Thursday, November 09, 1995

The scientific value of testimonials

In response to a comment by Ira Zimmerman stating that there is no scientific backing for most claims of "recovery".

I am one of those people who tends to talk about stuttering as *mainly* a thing
of the past, and has given "testimonials" on his recovery process. I think
both Ira and Jason bring up good points.

The fact is, I DON'T know if I got better because of my efforts, or aging
would have done it for me anyhow. I DON't know if what I have been doing would
have been equally successful had I started off with much more severe
stuttering. When I talk about my "success" I can't help having a nagging
feeling that, in spite of what I think, my problem and, say, Ira's, were
quite different. My very first contribution to this list was in fact
a thread that dealt with the possibility of two different "kinds" of stuttering
(I mean both recognized as developmental but arising from different
causes, although "appearing" to be the same problem on a continuous severity
scale). I even asked if there were bimodal distributions on any stuttering

The best answer I got was Woody's, who stated that, in his experience, "severe"
stutterers often seemed to make rapid progress in therapy, only to relapse,
while "mild" stutterers made much slower but stable progress. I think there is
something really worth looking at here....

All this being said, I, John and others are simply data points. If somebody
claimed to have improved by making back-flips, that would be a data point
too. It's up to whomever wants or can to use these data points and make
some rigorous science out of it. So, no, my own testimony IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH,
but together with that of others it may enable some useful model to be built.

I really wish I could have been part of a rigorous test. If anybody thinks that
they can do something with me now... come and take me, I'm yours!

Thank you, Ira, for reminding us that just because we say it is.. it doesn't
make it so.

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