Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

This entry showcases a three part editorial by a past president of the American Association of Endodontists. You can change the name endodontics to literally any other discipline in dentistry and the concerns expressed remain valid. I am posting it to stimulate responses…..I’ve been in dentistry long enough to have seen the good, the bad and the ugly.  Market didn’t drive science in the first two decades of my career… has in the last two.  While the service mix has expanded exponentially, I’m unsure whether the failure to reinforce the biologic fundamentals in lieu of the technologic glitz and glitter has served the profession well, or not.  It also demonstrates the raw power of social networking…….you CAN effect change, and your voice can be heard…….you CAN separate the wheat from the chaff. I usually find that when folks respond by saying “take me off your mailing list”, it’s simply a reflection of the fact that they don’t want to hear what they don’t want to hear……..think of it as “if you don’t respond to this memo”, that means you’re in agreement………the ability of power to corrupt or abuse is nullified when there is transparency………..and that is why the blogosphere is so potentially powerful……….ergo your comments.

the Deck Chairs

(A three
part editorial about the state of our specialty as this editor sees it. The
opinions stated in this article are solely those of the editor and do not
necessarily reflect those of the New Jersey Association of Endodontist’s Board
of Directors
or membership


Part I


The Oxford
Dictionary of Quotations
(5th Ed. 1999), page 533, lists a quotation from the
Washington Post,16 May 1976,by Rogers Morton, American public relations
officer: “I’m not going to rearrange the furniture on the deck of the
Titanic.”  The context, according to
the dictionary, was that Morton had lost five of six primaries as President
Gerald Ford
‘s campaign manager.


Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

Image via Wikipedia

The tie in
for me to this aphorism is that the leadership of the AAE has been rearranging
deckchairs on the Titanic for too many years. The membership just received the
latest “Pr
esident’s Message from Dr. Clara Spatafore. I’ve known Dr. Spatafore
for many years and I can assure you she advocates as passionately as anyone for
our specialty. However, the “Practice Promotion Newsletters” we receive almost
monthly on the AAE website and this new President’s Message are essentially
well meaning but pat bromides. Do we really need practice promotion tips that
tell endodontists how to “Give Referring Dentists the Facts About Implants”?
Solipsistic endodontic talking points to general dentists don’t wash
particularly well with the economy lying at the bottom of an economic sink
hole. Like the deckchairs on the Titanic these futile platitudes will gradually
fade to black as they are overtaken by events that render them palpably
defensive and irrelevant.

Read more………….

Us and Them!

Part II

(The second
in a three part editorial about the state of our specialty as this editor sees
it. The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the editor and do
not necessarily reflect those of the New Jersey Association of Endodontists
Board of Directors or its membership. To view Part I please link to NJAE’s
website at )

‘We are
discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the
drove. We have two opinions: one private, which we are afraid to express; and
another one – the one we use – which we force ourselves to wear to please Mrs.
Grundy, until habit makes us comfortable in it, and the custom of defending it
presently makes us love it, adore it, and forget how pitifully we came by it.
Look at it in politics.’

    Mark Twain

I found the
response to my first editorial…”Rearranging the Deck Chairs” quite interesting.
Apparently my perspective resonated with a significant number of my colleagues
and people who were not directly posted to. Some shared their opinions openly
and others demurred and expressed their comments to me without using the reply
to all option.  Either way I was
encouraged that people thought about what I opined and cared enough to respond
or rejoin to this piece. However, what was particularly telling was that with
two exceptions no one on the board of directors or the executive committee
deigned to respond. Nineteen out of twenty-one members of our governing elite
were disinclined to make a comment whether negative or positive. Initially, I
thought this strange and somewhat disappointing. Then a knowing smile came
across my face because I quickly realized that this was an ‘Omertà’ a code of
silence likely initiated by admonition from our executive director or perhaps
by edict from our president. I had called Dr. Spatafore a few weeks ago to ask
her about some aspect of governance in regards to recent nominating committee
activity. I also shared with her that I was planning to write an editorial
about it as I felt our nominating process and the committee responsible for its
implementation appeared to me to be in need of a major overhaul. This week a
reliable source informed me that Dr. Spatafore did send out an email to advise
the board, the executive committee and a few of the past-presidents supportive
of her agenda that some unnamed individual was going to email them material
they should assiduously not respond to. You can’t make this stuff up! It is a
strategic and all too common ploy by the AAE leadership to circle their wagons
in a defensive posture to marginalize those who elect to openly tender
constructive criticism or question any of their deliberations, decisions or
management style. Is this the AAE equivalent of shunning which makes me
excommunicated vitandus?  Daniel Coleman
the bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence wrote
in the latter book about ‘US from Them’. ‘The gulf that divides US from Them
builds with the silencing of empathy. And across that gulf we are free to
project onto Them whatever we like. As Kaufman adds, “Righteousness,
intelligence, integrity, humanity and victory are the prerogatives of Us, while
wickedness, stupidity, hypocrisy, and ultimate defeat belong to Them.” ‘As an
example last year I asked the AAE’s leadership about the transparency and
accountability of their financial reports. I also queried why they felt the
public awareness campaign assessment should continue in light of its
ineffective 3 ½ year existence. The program plainly never reached its goals or
realized its mission? It was clearly an evidenced based disaster. Where has
this fiscal year’s assessment gone to since they fired the PR firm last year
that has almost 2 million dollars of the AAE’s assessment revenues? The only
thing my inquiries produced was silence. Did the executive director or the
president that year give me, a past-president, the courtesy of a call to
discuss this issue? No call, no email, no communication because I am “Them”.
All I received was quiescent indifference.

Read more…………

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