Friday, November 30, 2012

A good outline of synaesthesia

I've just discovered a very good and authoritative article in an internet encyclopedia about synesthesia. It is a look at synaesthesia from the point of view of what it means to philosophy. 

Allen-Hermanson, Sean and Matey, Jennifer (2012) Synesthesia. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Lili's thought for the day

Heath, Heath, Heath with the teeth.

We need more equitable access to orthodontic dentistry in this country, because Heath don't deserve those teeth.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lili's political thought for the day

The Prime Minister has been looking a bit hot and bothered lately. I think Kevin should buy her a nice icy-cold raspberry slushie. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lili's managerial thought for the day

Let's add the frail anorexic with a personality disorder to the team. She's very keen to help with the heavy-lifting and quite the perfectionist.....

A little bit of CME (continuing medical education) for Jani's psychiatrists

The Smell of Green Thunder: How Does Synesthesia Differ from Hallucination? World Science Festival. November 2012.

What's the difference between synaesthesia and hallucination? The celebrity neurologist and best-selling author Dr Oliver Sacks explains in a short video. The differences are very easy to grasp - natural synesthesia is inborn, and pretty-much permanent and stable, while pathological or drug-induced forms of synaesthesia and hallucinations are not. Natural synaesthesia is stable in that the same associations hold, such as between a particular conceptual, motor or sensory trigger and a particular anomalous sensory or conceptual effect or experience. The bass guitar in a particular rock song will always trigger the experience of a very specific shade of teal, or the concept of the number 21 will always be associated with a particular personification that has a particular age, gender and personality traits.
Would I be right in stating that Jani Schofield's "hallucinations" are inborn, permanent and stable like synaesthesia? I'm not sure that anyone has bothered to check whether there are stable associations in Jani's reported experiences, but it's pretty clear that her distinctive way of thinking is inborn and permanent, like synaesthesia and unlike the vast majority of cases of schizophrenia. What is clear in Jani's case is that the alternative world that she experiences, which is held up repeatedly in media reports about Jani as evidence of florid hallucinatory schizophrenia, is in fact a world of imaginary friends which seems to have many characteristics in common with synaesthesia. As far as I know, at no time in the history of psychiatry has there been any theoretical confusion between the different phenomena of psychotic hallucination and childhood imaginary friends. To identify a child who has imaginary friends as a child displaying psychosis seems to me to be the stupidest, grossest clinical blunder, and to completely ignore the many obvious hints that synaesthesia is also an important element in Jani's psychology seems to me like inexcusable ignorance or deliberate omission.

I've got a few gripes and reservations about the video linked to below, but I think the main message is basically sound. The observations about synaesthesia by Dr Sacks need to considered in the light of the fact that he is not a synaesthete and thus has no first-hand understanding of the phenomenon. I object to the fallacy of forced choice in the summary about the video - "is synaesthesia hallucination or is it real?" I'm not sure whether this question is just plain stupid or is based on a questionable assumption about sensory experiences. In what sense are any of the sensory experiences of a non-synaesthete real? Are your ideas or experiences real? Being a synaesthete who knows that she is a synaesthete, I understand that many of my experiences are atypical, and some make no logical sense, but does that make them less real? Many non-synaesthetes identify an association between the word "bouba" and a shape that is rounded and lumpy, but is there any real link there, between a nonsensical word and a shape? Questions about what is real and what is not real are for philosophers to have a tug over. Can you be bothered?

One most disappointing aspect of the video was that the lady who posed the quite good question to Dr Sacks was informed and inspired by the first book written by Daniel Tammet, who claimed to have an extraordinary case of synaesthesia, among many other extraordinary claims. Sigh. It appears that the lady in the video is a synaesthete, but she observed that her synaesthesia is not as "dramatic" as other people's accounts of synaesthesia. Indeed. I've never seen or heard of any synaesthete claiming to have synaesthesia quite like Tammet's, with his coloured abstract mental landscapes that somehow encode long numbers and synaesthetic photisms that automatically reveal the solutions to difficult mental calculations. His synaesthesia is about as atypical as Jani's schizophrenia, which should make anyone wonder....

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lili's thought for the day

I just want to know how a cross-eyed truck driver knows which white line is the real one. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lili's warning for the day

Black and Gold brand, as sold in IGA supermarkets in Australia, have been, maybe still are, selling "self-raising flour" that apparently has no raising agent in it. This is a big problem, because if you bake with this stuff you will not only have wasted money buying a sub-standard product, you will also have wasted money spent on all the other cake ingredients, and wasted time baking the cake, and wasted the opportunity to have the cake that you planned. I recently invented the lemon mudcake. I never intended to invent the lemon mudcake!

Bad cop, bad cop indeed

With the expensive and laughable failure of the prosecution's case in the Rayney Trial and the long-lingering question of bias and planting of evidence in murder investigations surrounding the WA police, a coroner roasting alive "thuggish" police officers from the NSW Police Force who caused the unnecessary and painful death of a misbehaving young tourist, the UK release of the book The Crime Factory by "Officer A" a British recruit to the WA police which apparently paints the WA police force in a very unattractive light, and very concerning allegations about police intimidation of a senior police whistleblower whose allegations about a police cover-up of child sex abuse in the Catholic church resulted in the Prime Minister ordering a wide-ranging Royal Commission into child sex abuse, the time is certainly right for a repeat of the 2002 Australian black comedy television series Bad Cop, Bad Cop, which features two very popular Australian actors, Dan Wyllie and Michael Caton. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lili's recurrent thought for the day

Just about every day for as long as I can remember, the refrain from myself and my other half is "How come this useless/corrupt/insane/vile dickwad has job security, while genuine people like us struggle get a start?"

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Lili's thought for the day

America has chosen the rich c*** with the grey lips over the rich c*** with hardly any lips. Life goes on. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Lili's worried thought for the day

Australia will soon have more working PR people than working journalists. God save us all. 

Nice quote

"I've always been a Groucho Marxist rather than the other kind, but..."
- Mark Colvin in his Andrew Olle Media Lecture

Lili's honest thought for the day

Nurture your child's brain, even before they are born, because the world of the smart person is an entirely different place to the world of the dunce. Bright teens have exciting adventures and teach themselves clever tricks that their dopey peers couldn't even begin to understand.