Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Sally Reed saga

You might have noticed that my Crackpot Award to Sally Reed has let her to take off her wrong claims on the origin of stuttering and on the efficacy of hypnosis in curing stuttering. The link to stuttering from the main page is not present anymore, but the page still exists. However, she changed this page and now only suggests that one should call her. So will she then repeat what she took off? In any case, I am happy that she has removed the wrong claims, and I hope that she now realizes her mistake. If she has, I will congratulate her for being able to assess the evidence and to change her mind. If she publicly says so, I will remove the Award post.

On the other hand, what you do not know is what went on in the background. She went berserk and has sent a few angry emails to myself, a reader who sent her an email pointing out her award, and an academic who has sent her an email before my post regarding her website. She kept on saying that hypnosis is useful, which really no-one is disputing in some cases. In the emails, she threatened to sue us all, but focused on the academic because we two others are located in Europe and independent.  She then went silent. And then on top, she called the academics' department and university and complained! And the academic was forced to come in and explain to the heads and administration! That's all I know... no more news...

So her retreat from the website could be a tactical one to cover herself and launch a lawsuit against all and further the attack. Or maybe she has actually calmed down and realized that the scientific evidence is against her.

So what's the lesson? I live a dangerous life for speaking out and as an academics it's always best to shut up.


Anonymous said...


You wrote:

"So what's the lesson? I live a dangerous life for speaking out and as an academics it's always best to shut up."

That was my first thought when I read your original post. Legal action is certainly an option for Sally Reed. I did mention (in response to your post) about what is happening to science-writer Simon Singh in England; he's being sued because he has spoken out against homeopathic quack treatments, but he has the support of some very prominent scientists (including Martin Rees) so I think (and hope) that he should win ... but not before some expensive and unpleasant court battles.

With Sally Reed, I do think that you were a bit unfair to defame her on your blog. Calling her a crackpot on the internet would have damaging consequences to her career - you should have known that (and you had the gall to criticize me for saying that Dennis Drayna is bald, grey and fat).
Maybe a more tactful approach would have been to send her a friendly email before doing something so drastic as calling her a crackpot.

tal said...

Tom, the idea is to cause negative consequences for her career. That's not a drawback. Her career appears to involve misleading people and preying on their hope.

Satyendra said...

Dear Tom
I hope and pray that people will wake up to their senses:
Stammerers have been sold so many useless cures and therapies- and when these fail- we are worse off: "There is something wrong with me only that is why it did not work.."
There must be rigorous control on such claims (as rigorous as it is for other human conditions and disorders)..
When state and society fails to apply these safe guards, what is wrong, if we the stutterers, ourselves take up the burden of warning ourselves and each other??
Lastly, people should have a little maturity to accept criticism on internet..
I hope you dont stop your crackpot awards just because of this. There are many a crackpots still waiting and avidly looking out for their awards!!

for The Indian Stammering Association (

Tom Weidig said...

>> Maybe a more tactful approach would have been to send her a friendly email before doing something so drastic as calling her a crackpot.

That seems to have been exactly what the academic has done! He apparently pointed out to her, but she completely ignored him!!!


Anonymous said...


Maybe you and I are culturally different. If I had been in your position, I would have sent Sally an email to warn her that I would out her as a crackpot (which can be a very serious action) if she didn't retract her claims, or at least substantiate her claims with convincing data. I've always believed in giving people a chance - not shoot first and ask questions later. But then, not everybody is nice, sweet and gentle like me.

Unknown said...

The really worrying question is: is what we experience about "academic science" and so called experts in the field of stuttering typical in other fields and sciences, too?