Letter | Too many doubts about ‘community-led’ fluoride survey

A STUDY of the so-called "community-led" anti-fluoride survey raises serious questions about accuracy and, in my opinion, ethics.

For instance, it claims to have door-knocked every residence connected to the town water supply, and quotes a figure "approximately 755 dwellings".

Yet Oberon Council currently issues water rates notices to 1176 homes in the township.

So what happened to the other 300 homes?

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The survey also claims that the door-to-door survey resulted in 694 respondents. Yet on closer scrutiny, lumped into that "door-to-door" total are 42 signatures from an anti-fluoride meeting (a captive audience if ever there was one) and just over a dozen from a petition in the post office, and others from Peter’s Cafe.

The end result of this is this is no longer a genuine "door-to-door" result, and the figures have been skewed to present a more favourable anti-fluoride impression.

The total includes no less than 31 signatures that are duplicated, or some cases appear three times (this is an absolute no-no in any responsible conducted survey, but when it was pointed out, at least one anti-fluoride supporter casually shrugged it off as nit picking).

These figures include the names of several familiar fluoride opponents, and in any acceptable context is an inappropriate action to sway the numbers in your favour.

Addresses are few and far between and some signatories have given no contact details at all.

So there is therefore no way of knowing how many of those who signed the survey are Oberon residents, or how many of them are connected to the town's reticulated water supply.

While this survey would like to give the impression of comprehensively canvassing all homes connected to the water supply, in reality the total number of respondents represents only about a quarter of the township's population aged over 14.

Organisers have admitted that the data they gave to council was "raw" and not analysed (Review, September 27) so with the extent of the double dipping of signatures, absence of essential detail from many of those who signed, lack of knowing the residential location of the vast majority of signatories, low percentage of residents connected to the reticulated water supply captured by the survey, and other shortcomings, it is difficult to see how this survey's claim of 77 per cent support and how this research can be considered a true and valid reflection of the township's attitude towards fluoride.

In my opinion, it lacks any fundamental and responsible rigour.

All of the above information is publicly available from council.

Finally, to any anti-fluoride agitator rushing to Facebook to personally abuse me - as I understand has happened to others in recent weeks - save your breath. I don't subscribe to Facebook.

Bob Wilson