Quickies: Research on bipolar disorder and autism, “holistic” citations, and paleolithic hands


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Amanda,

    “Wikipedia founder responds to petition to allow “holistic approaches to healing” to not have to cite sources” So their actually was a petition by a bunch of believers in “holistic medicine” demanding that they not have to site their sources?

    Don’t these idiots realize that they basically just admitted that they have nothing to back up their claims? If they did, they could discredit Wikipedia and Jimmy Wales rather than demand that demand that their views be treated with respect. I’m so glad Wales gave them the only response they deserved,

    No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful.

    Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.

    What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse”. It isn’t.

    In other words, HELL NO!

    1. Wikipedia is sometimes not entirely self-aware. When I was a Wikipedian (I no longer contribute, not out of being banned or anything, but because of edit wars.), you had mods who would just revert if you added a single [citation needed] or [who?] to an article they thought was perfect. (Even though, seriously, you did say ‘some experts’, and you backed up nothing that you said.) So you had some bad edit wars. But I would never say they had an anti-alt med bias, just because that would mean there was actually something to alt med. You can’t have an anti-alt med bias any more than you can have an anti-astrology bias or an anti-flat earth bias.

  2. I’m not sure what the autism story tells us that we didn’t already know. There’s AFAIK fairly good circumstantial evidence that there’s a genetic component, so I would expect that it would already be in place before birth.

    On the other hand, there’s a lot of dubious autism research. (There’s a lot of dubious research, period, but especially in fields where emotions run high, and there are a lot of desperate parents of kids diagnosed with autism.)

    As for the brain “rewiring” itself: this happens already with people with autism (by which I mean the entire spectrum.) The symptoms tend to decrease with age, partly as the nervous system matures and partly as those with autism find ways to deal with it. There are far fewer severely impaired adults than children.

  3. Interesting about women in prehistory. While my response to ‘goddess worship’ is “Yahweh had a sex change?”, I can’t help but notice how often archaeologists have assumed remains were male, only to have a physical anthropologist point out the pelvis and clavicles were clearly female.

  4. That one about the hand art doesn’t surprise me. There’s a modern day group in Papua New Guinea that practices a rite which is very similar, and both men and women participate.

  5. Skepchick wants a disabilities site, posts an article referring to forms of Autism as devastating despite being called out on ableism several times. Your blindness to how utterly unprepared you are to host a site that gives a voice to those with disabilities is astounding.

    1. 1) Skepchick posted no such article. It (or rather, Amanda) posted a link to an article on the BBC that was referred by a reader. Do you have any clue how the Quickies work? The whole point is to provided fodder about things that might be controversial or involve unskeptical reasoning or bad science. If you disagree with the BBC article, write a comment explaining why you think it’s wrong, don’t tell Skepchick to shut up.

      2) So your method for dealing with people who practice ableism (in your view) is to demand that they don’t allow disabled people to speak for themselves?

      3) Isn’t the phrase “Your blindness to …”, directed at someone who does not have any sort of visual impairment relevant to the point, inherently ableist?

      1. I..I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to use an ableist term, I don’t know what I was saying. Guess I’m just a horrible person, I apologize I have Asperger’s Syndrome. Sometimes that causes me to be more emotional and think of standing up for others. I guess it doesn’t matter that calling Autistic people hurts people like myself. I suppose none of it matters, maybe I should just give up.

          1. Let’s look at the actual language in the actual article, because I have two problems with your statements here.

            “Autism can have a profound and devastating impact but the right support can make a huge difference.”

            This is a quote attributed to Carol Povey, director of the National Autistic Society Centre for Autism. It can be argued that if she, herself, does not have autism then she should not be making value judgments about the lives of people with autism. I actually don’t know whether or not she has autism; maybe you do and can speak to that.

            Either way, this language comes from a person quoted in a BBC article, which was then linked on Skepchick by Amanda. It doesn’t come from Amanda or anyone else on Skepchick, and it doesn’t even come from the BBC. This language is two steps removed from anyone at Skepchick. How many degrees of separation must be in place before the taint of abilism is no longer passed along?

            I ask the question in this way because you did NOT post a comment saying, “Maybe Skepchick should put a disclaimer next to these types of links, that the abilist language is not endorsed by Skepchick.” That would be reasonable. Instead your comment tars “abilism” onto Skepchick because of abilist language two steps removed from the site.

            So that’s the first issue i have. The second one is that the quote does NOT say that autism is invariably devastating. It says that autism CAN be devastating. Maybe you think that is splitting hairs, or maybe you think it’s the same thing. It’s not. It’s pretty arrogant of any person (disabled or otherwise) to make universal statements that apply to other people. Some people with bipolar disorder find it devastating. Some find it so devastating they literally cannot live with it and commit suicide. Others think having bipolar is kind of cool because manic episodes can be super-creative and the depressive episodes aren’t that bad for them (or, at least, they can tolerate them). Neither view is incorrect. Both are true.

            So you have an ASD. That makes you qualified to speak for ALL people with ASDs, to say that it is NEVER devastating? That someone saying it =can= be devastating is saying an untrue, abilist thing? That looking for a cure for autism is horrible and we shouldn’t do it because =some= people with ASDs are fine with it and don’t need a cure?

            Personally I am fine with my psychiatric disability and don’t need a cure, but holy hell it would be inhumane of me to declare that it’s never devastating. That would completely invalidate the experiences of people who DO find it devastating. I’m not sure why you think this is an okay thing for you to do.

        1. Being emotional has nothing to do with using the very same abelist language you are criticizing. Where is the self-awareness?! Why is it a forgivable act with you but completely deplorable when someone else does it?

          This is the second time I’ve noticed that someone has attacked Skepchick for being (argueably) abelist, while using clearly abelist language themselves. It’s not okay and it has nothing to do with being emotional. It’s just being a hypocrite and, especially in your case, an insulting jerk.

          “I guess it doesn’t matter that calling Autistic people hurts people like myself. I suppose none of it matters, maybe I should just give up.”

          This is just plain manipulative. You came in here with a clear agenda and insulted Skepchick and its contributors by using the same abelist language that you were criticizing. Instead of giving an honest apology or attempting to have an productive discussion, you turn into a martyr.

          Just because something is posted here does not mean that the article in question is endorsed by the person posting it or Skepchick. That’s not how Quickies works. This was pointed out to you by Buzz, but you conveniently ignored that point so you could continue to act like Skepchick itself said or endorsed that particular phrase.

          This could have been a really great discussion about problematic language, especially in the media.

          But instead of starting a discussion, you INSULTED Skepchick as a whole, and then you turned into a manipulative jerk when your hypocrisy (whether intentional or not, it doesn’t matter) was pointed out.

          Having Asbergers does not give you free access to being an insulting, manipulative jerk.

    1. What is the right way to say sorry? I wasn’t taught that in special ed. It seems no matter how many times I apologize, I say I’m sorry, it’s wrong. It’s manipulative, I’m told I’m a bad person. Why should I bother apologizing then, it only gives people another tool to hurt me with. Look at that girl with Asperger’s Syndrome, she’s pretending to be a martyr while we all stand around and tell her she’s too dumb to know how to apologize correctly. Let’s teach her a lesson for speaking out for those like her, lets show her where she belongs, under our foot.

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