The question has to be asked – why after denigrating opponents of fluoridation and claiming that she has the science on her side, will Dr Dickinson not front up to a public debate like she agreed?
Auckland University Professor Michelle Dickinson, aka science blogger “Nanogirl” has backed down on debating Professor Paul Connett, Senior Advisor to the Fluoride Action Network. Dr Dickinson agreed in an email correspondence on Sunday with Fluoride Free New Zealand (FFNZ) that “she was happy to debate” and that “it was a debate that needs to happen”. She said she would debate Prof Connett, providing it was on a mainstream television channel. The Nation and Q+A TV programmes were both considering hosting the debate.
However, she is now claiming she never agreed in the first place. FFNZ say Michelle needs to explain herself.
Dickinson has been an outspoken critic of people opposed to fluoridation on her blog and said in an opinion piece for the NZ Herald that fluoridation opponents consistently prolong the fluoridation debate and referred to them as “purveyors of non-science woo woo.”
Media Spokesperson for FFNZ, Mary Byrne says, “It looks like Michelle has found out the hard way, that it is not the opponents of fluoridation that are purveying non-science woo-woo, but the promoters. This should give the public and decision makers, who take their cue from people such as Michelle, serious pause for thought”.
Dickinson blogged that water is toxic if we have too much of it and asked, “does this mean we need to start warning people about the dangers of drinking water too?” She added, “you would need to drink 1220 glasses of water in a day for it to be possibly toxic” and “perhaps your messages should be less concerned about the levels of fluoride in the water, and more concerned about the dangers of water itself!
Byrne says, “Michelle has now probably read a response to her blog from Prof Connett, where he explained that the activists that Michelle was criticising were actually correct. Fluoride does have harmful effects at low doses. The Ministry of Health reports that 41% of children in New Zealand have some form of dental fluorosis, the first outward sign of fluoride toxicity. This proves children are getting a toxic dose. Perhaps Michelle had never thought about it like this before, and has now realised how mistaken she has been”.
If Dickinson is not comfortable to front a debate, then Sir Peter Gluckman should make himself available. Mary Byrne says, “The New Zealand public and our MPs are relying on the science Prof Gluckman has provided. It would say an awful lot if he was not prepared to publicly stand by his scientific position in a debate.”
Fluoride Free New Zealand says it is well overdue for a proper debate to be held on this subject. “For too long we have only heard one side of the argument and we are tired of people like Michelle denigrating those of us opposed to fluoridation when they don’t have the guts to stand up in public and defend it in a fair debate.” Mary adds, “If she has realised there is more to the issue than she thought, she should have the integrity to say so.”
Parliament will debate the 2nd reading of the fluoridation bill on the 6th of June.