Biting questions, unreality in the desert, the lawyers' favorite legislation, and other matters. JUST ASKING

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Who needs declarative sentences? (How's that for a topic sentence?) Anyway, how long has it been since we attempted an exclusively interrogatory item? And why does the questionary mode suddenly seem a natural when the subject is fluoridation? Is it because the subject has everyone baffled, including maybe even the Birchers of the Sixties? Remember the little old ladies in tennis shoes who said fluorides in the water were bad for you and a Communist plot besides? Why are they not more visible now, cackling gleefully if toothlessly over recent revelations that the National Toxicology Program (NTP) is concerned about rat studies showing apparent causal links between fluorides and bone cancer? And speaking of visibility, when can we expect the animal rights fanatics to show up screaming about the fatal fluoride doses given their rodent constituents? Anyhow, what will the NTP do if it has to tell its bosses at the federal Department of Health and Human Services that, yeah, the connection is real even if the bad effects are not too serious? How will they deal with the fact that ''not too serious'' is no excuse under the Delaney Amendment? The one that everybody keeps promising to repeal but when you look around, is still there? And, wouldn't you know, it still says carcinogenicity at any level is verboten even if associated with provable benefits like fewer cavities for kids whose water is fluoridated? Or is that still considered proven? How can it be, in light of data showing cavity rates also declining in areas that do not fluoridate and have no natural fluorides in the water? And why is the American Dental Association resisting such data? Why does it keep promoting fluoridation as the road to a cavity-free future? Doesn't it know this future is bad for business?