In the 1930s, scientists realized that fluoride could prevent cavities. American states began implementing communal water fluoridation in the 1940s and 1950s as a public health measure to prevent tooth decay. Adding fluoride to water is thus beneficial especially to low income communities. However, this intention is lost on conspiracy theorists. They are convinced that this is a well-devised plan to control the American public. A single YouTube search finds a plethora of sources trying to “educate” people about water fluoridation.
So where did all of this come from? When states began to introduce water fluoridation in the mid-twentieth century, Americans broadly trusted experts and government institutions. About four out of five people would have said they trusted the government. However, this does not mean that they trusted it wholeheartedly. For this reason, it was not hard for conspiracy theorists to make people worry about the probability of deception on the part of the government and scientists.
Conspirators are certain that they have never been given the opportunity to vote on whether or not water fluoridation was implemented. If conspiracy theorists were right about this it would be a valid ground for complaint. Americans like to know what they are putting into their bodies. After all, when companies package food they are required to put the ingredients on it, and water is far more consumed than any candy bar. This conspiracy is much like the conspiracy about “chemtrails”, because it addresses something so fundamental to our existence. For this reason and others, conspirators would be right to be upset if they never had a choice about water fluoridation. But their premise is false. Voters have been given the opportunity to choose to continue fluoridation since its implementation.
Conspiracy theorists claim that fluoridation causes cancer and harm to reproductive organs. This is a primary reason that they dispute the legitimate reasons for fluoridation and call to end it all together. However, there is no scientific evidence for this.
Conspiracy theorists also falsely claim that there is not sufficient scientific data to support water fluoridation’s positive effects. But in fact, there is evidence that cavities have been reduced since the introduction of water fluoridation, especially in low-income communities.
Conspiracy theorists lie so that they can gain traction in order to build a larger community. The lies they spread cause paranoia among Americans. It is also true that once someone has begun to get lost in this spiral of lies it is difficult to get out. Pride forces people to avoid being wrong at all cost. The most outrageous claim is that Adolf Hitler used water fluoridation first. Some claim that Hitler used fluoridation in the concentration camps to make people more easy to control. Turning to Hitler is nothing new for conspiracy theories. He is a clear villain whose actions American immediately abhor. The preceding theory is that the way this mind control works is by clouding one’s third eye and inhibiting their intuitions. Another claim is that because fluoridation makes people more docile, the end goal is for there to be a Communist regime and empower the establishment of the New World Order. Again, there is no evidence for these claims. This shows just how out of hand conspiracies can get.
Conspiracy theories are not productive. They make people act on emotion by making things up. Water fluoridation causes people to fear something that everyone needs to stay alive. This is what makes these conspiracies so difficult. They cause people to act and manipulate people’s emotions. So much of what conspirators are trying to do is think critically, but this can make them go too far. In this case, they are building on lies that they have constructed in the past. For example, they move rapidly from water fluoridation clouds to a third eye to Hitler. Instead of finding truth, they end up with a very distorted view of the situation at hand, because they are not willing to admit that they are wrong. This spiral can be entertaining, in part, however, when people begin to take them seriously, problems arise.