Saturday, January 21, 2006

In defense of Johnson

Instead of commenting on the study, let me take on the role of Professor Johnson's lawyer defending my client.

"Professor Johnson is shocked by the vicious smear campaign againt him from
former colleagues who now suddenly question his professionality. Throughout his
professional life as a hard working and well-respected university professor,
Professor Johnson has sought to advance our scientific understanding of
stuttering, and provide people, and especially children, who stutter with the
best care possible. His insightful research project has been a turning point in
improving treatment for stuttering and widely applied even 50 years later.
Moreover, it is important to note that this project has only come after years of
fruitless search for a neurophysiological cause for stuttering. Unlike many of
his colleagues, Professor Johnson had the courage to realise that the hopes for
a neurophysiological cause were unfortunately unfounded, and had the courage to
develop a new theory, namely that stuttering is of psychological origin, which
is supported by facts. Therefore, together with other experts including
statisticians they developed a carefully designed and monitored experiment to
test the theory. When Yairi and Ambrose attacked Professor Johnson's project in
The Journal of Fluency disorders, they not only had to base their arguments on
second-hand information, but were inconsistent in their criticism. They claim
great danger for the children, but at the same time claim that no children were
harmed and none became adult stutterers! This in fact shows how carefully
Professor Johnson's team has been! In fact, probably due to a lack of proper
research of the topic, they have missed a crucial element, namely that Professor
Johnson has made sure that the children immediately received special care after
the end of the trial. Moreover, he has even stayed in contact with some of them,
being a mentor and friend for years to come. As a parent of two kids himself,
Professor Johnson has always sought the best possible for his patients and
points out that his scientific work has been able to bring improvements in the
life of people who stutter. He finds it unfortunate that certain quarters of
academia and therapists are still clinching to a neuro-physiological cause,
which is unfounded by facts!" (Disclaimer: This text is a work of fiction, and does not represent anyone's view not even the author's!!)

Go ahead what would you say to Johnson's lawyer's statement?


Unknown said...

As the plaintiff's lawyer, I would argue thus:

While in hindsight we can see a signficant contribution by Professor Johnson to the scientific field regarding persistent developmental stuttering, counsel for the defense misses the mark simply because he fails to realize that, even when contributions are made that result in positive steps...we do not justify the means with the ends.

If a method of curing cancer were found that required us to torture sentient civil society would allow it. If we could cure AIDS by a method that involved terrorizing small children, even when the terrorizing didn't result in lasting civilized society would allow it.

The cure for AIDS in this country can easily be obtained: We could simply round up all the AIDS patience, quarantine them...or simply eliminate them. This would be a very effective cure and one that would probably deter irresponsible behavior in others, so afflicted. Why don't we use it?

Simple: Because the ends do not justify the means.

Professor Johnson cannot possibly justify terrorizing small children simply because the result was a greater understanding of the stuttering phenomenon...and the reason is perfectly clear: In doing what he did, he infringed upon the constitutional rights of a group of children. Nobody has the right to terrorize anybody...much less small the interest of advancing science.

The advancement of science never outweighs the rights of an individual.

Among other things, Professor Johnson is guilty of Intentiional Infliction of Emotional Distress upon those children. He willingly and knowingly pursued a line of behavior and actions that he knew (and intended) would result in emotional distress of the children. We know this, because his intent was to cause the children to have a Persistent Developmental Stutter.

Tom Weidig said...

The law student surely gets it wrong when he says that "we do not justify the means with the ends".

Surely we do. This week, the CIA has bombed a village house in Pakistan killing several civilians (including children) to take out Al-Qaida fighters. No US politician has criticed such policy, where the means did justify the ends interpreting their inaction.

My client has only had the best in mind, and as I said no children were harmed. In fact, many many more were saved.

OK. I better stop this role playing or I get into real big trouble...