Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Perfect Irony




Around 1980, when America's intellectual elite was waxing ridiculously apocalyptic about the horrors of overpopulation, many people saw nothing wrong with the idea that only the best and brightest (as determined by IQ tests) ought to be breeding. One of the most vocal proponents of this view was William Shockley, an eccentric scientist who won a Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor. He believed that people with low IQ scores ought to be given incentives not to reproduce, and he enthusiastically supported a sperm bank for genius donors to improve the human gene pool.

Fast-forward a few decades, to a time when society's values have shifted radically—when much more importance is placed on nebulous "social skills" than on academic achievement or test scores. If Shockley were unfortunate enough to be growing up today, it's likely he would get the Asperger diagnosis. Instead of being lauded as a visionary genius, he would be shunned as mentally disordered. Amidst today's mass hysteria about the horrors of autism, he would find himself described as genetically flawed and unfit to breed.

This goes to show the folly of a common argument for eugenics—the view that society has a moral duty to produce only perfect children and that we should alleviate suffering by preventing the birth of those who are "defective." Over the years, as popular prejudices have changed, society's ideas of what makes a person "defective" have varied tremendously. It all depends on who's creating the definitions. Anybody could wake up tomorrow and find that their whole family had been put in a new "defective" category.

As for the idea of perfect children—WTF? Are you perfect? Know anyone who is? Show me a guy who thinks he's perfect, and I'll show you a shrink who will be quick to diagnose him with an ego disorder.

While wandering around the Web recently, I came across yet another forum where ignorant people were talking about eugenics. One guy argued, in all apparent seriousness, that anyone wearing "coke-bottle lenses" should not reproduce because their children would suffer just like they did. Of course, that's total nonsense in this age of laser vision correction, disposable contact lenses, and new composite materials for ultra-thin eyeglasses. Nobody has worn "coke-bottle lenses" in quite a long time. But that's precisely where the twisted logic of "perfect children" leads: to a world where anyone who wears eyeglasses can expect the Eugenics Police to come knocking on their door and take them away for sterilization.

And what's more, it's our differences and imperfections that drive our technological progress, not our similarities. None of these new technologies for improving vision, which also have valuable industrial applications, would exist if we had eugenically screened out the nearsighted. Indeed, if our ethics never had evolved beyond the ancient practice of leaving "defective" children in the forest for the wolves, our medical science might not have progressed beyond the most basic Bronze Age remedies. We certainly wouldn't have invented computers, traveled to the moon, and decoded the human genome if our species had consisted of a stagnant monoculture who considered it their civic duty to kill off anyone who deviated from a narrow norm.

Perfection? Not my idea of it.

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85 Comments:

  • I started to read "Broken Genius" (the story of William Shockley) last week and I hope I can finish it soon. From what I've gathered, he really didn't invent the transistor by himself and his contribution may have been more managerial.

    He accomplished plenty on his won and probably was a 'genius' but the two scientist in his lab deserved more credit than they received.

    Maybe they weren't assertive enough and uncomfortable with conflict, as some geeky electronic engineers tend to be. Wouldn't it be ironic if he rode on aspie coat tails?

    By Blogger notmercury, at 12:04 PM  

  • One guy argued, in all apparent seriousness, that anyone wearing "coke-bottle lenses" should not reproduce because their children would suffer just like they did. Of course, that's total nonsense in this age of laser vision correction, disposable contact lenses, and new composite materials for ultra-thin eyeglasses.

    Ah, but that's the argument of the eugenecists. Namely, that the guy with coke-bottle lenses would have had much lower odds to survive/reproduce if not for modernity. In other words, they would argue, we're messing with natural selection by fixing such problems. Frankly, I think this is a plausible argument which cannot just be brushed aside. But I think the argument is flawed in that modernity does not mess with natural selection (where eugenics, on the other hand, does mess with natural selection). What has changed is the environment. The way the modern environment works, natural selection is still functioning perfectly fine. It's just that "fitness" is evaluated differently in this environment.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 1:05 PM  

  • The late nobel prize winning geek James Watson was another supporter of neo-eugenics - a frightening advocate for aborting genetically tested fetuses given he discovered DNA and also had a son with Asperger's Syndrome.

    Anyway, relating to this topic, this essay by Majia Nadesan may interest you (I'm reading her book at the moment):

    http://www.case.edu/affil/sce/Texts_2005/Autism%20and%20Representation%20Nadesan.htm

    Wasalaam

    TMA

    By Blogger Julaybib, at 2:53 PM  

  • Joseph, the idea that humans are "messing with natural selection" by trying to keep other humans alive is flawed, because part of what humans do is keep other humans alive, that's what a social species does, and humans have been assisting disabled people who would clearly die without assistance since probably before we were technically human.

    Maybe I'm more aware of the disturbingness of the argument that you want to "brush aside" because I know so many people who were the first generation ever of people with their particular impairments (which vary) to survive to adulthood. Some of them were the first person ever, for that matter. And a lot of them have kids, I find any argument against that to be very personal against those specific people (and would defy anyone to say it to their faces).

    By Blogger ballastexistenz, at 3:23 PM  

  • Does a perfect person assume a perfect life? What I mean by that is: Once a perfect child is chosen/generated through Eugenics (what is perfect is culturally defined) there is no guarantee that that person will have all the breaks in life.

    There will always be rich and poor, and upper and lower classes even if everybody on the planet were blond haired and blue eyed with perfect teeth. Nurture plays a stronger part in determining a persons life than nature ever will.

    In the film Gattaca there were two brothers. One was presumably "perfect" and the other was "flawed". yet the flawed brother tried harder and achieved more. Simplistic, I know.

    And I am sorry. Life is not about success, just as it is not about "being perfect". There is and will always be struggle and difference, and that is what makes life difficult, interesting and worth living.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 5:53 PM  

  • Joseph and Amanda: the whole notion of "interfering with natural selection" is based on a fundamental confusion between evolutionary theory and the now-discarded, pre-scientific notion of the "ladder of progress" which was just a pseudoscientific version of the "great chain of being" concept from medieval theology. Evolution is simply not a matter of species gradually converging to some sort of Platonic ideal forms. What's "fit" in one environment may well be "unfit" in another (for example, there's quite a bit of evidence that Type 2 diabetes is the result of a genotype that's beneficial in an environment where food is scarce (which has been the case for most of the planet for most of history) but detrimental when food is plentiful).

    By Blogger ebohlman, at 6:15 PM  

  • I said it should *not* be brushed aside, meaning it's a convincing-sounding pro-eugenics argument, so it needs to be rebutted and argued (as Amanda and Ebohlman have done).

    By Blogger Joseph, at 6:25 PM  

  • "In other words, they would argue, we're messing with natural selection by fixing such problems."

    It is natural selection which provides us with the larger brain which enables us to go beyond nature. There is a higher survival percentage being able to adapt ourself to the environment, and then - short term - to adapt the environment to suit us. Unfortunately, longterm, this ability to adapt the environment to us is going to destroy the planet and so us.

    We must, now that we have evolved beyond nature, make the conscious choice to go back to nature. How does this relate to Eugenics? We must choose NOT to selective screen out (except situations where pregnancy and birth would be terminal for either mother or child) "genetically inappropriate" children.

    Just because we have the ability to judge does not mean we have the right.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 2:25 AM  

  • Now for the Socratic argument:

    Then again I was arguing ideologically, and the ideology does not always fit the reality. As I said, I felt prescreening was useful and necessary in preventing serious problems.

    So the reality is not always that simple. I believe autism is not so serious that it warrants action. However, I know of a case wher the mother and child had not been properly screened and it was found very late in the pregnancy that the child would be born with severe spinabifada (sp?). Essentially the child would be born with the brain outside its body and no chance to live.

    So what happens.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 2:45 AM  

  • Mankind evolved disabled, meaning we don't fit any niche, so we adapt ourselves to fit nature or nature to fit us.

    We have no fur, so we make our own clothes. We are born underdeveloped with huge heads on which bodies dangle. We have no useful claws so we have to make weapons. We can't run worth a damn, or really swim very well, or climb trees, so we have to exist periferally in all environments.

    Amanda is right. And, though she may disagree, I think she is saying our sense of social responsibility is our strongest and most useful feature. If we didn't take care of each other we would be doomed.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 3:30 AM  

  • NM: I wouldn't be at all surprised if the invention of the transistor was a multi-aspie effort. :)

    Julaybib: I agree with you, James Watson was another eugenics supporter who might have found himself on the wrong end of a diagnosis if he were growing up today. And Majia Nadesan does a very good job of explaining why the so-called autism epidemic is just mass hysteria.

    Joseph, Amanda, Ebohlman and Neuro Diver: Anyone who thinks we all ought to be robust cavemen with strong fangs, or whatever, is seriously confused. By their logic, our ancestors never should have started using fire to heat their huts or cook their food because that improved the survival chances of the weaker members of the tribe. Apparently their ideal human is a naked savage in a wilderness, perfectly adapted to his environment. And that makes no sense at all, because even the simplest animals change their environment to make survival easier, such as by digging burrows or building nests.

    By Blogger abfh, at 9:16 AM  

  • Apparently their ideal human is a naked savage

    That would be my ideal woman :)

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 10:15 AM  

  • "NM: I wouldn't be at all surprised if the invention of the transistor was a multi-aspie effort. :)"

    Some of the greatest minds are ND. There has to be something different about a genius or we all would be one.

    "And Majia Nadesan does a very good job of explaining why the so-called autism epidemic is just mass hysteria."

    I wouldn't put any store in the words of this person:

    Outlining "constructing autism" by Majia Nadesan.

    "Following Hacking's vocabulary, I argue that autism is an interactive kind and that individuals labeled autistic are fundamentally transformed by that labeling and the subsequent interventions that follow, leading to what Hacking has described as the looping effect."

    This assumption is highly offensive to autistics and parents' of autistics. What an idiot! She is a waste of a good pair of shoes and an education. I belive she wrote this book for the money, as she knows sweet FA about autism. She should consider writing Sci-Fi novels, or communication studies, her so called major (probably bluffed her way through that).

    By Blogger Kevin_1000, at 10:52 AM  

  • For anyone with additional interest in the topic, the term for the supposed "relaxation" of natural selection is dysgenics. There's some discussion in the Talk Page of the Wikipedia article I just linked. There seem to be two writers who actively argue that eugenics is a good thing because it's the opposite of dysgenics: Richard Lynn and Marian Van Court. One of their data points, a supposed decrease in genotypic intelligence over time, seems to contradict what is known about the Flynn effect and increase in head circumference. Either way, I would note that if decreased IQ is where natural selection is taking us, then that's where we're supposed to go. It would simply mean intelligence as measured by IQ tests is not ensuring good reproductibility going forward.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 10:56 AM  

  • Hi abfh-
    This is really interesting. As an extremely myopic person, I remember sitting in High School biology class and having my teacher ask who wore contacts and/or glasses to please raise their hands. (This was during a lesson on Darwinism, no I did not grow up in the Bible Belt.)
    We nervously raised our hands, me and all my glasses-wearing classmates. She told us we probably would not have survived in prehistoric times, since we wouldn't have made good hunters, and would not have been able to see predatory animals like saber toothed tigers until it was too late. In short, we were basically defective. In all fairness, the teacher also wore glasses and said she would have been dead meat, too!
    This lesson stuck with me, obviously, since it has been, oh, about 29 years since I sat in Mrs. Sinclair's room. I remember thinking how lucky I was that I did not live in prehistoric times.
    Makes me wonder how people will feel about autism in a couple thousand years.

    By Blogger Soapbox mom, at 11:44 AM  

  • Joseph: "... intelligence as measured by IQ tests is not ensuring good reproductibility going forward."

    Actually, you're quite accurate on that notion.

    This is not because intelligence tests are no good whatsoever, but rather because their range of convenience is very limited. They have a moderate correlation with academic results, but it is not possible to use them for any form of eugenic endeavour. Nor is that why Binet devised the first test.

    In fact... despite his caveat that these things should not be taken as a measure of a person's intellectual worth, Binet's invention has been hijacked by many types of abuse of the 'IQ-test' (e.g., as a measure of a person's worth by eugenicists), and the notion that someone would be seen only as their IQ would have mortified Binet.

    He'd have hated it.

    And I'd have supported his hate of it.

    Oh, and kevin_1000:

    "This assumption is highly offensive to autistics and parents' of autistics."

    Care to show how? Like, with a real literary criticism... not just a peurile tirade based on an intense desire to deliver an ad hominem attack?

    "What an idiot!"

    Same could be said of you....

    "She is a waste of a good pair of shoes and an education."

    Maybe you were that, too....

    "I belive she wrote this book for the money, as she knows sweet FA about autism."

    She probably knows more about autism than you know about how to spell 'believe'... it would seem.

    "She should consider writing Sci-Fi novels, or communication studies, her so called major (probably bluffed her way through that)."

    And you graduated in what? From where? Or are you a bluffer, too?

    David N. Andrews MEd (no, not a bluff)
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:34 PM  

  • This assumption is highly offensive to autistics and parents' of autistics.

    The assumption that a label can deeply affect a person's life after receiving a label? I don't see why that would be either offensive or implausible.

    I've tried to imagine how my life would've been different had I received an ASD label as a young child. I'm sure it would've been quite different.

    There is such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy. And that's one of the things those of us who are parents should be mindful about.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 1:36 PM  

  • Joseph,

    It's not the labelling I'm referring to, it's the "loop effect".

    Here is the link:
    http://www.case.edu/affil/sce/Texts_2005/Autism%20and%20Representation%20Nadesan.htm

    Anyway, you shouldn't have a label if you don't have a disability.

    There are millions of NDs out there without labels. I might be one.

    By Blogger Kevin_1000, at 4:07 PM  

  • Mr Andrews,

    Have a look at the link.

    I don't need to show the letters after my name to make a point and I certainly don't BELIEVE everythimg someone says just because they have letters after their name, pending or not.

    By Blogger Kevin_1000, at 4:24 PM  

  • Kevin_1000: What do you find offensive about the idea of a loop effect? Like Joseph, I understood that to mean a self-fulfilling prophecy created by a label. For example, teenagers who have been labeled autistic may decide to study computer engineering because of the stereotype that autistics are technologically gifted and are particularly talented with computers. This in turn would reinforce the stereotype as the percentage of autistics in computer-related careers increased.

    In response to your comment that "you shouldn't have a label if you don't have a disability," it's certainly true that labels often unreasonably stigmatize people as lacking in ability, when they are not. But it's also true that society's concepts of disability have changed over time and that people who "have a disability" may be more capable than they are thought to be.

    By Blogger abfh, at 5:16 PM  

  • The comment "you shouldn't have a label if you don't have a disability" is something that JBJr. has said before. It's trully remarkable how alike you think.

    Anyway, it's not correct. Being black is not a disability, yet the label "black" has some usefulness. There are many such labels for non-disabilities. Labels were not invented to classify disabilities, obviously.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 6:29 PM  

  • Incidentally, even without the label I went into computer science :)

    But an even more dramatic example might be parents who are told "your son is autistic - institutionalize him." The child is institutionalized as a result. When the child grows up, let's say his "outcome" is "very poor". (Very few instituionalized persons manage to get out, I believe, and let's not pretend instituionalization has no effect on a person). Perhaps without the label and prognosis, the child's future might have been different.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 6:41 PM  

  • "Anyway, you shouldn't have a label if you don't have a disability."

    Some labels though come with a fluctuation in ability. Does that mean you lose the label each time you perform to a certain level.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:05 PM  

  • Good point Anonymous.

    By Blogger Ed, at 8:48 PM  

  • kevin_1000: "Have a look at the link.

    I don't need to show the letters after my name to make a point and I certainly don't BELIEVE everythimg someone says just because they have letters after their name, pending or not."

    I was referring to your attack on Majia Nadesan. Remember what you posted: "What an idiot! She is a waste of a good pair of shoes and an education. I belive she wrote this book for the money, as she knows sweet FA about autism. She should consider writing Sci-Fi novels, or communication studies, her so called major (probably bluffed her way through that)".

    She probably knows more than you do about autism. Especially given the lack of knowledge about autism demonstrated by the vast majority of those who hang around as buddies of JBJr.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:26 AM  

  • Joseph,

    In discussing "labels" you use the example of being black. I considered using this example myself. However I think it is a bit innacurate. It is a question of what a label is and how it is used. A label is a negative thing. A label is meant to disenfranchise and disempower.

    "Black" is a state of being. "Black" is not a label. The label for "black" may be the "n" word.

    Just as "autistic" or "aspie" should not be "labels". "Autistic" is not a bad word or a necessarily bad thing. The "label" for "autistic" may be "disability". The word "disability" in describing

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 3:09 AM  

  • Joseph,

    In discussing "labels" you use the example of being black. I considered using this example myself. However I think it is a bit innacurate. It is a question of what a label is and how it is used. A label is a negative thing. A label is meant to disenfranchise and disempower.

    "Black" is a state of being. "Black" is not a label. The label for "black" may be the "n" word.

    Just as "autistic" or "aspie" should not be "labels". "Autistic" is not a bad word or a necessarily bad thing. The "label" for "autistic" may be "disability". The word "disability" in describing problems specifically, and only problems, which is unfairly biased when looking at autism, describes only inability and takes away opportunities.

    You look at "David N. Andrews, MEd". A Masters in Education is not a small thing, and this does not describe disability, yet as I understand it, David Andrews is autistic.

    What I don't understand is this exchange between this Kevin-1000 and David Andrews. Kevin-1000 is clearly abusive, using insult to make his points. Kevin-1000, who seems to have no valid points, should not be addressed or acknowleged. It muddies up this blog.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 3:23 AM  

  • By the way, who is Majia Nadesan and what did she write? Could someone sensible answer this question. I learn nothing from insults and counter-insults.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 3:29 AM  

  • "Some labels though come with a fluctuation in ability. Does that mean you lose the label each time you perform to a certain level."

    Of course not.

    Labels are more specific to the medical profession in diagnosing a condition in order to help the person with the disability. The label should not be used in any way to impede the rights of the diabled person.

    By Blogger Kevin_1000, at 4:05 AM  

  • David/Neuro Diver,

    Take a look at the link.

    By Blogger Kevin_1000, at 4:06 AM  

  • Joseph,

    To use a label in a negative way is discrimination.

    By Blogger Kevin_1000, at 4:14 AM  

  • Joseph,

    To use a label in a negative way is discrimination.

    By Blogger Kevin_1000, at 4:14 AM  

  • "Perhaps without the label and prognosis, the child's future might have been different."

    In my case that would be impossible. My child has special needs and therefore goes to a school that can cater for those needs.

    I fail to see how the parents of a child would not want a label to help their child, especially if they have been told they're heading for institutionalsation in later life. There obviously is a problem.

    As for institutionalisation. That will never happen to my child, even if someone were to recommend it.

    By Blogger Kevin_1000, at 4:38 AM  

  • This is the part that seems to have pissed kevin_100 off:

    "Following Hacking's vocabulary, I argue that autism is an interactive kind and that individuals labeled autistic are fundamentally transformed by that labeling and the subsequent interventions that follow, leading to what Hacking has described as the looping effect."

    ABFH and Joseph have already seen this as describing what social psychologists (and some educational psychologists) call the 'self-fulfilling prophecy'. The author is not a psychologist, but instead is a communications major and an associate professor of communication studies. As such, it is not unexpected that her vocabulary for describing the phenomena she investigates to be at an apparent variance with those of others investigating similar issues.

    I have experienced this issue of being pushed into my being autistic becoming a self-fulfulling prophecy (or 'interactive kind', as the author uses Hacking's vocabulary) first hand. And it is not the autism that does that: it is systems and people.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:39 AM  

  • kevin_1000: "As for institutionalisation. That will never happen to my child, even if someone were to recommend it."

    This I can honestly say I am glad to read. This is a point on which you and JBJr definitely differ.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:45 AM  

  • abfh,

    The 'loop effect', as I deciphered from all the waffle, was implying that the biological causes of autism were being perpeptuated through intervention.

    By Blogger Kevin_1000, at 4:46 AM  

  • David,

    Thank you for explaining the author Majia Nadesan. I agree with her that "individuals labeled autistic are fundamentally transformed by that labeling and the subsequent interventions that follow". But I don't agree with everything, and I don't believe the word in and of itself creates these things. There is a social pressure that disenfranchises people based on words, based upon perceptions which have nothing to do with the person but which have to do with the words.

    It makes sense that having a diagnosis of autism in adulthood would start to make sense of one's past and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I understand that with early diagnosis an autistic child can get the assistance they need. I also know that with misunderstanding parents, those parents can drive that child to become "disabled" if they do not understand autism. I understand what it means to tell a child "You will never be normal. You will never walk and talk normally" because that has happened to me.

    Does that mean I have given up? Have I said "Institutionalize me now because there is no point to strive for achievement in life!" because life would be so much easier if other people would take the burdon of my life. Well, yes. But that hasn't worked and that really isn't desirable. I don't suppose we make these choices all the time.

    The "label" also helps one become comfortable with themselves, because then they believe they can begin to understand who they are and what they can do. But the "lable" is not "autism". The lable is "disabled".

    So we have me, who was tormented in the school and went through life with this idea in my head that it was because I was "disabled", but never being sure what that meant or how that broke down into percieved difference and ability. I use the words "strive" and "achieve" because I felt then I had something to prove, to both myself and to others.

    Am I smarter than most? Possibly. Have I tried to be? Yes, because in my experience most people were stupid bullies and I didn't want to be like that. Have I travelled more than most people and seen more and done more. Yes, certainly. Why? Because I believed I had a label. Other people labled me as a "retard" and so I labeled myself and fought against that label.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 5:25 AM  

  • The reason I made offensive comments about Maj was because of her presumption that, I, as a parent of an autistic will contribute to the biological effect of his autism through intervention(looping effect). How would she know what interventions I do with my child anyway.

    By Blogger Kevin_1000, at 8:15 AM  

  • "I understand what it means to tell a child "You will never be normal. You will never walk and talk normally" because that has happened to me."

    What kind of 'monster' would say this to a child?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:31 AM  

  • Kevin_1000: I don't believe Majia Nadesan is using the word "intervention" to describe only the choices made by parents. I think it's being used much more broadly, to include all the ways in which society reacts to the presence of those who are labeled autistic, either by trying to change them or by making assumptions that constrain their choices.

    As for why some parents would not want a label to help their child, it often comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. That is, will the label help the child (through access to services) more than it will harm the child (by making the child vulnerable to discrimination and the negative "disabled" self-image that Neuro Diver describes). This depends on the child's particular needs and the availability of services.

    By Blogger abfh, at 9:33 AM  

  • You know, abfh,

    I wonder about this negative self image. If one has the ability "to do" stuff but parents or society hold one back through either being overprotective or just small minded then will one fight against the status quo which is against them or will one just "give in".

    I noticed that when I was meek and willing to accept an unfulfilled life things were much easier for me. When I realized that I had skills and abilities and the right to be treated like a human being people started fighting against me, trying to ruin my opertunities and the harder I worked and the more I achieved the more people tried to hurt me.

    Well I have to say to all the status quo monkeys out there, "My life is fulfilled. I am happy. The status quo is crap and normal is an illusion."

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 12:12 PM  

  • A controversial way to interpret Majia Nadesan might be that autistiic children are put through ABA, and ABA can subsequently cause PTSD. (There are a few anecdotal accounts to that effect, although ABA has never been tested in strictly controlled conditions against lack of treatment, particularly in regards to how it affects a child's stress).

    By Blogger Joseph, at 1:22 PM  

  • Joseph,

    Yes, that would be very controversial.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:02 PM  

  • David,

    I believe u and nuero diver are the same person. What's worrying is that u are having a conversation with yourself....hmm!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:05 PM  

  • We are not. But thanks for the compliment.

    I think your problem, anonymouse is that you are one of those status quo monkeys who cannot concieve of "success" and "difference" together.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 2:11 PM  

  • TND: "I noticed that when I was meek and willing to accept an unfulfilled life things were much easier for me. When I realized that I had skills and abilities and the right to be treated like a human being people started fighting against me, trying to ruin my opertunities and the harder I worked and the more I achieved the more people tried to hurt me."

    I'm going through this very problem just now. I think that you and I probably have a lot in common. It seems to be the price of failing to live down to expectations.

    For trying to break out of what Hacking's vocabulary calls an 'interactive kind', and what we in social and educational psychology call a 'self-fulfilling prophecy'.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:19 PM  

  • anonymous: "David,

    I believe u and nuero diver are the same person. What's worrying is that u are having a conversation with yourself....hmm!"

    Heh.

    I can definitely assure you that The Neuro Diver and I are not the same person.

    I have a feeling I do know that person though.

    If it is who I think it is, I have probably gone for a beer with him during a conference one time. You need to ask The Neuro Diver, to be honest.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:23 PM  

  • TND: "Am I smarter than most? Possibly. Have I tried to be? Yes, because in my experience most people were stupid bullies and I didn't want to be like that."

    Well, I'm used to doing both qualitative and quantitative assessments of this sort of issue... I can relate to the bullying issue, for sure.

    TND: "Have I travelled more than most people and seen more and done more. Yes, certainly."

    I love travel memoires. If every you and I are in the same continent, it would be nice to share stories...

    TND: "Why? Because I believed I had a label. Other people labled me as a "retard" and so I labeled myself and fought against that label."

    This is what MHN is on about with the 'looping' that Hacking's vocabulary includes. Adler used to call it an 'inferiority complex' (a term much misused after Adler's death by pseudo-intellectuals who have no clue what Adler really meant by it, but prefer to bastardise the term as an insult). Seems like you were able to break the loop there... not easy when others will not let you.

    Well done, sincerely.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:31 PM  

  • From Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley.

    He was still two standard deviations higher than average; he just was not, according to Lewis Terman, a genius. Later in life Bill joked often about how he could not qualify for Terman's gifted study, yet could still win a Nobel Prize in physics.

    That he subsequently used the same IQ tests as the basis for his unpopular beliefs about race and intelligence never seemed to vex him, nor did the fact the he was living proof the tests should not be taken too seriously. The irony was lost on him.


    More on Lewis Terman
    http://autismdiva.blogspot.com/2006/01/boy-trouble.html

    By Blogger notmercury, at 5:51 PM  

  • IQ in terms of autism is irrelevant. How can you explain to a child that there having an IQ test when they cannot communicate. The result will always be zero.

    I suppose this would separate the high functioning from the low. That is the only use of this test.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:17 PM  

  • ND,

    "I think your problem, anonymouse is that you are one of those status quo monkeys who cannot concieve of "success" and "difference" together."

    And how did you arrive at that little gem?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:23 PM  

  • anonymous: "IQ in terms of autism is irrelevant."

    Wrong.

    Even though I have issues with testing autistics using the standard rubric of tests like, for example, the Wechsler series, if communicative ability/intent is a factor in an IQ score (as Wechsler actually did see it, under non-intellectual factors), then it will form part of the ensemblage of influences in play when it comes to dealing with learning situations. As a measure of purely intellectual ability, the result of such a test would be quite unreliable, but it would definitely have a reasonable reliability for prediction of progress in a classroom setting. Which is what the first intellectual ability tests were devised to give.

    anonymous: "How can you explain to a child that there having an IQ test when they cannot communicate."

    Usually one would use a non-verbal test, such as the Raven Progressive Matrices or the Test Of Non-verbal Intelligence... the latter of which has pantomimed instructions. When my Aspie daughter was refusing to speak with anyone but her mum and me, she was assessed using a WISC-III but the psychologist involved decided to use only the performance part of the battery, and trangulated using the Leiter.

    If an examinee were to remain non-communicative, do you really think that a psychologist would have a reason to continue the test after the first few items on each subtest? I mean, seriously... do you think s/he would? I doubt it would happen; and I certainly would not do that.

    anonymous: "The result will always be zero."

    This is a ridiculous statement, I'm afraid; too ridiculous to even be wrong. For a start, IQ results from tests of intellectual ability are scaled scores and they are given in terms of deviation from a mean score. In the case of WISC/WAIS/WASI/WPPSI, these scores have a set mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 (for the Stanfor-Binet, these values are 100 and 16 respectively), and a score of zero is practically impossible (since zero is just over 4sd below the mean... practically nobody would score it).

    Raw scores of zero are possible, but since they are not reported scores, they do not qualify as being results.

    anonymous: "I suppose this would separate the high functioning from the low."

    Wrong again. Some so-called HFA examinees will actually score quite well on general tests of ability (RPM, TONI-3, etc) but - on battery-type IQ tests like the Wechsler scales - may well fall into
    different IQ band on account, not of poor intellectual ability, but of the specificities of certain subtests (which is one way in which evidence to support diagnosis is gathered: one looks at the distribution of subtest scores for what they can tell about specific aspects of the examinee's general ability). I had an examinee whose VIQ on WASI was at least 115 (vocabulary and similarities), but his score on a version of the digit-symbol test (that had a lower cognitive load than the DSy) was about 2½sd below that VIQ score... this score (if obtained using a WAIS) could reasonably be expected to be lower because of the cognitive load involved in the DSy subtest in WAIS. Such 'rogue' scores can seriously affect general IQ scores (full-scale IQ) obtained using battery-type intelligence tests, when compared to those IQ scores obtained using general ability tests (which are highly saturated in 'g', Spearman's general intelligence factor. This is one reason why I use a WASI rather than a WAIS: it has vocabulary, similarities, block design and matrix reasoning subtests; the subtests from WAIS that are likely to artificially reduce the obtained estimate of overall intellectual ability are not part of it.

    anonymous: "That is the only use of this test."

    Wrong again... see the above note about subtest score distributions and their usefulness in gaining evidence to support diagnosis.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:34 AM  

  • David,

    This anonymous person who is trying to bug you is very likely is one of the talking monkeys from John Best's blog. There is no point trying to counter such a talking monkey because their only purpose is to say something stupid so as to stimulate counter-attack.

    I, however, appreciate all the compliments and noted similarities. I would certainly appreciate a beer with you if I am ever on the same continent. I am checking my schedual right now and will get back to you.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 3:36 AM  

  • I meant "schedule" (although it actually IS a dipthong).

    Only English would develop "phonics", a method for learning spelling, where English is one of the few languages in the world where phonics has no sensible application. There are many different sound and spelling systems in English, from Latin, French, Germanic, Scandinavian, Greek... and because England is an island the different systems just go in there and solidify. No wonder we can't spell and it is so hard for non native speakers to learn the language.

    This has nothing to do with Eugenics (although with a bit of work one might argue a periferal(sp? :)) connection). However, just in case this blog degrades into iq and spelling mistakes :)

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 5:03 AM  

  • Andrews;
    If you have to use the Raven test, it means you have a disability that needs to be cured. Your Raven makes as much sense as inventing tests specifically designed to show that everyone(even pending psychologists) has the same intellectual ability. This sham of making people think they're much more intelligent than they truly are harms disabled people by preventing them from realizing their full potential. You should be ashamed of yourself for perpetuating this hoax that celebrates mediocrity.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 7:50 AM  

  • David, before you respond to Mr. Best remember this:

    "There is no point trying to counter such a talking monkey because their only purpose is to say something stupid so as to stimulate counter-attack."

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 11:08 AM  

  • Neurodiver;
    When you're cured, you might be able to recognize stupidity.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 11:20 AM  

  • Oh boy! How could a person resist responding to this?! For a man who professed to me (and many others on AutAdvo) that he had a BA with a major in psychology... well, can't have been much of a university or college if this is his understanding of one of the major themes in psychology! Holy shit, this is priceless! I know Finnish people whose third language is English, and who can understand English language texts far better than our chum Professor Best here can manage!

    Best: "If you have to use the Raven test, it means you have a disability that needs to be cured."

    How do you work that out? That isn't even logical! Firstly... if I use the test, it means I'm administering the thing to someone else. Secondly, the Raven Progressive Matrices has been around at least as long as the Wechsler Scales (and may even predate them). Thirdly, the use - in any (mis)understanding of the word - of the Raven Progressive Matrices is not indicative of any disability status whatsoever (as anyone who has studied psychology at undergraduate level would know).

    Best: "Your Raven makes as much sense as inventing tests specifically designed to show that everyone(even pending psychologists) has the same intellectual ability."

    Fourthly, the Raven Progressive Matrices are not designed to show that everyone has the same level of intellectual ability! No standardised ability test could possibily be designed with that objective in mind!

    Best: "This sham of making people think they're much more intelligent than they truly are harms disabled people by preventing them from realizing their full potential."

    Fifthly, there is no sham involved, as you describe it. There is, however, a serious sham involved in this whole chelation for autism rubbish that Professor Best here spouts with amazing regularity.

    Best: "You should be ashamed of yourself for perpetuating this hoax that celebrates mediocrity."

    Talk about projection! LoL

    John, a word of advice, yeh? When you post something, make sure that your facts really are facts (rather than, say, wishful thinking, or even outright bollocks!). At this point in time, you are beating Tony Blair for Idiot of the Year 2006! I mean... shitting Norah! Even Finland's Tony Halme demonstrates a better intellectual functioning than you do at this point. This is pretty poor showing, man... you're supposed to have a BA degree, with a major in psychology, and you don't even know what was wrong with your post?! Hell... I don't want to know what you did to get that degree! :/

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    PS- checked out the dates of the Wechsler Scales and the RPM... and yes, the RPM predates WAIS's predecessor (the Wechsler Bellevue) by one year; RPM predates WAIS by 16 years.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:33 PM  

  • There is nothing compromising about modifying tests to accomodate certain needs - it is not like you are giving the person the answer. For example - when my son's verbal skills were "tested" he shut down shortly into the test and refused to interact. The speech therapist counted all the unanswered questions against his score. Didn't make any sense really but it probably provided for more services but certainly not for accuracy.

    LB

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:55 PM  

  • TND: "I would certainly appreciate a beer with you if I am ever on the same continent. I am checking my schedual right now and will get back to you."

    Looking forward to it.

    I get the feeling that you have taught English either as a Second Language or as a Literary Skills issue... the reference you make to dipthongs and English as a hard language to learn. I run an English language discussion group at the local adult education college here, and the things that most English-speakers say about Finnish ("it's bloody 'ard!")... the Finnish actually say about English "hitto, ku' on vaikkee!"... need I say more?! :P

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:58 PM  

  • LB: "There is nothing compromising about modifying tests to accomodate certain needs - it is not like you are giving the person the answer."

    Absolutely. It's merely accommodation. Part of the practitioner research I'm slowly doing is modification of test rubrics to enable access to a reasonably fair assessment when using standardised tests which, by definition, are not fair.

    LB: "For example - when my son's verbal skills were 'tested' he shut down shortly into the test and refused to interact."

    In that case, the therapist had no business going on with the test. That protocol is invalid and a proper administration should be arranged so that you son's verabl skills can be assessed more accurately.

    LB: "The speech therapist counted all the unanswered questions against his score."

    Like I said... invalid protocol, and should not have been seen as anything other than a spoiled script/record form.

    LB: "Didn't make any sense really but it probably provided for more services but certainly not for accuracy."

    Indeed...

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:04 PM  

  • "verabl skills"->"verbal skills" ... I type too fast when I get going....

    DNA-MEd-AEP
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:21 PM  

  • "One guy argued, in all apparent seriousness, that anyone wearing "coke-bottle lenses" should not reproduce because their children would suffer just like they did."

    Ha! If this were the law, half of Hollywood would be childless.

    Think all of them were born with those perfect noses? ;-)

    By Blogger Attila The Mom, at 6:36 PM  

  • Andrews, You missed the point.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 6:38 PM  

  • Best: "Andrews, You missed the point."

    No I didn't.

    You didn't have one to make.

    You never do.

    Except maybe that your mercury obsession has destroyed your mind and your ability to reason; and that this loss of reasoning skills has led you to take a course of action that most parents would not take; and that the only thing you have to back up your arguments (in the absence of serious, scientific evidence) is your aggressive behaviour towards people who disagree with you (to the point where you have labelled everyone who refuses - quite intelligently in light of the bullshit involved in the theory behind it - to chelate their children (for non-presenting mercury poisoning) as 'child abusers'.

    Unless you're referring to that set of points (which I think that everyone here gets, me included), you haven't actually made a sensible point yet.

    You seem to be the one incapable of 'getting the point'.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:50 AM  

  • Oh!

    Poor John Best...

    He'll get upset if he feels I short-changed him... I owe him something... a closing parenthesis!

    )

    There.

    DNA-MEd-AEP
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:02 AM  

  • Andrews;
    Someday, if you're lucky, you'll learn something that is not in a textbook. You are a pathetic excuse for a psychologist. You'll fit right in with all the other "experts" who abuse children by refusing to help them remove the poison that is frying their brains.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 2:36 AM  

  • Again I advise you not to respond to Foresam (John Best). He is a troll and says things to incite people. He does not care if he is right or wrong or how stupid he appears. Foresam is a troll. You cannot embarass or anger him. He is only fishing for ANY response so he can disrupt the thread.

    I apologise. This has nothing to do with Eugenics. But this does:

    Eugenics cannot prevent negative character traits from developing. Eugenics cannot prevent a troll.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 2:48 AM  

  • "Eugenics cannot prevent a troll."

    LOL.

    Maybe, one of these days, the scientists will discover a particular set of genes that is responsible for trollishness. And then we'll end up defending the right of trolls to exist.

    By Blogger abfh, at 4:04 AM  

  • Fore Skin: "Andrews;
    Someday, if you're lucky, you'll learn something that is not in a textbook."

    LoL... Oh boy... Fore Skin loses his rag again. I learn by doing research. Some of it is from textbooks, and some of it is from practitioner research (which is subject to as much academic rigour as empirical research is). You don't learn, period.

    Fore Skin: "You are a pathetic excuse for a psychologist."

    Back to insults, I see.

    Fore Skin: "You'll fit right in with all the other 'experts' who abuse children by refusing to help them remove the poison that is frying their brains."

    Chelation, as a treatment for autism, is completely bogus. You won't find me chelating my daughter. Whatever it is that pushes you to chelate your son is not rational, and nor is it good practice. Your choice, sure; but not mine.

    As for my standing as a psychologist... people here go to the health-care lot, find them wanting, and come to me. And I get things done.

    Say what you like... there's the difference between me 'n' thee, Skin... I get things done. You just get people in pleats! Ever thought about a career in comedy?

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:47 AM  

  • An extremely wise man (I presume maleness, since TND refers to having a wife) once said:

    "Eugenics cannot prevent negative character traits from developing. Eugenics cannot prevent a troll."

    I think that eugenics actually causes trollistic spectrum disorders.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:49 AM  

  • ABFH herself:"Maybe, one of these days, the scientists will discover a particular set of genes that is responsible for trollishness. And then we'll end up defending the right of trolls to exist."

    Oh shit... NO-O-O-O!!!!!!!

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:05 AM  

  • A question re Eugenics: Do bad attitudes have a right to exist, ie are people allowed to think negative things if their actions hurt and disturb? I once read a poem that says that able bodied people own the world because they are not "disabled" and disabled people were miserable so the able bodied person should feel good about themselves because the other person was miserable. Well, if someone came up to me and said "I feel so lucky and happy because my life is not as horrible as yours," I would be really pissed off. I would say that person had no right to think that way.

    So the question: Can we genetically screen out bullies? Should we if we could?

    Should we screen out evil?

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 7:10 AM  

  • Aqualung;
    Calling a treatment that is curing kids bogus proves that you are a simpleton who needs to be chelated ASAP.
    Leaving poison in a child's brain is insane.

    By Blogger Fore Sam, at 8:44 AM  

  • ForeSkin: "Aqualung;
    Calling a treatment that is curing kids bogus proves that you are a simpleton who needs to be chelated ASAP."

    I gave you a chance to demonstrate properly that it is doing what you say it is, but you refused to take that chance: one of two reasons... pick one...

    1) you don't know how to do a simple piece of parent action research (shameful for someone professing to have a BA in psychology) - that is: Johnny-boy is not a BA psychology major

    2) you daren't do a simple piece of parent action research because you know it will shoot down your belief system - that is: chelation for autism is seriously bogus

    ForeSkin: "Leaving poison in a child's brain is insane."

    Prove that the poison is actually there... you can't, so I win.

    Grow up, John.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:53 AM  

  • David,

    RE: IQ.

    It's like for like, otherwise you're discriminating.

    You sure do like to hear yourself talk. So much so, you invented the neuro diver.

    Do you have a job yet. Or are you still a clingon at the university?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:35 AM  

  • Some nameless loser: "RE: IQ. It's like for like, otherwise you're discriminating."

    Wrong. The test has to be accessible or it shouldn't be used.

    Some nameless loser: "You sure do like to hear yourself talk. So much so, you invented the neuro diver."

    What a loser. I didn't invent the neuro diver, and it's certainly not me. You have to invent stuff, tho... silly little theories like that, for example.

    Some nameless loser: "Do you have a job yet. Or are you still a clingon at the university?"

    I'm teaching part time at an adult education college, and looking for a PhD place. I'm also consultant to a few committees and to an educational company. I'm also in private practice. You're a loser.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:43 AM  

  • "So the question: Can we genetically screen out bullies? Should we if we could?

    Should we screen out evil?"


    Great question!

    My answer is no, for several reasons. First, we don't understand enough about the human genome to know what the implications of screening out any set of traits might be. Some of the bully genes could have useful functions, such as an aggressive drive to succeed; without them, we might all end up as meek little mousy folks with no ambition. Also, bullying and evil are social constructs. One society's evil and greedy bully is another society's rugged capitalist hero. And even if we all could agree on a consensus definition of a bully, it's likely that some of their behavior has environmental causes, and they'd be much improved if they had better parenting, education, diet, exercise, and so forth.

    In short, neurodiversity includes everyone. Even bullies.

    By Blogger abfh, at 12:38 PM  

  • ABFH: "In short, neurodiversity includes everyone. Even bullies."

    So JBJr is ND, whether he likes it or not?

    Interesting concept...

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:55 PM  

  • Look you two. Play nice. I don't like the words loser and idiot bandied about. It has nothing to do with discussion.

    David Andrews has a masters degree and is an expert in Applied Education concerning autism. Fine. I know this. As for this Foresam character whatever degree he has doesn't matter because he discredits himself when he uses insult.

    I have heard horror stories of how this Foresam character goes after vulnerable people. This is disreputable. This is monstrous. And among the autistic community there are many very intelligent yet emotionally vulnerable people. David Andrews is not one of those. I am sure he is laughing at his friends about Foresam. However...

    My point is: David Andrews qualifications and intelligence are undisputable. He should stop trying to prove himself to a character called Foresam which will never listen.

    By Anonymous The Neuro Diver, at 12:58 PM  

  • TND: "David Andrews qualifications and intelligence are undisputable. He should stop trying to prove himself to a character called Foresam which will never listen."

    Not really trying to prove myself to him, to be honest. I just love to see him try to prove himself to me... he fails miserably, and - well, I'm losing hope but I did used to think that someone with a BA in psychology and a MPA in public administration would have had something quite interesting to say.

    Sadly, though, as to JBJr's ability to listen... you're absolutely right.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:09 PM  

  • "David Andrews has a masters degree and is an expert in Applied Education concerning autism."

    That can only be you talking to yourself David. Unless TND is your siamese twin, or gay lover.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:18 PM  

  • Person with no name: "That can only be you talking to yourself David. Unless TND is your siamese twin, or gay lover."

    There is a third possibility... someone who knows me (outside of your idiotic suggestions).

    There is a fourth possibility... someone who has seen my lecture somewhere.

    Still a spineless shit, I see... you have got problems.

    See a shrink.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:12 PM  

  • David,

    I take it you only did the 1 lecture then :), with obviously only 1 person in attendance, your number 1 fan: TND.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:45 PM  

  • a spineless person: "David,

    I take it you only did the 1 lecture then :), with obviously only 1 person in attendance, your number 1 fan: TND."

    Actually, I've done quite a number of lectures; 4hrs at the University of Oulu (whilst still an undergraduate, and at the invitation of the professor), 2hrs at the University of Birmingham (again, by invitation), a full 30hrs intensive teaching in Järvenpää (by invitation of the Asperger-Patrol project director), 3hrs (by invite yet again) for Central Park Vocational Institute (in a course that I designed, where my ex taught the other stuff because my Finnish isnt yet up to a level that I feel comfy lecturing in it), and 6hrs for Kotka Town special education and disability services (I designed the course), as well as 14hrs for Kymenlaakso Summer University (another course I designed), all in addition to the conference at which TND saw me (if I get right who it is), and another conference at Oulu (both conferences were 1hr talks) and the Mensa lecture on intelligence (3hrs)... do I need to go on?

    When did you last lecture? On anything, I mean... and, no... the above is not an exhaustive list.

    David N. Andrews MEd
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:10 PM  

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