This seems to be a fairly common belief. Beware chemicals, they are dangerous no matter the quantity. I’m not entirely sure if the people that think this actually mean harsh chemicals. My usual response to people making claims about the dangers of chemicals is: “Beware the chemical known as H2O.”
This all comes about after I trolled an anti-fluoride page on Facebook. I criticised some of the links they were posting and received an onslaught of arguments. Some of their arguments may have been worthwhile if they weren’t posting links to anti-fluoride propaganda websites. I requested information from sites not affiliated with their beliefs and they were unable to produce any. They kept saying that the information they posted was written by doctors, so it must be true. That only made me think of Dr. Oz.
This lead me to research into the moderation of fluoride in municipal water supplies more than I wanted to. I used a good research tool by the name of Google Scholar rather than reading through those wonderful articles supplied to me. No matter how hard I looked I could not find any scientific papers that supported any of their claims.
The papers I found almost always have the same results, especially when the subjects they were using were school children. The common finding was that in areas with higher concentration (within the recommended levels) of fluoride, they found that the children had less caries (cavities). They also found that more of the children in these areas also had higher rates of dental fluorosis, although it was still at a rate of very low concern. Yes, it does increase dental fluorosis but it is of absolutely no concern as it is mostly superficial.
We know for a fact that too much fluoride is bad, especially for young children. If you have too much fluoride you can end up with severe skeletal fluorosis, if you want to see how bad this can be just do an image search online. These things are something that we don’t have to worry about when looking at fluoridation of municipal water supplies, since it is a moderation (add or remove fluoride as necessary) of fluoride and not always addition.
In trolling this anti-fluoride page I have helped build my knowledge of the subject. I have found that there is very little to be concerned about and that there are possibly ethical as opposed to medical implications to worry about. Is it ethical for governments to add something like fluoride to water supplies? This also begs the question of whether it is ethical for them to remove fluoride from the water when it’s content is above recommended levels.
Now enough of the fluoride argument as I was planning on looking at why people have an irrational fear/concern about chemicals (harsh ones). This is when I use the argumentum ad ignorantiam, some people may think this is a bad thing to do but I think it works quite well here. In regards to many of the products that people are concerned about there is usually no evidence to show an increase in any of the illnesses/problems they claim since these products have been introduced. This includes things like aspartame (sweetener), fluoride, genetically modified foods, pesticides and vaccinations.
There is very little evidence that these things are harmful in the quantities consumed by most people in first world countries. There is absolutely no evidence to show that they have caused harm since being introduced; considering in the case of fluoride and aspartame, the quantity that is consumed is exceptionally high.
It always comes down to being sceptical and not allowing someone to persuade you simply by telling you something. Too many people don’t do this and we end up with this anti-science problem we have, especially when it come to anthropogenic climate change.
Science or evidence-based medicine, I find, is not a common approach to an individuals understanding of medicine. This is also the case when it comes to many things in life. I recently read an article talking about how we should be using evidence-based management for successful businesses, which made a lot of sense to me. It should also make sense to everyone but that doesn’t seem to be the case if you look at how people treat medicine.
What SBM’s all about is really very simple; it’s about observing evidence and using reason to come to conclusions to make the best decisions. Many people do not do this. It often will not negatively effect a person but in cases it can be detrimental. An example would be a case where you have a life threatening illness, that is treatable with medicine, and you treat it with alternative medicines. Hopefully you would be rushed to hospital before it was too late.
If I were to become ill with a sickness that has no known cure or form of treatment, I would have no choice but to use unproven medicines in the hope of being healed. This is different to using disproved medicines with the same hope. Unproven medicines can be newly created medicines that show some hope but have not had their efficacy shown. I would hope that in using these medicines I would also be helping doctors to find treatments which can stop future patients from having to use unproven medicines.
Alternative medicine is just unproven or disproved techniques that make claims to be able to heal all sorts of illnesses. Once it is proven it is called medicine, therefore alternative medicine is another way to say nonsense medicine. In most cases the alternative medicines have been shown to be nothing more than a placebo. Why would you spend money on these things or even give yourself false hope? There comes a stage where you need to choose to die with dignity and wasting time on nonsense does not allow this. I’m looking at you, Jim Stynes. There is no dignity in drinking your own urine because someone told you it is extremely good for you.
The next time someone recommends that you to go to a chiropractor for your back pain, take some homeopathy to heal your hay fever, or stick fine needles in you to resolve a long-term injury ask them for some evidence and not anecdotes. If they have none to show you, look for it yourself. We have this wonderful knowledge-base called the Internet to find proof.
If I told you that eating your snot would reduce your chance of stomach cancer, would you start gulping down bogies? Would you question what I am saying and look for evidence? If you were to do the former you would be thought of as simple. How is it any different to accepting that homeopathy is efficacious? Do you know what homeopathy is?
I will answer this briefly; homeopathy is when you take an actual proven active ingredient for a purpose like treating hay fever and then dilute it down until there is absolutely none of the active ingredient detectable in the final product. You are then expected to believe that the water will have a memory of the active ingredient and you will be healed.
As I find time to write some more blogs I will write thorough explanations of some of the more popular alternative medicines (and try to be as objective as possible). I believe most people who use alternative medicines have just accepted that they work and have never looked into what they claim or what they actually are. Hopefully some people will read these; change their opinion of at least some alternative medicines and hopefully take a more science-based approach to more things in their lives.
I have searched around but it turns out you can’t buy health insurance extras that do not include magical medicine. I found this out as I am looking for cheaper health insurance; hoping for an option where I receive a discount for the choice of not including any alternative medicine.
I went to a website called iSelect that gives you pricing for a large amount of Australian insurance companies. I found that it is default to include chiropractic and “natural” therapies in the rebates for all levels of extras.
Later I received a phone call from iSelect, since I had entered my phone number, to see if I was happy with the information I received on their website. I put my question to the girl on the other end of the phone and she thought it was funny. Not sure why this is funny, I really do not want to pay for idiots to claim money back on unproven/disproved “medicine.”
In all seriousness, why can’t I receive a discount to not include this nonsense in my cover?
Come on insurance companies! Alternative medicine… I’m off that.