Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rebuttal witness in Stubblefield trial

Anna Stubblefield finished testifying yesterday and the prosecution targeted her contention that facilitated communication was validated by scientific study:
After Stubblefield finished her testimony on Wednesday, the state presented James Todd, a psychology professor at Eastern Michigan University, as a rebuttal witness to challenge her claims about the overall effectiveness of the method.
Todd argued every "methodologically sound" study of facilitated communication have determined it to be an invalid means of communication. Such studies have demonstrated the facilitators controlled the users' responses, Todd said.
Todd also explained the alleged flaws in numerous studies cited by Stubblefield as evidence that the technique works.
"There are zero methodologically sound studies showing facilitated communication actually works," Todd testified. "It's become the single most scientifically discredited intervention in all of developmental disabilities.
"Facilitated communication is overwhelmingly rejected by the scientific community," he later added.
But on cross-examination, Stubblefield's attorney, James Patton, told Todd, "you have a lot of people that disagree with you" in regard to the validity of facilitated communication.
Patton noted how "peer-reviewed articles" have been published that depicted the technique as being effective.
Patton also highlighted how certain higher education institutions support facilitated communication. He also listed several universities that have faculty members who have endorsed the effectiveness of the technique as well as academic institutions that have included the method in their conferences and curriculum.
Todd claimed "peer-reviewed articles" are reviewed by a small number of individuals to determine whether they meet the standards of a given journal. Such review does not necessarily mean "the results are scientifically valid," Todd said.
As for the continued presence of facilitated communication within higher education settings, Todd said "there's lots of people who are highly educated who's been fooled by this."
Todd added that facilitators may believe the users are typing, but they are unknowingly moving the users' hands as part of the "Ouija board phenomenon," referring to the classic board game supposedly used to connect players to the spirit world.

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