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Barry Levinson

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Dr. Fluoride

Posted: 07/12/11 10:43 PM ET

I am going to tell you a story. It happened two years ago, but I thought it too strange a tale to tell at the time. But now I wonder.

It was chance meeting. In a Diner. The type of eatery I love. He sat at the counter, a tall man, several days of a light salt and pepper stubble, otherwise well dressed. I sat next to him and periodically he laughed to himself, a telling sign to me. Beware of the crazy one, or so I thought. Avoid eye contact at all costs. But as I reached for the sugar our eyes met and he began to talk as though we were mid conversation.

"It's just like in Dr. Strangelove, except the General didn't go far enough."

"What?" I asked, knowing I was making a mistake by encouraging him.

He added, "The General in the movie said fluoride was destroying our essence, our bodily fluids. He said it was a commie plot. Introduce a foreign substance into the water supply without our knowledge and let it get into our bodily fluids. But he didn't go far enough."

I knew I was in for the long haul so I asked, "What do you mean?"

And he answered quickly." The commies knew they could never destroy the U.S. in a war; we're too powerful militarily. They couldn't beat use economically. We are too inventive. A capitalistic country spinning like a shiny top. But they could with the Fluoride. And then he went into the whole story...

He said the Soviets worked a deal where they not only added fluoride to the water supply through various water companies but put another ingredient that over time would make us dumber. Slowly it would dumb us down year after year, and in that way the USSR would be able to defeat us. Make us too dumb to know better. A Cold War technique unrivalled in the annals of dirty tricks.

"Year after year you can track the results if you so chose. Test scores have steadily fallen among students. The level of debate has collapsed. No one can debate an issue anymore with ANY clarity. The media muddles stories, filled with inaccuracies, and Congress is incapable of any logic whatsoever. But the Soviets were methodical; they put a higher dose of the dumbing-down drug in Washington. That is blatantly apparent."

I thought I had him on a logic question and I confronted him aggressively, "Okay, that was the plan, but you left out the fact that the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War is over. We won."

He smiled. Sipped his coffee. Then said, "That's what makes it so Machiavellian."

"What? I don't understand." I was intrigued and confused.

"They handed over the secret plans to high government officials here, and they LOVED the idea. Then they quickly discussed it with some large corporations who also thought the idea was fantastic. And now they have continued the stupidification of America."

"Why? What's the benefit?"

And then he got enraged. "Why? Why? Because a stupid electorate votes against its own self-interest. It doesn't know up from down. You can sell an ill-informed public anything! You would think alarm bells would be going off, but no, nothing is being done. Recent tests show that kids in high school don't even know the 13 Colonies were in the East! Half of em don't know what century the Civil War took place in or whom we fought in World War II or what the Cold War even was. And math? Science? Dumb and Dumber. And who is taking the blame? It's the teacher's fault. They get paid too much!" And then he started to laugh so hard he was choking himself. "We feared the rockets and bombs... and this is how we are taken down."

He got quiet for a few minutes, and I didn't want to encourage him to continue, unsure what to make of his wild tale. And then he quietly said, "This is the second time a great civilization destroyed itself."

I wasn't following him. "Rome poisoned itself with fluoride?"

"Not fluoride!" he yelled." "Lead! The elite class, the movers and shakers, was driven crazy by lead poisoning. The wealthy installed indoor plumbing and the pipes were made of lead. Over time they went crazy. Lead poisoning. Their behavior got stranger, more irrational. They started waging useless wars and overextending their empire until it completely crumbled."

He pulled out some money to pay his check. Then turned to me, "How much water do you drink?"

"I don't drink from the tap, bottled water only." I replied.

"Bottled water?" And he laughed loudly as he walked away.