Home » Evolutionary psychology, News » Why science should stay out of understanding human nature … before something worse than this happens.

Why science should stay out of understanding human nature … before something worse than this happens.

In “Medicalizing normality” (The Best Schools, February 2, 2012) James Barham, writes about the vexed problem of “autism spectrum disorder” (Asperger’s). Serious autism is a real disorder, but readers will recall that claims for a spectrum of disorders have figured in crackpot evolution theories – never mind stuff like “Controversial study links atheism to autism.” Meanwhile, Barham notes,

… there is also danger involved in labeling essentially normal kids as sick. This point was made with moving eloquence by Benjamin Nugent, who teaches creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University, in a New York Times op-ed yesterday (Feb. 1), entitled “I Had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly.”

When he was 17 years old, in the early 1990s, Mr. Nugent’s mother, who was a psychology professor and a supposed expert on the syndrome, decided her son’s behavior qualified him for the syndrome. She and a colleague even produced an educational film on the “disease” in which her son appeared.

Clearly a nut-job, right? So, what happened?

Ah, read about that here.

Hint: He moved to the big city and discovered that, like a lot of people there, he was a … we’ll spoil no more for you!

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11 Responses to Why science should stay out of understanding human nature … before something worse than this happens.

  1. I’ve often wondered if my daughter is partly autistic, if there is such a thing. From the behavior she occasionally displays, I’d guess that it’s Aspberger’s syndrome.

  2. Speaking about ‘understanding human nature’,,, what makes a man climb into a cockpit and do this???:

    Extreme Aerobatics With A Helmet Cam [VIDEO]
    http://www.dump.com/2012/01/30.....cam-video/

  3. Or even this?:

    Wingsuit – Jeb Corliss – ” Grinding The Crack”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWfph3iNC-k

  4. I have no idea what the point of the OP is.

    Is there some kind of problem with the idea that some disorders are on a spectrum that is continuous with characteristics we would consider within the non-pathological range?

    If so, why?

  5. I chat with several Asperger’s people on internet forums. They are happy to have a word for their situation. They do not consider it a disorder, but they acknowledge that it separates them from some kinds of social interaction.

    Before the Asperger’s diagnosis, they were considered autistic. Perhaps it’s different degrees of the same thing, but Asperger’s people are frequently outstanding at intellectual pursuits.

  6. I’ve always wondered why Autism, Asperger’s, or whatever it is called nowadays, has never given Atheists, who claim to believe that they have no ‘mind’, at least some pause in their a priori beliefs about being mindless automatons. But then again, now after years of debating Atheists, I can now see that the most common types of Atheists on the internet will allow absolutely nothing to interfere with their blind devotion to their Atheism. It is sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy for them. They seem to have indeed become the dead, mindless, automatons, that they believe we actually are, who cannot think any real thought, but only repeat to others what their molecules in their brain have been mis-programmed to feed them;

    notes:

    The boy in this following video rivals, or surpasses, Nikola Tesla as an example of innovative ideas coming fully formed to the mind without any need for trial and error:

    Bluejay: The Mind of a Child Prodigy – video
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7186319n

    more examples;

    Jake: Math prodigy proud of his autism – 60 Minutes – CBS News – video
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/w.....e1.channel

    Quote of note at the 12:00 minute mark of the preceding video;

    ‘The whole randomness thing, that’s like completely against all of physics’
    Jake Barnett – Math Prodigy

    This following man refuses the autistic label, but is very ‘spooky’ none-the-less in his ability at math;

    The Human Calculator – Ruediger Gamm – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200252

    This following man got his ability after being mugged;

    Attack results in Savant Syndrome, Jason Padgett, Beautiful Mind, Fractals
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCvYKiNW4vQ

    Further notes;

    Autistic Savant Stephen Wiltshire Draws the City Of Rome From Memory – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200256

    Derek Paravicini on 60 MINUTES – Autistic Savant – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4303465

    Kim Peek – The Real Rain Man [2/5] – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJjAbs-3kc8

    This following girl, though written off as severely retarded, reveals that there is indeed a gentle intelligence within her that is trapped behind that wall between her mind and body. A wall that others see as severe retardation:

    Severely Handicapped Girl Suddenly Expresses Intelligence At Age 11 – very moving video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNZVV4Ciccg

    This following man ‘saw’ pi as a landscape that he walked through to over 20,000 digits

    Math Genius Computes in the Blink of an Eye – Daniel Tammet – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd1gywPOibg

  7. Of related interest to the man ‘walking through the landscape of pi’. This man was able to set the number pi to music:

    What pi sounds like
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOQb_mtkEEE

    as well he was able to set Tau to music:

    What Tau sounds like (related to The Golden Ratio; Fibonacci Number)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3174T-3-59Q

    of note to Tau:

    *In ancient times, Tau was used as a symbol for life and/or resurrection,,,
    *Tau is usually considered as the symbol of Franciscan orders due to St. Francis’ love for it, symbol of the redemption and of the Cross.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tau

    Nature by Numbers – beautiful video on Fibonacci number
    http://vimeo.com/9953368

  8. Here is a expert, who has spent a lifetime working with Autistic savants:

    Savant Syndrome and the Art of Prodigious Savants – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC45PciZVZs

  9. OT: new video release:

    Evanescence – My Heart Is Broken
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1QGnq9jUU0

  10. From another blog: the socially autistic atheist: http://voxday.blogspot.com/200.....heist.html

  11. As to autism, this moving comment was left on a post I made on facebook;

    Charlie Wolcott commented:
    I do find it interesting that the same atheists who support abortion and evolution all would have voted to have these people killed at birth because of their ‘defects’. They would institutionalize them to keep them away from society and never would consider their special gifts. I was one such child. I have Asperger’s and my early childhood was very reminiscent of Rain Man. It took a few years for my parents to discover my gifts with numbers and my ability to solve calculus problems in my head. I am no where near the Savant stage but when I was young, I had specialists that wanted to institutionalize me. I was given a very low ceiling and expect never to improve.

    But God had other plans. I’ve broke just about every ceiling put on me and today most people can’t tell that I’m autistic. It’s fine with me that I couldn’t safely drive (operation of the vehicle was no issue, interacting with other drivers was) until this past summer. I got my license in January (I turn 29 this summer). I’m a college graduate from one of the top computer science departments in the nation (UT El Paso), when out of high school ten years ago, I would not have succeeded at all, in spite of my 4.0 high school GPA. I had no reading comprehension until I was 12 and now I am a published fiction author. Those that knew me in my childhood are completely amazed at what I’ve been able to do and it all because of God. I am a walking miracle, living proof that there is a God and any atheist who tries to tell me otherwise will not succeed. If they reject my testimony (and some try) it is evidence of their stubbornness and willful blindness that God not only exists but he cares for each of us individually.

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