Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lili's lazy thought for the day

I still know that I should be busy maximizing my outcomes, but truth be told, I often find myself instead snoozing under a soft, warm blanket beside someone adorable. Wool or mohair, I don't mind.

A revealing excerpt from an ex-prime minister's war-years diary

I have a desire ... to get 'hard' like other men; to take the knocks they can take, to go wining and whoring with them. Yet whenever I meet them I feel repelled by their lack of intelligence and concern only with things like pay, leave and food. Perhaps my nature's different.
- Edward Heath

Campbell, John (2010) Edward Heath: The Authorised Biography by Philip Ziegler. The Independent. June 25th 2010.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lili's question for the day

Have the Australian Skeptics ever had anything to say or written anything in print about the real story behind Daniel Tammet? I'm guessing that their coverage of Tammet/Corney would be as extensive as their critiques of the many sloppy practices found in research in the humanities and their reviews of the many corrupting conflicts of interest in mainstream medical science. I'm guessing that they haven't written a word about Tammet. 

Lili's fed up thought for the day

Why is the Australian mass media allowing some of our least mentally capable citizens, often with serious literacy issues, to dominate the debate about asylum-seekers? Sure enough, the aged, the disabled  and people who left school early have a right to be heard, but I can think of no other area of life in which the senile, the dim and the disturbed are allowed to run the show. 

Lili's midwinter thought of the day

It's midwinter in Australia, a good time to bake a fruit cake or to bake yourself in whatever sun you might be able to find.

Lili's thought for the day

I know I should be busy maximizing my outcomes, but I just don't feel like it right now.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Briana, another tragic little American girl just like Jani

Jani Schofield has another supposedly schizophrenic little girl in the US as a friend, who has a number and also an item from our solar system as "friends"? So am I supposed to believe that childhood-onset schizophrenia typically involves the personification of concepts typically learned around the age of 5 that are items in set sequences, such as numbers, letters of the alphabet, months of the year, planets in the solar system etc. Would anyone like to explain why this supposed pediatric mental illness manifests in a way that is so astoundingly and strikingly and obviously similar to ordinal-linguistic personification synaesthesia? And would someone like to explain why, among the grab-bag of half-baked labels that poor little Briana has been burdened with, synaesthesia is absent? I guess synesthesia doesn't have a place in the world of child pathology labels because it isn't considered to be a pathology, and pathologizing young children seems to be the only game in town where Briana lives. 

Briana's mother openly admits that she gave the child "some medicine" to sedate Briana after a tantrum. "Some medicine" for a young child in lieu of attempting to establish communication with the child or parental discipline? That is how you do parenting in the United States? And later in the video Briana's mother lists symptoms experienced by Briana which could very well be negative side effects of psychoactive drugs, feelings of insects under the skin, insomnia and hallucinations of rats, as though they are manifestations of mental illness and not the result of inappropriate use of drugs? To be completely frank, I am sickened when I see how so many people regard psychoactive psychiatric drugs as a normal and benign part of life. It is such dangerous and harmful stupidity.

This video is edited so the full story of what is happening can't be seen with any certainty, but I've got to wonder at the coincidence of a young child who has apparently been labelled with "sensory integration disorder" chucking the shits (as we say in Australia) when the mother is trying to organize a trip to the beach. In common-sense terms, kids who are labelled with sensory integration disorder often have hypersensitive senses, which is a trait that seems to often go along with autism and intellectual giftedness. People with hypersensitive senses, adults and children alike, often regard the beach as a sensory torture chamber, and often protest strenuously when family members suggest the beach as a recreational destination. There is no surer way to tip a happy, sensible child with acute senses into the abyss of hysteria and madness than to make them walk in sandals that have sand in them, a typical scenario that happens in the vicinity of coastal areas. I learned this the hard way, but at least the penny eventually dropped, and I now understand that if a family member with acute senses says they don't want to go to the beach, they really don't want to go to the beach. Briana threw a tantrum before a planned trip to the beach. Who could have seen that coming?

Three things appeared to me to be noticeably absent in this video of family life: healthy colour in Briana's skin (I wonder what her vitamin D status might be), rapport between Briana and the other family members, and substantial misbehavior on the part of Briana. She looked just like a terribly lonely and sad little girl, but I guess it must be some solace that at least she has a number, a yellow dwarf star and Jani Schofield as friends. Were I in the same situation, they might well be my choice as well.

Lili's thought for the day

Drug addict families don't have barbeques.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lili's obvious thought for the day

Julian's exile is Australia's shame.

There's something wrong with this paper.........

......actually, there's a whole lot wrong with this "in press, uncorrected proof" journal paper from Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, but arguably the biggest problem in it is the way that the authors discussed Daniel Tammet.

Nicolas Rothen, Beat Meier and Jamie Ward (2012) Enhanced memory ability: Insights from synaesthesia.  Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. Received 19 February 2012. Revised 7 May 2012. Accepted 15 May 2012. Available online 23 May 2012.

It appears that I was not the first to notice this recent inexcusable blunder by three supposed scientists (see post number 95)

Please, please, please, Dr Nicolas Rothen, Dr Beat Meier and Dr Jamie Ward, correct your uncorrected proof! I suggest that you might start by actually reading all of the studies that you have discussed in this paper

Memory sport legend confirmed truth about Tammet in 2005?

It certainly looks like this message, partly about Daniel Tammet / Daniel Corney, at an online memory sports forum was written by the British multi-World Memory Champion Ben Pridmore:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lili's thought for the day

Two of the most irritating contemporary cultural cliches: overuse of the words "devastating" and "devastated", and invitations to join "the conversation" online. No, I don't want to join the freakin' conversation!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lili's thought for the day

The Apple shop/store is where old people like to hang around and chat with cute, keen young people, who sell them stuff.

Please get behind this - demand banning of aversives at the Judge Rotenberg Center

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network are petitioning State Rep. Brian Dempsey and six other people.

Pass Amendment #548 and Ban Torture of Disabled People. 

"The United Nations has deemed the Judge Rotenberg Center's practice as torture and, through the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture, has urged the United States government to end this practice."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A document of importance to all in the US autism/ASD/Asperger syndrome communities

What Are the Stakes?: An Analysis of the Impact of the DSM-5 Draft Autism Criteria on Law, Policy and Service Provision.
By Ari Ne’eman, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and Steven Kapp, University of California, Los Angeles
June 2012.

Loner littlies to be labelled (in Australia)

Today after watching an interview on the ABC's news channel with AMA federal president Steve Hambleton, it is clear, despite his assurances that non-mentally-ill Australian preschoolers will not be inappropriately medicalised and stigmatized in the new program of mental health screening of young children, that Aussie three-year-olds who like to play alone will be labelled as mentally ill or disordered or autistic. I'm sure that many autistic people will be offended at they way that the ABC's reporting of this story incorrectly categorizes the autistic spectrum as mental illness, with the associated implication that it is a disease that can be treated. How many intellectually gifted young Aussie kids who are bored with their age peers and thus prefer to play alone at a completely different level of intellectual functioning will end up with a label of "ASD" as a result of this new Gillard Government program? F***ing heaps, I'd say. Will they be doing anything at all about kids who are abused and neglected by drug-addict or alcoholic parents? If past form is anything to go by, stuff-all will be done about those issues. Too-hard basket for them. That is why when these kids grow up they are known as "basket-cases". Will someone dare to tell mums to pull those f***ing horrible dummies out of toddler's mouths so that the little tykes might one day learn how to express themselves verbally? Doubt it. 
A good argument could be made that Asperger syndrome has been widely used for a very long time as a dustbin diagnosis for kids with unidentified or unacknowledged high IQ who don't fit in. If I had lots of spare time I'd be making that argument, here at this blog. Gee, it would be nice if someone would sponsor me to write this stuff!
Preschoolers to get mental health checks.
ABC News. June 10, 2012.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Lili's thought for the day

It's hard to believe the garbage that science journals in the area of neuro-psychology will publish. Stuff which isn't just careless. Misrepresentation. Not reading the papers that one cites and which one discusses. These clowns get research grants. And I get zip. Not a cent, and not a word of recognition, when I take the time to point out what a pile of crap it all is. If you are a scientist and you believe that you are beyond criticism from anyone but another scientist or a source of funding, then f*** you. It's time to join and answer to the open society of thinking humans which you aspire to influence and inform.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Mentalising my foot

A study has apparently found that autistic people are less likely to believe in God. This is very old news to me, as it is clear that declared atheists or agnostics are over-represented in my massive list of famous autistics. I've considered compiling a sub-set list of famous non-believer autistics, but I've not had the time to pursue that idea. As is the case with every research finding about the autistic spectrum, an explanatory theory based on questionable assumptions has been offered, with no mention of any alternative explanations; "We reasoned that if thinking about a personal god engages mentalising abilities, then mentalising deficits would be expected to make belief in a personal god less intuitive, and therefore less believable". That explanation would make sense if we can take a lack of mentalising ability in autism as a fact, but I caution that there are many serious thinkers who do not believe in this idea, and guess which autism researcher played a central role in establishing the idea of a theory of mind deficit as a central feature in autism, with his Sally-Anne Test? Guess! Yes, the researcher who has been the subject of a long run of articles written by me, pointing out many obvious and bizarre errors and strange claims in his work. Yes, a study done by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen and colleagues was central to this theory. From the point of view of 2012, that theory certainly doesn't look like a truth beyond question. 

So, I have no time for a theory of mind or mentalising deficit as an explanation for why autists are apparently more likely to be atheists. So what's my explanation? Couldn't it just simply be the case that loners and autistics like myself feel less uncomfortable with the existential loneliness that a belief in a godless universe entails? (I'm calling myself a loner these days). I know for sure that many neurotypical people are left feeling emotionally naked when they consider a world in which a deity is not at all times present in their lives as a personal support and guide. God is "our father", a supernatural parent, and the thought of a godless world leaves many neurotypical people feeling like orphans. In contrast I enjoy being alone, not all of the time, but I'm very happy to handle solitude in spades and spades. And the thought of having a live or a supernatural parent figure at my elbow 100% of the time is simply a horror to me. I like my privacy! Don't you? Which famous person said that "Hell is other people"? Was it Ayn Rand, or some other philosopher or novelist? All things being equal, I'm much more likely to agree with that quote than to endorse a claim that Hell is being alone. So go stick your mentalising deficit theory where the sun don't shine. It's a stupid idea. 

Coghlan, Andy (2012) Autism study strengthens idea that we read God's mind. New Scientist. 30 May 2012.

It's only sciencetainment

"A great garbage patch of science journalism has been forming across the Atlantic, and bits of flotsam are washing up on our shores." 

American Daniel Engber tears strips off science journalism in the UK, using terms such as "industry-funded science fluff" and "labvertisements" in a recent article in New Scientist. I've Googled the term " labvertisements" and found only nine hits. It appears that Mr Engber has introduced a much-needed new word into the English language, (which is quite a feat for an American). Hats off to Daniel!

Engber, Daniel (2012) Dodgy tales of 'research' swirling the globe. New Scientist. 31 May 2012

Lili's thought for the day

Is your world unfolding, like they say on the radio? I think mine might be unravelling.

Enhanced perceptual capacity in autism

"These findings confirm our hypothesis and offer a promising solution to the previous discrepancies by suggesting that increased distractor processing in ASD results not from a filtering deficit but from enhanced perceptual capacity."

Lightening the load: Perceptual load impairs visual detection in typical adults but not in autism.
Remington, Anna M.; Swettenham, John G.; Lavie, Nilli
Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Vol 121(2), May 2012, 544-551. 

doi: 10.1037/a0027670

"“People with autism have higher perceptual capacity compared to the typical population,” said Nilli Lavie, a professor of psychology and brain sciences at University College London who worked on the study."

Autism Offers Clear Advantage, Study Finds.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Half your luck, Dan

So Daniel Tammet is living in the south of France with a “talented French photographer” in an apartment in Avignon that has fantastic views, is selling art that was supposedly inspired by synaesthesia through his own website, and has another book scheduled for publication? It's a hard life!
Seaberg, Maureen (2012) Daniel's Eyes of China Blue. Tasting the Universe. (blog at website of Psychology Today). May 11th 2012.

Lili's thought for the day

The Trololo Man is in our hearts and thoughts at this sad time.