Sorry to have to report this folks, but Quackwatch operator Stephen Barrett is a either a paid shill or a useful idiot. For example, on YouTube you can now watch the full version of a ‘Smoking Tooth’ video where a number of credible, scientifically-trained sources, demonstrate through scientific method, using a number of different experiments, that mercury dental amalgam fillings release mercury into the body in alarming quantities under normal conditions.

…and here is Barrett hand-waving away their points, using claims that are effectively debunked elsewhere in that same video, and endorsing a class of highly profitable products using classic PR language:

“The minor increase in exposure, which is considered trivial and without risk, is well worth the benefit of having strong, inexpensive, lasting dental restorations.

Compare that to this quote from Muriel Newman, former Member of Parliament for the corporatist ACT party:

“In fact, in a bizarre twist of fate, at a time when advocates of man-made global warming continue to push government policies to restrict energy use and the burning of fossil fuels in order to prevent ‘catastrophic’ warming, the world continues to cool….That is leading to increasing scepticism that the call to sacrifice living standards in order to “save the planet” is just political spin designed to persuade the public to accept green taxes.”

The underlying methodology is the same. Trivialize the problems, and exaggerate the benefits of continuing the practices that are profitable to the industries they are covering for. In Barrett’s case, the industries for whom mercury is a “co-product”  they can sell rather than a waste product they have to pay to dispose of safely, and the pharma companies who buy it, process it, and sell it to dentists. In Newman’s case, the oil industry and other greenhouse gas polluters.

He uses the same propaganda tactics as corporate front groups like Newman’s ‘NZ Centre for Political Research‘, covering up the logical fallacies in his arguments and evidence with scorn, mockery, and bullying. A classic example is calling people who disagree with him “anti-science”, a tactic pioneered in the 1980s by the tobacco industry, and used since in defence of everything from DDT to genetic engineering of non-human animals and food plants (”Genetically Modified Organisms” or “GMOs”).

Whether he is genuinely in the sway of corporatist propaganda, or accepting money to pretend he is, is neither here nor there. Barrett is a “skeptic” about the health harms of mercury amalgam (and water fluoridation and all sorts of others profitable toxics), in the same way that Ian Plimer is a “skeptic” about climate change.

Filed January 21st, 2016 under Uncategorized