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Monday, June 12, 2017

Ch. 12. ENGINEERING CONSENT: the fluoride deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org


Ch. 12. ENGINEERING CONSENT: the fluoride deception by Christopher Bryson from archive.org
Engineering Consent     VISITING THE CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, home of Edward L.  Bernays was a thrilling and unsettling experience. On the occasion of his  hundredth birthday in 1991, 1 spoke with him for the British Broadcasting  Corporations World Service.' The nephew of Sigmund Freud was in  good health, briskly walking me to an old-fashioned elevator that rose  into his private office.   The elevator seemed like a time machine. Bernays seized the brass  control switch, and the lattice cage doors slammed shut. The diminutive  old man smiled, his eyes twinkling. His audience was captive, and once  again the tiny hands of Mr. Edward L. Bernays-the "father of public  relations" — gripped the levers of power. The doors opened. We entered a  softly lit photo gallery. Bernays shuffled forward, pointing proudly.  There he was, rubbing shoulders with men of power from the twentieth  century, like the omnipresent character in the Woody Allen movie Zelig:  Bernays at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles; Bernays with Henry  Ford, with Thomas Edison, with Eleanor Roosevelt, with
https://www.blogger.com/null Eisenhower, with Truman; and Bernays with George Hill, the head of the  American Tobacco Company. (Bernays's wife was the leading feminist  Doris Fleischman. He was a master of exploiting such modern liberal  sentiment. On behalf of his tobacco client Bernays had once persuaded  women's suffrage activists to march in the 1929 New York Easter Parade  holding cigarettes as "torches of liberty." ) 2   The tiny propagandist counted among his clients the dancer Nijinski,  the singer Enrico Caruso, and some of the most powerful     ENGINEERING CONSENT     159     corporations in America, including CBS, Procter and Gamble, and Allied  Signal. Bernays also had close ties to the U.S. military. As a young man in  World War I he had been a foot soldier in the governments Committee on  Public Information, creating some of the nation s earliest war propaganda.  He volunteered those skills for the U.S. Army in World War II, and during  the cold war he was in communication with the CIA. Other resume items  included advising the United Fruit Company during the U.S. governments  overthrow of the elected government of Guatemala; shaping strategy for  the U.S. Information Agency (USIA); and advising the government of  South Vietnam.   Bernays also persuaded Americans to add fluoride to water.'   "I do recall doing that," he said softly during another interview at his  home in 1993. Although Bernays was then 102 years old, his memory was  good. Selling fluoride was child s play, Bernays explained. The PR wizard  specialized in promoting new ideas and products to the public by stressing  a claimed public-health benefit. He understood that citizens had an often  unconscious trust in medical authority. You can get practically any idea  accepted, Bernays told me, chuckling. If doctors are in favor, the public is  willing to accept it, because a doctor is an authority to most people,  regardless of how much he knows, or doesnt know. ... By the law of  averages, you can usually find an individual in any field who will be  willing to accept new ideas, and the new ideas then infiltrate the others who  haven t accepted it.   In 1913, for example, Bernays played on medical and liberal sympathies  to boost ticket sales of a Broadway play he had helped to produce. The play,  Damaged Goods, dealt with the then-controversial subject of venereal  disease. Bernays circumvented potential censorship, he said, by creating a  politically diverse Sociological Committee of doctors and prominent New  York citizens to extol the health benefits of sex education and endorse the  new play. This committee, which included John D. Rockefeller and a  founder of the ACLU, turned Damaged Goods into a Broadway hit. By  publicizing the purported health benefits of certain products, Bernays  similarly increased sales of bananas for the United Fruit Company, bacon  for the Beechnut Packing Company, and Crisco cooking oil for Procter and  Gamble.'     16o     CHAPTER TWELVE     In his 1928 book, Propaganda, Bemays explained his technique more  formally. He noted "the psychological relationship of dependence of men  on their physicians and other such opinion leaders in society. Those who  manipulate this unseen mechanism of society, he wrote, constitute an  invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country . . . our  minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men  we have never heard of.'"   Before World War II, the diminutive media wizard had been a PR  adviser to Alcoa. He operated from the same office building, One Wall  Street, where the Alcoa lawyer Oscar Ewing had also worked. In 1950  Ewing had been the top government official to sign off on the endorsement  of water fluoridation, as Federal Security Administrator in charge of the  US Public Health Service.   "Do you recall working with Oscar Ewing on fluoridation?" I asked  Bernays. "Yes," he replied.   Pressed about his relationship with Ewing, Bernays shifted  uncomfortably. A memory that had been crystal clear seconds earlier  suddenly clouded. I had the same relationship that I had to other clients, I  treated them the way a lawyer treats a client or a doctor treats a client. We  had discussion of the problem at hand and how to meet them. I don't  remember him very well," he insisted. Bernays glanced furtively at me:  Obviously I did nothing without their approval, in advance.   Bernays s personal papers detail his involvement in one of the nation's  earliest and biggest water fluoridation battles, which took place in New  York City. It was a key moment. The fight for fluoride was in full swing  around the country, with referenda and public opinion running mostly in  favor of the antifluoridationists. b Both camps understood the importance of  winning in New York. A victory for fluoride in the liberal media  metropolis would give fluoride promoters a big boost elsewhere, according  to Bernays. If New York accepts an idea, the other states will accept the  idea too," he explained to me.   In one corner of the ring was a vigorous popular movement opposing  fluoridation. The protesters were backed by leading doctors, such as Dr.  Simon Beisler, a former president of the American Urological Association;  Dr. Fred Squier Dunn of the Lenox Hill     ENGINEERING CONSENT     161     Hospital; radiologist Frederick Exner; and Dr. George Waldbott. I n  the other corner was New York Citys Health Department, led by  Commissioner Dr. Leona Baumgartner. She was supported by the big  guns of the nations health establishment, including Louis Dublin,  formerly of the Metropolitan Life insurance company; Robert Kehoe  of the Kettering Laboratory; Detlev Bronk of the Rockefeller  Foundation; Nicholas C. Leone of the Public Health Service; and  Herman Hilleboe, New York State s Health Commissioner.   During the campaign Bernays secretly advised Health Com-  missioner Baumgartner on how to sell fluoride to the voters. All this  intrigues me no end, he told Dr. Baumgartner in a December 8, 1960,  letter discussing fluoridation, because it presents challenging  situations deeply related to the public's interest which may be solved  by the engineering of consent.'" ("The Engineering of Consent was a  well-known Bernays essay on techniques of media manipulation and  public relations.)   Bernays advised the Health Commissioner to write TV network  bosses David Sarnoff at NBC and William Paley at CBS, telling them  that debating fluoridation is like presenting two sides for  anti-Catholicism or anti-Semitism and therefore not in the public  interest. ' She should approach the TV executives gingerly, he warned,  without necessarily asking them to act in any specific way, but rather  generically. . . . This might lead to a revision of the whole policy of  what shall and shall not be considered controversial.   Other media strategies included mailing innocuous-sounding  letters to influential editors, explaining what fluoridation entailed. We  would put out the definition first to the editors of important  newspapers," Bernays said. "Then we would send a letter to publishers  of dictionaries and encyclopedias. After six or eight months we would  find the word fluoridation was published and defined in dictionaries  and encyclopedias.   During the battle for New Yorkers hearts and minds the citys  Health Department received support from an influential profluoride  citizens committee — purporting to be interested in fluoride for  public -health reasons. The titular head of the Committee to Protect  Our Children s Teeth was the famous pediatrician Benjamin Spock.  Also lending their names to the Committee s effort was a long list of  celebrities, liberals, and notables including Mrs. Franklin     162   D. Roosevelt, baseball great Jackie Robinson, and trade union leader A.  Philip Randolph. A lavish booklet called Our Children's Teeth was  published by the Committee and distributed around the country. It was a  compendium of reassurances of fluorides safety and denunciations of  critics. Safety problems were "nonexistent," wrote Dr. Robert Kehoe from  the Kettering Laboratory, while Dr. Hilleboe tarred opponents as food  faddists, cultists, chiropractors and misguided and misinformed persons  who are ignorant of the scientific facts involved.   Sold to New Yorkers as a public-health initiative, the Committee to  Protect Our Children's Teeth had powerful links to the U.S.  military-industrial complex, and to the efforts of big industrial corporations  to escape liability for fluoride pollution. In 1956, for example, the  Committees booklet Our Children's Teeth was hot off the press. Before  most New York parents had an opportunity to read about fluorides wonders,  lawyers for the Reynolds aluminum company submitted the booklet to a  federal appeals court in Portland, Oregon, where the company had been  found guilty of injuring the health of a local farming family through  fluoride pollution (see chapter 13).   Inside the booklet, the judges were told, "are to be found the statements  of one medical and scientific expert after another, all to the effect that  fluorides in low concentrations (such as are present around aluminum and  other industrial plants) present no hazard to man." (Today such a pseudo  grass-roots effort would be known as an "astroturf" organization because  of its fake popular character and essentially corporate roots.)   The committee was funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and its  goals were to break the political logjam in New York and to help topple  dominoes across the country, according to the committee's program  director, Henry Urrows. 10 "That was the working assumption — our  justification as far as the Kellogg people were concerned — and it turned out  that was quite correct because we broke the back of the anti-fluoridation  movement by winning in New York and Chicago," Urrows told me.   Although the Committee s expert composition and broad social  representation was a classic Bernays-style propaganda technique, Urrows  denied that the campaign had anything to do with Bernays,     whom he dismissed in clipped, Harvard tones of barely concealed  repugnance: He was a man who would take credit for anything that would  reflect credit on him. He was a professional liar. (Urrows may not have  known what Bernays was doing, but Bernays kept tabs on Urrows.  Correspondence from Urrows to Health Commissioner Leona  Baumgartner is found in the Bernays archive.)   More evidence of the Committees ties to industry can be seen in its  staffing and endorsements. General counsel to the committee was Ford  Foundation trustee and leading corporate attorney, Bethuel M. Webster. He  had been a wartime associate of Harvard president James Conant and of  Vannevar Bush, the two leading science bureaucrats who had shepherded  the early development of the atomic bomb." And the booklet includes  statements from eight DuPont scientists; three scientists from the nuclear  complex at Oak Ridge; a doctor from the Army Chemical Center in  Maryland; the president of Union Carbide; the former supervisor of  uranium hexafluoride production at Harshaw Chemical; the former director  of the AECs Division of Biology and Medicine; Shields Warren, a member  of the AEC s Medical Advisory Committee; Detlev Bronk; and Dr. Herbert  Stokinger, who had performed many of the Manhattan Projects fluorine  toxicity studies for Harold Hodge at the University of Rochester. 12   According to Urrows, it was "a coincidence" that so many scientists  listed in the booklet were associated with the atomic-weapons industry.  Fluorides use in industry was "pervasive," he said. It was therefore  unnecessary to list all those various industrial applications in a dental  publication, he added. Urrows knew that Dr. Shields Warren, for example,  had been associated with the AEC and that the nuclear industry had an  interest in fluoride, but he bristled at any suggestion that his committee  misled the public by not informing them of fluorides military uses. "I think  what you are doing is injecting a suspicion as though there were a  self-interest beyond the public interest. And I think that you are mistaken,"  Urrows said.   It was not until 1965 that fluoride finally began spilling from New York  City faucets. Foes complained bitterly that, while city residents were given  a referendum on off-track betting, the fluoride vote had been turned over to  the five-man Board of Estimate. An exclusive cocktail party corralling  New York's political leaders at the home     164     CHAPTER TWELVE.     of Mary and Albert Lasker had launched the final push for fluoride that  summer, according to National Fluoridation News. Mary Lasker was a  member of the Committee to Protect our Children s Teeth and a prominent  public health advocate. Her husband was a wealthy advertising executive,  whose money came in part from pushing Lucky Strike cigarettes with  Edward Bernays for the American Tobacco Company. 13 Guests at the  Lasker party on July 25 included Mayor Robert Wagner, members of the  Board of Estimate, twelve out of twenty-five members of the City Council,  and Brooklyn s borough president Abe Stark.   This government by cocktails is really unique, commented a press  release from the antifluoride Association for the Protection of our Water  Supply. Here is a private one-sided hearing on a most controversial subject,  in a meeting by officials in an ex cathedra session. Where does it leave the  masses of citizens opposed to fluorida-tion? Will they have to pool their  meager resources and invite the city fathers to an inexpensive bar to hear  their story?   The Committee to Protect Our Children s Teeth had accomplished its  broader national mission, said Urrows. 14 "At the time we began work, there  may have been — Im guessing now — 5 percent of the public water supplies  [in the United States] being fluoridated, at the time we went out of business  we had about two-thirds," Urrows added.   The father of public relations helped the U.S. Public Health Service to  sell fluoride too, it seems. On Valentines Day of 1961, assistant surgeon  general and chief dental officer for the Public Health Service, Dr. John  Knutson, wrote to Bernays in New York. Knutson asked Bernays to pay a  visit to his office to discuss new approaches to the promotion of water  fluoridation. The letter is on government stationery. Bernays answered by  return mail, announc ing that he expected to be in Washington shortly to  see some of my friends in Government and when the date is set I will make  it a point to clear with you for an appointment. ,s   The federal public-relations effort grew in strength during the 1950s and  1960s. From the beginning the scale of the taxpayer-funded propaganda  was driven by the strength of public opposition to fluoridation and had as  its hallmark disrespect for open debate and a democratic vote.'     ENGINEERING CONSENT     165     Big Brother watched. The Public Health Service, the American Dental  Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Water  Works Association all operated semicovert investigative offices,  compiling McCarthyite dossiers on antifluo-ride medical professionals and  sending often second-hand and derogatory information to profluoride  groups.' The government agency for perpetuating such smear campaigns,  which serves as the CIA and the USIA of the pro-fluoridationists  according to Science magazine, was a taxpayer-funded outfit inside the  NIH, the National Fluoridation Information Service of the Division of  Dental Health of the U.S. Public Health Service. The spying unit, remarked  Science, makes it its business to know who stands where in the  fluoridation controversy." 18   Medical professionals critical of fluoride were regularly mauled in  the press, while doctors and dentists were expelled from their profes  sional organizations for antifluoride heresy.' 9 At least one researcher,  Dr. Reuben Feltman, who had found that fluoride supplements  produce harmful side effects in pregnant women, had his federal  funding withdrawn. 20 And the leading fluoride critic, Dr. George  Waldbott from Michigan, soon found himself in the cross hairs of  fluoride propagandists. 21 In 1988 Chemical and Engineering News  reviewed the damage that had been done to Waldbott's scientific  standing as a result of such attacks. Rather than deal scientifically  with his work, wrote Bette Hileman, ADA mounted a campaign of  criticism based largely on a letter from a West German health officer,  Heinrich Hornung. The letter made a number of untrue statements,  including an allegation that Waldbott obtained his information on  patients' reactions to fluoride solely from the use of questionnaires.  ADA later published Waldbott's response to this letter. But the widely  disseminated original news release was not altered or corrected, and  continued to be published in many places. As late as 1985, it was still  being quoted. Once political attacks effectively portrayed him as  v anti-fluoridation', Waldbott's work was largely ignored by physicians  and scientists."   22   Journalists, too, were seized by the Zeitgeist. In the summer of 1956 the  writer Donald McNeil served as cover for the AMAs Bureau of  Investigation in a failed bid to smear a leading antifluoride scientist.  Although he would later write propaganda pamphlets for the ADA,     166     CHAPTER TWELVE     McNeil was then preparing what was regarded as an objective book on  fluoride; he would become perhaps the leading media observer of the  nationwide debate over fluoride. On July 2, 1956, McNeil wrote to the  distinguished radiologist Frederick B. Exner in Seattle, Wash ington,  requesting reprints of Exner s critical paper Fluoridation. McNeil wrote  under a pseudonym, explaining he was an antifluoride activist planning a  "door-to-door" campaign in Wisconsin and asking if Exner could give him  some idea on the price of reprints.   Secretly McNeil was responding to a personal request from the AMA's  chief gumshoe, Oliver Field, to obtain information in order to show "that  people are profiting" from the sale of antifluoride literature. (Dr. Exner had  no idea of the subterfuge. He duly charged McNeil a.k.a. "Don Marriott" a  dollar for a single copy, a rate that fell on a sliding scale to 55 cents per  hundred.) 23   Scientists with an eye for a successful career read the tea leaves closely.  A river of federal dollars from the newly flush National Institutes of Health  was cascading into research laboratories and college campuses around the  nation, profoundly shaping the nations scientific research priorities. While  millions of these taxpayer dollars were spent promoting fluoridation, little  money was given to study the potentially harmful effects from fluoride.  Instead, the PHS spent lavishly during the cold war, producing profluoride  films and public exhibits, as well as funding pseudoscholarly works.   An example of these expenditures was the 1963 booklet, The Role of  Fluoride in Public Health, produced by the Kettering Laboratory and funded  by the PHS. The Kettering Laboratory was simultaneously being funded by  several of the biggest fluoride -polluting industries in the United States. The  booklet's censorship of details and the Laboratory's interest in proving  fluoride safe in low doses can be seen in its near-complete omission of  scientists and articles critical of fluoride — and in the tract's propagandistic  subtitle, "The Soundness of Fluoridation of Communal Water  Supplies. 24   The American Dental Association — funded in part by millions of dollars  in taxpayer grants from the Public Health Service — joined the propaganda  campaign, releasing a torrent of movies, slides, booklets, and exhibits, even  suggesting scripts for radio programs. 25 One such script — with fake  dialogue for doctors, dentists, and a " member" of the Parent Teacher's  Association — dealt with the issue     ENGINEERING CONSENT     167     of dental fluorosis with Orwellian doubletalk, stating that Fluoridated  water gives the teeth an added sparkle.'   A 1952 ADA pamphlet also advised against democracy. At no time  should the dentist be placed in the position of defending himself, his  profession, or the fluoridation process, stated the leaflet How to  Obtain Fluoridation for Your Community Through a Citizens  Committee. Fluoridation "should not be submitted to the voters, who  cannot possibly sift through and comprehend the scientific evidence,  the pamphlet advised.   Yet the scale of the public -relations campaign mounted on behalf of  water fluoridation appears to have startled even the ADA. In August  1952, for example, a blizzard of identical news stories appeared in  papers around the country. They all praised fluoride for reducing  dental cavities in Newburgh, New York. Curiously, they all did so in  exactly the same language. Who in hell is feeding newspapers canned  pro-fluoridation arguments????????" asks a note found by the  historian Donald McNeil in the archives of the American Dental  Association.' Two clippings, EXACTLY ALIKE, starting with Every  time we hear a piece of news like the following from one part of the  country we are surprised, and a little dismayed, that we don't get the  same news from lots of other places.' Then tells of Newburgh's 47  percent reduction in decay" [emphasis in original]. The mystified  author then lists several newspapers in Washington, Idaho, Missouri,  Iowa, Arkansas, and South Dakota where the promotional story had  appeared.     13     Showdown in the West   Martin vs. Reynolds Metals   

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