FLUORIDE.WEBSITE

Also: fluoride.ga, .gq, .ml & fluoridation.cf, .ga,.gq, .ml, .tk.


EDUCATION SECTION

Files

List of Polls:

Dubious or Biased

UK

West Midlands

US

California

Wichita

Redding

Tri-City

Salt Lake

Open or Unbiased

UK

OPCS

US

Ocean park

West Midlands Opinion Poll

The West Midlands MORI Poll [July 2000]

One example of an 'independent' opinion poll is the poll which was conducted by MORI in the West Midlands in July 2000 and on behalf of the Birmingham Health Authority, a notoriously pro-fluoridation public body;-

Quote:

"MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,530 residents throughout the West Midlands region. Residents were interviewed in their homes, face to face, between 3rd April and 5th May 2000. Quotas were set in line with age, sex and work status population profiles within each Health Authority district, and data were subsequently weighted to these profiles."

- Unquote

A "representative sample"? How were these residents selected? Do they all live in fluoridated or non-fluoridated areas - or was it a mix of both? Another concern is MORI's impartiality. MORI is not just an organisation which carries out opinion polls - it is also an organisation which also makes the following boasts:

Quote:

  • "Measure and monitor expectations, and perceptions of service standards; your stature and standing, your brand values and corporate image
  • Establish the reasons behind these perceptions - explore what drives attitudes and behaviour
  • Identify emerging issues, developments and trends
  • Evaluate your web site
  • Signpost the direction for improving perceptions and more effective communications, marketing and brand strategies
  • Improve the health of your brand, and your relations with key audiences
  • Leverage your (competitive) position, improve your service effectiveness and offerings; monitor the impact on share values and the bottom line"

- Unquote

It should be transparent to the reader that MORI is more of a marketing agency then an independent opinion polling organisation. In fact, it appears that MORI are bending over backwards to help the client achieve the type of results it desires - overwhelming support for water fluoridation.

But this is not the image that the client wishes to portray. All too often MORI and other polling organisations are quoted as being independent and therefore impartial. And if this not sufficient to convince the reader as to MORI's interests in achieving favourable results for it's clients, then read on.

In addition to MORI's compliant nature, there is also the question of who exactly is responsible for press releases put out by the organisation. Does MORI write all of it's own press releases? Does it heck. In the instance of the above mentioned fluoridation poll, the MORI press release was written by the West Midlands Regional Dental Health Promotion Group, another pro-fluoridation outfit.

To sum up, MORI attempts to get the results you want, allows it's web-site to carry one-sided propagandist statements and then likes to give the impression that everything is 'above board'.

NB. Six questions were asked in the July 2000 poll. Both MORI and the John Langford, representing the Birmingham Health Authority, has refused to release details of three of these questions.

THE POLL

Six questions were asked in the July 2000 poll. Both MORI and the John Langford, representing the Birmingham Health Authority, has refused to release details of three of these questions - possibly the first three questions which may have been 'primers'. Of the three (later?) questions that were released, they were as follows:

Q. Do you think it is possible to reduce tooth decay by adding fluoride to the water supply?

Response: Yes 48%, No 15%, Don't know 37%

Q. Do you think there is any fluoride present naturally in water?

Response: Yes 21%, No 40%, Don't know 38%

The question publicised in the press release was (according to Andy Byrom of MORI):

"The question referred to in the survey has a hypothetical one; asking whether respondents would support water fluoridation if it could be shown to reduce tooth decay."[1]

Mr Byrom added: "This is not a biased question (as opposed to - for example - a question which stated that fluoridation definitely prevented tooth decay)."[2]

EXCUSE ME!

[1] An unbiased question? There is no indication of what the three missing questions were and may well have been primers. Even they weren't, the question: "... whether respondents would support water fluoridation if it could be shown to reduce tooth decay" is a leading question because it proposes the contention that fluoridation may reduce tooth decay.

[2] The pro-fluoridationists have also been boasting for many years that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay - so why ask a "hypothetical" question? Why didn't the survey state what the pro-fluoridationists claim they BELIEVE and say that: "fluoridation definitely prevented tooth decay."

The 'saga' continues (communications between the author and MORI) ...

[1] E-mail to MORI

Sender: [name withheld] Time & Date: 15:16, 2nd August 2000.

Re: your water fluoridation opinion poll(s) of 31/07/2000 and later.

I notice from your web-site that you recently conducted a poll in the West Midlands on the subject of water fluoridation. This appears to have been supplemented by a yet unpublished poll conducted in Shropshire (according to BBC West Midlands teletext).

My response to this/these 'gimmick(s)' can be seen below where I have reproduced a leaflet which briefly spells out the trickery involved in polls of this nature. I suggest you read it very carefully.

My own interest in water fluoridation involves the collection of statistics on dental health and related / social factors. In fact, I would go on record as saying that I may well possess the Country's largest unified database on dental health issues. When looking at the 'big picture', a totally different story emerges from that painted so rosily by the pro-fluoridation lobby. After all, there is far, far more to contrived dental health surveys and statistics than just counting teeth and making absurd comparisons.

What really disturbs me is the blatantly biased rhetoric which appears on the M0RI web-site which I find quite disgraceful. The fact that MORI is willing to 'share it's bed' with such outrageous propagandists is an indication that the organisation is anything but independent.

If MORI wish to be seen as the prostitutes of the opinion poll profession then I doubt if the organisation will change. To reverse this and be seen in a kinder and better lighter, the organisation will radically have to change the way it does business.

Yours sincerely, [name withheld]

Ps. Try visiting the web-site: *http://www.fluoridealert.org/ (*wrongly given as '.com' in original mailing) - as a starting place for a better education. Also see the attachment: Fluoride & Manhattan Project.

FACTS ON FLUORIDATION (the 'Sleaze of the Century'). 7b: STATISTICS (part 2)

Another little trick used by the Pusher is opinion polls. We are now looking at subjective statistics. Such statistics are far easier to mould than hard facts. By contriving situations, you can get someone to say exactly what you want them to say. For example, have you ever had a salesperson in your home who seems to get you to say yes to all the questions he or she wants you to say yes to? Then let me introduce the reader to the fluoridation popularity survey. It is accepted by the Pushers that properly conducted referenda with the respondents making an INFORMED choice will usually mean that fluoridation is rejected. This means that stealth has to be employed to get the general public to say yes to fluoridation and using the most contrived question based on emotional blackmail. However, rigged opinion polls differ from surveys where the respondent is allowed to give an unprompted opinion.

Consider the following table from the Office of Population Censuses & Surveys ("OPCS") survey published in 1993:

"Q. What do you think can be done to stop teeth rotting ( or going bad)?" NB. More than one answer could be given.

Parents with children

Age 5 8 12 15
Answers % % % %
Avoid sweet things 59 56 47 42
Clean regularly 81 80 81 83
Have balanced diet 26 26 27 28
Visit dentist regularly 25 24 27 29
Preventative treatment at dentist 3 4 4 4
Take fluor. supplements / use fluor. toothapste 5 3 4 5
Add fluoride to water 1 2 2 1
Fluoride. Nothing else specified 2 2 1 2
More / Better dental education 3 3 3 4
Other secified ansswer 0 1 2 1
Don't know 1 1 1 1

The above table is in contrast to the surveys carried out to test peoples reaction to water fluoridation. This is where the distinction between objectivity and subjectivity comes in. The OPCS survey asked respondents a question which did not have a simple yes or no answer. It was not a leading question and the respondents had to use their own initiative. However, the other type of survey carried out proposes a question based on emotional blackmail and supposition. It goes, "do you believe that fluoride should be added to water if it prevents tooth decay". The question may seem quite harmless and innocent but it has been constructed in such a way that the expected answer has to be 'yes'. Firstly, the question supposes that fluoridation works. Secondly, fluoride is mentioned but who knows what fluoride really is'? Thirdly, the expression "prevents tooth decay" is again an assumption. Fourthly, why use the word "if'. We are told by the Pushers that fluoridation works. So why don't they say "because it will" instead of "if it" The answer should be obvious. To say that fluoridation will reduce DMFT is fraudulent because it cannot be proven. The emotional blackmail element is somewhat more subtle. Who, for example, would say 'no' to this type of question. To say 'no' would make you appear anti-social and selfish.

So for this reason, you feel obliged to say yes. Finally, the question is obviously one-sided and does not allow any contrary opinion to be stated. Of course, if you are asked this question on the street, then you do not have time to make a considered opinion because being on the street means that are almost certainly going somewhere and do not want to waste time talking to an opinion pollster. Of course the opinion pollster is not paid to register an opinion - just a simple yes or no answer. Therefore the situation is a hit-and-run one where you are caught off guard and are likely to say the first thing that comes into your head - after being suitably conditioned by the structure of the question of course. Thus is why this type of question is favoured above a properly held referendum where the respondent is allowed to make an informed choice. Referenda show that on the majority of occasions that people tend to reject the idea of water fluoridation.

In 1985, during the passage of the Water Fluoridation Bill, former Health Minister Ken Clarke stated that he was not in favour of a referendum to determine public opinion on fluoridation. He alluded to the fact that because the population in general did not understand the intricacies of fluoridation that it was pointless holding a referenda. What he really implied was that we are all a little bit thick and that we should not be trusted with a vote, despite it being an important aspect of democracy. It's a bit like an incumbent but very unpopular Government prior to a General Election saving that there will be no Election because most of the electorate aren't clever enough to cast a vote in their favour.

Another example which highlights the dislike of referenda is a story which appeared in the Fluoride Report in April 1994:

In 1990, a health officer of the state of Florida gave a blueprint for introducing fluoridation to an official of' St Petersburg. He was told one of the most important tactics to consider is: "Avoid a referendum. The statistics are 3 out of 4 fluoridation referenda fail." ( Quote from letter written by Susan Allen, RDH, BS, Fluoridation Co-ordinator, Public Health Dental Program, State of Florida Department of Health & Rehabilitive Services to H. Tolson, May 7, 1990).

The Pushers have been claiming for years now that contrived opinion polls show that the "majority of the public" think fluoride should be added to water. The real truth is that only between 1% and 2% (see table above) of the represented population actually think its a good idea!

[2] From: Andy Byrom Sent: 13:1:1, Aug 04, 2000 Subject: fluoridation poll - 31/0712000

Dear [name withheld]

Thank you for taking the time to write and express your opinions on the recent water fluoridation poll. I appreciate the debate is highly charged on both sides, and that by conducting a survey of this nature MORI may sometimes be seen to be taking one side or the other.

However, I would like to reassure you that this is not the case. The methods we employ are as rigorous and objective as possible, and we are commissioned to conduct polls for a wide variety of different clients in both the public and private sector, many of whom may have strategies in opposition to each other. It is quite clearly in our interests to remain impartial - and it is highly unlikely that we would have attained our current respected position over the last 30 years if we had been perceived at any time as misrepresenting research techniques or findings from such research.

With regard to your specific criticisms, I agree up to a point that the nature of the question asked can influence the type of response given, and it is one of our tasks - which we take most seriously - to ensure that any such effect is minimal. However, this problem applies equally to all questions - whether prompted or unprompted. The OPCS example you provide would naturally produce a much lower "rating" for fluoridation as a means of preventing tooth decay, simply because fluoridation is not as much of a "top of mind" issue as (for example) buying sweets or visiting the dentists. Using the rationale you apply, there would be no argument for better dental education either!

It could indeed be argued that such "unprompted" responses are less representative of people's considered opinion than "prompted" ones; obviously, in the course of an interview, with the time constraints imposed, it is unlikely that every possibility will be thought of - and certainly not thought through in any detail.

The question referred to in the recent press release was a hypothetical one, asking whether respondents would support water fluoridation if it could be shown to reduce tooth decay. This is not a biased question wording (as opposed to - for example - a question which stated that fluoridation definitely prevented tooth decay). The survey results should therefore be seen in the light of a hypothetical statement and not one where 7 in 10 people would necessarily support fluoridation unconditionally.

I would also ask you to consider why - if the question really is as leading as you suggest - around 3 in 10 people did not answer "Yes"? Interviews were conducted with fully trained interviewers, and were done in respondents' home - not in-street (as you imply) for the very reason that a considered response was sought.

Finally, I would like to point out that we are obliged to place any press release from one of our polls on the MORI website; no press release is written by us, although all (including this one) are thoroughly checked to ensure the accuracy of the figures, and that these figures are not misrepresented in the context of the research, or the claims made through the research.

I hope this reply has gone some way to addressing your concerns. I would like to stress again our impartial approach to surveys and our clients, and our responsibility to both the wider research community and the public at large in not misrepresenting results, or asking biased questions. Please note that my comments in this email are aimed at protecting the integrity of not just MORI but the research industry as a whole, and should not be interpreted as the taking of any "position" on either side of the fluoridation debate.

Yours sincerely, Andy Byrom - Research Executive

[3] From: [name withheld] Time & Date: 8:01 pm 4th August 2000

Dear Andy Byrom

A response to your reply to the e-mail on fluoridation polls. My comments will be written in blue and prefaced for easy reference beneath the paragraphs that require further comment.

Dear [name withheld]

Your letter ...

[AB] Thank you for taking the time to write and express your opinions on the recent water fluoridation poll. I appreciate the debate is highly charged on both sides, and that by conducting a survey of this nature MORI may sometimes be seen to be taking one side or the other.

[1] You acknowledge that the fluoridation debate is "highly charged" on both sides. This directly implies that you have some knowledge of the subject. This is very relevant to my further comments.

[AB] However, I would like to reassure you that thus is not the case. the methods we employ are as rigorous and objective as possible, and we are commissioned to conduct polls for a wide variety of different clients in both the public and private sector, many of whom may have strategies in opposition to each other. It is quite clearly in our interests to remain impartial - and it is highly unlikely that we would hake attained our current respected position over the last 30 years if we had been perceived at any time as misrepresenting research techniques or findings from such research.

[2] You state MORI's methods are "rigorous and objective". Rigorous no - because the question is loaded. Objective yes - because you are attempting to illicit an answer based on an element of emotional blackmail.

[AB] With regard to your specific criticisms, I agree up to a point that the nature of the question asked can influence the type of response given, and it is one of our tasks - which we take most seriously to ensure that any such effect is minimal. However, this problem applies equally to all questions whether prompted or unprompted. The OPCS example you provide would naturally produce a much lower "rating" for fluoridation as a means of preventing tooth decay, simply because fluoridation is not as much of a "top of mind" issue as (for example) buying sweets or visiting the dentists. Using the rationale you apply, there would be no argument for better dental education either!

[3] You agree (to a point) that the nature of the question can influence the type of response you receive. This emphasises my comments in [2]. You try "to ensure that any such effect is minimal". Come off it. Who are you trying to kid here?

[AB] It could indeed be argued that such "unprompted" responses are less representative of people's considered opinion than "prompted" ones; obviously, in the course of an interview, with the time constraints imposed, it is unlikely that every possibility will be thought of - and certainly not thought through in any detail.

[4] What time constraints? MORI has had plenty of time to consider the implications of such a question - especially as the issue is "highly charged" (your own admission).

[AB] The question referred to in the recent press release was a hypothetical one, asking whether respondents would support water fluoridation if it could be shown to reduce tooth decay. This is not a biased question wording (as opposed to - for example - a question which stated that fluoridation definitely prevented tooth decay). The survey results should therefore be seen in the light of a hypothetical statement and not one where 7 in 10 people -would necessarily support fluoridation unconditionally.

[5] Obviously the question was hypothetical. However, those who commissioned the poll are repeatedly using the poll as EVIDENCE that the general public WANTS fluoridation. MORI has been sucked into a situation where it has allowed itself to be used for alterior motives. Even politicians in the Commons have used your polls as alleged evidence of the general public being in favour of fluoridation. In fact, these arguments can be traced back to the reading of the 1985 Water Fluoridation Bill (and perhaps further) and therefore MORI should have been aware from the start that they are playing patsy to the establishment.

[AB] I would also ask you to consider why - if the question really is as leading as you suggest - around 3 in 10 people did not answer "Yes"? Interviews were conducted with fully trained inter-viewers, and were done in respondents' home - not in-street (as you imply) for the very reason that a considered response was sought.

[6] Some people will obviously be more wary or knowledgable than others so 3 out of 10 against fluoridation (considered to be a insignificant and small minority by the mainstream pro-fluoridationist lobby) is of no surprise. Interviews done in the respondents homes? How were they selected and in which areas do they live. Were the respondents primed, pre-conditioned or influenced in any way?

[AB] Finally, I would like to point out that we are obliged to place any press release from one of our polls on the MORI website; no press release is written by us, although all (including this one) are thoroughly checked to ensure the accuracy- of the figures, and that these figures are not misrepresented in the context of the research, or the claims made through the research.

[7] CAN I BELIEVE MY EYES??? MORI is OBLIGED to place press releases NOT written by MORI on it's web-site! How far does MORI bend over backwards to accomodate it's clients? One of the the terms I used in my last e-mail was "prostitute" and you have readily admitted that MORI is ready and willing to prostitute it's name by publishing extremist and misleading information. The Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels would have loved your organisation!

[AB] I hope this reply has gone some way to addressing your concerns. I would like to stress again our impartial approach to surveys and our clients, and our responsibility to both the wider research community and the public at large in not misrepresenting results, or asking biased questions. Please note that my comments in this email are aimed at protecting the integrity of not just MORI but the research industry as a whole, and should not be interpreted as the taking of any "position" on either side of the fluoridation debate.

[8] Again, who are you trying to fool?

Yours sincerely, Andy Byrom - Research Executive

[4] From: Andy Byrom Time & Date: 11:59 Aug 09, 2000 Subject: Inadequate defence of fluoridation polls

Thanks for your reply. I would like to assure you that respondents were interviewed in areas which were selected at random in order to provide a representative sample of all West Midlands residents. No prior contact was made with any respondents, and they were free to answer as they pleased. I would also like to take the opportunity to correct my previous statement about press releases on our website. In fact we are not obliged to do this, but usually choose to do so.

Regards, Andy Byrom - Research Executive

[5] From: [name withheld] Date: 09-08-2000

Dear Andy Byrom

Thank you for your prompt reply to my recent follow-up e-mail on fluoridation polls.

I have one outstanding question which will give me a better idea of how you conduct your interviews.

Firstly, I was a little surprised that your interviewers took the trouble to visit people's homes. However, as someone who has experience of conducting 'surveys' in peoples homes. I would like to clarify MORI's procedure on this practice.

Were any other questions, either relating to fluoridation or health issues, asked prior to the question which has caused so much outrage - that is "do you believe fluoride should be added to water if it can reduce tooth decay" (or words to that effect).

I hope you will answer this question as it will make for a better understanding of how MORI conducts it's business.

Please find attached a story which may interest you. It is a theory backed up by some facts on the real motive for fluoridation. Whatever you think about it, and I do strongly recommend you read it, it is certainly a worth a look.

Yours sincerely, [name withheld]. Attached: Stephens.lwp (Lotus WordPro format)

[6] From: Andy Byrom Date: 10th August 2000

Dear [name withheld]

Thanks for the material - I shall read it later. Yes, we did ask five questions prior to the question in the press release, although we tried to ensure they were not leading, and did not influence the type of response at the released question. At present the client (Birmingham Health Authority) has only released this one question - it may be that others are released at a later date. If so, I shall be happy to inform you of these. Alternatively, you may wish to speak directly to Paul Castle, who is on the client-side, about this. His number is 0121 765 4222. I hope this helps.

Regards, Andy Byrom

[7] From: [name withheld] Time & Date: 17:46. 10th August, 2000.

Dear Andy Byrom

Re: your e-mail of 10/8/2000

Thank you for your usual prompt response. I have now spoken to Deborah Harding of the Market Research Society ("MRS") and she informs me that in her opinion there is no reason why you should not let me know what the five questions were which preceded the question "do you think fluoride should be added to water if it reduces tooth decay?" (or words to that effect). She also confirmed there should be no legal problems with having access to this information. Deborah Harding also added (as best as I can recall) that where an issue such as water fluoridation raises concerns about the fairness and consequences about the way the poll was conducted and publicised, then the polling organisation should be more co-operative.

You have already informed me that I should approach Paul Castle but regrettably he is known to the pure water campaign ("PWC") as being someone who is neither 'approachable' or 'adequately sincere'. Paul Castle is also on record (during a TV interview) of being rather insulting to the PWC. I have also previouslv attended a public meeting where he was grossly offensive to one of the most passive PWC members that I know of (his name is Ian Packington). If you cannot provide me with the information I require then I shall be forced, most reluctantly, to make an official complaint to the TMRS. Thus will in turn raise the profile of thus issue to the point where I shall also be enlisting the help of the mainstream media.

To recap, I would like the exact text of the six questions asked in the Birmingham Health Authority ("BHA") commissioned poll as described below by MORI:

"MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,530 residents throughout the West Midlands region. Residents were interviewed in their homes, face to face, between 3rd April arid 5th May 2000. Quotas were set in line with age, sex and work- status population profiles within each Health Authority district, and data were subsequently weighted to these profiles."

I genuinely hope we can work together to resolve this unpleasant situation which threatens to bring MORI and the integrity of the polling community as a whole into disrepute.

Yours sincerely, [name withheld]

PS. I must strongly urge you again to remove the BHA-written press release from your website - for MORI's sake alone.

[8] From: Andy Byrom Time & Date: 11:01, 15th August 2000.

Dear [name withheld]

I'm pleased to say that two further questions (both of which preceded the initial released question in the questionnaire) are now in the public domain, which I can send you. If you can send me details of your fax number or address I shall get these sent to you.

Regards, Andy

***

Please note that the fax referred to will appear at the end of this page

***

[9] From: [name withheld] Time & Date: 15:02, 15-08-2000.

Dear Andy Byrom.

Once again you have failed to properly answer my last e-mail. You have not addressed the issue of the FIVE preceding questions as mentioned below. Thus is the last time I make this request before making an official complaint to those persons / agencies who are interested in this deplorable state of affairs. I expect ALL five preceding questions to be faxed to: xxxxx xxxxxx.

Yours sincerely, [name withheld]

[10] From: Andy Byrom. Time & Date: 17:56, 15th August 2000.

Dear [name withheld]

Thank you for your note of earlier today. We operate within the rules according to the Market Research Society's Code of Conduct, in this project as in all others. The rule pertaining to publication (B27) states:

"Where any of the findings of a research project are published by the Client, the latter has a responsibility to ensure that these are not misleading. The Researcher must be consulted and agree in advance the form and content of publication, and must take action to correct any misleading statements about the research and its findings."

In our judgement there is nothing in the five questions preceding the released question that is essential to the interpretation of the released question. This being the case, the client has the right to publish part of the survey rather than the entire survey. My colleagues and I have been attempting to contact Deborah Harding at the MRS over the last two days, in order to seek clarification on this issue. We have not yet had the opportunity to speak to Deborah because she is off work sick, but we will continue to attempt to contact her, as thus is obviously an issue that requires urgent attention. We are hoping that Deborah will be available to talk to us tomorrow. Once eve have received a definite response from the MRS as to how to proceed I shall inform you of this, and take any action considered necessary. In the meantime I shall fax you the two other questions I mentioned in my precious email which are currently in the public domain.

Regards, Andy

[11] From: [name withheld] Time & Date: 00:39, 16th August 2000.

Dear Andy Byrom.

It's obvious I am coasting my time trying to get simple straightforward answers to simple straightforward questions. MORI have been given sufficient tune to provide the appropriate answers and yet all I have seen is 'stonewalling' and a failure to deal with the fraudulent application of the fluoridation question. I am now taking the issue up with other interested parties as previously notified. I shall not be contacting you or your organisation again. I would also predict that the failure of MORI to be more open and honest will bring the organisation into disrepute.

Yours sincerely, [name withheld]

[12] From: Anita Maidment ( cc: Andy Byrom) Time & Date: 10:11, 17th August 2000.

As predicted ...

The Fax

Note: Apologies for the poor quality of reproduction. The questions and responses are:

"Do you think it is possible to reduce tooth decay by adding fluoride to the water?"

48% said 'yes', 15% said 'no, 37% said 'don't know'.

"Do you think there is any fluoride present naturally in water?"

21% said 'yes', 40% said no, 33% said 'don't know'.

ITEM HERE