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Skepchick Quickies 4.25

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. My son is autistic. He also doesn’t have any concept of faith (of course, I’ve never taught him any either). However, he does believe in the UPS man as the person who brings presents. More than belief, because he can see the UPS man, he comes down our street every day, and you can see the UPS man leaving boxes on the front porch and other people’s porches. And the UPS man comes whether or not you are good, or pout or cry. And he comes nearly every day, not just once a year. My son is also amazed at how you can click on the ‘1-Click’ button on Amazon and make the UPS man show up.

    1. This comment made me smile. I’m a grown woman with autism, and I have described my relationship to delivery people in much the same way. Yes, I am aware that in order for the delivery people to bring me stuff, I need to place an order and submit payment, but because these things are so disconnected from the delivery, I still see the delivery person as a bringer of gifts. Or at least, I did when I lived/worked in places where I had a direct interaction with UPS/FedEx people. Now I live in a high rise where the person at the front desk is the bringer of happiness.

      Regarding the atheists=autistic people article, there is a lot of offensive stuff in what that person said, but I think it’s actually even more offensive to atheists than autistic people. The casual assumption that of course “normal” people all have faith is pretty eyebrow-raising. The suggestion that autistic children should be taught faith is terrifying.

      I grew up without faith, not because I am autistic, but because my parents didn’t teach me religion. What is possibly interesting/relevant is that I grew up thinking EVERYONE was an atheist. I was an adult before I realized how very wrong I was about that.

  2. My son is “on the spectrum.” He doesn’t give a wit about religion but that’s probably because of the way I addressed his questions about it when he was four or five. I gave him information and let him make up his own mind. If he had been interested, we would have pursued it more. The notion that these folks are going to “turn autistic children into believers” is disturbing. It’s my understanding that because they tend to be trusting, autistic people are vulnerable to manipulation by unscrupulous people.

    1. I think back in the 90’s, they were perceived as promoting multiculturalism and empowering girls. Can’t have that, you know. Thin end of the wedge. Leads directly to dogs and cats living together and the Apopopopopocalypse.

  3. Ah, the American Girl doll. I find it creepy. Now maybe I am not so much a doll person, but my daughter is and loves them and grandmas seem to love giving them too her and she is eager to receive them. I put my foot down about the American Girl doll though. My problem with it, the whole get a dolly that looks like your daughter. Okay, what about the Mom that has to take the creepy plastic doll who looks like your daughter and treat it nice and get it debutant dresses and blah, blah, blah. Not for me! I have heard all sides of this story and this toy like so many others is what you make of it. I am glad that they are multicultural. I see why others get this toy. Still it is not for us. http://www.americangirl.com/index.php

  4. I did my own research after reading the article about American Girl, rather than jump to conclusions about censorship by the company that owns the product line.

    [In 2008, historical dolls that were previously considered core to the brand were “archived,” the doll term for “going to a nice farm.” Samantha, Kirsten and the headstrong colonial character, Felicity, are no longer sold by American Girl.]

    Here is the list of historical dolls currently being sold:
    http://store.americangirl.com/agshop/static/dolls.jsp

    [ Addy
    Caroline
    Josefina
    Julie & Ivy
    Kaya
    Kit & Ruthie
    Marie-Grace & Cecile
    Molly & Emily
    Rebecca]
    Then I looked at the list of books about the American Girl characters the dolls are based on:
    http://store.americangirl.com/agshop/static/books.jsp
    [Addy
    Caroline
    Felicity & Elizabeth
    Josefina
    Julie & Ivy
    Kaya
    Kirsten
    Kit & Ruthie
    Marie-Grace & Cecile
    Molly & Emily
    Rebecca
    Samantha & Nellie]
    Note that Samantha, Kirsten, and Felicity are all there. Conclusion: the dolls were removed because they were no longer selling, but the books remain because the stories about the characters are worth telling. Even if you can never afford the dolls, you can buy the books.

    Also, the title of the article itself is misleading. American Girl was never radical; I’ve read that its fans tended to be conservative in their politics.

    1. “I’ve read that [American Girl’s] fans tended to be conservative in their politics.”

      This probably has a lot to do with the fact that you were dropping over $100 on a doll for your child (well, daughter) in the first place, and in order to be a “fan”, you probably had the whole collection as well as matching outfits for your doll and your daughter. I had most of the books and it was a HUGE DEAL when I got Kirsten. I was massively dismissed by a classmate who had Felicity and Samantha and Molly and five outfits for each AND the matching little girl ones, and her parents were (shocker) rampant conservatives.

  5. This is why I despise direct action approaches to animal rights, the demand for animal testing isn’t going anywhere–it’s still framed as a human necessity. Now MORE animals will suffer and die for these antiquated tests. We need vegan education, not vandalism.

  6. I still have my American Girl doll, Molly. I got her for Christmas in 1991 when I was 9 years old. I learned a lot of my sewing skills making clothing for her. She sits in my sewing studio now, with her hair kind of ruined but otherwise in good shape. She’s still very special to me, even after more than 20 years.

    My sister had 2 of the American Girl dolls. I read every single book Pleasant Company put out. It was the best introduction to history I could ask for, because it kept me engaged and interested in different time periods. I’m sad to see that tradition fading from the company – I’d hoped that there would be an ever-growing series of books and dolls to share with my own children and help them learn history too. We’ll find other ways to teach those lessons of course, and the books that already exist are still around, but I would like to have seen the company continue as it was, instead of becoming so much like Barbie.

  7. I’ve met a few people on the autism spectrum who were religious, and a few more who I suspected might be somewhere on the same spectrum who were very active in church life. They seemed to get something out of the rigidity of religious ritual and the ordered nature of the dogma and demands made on the faithful. I have no idea if they were on-board with the whole personal religious experience of divinity, though. They didn’t really seem to care either way.

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