Sunday, May 09, 2010

BSA and MPC behaving childishly

In two weeks time, there is a conference at Cavtat (Croatia), Stuttering: A Clinical Symposium 2010, focussing on treatment of stuttering. I have spoken about the conference here.

A lot of wrangling about attendance. The BSA (Norbert Lieckfeldt) and MPC (Sharon Millard) have cancelled their attendance (compare the list of my previous post to the current list), because rather childishly (or politically) they disagree with some speakers like Schwartz and Webster, and do not want to be seen as propping them up.

Let me be very clear: Not attending a conference because someone whose ideas you don't like is completely and totally unscientific. If you don't like what they are saying, then make your counter-arguments well known at their talk or the conference. What better opportunity to learn from other therapists, have a debate, or just to make your concerns known than at their talk? They can't run away, and them avoiding the question is hurting them not you. But no, it has to be done the covert way. Where is the debate?

Looking at some presenters, my blood is boiling again. I can see them repeating the mantra of "Lidcombe has been proven" without having ever seriously looked at the statistics or taking into account counter-arguments. Falling into every fallacy trap. So my plea again and again: CLINICIANS FOCUS ON YOUR THERAPY, DISCUSS PRO AND CONS OF METHODS, but don't talk stats or outcome studies because you have no clue what you are doing!

I also note that Per Alm is not on the list anymore as discussant. Maybe he is just too busy...

8 comments:

Norbert said...

Oh dear, oh dear, there seems to have been quite a bit of gossiping going on over Belgian mussels in Antwerp. Seems like the scientific way to go about things.

"let me be very clear: Not attending a conference because someone whose ideas you don't like is completely and totally unscientific. "

Let me equally clear. It's a shame that you are apparently incapable of recognising that BSA is not a research organisation and we are not scientists so why we should be bound by what you feel is"scientific" is anybody's guess. First point.

Second point, the question is whether BSA, a charity, should spend £1,500+ of charitable money to listen to people whose research is 25+ years out of date and who, in the meantime, have incidentally cancelled their attendance. We didn't feel that was a good use of funds. What *you* do with *your own* money is naturally your own thing and I look forward to your blogged reports of your arguments in Croatia with the proponents of Lidcombe. Anything else would be *unscientific*, naturally.

Naturally, we are very interested in the outcomes of the Conference and will publicise these without fear or favour, as always.

Tom Weidig said...

Norbert, that's so unfair. Don't mention Belgian mussels. I was eating them, and felt soo sick for hours.... ;-)

Well, hereby you put down your side of the story.

1500 Pounds? I didn't spend that much for a whole week at the last conference. If you don't stay at the Hotel itself, it's much cheaper.

And I did notice your name was down as discussant. So clearly the BSA has changed its mind...

I still don't understand why one would not go to a conference because of 2-3 ones that the BSA doesn't like. There are many therapists with a lot of experience...

sachin said...

I am amused and amazed at these things.. I am beginning to see that our good old friendly neighborhood stammering is giving rise to all these high emotions!

Dave Rowley said...

Hmm, interesting spat here! Tom, for some light relief you and your readers might like this: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/327/7429/1459. I'm personally looking forward to discussing the stats.

Norbert, still think it's a pity you won't be there! But your tone seems to suggest you found the mussels quite indigestible too!

Anonymous said...

Will you be there and have coffee with Onslow and his gang?

Peter Louw said...

This whole sorry episode illustrates clearly the intellectual depths in which the therapy establishment finds itself. One can only wonder why Dr Schwartz saw it fit to cancel his attendance. Was he asked or pressurised to cancel? Good news, of course, for those who feel threatened by Dr Schwartz and the stress-sensitive vocal fold theory: now they can relax, safe in the knowledge that they won't have to start thinking uncomfortable thoughts and question their own paradigms. In fact, they won't have to think at all!

I've always wondered why Dr Schwartz seems to elicit such strong emotions. Is he touching a sensitive nerve?

"Research 25 years out of date", says Norbert. That may be true or not, but I've been doing vocal fold management for 30 years. That means I'm using "old technology" - I would have loved to hear Dr Schwartz talking about new developments regarding the passive airflow technique (that's the topic he would have presented), but due to speech therapy establishment pressure I, and other people who have benefited from his approach, have now been prevented from gaining this knowledge. So much for open, academic, unbiased discussion for the benefit of people who stutter. Who is to blame?

Norbert said...

"One can only wonder why Dr Schwartz saw it fit to cancel his attendance. Was he asked or pressurised to cancel?"

I have no idea but one can certainly more than wonder, one could ask him?

Peter Louw said...

Norbert, it is a good idea to ask him to make 100% sure, but the facts speak for themselves. There is a pattern. Schwartz has always been a dissident therapist, and the establishment gate-keepers respond in a knee-jerk manner toward him. Years ago, when he tried to visit the UK to introduce his ideas, the gate-keepers once again ensured that the visit would never take place. He also had a huge row with Judy Kuster. He will never be forgiven for challenging the current stuttering paradigm: that repetitions and prolongations are core behaviours. They are not core behaviours, they are secondary behaviours. Dissident thinking, however, can never be suppressed, and vocal fold therapy is gaining support.