~ Fluoridation Canberra 1963 ~
Sir James Killen not support
House of Representatives
10 October 1963
EXTRACT FROM HANSARD – 24th Parliament · 1st Session
Original → CANBERRA WATER SUPPLY
CANBERRA WATER SUPPLY
.- I move -
That, in view of conflicting evidence available on the value of fluoridation of water, this House is of opinion that the decision to introduce fluoride into the water in the Canberra area should be suspended.
I want to say, at the outset, that if water in the Canberra area should be fluoridated that will undoubtedly act as a spur to the introduction of fluoride into water throughout Australia. In my view, it would set the pattern for the commencement of fluoridation on a widespread scale. This motion is designed to cut off the introduction of fluoride into the water in the Canberra area. I have submitted the motion to the House because I believe there is anything but unanimity of medical opinion on this matter. I regard as one of the conspicuous fictions of our day the claim that there is complete unanimity on the matter of the value and benefit of fluoride in water supplies.
Before I proceed to submit the evidence regarding that opinion to the House for consideration, may I briefly say something about the question of numbers, because some of the most ardent protagonists of fluoridation say, “ In any eventuality, the great majority of medical opinion in this world is in favour of fluoridation “. It strikes me as being a strange display of intellectual honesty when the truth and the validity of any scientific matter should be and can bc determined merely by numbers.
I want to assume, for the purposes of my argument, that there is no disunity in this matter. I want merely to take the argument that the overwhelming number of medical practitioners take the view that the introduction of fluoride into water is of immense value. I am dealing now with the numbers argument. I want to remind those who embrace the argument that the overwhelming number of medical practitioners would have been prepared to certify to the professional incompetency of Lister, Jenner, Pasteur and Madame Curie. So I say to those who use the argument, “We have the numbers on our side in this matter “, that they should recall the fact that some of the most remarkable scientific discoveries of this age have been supported against numbers.
The adoption of any scientific truth and its installation as truth call, first, for intellectual honesty and then for an empiricism which is not to be denied. As an example of contrary opinion or opinion which would certainly build up some measure of doubt as to the value of fluoridation, the first person to whom I refer is Sir Arthur Amies. I interrupt myself to say that the readiness with which some of the protagonists of fluoridation say that those who are opposed to it or have any doubts about it are incompetent, bewilders and frightens me. They never deal with their opponents’ arguments; they deal only with their motives and character. Listen to what Sir Arthur Amies, professor of Dental Medicine and Surgery, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Science and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne has to say in a paper delivered some years ago in Adelaide and published in “ Australian Dental Journal “ volume 4, No. 2, of April, 1959, on pages 76 to 85. I am sorry to weary the House with this, but one must be meticulous in this matter, a trait, I am unhappy to say, which is not always observed in some of the protagonists of fluoridation. This is what Sir Arthur Amies had to say in that paper -
I suggest therefore, that the time has come when we should be prepared to agree with the wise philosophic comment of the late Professor Brash: “ There comes a point in the history of any subject in which much of the discussion has been of a speculative nature, when it is essential to clear the ground; to examine critically general conclusions which are currently repeated; to probe the basis of facile hypothesis; and face with frankness the sometimes not very welcome fact that speculation, though it may on occasion anticipate discovery is no substitute for enquiry “.
He went on to say – 1 do not intend here to enter the fluoridation controversy as such, but I think all would agree that if we are to be forward-looking as a profession charged with advising the public concerning dental health, fundamental issues and their implications must be faced with scientific honesty. Fluoridation of domestic water supplies involves the administration with therapeutic intent of a chemical preparation to young and old dentate or edentulous, well and ill, without individual examination and regardless of individual desire.
If, therefore, people are to be asked to allow government medical instrumentalities to arrange such mass therapy, they have the right to be assured of at least two things – one, that the measure will bring about an economic worthwhile reduction in dental caries; the other, that it will be completely safe medically.
He continued – 1 submit that the dental profession is competent to deal wilh the first question but is not in a position to give an assurance concerning the second.
That is within the province of the medical profession.1- .’Next I refer- to a study made by Dr. Philip R. N. Sutton, Senior Research Fellow of the Department of Oral Medicine and Surgery, Dental School, University of Melbourne. I emphasize that the members of the Department of Statistics of the University of Melbourne have vouched for Dr. Sutton’s statistical survey. In his publication “ Fluoridation, Errors and Omissions in Experimental Trials “ Dr. Suttonreaches these conclusions -
Endorsements of the process of mechanical fluoridation of public water supplies rely mainly on five experimental trials.
The controls used in these studies are considered.
The reliability of the results reported is affected by:
odd experimental statistical methods;
failure to consider random variation and examiner variability, and to eliminate examiner bias;
commission of relevant data;
Controls were either doubtful or inadequate.
No control was employed in one trial.
The published data do not justify the statement that caries rates remained the same in control cities.
The sound basis on which the efficacy of a public health measure must be assessed is not provided by these five crucial trials.