse of any faith in collective or social life. The anti-vaxxers conceive of their position purely as a private lifestyle choice. They want to make their child “pure” and “uncontaminated,” and their means of doing so is the practice of virtuous consumption. So we deal with the very many toxic dimensions of modern life not through any concerted action, but simply by buying “organic” or “chemical-free” products (and then, by not putting “artificial chemicals” in our children in the form of vaccines. The logic here is straightforwardly akin to the predominant corporate attitudes of our day: The anti-vaxxers are trying to privatize profit (their pure and uncontaminated child) and socialize the risk (the outbreak of an epidemic is someone else’s problem). Hence that doctor’s comment that he doesn’t care if his refusal to “put chemicals in his children” leads to the death of other children. So I want to leave aside, for a moment, the idiocy and anti-scientific dimension of the anti-vaxxer position; what’s also interesting (to me) is its refusal to entertain any notion of community, of the realization that things like immunity or a “chemical free environment” must be understood as a shared space that can only be the product of a social and collective activity.

          • DrDick

            highlights the collapse of any faith in collective or social life.

            The conservative agenda has largely succeeded.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              by failing to live out the ben franklin quote “we must, indeed, hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately” we’re going to live out the one about not being able to keep the republic

            • MAJeff

              Exactly. This is a pure distillation of Thatcher’s “There is no such thing as society, there are only individuals and families” bullshit.

          • Linnaeus

            Just to add to this: The phenomenon you point to also highlights the collapse of any faith in collective or social life. The anti-vaxxers conceive of their position purely as a private lifestyle choice.

            Andrew O’Hehir in Salon argues that it’s a crisis of authority, because we’ve seen the institutions we are supposed to trust be exposed as flawed, corrupt, criminal, etc. Though this isn’t opposed to your statement – it’s complementary to it, I think.

            • ChrisTS

              I think this is right: it’s not either/or, it’s both. Indeed, there might be other factors creating this perfect storm of ‘me first, because I don’t trust anyone else.’

              Actually, a perfect rationalization for the already selfish.

              • Funny how the bread always lands rationalization-side up.

          • djw

            Very well said, gmack.

            • Aimai

              Yes, very, very, well said, gmack.

          • ChrisTS

            I’ve put this out here before, but what the heck.

            Me & daughter in car after physician visit ($20) and pharmacy visit ($25):

            She: I hate medicines; medicine is evil.

            Me: What? You need that; it’s why we had to spend the day on this.

            She: Medicine has chemicals in it. I don’t want to put chemicals in my body.

            Me: Honey, You are chemicals.

            She MOOOOOOOOOOOm! How can you say that to me?

        • Halloween Jack

          they ignore the evidence of massive corporatist conspiracies that are poisoning their actual communities in favor of a kind of retail paranoia that focuses on the harm that is done to specifically their child, or the harm that is done by a single chemical which they could see is being introduced for an actual reason.

          This, to the nth degree. Chemtrails and black helicopters give them something to focus on to help ignore the proverbial elephant in the living room. Even the fabled lizard people are somehow less scary than Monsanto.

    • NonyNony

      there’s currently a hot debate over whether to fluoridate the water supply

      If by “currently” you mean “since the 1950s” then I’d agree.

      It’s a form of aggressive ignorance that’s sweeping the country.

      If by “sweeping” you mean “embedded into the very fiber of this country from its founding moment” then I’d also agree.

      Neither anti-flouride nor anti-vaxx is new in this country – it’s just that the Internet means that isolated groups can contact each other more easily and reinforce their beliefs where previously they were espousing a minority opinion easily written off as crankery that showed up to be mocked every once in a while in your newspaper editorial page.

      The combination of the internet, the 24-hour news cycle, and the end of real balance in the media (replaced with false balance) has promoted this kind of crankery back into the front of public consciousness. But it’s always been there – there has never been a Golden Age when American citizens were rational and knowledgeable about things.

      • djw

        If by “currently” you mean “since the 1950s” then I’d agree.

        Not in Portlandia!

        • Owlbear1

          Bad Teeth are not a communicable disease that kills people via air borne droplets.

          Cavities can’t be spread by kissing.

          Why insist everyone must ingest Fluoride?

          • Aimai

            1) Because “people will die” is not hte only reason to do things. As a society we do lots of things: build roads, hospitals, bridges, regulate work because its a good thing to do for everyone, not just because people will die if we don’t. Provide for the general welfare is a broad concept.
            2) Because public health is good for the public. Everyone has teeth. And everyone needs teeth to live well.
            3) Cavities are costly and in reality most people can’t afford to have them fixed with expensive dental work.
            4) Absent the tooth strengthening work of calcium and flouride older people’s teeth will shatter and they will be subject to tremendous health problems.

            • Owlbear1

              Then why not add it to the same way as Calcium and Vitamin D are added?

              Hell the best place for it would be in bottled water. Making them not quite the massive waste of resource they are now.

              It boils down to being uncomfortable with Declaring everyone must participate in this experiment because it’s the easiest way to get people to ingest Fluoride

              • Ronan

                whether or not it is an effective use of resources is a fair question. Plenty of european countries dont put flouride in the water and I dont think have worse teeth related outcomes than the US.

                edit: deleted last little para

                • There are a number of factors, of course, including dental care, fluoride toothpaste, etc. but consider this comparison of Manchester (no fluoridation) vs. Birmingham (fluoridation):

                  there were 15% fewer five-year olds with tooth decay in fluoridated areas than non-fluoridated areas
                  there were 11% fewer 12-year olds with tooth decay
                  there were 45% fewer hospital admissions of children aged one to four for tooth decay (mostly for extraction of decayed teeth under a general anaesthetic) in fluoridated areas than non-fluoridated areas

                  And from the report:

                  When deprivation and ethnicity (important factors for dental health) are taken into account, five-year olds in fluoridated areas are 28% less likely to have had tooth decay than those in non-fluoridated areas.

                  Impact of dental health inequalities
                  The reduction in tooth decay in children of both ages in fluoridated areas appears greatest among those living in the most deprived local authorities.

                  On dental admissions:

                  The median rate of admission in non-fluoridated areas was 370 per 100,000 person years at risk (pyar) compared to 42 per 100 000 pyar in fluoridated areas (table 3). The rate of admission in fluoridated areas was 45% lower than in non-fluoridated areas (95% CI -68%, -6%; p=0.03); following adjustment for deprivation there was strong evidence that the rate of admission was lower in fluoridated compared to non- fluoridated areas (55% lower; 95% CI -73, -27%; p=0.001). Ethnicity did not fulfil criteria for inclusion in final models as outlined in section 4.2.1.4.3.

                  (There are some caveats in the data, so don’t treat these as hard numbers.)

                • Ronan

                  Interesting, and seems pretty convincing (my assumption would have been that improvements in dental care, flouride based toothpaste, etc largely negated the positives associated with water fluoridation historically, though it seems not)

                • DrDick

                  Thanks, Bijan! I knew the impacts were quite significant, but did not have the data to hand. This pretty much destroys any argument against it.

                • MAJeff

                  This pretty much destroys any argument against it.

                  That assumes you’re analyzing data and not going with uncomfortable, uninformed feelings as the source of decision making.

                • Ronan,

                  I think all those other things *could*, in principle, achieve similar levels at least in highly compliant populations. But compliance is difficult, esp. as different people have different mouth flora, eating patterns, enamel thickness, tooth placement, etc. Plus, dental care is expensive (in time and money), which I would guess helps explain the higher results in disadvantaged populations.

              • Aimai

                1) Its not an experiment. The results have been well understood for quite sometime.
                2) Its not different than anything else we put in the public water supply which all taxpayers pay for. If the majority of the taxpayers want to put something in that is good for everyone why shouldn’t they?
                3) People are as free to purchase bottled water without flouride as they would be to purchase bottled water with fluoride.

                • Owlbear1

                  It is still very much an experiment and I think that is the main conflict.

                  It is tragic our water supply needs to be treated with chemicals to be safe. Just because we have to add chemicals to our water supply isn’t really a reason to add more chemicals. Even if you consider them harmless.

                  People have to have to water. They die without it. I don’t feel comfortable making people pay for unadulterated water.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  fluoridation seems to have been pretty widespread since about 1960. when will it make the transition from being an “experiment”?

                • Aimai

                  It is so fucking funny that you think that “our water supply” doesn’t “need to be treated with chemicals.” Human water supplies have to be protected from pretty much any biological waste–that is the first “treatment” they have to receive. Then they have to be treated and cleaned of other impurities whether agricultural runoff or e.coli. They they have to be carefully handled as they flow through the pipes so they don’t get recontaminated from other human waste sources in urban areas before they are delivered to your tap. The water is no “pure” and innocent. It has to be cleaned and kept clean and sometimes that is done with chemicals.

                  You are expressing a childish and almost religious fantasy of purity of water essence that simply has nothing to do with water supplies in the world. The provision of safe, clean, tap water to urban areas goes very far back–the Romans spent a fortune doing it bringing water from regions with little to no settlement but, though they couldn’t treat the water, it remained easily contaminated by animal and human waste. We’ve solved that problem. But its a problem inherent in the location and transport of water.

                  Putting (some) chemicals into drinking water makes it safer for everyone.

                  You should turn your attention to the frackers and the agricutural interests who are actually polluting the entire water table before that water can be extracted and purified to be delivered to anyone’s tap. You are a perfect example of the reason we can’t have nice things in this country. A certain proportion of the populace simply doesn’t know how to correctly evaluate risk, what to fear, and what to do about it. And they chase off after pointless shiny objects thrown in their direction by the John Birch society, the Koch brothers, and a few local sideshow bobs.

                • DrDick

                  It is still very much an experiment and I think that is the main conflict.

                  An “experiment” whose results were obvious decades ago and whose outcome is well and widely known among scientists and public health specialists. Fluoride in the water (at least the form of fluoride used to treat it) is not harmful. Fluoride also naturally occurs quite commonly in groundwater and rainwater.

                • sibusisodan

                  It is so fucking funny that you think that “our water supply” doesn’t “need to be treated with chemicals.”

                  If this thread doesn’t contain someone worrying about the high levels of dihydrogen monoxide in the water supply, I’m going to be very disappointed.

                • Owlbear1

                  At a minimum 10 generations of careful study with control groups.

                  When talking about forcing people to ingest something we think will be helpful we really need to take the time to be sure.

                • wjts

                  The policy of fluoridation was first endorsed by the U.S. Public Health Service in 1950 and by the end of the decade, approximately 27% of the population was drinking fluoridated water. Fifty-five years later, 67% of Americans are drinking fluoridated water. The benefits of the policy have been well-documented; see the CDC link above for more information. After 65 years, I think it’s safe to stop calling fluoridation “an experiment” and start calling it “an unqualified public health success*”, but in the interest of furthering a dialogue, I’ll ask you: how many more decades of improved dental health outcomes with no serious systematic ill-effects will it take for fluoridation to stop being “an experiment”?

                  EDIT: I see you answered my question above. So, 200 years? Great! That means we can look forward to your approval of Lister’s principles of antiseptic surgery in 2067 – 10 generations before we start applying things like carbolic acid to people’s wounds all willy-nilly.

                  *Yes, yes – fluorosis. Although I know the heartbreak of mottled enamel all too well, I take some solace in the fact that I have never had a cavity in my entire life.

                • DrDick

                  It is tragic our water supply needs to be treated with chemicals to be safe.

                  What planet do you live on? I live in the northern Rockies and all of that “pure Rocky Mountain spring water” is heavily infested with e. coli, lysteria, and Chthulhu only knows what else. The woods are not the only place the bears (and elk, deer, bighorns, and everything else) shit.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  10 generations?

                  (speechless)

                  by the way, i think people are misreading owlbear on one thing: he/she isn’t trying to claim the water *is* pure, just that we already have to treat it so much that more treatment isn’t necessarily a good thing. i don’t quite agree, but i do think there is some misunderstanding going on

                • sibusisodan

                  At a minimum 10 generations of careful study with control groups.

                  When talking about forcing people to ingest something we think will be helpful we really need to take the time to be sure.

                  Wow. Just wow.

                  You must really hate penicillin too. And vitamins. There haven’t been ten generations since some of those were discovered. And yet we use them widely…we force people to ingest them all the time!

                • Aimai

                  I don’t think I’m being unfair to Owlbear and I don’t think he/she is objecting only to Fluoride in the water–I think he/she thinks that no chemical treatment is necessary at all.

                  Also (parenthetically) plenty of bottled water is simply privatized tap water from treated municipal water supplies.

                • Warren Terra

                  Ten generations is a minimum of two hundred years. Forget penicillin, at that point we’re still contemplating whether to recommend sterile procedure, anesthesia, and indoor toilets.

                • dr. fancypants

                  At a minimum 10 generations of careful study with control groups.

                  What is your basis for deciding this is the minimum evidence needed for determining safety?

                • Origami Isopod

                  Aimai, if anything you were too kind to Owlbear.

            • DocAmazing

              Because “people will die” is not the only reason to do things.

              Actually, people do die of cavities. Untreated cavities can lead to abscesses of the tooth and jaw that, untreated, lead to bacterial sepsis and death. This occurs mainly among impoverished populations without good access to health care, of course; thus, we see that flouridating water is a way to keep poor people from dying, as well as assuring bright smiles for all.

              There’s very little in public health that doesn’t have an economic/class war component.

              • Aimai

                Yes, there was a horrible story a few years ago, under Bush II, of an 11 year old boy (IIRC) whose poor mother couldn’t scrape together the money to get him to a dentist regularly, or a doctor as an abscess in his gum festered. She had no idea how dangerous this was and she was in no position financially to get him to a doctor. He died when the infection spread from his gum straight into his brain.

              • Scott Lemieux

                The fact that dental care isn’t considered a critical component of medical care is one of the many strange things about how the U.S. does healthcare. I have only an opt-in to a separate (and shitty) dental insurance program, and my wife (who has excellent basic medical insurance)has no dental plan option at all.

                • DrDick

                  Agreed!

                • MAJeff

                  In grad school, I had no coverage. Only time I ended up going to the dentist is when a tooth cracked or broke.

                  Dental schools are handy for cheap treatment (it’s free if you agree to be a patient for exams!), but there are pretty long waiting lists and it’s probably not the best way to get routine care.

                  Now that I’ve got a job with full (and really good) dental insurance, I make sure to use it!

                • Origami Isopod

                  Dental care, and vision care, and mental health care.

                • kateislate

                  This is true in Canada as well – dental care is not covered by Medicare. Other countries visiting to learn about our health system are often horrified to hear that our ‘universal coverage’ system does not provide dental care to children in particular.

              • DrDick

                It was actually a significant cause of death before the advent of antibiotics in the 1930s.

                • Aimai

                  Stop complaining! The Barber-Chiurgeon is always available to pull that tooth with pliars and you can manage very well on two or three if most of them need to go.

            • ChrisTS

              I’m glad, for once, to be late to a discussion. I absolutely would have thought Owlbear was joking.

              One of my sisters is a dentist (about to retire) and knows the benefits of fluoridation. She has had plenty of poorer or stubborn patients (parents of patients) who could not pay for or would not care about buying toothpaste with fluoride.

              Hell, she had a 15 year old with many rotting teeth whose mom wanted them yanked because she could not be bothered to have ever made him brush his teeth. Without fluoride in the town system, the kid would have had abscesses and god knows what before he hit his teens.

          • carolannie

            Well, cavities can be spread by kissing….because you give each other your vile bacteria and some people have more “aggressive” bacteria in their mouths

            • porwin

              While this is formally possible (there was a paper about us passing 80 million bacteria when we kiss) it probably doesn’t work quite that way. We probably pass it to our children, but adults already have lots of bacteria in their mouths, and they are already well ensconced on our teeth (even we just went to the dentist!). So the ones that come in by kissing are most likely not able to stick. A quick google check shows a relatively recent paper http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19273644 that talks about childhood transmission. I think adults are pretty much stuck with the mouth bacteria they brought to the party.
              We now return to your regularly scheduled snark and derision.

              • Aimai

                What abour french kissing?

                • porwin

                  believe it or not, that was part of the study about tranmission. You can read about it here http://time.com/3587838/bacteria-spread-kissing/ or if you want here is the actual study http://www.microbiomejournal.com/content/2/1/41. The study was conducted by a Dutch group, but they accounted for duration and frequency of kissing. One of my grad students presented it at Journal Club. They all had a difficult time taking it seriously, for some reason.

                • Aimai

                  Amazing! Science is wonderful!

                • DocAmazing

                  Technically, that’s Dutch kissing.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  Dutch kissing:French kissing::Dutch doors:French doors ?

                • Dutch kissing:French kissing::Dutch treat:French treat

                • Lee Rudolph

                  Dutch kissing:French kissing::Dutch cap:French letter !

                • Dutch kissing:Nancy Reagan::Ewwwwwww:ew

                • Origami Isopod

                  “Ooh, Mommy.”

          • sharculese

            Because it works.

            Fucking duh.

        • NonyNony

          Fourth no vote since 1956 sounds like since the 1950s to me.

          I mean it’s current because the vote is recent, but it isn’t like it’s a new thing – this has been a thing in Portland for 60 years!

          • djw

            Right, gotcha. Misread.

          • Porlock Junior

            No kidding. There was a to-do about it when I was in college there around 1960.

            The first I had heard of the issue in general, nation-wide, was a Scientific American article a few years before that, which looked at it as a case history in anti-science attitudes.

            BTW, it was definitely an anti-Commie movement in the main. There were a few Pure Foodies around at the time, and they tended to the left, but they didn’t amount to much numerically. Oh, and they were right, of course, about a bunch of things, not least their intense distrust of things like DDT, a few years before Rachel Carson.

            Odd afterthought: I live in a county now notorious for anti-vaxxers, and yet I have seen little anti-fluoride stuff here. You never can tell.

    • To my eternal shame, my dad fell for that routine when fluoride was on the ballot here in Portland. In fact, my whole damn family other than me was opposed. These are otherwise fairly rational, intelligent left-liberals who would identify themselves as wanting policy to be driven by good science.

      To be fair, none of them explicitly endorsed the “no CHEMICALS in my WATER” campaign. The arguments tended along the lines of “instead of spending all this money to make [murky, underdescribed industrial interests] profits, why don’t we spend it on universal dental care for children?” The fact that it was not an either-or choice, or that you can’t pay for universal dental care with the budget of a fluoridation program, did not sway any opinions.

      There’s got to be a term for the phenomenon where people think they’re being perceptive and intelligent by asking “cui bono?” but are actually being foolish.

      • Lee Rudolph

        Sometimes there’s a fine line between “cui bono?” and “kooky Bono”.

      • Owlbear1

        A lack of Fluoride isn’t going to kill your father.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          what’s *wrong* with flouride?

          • It’s difficult to spell.

            • tsam

              Half of it is flour. Like a cookie or a cake.

              • And yet hydrocookie acid is harmless.

                • tsam

                  But it’s a reagent from a reaction of powder and heat. JUST LIKE CHEMICAL WASTE.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              pbbbbt

          • Owlbear1

            There is nothing wrong with Fluoride. The issue is with forcing everyone to ingest it.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              you’re worried that it sets a precedent for something else that might be put in the water, that *doesn’t* have a clearly defined benefit to the general welfare?

              • G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate. That shit’s no joke.

              • Owlbear1

                I think using the general water supply for experimental health treatments is dangerous.

                There are other means of getting Fluoride to the population. Using the general water supply removes peoples’ options.

                • Malaclypse

                  I think using the general water supply for experimental health treatments is dangerous.

                  It’s all been downhill since we started meddling by eliminating Vibrio cholerae. Safer to just use water in its natural state.

                • “Experimental”? There are people who have died of old age who grew up drinking fluoridated water.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  There are people who have died of old age who grew up drinking fluoridated water.

                  See? SEE????

                  It’s lethal, I tell you. Lethal.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  There are other means of getting Fluoride to the population. Using the general water supply removes peoples’ options.

                  Last I checked, people who either don’t understand science or love expensive, painful dental work are free to buy non-fluoridated bottled water. The opt-in shouldn’t be the one that’s vastly worse for the public health.

            • Malaclypse

              There is nothing wrong with seat belts. The issue is with forcing everyone to wear them.

              • Aimai

                There is nothing wrong with regulation of belching smokestacks and coal ash heaps–the problem is when you force everyone to benefit from regulating these things instead of letting people choose to opt out.

                • Owlbear1

                  Your reasoning for adding Fluoride to the water supply is certainly noble.

                  I have to admit I am not as certain as you to the outcome of the experiment. Such that I don’t feel I have the moral authority to decide that everyone must participate.

                • Aimai

                  But you think you have the moral authority to side with people who would deny average citizens and young children stronger, healthier teeth because reasons? Hell: bring on the goiter, too! Lets eliminate iodized salt.

              • Owlbear1

                Seat belts and driving aren’t really necessary for living.

                Water is a necessity. People can’t avoid water. If they don’t want to wear a seat belt they can avoid driving.

                Ingesting into the body is the key here.

                • sibusisodan

                  Am i understanding you correctly? In America, home of bottled water, avoiding the municipal water supply is entirely infeasible. While in America, home of suburban sprawl and large distances, avoiding using a personal car is totally an option?

                  It’s been a while since I’ve been to the States, I admit, so maybe I’m wrong, but – really? Both those things?

                • In America, home of bottled water, avoiding the municipal water supply is entirely infeasible.

                  Personally, I drink nothing but pure rain water and pure distilled grain alcohol. I do not, however, deny women my essence, because that’s nuts.

                • Linnaeus

                  I do not, however, deny women my essence, because that’s nuts.

                  Is Mrs. N_B aware of these “women”?

                • Is Mrs. N_B aware of these “women”?

                  She is, because she is all of them. She is vast*, she contains multitudes.

                  *Internally. Externally, she’s a little tiny person.

              • I guess there’s no point in trying to protect a brain that isn’t working very well to begin with.

              • ChrisTS

                Jesus christ. The ‘experiment’ has proven hugely successful.

            • DrDick

              If there is nothing wrong with it, what is wrong with requiring people to ingest it?

              • Owlbear1

                I think it comes from being raised on an Indian reservation and reading the history of well meaning and not so well meaning people declaring what they knew was best for Indians.

                There is an inherent concept of “infallibility” in demanding everyone be forced to consume a substance because it will be ‘good’ for them.

                • DocAmazing

                  I get your skepticism, and in general I think such skepticism can be useful. Here’s the thing: public health, like all health care, is all about risk vs. benefit. Lots of lab animal testing with was done with flouride; we also know what having populations with carious teeth leads to. There’s not really a good way to get flouride to the poorest and most isolated children (and we’re still missing those drinking well water and living in relative isolation) other than treating the water supply.

                • ChrisTS

                  @Doc: Yup; we have well water and have to have ourselves and kids get fluoride treatments every year (gross and $$) and buy special extra-fluoridated toothpaste, etc.

                • MAJeff

                  I get your skepticism, and in general I think such skepticism can be useful. Here’s the thing: public health, like all health care, is all about risk vs. benefit.

                  Here’s the other thing: the skepticism is based on knowing nothing about the issue of fluoridation. Sure, understanding the historical (mis)use of science and medicine is important, particularly as it teaches us how not to do science and medicine. However, this “critique” has steadfastly refused to address the scientific/medical/dental/public health research on fluoridation. Instead, it’s “I don’t have confidence, and my lack of confidence is based in ignorance. Why won’t you support my ignorance?”

                  Hardly convincing.

                • djw

                  In the part of the world where I grew up (rural NW Washington), there were two population centers of note–Port Angeles/Sequim to the North, where I grew up, and the Grays Harbor area (Hoquiam, Aberdeen) to the SW. The former had fluoridated water, the latter did not. The difference was not subtle. “Harbormouth” is/was part of the vernacular for a reason.

          • carolannie

            Fluoride in water really doesn’t help as much as fluoride applied directly to your teeth. But many people never go to the dentist. However, there is currently a strong possibility of too much fluoride exposure via toothpaste, water, and mouthwashes, leading to fluorosis, both skeletal and dental. The CDC is actually recommending smaller levels of fluoride in municipal water.

            My grandson had fluorosis in his baby teeth, but fortunately did not have it in his adult teeth. He lived his baby years in Portland. Hmmmm

            • Aimai

              My two nieces were adopted from China. Their teeth are vanishingly fragile and my sister-in-law spent years specially applying flouride to their teeth and in every way trying to make up for the poor nutrition, lack of calcium, lack of fluoride in their original birth situation.Its quite labor intensive. Public health initiatives generally try to avoid putting an enormous burden on caring/educated/financially stable parents because they are in rather short supply. Putting fluoride in the water is done on the same principle as putting iodine in the salt and as giving very young infants vaccination against Hepatitis. Because giving someone the vaccination/supplement that they need early or consistently is better than waiting until they realize they need it and then fail to get it.

            • Fluoride in water really doesn’t help as much as fluoride applied directly to your teeth.

              Actually, fluoride in water seems to remineralise directly and by raising the fluoride ion levels in your saliva. There’s some recommendations that say not to brush for 45 minutes after eating acidic foods to let the enamel remineralise.

        • Aimai

          So dumb. See answer above. The only reason to pass legislation or to do something good for society is not simply to “avert death to single voter.” Really, its not.

        • Emily68

          Flouride in the water promotes the general welfare.

          • djw

            Also a blow for the cause of class mobility, insofar as visibly bad teeth restrict it, and fluoridated water produces better outcomes on that front for people without childhood access to proper dental care. But I don’t expect this matters much to Owlbear, who appears to think bolding the word ‘everyone’ repeatedly works as an argument.

            • Owlbear1

              It is a point a lot people seem to be passing over very lightly.

              • Malaclypse

                Probably because you have not given a shred of evidence that anybody has been harmed in any way, so that bolding is doing all the work that argument normally needs.

                • Owlbear1

                  But of course all the predictions of the health benefits are true?

                  You are saying you know that no one is being harmed nor will be harmed?

                  I don’t have that much confidence in the health benefits and so I don’t feel I have the right to declare everyone must ingest this substance because I just know they’ll thank me for it.

                • djw

                  They were “predictions” 50 years ago. Now they’re robust findings.

                • DrDick

                  But of course all the predictions of the health benefits are true?

                  You are saying you know that no one is being harmed nor will be harmed?

                  Yes that is exactly what we are saying and we have 60 years of data to back it up.

              • djw

                It falls well short of a ‘point’ by any plausible standard. Combined with further arguments and evidence it might rise to the level of one.

      • cpinva

        “There’s got to be a term for the phenomenon where people think they’re being perceptive and intelligent by asking “cui bono?” but are actually being foolish.”

        there is, it’s called being intentionally stupid. oddly enough, the one group that should be massively against putting fluoride in the public water supply, the ADA, is one of the biggest proponents of it. since fluoridation became common, the incidence of cavities has dropped like a stone. add to that the increased level of personal dental hygiene (brushing/flossing), and we have among the best teeth in the world. of course, this has resulted in a decrease in the average/median incomes of general dental practitioners, who don’t make as much from the every 6 months checkups/cleanings, as they do from filling cavities, etc. still, with all that, the ADA remains a strong proponent of fluoride in the water. go figure.

        • djw

          I recall being exposed to a hippie version of the anti-fluoride conspiracy that posited that a) fluoride is industrial waste, and b) municipal fluoridation is actually just a way for corporations to dispose of their waste products conveniently and affordably. It’s hard to describe how much stupider this is than the good old-fashioned “Fluoridation is a communist plot” theory.

    • NewishLawyer

      I think there is some research out that theorizes that conspiracy thinking is a distinct political ideology on its own and not really part of the left or the right.

      It has also been part of American politics (or politics itself) since the start of everything. The Paranoid Style in American Politics is as true today as it was in 1964.

      What is interesting about the fluridation and vaccination is that they are two conspiracies that seem to be embraced across the political spectrum. Despite (or because of) the fact that they are the two most effective public health measures in human history.

      What conspiracy theories seem to be about at their root is a firm lack of trust in institutions. A while ago I remember reading that one of the reasons that the poor stay in poverty is because they have an extreme lack of trust in institutions like the bank. Often for good reason. I don’t fully trust banks either but I trust them enough and the FDIC enough to maintain checking, savings, and some investment accounts.

      • Aimai

        Thanks for reminding me that I read the Paranoid Style earlier this year. I ddidn’t get around to taking enough notes but it was jaw droppingly wonderful. Especially in his demonstrations that certain conspiracies just get rewritten and repurposed over and over again, shamelessly, to serve different paranoid communities.

      • cpinva

        whether the poor trust banks or not is irrelevant, since poor people, as a general rule, can’t afford a bank account of any kind, because of the fees associated with most of them. even if they have direct deposit, eliminating a monthly “service” fee, if they overdraw the account, they will incur fees that will quickly eat up whatever they have on deposit. so yeah, the poor don’t have bank accounts for more reasons than that they “just don’t trust banks”.

      • DocAmazing

        Be very careful when speaking monolithically about “conspiracy thinking”. There really are conspiracies ongoing, and those who would fuck over the public from hiding use the scare phrase “conspiracy theory” to shut down discussion of their crimes. For a very good example, look into how Andrew Sullivan rose to prominence in 1991, chasing Congress and the media away from serious discussions of the “October surprise”.

        • sibusisodan

          There really are conspiracies ongoing

          That’s just what they want you to think.

    • DocAmazing

      Hey, I don’t want to have Florida put into my drinking water.

  • Aimai

    That is indeed very funny. I”m bookmarking it.

    On a more serious note I think its important to remember that different kinds of people can be moved by different kinds of social sanctions. There are people on whom insult and ostracism works extraordinarily well. These are authoritarian followers who are eager to find and submit to an authority. If you can find and engage an authority they respect (father, church leader, specific type of government official, specific type of non governmental official, teacher, doctor) they will shift course so fast your head will spin. There are other people, iconoclasts or people for whom the authority has become suspect, who will simply harden their attitudes with some kinds of insult/contempt/ostracism but who may respond well to a change in the law (punishing them directly for their actions), or an extended argument on the merits within a social circle they respect. And there are still others who are simply uninformed and can be appealed to through public campaigns of varying types. As I believe Brendan Nyhan argued in the article about different advertising campaigns there just isn’t going to be a “one size fits all” argument for vaccination given the different kinds of people and the different kinds of anti vax sentiments and ideas out there. You have to beta test and choose the right message for the right population and then just keep shaving people off the movement until you reduce it to a small batch of morons.

    • tonycpsu

      It seems relevant that insult and ostracism are forms that are easy to accomplish on social networks and in other online interactions, while the “warm and fuzzy” personal relationship trust-building stuff is much harder to do online. The question then becomes does the shaming/snarking do more damage than it does good, which is a hard one to answer empirically.

      • Aimai

        Again I’d look to social networks and how people respond to people they consider authorities. Broadcast snark doesn’t really hurt anyone or harden anyone more than the self imposed epistemic closure of their little communities and authorities.

        • tonycpsu

          I don’t get your justification for comparing the snark and shaming to other mechanisms for imposing insularity / resistance to change, as this is not an either/or proposition. The question is “is the snark a net plus for people who want to see (e.g.) vaccine rates go up”, not “is the snark any worse than other things people are doing to harden their resistance to science.”

          I myself am undecided on this — the satirical digs at anti-vaxxers definitely make me laugh, and I do think there are people who will respond to that by questioning their assumptions, but I also know that others will double down. I think it’s worth considering whether “point and laugh” is helping advance the cause. Maybe it forces 5% of the audience to question their assumptions, but does it also cause others to dig in deeper? Yes, there are other mechanisms causing them to seek the answers they want to hear, but I don’t think it’s out of the question that shaming them is contributing to this as well.

          • Aimai

            If you are Palin and the person pointing and laughing at you is an “east coast elitist” then of course its going to cause you to dig in and stick to your original beliefs. But if you are an east coast elitist, or wannabe elitist, and you find out that John Stewart is making fun of you it will probably cause you to start to re-evaluate. Different populations are going to respond to different authorities/icons/celebreties.

            • tonycpsu

              I don’t think it’s just Palin types that double down when they feel their social identity is under attack. Plenty of woo-woo-curious lefties are going to respond in the exact same way.

              • Aimai

                I didn’t mean that non-palin types wouldn’t double down too–but their levers are tripped by resistance to other kinds of authorities. I absolutely agree that “woo woow curious lefties” and crunchy granola hippies and rich people generally are quite reactionary to lectures/instructions/snark from the government, doctors, christians, and others. Everyone has people they will listen to and people whose opinions will just harden their own.

    • djw

      On a more serious note I think its important to remember that different kinds of people can be moved by different kinds of social sanctions.

      Yes, this is an important addendum to pretty much any such research about communication strategies or how “people” in general respond to XYZ.

  • Dwight Meredith

    Sure, mandatory vaccines are good public health. Nonetheless, if we make them mandatory, the next thing will be mandatory purchases of broccoli. I know this because Fat Tony told me so. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/14/business/how-broccoli-became-a-symbol-in-the-health-care-debate.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    Seriously, would not a national mandatory vaccine law run afoul of the commerce clause ruling arising out of the ACA?

    • cpinva

      well, there’s always that whole “promote the general welfare” thing.

  • jim48043
  • lcindc

    Wow. I had no idea brakes were so bad. Thanks for the info. Tough now that I’m thinking about it, it’s pretty obvious. That’s how brainwashed we are by big auto and its minions in the media and government. Anyway, I’ll be getting rid of them before the end of the day. Can’t believe how lucky I am nothing bad has happened to me in all those years I’ve been driving with them on my car.

    • Sev

      And they only fool people into thinking they need them by taking our tax money and putting them colored lights and red octagons at practically every goddamned intersection…

  • patrick II

    I found it interesting that the author felt it necessary to put in a disclaimer in the last paragraph.

    • NewishLawyer

      Poe’s Law is the ruin to everyone.

    • ploeg

      The people who need the disclaimer the most will never get far enough in to read it.

  • Speaking as a pedestrian, the anti-brakites are everywhere.

  • tsam

    I don’t bother with snark for anti vaxxers. I use cruel, direct attacks on their intelligence and ability to parent children. I’m more than willing to back up my mouth with my fists, if necessary. Seriously–fuck those people. They’re stupid and a real danger to the rest of us. I do my best express the same contempt for them that I have for religious zealots and fascists.

    • cpinva

      I would go further, warning them that if, as a result of them not having their children vaccinated, their special snowflake causes harm to other children, then they will be held civilly & criminally accountable. let’s see how many of them really want to be bankrupted and spend time in jail for their “beliefs” that harm others.

  • Todd

    I made a decision in my 20s to live an anti-gravity lifestyle. I won’t say there haven’t been prices to pay; but, overall, it’s been very liberating.

  • UncleEbeneezer

    Speaking of crazy, misinformed, Libertarian, anti-science: did you see this Bill Maher clip:

    “I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I never have been,” he told his panel. “I’m an anti-flu shot guy. I think that’s bullshit and I think the fact that it was 23 percent effective this week bears that out. But if Ebola was airborne, I’d get the vaccine tomorrow.”

    Yeah, you’re an anti-vaxxer. We understand why this year’s flu vaccine had reduced effectiveness; the influenza virus is a combinatorial machine that varies its antigens regularly, tossing up different arrangements of allelic versions of its coat proteins, like a Vegas slot machine. Scientists have to make an estimate of the likely arrangment to spread rapidly, and they have to do it months ahead of time, because it takes a lot of lead time to produce the vaccines. This year, they were wrong in which strain would predominate. It happens; it’s just like NOAA, looking at emerging tropical storms, and estimating likely tracks for where they will hit the mainland. Sometimes conditions shift and they’re off by a few hundred miles. Same with the vaccines — biology is no more predictable than a cyclone in this regard.

    But here’s the thing: it’s 23% effective. That’s not nothing. I got a flu shot, knowing that this year’s batch was far from perfect, because a little bit of protection is better than no protection.

    But that’s not the part that had me fuming. It’s the bit around 4 minutes in, in which he pretentiously announces to us that not all science is alike, and climatology is a good science, so he accepts global warming, and he also explains that there is also consensus among climate scientists (he also argues that the earth is just a rock, so it’s simple enough to understand — but then, as he demonstrated so well on this night, Bill Maher is a goddamn idiot). And then he tells us that medical science is nothing like that, because they’ve had to retract a million things. People get cancer, and doctors just don’t know why, he says, condescendingly. His father had ulcers, and they treated it wrong when he was a kid.

    Good god.

    Science is a trial and error process. It is not an infallible track that leads invariably to correct answers, instantly and every time. When he says that climate science is completely right, that’s because he has only the most superficial knowledge — he knows a little bit about the conclusions they’ve reached now, but nothing about how they came to those answers. I guarantee you, there was a long slow gradual effort to understand climate, with false starts and dead ends and pointless detours all along the way, because that’s how science works.

    When medical scientists retract something, it’s because they’re doing normal science. Of course there are errors along the way! The whole point of science is that you generate hypotheses, you make tentative conclusions, and you test them, and sometimes you’ll confirm your hypothesis (which means you’ve learned something), and sometimes you’ll falsify it (in which case you’ve learned something else). Do you know why Maher’s father got the wrong treatment? Because the cause of ulcers, the bacterium Helicobacter pyloris, was not discovered to be the causal agent until 19-fucking-84. Maher is complaining about an important medical discovery, one that won the Nobel Prize, because scientists didn’t discover it soon enough for him.

    As for cancer, he has no idea of the huge strides that have been made in the last few decades to understand the molecular causes. We can tease those apart pretty thoroughly; the problem is that cancer is a thousand diseases with a thousand alternative pathways that lead to the malignant state, and we don’t know how to treat them all. But like ulcers, this pompous ignoramus thinks we ought to be able to just snap our fingers and solve all the complex problems right now, because science.

    Science, that is, which Bill Maher does not understand.

    Next he goes off on a standard anti-vax trope: but maybe we’re giving kids too many vaccines. There have been no long term studies of groups of people who get a lot of vaccines, he whines. The kids are getting three times as many vaccines now as they did in the 1980s!

    It’s absurd. You are continuously assaulted by potential pathogens, while the vaccination schedule hits you with…26. Simply living slams you with far more foreign insults to your immune system. Maher tries to argue that maybe the bad thing about vaccines is that they insulate us from our environment. your immune system is not up to par, he implies, because you don’t use your immune system. Christ. Vaccinations specifically challenge your immune system, that’s how they work, and there are multitudes of pathogens you encounter — we’re not living in bubbles, you know.

    And yes, there have been a great many studies of vaccine safety — it is completely settled science, every bit as robust as the climate science he touts. The difference? Kooks build contrived, nonsensical stories in an attempt to discredit climate science, and Bill Maher dismisses them. Kooks build contrived, nonsensical stories in an attempt to discredit biomedical research, and Bill Maher…complains that they’re called kooks, and calls in a claque of kooks to surround him and agree with him.

    • Maher’s science bullshit lost him my in-laws (a physicist and a biologist) as viewers. They had been fans because they like his politics in a broad sense, but no more.

      • petesh

        It’s bullshit but one can hardly call it science. Sciencey, perhaps, but I prefer a club with a little more heft to it, like scientificologilifical; add a “pseudo-” to taste.

        • I meant “his bullshit on the topic of science.”

          • petesh

            Clearly; I just dislike giving him even the theoretical opportunity of misquoting as if actual science were within his purview, or worldview, or any kind of view.

    • tonycpsu

      Maher’s show is damn near unwatchable these days between his woo-curiousness and his Islamaphobia. We watched that episode because he had Janet Mock as a guest, but the panel discussion was a disaster — to give you an idea, woomonger extraordinaire Marianne Williamson was the sensible one.

      His AGW comparison was absurd, since the science on vaccines is at least as good as it is on climate change. Then he started riding his GMO hobby horse, at which point we fast-forwarded to the next topic.

      • Ronan

        I never really understood the time people have for Maher, and not even because of the ‘problematic’ aspects of his politics (which are real) but because he was neither (1) funny nor (2) an interesting personality/host. (IMO)

        • Thom

          I used to enjoy the show, but was increasingly put off by the shallowness of his anti-religious rants, the Islamophobia and anti-Arab and anti-Asian racism. And too often, the show devolved into shouting. I gave it up, and haven’t missed it.

          • Origami Isopod

            His misogyny put me off him well over a decade ago.

        • UncleEbeneezer

          I enjoyed him for a minute at first because he goofed on the people I think need goofing on and was doing so at a time when such mockery wasn’t often seen on tv. I soon came to realize that the rare instances where he made me laugh were more because I agreed with his point of view rather than him being particularly good at comedy (unlike say Stewart or Colbert.) Around the same time I started seeing just how colossally wrong he is on so many important topics (Islamophobia, ___ism, white privilege, both-sides-do-it, scientific woo etc.) and realized he was never really worth the time/attention. The people I know who still like him seem to be where I used to be. They enjoy the cheap shots at their foes but aren’t really that interested in much more than the surface-level.

    • mikeSchilling

      I rarely used to get flu shots, as a simple matter of cost-effectiveness: money and time expended vs. the fact that each winter I got sick about the same amount whether I got one or not. This year I got one because it was free at work and took only five minutes out of my day. It didn’t help, particularly: I’ve had something flu-like for a couple weeks, and mot of the people I work with have been sick too. So, I can’t say I’m a big fan.

      • petesh

        This year’s flu shots had less effectiveness than usual, but I have seen no reports that they actually made the onset worse. Most years they help more.

        • djw

          I used to not bother/’forget’ to get it, because a) I never seemed to actually get the flu anyway and b) I have a getting better but then-severe needlephobia. But it was a deeply irresponsible thing to do, especially since close to 50% of people who get–and spread–the virus are asymptomatic but remain contagious. Given how deadly the flu is, it’s important for the same reasons vaccines in general are.

          • Having a kid in the house and somewhat-fragile parents in their 80s is a good spur for me to think about something bigger than how annoying I find my body’s reaction to the shot.

            • Aimai

              Right–I think that having kids, and now elderly parents or pregnant friends, is when a lot of people make the transition from “fuck you I’m busy” to “holy shit I need to get vaccinated.” As for me, since I had kids 18 years ago I’m too busy to be able to afford getting sick. If someone wants to offer me a 15 percent chance of not catchign the flu I’m going to take it. Ammeurtized over the years when they “get it right” and the shot perfectly protects against the major flu that year I figure on balance getting the shot every year ends up being a net gain for me. In any event now that I work with young children I have to get it. And I want to be healthy so I can deal with my parents who are in their 80’s. All in all, not to be dick cheney about it, the cost in time/money to me of the flu shot is worth it even if one year out of ten the shot doesn’t end up protecting me.

              • UncleEbeneezer

                Right–I think that having kids, and now elderly parents or pregnant friends, is when a lot of people make the transition from “fuck you I’m busy” to “holy shit I need to get vaccinated.”

                (Raising hand) Yup. Just had to go visit my Mother-In-Law who had a double lung transplant (and is doing great) and I came down with the flu the day that we boarded the plane. We stayed at a motel and I kept my distance from her during the trip, but boy do I feel awful about not having gotten the flu shot. One flu bout would be enough to kill her. Definitely getting the flu shot from now on.

    • DocAmazing

      Probably the best reason to get the flu shot has nothing to do with atsying healthy over the winter (you won’t; there are many, many other communicable viruses other than Influenzavirus running around in the population) but rather to inhibit the momentum of global influenza pandemics. Influenza kills, period. It is a very scary virus (read The Great Influenza by John M. Barry for details), and it is in everyone’s interest to arrest its spread.

      • DrDick

        I lost a great uncle, who was under 18, during the 1918 epidemic. It is indeed a very scary virus that far too many take far too lightly. I have not had the flu once since I started getting immunized 16 years ago. I used to get it every winter. I also do not get colds very often or a number of other winter ailments I used to, and I work in a petri dish.

        • DocAmazing

          I like to point out that the First World War, 1914-1918, which represented the pinnacle of human ingenuity turned to killing other humans, killed eighteen million people in a little under four years, while the Spanish Flu pandemic, 1918-1919, killed a minimum of twenty million (many investigators and historians believe that number to be greater than one hundred million) in about fourteen months.

          • Origami Isopod

            According to Barry the pandemic killed at least 2.5% of all human beings on earth, possibly as many as 5%.

          • kateislate

            I don’t want to get in the way of your larger point, but my understanding is that a significant number of the Spanish Flu deaths were not from influenza – rather, they were from the bacterial pneumonia that followed it.

      • Origami Isopod

        Seconding the recommendation for The Great Influenza. Barry is not the best of writers and his editor should have used the red pencil more liberally, but the history is absolutely worth reading. That of the 1918 virus itself, and that of the formation of the U.S. medical establishment.

  • The Pale Scot

    He said “rotors are designed to be compressed, that it isn’t actually a problem”

    What Clap-Trap! I’ve seen studies about the so called “resilience”of high carbon, chromates steel. Might as well use birch bark.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    In response to owlbear’s points above, (“Bad Teeth are not a communicable disease….Cavities can’t be spread by kissing.”)

    this is mostly wrong:
    Most tooth decay is caused by Streptococcus mutans and related bacteria, which are in fact communicable. One of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay by S. mutans is…fluoride, which inhibits one of its key enzymes.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streptococcus_mutans

    • Malaclypse

      Hog-wash and clap-trap. I’ve watched every single episode of The Flintstones ever made, and it seems clear that our cave-man ancestors had great teeth, despite the lack of fluoridation. A Paleo diet like they had will prevent tooth decay.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        we had a pickup with the potential for flintstone-style brakes after the floorboards rotted out

        • Little known fact about the Flintstones: their deep connection to the Mets.

          “Separated at Birth” from Spy.

        • Sev

          I believe your mechanic should have fit you with a new set of ‘brake shoes.’

      • Hogan

        Whatever test I need to order to fix you, I will do it.

        And you will pay for it.

      • Joe_JP

        must be those vitamins

    • Aimai

      Who are you, Dr. Ronnie James, DO if that’s your name to take away our children’s inalienable right to have their teeth rot and crumble away?

    • The Pale Scot

      Ya, please tell the one or two people who walk into the free clinic I volunteer at every week with the side of their face swollen up like a well fed chipmunk that dental disease isn’t a threat to their health.

      In a couple of years when the methicillin-resistance gene has spread thru out the biome abscesses are going to treated with a week in the hospital. In India newborns are dying from MRSA’s contracted from their mothers during delivery.

      ‘Superbugs’ Kill India’s Babies and Pose an Overseas Threat (NYT)

      • Aimai

        A horrifying read. Thanks for linking it Pale Scot.

    • Owlbear1

      I still feel uncomfortable forcing everyone to ingest Fluoride but I obviously can’t use that line of reasoning.

      From the article it looks like Fluoridation would also help fight Heart Disease.

  • keta

    That was a lovely piece of satire. Thanks for sharing.

  • Joe_JP

    Another way to go:

    Coming from a people nearly wiped out by disease, I say, “Fuck you, you superstitious, selfish anti-vaccination assholes.”

    h/t http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/cowpox-and-the-constitution/385245/

    Reminds me of the case where a lawyer noted that instead of banning peyote, Native Americans might worry about the evils of alcohol.

  • Owlbear1

    Two generations is not enough knowledge to declare it safe.

    10 generations of study will be closer to the mark.

    • dl

      You know, this kind of thing makes me think you just don’t like the taste of flouride.

    • Murc

      … you think we need 200 years to know that?

      You, sir, are a crank.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        i think ’10 generations of study’ is a much shorter length of time, years-wise- but i suspect a lot of things we don’t even *consider* questioning don’t have that much time-testing behind them, let alone the positive results we’ve seen since 1960

        • i think ’10 generations of study’ is a much shorter length of time, years-wise

          Maybe for some people. My family, ten generations would be more like 300 years. My grandfather was born 125 years before my son, and the little information I have about the generations before grandpa suggests they didn’t breed much faster.

          • Aimai

            You make your family sound like Palm Trees, all dropping their nuts (you should excuse the expression) every hundred years. Sounds like someone in your family was withholding his essence for quite a while.

            • The world couldn’t handle more of the __B fabulosity.

        • Murc

          My understanding is that “one generation” is generally assumed to be twenty years, when used as generic shorthand rather than, say, studying a specific family lines generational lengths.

          I don’t know if there’s linguistic consensus on that though. Regardless, it would be tricky for ten generations to be much less than 200 years, because in order to hit 200 you have to have people having kids, on average, every twenty years. If the average is even a little higher, it’s not going to be shorter; it’s going to be longer.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            i might have my wires crossed but i was thinking that the “10 generations” of study aren’t necessarily referring to human generations, maybe test animals. i think/hope eventually owlbear will clarify that phrase a bit

            • Warren Terra

              I really, really doubt this. I don’t know the shortest generation time for a toothed mammal, but the standard laboratory mouse has a generation time of circa three months. Since, say, 1955 there have been not ten but two hundred of those generations.

            • Owlbear1

              We need more than a single generation of humans as data.

              100 years of Human data and I think I’d be comfortable mandating Fluoride.

              30 to 40 more years of study.

              • wjts
                • Owlbear1

                  We do seem to have identified Fluoride as good for teeth.

                • wjts

                  So we have 100+ years of human data demonstrating that water containing somewhere around 1.0 mg fluoride per liter has demonstrable benefits for dental health. This same 100+ years of human data shows that the only drawback to drinking water containing this level of fluoride (which is lower than the naturally occurring fluoride level in groundwater for several parts of the world) is that it is capable of inducing mild dental fluorosis in a small minority of the population. You said that data like that would make you comfortable with mandating fluoridation. So there you go.

              • What about water chlorination? That started just 100 years ago with only 10 years of testing. We have fewer years of data on it than on fluoride. Should we stop mandating that people ingest that substance too?

                • Lee Rudolph

                  The only safe halogen for use in drinking water is clearly astatine. Pass it on!

      • sibusisodan

        C’mon Murc. Be fair. We can only know that someone is a crank after observing them for ten generations, give or take. Until then we’re just running an uncertain experiment.

        [Sorry for the snark. But I’ve actually published in the Journal of Fluorine Chemistry. This is a topic about which I am slightly less ignorant than usual, so it has got on my wick]

      • Owlbear1

        You think a partial lifetime is enough to mandate everyone participate?

        How about a 100 years then?

        • DocAmazing

          In all seriousness, you have to ask yourself “What are we testing for?” Some problems show up right away; others take time to develop, but many of those will show up in lab animals with much shorter lifespans or in more subtle changes in some part of the people exposed. Multigenerational studies are more useful to see if there has been genetic damage done; lifetime exposure to fluoride in Grandpa is not really different from lifetime exposure to fluoride in Granddaughter.

          • DrDick

            It is quite clear that Owlbear has no idea how biomedical research is done or what the standard protocols are.

            • DocAmazing

              In fairness, it’s a pretty small fraction of the population that knows or cares.

            • Owlbear1

              I know enough to know it’s not infallible.

              • Aimai

                Nobody is saying it is infallible. But there are protocols and there are actually people out there doing the god damned research trying to improve the human condition. A generalized suspicion of science is as foolish as a generalized belief in it. Look at the science, or ask people you trust to do it and stop guessing about it. Because that is all you are doing at this point: guessing in order to be vindicated in your overall worldview which is anti government more than it is anti science, or anti hubris perhaps. And yet every day you participate in and benefit from scientific advances.

                • ChrisTS

                  Thanks, Aimai. Where would you like your Internets delivered?

    • My favourite part of this lunacy is the magic number: 10! 10 generations will be enough! Not a paltry 9 and not an overwrought 11, but that perfect incarnate, 10!

      I have no idea what effect you are even looking fore across 10, TEN! I TELL YOU, generations. Generations is a weird measure. Do you think there’s some sort of genetic damage? Typically, for safety, we look at numbers of people and time of exposure. Why having 10 serial participants instead of 10 concurrent participants is so much better is…nonsense.

      • DocAmazing

        Seven generations was good enough for the Hebrew patriarchs.

        • We can’t trust fluoride until we’ve seen its effect on a red heifer.

        • Yeah, but Hebrew-patriarch generations lasted a couple of centuries each.

          • DocAmazing

            They were dipping into that crystal Methuselah.

            • Not to mention the El SD.

              • sibusisodan

                Manna-bis

            • I would like to credit their Paleo diet but events of only 6000 years ago aren’t really “paleo”. Antediluvian diet?

              • Todd

                Seder-Busters!
                40 Year Wait Watchers
                Cro-Kosher

              • Sev

                This seems like the proper context to paste/post this, for any who didn’t see it- re how our bones are strengthened by hard shocks more than calcium supplements:

                http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141222165033.htm

                • Lee Rudolph

                  how our bones are strengthened by hard shocks

                  So I guess the bones in my face must be pretty strong, after all the times I slam it into my desk each day?

                • I believe that link to be illegal in New Zealand, on account of the degree to which our dairy industry relies on appeals to osteoporosis prevention in its advertising for milk consumption, regardless of all the empirical findings to the contrary.

                • I thought the load bearing aspects of bone development were already well known? I’ve heard it for years and I know my beloved and her brother were told to increase her load bearing activities for this reason.

      • mikeSchilling

        This study goes up to 11.

      • Owlbear1

        It was an easy number. A starting point.

        Why the hell are you so angry?

        • sibusisodan

          Because your starting point is made up and unjustified, and if we took it seriously would invalidate centuries of medical progress and millions of lives saved.

          The polio virus went through, I think, 5 years of testing before the eradication programming started in earnest. We’ve now almost wiped it out.

          Would you apply your standard to the polio vaccine? Why or why not?

          • Owlbear1

            No, because Polio kills people or maims them for life.

            It’s also a single injection not something they will have to consume on a daily basis.

            The vaccine targets a specific disease and is not being purposed as an additive to the entire water supply.

            • Scott Lemieux

              No, because Polio kills people or maims them for life.

              So, like dental diseases.

              It’s also a single injection not something they will have to consume on a daily basis.

              How this is relevant to anything is…unclear. On the other hand, needles are SCARY! We need 25 generations before requiring polio vaccinations!

              The vaccine targets a specific disease

              So, like fluoride.

              and is not being purposed as an additive to the entire water supply.

              This argument is just purely tautological. “Fluoride shouldn’t be added to water supplies, despite overwhelming evidence for its effectiveness, because it’s an addition to the water supply.” Sorry, you need an argument for why this matters.

              • sibusisodan

                Two additions:

                The adverse effects of water fluoridation haven’t been specified. But even if we assume they’re bad, they’re not as bad as the adverse effects of a poor polio vaccine – in that it might give you polio! I don’t see why you wouldn’t mandate a longer trial period if the bad effects are really severe. Assuming we’re being consistent.

                Also,we don’t have ten generations of data for any water treatment! Even the ones that mean I don’t get cholera.

                • Ronan

                  I’m just surprised that owlbear1 is willing to sit so close to a computer.

                • The main side effect is dental flurosis which, when caused by water fluoridation, is typically aesthetic only. Which is not to say that its negligible! For kids 1-4 one should be careful not to overexpose them to fluoride (e.g., let them swallow toothpaste).

              • sibusisodan

                [double post]

              • Owlbear1

                Getting an injection is still a voluntary act. Drinking water isn’t.

                It matters because of the assumption of infallibility.

                • djw

                  Drinking tap water is entirely voluntary.

                  As docamazing notes below, public health is all about relative risk. Infallibility has nothing to do with anything.

                • Malaclypse

                  You do understand that water is going to be treated, right? And your insistence that the rest of us need to tailor how we treat water to your exact specifications, which are not based on, well, anything, is not a workable system. The only way the system works is to treat water based on science, not the specific set of superstitions that one particular individual has. And Bijan and others have given you lots of links to studies. You have not actually presented a single thing that could be called a shred of evidence. If you want to drink water based on your superstitions, you are free to find a stream somewhere.

                • sibusisodan

                  It matters because of the assumption of infallibility.

                  No one, least of all those of us with experience of scientific research, is making an assumption of infallibility.

                  There are so, so many examples of science doing harm despite its best efforts that its downright hubristic to think its infallible.

                  But evidence beats lack of evidence any day of the week and twice on Sundays. If you don’t think we should do this thing which we all agree has positive effects, bring the data which supports your position.

                • It matters because of the assumption of infallibility.

                  Actually, what’s going on here is your *requirement* for infallibility (of some sort). Hence your ridiculous 10 generations criterion.

                  Silly!

        • Warren Terra

          Because the span you describe takes us back to the Napoleonic Wars, for heaven’s sake. Before refrigeration and indoor toilets, let alone fluoridation. That is absurd.

          • mikeSchilling

            At least by now we’ve had enough time to prove conclusively that invading Russia is bad for you.

        • djw

          Bijan’s post doesn’t come across as angry to me; you may be confusing anger with dismissiveness. You said something silly, and he’s sort of marveling at how silly it is.

          If he were angry, though, a good reason would be this: you’re willing to consign untold thousands of people to unnecessary pain, suffering, and yes, occasionally death, in order to conform with a standard that by your own admission you can’t even explain, let alone defend, because it “feels right” to you. That’s pretty much textbook narcissism.

          • Bijan’s post doesn’t come across as angry to me; you may be confusing anger with dismissiveness. You said something silly, and he’s sort of marveling at how silly it is.

            That’s the right reading!

            But I presume owlsillybear is either reacting to the general anger toward him (which, as you say, is full justified) or pissed off because their “10 generations!” clearly is so ridiculous at multiple levels it destroys their credibly. I mean, it really is hilarious!

        • It was an easy number. A starting point.

          What’s easy about it?

          Thank you for admitting that, in spite of your brash confidence in presenting it, you pulled it out of your ass without any regard for whether it made sense.

          Why the hell are you so angry?

          Angry? That was an expression of angry so severe that you reacted thus? I am genuinely amused. I’m also grateful because I can use this in my experiment design sessions with students. You are a wonderful negative example.

          So, to reiterate, there is nothing about multiple generations, whether 10 or not, the specifically speaks to whether fluoridation of water is net helpful or harmful.

          Technically speaking, you’re just a denialist. That should make you uncomfortable.

          • dr. fancypants

            What’s easy about it?

            He can keep track of it on his fingers?

    • Todd

      I’m only now coming around on the efficacy of lightning rods.

    • Ronan

      Please god advances in teeth care in 200 yrs time will have made the conversation redundant.

    • Malaclypse

      10 generations of study will be closer to the mark.

      We have not had 10 generations of study to see whether treating water for cholera is a good idea. It is nevertheless a good idea.

    • DrDick

      You do not even need more than a few years if your sample is large enough and adequately age stratified. The only kinds of effects which might not show until subsequent generations are mutagenic effects and those would show up quite quickly if you had enough women of childbearing age in your sample. Given the numbers of people of all ages exposed since 1960, we have had definitive evidence since at least 1970 (probably by 1965).

  • Warren Terra

    From BBC Radio Four’s Now Show, Mitch Benn’s Vaccinate Your Kids is pretty great.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      Our DJ played that last night – it was hilarious!

  • DocAmazing

    All right, we’re all in good form and full of snark today, and that’s a fine thing, but it doesn’t address the problem.

    I have some modest experience dealing with this subject, so please forgive me while I unroll my yoga mat and squat here.

    First, as has been pointed out, the vaccine-shy are not a monolithic population. Those who dogmatically oppose all immunization are, in my experience, fairly rare. When I am speaking with them, I open the dicussion on immunization, make it clear that we can initiate immunization at any time if they change their minds, and move on. Can I spin scary stories? Sure. If I perceive that those will be useful, I’ll pull a few out–I have studied abroad and in Bakersfield, so I’ve seen the ravages of vaccine-preventable illness. However, some people are merely hardened by scary stories. Can I address some of the objections to immunizations? Sure. I even pull up numbers to show parents who are worried about Big Pharma that vaccines are very low-margin and that pharma companies have to be bribed by the government to continue to manufacture them.

    However, I have to accept a very old dictum: Some ya win, some ya lose. Some parents are not going to allow me to immunize their kids. Move on.

    The majority of vaccine-shy parents are concerned about what I call “the immune-overload hypothesis”–the idea that giving too many vaccines all at once is a heavy load on the immune system. Can I point out that a ride on a city bus exposes one to much more of an immune load? Sure. Not useful most of the time. Many of these parents are fans of the Robert Sears MD school of spacing out immunizations. Is that ideal? No, but it’s harm reduction. As long as I can talk them into getting an MMR into their kid at twelve months, we’ve accomplished something.

    People are irrational. That’s just something you learn to work with.

    • Joe_JP

      Appreciated

      All right, we’re all in good form and full of snark today, and that’s a fine thing, but it doesn’t address the problem.

      It doesn’t “address” the problem but if “people are irrational” and you win some, lose some, there needs to be some coping mechanism along with other devices.

      I think snark in a limited fashion helps on some level. Shame and ridicule does pressure those who doubt but not enough to weather such things. This can be a sizable class. People generally like to go with the crowd & if their diversion is not seen as acceptable, they might relent.

      Also, it might help for some cynical pols like Christie who (I gather) doesn’t really have some deep scientific knowledge, but is something of a troll here to get votes. If shame and ridicule makes being a vaccine denier/truther something controversial, it might hurt someone like him. I gather he wants to thread the needle and not come off as Michele Bachman on science topics.

      Shame and ridicule also in effect degrade positions. They are just stupid and/or appalling, not even worth reasoning to dispute. Some positions deserve such devaluation mechanisms.

      • DocAmazing

        he wants to thread the needle

        I see what you etc.

        • rea

          And again I say unto you, It is easier for a governor of New Jersey to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

    • Linnaeus

      I’m professionally acquainted with people who study the public health dimensions of vaccines, with varying emphasis on the medical, social, and historical components and they pretty much say what you do here.

    • Aimai

      Thank you for this post DocAmazing. It wasn’t so very long ago that I was a new mother with one, then suddenly two, new babies. I well remember the boatload of crazed advice I was getting from other parents in my social circle, and other relatives, and randomly from people on the street–you literally get stopped all the time once you are pregnant and later when you have a baby with people determined to lecture you on the topic of child care or what you are doing or wearing. You go from being a private person to being publicly owned, as far as most people are concerned.

      I had begun hearing all kinds of rumors about vaccines and about diseases–the “chicken pox parties” were starting. And even though I’m the child of a scientist and extremely pro science I began to get the feeling that perhaps where there was smoke there was fire? I don’t watch daytime TV and was outside the loop of celebrity autism crap so this was just sort of in the water and air. People–upper class people that is–were starting to negotiate these drawn out immunization schedules. I can’t actually remember what my doctor said about it and I think we just gave both children all their shots on time but perhaps for the second one I raised some questions about it with the older child’s preschool teacher. And she pulled me up short and said, firmly, “I can’t allow any children to come to this preschool if they are unvaccinated because I might have pregnant teachers or other immunocompromised people here who would be at risk.” And a lightbulb went off over my head and I suddenly realized that vaccines were for everyone’s protection, not just for my child’s protection.

      I think its important for doctors, other parents, and teachers to have this conversation with parents because you are so buffeted by your new responsibility for the child, so overwhelmed by everyone’s critical lectures, so influenced by books like “What to Expect When You are Expecting” and all the other crap that is thrown at new parents that makes them completely hysterical with fear that they might do the wrong thing and accidentally harm their baby.

      From outside of new parenthood its easy to judge people and say they are indulgent, or yuppie scum, or stupid upper class morons, or whatever. But the truth of the matter is that most of these parents are just trying to do the right thing in a tsunami of advice. And that tsunami of advice puts an enormous load of blame on parents for not eating the right things, buying the right things, listening to the right things. Every single thing you eat, sleep, drink, take for medication is watched when you are pregnant and for many women (and some fathers) this scrutiny extends right through until the baby is weaned. I’ve known women to be forced onto the most draconian elimination diets trying to get breast feeding to “work” with a kid who has mystery allergies or who isn’t thriving enough.

      Its crazy how much pressure is put on people to produce and nurture the perfect baby and how terrified they are that they will make a mistake. Its really not surprising that vaccines get caught up in this.

      • DocAmazing

        Having the necessary conversation with new parents is difficult for pediatricians, because we’ve got to see twenty kids in an eight-hour span (and answer phone calls, and respond to emails, and…) and “helpful” people with lots of well-meaning but poorly-founded advice have all day. We have gravitas or something on our side, but that only goes so far.

        • Aimai

          I definitely dont think the burden should be on the dictir. Thats why i said:dictors,parents, teachers.

  • As Drs Gordon and Sears have explained many times over, the personal decision to opt out of brakes remains safe, because enough other people do have them.

    • Unless one is seated in a sidewalk cafe.

      • rea

        One of my brothers-in-law was hit by a car with bad brakes at a gas station. He was inside the building paying the cashier at the time.

        • petesh

          Please forgive me for laughing out loud (your phrasing was immaculate), and I hope he was not badly injured.

        • Warren Terra

          This is why the meddlers want to mandate the installation of pay-at-the-pump card readers

  • Buckeye623

    This entire thing is actually a complete lack of understanding of risk.

    Although there is always a non-zero risk associated with anything including vaccines, the risk of a non-vaccinated kid having a bad outcome after catching the disease in question is higher by several orders of magnitude than taking the vaccine. The chance of a non-vaccinated kid catching the terrible disease in question is 100% because there is no effective defense other than the vaccine against the risk of contracting the disease.

    If it’s 1 in 1,000,000 for permanent damage from the vaccine vs 1 in 1000 for a bad outcome from contracting the disease, which is the better choice?

    • DocAmazing

      Relative risk is a very hard thing to get people to accept. I frequently point out to parents that exposure to gasoline fumes while the child is sitting in the family car carries risk, let alone that cars kill more kids in the US than just about any other cause. Most tune out pretty quickly; cars, riskier than vaccines? Not my Mini!

      • DrDick

        Most people are absolutely incapable of rational risk assessment, I am afraid.

        • mikeSchilling

          But how big a problem is that?

          • DrDick

            How many adolescents or college students do you know?

            • Aimai

              I thought MikeSchilling was making a joke.

              • Malaclypse

                We can’t be sure, so I vote we burn him as a witch. One can’t be too careful.

              • DrDick

                The problem is that his comment made as much sense as Owlbear’s have.

        • LosGatosCA

          Two qualifications I would put on that:

          1. They are better (although not necessarily good) at making rational risk assessments for other people. The ones who are not the special snowflakes.

          2. The reason that they are non-rational about risk assessment for themselves is because they believe themselves to be special snowflakes.

          Facts only matter to people subject to them.

      • Linnaeus

        People normalize risks, I think, when it comes to most everyday activities. Which is understandable, since avoiding many of these risks would be tantamount to withdrawing from modern society (or would at least greatly impact one’s ability to function in modern society). Something like a vaccine is a discrete event that people have more control over. To borrow language from my job, vaccines are like “point source pollution” whereas gas fumes are “nonpoint sources” The latter can be harder to control because they are diffuse and pervasive.

        • Warren Terra

          I think there is also an issue of active versus passive: people can rationalize avoiding the active step of submitting to an injection, and can fear committing to that action, even though thereby they passively assume a larger risk to themselves and others.

          • Aimai

            Interestingly enough Owlbear’s objection went the other way: shots were ok because they were discrete “point source” events while the flouride in the water was diffuse and therefore more frightening.

            But I do agree with you that people can be irrationally frightened of, or irrationally determined to control, just a few among many of the scary things around them. And they may even use the focus on one thing to distract from fears about others. Just the way (some) anorexics use control of eating as a way of distracting or coping with other anxieties.

  • calling all toasters

    Hey, if everyone else uses their brakes at stop signs, then why should I bother? #herdbraking #notacrankjustselfish

  • Pingback: Lessons From Vaccine Trooferism - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money()

  • thispaceforsale

    On fluoride, I’m not sure the health science is settled.
    One of the few states that does not fluoridate, NJ, doesn’t have higher carry (tooth decay) rates that those states that do fluoridate. And while tooth decay has increased countrywide over the last 50 years, so has dental hygiene overall.
    Fluoride has been shown to benefit teeth in topical application, but when ingested there is a paucity of research showing efficacy.
    What’s more troubling is that for almost all medicine, dosage matters. It would be laughable to suggest a 250lb adult gets the same amount of X as a 50lb, 6yr old child. And if someone has 8 glasses of water a day vs 4 glasses of water a day, they have ingested twice as much fluoride- but these items have not been answered.
    What is known is that at high enough levels, fluoride is a neurotoxin. The recent meta-analysis of the impact of fluoride on neuorological development in children, http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1104912/ does suggest that more information is very much needed. And it is slightly troubling that the burden is on proving the safety in order to withhold, rather than on proving the efficacy before enacting treatment.

    • JMP

      “On fluoride, I’m not sure the health science is settled.”

      That’s nice. You are wrong. The health science is absolutely settled.

    • On fluoride, I’m not sure the health science is settled.

      As far as I can tell, it is.

      One of the few states that does not fluoridate, NJ, doesn’t have higher carry (tooth decay) rates that those states that do fluoridate.

      Cite? Did you see my link to the Birmingham/Manchester study above?

      Fluoride has been shown to benefit teeth in topical application, but when ingested there is a paucity of research showing efficacy.

      But…most ingested water runs topically over the teeth. Ingested fluoride gets into the salvia which, again, goes topically on the teeth.

      Here’s a systematic review (2008)!

      In total, 5418 nonduplicate citations were identified. After applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 408 citations were considered potentially eligible for inclusion in the review. After the review of the full papers of potentially eligible articles, 77 citations were included in the review. The summary of findings was presented in the context of the research questions (Table 3).

      RECOMMENDATIONS:
      Fluoridation of drinking water remains the most effective and socially equitable means of achieving community-wide exposure to the caries prevention effects of fluoride. It is recommended (see also http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/news/media/rel07/_files/fluoride_flyer.pdf) that water be fluoridated in the target range of 0.6-1.1 mg/l, depending on the climate, to balance reduction of dental caries and occurrence of dental fluorosis.n particular with reference to care in hospital for those following stroke.

      You can read lots more! (That’s the safety page…follow the link to the benefits page!)

      What’s more troubling is that for almost all medicine, dosage matters. It would be laughable to suggest a 250lb adult gets the same amount of X as a 50lb, 6yr old child. And if someone has 8 glasses of water a day vs 4 glasses of water a day, they have ingested twice as much fluoride- but these items have not been answered.

      TWICE THE FLUORIDE!!! OH NOES!!!!! I mean, a 250lb adult totally drinks the same amount of water as a 50lb 6yr child! And it’s totally impossible for an intervention to have a range which is effective and yet safe over a typical consumption pattern! THERE’S NO WAY!?!?!?!? NO ONE HAS EVERY THOUGHT OF THIS EVER!!!

      And it is slightly troubling that the burden is on proving the safety in order to withhold, rather than on proving the efficacy before enacting treatment.

      Radically, the research considers safety, efficacy, and cost effectiveness! It’s not at all troubling that you wouldn’t note this: it’s pretty hilarious, frankly.

  • ZaftigAmazon

    Just Checking.

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