The Contrarian: Start It Up!

Michael Metz, PhD
Michael Metz, PhD

Michael Metz fires up The Contrarian, a monthly column that debuts in this space today, inviting considered opinion and informed debate within the Audiology profession.  He gave HHTM a sneak peek in December with his post “Don’t Shoot the PCAST Messenger.”  


Blogs, list-services, chat rooms, interactive web sites, and the lot have been around to help and to cause trouble for quite a while.  Some have arisen and prospered until they become a “flagpole” for only certain points of view.  Others topple quickly after failing to do more than offer only one point of view.  The power of this HearingHealthMatters blog site is that, not only can it reach many audiologists, it can also provide for relatively unfettered dialogues between lots of rational folks.  When this field was young, discussions and arguments generally took place at annual meetings of ASHA or state speech and hearing meetings.  Both audiology and speech pathology were small in those days and most audiologists knew others well enough to know when to charge and when to retreat.


Audiology as a profession seems to have grown to a level where controversial discussions like those in the past seldom take place, and when they do occur, many professionals are left out of the loop.  We all have significant and sometimes unique differences in the way we perceive and approach this field.  And, somewhat like the politics of our times, we often incorrectly label people or criticize discussions with which we disagree.  This tends to limit conversations, muffle criticism, and fool participants into thinking that the loudest conversation is the correct point of view.


There are serious problems in such audiology areas as educational requirements, clinical protocols, clinically applicable research, our professional organization and leadership, and, not too surprisingly, our present and future directions.  Support for this conclusion is bolstered by the recent PCAST recommendations.


Arguments or discussions about these areas, in and of themselves, are not necessarily a good thing unless they follow general rules, especially of politeness, and attempt to convince others of a common direction or goal by reason of sound logic. Good debates are necessary if the field is going to change for the positive. And, it seems to me that an introduction and method of discussion is the first step.


“Good debate” means you can’t get upset over sensitive issues or topics, and you can’t impolitely criticize anyone who participates in any discussion.  There are “sides” or positions on many topics.  Using this HHTM blog to discuss and debate might prove easier than starting your own blog—if you are concerned enough about your profession.


I have been in the hearing business for almost 50 years and I have seen audiology grow from a sort of “second thought” of the speech pathologists into a successful field that seems to be going in directions that appear painful to me.  There are signs that point to potentially drastic consequences for audiology.  Let’s discuss them.  I will bring them up in this blog.


You’re probably asking yourself “what gives this guy the right (or the nerve) to express opinions in these manners?”  It’s simple—I have no more right than you.  Your obligation to question and debate these issues is equal to mine.  In fact, since you are likely younger in the field than me, I would suggest that your rights and obligations are somewhat larger than mine.


I will start off in the next weeks by offering some observations and criticisms about issues confronting audiology.  I hope they will poke a hornet’s nest.  If you agree with the points I raise, then I will have failed and discussion, arguments and food fights (generally impolite) will not ensue.  However, if you disagree, have an alternative opinion, think I am full of it, or just want to have at it in another manner, let’s all be nice to each other and we can consider all points of view. Post your thoughts. If you don’t contribute, my position, bizarre as it might be, wins by default.


I encourage your opinions and suggestions for topics.  Others might as well feel some of the heat.  And, we should remember that not only do audiologists read this blog, sometimes more important people read it as well.


If you prefer not to contribute to the discussion, that’s OK too.  Remember that the sixties gave us audiology and also left us many forgettable expressions. At least one that still makes sense today was “If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.”  Let’s see if we can at least define and discuss our problems.  See you next time when the wild rumpus begins.


Dr. Metz has been a practicing audiologist for over 45 years, having taught in several university settings and,  in partnership with Bob Sandlin, providing continuing education for audiology and dispensing in California for over 3 decades.  Mike owned and operated a private practice in Southern California for over 30 years.  He has been professionally active in such areas as electric response testing, hearing conservation, hearing aid dispensing, and legal/ethical issues.  He continues to practice in a limited manner in Irvine, California.

feature image courtesy of

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.


  1. Audiologists must become advocates for the patient first, not mouthpieces and sales persons for the insanely overpriced, patent and lawsuit obsessed hearing aid industry.

    Most of you are skilled, educated professionals, but the tech savvy HOH generation that’s forming now aren’t going to use your services if we can get “hearables” on line for $299 rather than a hearing aid for $2999.

    For ordinary people with ordinary incomes the difference is just too great.

    I’m lucky, I live in the UK I get serviceable free aids and a couple of brief meetings with a lovely audiologist on the NHS.

    I’d love to hear how much better a pair of state of the art hearing aids are, but with mild/moderate hearing loss that my current aids correct perfectly well everywhere except Starbucks the cost is impossible to justify

  2. Thank you for your comment. Stay tuned as I hope there will be a lot to discuss. And, without comments, it could end up being really boring.

    So, I am hopeful that we will talk some more.

  3. There seems to be more and more nodding donkeys and passive resisters in the field.
    It is time to open up debate and not be afraid to face the fact of a changing profession.
    There has been too much focus on testing and product sales, not enough on educating the public and acknowledging that we do not have all the answers.

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