Fluoride to again be added to west Cumbria’s water supply” says the headline on the website of the News and Star (09/09/13) bringing to the fore the issue both the specific issue of water fluoridation and the wider issue of widespread public medication. I’m not going to go into the issue of putting additives into our food or water supply for our own good because that’s an ethical issue and not the point I’m trying to make. What I want to discuss here is the science behind fluoridation, why it’s a good idea and why the anti-fluoridation brigade has it wrong and what they’re really opposed to and why.

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Placebos or placenos?

Hello again from your friendly skeptical scientist, attempting to enrich and enliven people’s lives by spreading the knowledge of Science™ and contributing to everyone’s Facts To Amaze People Down The Pub list.

Today I’m going to discuss placebos and the common misconceptions people have about them and how they’re so often abused, even by rational and scientifically minded people. There’s a subtle difference between a true placebo and a simple control, and this is my attempt to explain it.

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