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Springville Journal editorial: I have a theory

SPRINGVILLE — People use several tactics, in trying to sway our writing. Some straight up beg us to take their side in a controversial issue and some instead implore us to steel ourselves against the other side’s persuasive methods. What both sides fail to understand is our ultimate goal: accomplishing completely unbiased reporting, while representing both sides of an issue.

This is the only section of the paper in which we provide any insight into our personal feelings. We are here to report about what will and has happened. We are not here to make the news.

We are also not here to be conspiracy theorists. Case in point: Springville’s newest hot topic, water fluoridation. I appreciate the many individuals, on both sides, who have shared facts and opinions. I welcome frank and open discussion. But it becomes a problem, when dialogue evolves into an individual’s attempts to censor his or her opponent’s.

Many years ago, newspaper readers could take the words printed on the page in front of them at face value. Today, you really cannot believe everything you read, and that is a shame. Many publications have decided to compromise their roles and turn their product into a sounding board for their personal pet peeves.

We have received a lot of flak for not hopping on the bandwagon and raking our local government officials over the coals for not forbidding fluoride in our water. We have been accused of siding with the evil dentists who recommend this long-utilized and natural element, especially for children’s health.

Sometimes, we have to take the information presented to us at face value, especially when the facts are coming from a professional. We have to trust that an educated individual, who has spent years learning the ins and outs of his or her field, knows what he or she is talking about.

Putting an expert’s name onto a statistic also gives our articles legitimacy. Rather than pulling words out of thin air, we are pinning that information on someone specific. If the presented figures are incorrect, the person who made the original claim will have to answer for that information.

I spoke to my own dentist, when I was researching fluoride. If I trust someone to put his or her own hands in my mouth and fix what ails me, I definitely trust that person to tell me the truth, about something he or she has spent years studying.

I have been told to be wary about trusting dentists’ opinions about fluoride (except the dentists who oppose it, of course), because they are the people who make money off this field. I might listen to that recommendation, if it actually made sense.

I would definitely mistrust a dental professional who told me to eat chocolate, with every meal. I would probably shake a finger at a dentist who told me to stop brushing my teeth. But I tend to listen to a doctor who gives me advice that will keep me out of his or her office, instead of bringing me into it more often.

The dentists who recommend fluoride do so, because they say this element will help prevent cavities. They are asking us to take steps to stave off something that could bring them hundreds of dollars to correct. Instead of sounding like a conspiracy, that seems like good medical advice.

I have often used this space to call out individuals, in the professional and governmental worlds, for patterns of behavior I see to be inconsistent or incorrect. I am not a blind follower.

But we listen to professionals, who answer our questions with scientific facts, backed up by years of study. We also take the time to verify their statements and do our own research.

By all means, double-check your elected officials. Research your dentist. Check out the reviews for your family doctor. But it ultimately comes down to deciding whom to trust. Only you can and should make that decision.

Accusatory statements and pointed fingers do not replace science. Hateful speech is not synonymous with factual information. Anger does not edge out education.

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2013-06-10 | 05:39:20
Science says Fluoridation Ineffective
Modern science indicates that ingesting fluoride is ineffective at reducing tooth decay and harmful to health. Studies show many dentists are not up-to-date on fluoride science e.g. this study by Yoder