Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another one bites the dust

We autists don't like change (at least this one does not)

The announcement of end of my blogging presence here was perhaps a little premature because it still has it's uses.

Yesterday I learnt from the BBC (not Yahoo incidentally) that Geocities is being buried.
This follows on the end of Lycos Europe which recently caused me to lament the ephemeral nature of the web.

Geocities might not be keeping up with Myspace and Facebook and the rest but it was where a lot of us cut our teeth. I would not have learned HTML without that impetus, and I guess this and the other free hosts out there provided us the first opportunities to get our message out to world and start connecting, via web rings (remember them) and cross linking.

Those who do not keep up with the times, who don't recularly update websites and move across platforms will be lost as when the plug is pulled a vast number of links will become dead including the most popular of mine.

Nowadays, however I do not rely upon free webhosting and pay for the space to host my old style website, which is all still there. Nothing is recession proof of course and eventually I may not be able to afford to maintain it, but at least I will be the one who kills it off, not someone else.

Most of the old Geocities sites may have been badly designed and essentially so much rubbish, but you can say the same for Myspace.

I guess nothing is permanent in the web world. Woolworths stood for nearly a hundred years. How much of the web as we know it today will still be here in 10 years time, even the lead applications of today such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and what have you, they rise up like flowers and are cut down. In ten years time blogging might be as much yesterdays application as geocities was. Enjoy it while you can.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pastures new, or any port in a storm.

I have found a new blogging haven, and no I am not going to link to it from here, as I find it a haven of sanity and sound rational discourse in the face of what have increasingly become Punch and Judy knockabout exchanges on the autism hub.

Yes my new blog does deal with autism, it does deal with science and that by implication would be enough to infuriate the ‘mercurian’ persuasion, whose interpretation of science is somewhat different to my own.

In that new community I find the level of discourse to be far more respectful in general than I find here and it is a welcome escape from the ad hominem attacks and blatant irrationalism which all too often surfaces in the commentaries on our blogs.

I have to say, indeed confess that my own style of commentary both within this community and without has often sunk to that same pantomime level, which is what tends to happen when the quality of what one is responding to almost demands a less than serious rejoinder.

Is it good bye to this particular blog?

Well it may be, then again it may not, as I reserve this blog for the more personal.
Anyway I could go on to say that I have found the exchanges on the autism hub to be more analogous to the late night arguments one might have in a pub after a few beers when ones guard is down compared to the sort of constrained exchanges one might find in a debating society.

So what have I learnt from other bloggers both within and without of the autism hub?

I have learnt that Michelle Dawson considers me the enemy of science because I dare to be critical of the basis for the research her institution is undertaking. That I fear stems from a clash of epistemologies more than anything else as it often seems we are speaking mutually unintelligible languages, mine being inflected (some would say infected) by the dangerous virus of sociology. No matter, I respect Michelle's work both in advocacy (whether she acknowledges the word or not), and in her contribution to demolishing the myths of behaviourism.

Harold Doherty, would seem to think that I am one of the Devil’s minions, a cohort of High Functioning Hells Angels who would ride roughshod over his rights as a parent. What utter nonsence, put away the distorting spectacles Harold. His ally Autism’s Gadfly seems to be confused, on the one hand I am a nobody, a wannabe sniping at the authority figures in the autism world. On the other hand he snipes at me because my relative academic success (albeit thirty years late) is somehow challenging to his self esteem as someone doomed by the curse of autism. You can’t have it both ways.

Others think that because I call myself a king in my own domain, that I am closer to Caligula than Marcus Aurelius. So be it, I sometimes wish I had never used that particular trope as the subtleties of the shift in meaning between Erasmus’ and Wells' use of it go unnoticed. The reality for this one eyed tyrant king is that at this age (to quote from Thomas Hardy) toothlessness is felt less to be a defect than hard gums an acquisition.

As for Foresam, I leave the Be(a)st till last does he even think? Or has he been swigging the mercury himself?

I have really had rather enough of it all which is why I am moving to pastures new, hoping that I can cross the bridge without encountering any Troll resistance, or worse yet to find them chasing after me.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Our ephemeral history

Today I have been occupied in revising the bibliographies in a number of papers I have written, with a view to publication, and have discovered on clicking through a number of the internet links that they no longer exist.

Since ours is a predominantly on line cultural history, that much of our archaeology has been effectively wiped out and is inaccessible now.

Of course key texts like the Institute for the Neurotypical, and Jim Sinclairs writings are still there, but I am no longer able to find Martijn Dekkers paper, which I often cite. (click on his link and see for yourself what I mean)

This is the problem with the internet, in that you can still find out of print books in libraries, but if you try and follow any internet links given in them, likely as not they are no longer there.

I have myself been a victim of this, in that I have recently lost two domain names with the demise of Lycos Europe who hosted them, and that is just a microcosm.

I recall nearly ten years ago now, reading the web sites of Amanda Baggs, Jared Blackburn, Dave Spicer, Frank Klein and others, but where are they now?

Ok I know where Amanda is, but I am referring to the original Aleis in Wonderland site, and there are many more examples.

I myself have tried to keep popular stuff which is frequently referenced stable, in that I have not moved those pages around on my original Geocities site, but anything that was on Lycos has now gone.

Wikipedia is no better. Whilst this is useful it has it's limits. There is so much that is subject to the inumerable "wiki wars" and so much which is little more than plagiarism from out of copyright encyclopedias which by definition is going to be more of historical interest than anything else.

The early history of Neurodiversity and the usage of the word has been effectively wiped out by wiki wars, the current article in wikipedia being inaccurate, uninformative and biased.

It is more than annoyance, because it really hampers the work of someone like me, who cites from the internet a lot.

This is one reason I am now submitting papers to journals, because otherwise in another ten years time, none of it will necessarily still be able to be read. This blog being an example, at some point google could change their terms of reference, and it could be gone in the proverbial puff of smoke ........

Of course the shifting landscape of the internet is not only our concern, it can be very embarrasing too: Home Office in new pornography embarrassment

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Under the liquid cosh

I heard this article this morning, and thought that if nobody else blogs about it I shall.

"Hundreds of women sedated in care homes may be at risk of having children with birth defects, the BBC learns."

Now the article goes on to relate research which indicates that "10 ex-residents of a children's home run by the Church of England in Gravesend, Kent, have had children with a birth defect."

Now I am not playing the blame game and pointing the finger at the Church of England, because you can bet that what went on there was widespread across the care industry and that would include any number of charities including one I am associated with.

We can rail against the practices of the Judge Rotenburg centre but this is worse when you consider the outcomes, because it is interfering with the reproductive ability of a generation as surely as if they were sterilised and this is not even autism yet.

I am coming to that, because if the major tranquiliser regime that these young girls were under, in order to control behaviour was that dangerous, just consider the chemical cocktails that some autistic children have to endure, multiple psychotropic medications, often off licence, and that is mainstream before we even come to what the biomedical quacks practice.

Isn't it ironic that in order to "cure" or control one generation they will risk the next?

Is this a real danger to future autistic mothers?

You bet I can think of several people in my own acquaintance who have been on long term neuroleptic medication.

But anyway, whether it is autistic young people in care, or NT's this is a major abuse.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Good science is not good science if it is unethical.

I do not any longer think there is that much of a distinction between good science and bad science.

For sure “crank” science is as much the bane of this generation as it has ever been, in terms of giving unsupportable validity to distasteful concepts, however following on my recent blog about the distortions of science in Nazi Germany I really think that what is equally important to good science, is not it’s accuracy but the spirit in which it is carried out.

Where most autism science fails is at the outset, before even the construction of the experimental paradigm, is in the attitude, because before everything comes the formulation of the hypothesis, that imaginative leap from what is currently known or unknown, toward the question one believes one can answer through the scientific method.

Nobody comes to this without bias. My particular bias, which you could argue gets in the way of objectivity, is my inability to read the serried ranks of journals, without an increasing sense of anger, with regard to the contempt that most of this shows to the humanity of my people.

I cannot but see the FMRI scanner in the same intrusive light as the discredited anthropometrists calliper.

So much of the paper chase is driven not by a desire to know anything useful, but by the pressure to publish, and to publish something new and original, even to the neglect of examining the wider context and grounding for that.

It would be disengenous (Godwins law again) to compare most scientists currently climbing the academic ladder with the racist tainted science of pre WWW2 Germany, however I cannot help wondering, if the metaphorical gloves were taken off, what they might do. The prospects for human veniality are bleak, as the experiments of Zimbardo and Milgram (in themselves dubiously ethical) have shown.

It seems to me, in journal after journal all we see is a number of cliques arguing between themselves, that “I think this and my scans prove it,” never mind someone elses set of scans show something else and “prove” something else.

In terms of good science vs bad science this may well be because of poor experimental design, and bias being multiplied through the analytical tools chosen, just as something that is not there can come out of a photoshopped picture simply through chosing one particular filter algorithm over another.

(Does anyone remember the famous Nessie pictures, where reputable experts in there own fields Edgerton, strobe photography, Rines , Sonar produced evidence that Nessie existed, only to be debunked some years later when one of the pictures turned out to be largely an artefact of the enhancement of a rotting tree stump )

One should beware of simply taking anything for granted just because it has a University seal behind it and has passed peer review, because one needs context, context is everything.

The context with autism, is that everything so far has proceeded from it’s cultural construct. The scientists all come in with a bias, that autism exists, and it is this, that or the other. Nobody has ever reframed any of the questions ab initio.

So is my bias against their ethics any worse than there bias against the dignity of the “subjects” they research and there refusal to countenance that they may be mistaken, especially given the mutually insupportable and contradictory nature of so many of their findings.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fort Apache the Bronx

"The Bronx is burning." Does anyone else recall that time? Well it seems that Henley Green or at least my part of it is burning.

You may recall my block of flats was hit by two fires in recent times, well now it is the turn of the pub which is just the other side of the green from where I live. What next?

Over the years a number of pubs in this area have been torched, including the Shire Horse and the once notorious Live and Let Live.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Indiana Jones and the lost tribes of Atlantis

The ultimate destination of bad science and crank theories.....

Whilst one can look at notions of the lost Atlantis, Lemuria, Theosophy and even naturism as merely eccentric, and trace there origins in 19th Century Germanic thought down one path to Haight Ashbury and onwards to today's new age exploitations, one can also trace them down the left hand path to death camps of the Nazi's for it is these same philosophies that so engaged Heinrich Himmler that he sent an expedition to Tibet, in search of lost Aryans. (See where Indiana Jones comes in now?)

Contemporary German science was all too keen to lend a hand, as concurrent with this nonsense were the growing disciplines of anthropology informed by the Social Darwinism of the likes of Galton who still have a lot to answer for.

The somewhat less than harmless pursuit of native skulls, and live specimens to be put under the callipers and gypsum casts of the anthropometrists lead inexorably to the experiments carried out in the death camps, by reputable accredited scientists with no regard as to what became of the subjects afterwards (I need not elaborate)

The relevance of this to Autism is very apt. Those whose reaction to disparagement of the autistic way of being is a desire to create Aspergian creation myths should take note, that false notions of our origins just will not do.

On the other side of the equation, the false origin theories of the quack bio med brigade will not do either, where unsustainable theory and the pursuit of personal gain drives the research and nothing else.

Ok by Godwin's law I have already lost the argument, but you cannot argue with the corruption in science, when the pursuit of objectivity is compromised by the political or economic regime, where to keep your job and succeed you have to go along with all the current notions.

This is where autism science is leading when funding is driven by the propagandist machine of the ignorant, just as surely as there were plenty of fellow travellers with populist notions of racial origin to fuel Nazi fanaticism.

And before I am accused of the inevitable bias in this, let me put in a word of discouragement for those extremists supposedly on the same side as me, those "Aspie supremacists" who regale an enthusiastic audience with equally pseudo scientific nonsense claiming our descent as a neurodiverse lost tribe and next step in evolution. To deduce our own existence from the supposed survival of Neandarthals or whatever, is as patently false and harmful as the notions of the descent of the Aryans from a lost Atlantean race of giants.

Those who argue that the truth does not matter, (as some Aspergians do) because everyone has a right to a creation myth of there own very much miss the real history, where the SS under Heinrich Himmler were equally as keen to supplant the Judeo Christian traditions with a Nordic pagan mythology of there own.

If anyone wishes to read more, this is the book I have just finished reading.
"Himmler's Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race" The connections between populist crackpot philosophy and the appeal of the Nazi's becomes very clear.

Apart from the events of this book possibly being the inspiration for Indiana Jones, the book tells the other side of those harmless not so new age philosophies as current at the end of the Nineteenth century as they still were at the end of the Twentieth. It will also tell you that all was not sweetness and light in the pre war Tibet of the current Dalai Lama's predecessor either, and that there is more to history than any one side would have you believe.

Thank heaven that not all German science was so corrupt because there were also those such as Dr Creutzfeld who openly refused to co-operate with the Nazi T4 extermination of "mental defectives" not forgetting our very own Dr Asperger either, whose upbeat descriptions of the positive attributes of his patients "disabilities" have to be understood in the context of the times he was working.