The Best of Moolenburgh

A Book Review by Dan Montgomery

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Fluoride: The Freedom Fight, by Dr. Hans Moolenburgh, Mainstream Publishing Company, Edinburgh, 1987 is now out of print.

This is the story of how Dr. Moolenburgh led a successful campaign to end fluoridation in his native country, The Netherlands. Dr. Moolenburgh lived in Haarlem, near Amsterdam. At a pro-fluoridation public meeting of the Municipal Council of Haarlem in 1971, he was at first reluctant to argue with Backer Dirks, the foremost promoter of fluoridation in The Netherlands:

"I was most astonished by this man's behavior. He not only told the public about fluoridation, he 'sold' it to them. The highlight of his act came when he opened a bottle containing, as he said, fluoridated water. He poured some of this into a glass, took a sip, and an exalted expression appeared on his face. 'Mmmm,' he sighed, 'delicious! You do not taste the fluoride at all!'

"What I saw there was nothing more and nothing less than simple, coarse suggestion, I could hardly believe my eyes: he gave me the impression that he believed passionately in fluoridation." (p. 33)

Dr. Moolenburgh waited until the discussion after the meeting and it was his eldest son who said to Professor Dirks, "Professor, you have just shown us two graphs: one of tooth decay in the fluoridated city of Tiel and one of tooth decay in the non-fluoridated city of Culemborg. You have told us that these graphs show a 66% reduction of tooth decay in Tiel. But that is not true, you know. The only thing these graphs show is that tooth decay starts two years later in Tiel, but after that the two graphs are the same.'

"Backer Dirks looked at my son with endless compassion and told him that he could not read a graph like that. Next question please?"

"It took me several years to discover that my son had been dead right and that the success of fluoridation is a statistical error."

"I learned much that evening. I had made a major mistake by not having studied my subject enough. The defeat of the top fluoridationists like Backer Dirks is easily possible, because the whole structure of fluoridation is founded on quicksand. It is founded on statistical errors." (p.34)

"When they say no side effects, ask, "Have you ever looked for them?" It then becomes clear that they have not done real research.

"Dr. Dirks showed a graph that portrayed less tooth decay in the fluoridated city of Tiel. "However, the graph was partly fantasy. Backer Dirks had taken the results from children up until fifteen years of age, and for the next three years he simply continued the diverging lines. But we know now that the lines converge again, especially during those three years, and that for eighteen-year-olds in a fluoridated region the difference from the non-fluoridated region has been practically eliminated. Did Backer Dirks realise that this graph was partly the result of wishful thinking? I do not know. I do know, however, that I had been so intimidated by the man and by his status as a professor that I simply did not think about contradicting him on one of his own graphs." (p.35)


Dr. Moolenburgh arranged for a group of doctors to do double blind experiments with consenting patients who had short term side effects which were associated with drinking fluoridated water. Their tests showed that, even at only one part per million, fluoridated water can be expected to cause side effects in one percent to five percent of a population. These side effects are not allergies. They are evidence of chronic poisoning. At ten parts per million, fluoridated water can be expected to cause side effects in fifty percent of a population.

At first, the doctors were confused by the test results because it seemed that many of the patients got worse when they stopped drinking fluoridated water. It turned out that some people adapt to exposure to fluoride in a way that is similar to adapting to an addictive substance or to a dependency:

"Many patients showed a curious pattern. For two weeks they used their fluoridated water and nothing happened. They then switched to non-fluoridated water and, immediately, their side-effects occurred. We had to invent a name for this strange phenomenon and called it the 'rebound.' At a later date Gert found the same results in animal tests.

"I did not know what to make of it until Hertha, of all people, provided the solution. One day she gave me a tape-recording of a certain Dr. Randolph from Chicago. He was a first-class scientist and a pioneer in a new field of science called clinical ecology. I was later to meet this impressive man myself." (pp. 104-106)

The true cause and effect relation between fluoridation and its side effects can be seen when people use correct methods to look for them. "There is no scientific evidence . . . " is supposed to mean, "They have looked for it and it has not been found," instead of, "They have not looked for it and, therefore, it has not been found." (pp. 157-158)


There was a story prevalent in post war Holland that the Nazis had experimented with fluoridation because a secret research study had found that fluoride made people more docile and thus more accepting of dictatorship. A Mr. Perkins, an American, was alleged to have discovered right after the war that the I.G. Farben Company had discovered that this effect of fluoride was caused by damage to a particular part of the brain. This was the kind of bizarre story that never made it into the history books because no one could ever document it. The story may seem credible to some because fluoride is a component of many high strength tranquilizers. (p. 51-52) Although this story was never used in any of Dr. Moolenburgh's anti-fluoridation campaigns, it probably did a lot to sway public opinion against fluoridation.

A similar story was told by an eye witness who said that during the war he shipped fluoride to Russia and when he asked them what they were doing with it they said they fluoridated the water in POW camps to keep the prisoners calm. The same witness had lived in a part of Ireland where the water was fluoridated and it seemed to him that the children were quieter and more subdued under its influence. (p.57-58)

Indonesia used to be a colony of The Netherlands. There is a report that the Indonesian Government fluoridated a town in Papuan New Guinea (where the Indonesians are the unwelcome colonial rulers). No one got the Indonesian Government to admit that the reason was because it would make the population more docile, but in The Netherlands, this was presumed to be the likely reason, since the Papuans already had excellent teeth. (p. 67)

Dr. Moolenburgh relates the following incident that occurred in about 1971:

"One day, Henk, Emily and I visited Mr. Baardse, a flower-grower. We were cordially received and shown into one of his greenhouses. He kept pheasant chicks there: breeding pheasasnts was one of his hobbies. The little birds ran around underneath the plants in his greenhouse.

"Something creepy occurred there. He showed us his chicks and told us that when the mother pheasant had drunk fluoridated water before laying her eggs the chicks often showed birth defects: an extra toe, or a deformed beak, maybe. This did not occur when the mother had drunk only rainwater. Later, in the eighties, it would be Mahomed who would demonstrate that fluoride gives rise to breaks in the DNA-chain -- and that does spell birth defects, and cancer. Although we knew about the increasing number of children with Down's Syndrome in fluoridated cities, we did not yet understand, back in the seventies, what exactly fluoride did. But these chicks brought it home to us.

"This, however, was not the only thing Baardse would teach us. He put a non-fluoridated chick in our hands and it immediately fluttered away into the foliage. Then he put a fluoridated chick in our hands and that little bird just sat there looking round and did not flutter away.

"'Fluoridated chicks are born hand-tame. That is quite unheard of for a pheasant,' explained Baardse.

"For a brief moment that afternoon, a kind of surrealistic image touched our minds: a tame population with wry noses and an extra toe on one foot." (pp. 89-90).


A medical student, Mien Bulthius, wrote a neurology dissertation on cholinesterase in which she presented evidence that fluoride inhibits the nerve enzyme cholinesterase. The Chief Inspector of Health in her country tried to dissuade her from publishing that part of her dissertation. (p. 98)

"Imagine that you want to pick up a pencil. In your brain the thought is translated into action and an electrical impulse shootsthrough your nerves down to your hand. Now, somewhere along the line there is a gap in the transmission of this impulse. One nerve ends and, a little distance away, another nerve begins and picks up the impulse. The energy shooting throughthe nerves is electrical, but the gap between the two nerves is different. When the message to lift up the pencil has arrived at the first nerve ending a substance called acetylcholine is secreted and when that reaches the second nerve, the electrical impulse is set into motion again."

"So, to discontinue the impulse when the pencil has actually been picked up, there is an enzyme called cholinesterase which neutralises the acetylcholine." Now the Perkins story didn't sound so crazy after all. (pp. 105-107)

Dr. Moolenburgh's research group of doctors tested the effect of drinking fluoridated water on the blood levels of cholinesterase in healthy volunteers. The tests showed that ordinary fluoridated drinking water interferes with cholinesterase. (pp.166-167)

"A severe disruption of the cholinesterase function was demonstrated in each case. In a normal person cholinesterase shows a sort of slow, undulating pattern, but in the fluoridated individuals chaos prevailed. There was also a definite inhibition in the cholinesterase activity." (p. 166)


During the eight year anti-fluoridation campaign, Dr. Moolenburgh arranged for several prayer groups to pray for the defeat of fluoridation. These prayers for victory reminded him of how important prayer had been during the dark years of the Second World War. (p. 193) When victory was finally won, he was convinced that it could never have happened without God working behind the scenes to make it happen. (p. 203)


Dr. Moolenburgh was a tactician. He never let anyone evade the central issue that pro-fluoridationists have a totalitarian attitude. (pp. 47-49) Fluoridation promoters typically have a disdain for listening to what the people really want. The anti-fluoridationists cry for personal freedom. Opposition to fluoridation in The Netherlands was from ordinary people. (pp. 52, 55, 56) Dr. Moolenburgh saw the promoters of fluoridation as dictators, even when they professed to be friends with good motives:

"To conform to a dictator because you have been at school together or belong to the same club or to the same social class is the most dangerous thing you can do. More freedom has been lost during this century through this habit of conforming at all costs than through the actions of the dictators themselves." (p. 69) Dr. Moolenburgh's explanation for the unpopularity of fluoridation in The Netherlands was that the people in those countries who had been occupied by the Nazis were quicker to see the true nature of a totalitarian program like fluoridation. The "resistance" groups against fluoridation were much like the "resistance" to the Nazis. Fluoridation was like having a policeman knock on your door every morning and asking you if you had taken your fluoride pill yet. (pp. 96-97)

The fluoridation lobby posed as "the great benefactor of humanity," but later, when promoting fluoridation became disreputable, people who had rode on the fluoridation bandwagon began "quietly slinking away and saying: 'Well, perhaps it was not such a good idea after all.' Dr. Moolenburgh had this judgment for them: "In my view, the fluoridation lobby should be isolated from the rest of the population as people who are wrongdoers, as people who should repent before we take them back again in our friendship and our trust. Perhaps some of my friends will be shocked. They perhaps will say: 'Is that a Christian attitude?'

"I believe a wrongdoer should be called a wrongdoer. There is no excuse for what the fluoridation lobby is doing and these people should be shown clearly and unequivocally that they have to keep their hands off our personal rights." (pp. 98-99)

Dr. Moolenburgh met with scientists from the United States in 1973 at an anti-fluoridation conference. He realized then why the anti-fluoridation campaigns in the United States had been not as effective as they would have wished:

"These men had in their hands material that was pure gold in the fluoridation battle and yet where resistance was concerned they still had something to learn: they had no clear idea of how to fight a real guerilla war. I suddenly realised for the first time that my American and British friends lacked an essential experience. They had not been under occupation by a totalitarian regime. I became aware that in the Netherlands we were using our war experiences to thwart the enemy and that perhaps we could be of some service to those who twenty-eight years previously had liberated us." (p. 102) As a reaction to war time medical experiments in concentration camps, the German Constitution contains an article which "guarantees the inviolability of the human body." In 1983, a similar amendment was added to the Dutch Constitution. These amendments are taken to mean that mandatory fluoridation is unconstitutional in those countries. (pp. 112-113)

At one point, the Dutch Parliament seriously considered passing a mandatory fluoridation law even when it was known that 80% of the people sympathized with the anti-fluoridationists. It was the silent majority that let this happen. (pp. 174-175)

Mandatory fluoridation makes every person a patient without civil liberty. (p. 188) Dr. Moolenburgh saw the battle against fluoridation as a training ground to remind people what must be done to protect their freedom. Fluoridation is a symptom of the decline of democracy and the rise of an absolutist technocracy. (p. 192) We will not be safe from fluoridation until it is eradicated everywhere in the world. (p. 199)

How could it be that nations like Britain and the United States could allow a totalitarian measure like mandatory fluoridation to become law? They had been free of tyranny so long they did not recognize the danger. There were enough people left in The Netherlands who remembered the Nazi tyranny that they could see what was happening and knew what to do about it. This was the real reason Dr. Moolenburgh wrote this book:

"That is why I have written this book for you: not to tell you how we did it in the first place, but to increase your awareness. Freedom is a blessing that is acquired with great difficulty and lost with great ease. Fluoridation is one of the ways of taking that freedom away. There are many other ways and most of them are infiltrating the free democracies of our day, but when you have learned to recognise one, you will recognise them all.

"The same pattern emerges time and again. It is the pattern of a small, arrogant elite posing as a public benefactor, using innocent fellow travellers as useful idiots and laughing to scorn the timid attempts to resist." (p. 126)


November 9, 1995

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