Lysle E. Johnston, Jr.: Critical thinking inspiration in orthodontics

When listening to someone denying the existence of climate change, despite scientific consensus stating that it is real and predominantly caused by humans, we realize how common and dangerous uncritical thinking can be. John P. Reisman said: “Science is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship. It is evidence that it dictates.” To achieve a scientific consensus is not to accept the most popular idea but to agree that a certain idea has managed to overcome the evaluation process to which science has submitted it.

In orthodontics, there are still “immortal controversies,” although there is already enough evidence to achieve consensus. Dr Lysle E. Johnston, Jr., has helped to reveal the truth behind many of these controversies, thus contributing to the progress of the specialty in a unique way. Therefore, he well deserves the Lifetime Achievement Award in Orthodontic Research, 2018 (Behrents RG, Lifetime Achievement Award for Orthodontic Research, 2018. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2018; 153:1-2)

Among the various teachings of Dr Johnston that have inspired me are the following.

  • It is not the argument of an opinion leader or the opinions of the majority that should induce us to accept a theory; it is the evidence.

  • Orthodontics is a “learned calling”; therefore, it is necessary to develop skills to be able to find, interpret, and correctly use this evidence.

  • Effective and efficient orthodontic treatment cannot be carried out without a solid theoretical basis, so programs that emphasize technical learning do not create sufficient competency for comprehensive care.

  • A true orthodontic philosophy is a deep and dynamic style of analytical thinking about the diagnosis and orthodontic treatment that directs our clinical decisions. Do not confuse with the pseudo-philosophies based on opinions, appliances, and particular interests.

  • We should know the history of orthodontics to avoid being surprised by “new” ideas that are presented with other clothing, since “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

  • In orthodontics, any therapeutic method that seems to be equally successful emphasizes the need for a healthy amount of skepticism that allows us to distinguish useful ideas from those that lack value.

Once Dr Johnson was called the “conscience of orthodontics” ; this appellative does not well define him, since his goal has not been to tell us what is right and what is wrong, morally or scientifically. Rather, he has encouraged us to think and defend ourselves from pseudoscience, and he has taught us to develop attitudes, knowledge, and skills necessary to practice orthodontics with critical thinking.

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Dec 10, 2018 | Posted by in Orthodontics | Comments Off on Lysle E. Johnston, Jr.: Critical thinking inspiration in orthodontics
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