Portland in 2013 was widely derided in science media as being “anti-science” because our city rejected water fluoridation for the fourth time via referendum.
However, as a Portlander, a pro-science scientist myself and as someone who lived through the campaign, I had a different view of what went down and whether Portland is anti-science.
First, I just don’t go for the term anti-science. I wrote about that here with my colleague, Kylie Menagh-Johnson, who works in public health. We think science is hard, and the onus is on science to do a better job communicating. We think calling people anti-science just doesn’t help us communicate better.
But what really inspired me during the campaign was seeing that fluoride and fluoridation represents an opportunity. It is an opportunity to take advantage of fluoride conspiracy thinking and the attention it gets and to turn it into awesome science learning. Maybe I’m just an eternal optimist, but I really view public controversies and continued debates about fluoride and fluoridation as an opportunity to make lemonade from fluoridated water.
I hope you’ll pop on over to our site and consider our different view on how questions about fluoride and fluoridation aren’t anti-science and how the long-running debate represents an incredible occasion for science communication.
And if you’re interested in fluoride science communication, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
— Effie Greathouse
for Science In Portland