It was customary for neurosurgical societies (not CNS) to call for papers for the next Annual Meeting. The offerings were triaged by a Program Committee and the winners were awarded a place on the program. The only control exercised by the Committee was some of the following options:
- Neurosurgical icons were automatically granted a place on the program regardless of the appropriateness of the topic.
- The program time available always exceeded the number of papers offered so some papers needed to be discarded.
- Papers from a training site were usually accepted without debate if a member of the Program Committee member worked at that site (favoritism and partisanship were rampant). Sometimes rivalry between two or more site representatives resulted in scientific horse trading.
- Topics of obvious current scientific interest were selected. Some of these topics turned out to be temporary fads.
- On rare occasions, a speaker was selected by the Committee outside the freewill offerings.
- The final selection of papers served as fillers to use up the remaining program time.
- Papers originating from non-training neurosurgical practice sites were largely ignored.
The result was a program of random topics seldom related to each other and most often not related to everyday clinical practice. Sometimes the speaker had a hard time explaining how his esoteric research was related to the discipline of medicine.
The CNS decided to control the program content. A theme (or a limited number of themes) was selected for each annual meeting.
The Scientific Program Committee invited the speakers from a pool of experts nationwide (actually worldwide). The topics were slanted toward clinical neurosurgical practice. Our members were young and still learning. They needed to add to their diagnostic prowess and treatment expertise. Almost all of the early speakers were non-members, but they soon joined our ranks.
The CNS early adopted the principle of controlling the program content to promote to the intellectual growth of its members and thereby benefit individual patients and the society as a whole.