Share The Wealth by Chris Gupta
September 17, 2006

Corruption At Harvard - Re: Fluoride

Further to the earlier note "Harvard Fluoride Cancer Scandal" here is a request to send a much simpler second letter to President Bok.

We need to do this to show that interest in this issue is not going away but growing.

In addition to the recommendations made below, some of you may be interested in reading the Bok 2003 interview as it should give fodder in generating a question or two to turn things around!

Chris Gupta

Again I would like to emphasize how clearly this present struggle with Harvard symbolizes the efforts of ourselves, and many of those who have come before us, to get institutions - some highly respected like Harvard - to exercise integrity on the fluoridation issue - and how often they don't. But we have Harvard in the cross hairs on this and we must not let President Bok wriggle out of doing the honorable thing. Maybe his wife Sissela Bok holds the key - note the last paragraph in Albert's letter, which some have incorporated into their short letters.

Thanks for anything you can do to boost our numbers on this.

Paul Connett

You might also refer to the FAN home page at for a comparison of the old and new Harvard shields!
The short letter of support for Albert's letter, with the recommended subject heading and cc, bcc destinations.

To: <>


Subject: Veritas or Non Veritas?

Cc: <>, <>

Bcc: <>

Dear President Bok,

Please respond to Albert Burgstahler's Sept 10 letter to you by giving a simple explanation as to how it was possible for the unnamed investigators at Harvard to have exonerated Professor Douglass of charges of academic dishonesty.

If you are unable to do this please use the power of your office to instigate an independent review of this matter.


(name, state , country and any personal details of interest, e.g. a Harvard grad; professional qualification; occupation; public health interest or a parent of ... young boys)


Albert's Sept 10 letter

September 10, 2006

Derek Bok
President, Harvard University

Dear President Bok:

I am writing directly to you because Dean Margaret L. Dale's September 7, 2006 reply to the joint letter a group of Harvard alumni and I sent to you on August 22, 2006, did not address the central issue raised in our letter concerning Harvard's brief August 15, 2006 statement exonerating Professor Chester Douglass of any academic misconduct.

In essence Dean Dale simply reaffirmed the August 15 statement without providing any explanation for Professor Douglass first having "hid, then misrepresented, his graduate student's PhD dissertation, which found a 'robust' association between fluoridated water and an increased risk of osteosarcoma in young boys, a frequently fatal disease."

What was submitted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to Harvard for investigation showed that after the above dissertation submitted by Elise Bassin had been approved and her PhD degree granted in 2001, Professor Douglass made public statements categorically claiming his research did not find any evidence for a significant association between water fluoridation and osteosarcoma. In his one-page 2004 written statement to the National Research Council panel investigating evidence for this association, he cited Dr. Bassin's dissertation as a reference but did not state that the "robust association" reported in it contradicted what he presented in his statement.

Similarly, in his final report on his grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to investigate the epidemiology of osteosarcoma, he again cited Dr. Bassin's dissertation without noting that its findings did not support his claim of no significant association between water fluoridation and the incidence of osteosarcoma.

To be precise, in his report to both the NRC and the NIEHS, Professor Douglass gave an "Odds Ratio of 1.2 to 1.4 between fluoride and osteosarcoma that was not significantly different from 1," but he cited Elise Bassin's dissertation as a reference without indicating that she had found a five- to seven-fold increased risk for osteosarcoma in young boys exposed to fluoridated water in their 6th, 7th, and 8th years. (A pdf file of Professor Douglass's one-page communication to the NRC is available here.)

This conduct by Professor Douglass is what is at the heart of our concern, not whether fluoridation is safe or not. In scientific research, honest scholarship requires that any cited reference that does not agree with the position of the author(s) be openly identified as such. By failing to do this, Professor Douglass clearly misled his readers and committed a serious breach of scientific trust and integrity. Dean Dale's letter did not provide any explanation for why the Harvard review committee concluded that Professor Douglass had not committed research misconduct by acting in the manner he did, which is the reason for our inquiry.

In concluding her letter to me, Dean Dale stated: ". . . Harvard stands behind its faculty review processes, which are thorough and fair and which apply to all [members of the] faculty, regardless of public interest in the matter." If this is the case, then a satisfactory explanation for why the review committee did not find that any research misconduct had been committed should be forthcoming.
Without such an explanation for dismissing the evidence of misconduct by Professor Douglass, how can one conclude that Harvard is abiding by its commitment to uphold academic integrity?

For the sake of living up to its exalted motto "Veritas," Harvard University would indeed do well to heed what an author well known to you wrote: "Trust and integrity are precious resources, easily squandered, hard to regain. They can survive only on a foundation of respect for veracity." (Sisella Bok: Lying - Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, Pantheon Books, New York, page 249)


Albert W. Burgstahler, PhD, '53,
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
The University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS


posted by Chris Gupta on Sunday September 17 2006

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Readers' Comments

How NHMRC falsified the NHMRC Review on Safety and Efficiency of Water Fluoridation. 1) They did consider only studies in English language. 2) They considered only studies made in the time window they wanted. 3) They cited McDonagh et Al (2000) for her 2.2 teeth more in children but they did not report McDonagh's findings about 12.5 of the exposed population developing aesthetically concerning fluorosis. 4) They cited WHo but they did not report wWHO's alerts on the health hazards reported in WHO Water Fluoridation, 2006. 5) They forgot a paragraph inside the Review, citing increased Down Syndrome and Rapaport but they did not consider that increased Down Syndrome is a problem.

Posted by: Marco Conti on March 17, 2008 07:53 PM


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