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In Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Gen. Ripper’s (Sterling Hayden) paranoia about water fluoridation being a Communist plot is based on a conspiracy theory circulated by the extreme-right-wing John Birch Society in the 1950s and 1960s. The organization, which was founded in 1958, was quite influential in conservative politics at the time, and the “fluoridation is a Communist plot” theory took hold in many rural areas of the US, with some small towns going as far as to not only ban fluoridation of water but to pass ordinances requiring the arrest and jailing of anyone who advocated it (x).

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    In Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Gen. Ripper’s (Sterling...