I am enough of a libertarian that I supported the Ron Paul presidential candidacy, and that was in 1988. As such, I am baffled when someone with a libertarian mindset embraces government-centered conspiracy theories. Someone who thinks the government is too incompetent to be trusted with roads or schools simultaneously touts its ability to seamlessly pull off AIDS, tornadoes, mass shooting hoaxes, and inter-galaxy travel for purposes of alien diplomacy.
Then again, there are conspiracy theories about government agents trying to kill us that are consistent with a belief in government incompetence. This is because the agents have done such a lousy job of it. Fluoridated water, chemtrails, vaccines, and aspartame are all presented as attempts to poison the people, yet the average U.S. lifespan has doubled in the century that these supposed menaces have been introduced.
Skeptics point out that government agents would be drinking the same fluoridated water and breathing the same chemtrail-tainted air as the victims. The theorist response is that the agents have been given a magic potion that renders them immune. But if this were true, everyone except the plotters would be dying off, and what good is it to be a dark overlord when there’s nobody to rule over, conspire against, torment, and sicken?
We’ll now look at some of the ways conspiracy theorists insist the government is out to get us, starting with fluoridated water. This is when fluoride is added to a public water supply with the goal of improving oral health. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention lists fluoridated water as one of the 10 greatest health achievements of the 20th Century, as it helped reduce childhood cavities by 50 percent. The American Dental Association supported fluoridation, contradicting the conspiracy claim that doctors want to keep us sick. Although to a conspiracy theorist, that would be further proof that fluoridation DOES make us sick.
Some on the far right labeled fluoridated water a communist plot in the 1950s. Forty years later, some of the other end of the political spectrum asserted the process allowed the aluminum industry to dispose of waste by dumping it in our drinking water. In either case, it was made more frightening by pointing out that fluorine was used in nerve gas. That had nothing to do with the fluoridated water we brushed our teeth with, but it sounded the same and played on people’s ignorance of chemistry. This is a common tactic today among the anti-GMO and anti-vaccination throngs.
One legitimate concern over fluoridation did arise. In 2011, the recommended amount of fluoride in tap water was reduced from one milligram per liter to .7 milligrams per liter. The higher amount was thought to be contributing to dental fluorosis, a change in the appearance of dental enamel that occurs when teeth are forming under the gums. Dr. Joseph Mercola and other anti-fluoridation types touted this as proof that the government had been poisoning us with excess amounts of fluoride. But if this had been the case, the government would have surreptitiously added more fluoride, not announced a reduction. Anyway, fluorosis is merely a harmless discoloring and not a health concern.
Some members of the anti-fluoridation camp claim fluoride causes headaches, fatigue, fainting, arthritis, cancer, Down’s syndrome, lower IQs, cardiovascular disease, and even AIDS. It is applied to so many ailments that almost any health problem could be attributed to it.
Others took a less alarmist approach, but said we just don’t know enough about it, despite repeated studies demonstrating its safety. This is a common technique among a subset of conspiracy theorists – vaguely suggesting something may be out there and that we may not be being told the whole story. This is attractive to the subset’s members, who prefer the ideas be more ominous, mysterious, and spooky. This logic could be applied to oxygen by pointing out that everyone who consumes it eventually dies.
If fluoridation fails to prevent cavities, a patient could have them filled by the next item on our list, amalgam fillings. These are about 50 percent mercury, 25 percent silver, some copper and tin, and trace amounts of other metals. Where some people see a repaired molar, other see deadly corrosive metals invading a victim’s mouth. Hydrogen is an explosive gas and oxygen supports combustion, but drinking water won’t make one explode and catch fire, and amalgam fillings will not poison a patient.
Mercola has weighed in on this as well, calling mercury toxic, but toxicity is determined by dosage, not the element or chemical. He claims these fillings are polluting the body, causing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, though somehow not adversely affecting the tooth or mouth. Some patients panic and remove their amalgam feelings. The FDA and ADA call this is a bad idea, which Mercola insists is further proof of a decades-long conspiracy to conceal the dangers of this “biochemical train wreck.”
So there are now mercury-free fillings. On its website, Dental Designs Vancouver employs the ad populum fallacy by pointing out some European countries have banned the fillings. It also takes delight in the EPA calling mercury a waste disposal hazard. There were 21 people killed in the Great Molasses Flood, but that doesn’t mean avoid gingerbread cookies. What matters is how a substance is employed and the amount used.
The website also trots out the “We just don’t know yet, so why take a chance” gambit. You could also get hit by a train on your way to get their mercury-free fillings, but you should base your decision on reason and science, not unfounded scenarios.
Then there is focusing on avoiding cavities in the first place. This is an excellent idea in itself, but has been highjacked by lunacy. The Infiltration of pseudomedicine into dentistry is not as pronounced as in other disciplines, but there are some instances of it. Dr. Hal Huggins cites the benefits of “balancing body chemistry” by eating the right foods and removing amalgam fillings. He claims diseases and conditions can be cured by diet alone, but that amalgam fillings disrupt this process, owing to their “negative electrical current.” Conditions that can be fixed by munching on fruit salad with amalgam-free teeth include anxiety, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, ulcers, and leukemia.
Enough about mammal enamel. Onto our next manufactured concern, bees dying off in dangerous numbers. Some tried to blame this on GMO corn, but this idea largely lost out to pinning it on neonicotinoid pesticides.
This panic began in 2006 when Colony Collapse Disorder caused honey bee queens to perish and hive populations to plummet. This disorder is a periodic, unexplained phenomenon in which bees abandon the hive, usually in the fall. In spite of this, bee populations aren’t declining. They have risen by 60 percent since 1960, and there are more bees today than before the 2006 collapse. Populations in North America and Europe have been stable or growing in the two decades that neonicotinoids have been used.
A paper by agricultural economists Randal Tucker and Walter Thurman explained that seasonal declines are a normal aspect of the field, so beekeepers devised a method to replenish their stock. They split a colony in two, with one half receiving a new queen ($25 online for any neophyte apiarists out there).
One misinformed concern was that the dwindling number of honeybees represented a collapsing ecosystem. However, honeybees are not a natural part of North American ecosystem, having been imported from Europe.
If bees do die off, we might have to rely on aspartame for our sweetening. And sweetpoison.com warns us this will cause both blindness and an upset stomach.