fight for truth: fight simon baron-cohen

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rdos
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30 Dec 2010, 5:08 am

Woodpecker wrote:
The problem I see is that the AQ, EQ and SQ scales have several different purposes. These scales are used for the diagnosis of people as well as being used for research. SBC has claimed that a strong coorelation exists between autism and the AQ and SQ scales and that an inverse coorelation exists between autism and the EQ scale.

The great problem in science is that it is possible to take at least two routes through science. I am not sure what scientific method that SBC is using, he has formed a extensive set of hypotheses but I am not sure how well he has then tested them. I am a follower of some of the ideas of Karl Popper which makes me a falsificationist, I am not sure if SBC is an inductionist or a falsificationist.

I am sure that he has observed a difference between different populations in terms of his three scales, but how well has he tested the hypothesis ?


The biggest problems with his research is that all his measures are strongly correlated, and that they are strongly correlated with whatever core ASC traits he want to test. For instance, the AQ test is correlated 0.83 with Aspie-quiz, and the EQ test is correlated -0.72 with Aspie-quiz. Despite the fact that Aspie-quiz contains no stereotypes about lack of empathy in ASCs, neither many social problems (the problem side of ASCs have been selected out) nor many systemizing skills.

Anybody could take a set of core ASC-traits of their liking, put them in a survey with related traits of their liking, and prove it as a possible cause. However, it quite likely is not a cause, but rather just some traits related to ASCs one way or the other.



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30 Dec 2010, 5:54 am

I think the main problem in the SBC theories is the AQ - many studies in non-clinical populations don't show great internal significancy within AQ - the alpha cronebach (sp.?) are low (apperently, the several traits measured by AQ are largely unrelated with wich other).

I hava also some doubts about the folk physics vs. folk psychology explanation of special interests (by personal reason - my special interst in childhood was animals and nature - folk physics - but since adolescence is politics - that can be considered folk psychology)



rdos
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30 Dec 2010, 7:45 am

TPE2 wrote:
I think the main problem in the SBC theories is the AQ - many studies in non-clinical populations don't show great internal significancy within AQ - the alpha cronebach (sp.?) are low (apperently, the several traits measured by AQ are largely unrelated with wich other).


Yes, because ASCs comprise of a whole set of traits that have low correlation to each others. Also, the AQ test also contains some items of his own construction, that are not correlated to overall test scores, and in fact are not related to ASCs at all. These include imagination and related issues that once was hypothesised to be part of ASCs because of ASC theories.

TPE2 wrote:
I hava also some doubts about the folk physics vs. folk psychology explanation of special interests (by personal reason - my special interst in childhood was animals and nature - folk physics - but since adolescence is politics - that can be considered folk psychology)


Yes, special interests are not related to specific topics. They are just a tendency to hyperfocus on a narrow issues.



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30 Dec 2010, 1:17 pm

I do think SBC has done a great deal of damage with the "Extreme male brain" theory in the fact that it has harmed identifying diagnostic criteria in girls and created the "professional" myth that it does not happen in women. This has had a big negative impact in diagnosing women on the spectrum earlier in life when the most help can be done, as well as in the adolescent years when it is most likely to be apparent. It has also skewed the population diagnosed significantly. The very fact is the terminology he put forth is extremely damaging to women on the spectrum, as there is a significant underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis because of his theory and terminology. The theory was sexist and did diagnostically set things back for women, and they are only recently starting to address this.



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31 Dec 2010, 3:07 am

rdos wrote:
The biggest problems with his research is that all his measures are strongly correlated, and that they are strongly correlated with whatever core ASC traits he want to test. For instance, the AQ test is correlated 0.83 with Aspie-quiz, and the EQ test is correlated -0.72 with Aspie-quiz. Despite the fact that Aspie-quiz contains no stereotypes about lack of empathy in ASCs, neither many social problems (the problem side of ASCs have been selected out) nor many systemizing skills.

Anybody could take a set of core ASC-traits of their liking, put them in a survey with related traits of their liking, and prove it as a possible cause. However, it quite likely is not a cause, but rather just some traits related to ASCs one way or the other.


I am sure that in SBC's work that a strong coorrelation between AQ and SQ has been observed, and an inverse coorelation between AQ and EQ has been observed. As the aspie test has a good correlation with the AQ scale it is reasonable to expect the aspie test to have an inverse correlation with the EQ scale.

The coorelations between AQ and SQ and EQ are not a sign of poor science, to me the best type of science is where a hypothesis is tested. I am sure that in some of SBCs papers he has tested the hypothesis that "a coorelation exists between AQ and SQ scores". While it might be the case that SBC's three scales (AQ, EQ and SQ) might form useful research and diagnostic tools they do not clearly indicate the origins or causes of autism.

If we take an example from physical science, if we were to test household objects of their ability to conduct electricity then we would be likely to get a strong coorelation between metal/water content and electrical conductivity. This coorelation is perfectly reasonable, but it tells us little or nothing about the mechanism by which electricity flows through objects.

PS. I suspect that for household objects the order of conductivity will be

Metal (spoons, knifes)
Fruit juice and beer
Food with high water content (meat and gerkins)
Tap water
Food with medium water content (Cooked meat)
Wood
Food with low water content (cornflakes)
Plastics and glass

The greatest problem I see is that for the list which I have come up with that the mechanism of electrical conduction for some of the items in the list will be different, the metal and beer will conduct in very different ways.


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rdos
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31 Dec 2010, 3:46 am

starygrrl wrote:
I do think SBC has done a great deal of damage with the "Extreme male brain" theory in the fact that it has harmed identifying diagnostic criteria in girls and created the "professional" myth that it does not happen in women. This has had a big negative impact in diagnosing women on the spectrum earlier in life when the most help can be done, as well as in the adolescent years when it is most likely to be apparent. It has also skewed the population diagnosed significantly. The very fact is the terminology he put forth is extremely damaging to women on the spectrum, as there is a significant underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis because of his theory and terminology. The theory was sexist and did diagnostically set things back for women, and they are only recently starting to address this.


Absolutely true. Apart from the "extreme male brain theory" being based on nothing else than some core ASC-traits pulled into a test, and then regarded as "proved", it has done great damage to female aspies.

From the demographics in Aspie-quiz, it is quite clear that in society twice as many boys as girls think they might be Aspies, while the much fewer girls that participate have considerably higher scores. In reality, there probably is no difference in incidence between genders.



rdos
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31 Dec 2010, 4:01 am

Woodpecker wrote:
I am sure that in SBC's work that a strong coorrelation between AQ and SQ has been observed, and an inverse coorelation between AQ and EQ has been observed. As the aspie test has a good correlation with the AQ scale it is reasonable to expect the aspie test to have an inverse correlation with the EQ scale.


Yes, of course. The problem is that anybody could put together another test with say perception difficulties, and get a high correlation with diagnosis, AQ and EQ. What it means is that anybody could prove their pet-theory provided there is some kind of correlation to some related traits to ASCs.

One might also note that Attwoods Aspie criteria (converted into a test) also have a moderate correlation with the AQ and SQ, despite half of the the items having basically no correlation to ASCs. Somebody could advance the theory that Attwood's "theory" was correct, and prove it with correlation analysis.

Woodpecker wrote:
The coorelations between AQ and SQ and EQ are not a sign of poor science, to me the best type of science is where a hypothesis is tested. I am sure that in some of SBCs papers he has tested the hypothesis that "a coorelation exists between AQ and SQ scores". While it might be the case that SBC's three scales (AQ, EQ and SQ) might form useful research and diagnostic tools they do not clearly indicate the origins or causes of autism.


Maybe SBC was not originally aware of the fact that core ASC traits are correlated to most of human diversity, but today he must be, or he is simply a poor researcher.

And when a test/diagnosis does not indicate some cause, it seems to be poorly defined. At least if further research cannot indicate any cause either.

To see what I mean about most of human diversity being related to core ASC-traits study figure 1 in the Aspie-quiz paper (Aspie-quiz paper).



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31 Dec 2010, 11:27 am

Truth be told, anybody can define "autism" in whatever arbitrary fashion they wish, and it's up to the researcher to decide what s/he believes to be the core "necessary" feature of "autism." In SBC's world, he seems to regard "empathy" verses "systemizing" as what separates the autistic from the non-autistic.

My beef with this interpretation is the pure subjectivity of what one considers "empathizing" verses "systemising." In skimming SBC's criteria, I've noticed that he seems to only care about the scientific/engineering autistics and regards the arts and humanities as purely "empathetic" disciplines. For example, from what I've read, if one prefers to read fiction, than one is automatically "empathetic." This is nonsense. To me, this indicates a poor understanding of fiction and of the humanities more so than it does a superior understanding of autism. Believe it or not, one can approach the study of art in a logical, non-emotional fashion. And just because one has a good understanding of subjects that require "judgment" it does not necessarily follow that they are socially skilled. I've seen this fallacy from places other than SBC and it bugs me every time.

This is generally where his research bites women and girls in the ass. Attwood at least makes allowances for interests that don't involve "mathy" subjects, but Attwood also seems to believe that the defining feature of autism/Asperger's is the ability to socialize, not empathize ,with others.

In conclusion, Attwood is about social skills, SBC is about "systemizing, the Intense World Syndrome theory focuses on sensory issues.......blahblah. People are going to drift to whatever theory they think explains them best. Personally, SBC has very little to do with me. I'm an artist, an English major, and a non-empathetic social retard in one big package.

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ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo
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31 Dec 2010, 12:00 pm

XFilesGeek wrote:
My beef with this interpretation is the pure subjectivity of what one considers "empathizing" verses "systemising." In skimming SBC's criteria, I've noticed that he seems to only care about the scientific/engineering autistics and regards the arts and humanities as purely "empathetic" disciplines. For example, from what I've read, if one prefers to read fiction, than one is automatically "empathetic." This is nonsense. To me, this indicates a poor understanding of fiction and of the humanities more so than it does a superior understanding of autism. Believe it or not, one can approach the study of art in a logical, non-emotional fashion. And just because one has a good understanding of subjects that require "judgment" it does not necessarily follow that they are socially skilled. I've seen this fallacy from places other than SBC and it bugs me every time.

This is generally where his research bites women and girls in the
--XFG

It might be why certain people go under the radar for diagnosis. People think of it as an increase in logical thinking skills at the expense of others. Perhaps there's a certain logic interpreting art and literature? I was never that interested in math beyond basic counting. I memorized numbers and could count high at an early age. People thought I was going to be good at math because of that. Not hardly. I do like science, though.
You could be just as "good" at literature and art as others are at math and science and still be autistic :)



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31 Dec 2010, 12:42 pm

And honestly, there are autistic people like me where logical thinking is a strain and we excel at something more like instinct and intuition. To me the world is not a bunch of rigid systems, but whole swirls of sensory information that I'm swimming through without regard to idea, category, or logical meaning. We also tend to be intensely empathetic in an involuntary way, getting swept up in others emotions just like more sensory data, it can be one more source of overload.  As for art, I have done paintings that represent the way I experience the world better than writing, like this:

Image

Hardly "logical".  Yet despite all this nonstereotypical stuff, we are definitely autistic.  Many times it's that we end up with the inverse of the way more stereotypical choices some autistic people's brains make. I mean like even such very logical autistic people as Temple Grandin say that they can either hear tone of voice or the words but not both. We tend more towards hearing the tone than the words is all. That's part of the folly of making theories about autism based on the choices made by the brains of autistic people who are most likely to be able to explain themselves. It would be better to look into what makes our brains forced to make that choice in the first place, rather than focusing on one side of that choice as if the other possibilities don't exist. 

Actually to be more precise, my brain gives me a tendency to hear tone over meaning. But I can with effort hear meaning instead, some of the time. It's just difficult and not always possible.  Here's a painting of the hell my brain enters when I try to decipher words for too long, very similar to if I try to do "logical" thinking too long. 

Image

Anyway, I don't think SBC really understands or even acknowledges people like me, despite our being just as autistic as the ones he focuses on.  (Which seems obvious in the fact that many of us are independently diagnosed as autistic by many different doctors without knowing of each other.)


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31 Dec 2010, 1:20 pm

ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo wrote:
It might be why certain people go under the radar for diagnosis. People think of it as an increase in logical thinking skills at the expense of others. Perhaps there's a certain logic interpreting art and literature?


I happen to think so. One of my more endearing characteristics is I prefer things to follow my own internal sense of "logic." I don't give a #@$% about anybody else's "logic." :P

Quote:
I was never that interested in math beyond basic counting. I memorized numbers and could count high at an early age. People thought I was going to be good at math because of that. Not hardly. I do like science, though.
You could be just as "good" at literature and art as others are at math and science and still be autistic :)


I understand that math is very important, and I have a lot of respect for "mathy" people, but I fail at things that require me to memorize lots of rules and involve complex chains of sequences. I can't even count back change properly. However, "math," much like language, is an arbitrary system invented by humans to describe physical processes. Numbers don't actually "exist" in an objective way. I also tend to stink at languages.

My brain is very good at making random connections that no one else sees. I can absorb grammar rules intuitively, but I have no conscious knowledge of them, nor could I state them if asked. In relation to the EQ verses SQ, I took the test many years ago and came out at below normal for both. My brain is best at making random connections other people don't see. Also, I tend to be abnormally affected by colors, patterns, textures, and smells. I interpret this to mean I have a "brain" that is more similar to non-human animals than it is to other people.

Conclusion: math and languages are "human things" invented to help humans comprehend their environment. I don't think much like a person; therefore, I'm bad at "human things," much like I'm bad social "rules" invented to help people comprehend other people. Just a thought.....

--XFG


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Last edited by XFilesGeek on 31 Dec 2010, 1:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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31 Dec 2010, 1:24 pm

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Anyway, I don't think SBC really understands or even acknowledges people like me, despite our being just as autistic as the ones he focuses on. (Which seems obvious in the fact that many of us are independently diagnosed as autistic by many different doctors without knowing of each other.)


First, you're very talented. I love your work.

Secondly, I concur with the above.


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ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo
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31 Dec 2010, 1:30 pm

What I wonder is if we measure with our words like we do with our numbers? Maybe words are just another unit of measurement that can be translated numerically? So literature and mathematics are more closely related than people realize. Maybe people don't realize it. It remains part of the psyche that most are not consciously aware of...



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31 Dec 2010, 1:45 pm

ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo wrote:
What I wonder is if we measure with our words like we do with our numbers? Maybe words are just another unit of measurement that can be translated numerically? So literature and mathematics are more closely related than people realize. Maybe people don't realize it. It remains part of the psyche that most are not consciously aware of...


That's very interesting. It reminds me of computer "languages" where communication occurs as a series of 0s and 1s. Words are also used by people to convey qualities and quantities, but while numbers usually only have one possible meaning, words can have many.

"Words, by their very nature, are imprecise and layered with meaning." -Phillip Padget, The X-Files

But I personally don't regard numbers as a "measuring" system so much as a "descriptive" system. It's more helpful for me to think of them that way. People tend to think of numbers as an inherent part of the universe when, in reality, while the properties numbers describe are an inherent part of the universe, the numbers themselves are not. If there are three oranges sitting on a table, we think of them as "three" as a means to describe them just like we think of them as "round," or "orange." But the quantity of oranges doesn't actually change regardless of how humans choose to describe them, or even if there are humans present who can describe them in the first place.

In that way, I regard numbers and poetry as equally valid and worthy of note. :D

Sorry. You've got me rambling about one of my special interests. I'll shut up now. :wink:


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31 Dec 2010, 2:21 pm

antonblock wrote:

Let's do something against this crap!
There is no crap to do "something" against. 2/3rds of autistic or AS people have an extreme-male brain. That doesn't sound like a claim I have any evidence against. Perhaps you fall into the remaining 1/3rd.