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Discussion of the Paper by Dr. Clarence O. Simpson on “What is the Matter with Dentistry in St. Louis?”, 1916

Prominent St. Louis dentist Clarence O. Simpson first presented his controversial paper, “What is the Matter with Dentistry in St. Louis?” at a meeting of the St. Louis Dental Society on October 12, 1915.  Several St. Louis dentists then presented their responses.  The paper and the following responses were published in the March 1916 issue of the Dental Review.

By Various Respondents

Dr. William Conrad:

Before entering upon the discussion of this very literate, and very elegantly read paper, I would like to express my thanks to Dr. Simpson and to express my astonishment that any man was able to write a paper of this character in the short time I know he has been in writing it.

“What is the matter with dentistry in St. Louis?” is asked by Dr. Clarence O. Simpson, one of the most distinguished members of the St. Louis Dental Society.  How about that?  O Lord, my God, is there any help for the dentist in distress?  Dr. Simpson’s paper is up to the members of the St. Louis Dental Society and I hope they will consider it in a manner to remedy the evil, if there is anything wrong with the dental profession in St. Louis.  Individually, I do not think there is anything wrong.  I think it is the tip-top, blue blossom of dentistry, no matter where practiced. (Applause)

But for fear there is something wrong, let us discuss this paper Dr. Simpson hands to us with so much confidence, with due respect for his international reputation, he having within the last few weeks read a paper before the Panama Pacific Dental Congress which was of such interest to the dental profession and the people in general that the newspapers of San Francisco considered the subject matter of Dr. Simpson’s paper of such public value that they published it and gave it to the Associated Press in order that it might go before the people of the world.  I received from Dr. Simpson a copy of part of his paper on Saturday.  He certainly is a “peach” for quick writing, and it is a good copy, he must have been a newspaper writer, as many another good dentist has been.  But what are such clodhoppers as myself and others to do when we have to discuss his paper tonight?  Yesterday I received the second part of his paper.  Good Lord, I am in for it good and plenty.  I thought I had all I wanted to handle in the first section. (Laughter)

I want to thank the Society and the President for asking me to take part in this discussion.  Perhaps it was because I have been an active member longer than any present and should have some common sense.  My rule in life has been never to tell how little I knew, and make believe I knew a lot of things I never tell.  For 25 years I was regarded as a dental boss in the “Dental Trust,” often referred to as the “Dental Boss” in print.  Look at me now, no dental boss of a dental trust but bossed about by dear friends who are the dental bosses of today.  I like it and it is as it should be.  After a long and busy professional life, to have the love and affection of the new order of dentists is something to appreciate, which I most certainly do, especially for the sake of the new boss at 3666 Olive Street.  I take pride in the work done by St. Louis dentists and could name them all with an account of their most conspicuous achievements.  There are three men alive today whom I wish were with us tonight.  Dr. Prosser, Dr. Newby and Dr. Bowman.

Writing is hard work for us less gifted than Dr. Simpson with his gift of gab. (Laughter)  I do not like the title of the Doctor’s paper, although I agree with the subject matter of most of it.  What is the use of giving dentistry a black eye just at the outset of his paper in this title?  The Doctor certainly gives enough evidence to prove that something is the matter with dentistry in St. Louis; however, the same evidence will apply to and prove that something is the matter with dentistry in every other place as well as in St. Louis. (Applause)  He refers to the earlier history in the list of those who helped to make dentistry, which only shows, if we take the trouble to look up the history, that the conditions of today have always existed in some form at some time in the history of our profession.  I just refer you to the first number of the Missouri Dental Journal.  In it are the names of the men and the articles which made St. Louis dentistry famous.  I have it marked and would like to read them, but it is too late.  Simpson was too long reading his good paper, only 45 minutes.  I will be about 60 reading mine, so if any of you want to go home understand I shall not be offended.

I have called your attention to the contents of this volume of the Missouri Dental Journal.  These same men were largely instrumental in forming the Ohio, Illinois and Missouri State Dental Associations, also in forming the Missouri Dental College and the Missouri Dental Journal.  All of these men were active in the affairs of the St. Louis Dental Society, and if you will follow their history as it appears in the pages of this journal, in the transactions you will find their ups and downs were about the same as we have them today.  Black, Eames, McKellops, and the others mentioned by the Doctor were prominent men and they had their disagreeable times, they had their low fees and their lack of appreciation, apparently; but as we look back upon them we think they were great giants and they were, but in those days they were giants because the societies were small, they were all workers and not lost in the crowd.  Every one of them was a writer, a speaker, and a worker.  Why should the St. Louis Dental Society have so completely lost the talent of writing, of speaking, and working, that we have for three years had to hear most of the talent who presented the subjects for discussion before this society, from outside?  There has not been one man who appeared here during the last three years, of this foreign talent, but that some member of the society could have written a better paper if he had tried.  “Scintillating dignitaries,” don’t you know; that is what Simpson calls these fellows you have been hiring to read papers.  Confounded good name, too. (Laughter)

I ought to move along, but by golly I am going through with this thing whether you like it or not.  He refers to the expression, “I do not know the gentleman, never heard of him.”  Now do you know I think that is a good answer, a right good answer.  I have even made that answer myself.  Then he goes to work and refers to home-grown casting machines.  What is the difference?  If we can make a good inlay with a home-grown casting machine, what is the use of buying an expensive one?  This painless dentistry; the two things which attracted the most attention at San Francisco were pyorrhea, with all the variations of emetin thrown in, and the attempts to produce painless dentistry.  The profession is crazed about trying to produce painless dentistry.  It is not a question of good dentistry, but they want to get all this paraphernalia distributed about the office to have the greatest effect, and to have all the friends who come with the patients circulate the report that our worthy doctor is an up-to-date man, has so much in his office for the purpose of making dentistry painless.  I ran into a nest of those fellows in the West who had their offices filled with this apparatus, and I told them the sad experience of an expert dentist in one of their cities, in killing one of the wealthiest and most prominent young ladies in the city.  Partial consciousness, you know, is often dangerous, and he certainly killed her good and plenty. (Laughter)  These fellows had heard nothing about it, because the dentists of that city were sufficiently loyal to their unfortunate brother to keep the news from being widely circulated. (Applause)

Dr. John H. Kennerly:

I would like to reiterate the remarks made by the other gentleman, that the paper was received only last evening and it was difficult to prepare a discussion.  However, while I do not agree by any means with Dr. Simpson’s paper, I agree with the idea or thought which originated the paper.  As I read between the lines, the intention of Dr. Simpson was to bring about some change or changes which would be of benefit to the profession, and he has taken this means of doing it.  I am one who would naturally be supposed to take up the defense of the colleges which he criticizes.  I do not propose to do it, because I would have to criticize myself too much; but I do want to ask Dr. Simpson to look back to the days of ’99, when he matriculated in a dental school in Chicago, and see whether they did not make a rattling good dentist out of a mighty poor porch-climber.  His idea of determining in three days whether the student should be dismissed from the institution is just a little bit too much of the 20th century speed, which most of the dentists are being criticized for by Dr. Simpson tonight.

It is strange, but the minds of old men apparently run in the same channel.  I am not referring to Simpson now, but to Conrad.  Conrad brought with him the first number of the Missouri Dental Journal, which is a little more than a quarter of a century old.  When I read Simpson’s paper over for the second time this morning it occurred to me that I had noticed, in my nosing around the library, where somebody else, sometime or other, made just such a spiel as Simpson was going to put up tonight.  I thought it was incumbent upon me to see if I could locate it.  I located it all right and instead of the Missouri Dental Journal, the first journal published in the City of St. Louis, I located it in the first dental journal ever published in the United States, just a little bit more than three-quarters of a century ago.  It was the same cry about poor dentistry as now.

Now a word in reference to the men particularly named as previously being the bright lights in St. Louis.  You never see Conrad’s name mentioned in that list and he has been here longer than any other man, with possibly one exception.  But why are these men mentioned, or I should say why are they always mentioned as the particular shining lights of the profession in this city.  My idea is this, gentlemen, the number of dentists in St. Louis at the time these men shone so brilliantly was so small in comparison to the present number of dentists that they had the whole thing their own way.  There was no other sun to shine.  These men, few in number, were experts, we do not deny that for a second because the older men who are here tonight possibly know of their ability, but I am going to say, as I stand here after having known them and associated with the profession for more than twenty-five years, that we now have men in practice in the City of St. Louis who could work rings around them. (Applause)  Yes, that is true, the trouble is we have a mass of men and the greater number are like our mistakes.  Our mistakes do not come back to us; the other fellow gets them.  That is the reason we see all this poor dentistry, and I want to claim right here, dentistry in St. Louis today is as good as it ever was.  Now, I am going to read to you for a few minutes some extracts from the first number of the American Journal of Dental Science, published in 1839.  (Reads)  See Vol. 1, No. 2.

Dr. Otto J. Fruth:

I was less fortunate than Dr. Conrad in that I received a copy of the paper only last night, and did not have an opportunity to look at it until this afternoon.  To discuss this paper intelligently requires some time, and as it was impossible for me to prepare a written discussion I shall take the paragraphs in order and ask you to overlook my shortcomings.

I cannot agree with the essayist in every respect, but many of his statements are true.  He speaks of the men who have passed away many years ago, men like Forbes, Eames, Morrison and Black, some of whom I have had the pleasure of knowing.  It was my good fortune to have Dr. Morrison as my preceptor, and I feel I was inspired by his ideals and work.

Dr. Simpson criticized us for being lazy or over-modest and I feel many of us have been so.  It is quite a task for me to write a paper, so I do my best in presenting clinics and have profited greatly from it.  Preparing papers or clinics, and attending dental meetings consumes much time and money, which is a consideration to many.  These factors have limited research work and for this purpose the Research Foundation Fund was started, to eliminate these individual sacrifices.

Dr. Simpson calls attention to the few local men appearing on the programs of the national meetings.  All of us who attend these meetings know they are largely political and executive, and while there are some good clinics, you will usually see better at any state meeting.  I have not favored having outside talent here for nearly every meeting as we have had in the past, and I agree with Dr. Conrad that we have members in this society who are able to prepare papers as good or better than some to which we have listened.  In order to satisfy Dr. Simpson, it would be better hereafter for the members of this society to provide the papers.  The reason so many dentists are brought before the spotlight in other cities is because of the “mutual admiration” societies which exist there, where you find each one boosting the other.

The present standard of dentistry, I believe, is poorer than that of years ago because of the many so-called easy methods which have been advanced and which the majority of dentists are quick to grasp.  There is no doubt that the casting process, silicate cements, fibre golds, and such, while practical and useful when properly handled, have been abused by many and are partly the cause of the poor results seen every day.

Analgesia is a dead issue with the majority of the men who attempted to use it, which bears out my opinion of it from the beginning.  The subject of radiography is an interesting one; and as Dr. Simpson says, no appliance has been installed in our offices.  One reason is because of the expense incurred, another is the lack of time in a busy dentist’s life for the making of the proper radiographs.  Making a radiograph of each operation would be an ideal way of practicing dentistry, but we know that is impracticable on account of the cost to the patient when most people object to the fees now charged.

Prophylaxis or preventive dentistry has been taken up by a great many, and usually turned over to an assistant or office girl.  It is difficult to understand why people will submit to this, but it is no doubt because they know the fee will be comparatively small when the assistant does the work.

In regard to laboratory work, the very fact so many laboratories exist in St. Louis shows a great deal of work that is sent to them, and if one only looks into these laboratories and sees the wire measurements and wax impressions they receive, it is not surprising that such poor dentistry is exhibited in the mouths of patients.  Of course the fee often regulates the service and it is unfortunate, since we know the man who puts on five dollar crowns usually does not give more than five dollars’ worth of service, and in most cases is robbing the public when he charges that.  The same is true of amalgam fillings.  When one charges a “quarter,” seventy-five cents, or a dollar, you can readily see he cannot do much more than “wipe a joint.” (Laughter)

I cannot quite agree with the essayist regarding the support of the specialists by the profession.  I think the orthodontists receive very good support from the general practitioner, most of them are prosperous and they must depend largely upon the profession for the work sent them.  In general practice if each of us sent our cases to the specialist there would be little for us to do; we would send one to the orthodontist, another to the pyorrhea specialist, then would come the exodontists, the prophylactic specialist, and the prosthetic man.  Now what is left for the general practitioner?  (Dr. Simpson: Specialize.)

Dentists do more harm than anything else when they boast of the number of patients they treat each day and the amount of money made in a year.  This creates dissatisfaction among the laity, they will say you are a robber or you could net make fifteen or twenty thousand dollars per year.  The point of exacting large fees from those able to pay is overlooked by many dentists.  A large fee charged by one man helps his neighbor that much; as Dr. Simpson says, makes the ten dollar fee easier for the next man.  I knew dentists having wealthy patients coming to them in automobiles, yet they charge these people no more than the poorest patients coming into their offices.  This is an injustice to the poor patient and an injustice to the poor dentists.

The question of the students received by colleges is a subject discussed pro and con for many years.  We know there are many students in colleges who will never make dentists, and it is unfortunate we do have any without all the qualifications, but I know from experience if you tell them they had better give up dentistry and go to horseshoeing, or bookkeeping, they would only be insulted and go to another college.

The suggestion of having an exchange for our information in regard to deadbeats is commendable and should be attempted.  We are all being “gouged” at times by these “professional crooks,” as they deserve to be called, and the sooner we get some method to stop this the better.

I regret very much that I am not better prepared to discuss this very intelligent paper, but the discussers preceding me have done their work so, well I trust you will overlook my shortcomings. (Applause)

Dr. John B. O’Brien:

It has been our pleasure this evening to hear a paper from Dr. Simpson on a subject which should prove of vital concern and profitable to each of us interested in the modern progress of dentistry.  I therefore take great pleasure in its discussion.

The title, “What Is the Matter with Dentistry in St. Louis?” presupposes there is something the matter, and quite naturally we wish to analyze the question on its merits in an attempt to find our true position in the cosmic scheme of things.  Dr. Simpson has delved deep into the why and wherefore of our affairs, as they seem to exist, and left us “naked to our enemies.”  He has taken an inventory of our defects and his arguments seem almost incontrovertible.

It is a strong indictment, gentlemen, of this old and honored society to be called “before the mat” as we are this evening, and no doubt it will prove of great benefit if we accept it in the proper spirit.  It is a very limited and neglected intellect which does not acknowledge its shortcomings; but are the Doctor’s strictures wholly merited?  Is dentistry in St. Louis below the average?  From my acquaintance with the dentists of St. Louis, I should say many are most capable and would average well with other cities, for much “shoddy” dental work is done everywhere.  To paraphrase Lincoln’s famous truism, “All dentists are remiss some of the time, and some dentists are remiss all of the time, but all dentists are not remiss all of the time.”

Dr. Simpson evinces an analyzing mind.  He proves to us he has a kick coming, and has put his whole “sole” into it, but with his naturally engaging and urbane manner of addressing us, he talks pessimistically.  His criticisms are to the point but he leaves us no note of cheer.  We are left to flounder about in the “slough of despair.”  Being a man of capacity and as original as sin, he deprecates and insinuates, then leaves us to chew the “cud of reflection” as best we may.  He speaks to us tonight in a witty, though gravely sepulchral tone, and one not knowing his otherwise sunny nature would think he was born in a graveyard. (Laughter)

Gentlemen, things dental may be bad, conditions may be all he says they are; but dentistry, to my mind, is on the upgrade, here as elsewhere.  We, in St. Louis, are conservative, perhaps too much so; we, would like to be different, but cannot easily shake off our natural ennui.  Some of us had begun to think we had a great future before us, if we could only catch up with it; yet the Doctor tells us some would do much better as chorus singers, porch climbers, or even as hod carriers.  He even hints some of us would be more successful in trekking out west and capitalizing an abandoned hole in the ground.  Dr. Simpson, I beg of you, do not encourage the weaker members to inflict their vocal powers on an already afflicted public, and as for hod carriers, not one of us has “brogue” enough to carry us up the first flight.

“Your lean and hungry Cassius is never betrayed into a laugh, and his smile is more cadaverous than his despair.”  According to the Doctor’s dictum, we are now, right now, in the palmiest days of our ignorance as to what constitutes modern dentistry, and his indictment of us is as cold as charity.  Our intelligence tells us better.  I therefore, in the name of the dentists of St. Louis, deny the allegation, and what is more, gentlemen, I defy the “alligator.”  Dentistry in St Louis may be “on the bum,” but my hopeful nature persuades me to believe it is not getting “bummer.”

Are we cankered by mutual distrust of each other?  If so, what an unhappy state of affairs.  No progress is worth while if we do not act in full accord, and give generous and, helpful effort for a better, a more noble standard off action.  Let us have high ideals, work ceaselessly for the higher things in dentistry.  I admit a little virtuous knocking does good at times, but let it not develop into a chronic form.  Some of us, perhaps all of us, think we are moving forward in the current of progress, when according to Dr. Simpson, we are slowly but surely sinking into the inky darkness of obscurity.  As to the comparison of dentistry in St. Louis to other cities, I am like the fellow who said he would rather be in jail in Missouri, than at large in Kansas.  If dentistry is bad in St. Louis, it is not so bad that we cannot improve it; yet the noble men who have gone before, and the splendid talent yet in our midst, leaves us a rich heritage of hope for the future.  Many of us were nurtured in the bracing school of poverty, and by honest effort and conscientious endeavor we are going to win a grand, a noble name for dentistry in St. Louis, and work in a concerted way for all that will advance the welfare of each member of our society.

In conclusion, I wish to commend Dr. Simpson’s paper.  He has a sparkling wit, and a keen satire, worthy of a statesman, but do not allow your spirits to fail you because of his well-meant chiding.  “Talent, when disciplined, is always sure of a market.”  Let us renew our allegiance to the cause of better dentistry, and strive to improve and perfect ourselves.  “Trifles make perfection, but perfection is no trifle.”  I close with the wish of the Irishman from Counemara, “May bad luck follow us and never overtake us.” (Applause)

Dr. Walter M. Bartlett:

When I heard that Dr. Simpson was going to read a paper, the title of which was, “What Is the Matter with Dentistry in St. Louis?” I made up my mind I would not come down here, for I feared if I came I would say something which perhaps I would regret and make more enemies in the dental profession.  Since I have been called on I am sorry I did not jot down my thoughts on paper, for I could have made statements that I believe could have been substantiated.

I do not believe there is anything the matter with dentistry in St. Louis from a financial point of view, considering the number of automobiles I saw lined up in front of this building when I came in, which represents about one-twentieth of the number of automobiles owned by dentists in St. Louis.  We seem to figure well financially.  The trouble with the dental profession is that it is permeated with commercialism; the commercial side predominates over the true professional spirit.

Dr. Simpson speaks of the lack of papers written by members of this society.  I know during the twenty-six years I have been a member of this society, some of the very best papers we have had, have been contributed by members of the society.  The lack of paper writing in this society at the present time is due to the fact that the profession of the city do not show the essayist the proper courtesy by coming here and listening. (Applause)  They look upon the home talent as one of the lost arts.  It has been my observation when a local man labors hard to get tip something scientific to present to this society and comes here to read it, he finds an audience of thirty or forty; while if someone from out of the city came here, the auditorium would be filled.

Although there are some exceptions, nearly every scientific paper written today is tinged with commercialism.  If you will read your journals carefully, saying to yourself, “This is the forerunner of something whereby the essayist is to gain financially,” you will usually find it to be the case.  These individuals write papers and read them before societies for the sole purpose of getting the rank and file interested in new methods.  If these methods are adopted, you will soon realize that before you can put them into practice you will have to invest in a product which they are directly or indirectly interested; a medicament, an appliance, special forms of teeth, or some literary work.  Again, there is the man writing along the lines of his own attainments for the purpose of creating a demand for his services as a lecturer before societies at five dollars per head, which seems at the present time to be an accepted ethical procedure by many.

I was amazed to hear one of the discussers here this evening in speaking of prophylaxis say, that the patient was turned over to the office girl, or a more high-grade term, the dental nurse, for the prophylactic work.  There is a member of the state board in this city.  Is he sleeping, or is he neglecting his duty?  That nurse or that person who cleanses teeth is practicing dentistry without a license and is violating the state law of Missouri.  I would like to call Dr. Roddy’s attention to this, in whatever office he finds the assistant cleaning teeth he should prosecute the assistant, as well as the proprietor of the office.

As to specialists, they have come to stay; we need them.  I believe in specialization, and they should be encouraged along these lines, for a man who devotes his time to one special part of dentistry becomes more proficient than the one who attempts to do all in dentistry.  The specialist is not supported for the simple reason the almighty dollar stares the practitioner in the face.  He is afraid to let go of anything, when he himself knows he cannot do justice to the given case.  Among the practitioners of dentistry we have men who will treat every lesion of the oral cavity; I heard the other day of one who treated a patient for tonsillitis.  Some do not believe in the prosthetic specialists, but we have a great need in this city for a man who will devote his time and attention to that branch of dental science.  The same men who do not believe in supporting a man who specializes in prosthesis would not hesitate a moment in sending his impressions to a dental laboratory.  Again, the almighty dollar, he can get something out of that.

The question of fees comes up; I think nine-tenths of us are untruthful about fees.  As long as the gentleman has entered into personalities without mentioning names, I assume I may have the same privilege.  I have heard of some remarkable fees obtained in this city recently, some remarkable fees.  The fee of $1,500 for an entire denture did not compare with one I heard of recently, to say nothing of crowns and inlays; but it is a queer thing when I get hold of some of these patients who have been in the habit of paying two or three hundred dollars for inlays, it is a pretty hard matter for me to get a dollar out of them.  I believe any man who gets a legitimate fee for his services in St. Louis is assisting those who do not; as the essayist says if we have some men in this town who charge big fees, we should thank them for it will assist us in getting a fee in proportion to the services rendered.

In the question of lack of skill in St. Louis dentistry, I do not believe the essayist has been just.  It is my good fortune to have observed the work of dentists from all over the United States, not the mediocre dentists, but men of good standing whose name you constantly see in your dental journals, supposed to be what you would call topnotchers; and I tell you, gentlemen, the work I see coming from other dentists in this city compares most favorably with the work done by dentists of other cities.  I do not believe we are lacking in skill, and Dr. Kennerly struck the keynote when he said that perhaps we only see each other’s failures.  I know I have failures in this town some of you may have seen, but I feel I have some good work; and the man who does not have some failures, God bless him, he has no practice with which to have failures. (Applause)

Dr. E. N. Beall:

I consider it a great privilege to listen to a paper such as Dr. Simpson has given us.  It is also a high compliment to be asked to discuss such a masterly arraignment of the dental profession.  However, the comparison of the present status, of dentistry in St. Louis with that of the past is hardly fair.  St. Louis was then very much less metropolitan than it is today.  People of kindred interests met with greater frequency, and personalities such as the essayist named leavened the whole professional mass.  Ideals exist today as they have in the past, but the opportunities for association are lessened.  To overcome this why not establish study clubs in different parts of our city?  As it is now we meet here once a month, listen to a paper, hear it discussed, go home and promptly forget it.  It is unfortunate that we would rather hear a paper by a “highbrow” from foreign parts than a local man.  Is this not due to lack of acquaintance with the essayist of local fame?  How many of you know half a dozen members of the profession in the city intimately enough to discuss your mistakes and problems with them?  It is only by almost daily contact, such as you find in the business world, that this feeling exists.  You must remember you are conducting a one-man business, and instead of getting closer, we are getting farther apart.

As to the question “can fees be materially advanced unless the service is improved?” – absolutely not.  There are some men in the profession satisfied to put in gold and amalgam plugs instead of restorations.  These men are either too lazy, lack the necessary qualifications to learn, or deluded into the idea, it is not worth the effort, it being impossible to collect a larger fee for the more laborious operations, thus losing sight of the fact that with improved efficiency a larger fee invariably comes.

From the facts brought out by the essayist it seems some of our fraternity claim originality and monopoly of skill they do not possess.  We will draw a cloak of charity over these, may they see the error of their ways.  To the “knockers,” I can only say, throw away your hammer.  It will lead to a better way of living, a better way of thinking, and better deeds.

Dr. Harry R. Faherty:

There is one point I would like to bring out in Dr. Simpson’s paper, which has served its purpose beautifully, because it has stirred things up, and that is what this society needs.  As a comedian Dr. Simpson would make Al Jolson go down to Chelsea Island, and jump into the reduction plant, but he is not consistent in mixing wit and pessimism, which are incompatible.  All of us have our pessimistic days and our optimistic days, and I know they do not mix for on one of my most pessimistic days I picked up a copy of “Life” and the first joke I saw turned everything to optimism.  A fellow had purchased a cigar and remarked to the dealer that it was a very rotten smoke.  “Well,” said the dealer, “You shouldn’t kick, you have only one and I have almost 2,000.”

The reason we do not have papers from St. Louis men is because we haven’t confidence in ourselves; we have to gradually educate men to write papers.  The proper way is to start them by discussing the other man’s paper.  Every month our announcements have about the same discussers on it, which does not give the little man any chance to work up to where he can write a paper.  I think it would be well to have different men discuss the papers each month; start young men in to discuss papers where they can get up, compliment the essayist, and then sit down.  After a while they will have the nerve to say a little more, and may eventually be able to write papers.

In looking around I see many whom I know are capable of writing good papers, but they sit here and are never asked to discuss the papers.  I do not know how the discussers are selected, but I know I have heard complaints of having the same men and I believe we would have a larger attendance if the discussion was more general.  I do not believe a city as large as St. Louis has any business going outside for its essayists.  It should not be necessary. (Applause)

Dr. Clarence O. Simpson:

My system is freed of about all I had to say.  I appreciate the reception of the paper and the kindness of the discussers, although some of their extravagant praise approached sarcasm.

Dr. O’Brien stated that I criticized conditions but suggested no relief.  He received an incomplete copy of the paper, which was written in installments, and at that time I had found no relief.  The apology or complaint offered by some of the discussers, that they had insufficient time in which to prepare their discussion was due to the fact that the paper was not completed.  It is not a bad idea, anyway; there has been many a good paper exploded by giving the discussers too much time to analyze it. (Laughter)

In reply to Dr. Fruth’s remarks about spreading broadcast the statements made in the paper and discussion, I assure you it will be properly expurgated before publication.  I have no desire to parade our faults before the profession at large.

I thought Dr. Kennerly was going to “get the goods on me” when he sprung this 75-year-old paper, and prove me a plagiarist.  I wish I might have had a blazed trail to follow; there was an abundance of material, but presenting it in a convincing form was an undertaking which I feel has been but partially accomplished.  Dr. Conrad, as well as some others, was not mentioned in the list of notables because he is not an old man.

Referring to Dr. Bartlett’s observations of the commercialization of dentistry and that a paper was usually the forerunner of something to sell, I promise him this is to be one of the exceptions, as my inferior commercial ability confines my prospects to the true professional compensation.  The reference to college conditions was made with the mental admission and no desire to disclaim my connection with a local dental school, and having graduated from one of the worst commercialized schools in the country.  It was mentioned with the other factors which may have influenced the prevailing standards of practice.


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