Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Festschrift

I have just returned from the august portals of the Royal Society no less, that bastion of the scientific establishment, where a conference was being held in honour of Uta Frith who is retiring.

I may be a fellow of a "rival" royal society myself but not one of that particular pedigree, my bunch being Johnny come latelies in comparison (though I could be shot for saying so) contaminated by the arts and manufacture as we are :)

I have to admit , that the scorpion has not yet lost his sting and although I did not engage in the sort of vehement argument I did at the NAS, I still felt compelled to tell some of the presenters who I disagreed with that they were doing bad science, because they were not sufficiently open or lateral in there thinking to realise how much cultural bias there was in their assumptions and there methodology too.

Not that I spent the whole time doing that at all, because I was only bothered with those who said things I fiercely disagreed with, not those who were not so relevant to autism as the conference covered dyslexia as well, and I am not well read up so far as the literature on dyslexia goes.

However I couldn’t let SBC get away without being told once again about the subjectivity problem with his AQ, SQ, and EQ tests, but one thing I was not able to do, because the chair wasn’t going to take my questions (is it any wonder I heckle when holding your hand up in the proper way does not guarantee parole) was to get him to publicly say something about the Geiers. However I did tackle him about it during the “networking” part of the conference during the break, and he mentioned reading what Kathleen Seidel had to say and assured me he will write something to deal with the way the Geiers are distorting his Foetal Testosterone theory.

Another thing I got out of the way, was to take the opportunity to have a conversation with Francesca Happé about her now notorious essay in Uta Friths autism and asperger syndrome book and to clear the air once and for all that she does not still hold to the ideas she represented then when autobiographies were few and far between and admitting to writing poetry could lose you your diagnosis.

Mind you it was be nice to Uta day, (well two days actually) as the whole shebang was as I have explained, to mark her retirement, and when I learnt that people had been giving her retirement gifts I decided to give her one of my own, which I admitted was a bit of an egocentric onet as it was a copy of my DVD “whichever way”

I had to be careful with the free wine at the reception, as I have been known to overindulge at conferences, and say things I very much regretted later. I don’t think I did this time, leastways nobody reproached me for it the next day as happened at the NAS international conference a year or so back.

All in all I was glad I went, and although it can be stressful for me, wanting to intervene all the time, and take some presentations apart, line by line, I was also there to enjoy and to learn.


Seriously for all there potential faults and failings (they can't help being NT after all) the researchers doing the presentations, all of whom had come under the influence or tutelage of Uta Frith at some time in their careers, seemed to be a very different bunch from the sort of fanatic stuff one gets from the MIND institute or Yale for that matter, certainly the mercury hypothesis gets short shrift, and there is no emotional talk of epidemics and Tsunami's. Too much talk of deficit and disorder for my liking but nothing I think Michelle Dawson would be uncomfortable with from the scientific perspective.

I have no idea, from the body of the conference other than those already in the know, that anyone would have considered my interjections came from a diagnosed perspective, I should think most people probably thought I was just being eccentric and individual in the best of British traditions. Who knows?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Seriously for all there potential faults and failings (they can't help being NT after all) the researchers doing the presentations, all of whom had come under the influence or tutelage of Uta Frith at some time in their careers, seemed to be a very different bunch from the sort of fanatic stuff one gets from the MIND institute or Yale for that matter, certainly the mercury hypothesis gets short shrift, and there is no emotional talk of epidemics and Tsunami's.

No, we can't help being NT but we (NTs who research the brain and autism) can correct the obvious exclusion of autistics in policy development and the definition of autism for that matter. I listened to a wonderful talk by a countryman of your's, Christopher Gillberg, just the other day in which he espoused much of what is defined as the concept of neurodiversity right up to and not including the point where he emphasized that people with autism should not be called "autistics". Anyway, save that end, I was wishing that his talk could have been videotaped.

Anonymous said...

Subjectivity from scientists! Isn't that an oxymoron? I'm shocked. May be it was just a touch of cultural bias? Many of us are guilty of that one.
But look how well you blended in!
Cheers

Joseph said...

I'm glad you brought that up with SBC. I'll look forward to that slap-down of the Geiers.