That is, back when the Theory of Evolution was still hotly debated. Oh, wait.
From the Paper Of Record: news that a bill, which requires all public water supplies fluoridate their water, is causing a political stir as it works its way through the state legislature in Jersey. The most shocking fact trottted out in the opening grafs is that only 14 percent of NJ residents have access to fluoridated water, placing it next to last place, only in front of Hawaii. Yet despite this appalling statistic, it is not clear whether the bill will even pass, and if it does, it is equally unclear whether Governor Chris Christie (R) will sign it.
Why is such an obviously beneficial bill having a hard time mustering sufficient support to come into law? It's the usual recipe: misinformation fueled by anti-intellectualism encouraged by demagogues. The article notes that opponents cite websites such as the Fluoride Action Network, whose citation of papers and studies is selective at best in making claims that it is linked to bone cancer and lower IQ among other scourges. The website is sleek and impressive, which no doubt must play a role in convincing people that the anti-fluoridaters are legit and not merely cranks. Like the global warming deniers, the internet has become a powerful tool to disseminate nonsense.
What about all those public health officials and their claims as to the safety and benefits of fluoridate water? Well, they're part of the vast government machinery which conspires to "[medicate] us without our consent," as one insane woman, Ms. Jennifer DiOrio, states. A high school teacher, DiOrio is responsible for the intellectual welfare of her teenage charges, a chilling thought.
Just speculating here, but Governor Christie's current hedge on this issue is likely due in part to his national political ambitions and not wishing to provoke the ire of the far-right constituency currently proving such an irritation to the Romney campaign. As Governor Rick Perry discovered after having supported--in what was unquestionably good policy--a mandate for girls in Texas to receive the HPV vaccine, the road to the Republican nomination is very difficult if one runs afoul of these voters. Since their world-view is utterly cocooned from reality, as they do not believe any scientific data that undermines their preconceived notions, trying to explain to them that there's abundant data supporting the safety and benefits of such a policy is vastly riskier for an aspiring presidential candidate than just vetoing the bill and offering up some cheap fart about government overreach.