Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BSA is propagating Newton myth

The British Stammering Association is organizing a Walk & Talk walk through London to raise awareness for stuttering and money. So far so noble! They had the highly original idea to follow the steps of historical figures who stuttered. So far so innovative! But they include Isaac Newton and he is even the lead figure.

But of course there is NO evidence at all that Newton stuttered. I have posted on this myth: see here. I even managed to get Judy Kuster to take Newton off the list, and now he is coming back...

Just imagine you become famous, and 400 years later a group of people with let's say irritable Bowel syndrome is walking across town making you the most famous irritable Bowel person, distributing leaflets with your face, and asking for a donation. It's just weird...


Ora said...

Tom - Have you ever written on the whole phenomenon of the stuttering community looking for stuttering heroes? What motivates it?

Maybe it's obvious - these are people who were successful in life in spite of their stuttering, and they serve as role models. Also, it demonstrates to the world that stuttering is not in itself an indication of weak-mindedness and that in dealing with stutterers, people should get beyond the speech difficulties.

Maybe that's all there is to it. But possibly it might be worth a blog entry.

Anonymous said...

Considering most people like other people because of their social skills and looks not accomplishments, it doesn't have any real benefit to the stuttering image because Newton would be considered to be a freak by the average person who would upon meeting make a condescending remark along the lines of, "That stuff is so boring and I like to have fun, but it's cool that you can do it. Hahahahaha." To the average person the inability to understand anything complicated is a badge of honor.

Peter Louw said...

"Tom - Have you ever written on the whole phenomenon of the stuttering community looking for stuttering heroes? What motivates it?"

I also think that the role modelling for stutterers is being taken too far. Sure, it does have some value in showing how some people are successfully dealing with their stuttering or have done so in the past; but it is based on the premise that all stuttering is similar and all stutterers are alike.

Accompanying this premise is the implication that we should all try to be like these successful stutterers who are acting in plays or movies, making speeches to large audiences, excelling in challenging jobs that require excellent speaking skills etc.

Don't get me wrong, I take my hat off to these courageous stutterers. But I think it is a bad idea to compare yourself to others; rather create your own standards and aspire to them - and if you don't want to aspire to anything, then that's OK too. But we shouldn't be made to feel guilty for not being able to attain these very high speaking standards. We are all so different in terms of psychological makeup, the extent of our conditioning, different stress patterns etc.