One of THOSE Discussions / God, Free Will and Absurdities

This post has gained momentum from having one of those “late night” discussions with a friend – the type that is popular when one is in college, a bit drunk (or otherwise deranged) and which, as one gets older and wiser, one vows to never again participate in. The gist of the argument was:

Determinism (God) is totally compatible with Free Will (The Declaration of Independence), so we have both.

I could stop right here, because this “set up” is thoroughly American “wacky” thinking. It demonstrates the absolute belief that “America” is a special case = exemption from reality, that was/is made possible by American Democracy (in case you weren’t aware, democracy is not a political creation of human origin) which came about by an Act of God. “Freedom” is a basic American goal: Free Will is therefore a mandatory human endowment (by virtue of the word Free appearing in both “concepts”). God created everything, so he must have created Free Will. Jesus is a kind of “sponge” that suffices to “soak up” all those bad choices Free Will allows, that is, if you turn over all your choices, decisions and Free Will to Jesus.

The irony is that this absurd, pointless discussion “cleared the air” over previously unspoken conflict with a dear friend, like blowing up the Berlin Wall; getting it out of the way, and establishing that friendship is not “rational” at all, but an agreement about what really matters; good intentions carried into actions, loyalty and a simple “rightness” – agreement on what constitutes “good behavior” on the part of human beings and a pledge of one’s best effort to stick to that behavior.

This entire HUGE neurotypical debate is nonsense.

God has nothing to do with Free Will, the Laws of physics, or any scientific pursuit of explanations for “the universe”. The whole reason for God’s existence is that He, or She, or They are totally outside the restrictions of “physical reality”. That’s what SUPERNATURAL means. So all the “word concept” machinations over “God” and “science” – from both ends of the false dichotomy – are absurd. Free Will is also a non-starter “concept” in science: reality proceeds from a complex system of “facts” and mathematical relationshipsthat cannot be “free-willed” away.

Total nonsense.

If one believes in the “supernatural” origin of the universe as a creation of supernatural “beings, forces and miraculous acts” then one does not believe in physical reality at all: “Physics” is a nonexistent explanation for existence. One can only try to coerce, manipulate, plead with, and influence the “beings” that DETERMINE human fate. Free Will is de facto an absurdity, conceived of as something like the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, (inspired by God, after all – not really by the intelligence of the people who wrote it). In American thought, (political) rights grant permission to “do whatever I want”. The concept of responsibility connected to rights has been conveniently forgotten. Free Will in this context, is nothing more than intellectual, moral and ethical “cheating”.

So, the immense, complicated, false dichotomy of Determinism vs. Free Will, and the absurd 2,000+ year old philosophical waste of time that has followed, and continues, is very simple (at least) in the U.S. 

Whatever I do, is God’s Will: Whatever you do, isn’t. 

 

 

 

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The Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Reaction / Neanderthal Myths

The “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” reaction is what happens when I read articles written for public consumption that “boil down” science for the “educated public” – those who are genuinely interested in the physical universe, but may or may not  have a science background. One of my favorite examples is how Neanderthals are “created” out of the modern social typical penchant (and temperamental obligation) to write stories (myths) from scant, contradictory or preliminary information.

Claiming that Neanderthals were "dumb" is dumb.

The claim that Neanderthals were “dumb” is dumb. Are these skulls to scale?


Science Shows Why You’re Smarter Than a Neanderthal

Neanderthal brains had more capacity devoted to vision and body control, with less left over for social interactions and complex cognition

By Joseph Stromberg Smithsonian.com March 12, 2013

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/science-shows-why-youre-smarter-than-a-neanderthal-1885827/ Full article

COMMENTS: This article hits the Whoa! Stop! barrier before getting past the subhead. “Neanderthal brains had more capacity devoted to vision and body control, with less left over for social interactions and complex cognition.”

  1. This view of the brain as having a “capacity” related to volume, like a closet that can be packed with X amount of clothing and Y amount of shoes, and if you want to add more shoes or ski equipment, you have to remove the clothes to make room, defies what we know (and brag about endlessly) about the brain: it’s built of networks that connect across regions and functions, and these are PLASTIC – what is referred to as “able to rewire itself in reaction to the environment.” This blows apart much of what the article has to say.
  2. Visual thinking is judged to be INFERIOR, low level cognition. Tell that to a raptor, such as a hawk, raven or eagle; to giant squid or octopi and the myriad species which utilize various segments of the electro-magnetic spectrum to perceive the environment. This opinion is based in ignorance and the noises made by the perpetual cheer leaders for Homo sapiens, who believe humans are the pinnacle of evolution, and therefore, whatever “we” do is de facto superior.
  3. Which brings us to the question, if human abilities are superior, why must we compensate for our lack of sensory, cognitive and physical abilities by inventing technology? The average “know-it-all” American CONSUMES the products invented and developed by a handful of creative people in each generation. Knowledge is purchased in the form of “gadgets” that for the most part, do not educate, but distract the average individual from pursuing direct experience and interaction with the environment.
  4. Which means, “we” cognitive masterminds are taking a whole lot of credit for adaptations that are INHERITED from our “inferior, stupid, ancestors” who over the previous 200,000 years, not only survived, but built the culture that made us modern humans –
  5. Which comes to the egregious error of ignoring context: Compare an imaginary modern social human who exists in a context that is utterly dependent on manmade systems that supply food, water, shelter, medical care, economic opportunity, government control, cultural benefits and instant communication with a Neanderthal (or archaic Homo sapiens) whose environment is a largely uninhabited wilderness. One of the favorite clichés of American entertainment is “Male Monsters of Survival” cast into the wilderness (with a film crew and helicopter on call) recreating the Myth of Homo sapiens, Conqueror of Nature. These overconfident males are often lucky to last a week; injuries are common, starvation the norm.
  6. If visual thinking is so inferior, why do hunters rely on airplane and helicopter “flyovers” to locate game, and now drones, and add scopes, binoculars, game cameras,  and a multitude of “sensory substitutes” to their repertoire? Ever been to a sporting goods store? They’re packed with every possible gadget that will improve the DIMINISHED senses and cognitive ability of modern social humans to function outside of manmade environments and to be successful hunters and fishermen.
  7. As for forcing Neanderthals into extinction, modern social humans could accomplish this: we have a horrific history of wiping out indigenous peoples and continue to destroy not only human groups, but hundreds of species and the environments they are adapted to. Modern social humans could bomb Neanderthals “back to the Stone Age”. Kill them off with chemical weapons, shred them with cluster bombs, the overkill of targeted assassination and nuclear weapons.
  8. BUT there is no proof that Archaic Homo sapiens “extincted” Homo Neanderthal. We know that in some areas they lived cheek by jowl, had sex and produced offspring, but modern social humans maintain that Neanderthals were so “socially stupid” that the entire species fell to the magnificence of party-hearty Homo sapiens.  Actually, a modern social human would have difficulty distinguishing the two fearsome types: the challenge may have been like distinguishing a polar bear from a grizzly bear, which are actually both brown bears adapted to different environments. rather irrelevant if you’re facing down either one with a sharp stick.
  9. The myth that Homo sapiens individuals outside of Africa “contain” a variable 1-4% of Neanderthal DNA, with  specific “snips” related to various functions in modern humans, is incomplete. Rarely included in articles about how Homo sapiens and Neanderthal are connected is whole genome sequencing results which show that overall, the Homo sapiens genome, even now, is all but identical to the Neanderthal genome. This is logical: the divergence between the common ancestor of Chimps and  African great Apes (us) occurred 5-6 m.y.a. and yet, the human and chimp genomes share 99% of our DNA. How similar then, is Neanderthal and Denisovan genome to ours? This is a simple math question.
  10. What we need to compare is the Neanderthal genome and the ARCHAIC Homo sapiens genome – two groups of humans who were contemporaries.

 

 

 

Baboons, Social Typicals, Aspergers / STRESS

The usual human approach: stress is a killer; modern social environments are high stress; lets “engineer” humans to be able to tolerate high stress. What about changing environments so that human beings experience less stress? Of course not: that would benefit the average human. This is about what the top of the hierarchy wants – change the peasants so that they can live with extreme stress –

This article has dire implications for those of us who are born “Asperger” or with other neurodiverse brain types. 

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http://www.wired.com/2010/07/ff_stress_cure/

by: Jonah Lehrer

Under Pressure: The Search for a Stress Vaccine

Excerpts: 

Baboons are nasty, brutish, and short. They have a long muzzle and sharp fangs designed to inflict deadly injury. Their bodies are covered in thick, olive-colored fur, except on their buttocks, which are hairless. The species is defined by its social habits: The primates live in groups of several dozen individuals. These troops have a strict hierarchy, and each animal is assigned a specific rank. While female rank is hereditary — a daughter inherits her mother’s status — males compete for dominance. These fights can be bloody, but the stakes are immense: A higher rank means more sex. The losers, in contrast, face a bleak array of options — submission, exile, or death.

In 1978, Robert Sapolsky was a recent college graduate with a degree in biological anthropology and a job in Kenya. He had set off for a year of fieldwork by himself among baboons… here he was in Nairobi, speaking the wrong kind of Swahili and getting ripped off by everyone he met. Eventually he made his way to the bush, a sprawling savanna filled with zebras and wildebeests and elephants…

Sapolsky slowly introduced himself to a troop of baboons, letting them adjust to his presence. After a few weeks, he began recognizing individual animals, giving them nicknames from the Old Testament. It was a way of rebelling against his childhood Hebrew-school teachers, who rejected the blasphemy of Darwinian evolution…

Before long, Sapolsky’s romantic vision of fieldwork collided with the dismal reality of living in the African bush. (The baboons) seemed to devote all of their leisure time — and baboon life is mostly leisure time — to mischief and malevolence. “One of the first things I discovered was that I didn’t like baboons very much,” he says. “They’re quite awful to one another, constantly scheming and backstabbing. They’re like chimps but without the self-control.”

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Baboon behavior compared with modern humans: One advantage of the “bipedal stance” – showing off “the junk”. Could the female be “twerking”?

Olive baboon male standing on his hind legs watching a female presenting her rear (Papio cynocephalus anubis). Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Feb 2009.

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While Sapolsky was disturbed by the behavior of the baboons — this was nature, red in tooth and claw — he realized that their cruelty presented an opportunity to investigate the biological effects of social upheaval. He noticed, for instance, that the males at the bottom of the hierarchy were thinner and more skittish. “They just didn’t look very healthy,” Sapolsky says. “That’s when I began thinking about how damn stressful it must be to have no status. You never know when you’re going to get beat up. You never get laid. You have to work a lot harder for food.”

(Asperger types – is this us?)

So Sapolsky set out to test the hypothesis that the stress involved in being at the bottom of the baboon hierarchy led to health problems…“It struck most doctors as extremely unlikely that your feelings could affect your health. Viruses, sure. Carcinogens, absolutely. But stress? No way.” Sapolsky, however, was determined to get some data… Instead, he was busy learning how to shoot baboons with anesthetic darts and then, while they were plunged into sleep, quickly measure their immune system function and the levels of stress hormones and cholesterol in their blood….

A similarly destructive process is at work in humans. While doctors speculated for years that increasing rates of cardiovascular disease in women might be linked to the increasing number of females employed outside the home, that correlation turned out to be nonexistent. Working women didn’t have more heart attacks. There were, however, two glaring statistical exceptions to the rule: Women developed significantly more heart disease if they performed menial clerical work or when they had an unsupportive boss. The work, in other words, wasn’t the problem. It was the subordination.

(Female gender = subordinate in modern social hierarchy.)

One of the most tragic aspects of the stress response is the way it gets hardwired at a young age — an early setback can permanently alter the way we deal with future stressors. The biological logic of this system is impeccable: If the world is a rough and scary place, then the brain assumes it should invest more in our stress machinery, which will make us extremely wary and alert. There’s also a positive feedback loop at work, so that chronic stress actually makes us more sensitive to the effects of stress.

The physiology underlying this response has been elegantly revealed in the laboratory. When lab rats are stressed repeatedly, the amygdala — an almond-shaped nub in the center of the brain — enlarges dramatically. (See post  on amygdala, hippocampus) (This swelling comes at the expense of the hippocampus, which is crucial for learning and memory and shrinks under severe stress.) The main job of the amygdala is to perceive danger and help generate the stress response; it’s the brain area turned on by dark alleys and Hitchcock movies. Unfortunately, a swollen amygdala means that we’re more likely to notice potential threats in the first place, which means we spend more time in a state of anxiety. (This helps explain why a more active amygdala is closely correlated with atherosclerosis.) The end result is that we become more vulnerable to the very thing that’s killing us.

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Imagine you are a newborn: everything about you “looks normal” and your parents show you off; send photos to friends and relatives. They coo and gurgle over your parents’ splendid achievement. A Perfect Baby.
Then reality sets in: Human parents are obsessed with the fear of giving birth to a less-than-perfect baby. Can we deny the social pressure endured by an infant and parent, when parents “freak out” over a growing suspicion that their child is “abnormal”? They rush the child to the “witch doctor” – the expert, the authority, the interpreter of all human behavior; the priest or priestess who has the power to decide the fate of a child as a member of its society. What power over individual destinies these “judges” have!  
In American culture, it is the medical / behavioral industry which decides whether or not a child is conforming to a rigid schedule of physical, social, emotional and mental development. This used to be “the job” of religious authorities (and still is in many communities), but the “Helping Caring Fixing” industry has become a “co-religion” for many believers.  
An imaginary epidemic of “defective children” has grown into a reign of terror in contemporary American culture: children are labeled, isolated, shamed, bullied and virtually discarded; drugged into submission, simply for being children. 

Baboons: 

Baboons are African and Arabian Old World monkeys belonging to the genus Papio, part of the subfamily Cercopithecinae. The five species are some of the largest non-hominoid members of the primate order; only the mandrill and the drill are larger. Baboons use at least 10 different vocalizations to communicate with other members of the troop. Wikipedia

Scientific name: Papio / Lifespan: Guinea baboon: 35 – 45 years
Height: Olive baboon: 2.3 ft. / Hamadryas baboon: 44 – 66 lbs, Olive baboon: 22 – 82 lbs, Guinea baboon: 29 – 57 lbs
Fantastic photos:

 

Baboon behavior compared with modern humans: One advantage of the “bipedal stance” – showing off “the junk”. Could the female be “twerking”?

Who’s Safe With a Gun? Don’t Ask a Shrink

The Daily Beast, May 2013 Background Checks

guns-mattel-swscan08492

Forget any guidance from psychiatry’s bible, the DSM-5, when it comes to background checks for gun buyers, writes the psychotherapist author of The Book of Woe. (Gary Greenburg)

Many years ago, a man I was seeing in therapy decided he wanted to take up a new hobby: high explosives. The state he lived in licensed purchasers of dynamite and other incendiaries only after a background check. He wanted to know: Would I write a letter declaring him fit to blow up stuff in his backyard for fun?

Aside from the fact that this was how he wanted to pass the weekend, I didn’t have any reason to think otherwise, so I gave him the note. He got the license. A few years after he stopped seeing me, I had occasion to visit him at his office. He had all his digits and limbs and, to my knowledge, had committed no antisocial acts with his legally obtained explosives. My note attesting to his mental health was framed on his wall.

I’ve been thinking about this guy recently, ever since our politicians’ imaginations have fastened upon background checks as the solution to our gun problems. I’ve also been thinking about a couple of other patients. One of them, a middle-aged professional, a ramrod-straight retired Marine, father of a little girl, faithful husband, the kind of man who buys a special lockbox just for transporting his weapon between home and gun club. The other: a 27-year-old hothead, an absentee father who never met a drug or a woman he didn’t like. His idea of fun was riding his motorcycle between lanes on the interstate at 100 mph, and he was the proud owner of (by his count) 37 guns. In the three years prior to arriving at my office, he’d been fired from four jobs, arrested for six or seven driving offenses and a few drug charges, and helped to bury three of his friends who met untimely and violent ends.

No one asked me which of these two men I’d rather was a gun owner, let alone which one ought to have a firearms license. But I know what my answer would have been. Or I would have known until about a year ago, when the ex-Marine, inexplicably and without warning (although he’d just been put on an antidepressant as part of a treatment for chronic pain), sat at the base of the tree holding his favorite deer perch and shot himself in the mouth. Meantime, the hothead has cooled down. He’s been with the same woman for two years and the same job for one. He sees his son faithfully twice a week. He’s sold his motorcycle and more than half of his guns, and become obsessed with bodybuilding and responsibility. The transformation is not complete—he’s still dead certain the government wants to come to his house and confiscate what’s left of his arsenal, for instance—and I can’t take too much credit for it. He’s pursuing the pleasures of self-control with the same manic intensity as he once chased adrenaline. But I’m not all that worried about his guns anymore, and I’m really glad no one asked me if he should have them.

Because one thing they don’t teach you in therapy school: how to tell the future. Clinicians can assemble a story out of the ashes of a person’s life; we might even be able to spot what we think are the seeds of catastrophe, but we generally do that best in retrospect. And that’s why, if one of us insists he or she knows for sure what’s coming next, you should find another therapist. It’s also why, to the extent that background checks involve people like me, it wouldn’t do much more than reassure politicians that they are doing something about gun violence without simultaneously threatening their National Rifle Association ratings.

But wait a minute, you may be saying. Don’t mental-health workers have a whole huge book of diagnoses to turn to that can help you assess a person’s fitness to own a gun? No, we don’t. We have the book, of course, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is about to come out in its fifth edition. But while some of those disorders seem incompatible with responsible gun ownership, even a diagnosis of a severe mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder isn’t a good predictor of who is going to become violent. Indeed, only about 4 percent of violent crimes are committed by mentally ill people. We are not going to diagnose our way to safety.

There’s a reason for this. A diagnosis of a mental disorder is only a description of a person’s troubles. A neurologist presented with a patient suffering loss of coordination and muscle weakness can run tests and diagnose amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or a brain tumor. They can explain the symptoms and predict with some accuracy what will happen as the disease takes its expected course. The 200 or so diagnoses in the DSM, on the other hand, explain little and predict less. Until the book contains a diagnosis called Mass Slaughter Disorder, whose criteria would include having committed mass slaughter, it’s not going to offer much guidance on the subject, and, obviously, what guidance it provides is going to come too late.

With the mentally disordered, as with all of us (and let’s remember that in any given year, something like 30 percent of us will meet criteria for a mental disorder, and 11 percent of us are on antidepressants right now), there is no telling what will happen next. No matter how many diagnoses are in the DSM, and no matter how astutely they are used, they will not tell us in whose hands guns are safe. The psyche is more unfathomable, and evil more wily, than any doctor or any book.

 

 

 

Infant Synesthesia / A Developmental Stage

No, synesthesia is not a symptom of disorder, but it is a developmental phenomenon. In fact, several researchers have shown that synesthetes can perform better on certain tests of memory and intelligence. Synesthetes as a group are not mentally ill. They test negative on scales that check for schizophrenia, psychosis, delusions, and other disorders.

Synesthesia Project | FAQ – Boston University

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What if some symptoms “assigned” by psychologists to Asperger’s Disorder and autism are merely manifestations of synesthesia?

“A friend of mine recently wrote, ‘My daughter just explained to me that she is a picky eater because foods (and other things) taste like colors and sometimes she doesn’t want to eat that color. Is this a form of synesthesia?’ Yes, it is.” – Karen Wang

We see in this graphic how synesthesia is labeled a “defect” that is “eradicated” by normal development (literally “pruned out”). People who retain types of integrated sensory experience are often artists, musicians, and other sensory innovators (like chefs, interior designers, architects, writers and other artists) So, those who characterize “synthesia” as a developmental defect are labeling those individuals who greatly enrich millions of human lives as “defectives”. – Psychology pathologizes the most admired and treasured creative human behavior.

No touching allowed! Once “sensory” categories have been labeled and isolated to locations in the brain, no “talking to” each other is allowed. The fact that this is a totally “unreal” scheme is ignored. Without smell, there IS NO taste…

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Infants Possess Intermingled Senses

Babies are born with their senses linked in synesthesia

originally published as “Infant Kandinskys”

What if every visit to the museum was the equivalent of spending time at the philharmonic? For painter Wassily Kandinsky, that was the experience of painting: colors triggered sounds. Now a study from the University of California, San Diego, suggests that we are all born synesthetes like Kandinsky, with senses so joined that stimulating one reliably stimulates another.

The work, published in the August issue of Psychological Science, has become the first experimental confir­mation of the infant-synesthesia hy­pothesis—which has existed, unproved, for almost 20 years.

Researchers presented infantsand adults with images of repeating shapes (either circles or triangles) on a split-color background: one side was red or blue, and the other side was yellow or green. If the infants had shape-color asso­ciations, the scientists hypoth­esized, the shapes would affect their color preferences. For in­stance, some infants might look significantly longer at a green back­ground with circles than at the same green background with triangles. Absent synesthesia, no such dif­ference would be visible.

The study confirmed this hunch. Infants who were two and three months old showed significant shape-color associations. By eight months the preference was no longer pronounced, and in adults it was gone altogether.

The more important implications of this work may lie beyond synesthesia, says lead author Katie Wagner, a psychologist at U.C.S.D. The finding provides insight into how babies learn about the world more generally. “In­fants may perceive the world in a way that’s fundamentally different from adults,” Wagner says. As we age, she adds, we narrow our focus, perhaps gaining an edge in cognitive speed as the sensory symphony quiets down. (Sensory “thinking” is replaced by social-verbal thinking)

(Note: The switch to word-concept language dominance means that modern social humans LOOSE the appreciation of “connectedness” in the environment – connectedness becomes limited to human-human social “reality” The practice of chopping up of reality into isolated categories (word concepts) diminishes detail and erases the connections that link detail into patterns. Hyper-social thinking is a “diminished” state of perception characteristic of neurotypicals)

This article was originally published with the title “Infant Kandinskys”
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GREAT WEBSITE!!!

The Brain from Top to Bottom

thebrain.mcgill.ca/

McGill University
Explore topics such as emotion, language, and the senses at five levels of organization (from molecular to social) and three levels of explanation (from beginner … advanced)

J.E. Robison / Where has all the Autism funding gone?

I don’t follow John Elder: I do understand that he’s tried to work within the “official Autism community” to produce change. It seems he’s finally waking up to the exploitation-for-profit program that is the Autism Industry.

Sex, Lies, and Autism Research—Getting Value for Our Money

How can we get tangible benefit from the millions we spend on autism science? (No, it’s not science; it’s a business.)

The U.S. government is the world’s biggest funder of autism research.  For the past decade I have had the honor of advising various agencies and committees on how that money should be spent. As an adult with autism, sometimes I’ve been pleased at our government’s choices. Other times I’ve been disappointed. Every now and then I turn to reflect: What have we gotten for our investment?

Autistic people and their parents agree on this: The hundreds of millions we’ve spent on autism research every year has provided precious little benefit to families and individuals living with autism today. Over the past decade the expenditures have run into the billions, yet our quality of life has hardly changed at all.

It would be one thing if massive help was just around the corner, but it’s not. There are no breakthrough medicines or treatments in the pipeline. Autistic people still suffer from GI pain, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, and a host of other issues at the same rates we did before any of this research was funded.

I don’t mean to suggest that nothing has been accomplished.  Scientists have learned a lot. They know more about the biological underpinnings of autism. Researchers have found hundreds of genetic variations that are implicated in autism. We’ve quantified how autistic people are different with thousands of studies of eye gaze, body movement, and more. Scientists are rightly proud of many of their discoveries, which do advance medical and scientific knowledge. What they don’t do is make our lives better today. (Sorry John, that you feel you still need to “support” a corrupt system by buying into false claims of scientific progress or the value of bogus research.)

Why is that?

In the past I’ve written about the idea that taxpayer-funded research should be refocused on delivering benefit to autistic people. What I have not written about, is why that hasn’t happened, at the most fundamental level.

The answer is simple: Until quite recently, autistic people were not asked what we needed.

There are many reasons for that. Autism was first observed in children and no one expects children to have adult insight and self-reflection. When autism was recognized in adults, they were assumed to be too cognitively impaired to participate in conversations about their condition. Finally, in the spirit of the times, doctors often assumed that they knew best. They were the trained professionals, and we were the patients (or the inmates.) (Are we confusing “medical” doctors with non-medical psychologists? )

So doctors studied every question they could imagine, and then some, seldom seeking our opinions except in answer to their research questions. They assumed they knew what “normal” was, and we weren’t it. Countless million$ went down the rabbit hole of causation studies, whether in genetics, vaccines, or other environmental factors. Don’t get me wrong—the knowledge we’ve gotten is valuable for science. (Not really! It’s been valuable for the funding of universities, academics and research institutions) It just did not help me, or any autistic person I know. (It wasn’t INTENDED to help “autistic” people or their families).

Millions more have been spent observing us and detailing exactly the ways in which we are abnormal. Only recently have some scientists began to consider a different idea: Perhaps “normal” is different for autistic people, and we are it. Again the studies enhanced the scientists’ knowledge (of how to profit from human suffering) but didn’t do much to help us autistics.

Then there are the educators and psychologists. They observed our “deviations” and then considered therapy to normalize us. That led to ABA and a host of other therapies. Some of those have indeed been beneficial, but the money spent on beneficial therapy is just a drop in the bucket when considering what we taxpayers have funded overall.

Want a different and better outcome? Ask actual autistic people.

We can tell you what our problems are, in many cases very eloquently. I’m not going to re-state all our needs here. I’ll tell you this: Whenever this topic comes up at IACC (the Federal committee that produces the strategic plan for autism for the U.S. government), the priorities of autistic people seem rather different from those of the researchers our government has been funding for so long. (It’s a corrupt system; part of the general policy to redistribute wealth “up to” the 1%).

Autistic people have many disparate needs, but they all boil down to one thing: We have major challenges living in American society. Medical problems, communication challenges, learning difficulties, relationship issues, and chronic unemployment are all big deals for us. The issues are well laid out and many.

Before autistic people began speaking out in great numbers, all we had was parent advocacy. We should not dismiss that, and parents still have a role today, particularly in advocacy for small children and children who are older but unable to effectively advocate for themselves.

Even as we thank parents for their service, it’s time to recognize autistic voices (some of which belong to parents too) should be taking the lead.

As much as parents did for us, they also unwittingly contributed to harm. Parents misinterpreted harmless stimming, and encouraged therapists to suppress it, leaving us scarred in adulthood. Many autistics of my generation remember being placed into programs for troubled children with parental encouragement in hopes we’d become “more normal.” We didn’t. Parents have given us bleach enemas, and some of us have died from misguided chelation and other treatments to “cure” our autism.

I don’t blame parents for any of that. They did their best, given the knowledge of the day. But it’s a different day now. The children who grew up being “normalized” can talk about how it affected them, and parents and clinicians of today would be wise to listen.

Autistic voices are finally speaking in large numbers and it’s time to pay attention. No one else knows life with autism. Parents and no-autistic researchers are sometimes listening. Hard as this may be for them to hear, they are always guessing. With autistics speaking out all over the world, that’s no longer good enough.

For the first time, IACC has recognized this in the 2017 Strategic Plan Update. They say it’s time for a paradigm shift in how we do research. We need to focus on the needs of people living with autism today. That’s a realization that I appreciate, and it’s long overdue. (OMG! Please don’t fall for this universal neurotypical ploy: We wrote it down: SEE? End of story.)

So what’s the answer to why we’ve gotten so little return on our autism research investment: No one asked the autistic people what we wanted. It’s that simple. Had we been able to articulate our challenges, with the framework of knowledge we have today, and had we been listened to, we’d be in a very different place today.

Today is gone, but tomorrow isn’t here yet, and it can be different.

(c) John Elder Robison (Thank-you John for “stepping up” to the truth.)

John Elder Robison is an autistic adult and advocate for people with neurological differences. He’s the author of Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, Raising Cubby, and Switched On. He serves on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and many other autism-related boards. He’s co-founder of the TCS Auto Program (a school for teens with developmental challenges), and he’s the Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and a visiting professor of practice at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.
The opinions expressed here are his own.

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What more does the Autism Industry need?

Director of the Institute of Mental Health declares that Autism is a “real” epidemic and not due to changes in labels, diagnostic criteria and fear-mongering. No objective evidence needed when you have the Federal Government working FOR YOU. 

TACA is an “interesting NON-PROFIT – check out their website and the financial statements they provide. Hard to find out how much $$$ actually filters down to real people outside the “charity”. Here’s their “agenda”. Note the cliché about someday finding a “cure” which is not going to happen: creates a classic “American Non-Profit” demand for “donations” and funding in perpetuity. Think of all those “charities” that have collected billions for “research” etc, without a “cure” in sight.

Idiotic slideshow for GP’s to “diagnose” Aspergers

Aye, yai, yai!

Slideshare presentation by Debra Moore PhD, http://www.sacramentopsychology.com directed to “general practitioners” explaining Asperger’s Syndrome and a closet full of “disorders” that boggle the mind. The slideshow is comprised of 83 slides. (Only a few posted here)

COMMENT: This presentation is so bizarre; words fail me, except HOW INSULTING this is to all children, their parents and general practitioners (if there are any left in the U.S.) Asperger people will not be surprised by how neurotypically idiotic are the claims – another “imaginary” description of Asperger traits and behavior. Just stop!!!

Why would this be suitable information for a medical doctor when 1. Aspergers is not a medical condition 2. none of the information is medical 3. the information is ignorant slander.

How did this person qualify for a PhD? (Must be psychology) C’mon! If you’re going to use “multisyllabic psychology words” you have to first learn how to write a proper sentence.

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Notorious Abuser of Autistic Children / Bruno Bettelheim

How many psychologists, teachers, education and treatment center employees are “child abusers” masquerading as “child saviors”? The recent and long overdue exposure of sexual predators ought to generate investigations into “just who” are the predators in the autism industry.

How many are employed despite phony or inadequate credentials? 

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Bruno Bettelheim (August 28, 1903 – March 13, 1990) was an infamous child psychologist. He earned a degree in philosophy, writing a dissertation relating to the history of art. He was interested in psychology for much of his life but never studied it formally.

After buying his release from a concentration camp, he traveled to the United States, where by fraudulent means, he presented himself to be a professor of psychology. He claimed that the Nazis had destroyed proof of his credentials. Shockingly he was hired as director of the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School at the University of Chicago, a home for emotionally disturbed children.

He suffered from depression and committed suicide in 1990; after his suicide, evidence of Bettelheim’s dark side began to surface. Although many of his counsellors at the Orthogenic School considered him brilliant and admirable, others call him a cruel tyrant.

Although untrained in analysis, Bettelheim was a Freudian fundamentalist. Bettelheim was convinced, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that autism had no organic basis but was caused entirely by cold mothers, who he dubbed “refrigerator mothers,” and absent fathers. “All my life,” he wrote, “I have been working with children whose lives have been destroyed because their mothers hated them.” Other Freudian analysts, as well as scientists who were not psychiatrists, followed Bettelheim in blaming mothers for their child’s autism. Bettelheim’s work has been  discredited.

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A personal aside: I grew up in a suburb of Chicago: Family friends had a son who was diagnosed autistic. After many attempts to find help and not finding any, the parents  were referred to Bruno Bettelheim at the Orthogenic School, where their son became a resident. After a few weeks, the mother was devastated by the verbal abuse that she endured. Bettelheim blamed her for her son’s difficulties. She was attacked for being highly educated and accomplished: a type of profiling that Bettelheim used to discredit and shame mothers of autistic children. In addition, when visiting her son she discovered evidence of beatings; such was the unassailable reputation of Bruno Bettelheim, that this poor woman FELT GUILTY for even questioning his authority. The family was devastated and eventually torn apart, and the son remained at the “school”, much too long given the evidence of abuse. 

This rampant “denial” of abuse is NORMAL in the U.S. due to social protection of “high class” psychopaths.

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Notice the reaction of alarm on Dick Cavett’s face while listening to this dangerous man and his seriously twisted assertion that ONLY HE cares about autistic children, whom “the world” and “parents” want “dead.”

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Bruno Bettelheim’s abuse of autistic children in his care points to an all-to-familiar pattern of protecting child abusers in the United States.

Bruno Bettelheim arrived in the USA without any credentials in psychiatry or psychotherapy, but was appointed Director of the University of Chicago’s Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School for disturbed (autistic) children: in 1956 the school received a Ford Foundation research grant of nearly half a million dollars. Bettelheim’s meteoric success, without qualification for the position, point to the classic “social skills” that manipulate others into “trusting” the psychopath, who then gains entry into a high status class in the social hierarchy. If he could “fool” personnel at the University of Chicago, what else was possible?  This false presentation of knowledge, skills and trustworthiness is the classic way that abusers gain access to children.

Psychopaths use tales of personal experiences to build cults of personality. Bettelheim was held in Dachau and Buchenwald for ten and a half months in 1938-9 and believed that he saw a valid parallel between the behavior of autistic children and prisoners who had given up hope; avoided eye contact, refused to eat, and become completely passive and zombie-like. If children with autism acted like this, it could only be because their mothers were like Nazi guards. Proliferation of this wildly twisted conclusion found acceptance and propagation in the American media, and became the notorious refrigerator mother theory of autism.

According to Bettelheim’s employees and colleagues, physical and emotional abuse was a part of everyday life at the Orthogenic School, with children living as trapped and terrified prisoners. Bettelheim’s most serious defect was his lack of interest in genetic, medical, and constitutional factors in autism. Punishment, specifically slapping and hitting children in the presence of other “students” and teachers, and verbally shaming children, was an ongoing form of “therapy.”

High-functioning psychopaths “get away with” abuse of children by using social and political skill. To this day, Bettelheim’s abuse of autistic children is excused by many in the field of child psychology on the basis of his high position in the hierarchy: “The Great Man” delusion permits criminal behavior as the “privilege” of those with high academic and social status.

 

 

 

Mental Development / Genetics of Visual Attention

Twin study finds genetics affects where children look, shaping mental development

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171109131152.htm

November 9, 2017 / Indiana University

A study that tracked the eye movement of twins has found that genetics plays a strong role in how people attend to their environment.

Conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the study offers a new angle on the emergence of differences between individuals and the integration of genetic and environmental factors in social, emotional and cognitive development. This is significant because visual exploration is also one of the first ways infants interact with the environment, before they can reach or crawl.

“The majority of work on eye movement has asked ‘What are the common features that drive our attention?'” said Daniel P. Kennedy, an assistant professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. “This study is different. We wanted to understand differences among individuals and whether they are influenced by genetics.”

Kennedy and co-author Brian M. D’Onofrio, a professor in the department, study neurodevelopmental problems from different perspectives. This work brings together their contrasting experimental methods: Kennedy’s use of eye tracking for individual behavioral assessment and D’Onofrio’s use of genetically informed designs, which draw on data from large population samples to trace the genetic and environmental contributions to various traits. As such, it is one of the largest-ever eye-tracking studies.

In this particular experiment, the researchers compared the eye movements of 466 children — 233 pairs of twins (119 identical and 114 fraternal) — between ages 9 and 14 as each child looked at 80 snapshots of scenes people might encounter in daily life, half of which included people. Using an eye tracker, the researchers then measured the sequence of eye movements in both space and time as each child looked at the scene. They also examined general “tendencies of exploration”; for example, if a child looked at only one or two features of a scene or at many different ones.

Published Nov. 9 in the journal Current Biology, the study found a strong similarity in gaze patterns within sets of identical twins, who tended to look at the same features of a scene in the same order. It found a weaker but still pronounced similarity between fraternal twins.

This suggests a strong genetic component to the way individuals visually explore their environments: Insofar as both identical and fraternal twins each share a common environment with their twin, the researchers can infer that the more robust similarity in the eye movements of identical twins is likely due to their shared genetic makeup. The researchers also found that they could reliably identify a twin with their sibling from among a pool of unrelated individuals based on their shared gaze patterns — a novel method they termed “gaze fingerprinting.”

“People recognize that gaze is important,” Kennedy said. “Our eyes are moving constantly, roughly three times per second. We are always seeking out information and actively engaged with our environment, and ultimately where you look affects your development.”

After early childhood, the study suggests that genes influence at the micro-level — through the immediate, moment-to-moment selection of visual information — the environments individuals create for themselves.

“This is not a subtle statistical finding,” Kennedy said. “How people look at images is diagnostic of their genetics. Eye movements allow individuals to obtain specific information from a space that is vast and largely unconstrained. It’s through this selection process that we end up shaping our visual experiences.

“Less known are the biological underpinnings of this process,” he added. “From this work, we now know that our biology affects how we seek out visual information from complex scenes. It gives us a new instance of how biology and environment are integrated in our development.”

“This finding is quite novel in the field,” D’Onofrio said. “It is going to surprise people in a number of fields, who do not typically think about the role of genetic factors in regulating such processes as where people look.”

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Comment: 

(Note: Many individuals can learn the “scientific method”- techniques, procedures and the use of math, without having an “understanding” of  “physical reality”. This is a problem in American “science” today.)

Why is the Asperger “attentional preference” for “physical reality” labeled a developmental defect? Because modern social humans BELIEVE that only the social environment EXISTS!

This “narrow” field of attention in modern social humans is the result of domestication / neoteny. The “magical thinking” stage of childhood development is carried into adulthood. This “arrested development” retains the narcissistic infantile perception of reality.  

A genetic basis for this “perceptual” knowledge of reality would support the Asperger “Wrong Planet” sense of alienation from neurotypical social environments. Our “real world” orientation is not a “defect” – our perception is that of an adult Homo sapiens. The hypersocial “magical” perception of the environment is that of the self-centered infant, whose very survival depends on the manipulation of “big mysterious beings” (parents – puppeteers) who make up the infant’s ENTIRE UNIVERSE.  

The Neurotypical Universe

 


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel P. Kennedy, Brian M. D’Onofrio, Patrick D. Quinn, Sven Bölte, Paul Lichtenstein, Terje Falck-Ytter. Genetic Influence on Eye Movements to Complex Scenes at Short Timescales. Current Biology, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.10.007

SHY? / Be prepared for predatory rage…

To be “shy” in the U.S.A. is a social crime.

Shy people are relentlessly attacked. Note the implications:

You have a genetic defect; you’ve experienced child abuse; you have a social anxiety or a social phobia; you’re a narcissist; you have “negative thoughts”; you have low self-esteem; you’ll never have a boyfriend or girlfriend; you’re a bad person; you stutter; you’re ugly; you can’t win: (either you don’t talk enough or you talk too much). And on, and on.

Shyness is a deficit that one must overcome, otherwise life is not worth living: 

You probably hate people and must be anti-social:

Shyness carries a life sentence of social exile and failure:

Some weak links found. Shy 3 yr-olds become cautious teens. Difficult 3 yr-olds remain difficult. Well-adjusted 3 yr-olds also. Current research. Temperament and Big 5 related. May carry-over into adulthood.

And if that isn’t enough, let’s detail the social horrors:

How much more depressing can it get?

Propaganda: Shyness is pathologic. Your life is a mess; buy this crap.

Dear World: Be afraid; be very afraid. American psychology is coming for you…

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A culture in flux

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/11/culture-flux.aspx

— Kirsten Weirm 2014, Vol 45, No. 10

When Heather Henderson, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo, lectures to students about her shyness research, she often shows videos of young kids playing. The response is predictable. “People laugh and smile at outgoing kids, and they become uncomfortable watching shy kids,” she says.

Were she to show that same video in rural China, she might get a very different response. In any culture, there’s a range of temperaments from very reserved to more outgoing. But culture strongly affects how those temperamental differences are judged.

In the 1990s, Xinyin Chen, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that while shy behaviors were linked to problems such as anxiety in North America, they were associated with positive school adjustment outcomes in China. Behaviorally inhibited students in China were held up as leaders in the classroom and rated as more likable by peers, says Robert J. Coplan, PhD, a psychologist at Carleton University in Ottawa who has collaborated on cross-cultural studies with Chen and colleagues in China.

But China has changed dramatically since the 1990s, with rapid modernization and strong influences from the West. Correspondingly, in large urban areas, shyness is starting to be seen as a detriment. “The same behavior, in a very short period of time, seems to have done an about-face in terms of its perceived adaptiveness in Chinese culture,” Coplan says.

While social inhibition is still praised in many rural areas, he says, “assertiveness and independence have now become more positively valued in the big urban centers.” The rapid turnabout could have major implications for Chinese society. Whereas an older teacher might admonish an outgoing child, the younger teacher down the hall might offer praise. Children born in cities versus rural villages may receive very different messages about how to behave.

For psychologists interested in the influence of culture on behavior, the change is astounding. Little more than a decade ago, Chinese teachers wished more children would act more reserved, Coplan says. And now? “On my latest visit, they were talking about setting up intervention programs to help young shy children.”

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