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My question Is fluoride in water a waste product of industry has one down vote and one close vote and supporting comments that are seriously doing my head in. I feel like I've totally missed the point of this site.

Here is my understanding, please help me understand where my thinking is wrong:

  1. This site is about "Skeptics is about applying skepticism — it's for researching the evidence behind the claims you hear or read.".
  2. The claim I have heard is that the flouride in water is a waste product of industry. To my understanding this is a claim I have heard and read in many places and not something I am making up for my own entertainment.
  3. If there are sub questions based on the main question I can ask them in a group. My sub questions were:

    • What is the source of the flouride in the water
    • Does this source contain hazardous material
    • Do any of these materials have harmful radiation

I think it would be pointless and I would have to requote the context to put these into 4 separate questions.

I have been accused of being argumentative because I used the term "other hazardous materials". wtf? I used it in a question, how is that argumentative?

I've also been accused of using sources that "aren't all at home with the topic they are talking about." because "they call it a 'waste product'". wtf? I thought this was the claim that I was trying to refute?

The two comments are actually unreferenced claims to say that the articles I provided and my words are incorrect? I thought that was the point of this site? Aren't I supposed to be here to find evidence of why other people should not be making these claims?

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    This site has too many people who are confused about its definition. That may be myself included. I'm tired of justifying everything with 10 comments. I am now requesting to delete my account. – going May 31 '11 at 9:43
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    your question (on the main site, not here) doesn't make much sense to me. It's completely unclear why you would be asking -- what is the problem you wish to solve? Can you explain why you need to know these three seemingly unrelated and utterly random "factoids" about flouride? Your meta Q here is much clearer because it provides important background. Also, asking 3 different questions in a single question -- you really should know better than that. – Jeff Atwood May 31 '11 at 9:59
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    I've reformulated the question now to what I interpret as your essential question. – Mad Scientist May 31 '11 at 10:17
  • @fabian it's much better with the edit, thanks. – Jeff Atwood May 31 '11 at 19:37
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Having re-read your question and surveyed the relevant online literature, I think your question has the following severe problems:

  1. It's unclear.

  2. It is three (or four if you count the title) questions in one.

  3. There is no rationale provided for why you'd like to know, or what your problem is, so it comes across as idle speculation.

I suggest reformulating it quite simply as:

Is fluoridated water dangerous?

I'm concerned that exposure to fluoridated water might be dangerous in some way to myself and my family. What is the scientific basis for fluoridating water? Do the risks of fluoridated water outweigh the benefits?

  • The thing I have been trying to point out is that it's not my own opinion. I'm not concerned flouridated water is dangerous. I would like some facts that I can provide to others to support the claim, but thanks for your points. – going May 31 '11 at 10:42
  • @xiao I wouldn't worry about that. Referencing claims is good, but can easily be worked into Jeff's sample question above. ("I'm concerned that ... due to claims made on this topic, for example, this, this and this."). – Nicole May 31 '11 at 16:35
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I do think the question is perfectly fine for the site. The essential claim is that the fluoride that is put into the water supply is created as an industrial byproduct and that it contains hazardous or radioactive material.

This claim is certainly formulated using biased and leading language, but that is the claim some people make, so we have to work with that. A good answer should explain how the term "industrial waste product" is misleading and correct any other misleading implications that are contained in the claim. We should strive to make the questions as neutral as possible, but that does not mean we need to rewrite the claims we are questioning.

The question does have some problems, especially the combination of several claims. But those are not that big problems in my opinion, and they could be easily edited to make a more focused question. I'm reading a bit between the line what your question is about, I think there is an appropriate question there, but it is ambiguous and that is what leads to the problem here.

  • There are many people who make these sorts of claims and they make a whole bunch of them. I wanted to have a question that sums up their main arguments and provide some examples. I think this answer skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/3805/… provide a good insight into their thinking. It's not my thoughts, but I thought it was mainstream knowledge that conspiracy theorists complain about fluoridation. – going May 31 '11 at 11:27

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