Monday, October 19, 2009

Stutter Talk on Ethics of Blogging

Have you listened to other people's conversation and it's about you they are talking! It happens to me once, at Indiana University in Bloomington, and they talked about me being anti-social: they complained that I was always in my room studying! What a sad life he has. And this one guy says: Dude, Tom stutters. I just don't understand why he cannot speak fluently! I just do it automatically! And this other guy says: Yeah, and A played chess with him and thought that he was drunk! At this point, I stopped listening for mental health reasons! ;-)

And now they are talking about me again but publicly! Check you Stutter Talk's post on the Ethics of Blogging. I am getting a velvet-gloves-iron-hits on some of my posts, namely The Crackpot Award of Sally Reed and The Resignation of ISA chairman Benny. A few civil comments:

1. Peter is wrong in that I did not offer Benny the opportunity to respond on the same level. I wrote in a comment in response to Peter's comment:
Benny is free to comment or has the right to an interview with me.

The content is Dave's responsibility. He is a guest blogger, and can write what he wants.
I agree that ideally I should have actively asked Benny, the former ISA chairman, in an email to invite him to comment. But I was too busy. Surely, he read the post, and could have contacted me or leave a message.

2. I was not the cause of the resignation of the chairman; I was the last drop, because I highlighted the long-standing trouble at ISA. It was an untenable situation, which needed to be resolved quickly for the sake of every one.

3. In fact, Stutter Talk is not allowing comments to their radio shows. You need to be on their radio show. A considerable obstacle. In this sense, The Stuttering Brain is giving anyone the opportunity to voice their opinion to what I write. Surely, some comments are just stupid but that's free speech. Will Stutter Talk open up a comments section to allow all their listeners to comment on each post?

4. Barry completely misread the Sally Reed saga, which shows the weakness of professional journalists due to their lack of specialist or scientific expertise. That's where bloggers like myself or radio hosts like StutterTalk come in. We get it. Very very few journalists get complicated issues like finance or science right. They tend to excel at more mundane easy-to-understand issues. She is not a qualified speech therapist but a hypnotherapist. Her website statements were factually wrong and induce stutterers to seek treatment with her at their expense. She completely ignored any suggestions to change her pseudo-scientific or false content. So she deserved the award and a name and shame. Only then did she remove the statements. For example, the Churchill website had a much worse statement on stuttering, but the doctor who wrote it recognized this and changed the story. Therefore, he is not a crackpot, but made a mistake, understood his mistake and corrected it.

5. I am a shouter on some issues, BECAUSE IF I DON'T SHOUT, NO-ONE LISTENS. The tendency in the field is to accept everyone's opinions, but some opinions are more equal than others! Stronger language is needed to make the reader HAVING TO decide: do you agree with me or the other person?

6. I simply do not have the time to write journalistic pieces and I do not just want to be a journalist. I do not just want to explore and explain a situation. I am not an observer or investigate journalist, I want my ideas to be part of the debate because I believe that I can make an important contribution.

7. Barry does not understand what a real blog is about: a Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park in London; a place where you go to listen to someone talking about what they want to talk about. It is a web log of snapshots of someone's mental world and aspirations for what the world should do. I am writing what I have on my mind: what is happening and what should be happening. Journalism is completely different. An independent observer is reporting on some aspect of reality: the camera in a movie or documentary. The journalist is feeding the reader's eyes, the blogger exposes his own mind. As a journalist, I have to be telling what's out there. In real space and in conceptual space: fair and balanced on all opinions. As a blogger, I just say: he is a crackpot because that's what I have on my mind. As a scientist, I just know from experience in the same way that a chess grandmaster just knows that this move is bad even though it looks perfectly playable for 95% of the people. But Barry's comments are much more relevant to Stutter Talk, because they are not a blog but a collection of pieces of radio journalism. Of good radio journalism, I might add. The Stuttering brain is a biased view of the state of affairs: the correct view of the world and what needs to be done according to me! ;-)


Anonymous said...

but when you make a mistake now or in the future, will you admit it?

Tom Weidig said...

Of course. That's part of science to change your mind in the face of experimental findings or theoretical arguments.

I often change my mind, BUT only when I talk to very good scientists! And that's the issue. Some people think I never change my mind on their arguments. They are correct but that's because their arguments are weak and not because I would not change my mind!

Pamm said...

I agree with Tom. Here, and on my blog, readers are invited to share their thoughts. As a matter of fact, thats encouraged. That's what makes blogging interactive.
StutterTalk used to have a forum section. It was busy - lots of people commented of episodes or other ideas about stuttering. As a matter of fact, me and Jamie Rocchio were the moderators.
And now they don't have a comment section on the sitr. There is a stuttertalk facebook page where comments can be made, but its not used like the forum was.
I think thats the beauty of blogging - people can leave their thoughts-good or bad-for others to see and read, and counter-respond to!