The Difference Between Reality and What Sounds Good
Published Apr 18, 2013  printer-friendly


A Note on the Difference Between Reality and What Sounds Good [4 pages]

          Since the publication of  “A Distorted Portrayal of Social Justice on OTConnections” dealing with Dr. Braveman’s participation in the forum on social justice, Dr. Braveman has offered several explanations in an attempt to discredit my analysis.  In each case they have been easily proven false. In each case, we get the opportunity to see the difference between reality on the one hand and what superficially sounds like a good explanation for his participation on the other.  

          Some previous plausible explanations for his participation in the forum are the following: One was that his statements were “far from ‘academic' in the context of OTConnections.” This one was part of a second explanation that what he was expressing were “personal opinions” that “were not meant to be supported directly by the articles published in AJOT.” Both of these sound good superficially since OTConnections is an informal chat space and not an academic journal. However, a review of the transcript  showed that Dr. Braveman’s statements in the forum contradicted these plausible-sounding explanations several times over. I deal with these explanations in-depth in my post titled “My Response to Dr. Braveman's Dec. 7, 2012 Comments” posted on under the AOTA tab.

          Another superficially plausible  explanation was that he was either thinking off the top of his head, or off the cuff, suggesting that, therefore, his statements should not be considered as well-formed and finally thought-through statements. This issue was addressed in a post titled “In The Spirit of Gently Nudging Dr. Braveman (Part Two)” where I explained that my article dealt with three basic features of social justice where I examined his REPEATED misstatements on each one. (see “Motion 2 Ethics Revision- Social Justice,”, accessed April 10, 2013)  If you are dealing with basic features of an idea, there is no need to be thinking off the top of your head. That’s hardly an explanation for making statements that are the exact opposite of the truth. Again, it sounds like a good explanation until you review the transcript and look at the reality of his statements.

          Now Dr. Braveman advances another argument, not one dealing with his statements per se, but with a description of what I have done with (1) my “Distorted Portrayal” article and (2) my posts in the forum. This is what he said: 

          “What I object to is [Alex’s] ongoing erroneous assertion that any and all comments I have made anywhere about social justice should be compared to an annotated bibliography I posted early in the discussion AND if there are any contradictions this should be accepted ‘As evidence … that reveal that he [Dr. Braveman] did not understand the material cited in his bibliography – if we are going to assume he read it.’”(Posted by Brent Howard Braveman, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA on Wed, Apr 3 2013 7:03 PM).

          (The internal quotation there is from me.)

          Dr. Braveman's description can be broken down into three parts. He is saying that what I have done is:

1.      Taken any and all of his comments anywhere and THEN:

2.      Compared those comments to a bibliography he posted early in the discussion on OTConnections AND THEN:

3.      Concluded that any contradictions between “any and all” statements made “anywhere” and that bibliography that he posted in OTConnections are evidence that he did not read or understand the material in the bibliography.

          Put like that, one may conclude I am recklessly risking my reputation in search of any random contradiction that I can exaggerate for the sake of maligning Dr. Braveman. Such an approach would be incredibly absurd, and, of course, anyone put under that kind of scrutiny could easily be found deficient. If that is what I had done, it certainly would discredit my work. But Dr. Braveman’s statement have no basis in reality, and the documented record, once again, easily contradicts his statements. And here again Dr. Braveman gives us a clash between a set of statements that sound superficially plausible yet have no relationship to reality.

The Issue of the Bibliography

            First let’s take the issue of the bibliography. There are two bibliographies in question. The first is the one posted by Dr. Braveman on the OTConnections forum on social justice on Mon, Feb. 21 2011 7:09 PM (note that AOTA has updated its system, which has had the result of changing the originally listed date and times of the posts on Connections by advancing them a few hours). This bibliography that he posted on Connections is the one he is now claiming I am using to find contradictions. I will call this “The OTConnections Bibliography.” The second bibliography at issue is his bibliography in the “Social Justice and Resource Utilization” article he published in AJOT as part of the 2009 special social justice edition.

          As to the OTConnections Bibliography:

          One: I have NEVER referred to it in the OTConnections Forum

          Two: I NEVER referred to it in any of the three volumes of the “A Distorted Portrayal of Social Justice” article.

          Three: The only time I mentioned the OTConnections Bibliography was in an article titled “My Response to Dr. Braveman's Dec. 7, 2012 Comments.” And there I did not use it to show that he had made a statement that contradicted something contained in one of the books in his bibliography. Rather, I referred to it there to show that he contradicted himself when he defended his participation in the forum by saying that his comments were not meant to be academic. This is the extent of my comment in that article:

:::          “You [Dr. Braveman] then ended that post by including a list of academic articles [the OTConnections Bibliography], which you prefaced with the following statement:

          ‘Here is an abbreviated reading list on social justice and occupational justice. The articles in the special issue of AJOT on social justice are not all included here but can be found in the 2009 issue of AJOT cited in the 2 articles where I am lead author, available on line for AOTA members’ (‘Motion 2 Ethics Revision- Social Justice,’, Sept 25, 2011) (emphasis added).'

          Again, you [Dr. Braveman] are stating you are the ‘lead author’ on two academic articles, which are included in the list of academic articles you posted on the forum. [This makes your statements academic, contrary to your explanation].

          As can be seen, I did not reference the OTConnections Bibliography to find any fault with Dr. Braveman’s substantive statements regarding social justice.

          The bibliography I did use to find fault with his substantive statements is the one he conveniently failed to mention in the critical description of what I had done. That one is his “Resource Utilization” article found in the AJOT social justice edition. That bibliography contained four books NOT found in the OTConnections Bibliography that formed the basis of much of my analysis in the “Distorted Portrayal” article.

           Using the transcript of the social justice debate in OTConnections, I did a search for the term "bibliography," which first appeared in my December 18, 2012 announcement of my  “Distorted Portrayal” article (originally titled “The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Dr. Braveman’s Social Justice”). From that date on I have referenced the Resource Utilization Bibliography a handful of times, either referring to the article explicitly or making reference to the books in the bibliography. On a couple of occasions in March I did neither and just referred to a bibliography, which was my fault for not being explicit. I was working under the assumption that (1) after writing a three volume series in which I addressed the Resource Utilization Bibliography, (2) after writing posts in the forum naming it explicitly, and that (3) since I had never referred to the other bibliography in my articles or in the forum, that any reference to a bibliography I used to compare statements would be understood as the Resource Utilization Bibliography.

The Issue of “Any and All Comments”

          Now to the issue of the comments by Dr. Braveman. I compared his comments to the social justice literature, including four books found in the Resource Utilization Bibliography. As mentioned, the centerpiece of the “Distorted Portrayal” article is the use of oft-repeated comments dealing with three basic features of social justice.  

          One of the statements I examined was Dr. Braveman’s claim that social justice need not be problematic based on one’s political views or use over the government’s use of money. Here is one of those statements by Dr. Braveman:

           Wed. Feb. 23, 2011 11:36 PM I'll say it again ..... Social justice does not need to be problematic for anyone regardless of their political views or concerns over use of federal resources unless you want to make it so............” (see OTConnections: “Motion 2 Ethics Revision- Social Justice,” Feb. 24, 2011 9:32 PM,, accessed Sept 25, 2011) (bolded by Dr. Braveman).

          Notice he said “I’ll say it again.”  That’s because he kept repeating that statement. Also note that he is the one who bolded his statement for emphasis, not me.

          Since this is a statement he repeated and bolded, and because it goes to a basic feature of social justice, I examined it as such. How is it unfair to examine repeated statements on a basic feature of social justice? That is something Dr. Braveman has failed to explain. The rest of the analysis on the three basic features of social justice proceeds in the same fashion: I use multiple statements by Dr. Braveman that I then compare to the literature.

          In another instance I examined statements that suggested he did not read or did not understand or did not remember the books in his Resource Utilization Bibliography. That bibliography contained four books that described social justice as requiring the redistribution of wealth by the government. Since these books stated exactly this, it was difficult to explain the following multiple statements by Dr. Braveman requesting evidence for the existence of such books. First this one to Professor Carson:

                         · Feb. 22, 2011 2:09 PM: “Can you please provide a citation or reference that includes a solid explanation of a social justice philosophy or framework AND suggests that redistribution of wealth is necessary?

          Again, the reader is forced to contemplate whether that sounds like a question posed by someone who has read the books in Dr. Braveman’s bibliography. This is the sentence that followed that question:

                         · Feb. 22, 2011 2:09 PM: “I am fully willing to admit they might exist, but not in the mainstream contemporary literature on the topic and not in our Code of Ethics” (emphasis added).

          He is saying that he is willing to admit such sources “might exist,” but, as far as he is aware, these sources do not exist in the mainstream contemporary literature on social justice.

          The notion that he is not aware of them also comes through on a blog post he made that same day, where he said the following:

          “Anytime you hear someone suggest that social justice ‘demands’ redistribution of wealth or taking resources from one group to another, say ‘prove it.’ Ask the individual to identify the specific framework, philosopher, theory, or model that ‘demands’ this . . .” (see “Some Early Morning Ramblings about Social Justice and Occupational Therapy,” Feb. 22, 2011,, accessed Nov. 29, 2012).

          Why not just tell his readers about the books in his bibliography? Particularly A Theory of Justice which establishes a branch of the government called the Distributive Branch that functions to redistribute wealth through taxation to make everyone more equal. Or Social Welfare and Social Justice by Beverly and McSweeney which denigrates charity because it involves inequality and promotes the restructuring of government for the sake of distributing wealth to fund a boatload of government services.          

           That was my method in the article – the use of multiple statements on basic features of social justice to see if they made any sense. Dr. Braveman's statements rarely did.


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