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Have scientists located religion’s “G-spot”?

Scientists believe they have found the "God spot" in the human brain.  They say religion is an adaptive part of our evolution.

Scientists believe they have found the "God spot" in the human brain, the part that "controls" religious experience. They say religion is an adaptive part of our evolution.

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“When we have incomplete knowledge of the world around us, it offers us the opportunities to believe in God. When we don’t have a scientific explanation for something, we tend to rely on supernatural explanations,” said Professor Grafman, who believes in God. “Maybe obeying supernatural forces that we had no knowledge of made it easier for religious forms of belief to emerge.”

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Some scientists believe they have pinpointed the brain’s “G-spots” – the pleasure centers relating  to religious experience and those that “control religious faith”.   They argue that these biological foundations for religious tendencies in humans are a product of human evolution – a necessary part of our survival.

The researchers said their findings support the idea that the brain has evolved to be sensitive to any form of belief that improves the chances of survival, which could explain why a belief in God and the supernatural became so widespread in human evolutionary history.

The article below highlights the results of a study published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.   According to this study volunteers were asked to think about religious and moral issues, while scientists observed areas of the brain for neural activity associated with those thoughts.  What they discovered is that religious and moral beliefs activate the same areas of the brain.   These areas include portions of the frontal lobe (which is unique to humans among animals), as well as the temporal and parietal lobes.

No one knows exactly why these areas of the brain show increased activity with regard to religious and ethical issues, nor the reason why these same areas are active during moments of intense religious experience and perceived absorption into the Divine.  One scientist, Professor Grafman, points out:

“There is nothing unique about religious belief in these brain structures. Religion doesn’t have a ‘God spot’ as such, instead it’s embedded in a whole range of other belief systems in the brain that we use everyday”.

Indeed, our moral and ethical beliefs influence a wide-range of other core, fundamental beliefs that we hold, and consideration of the effects (both in this world and the next) of choices and actions undoubtedly has an affect, to some degree or another, on many interrelated belief systems.  This may explain why several areas of the brain are active upon such considerations and not just one.

Yet, if religious thinking is “embedded in a whole range of other belief systems” it would seem that there is some underlying cause or reason for that.   The first quote above suggests that the reason for this is that of ignorance seeking understanding, a  search for a scientific or even “supernatural” explanation for things we experience but can make no rational sense of.   This appears to be false on the face of it.

Often, science offers up a rational, methodical, observable answer for a phenomena, but those of religious inclinations may disregard the findings of science altogether.  For example, science posits the notion of evolution, which is, in part, based upon observable data.  Yet there is a large body of theologians who discount such theories because their religion tells them differently.  For them, it is a “matter of faith” that God created the world and the universe.   If religious inclinations are based upon biological processes attempting to make sense of and order the world rationally, then it begs the question, “Why do religious people, in the face of compelling, rational, observable, scientific data, reject those theories for something abstract, unobservable and non-empirical?”

I believe the reason for this lies in the nature of the religious experience – an important issue that the article below does not address.  One of the best texts regarding religious experiences is William James’, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature.   Mr. James took an empirical look at the many types of religious experiences, observed the similarities among them, then showed the four characteristics these experiences share:

1.  Ineffability

2.  Noetic quality

3.  Transience

4.  Passivity

According to James, all truly religious experience are ineffable: they cannot or should not be put into written words.  This is because the experience is one of “other-worldliness” or “greater reality”, such that normal words and concepts cannot accurately portray what the experience was.   Religious experiences also contain a noetic quality, which means they impart some sort of wisdom or knowledge to the individual.  Although the experience itself is beyond words, the person believes they have gained some insight into themselves, the world, or society as a whole.  This knowledge is not empirical, but subjective.  Such experiences are also short-lived, but, nevertheless, so profound that the individual seeks to recapture the experience again and again.  In so doing, James adds that most realize the passivity of the experience – one cannot make it happen whenever desired.   The individual has no control over the experience.   It cannot be recreated in a lab, to be studied, monitored and recorded.

All this study below shows is that certain parts of the brain are active at certain times under certain conditions.  This does not point to a “God spot” or any such area of the brain, which is responsible for – that is, causative of – human beings’ inclination towards the Divine.   Since 95% of the world believes in one form of God or another, we are still left with the begging question, “Why?”  If this is merely a result of evolution or neural activity, why is the “God impulse” so widespread?  It strains reason to think that such beliefs are simply a result of physical processes in the brain – that religion and morality is simply a bi-product of thought – or that such profound, life-changing experiences are merely physical, chemical actions of our brain.

Furthermore, if religion is an adaptive belief system designed for survival, why does religious history abound with stories of individuals who died or were martyred because of their faith?

While I love science, sometimes scientists are a little short-sighted and have a hard time accepting data that cannot be empirically measured, quantified, recorded and cataloged.   The scientific method itself demands such qualities of a verifiable experience, which precludes non-empirical data such as that purported by spiritual people.   With respect to the Being of God and that of religious experiences, scientists almost always miss the mark in attempting to prove or disprove the existence of God according to such empirical methods.  Even scientists who believe in God and who seek to use science to find a physical connection between humans and God always fail to provide the proof they seek to show.

Proof for the existence or nonexistence of God is impossible and misses the point.

For the religious follower, one should seek the experience of God first, then all proofs are meaningless because the mind then knows God.   They argue that God can only be known directly, not through concepts and theorems, but through an open heart and mind.

I believe that the reason for this is that Spirit comes first, then the mind, … then the physical – of which the brain is part.  The physical world and perceptual sensation is an end-result of Spirit and Mind.  Perception is a product, not a source.

As such, pointing to the result/product itself (the physical world and perception) for substantiation of the cause (Spirit and Mind)  or in hope to understand the processes that gave rise to the result, is based upon error.    Utilizing a purely empirical scientific method to study the physical brain, thinking this will give us insight into the mind and Spirit, will not tell us anything beyond the constraints of physically perceivable phenomena and the range of “acceptable” answers we allow.  We have already framed the answer and results with our expectations, which themselves arise from the beliefs we hold.   Quantum physicists call this the “observer effect.”

Scientists do the same when they study physical phenomena to try to gain insight into the spiritual.   Their results are framed by the fundamental beliefs they hold.  These beliefs give rise to the accepted means of measurement, which further frames the results.

The limits of the scientific method are built in to frame the results in terms of what is accepted FIRST to be true.    For empirical scientists and atheists, the fundamental reality is the physical world of sense experience and perception, and it is taken as truth that studying physical phenomena can give greater understanding of our reality.  Religious believers, on the other hand, may believe that the spiritual world is ultimate reality, while the physical world is illusion.  This leads to entirely different schools of thought, which have been attempting to reconcile their opposing views for ages.

Theologians and scientists are still grappling with that conundrum, attempting to look to the brain for insight into the Spirit.  They will exhaust themselves, for they will find only what they expect to find, again and again, framed by the questions they ask and the expectations they have.   If they’re searching for the physical processes that “give rise to” religious belief, they’ll find the processes which appear to do so.  If they search for the source of physical processes to begin with, then an entirely different answer emerges.

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Belief and the brain’s ‘God spot’

Scientists say they have located the parts of the brain that control religious faith. And the research proves, they contend, that belief in a higher power is an evolutionary asset that helps human survival. Steve Connor reports

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A belief in God is deeply embedded in the human brain, which is programmed for religious experiences, according to a study that analyses why religion is a universal human feature that has encompassed all cultures throughout history.

Scientists searching for the neural “God spot”, which is supposed to control religious belief, believe that there is not just one but several areas of the brain that form the biological foundations of religious belief.

The researchers said their findings support the idea that the brain has evolved to be sensitive to any form of belief that improves the chances of survival, which could explain why a belief in God and the supernatural became so widespread in human evolutionary history.

“Religious belief and behaviour are a hallmark of human life, with no accepted animal equivalent, and found in all cultures,” said Professor Jordan Grafman, from the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, near Washington. “Our results are unique in demonstrating that specific components of religious belief are mediated by well-known brain networks, and they support contemporary psychological theories that ground religious belief within evolutionary-adaptive cognitive functions.”

Scientists are divided on whether religious belief has a biological basis. Some evolutionary theorists have suggested that Darwinian natural selection may have put a premium on individuals if they were able to use religious belief to survive hardships that may have overwhelmed those with no religious convictions. Others have suggested that religious belief is a side effect of a wider trait in the human brain to search for coherent beliefs about the outside world. Religion and the belief in God, they argue, are just a manifestation of this intrinsic, biological phenomenon that makes the human brain so intelligent and adaptable.

The latest study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved analysing the brains of volunteers, who had been asked to think about religious and moral problems and questions. For the analysis, the researchers used a functional magnetic-resonance imaging machine, which can identify the most energetically-active regions of the brain.

They found that people of different religious persuasions and beliefs, as well as atheists, all tended to use the same electrical circuits in the brain to solve a perceived moral conundrum – and the same circuits were used when religiously-inclined people dealt with issues related to God.

The study found that several areas of the brain are involved in religious belief, one within the frontal lobes of the cortex – which are unique to humans – and another in the more evolutionary-ancient regions deeper inside the brain, which humans share with apes and other primates, Professor Grafman said.

“There is nothing unique about religious belief in these brain structures. Religion doesn’t have a ‘God spot’ as such, instead it’s embedded in a whole range of other belief systems in the brain that we use everyday,” Professor Grafman said.

The search for the God spot has in the past led scientists to many different regions of the brain. An early contender was the brain’s temporal lobe, a large section of the brain that sits over each ear, because temporal-lobe epileptics suffering seizures in these regions frequently report having intense religious experiences. One of the principal exponents of this idea was Vilayanur Ramachandran, from the University of California, San Diego, who asked several of his patients with temporal-lobe epilepsy to listen to a mixture of religious, sexual and neutral words while measuring their levels of arousal and emotional reactions. Religious words elicited an unusually high response in these patients.

This work was followed by a study where scientists tried to stimulate the temporal lobes with a rotating magnetic field produced by a “God helmet”. Michael Persinger, from Laurentian University in Ontario, found that he could artificially create the experience of religious feelings – the helmet’s wearer reports being in the presence of a spirit or having a profound feeling of cosmic bliss.

Dr Persinger said that about eight in every 10 volunteers report quasi-religious feelings when wearing his helmet. However, when Professor Richard Dawkins, an evolutionist and renowned atheist, wore it during the making of a BBC documentary, he famously failed to find God, saying that the helmet only affected his breathing and his limbs.

Other studies of people taking part in Buddhist meditation suggested the parietal lobes at the upper back region of the brain were involved in controlling religious belief, in particular the mystical elements that gave people a feeling of being on a higher plane during prayer.

Andrew Newberg, from the University of Pennsylvania, injected radioactive isotope into Buddhists at the point at which they achieved meditative nirvana. Using a special camera, he captured the distribution of the tracer in the brain, which led the researchers to identify the parietal lobes as playing a key role during this transcendental state.

Professor Grafman was more interested in how people coped with everyday moral and religious questions. He said that the latest study, published today, suggests the brain is inherently sensitive to believing in almost anything if there are grounds for doing so, but when there is a mystery about something, the same neural machinery is co-opted in the formulation of religious belief.

“When we have incomplete knowledge of the world around us, it offers us the opportunities to believe in God. When we don’t have a scientific explanation for something, we tend to rely on supernatural explanations,” said Professor Grafman, who believes in God. “Maybe obeying supernatural forces that we had no knowledge of made it easier for religious forms of belief to emerge.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains–god-spot-1641022.html

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Bittersweet Study Discovers Mercury in Foods Containing High- Fructose Corn Syrup

mercury-warning2

According a new report, fish and other seafood aren't the only dietary sources of toxic mercury.

[Mercury] damages the central nervous system, endocrine system, kidneys, and other organs, and adversely affects the mouth, gums, and teeth.  Exposure over long periods of time … can result in brain damage and ultimately death.  Mercury and its compounds are particularly toxic to fetuses and infants … Mercury exposure in young children can have severe neurological consequences, preventing nerve sheaths from forming properly.

Wikipedia, mercury poisoning

Consumers should take heed of a recent study, which discovered the presence of low doses of the toxic heavy metal, mercury (Hg), in foods containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Researchers at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP – http://www.iatp.org/) have released the findings of a study performed on 55 foods containing HFCS, which discovered that 31% of the foods tested – 1 out of every 3 samples – contained traces of mercury “several times higher than the lowest detectable limits”.

Mercury was found in minute quantities up to 350 ppt (parts per trillion), a level that food manufacturers and the Corn Syrup Refiners Association say is far below any threshold set by Federal Agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Such exposure is safe, they argue, and to inflate these findings and cause public alarm is “irresponsible” – at least, according to Tom Forsythe, spokesman for General Mills, maker of Yoplait® yogurt.  The FDA seems to share this opinion.

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration was alerted of the presence of mercury in HFCS-containing foods four years earlier, but chose to ignore the information.  In 2005, Renee Dufault, then researcher for the FDA and lead author for Environmental Health journal, conducted tests similar to the IATP’s and highlighted her findings of mercury in 9 of 20 samples in a report given to the agency.   They apparently did nothing to address this toxic threat. Her results were cited in the Environmental Health journal in January 2009 (abstract available).

[High-Fructose Corn Syrup] now appears to be a significant additional source of mercury, one never before considered … [but is a] completely avoidable problem.

IATP January 2009 release

The news caused an immediate stir in the online community, especially among health proponents who have monitored the presence of mercury in vaccines and seafood for the past several years.  Many health advocates warn of the presence of mercury in common products such as canned tuna, vaccine preservatives, and fluorescent light bulbs, as well as the associated risks and negative health effects this particular element has on the human body and the environment.

Mercury, they argue, is a known toxin even at minute quantities – indeed, it is the most toxic naturally occurring, non-radioactive metal on Earth.  It is particularly damaging to developing infants and small children, and, coincidentally or not, children represent the largest consumers of HFCS’s, second to teenagers.

Undoubtedly, this study has enormous implications because it is well-known by the scientific community that mercury – in any form – is extremely toxic and bioaccumulative, meaning that trace amounts of this element accumulate in the tissues and organs of living beings.  Over time, the presence of this toxin wreaks havoc on all bodily systems and can manifest in many different ways.

In this regard, and in my opinion, it is somewhat a moot point to argue that the mercury levels in the sampled foods are safe because they contain only a miniscule quantity of mercury, a position obviously taken by General Mills.  Poisons that accumulate in our bodies simply have no business being in our foods, especially if their presence is completely avoidable.

Why Mercury?

The inevitable question presents itself, “How did mercury get there?”

The answer is simple: certain producers of high fructose corn syrup use “mercury-grade caustic soda” (lye) to separate corn kernels from corn starch, thereby contaminating the corn starch with toxic mercury vapors, which is then further processed into HFCS – a very common sweetener in many processed foods.

Caustic soda can be produced in three ways: by utilizing mercury cells, membrane cells, or diaphragm cells.  These cells are basically vats of aqueous solution containing salt (NaCl).  These vats are electrically charged through a process called electrolysis, which chemically breaks apart the sodium molecules to produce chlorine and caustic soda (NaOH).  As NaOH is produced, it will chemically react with the chlorine unless one of the three cell methods is utilized.

Using the mercury cell process, the sodium ions (Na) are further reduced to a sodium amalgam through the introduction of liquid mercury.  This sodium amalgam is then reacted with water to produce caustic soda.   Lye produced utilizing this method is considered to be the highest-grade available, while the membrane cell method utilizes less electricity.

hgnaohelectrolysis1

This diagram shows the mercury cell process, which is far more technical than the simplified explanation above.

A somewhat dated fact sheet (2002) stated that “approximately 13% of electrolytically produced Caustic Soda in North America is produced” using the mercury cell method.

According to the EH abstract cited above, mercury-grade caustic lye is used to produce sodium benzoate and citric acid – two other potentially contaminated food sources.  One may assume that since corn starch is produced using lye, corn starch itself may also be cotaminated.

What has not been publicly recognized is that mercury cell technology can also contaminate all the food grade chemicals made from it, including caustic soda.

IATP January 2009 Release

The Study

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy obtained 55 samples of foods containing high-fructose corn syrup, manufactured by brand name companies such as Kraft, Hunt’s, Hershey’s and Quaker, as well as one private label store brand, Market Pantry.  The foods sampled included typical foods snacked on by average consumers: soft drinks, snack bars, barbecue sauces, yogurt, chocolate milk, jelly, toaster treats and ketchup, among others.

According to the results of the study, published directly by the IATP in January 2009, 17 of the sampled items contained “elevated mercury levels”, and at least 9 of them had mercury levels between 100 and 350 ppt.   The sampled foods with levels of mercury detected included (mercury amounts expressed in parts per trillion*):

Quaker Oatmeal to Go, manufactured by PepsiCo (350 ppt)

Jack Daniel’s Barbecue Sauce, manufactured by Heinz (300 ppt)

Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup (257 ppt)

Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce (200 ppt)

Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars, manufactured by Kellogg Company (180 ppt)

Manwich Bold Sloppy Joe (canned sauce), manufactured by ConAgra Foods (150 ppt)

Market Pantry Grape Jelly, manufactured by Target Corporation (130 ppt)

Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly, manufactured by J. M. Smuckers Company (100 ppt)

Pop-Tarts Frosted Blueberry, manufactured by Kellogg Company (100 ppt)

Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup, manufactured by ConAgra Foods (87 ppt)

Wish-Bone Western Sweet & Smooth, manufactured by Unilever (72 ppt)

Coca-Cola Classic (62 ppt)

Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt, manufactured by General Mills (60 ppt)

Minute Maid Berry Punch, manufactured by Coco-Cola (40 ppt)

Yoo-hoo Chocolate Drink, manufactured by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (30 ppt)

Nesquik Chocolate Milk, manufactured by Nestle (30 ppt)

Kemps Fat Free Chocolate Milk (30 ppt)

(see full chart)

Surprisingly, while the typical soda contains 17 teaspoons of HFCS’s (page 6), mercury was not found in the large majority of soft drinks tested besides Coca-Cola Classic.  Among those that fared favorably were: Dr. Pepper, A & W Root Beer, Kool-Aid, Sunny-D, Powerade, Lipton Green Tea, Pepsi Cola, 7-Up, and Hi-C.  Regardless, the IATP’s study reports that teenagers (ages 13-18) consume an average of 85 gallons of soda per year, which translates into 9,180 teaspoons of HFCS just by drinking soda alone!  In fact, the average person consumes about 12 teaspoons of HFCS each and every day – an amount that can significantly increase one’s exposure to mercury if eating typical items like those found in the list above.

How Much Mercury Are We Talking About, And How Much Is Considered Safe?

The FDA has set maximum exposure amounts for mercury in regard to public drinking water and seafood.  The maximum mercury concentration in water is set at 2 parts per billion (ppb), while the maximum concentration in seafood cannot exceed 1 part per million (ppm). The FDA states that the 1 ppm threshold is set at 10 times less than “the lowest levels associated with adverse effects”.

To help visualize the amount of mercury concentration expressed in ppm: the legal limit (1 ppm) is merely one drop in a standard bathtub filled to the overflow.  At that level, the FDA warns that consumers should not eat more than seven ounces of fish per week – approximately two and a half small cans of tuna.  On the other hand, the 2 ppb level set for drinking water is approximately 2 drops in 500 barrels of water.

Finally, to put the above discovered mercury concentrations in perspective, try to visualize 20 Olympic-size pools, each 2 meters deep, stacked on top of one another with one drop of mercury in them.  That represents 1 ppt.  That is an incredibly small amount, for sure, but still a potentially bioaccumulative source of toxic mercury – a source that, according to IATP and health advocates, is entirely avoidable.

Once it’s in the body, mercury can limit normal brain activity and nervous system functions … It is especially dangerous for developing infants and small children and can cause decreased motor skills and learning disabilities at even low levels of exposure.

Linda E. Greer, Ph.D., Director of Natural Resources Defense Council’s Health Program

Adverse Effects of Mercury Poisoning:

Because of mercury’s bioaccumulative nature, excess mercury can collect in the brain, tissues and organs of the affected individual, resulting in a wide variety of symptoms, including psychological disturbances, digestive problems, cardiovascular issues, respiratory problems, loss of speech and neurological problems resulting in mood swings and aggressive behavior.

It has long been established that mercury is destructive to the brain, which gave rise to the phrase, “mad as a hatter” – an accurate label for hatters who used to use mercury to cure the felt in their hats.   Most of these “mad hatters” went insane and/or died at an early age because of mercury poisoning.  This has led many to believe that there is a connection between vaccinations containing the mercury-laden preservative, Thimerosal, and the onset and rising prevalence of autism.  Still others speculate that mercury is a leading cause for such disorders as attention deficit and possibly alzheimer’s.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG – http://www.ewg.org) states that mercury toxicity causes “damage to the brain and nervous system, immune system, enzyme system and genetic system.”  EWG adds that developing fetuses are especially vulnerable to the destructive effects of mercury.  Scientists have shown that mercury destroys the dendrites and axons of neurons, leaving only an empty “nerve sheath” (see video below).

According to research performed by EWG in 2004, ten babies were found to have mercury present in their umbilical cord blood.   Another study in 2006 showed that 72 of 73 individuals tested positive for traces of methylmercury.

Wikipedia lists the effects of mercury poisoning as “excessive timidity, diffidence, increasing shyness, loss of self-confidence, anxiety, and a desire to remain unobserved and unobtrusive”.  These characteristics also mirror  the destruction of personality often present in children at the onset of autism.

Consumers can be sure that the debate over mercury’s presence in our lives will only be ignited by this new study.

Main study conducted by IATP:

http://www.healthobservatory.org/library.cfm?refid=105026

For more information on HFCS:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup

http://www.hfcsfacts.com/ High Fructose Corn Syrup Refiners

Related articles:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/health/chi-mercury-corn-syrupjan27,0,2801323.story

http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2009/1/26/132619/467/?source=most_popular

More information on mercury toxicity:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(element)#Safety

http://www.ewg.org/chemindex/term/470

Videos:

http://commons.ucalgary.ca/mercury/ – This video shows how damaging the presence of mercury is to neurons.  Watch as the dendrites wither, leaving only an empty nerve sheaths.  Scientists have already established that mercury is bioaccumulative, a good portion of which concentrates in organs and in the brain.  What sort of damage are we doing to our delicate nervous systems?

http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-2945_5105_47868-181553–,00.html – This is an outstanding video showing how exposed mercury quickly dissipates into the air, wreaking havoc as an environmental toxin.  This video also shows how difficult mercury is to remove, without causing it to become even more volatile.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ylnQ-T7oi – I found this a couple of years ago regarding silver amalgam fillings.  Thankfully, I don’t have any silver amalgam fillings.  Perhaps this will convince some readers to have theirs removed.  If you do, be sure that all necessary precautions are taken to avoid exposing yourself further or your dentists.

http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/imerc/video.cfm – This is a short five-minute video showing the cycle of mercury pollution and contamination.

Biomagnification:

http://www.on.ec.gc.ca/community/classroom/millennium/m3-science-assign2-e.html – This simple exercise allows one to see how quickly minute quantities of toxic chemicals like mercury can build up in animals higher up the food chain.  As humans are at the top of the food chain, it would be wise for us to be prudent in our exposure to mercury, especially when it is avoidable.

See also: Bioaccumulation

 

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Response to WSJ Article on Water Fluoridation

The Wall Street Journal carried an article today in its Health Journal by Melinda Beck, “And You Thought the Debate Over Fluoridation Was Settled”. Having just finished a blog on fluoride and related background reading, the article caught my eye, then quickly turned my stomach. I will break down her article in a minute, but I have to point out that the Wall Street Journal is owned by the 109th richest person in the world, Rupert Murdoch, who also owns one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, reaching hundreds of millions of people each and every day. For the Wall Street Journal to carry an article like this shows me that people are starting to wake up to the dangers associated with not only water fluoridation, but the use of fluoride in general. In my opinion, this is a typical “hit piece” designed to re-convince those that are on the fence or beginning to wonder about the effectiveness of fluoridation that those who question this practice are a dying – and/or irrational – breed. Ms. Beck makes several logical and factual errors in writing her article. In fact, I found myself scratching my head and wondering if she is really this poorly researched, or if she is being paid off by chemical companies to reassert the need and safety of water fluoridation.

I will work through this short article line by line. For more ease of reading, I have typed my comments in brackets and with dark blue font.

The fluoride fight is alive and growing, despite the title of this WSJ article.

The fluoride fight is alive and growing, despite the title of this WSJ article.

And You Thought the Debate Over Fluoridation Was Settled

By Melinda Beck

HEALTH JOURNAL – NOVEMBER 4, 2008

[First of all, the debate over fluoridation is far from settled, and this title is very misleading. In fact, the debate over water fluoridation has been heating up over the past thirty years, especially in the last decade when more international studies have been performed regarding its safety and positive and negative health effects.]

As a baby boomer growing up without fluoridation, I had 14 cavities before my 18th birthday, including seven at one particularly mortifying dental visit.

A generation later, my teenage daughters, who’ve grown up in a fluoridated city, have a combined total of none.

[These two statements taken by themselves reveal what this author wants her reader to believe: that fluoridating water resulted in her kids having no cavities, while she suffered from fourteen because her water was not fluoridated. In the 1940’s when water fluoridating began, dentists most assuredly believed that the ingestion of fluoride had preventative effects on tooth caries. While this was a dominant belief for a few decades, that belief has been greatly challenged over the past thirty years. Many recent studies have now shown that the effectiveness of fluoride for cavity prevention does not come from the systemic application of fluoride, as in water fluoridation where the fluoride travels through the entire system, but from the topical application of fluoride on the teeth itself.]

I assumed that the debate over fluoridation was long settled — after all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls adding minute quantities of fluoride to municipal water supplies one of the 10 most significant public-health advances of the 20th century. But opposition remains fervent in some communities. More than 180 million Americans have access to fluoridated water, which leaves over 100 million who do not.

[The CDC does indeed call adding water fluoridation one of the most significant health advances in the 20th century, but that is a contention that many dentists, pharmacologists and researchers are questioning, backed up by international studies and research. I would argue that overall better oral hygiene, including topically applied fluoride toothpastes, regular checkups, better toothbrush designs, antiseptic mouthwashes and dental floss are the contributing factors to better oral health, not water fluoridation.]

Fluoridation is on the ballot today in 41 such communities in Nebraska, as well as one in New York state, one in Maine and two in Wisconsin — and the battles echo 60 years of controversy.

“Fluoride is a poison. You can’t dump it in the ocean or a landfill, and they want to put it in our water. It’s insane,” says Marvin “Butch” Hughes of Hastings, Neb. (population 25,000), who heads the local chapter of Nebraskans for Safe Water.

[These statements are factual. Sodium fluoride is a poison. It is widely used in pesticides. It cannot be dumped into an ocean or landfill and requires personal protective equipment to handle it. See the MSDS (material safety data sheets) report here. In addition to this statement, the author failed to mention that only a couple handfuls of countries worldwide practice water fluoridation. Most of western Europe has banned water fluoridation. Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, the Soviet Union, Finland and Japan all once practiced water fluoridation but have ceased. Because fluoridating water is seen as “compulsory mass-medication” many argue that it violates the Nuremburg code. (source)]

“I’ve had reporters ask me if fluoride can be used to make weapons of mass destruction,” sighs Jessica Meeske, a pediatric dentist in Hastings and board member of the Nebraska Dental Association, which supports fluoridation. She treats patients from communities that have fluoride and those that don’t: “The kids who don’t have more cavities, and the cavities are much deeper. They’re in a lot of pain. They aren’t able to eat. They don’t do well in school. And the decay just escalates. It spreads from tooth to tooth.”

[While Ms. Meeske’s first statement above appears ridiculous, as I am sure it was intended to reduce the argument to absurdity, it is not as ridiculous as it sounds. A form of fluoride, methylphosphonyl difluoride, is indeed used in sarin gas, which has been classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction. I wonder if this dentist above is considering other factors such as diet and overall oral hygiene and the correlation with better dental health. The above quote makes it seem like cavities are an epidemic that must be treated with water fluoridation. There are better ways. ]

Controversy has dogged fluoridation ever since scientists determined in the 1930s that tiny amounts of the naturally occurring mineral added to water can guard against tooth decay. Opponents dubbed it a Communist plot and have claimed over the years that it raises the risk for cancer, Down’s syndrome, heart disease, osteoporosis, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, lower IQ, thyroid problems and other diseases.

[There is some substantiation for some of these claims, but it is deceptive to list some suspected health conditions after such claims that fluoridation was a “communist plot”. In my previous post on fluoride, I included a quote from a man who said that the Nazis and communists talked about a plan of using fluoride in the gulags and concentration camps to make the prisoners more docile and complacent. There is little more I can find on this, and no doubt has fueled a lot of the “communist plot” speculations. At the same time, the health effects are not matters of mere speculation. For more on health effects, click here. A recent study performed by Harvard found that children are more likely to develop bone cancer at a young age when exposed to a moderate amount of fluoridated water. I found it particularly interesting that the article on this Harvard study stated that fluoride accumulates in the bones, which gives weight to the argument that fluoride is a bioaccumulative toxin.]

In 2006, the National Research Council warned that high levels of fluoride — roughly four times the amount typically used in water systems — are associated with severe dental fluorosis, in which teeth become mottled and pitted, and could cause bone fractures. A separate study linked fluoride with a very rare bone cancer in boys.

[The author also fails to mention that dental fluorosis has increased by 9% over the last twenty years and the cause (not a mere association with, as the article suggests) is fluoride overdose, either by environmental exposure or water fluoridation.]

Bill Bailey, a dental health officer at the CDC, says while a few isolated studies have raised such questions, “there’s never been any compelling evidence that fluoridation has any harmful health effects” in over 60 years of research. A long list of medical associations have also endorsed fluoridation, including the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the past five surgeons general.

[Let it be known that the ADA, AMA and WHO also supported the use of mercury-fillings, which have been shown to be toxic to the body. In recent years, the use of mercury-fillings has ceased. These three organizations also tout vaccinations as another great medical advancement of the 20th century and there are many serious health risks regarding this practice as well. An appeal to authority here does not make the author’s case. This reminds me of the classic mother question, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?”]

Overall, drinking fluoridated water cuts the rate of tooth decay 18% to 40%, according to the CDC. Studies have shown that it can help “remineralize” weakened areas in children’s and adults’ teeth, allowing many more elderly Americans to keep their teeth all their lives. The ADA estimates that every $1 spent on community fluoridation saves $38 in dental bills.

[I could not locate the studies or even excerpts of the studies on the CDC’s website, but I did find the source of the above information in a release from the Office of the Surgeon General in May of 2000 regarding the benefits of fluoride: “Communities with fluoridated drinking water in the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand show striking reductions in tooth decay—those with fluoridated drinking systems have 15–40 percent less tooth decay.” There are no references, footnotes or endnotes directing anyone to any studies. Again, there is no clarification as to the assessed overall oral health of those in fluoridated communities and those in non-fluoridated communities. Furthermore, It is a moot point to say that $1 spent on water fluoridation saves $38 in dental bills, especially when studies suggest many negative health implications arising from fluoridation. If one saves $38 on dental bills and spends $50 on other health problems related to fluoride toxicity, is it really a savings?]

Fluoride is now widely added to toothpaste and mouthwash — even many varieties of bottled water — and dentists in unfluoridated areas often urge patients to use supplements. So some critics wonder whether adding it the water supply is necessary. Dr. Meeske says many poor families that she treats can’t afford the supplements, and that fluoride is more effective at protecting teeth when it’s ingested, so that teeth are continually bathed with a low dose. “It’s much cheaper and simpler to prevent decay through water fluoridation than to drill it and fill it out of teeth,” she says.

If you’re concerned or just curious about the level of fluoride in your water, ask your local water utility. Home water filters that use reverse-osmosis (not the activated carbon filters that sit on a tap) can reduce fluoride as much as 99%. But think really hard before you do that: Take it from me, it’s no fun getting your teeth filled.

[This is an appeal to pity, a logical fallacy that does not present any factual information, but tries to sway the reader’s opinion based upon feeling. “YOU wouldn’t want to suffer, too, would you? I didn’t think so. Therefore, you shouldn’t stop water fluoridation.” This is just plain nonsense. It is true that reverse-osmosis and even some gravity filters can remove most fluoride from the water. The position of those calling for an end to water fluoridation is simply this: there are a lot of questions and studies suggesting that fluoride is harmful when ingested and it is prudent of citizens to call for a moratorium on the practice of water fluoridation until more conclusive studies can demonstrate its safety. I mean, what happened for thousands of years when people were not consuming fluoride and brushing their teeth with it? Were all of our ancestors toothless?]

Which state has the highest rate of fluoridation? Kentucky, where 99.8% of residents received fluoridated water, as of 2006. Hawaii had the lowest percentage, at just 8.4%. Next lowest was New Jersey, with only 22.4% of residents receiving fluoridated supplies. To see where your state ranks, see this CDC link: http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/statistics/2006stats.htm

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2008 in Current Health News, Health & Wellness, Informational

 

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Scientists Identify Brain’s “Hate Circuit”

The following article describes how British researchers have “isolated” the brain’s “circuit” for hatred.

Researchers have discovered that the putamen and insular structures of the brain are activated when subjects view photos of someone they hate. I expect to see more on this in the coming months as pharmaceutical companies and scientists seek to develop drugs to control what is viewed by some agencies, such as the Anti-Defamation League, as a growing sense of hatred in the world.

Just imagine, a world without hate.

To me, that’s a scary proposition because I believe hatred is a normal human emotion that serves a purpose. Hatred can be vastly misguided, controlled and instilled by parents, teachers, religion and government, but it is, nonetheless, a natural response to the world when something is not right. Because love and hate are so interconnected, the eradication of one would lead to the destruction of the other.

Ironically, researchers also say that these same structures in the brain are activated with thoughts of romantic love.

God help us if scientists and geneticists learn to control and manipulate these central human emotions in more sophisticated ways. We have enough problems learning to love and control hatred with our own mind as it is with the current level of manipulation we have to endure. The introduction of pharmaceuticals to “fix” this problem will only exacerbate our inability to regulate our emotions even further, leading to a greater number of false feelings of love and compounded feelings of hatred and violence. I’m sure the powers-that-be would love nothing more than to create human “robots” that blindly love their system of control and hate those who do not conform.

If love seeks to alert us when things are right and good and hate seeks to alert us when things are wrong and bad, would we be able to tell the difference between the two if that area of our brain was controlled by external forces?

Now, wouldn’t that be an invaluable tool to the globalists as they install their one-world government?

Hatred and love originate not from the brain, but from beliefs.

In Brave New World, members of society are conditioned to hold the beliefs and values of the World State. Everyone is encouraged to consume the drug, Soma, a strong hallucinogen which, at small doses, makes everyone blissfully oblivious, and at large doses, acts to impart a false religious experience.

Scientists Identify Brain’s ‘Hate Circuit’

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) — British researchers say they’ve identified a “hate circuit” in the brain.

This hate circuit shares part of the brain associated with aggression, but is distinct from areas related to emotions such as fear, threat, and danger, said researchers Professor Semir Zeki and John Romaya, of University College London’s laboratory of neurobiology.

The study was published online Oct. 29 in the journal PLoS One.

“Hate is often considered to be an evil passion that should, in a better world, be tamed, controlled, and eradicated,” Zeki said in a journal news release. “Yet to the biologist, hate is a passion that is of equal interest to love. Like love, it is often seemingly irrational and can lead individuals to heroic and evil deeds. How can two opposite sentiments lead to the same behavior?”

In this study, 17 female and male volunteers underwent brain scans while they looked at photos of a person they hated, along with photos of a “neutral” person. Looking at images of hated people triggered activity in an area that includes structures in the cortex and in the sub-cortex as well as components that generate aggressive behavior and translate it into action.

The hate circuit also includes a part of the frontal cortex that’s believed to play a major role in predicting the actions of others, likely an important feature when a person is faced with someone they hate, the researchers said.

The sub-cortical activity of the hate circuit involves two structures called the putamen and insula. The putamen plays a role in the perception of contempt and disgust, and may be part of the motor system that’s mobilized to take action, the scientists said.

“Significantly, the putamen and insula are also both activated by romantic love. This is not surprising. The putamen could also be involved in the preparation of aggressive acts in a romantic context, as in situations when a rival presents a danger. Previous studies have suggested that the insula may be involved in responses to distressing stimuli, and the viewing of both a loved one and a hated face may contribute such a distressing signal,” Zeki said.

He added that activity in parts of the hate circuit matches the strength of the person’s declared intensity of hate, “thus allowing the subjective state of hate to be objectively quantified. This finding may have legal implications in criminal cases, for example.

Related:

Scientists prove it really is a thin line between love and hate – The Independent

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2008 in Informational, Science and Technology

 

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