Sunday, June 07, 2009

The first "problem" with Galia, among other autistics

Facilitated communication was introduced as a science. If they did not have the science, they would not have started working with autistics, including Jewish mystical autistics. When people point out that many consider FC to be a pseudoscience, they point to researchers such as Dr. Douglas Biklen. Dr. Biklen works with higher-functioning autistics, but still many scientists consider it nonsense. And as Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach held, first demonstrate (scientifically) that they can communicate via FC, and only then can we start assessing whether the "mystical" communications are real and from heaven.

It has been demonstrated that at least in some instances, it is the facilitator who is communicated, completely unwittingly. For example, when they showed the same image to facilitator and autistic, the FC came back with the correct result. But when they showed different images, the FC came back with the image the facilitator saw. Thus,
In the picture identification task...correct answers were typed only when the facilitator knew the answer
A scientific explanation of this phenomenon is the ideomotor effect, which also is what functions on an Ouija board. One who is looking to believe, and abandon all sensible thought, can answer up all questions by insisting that it all correct, but there is telepathy involved, or something along those lines.

Here is a story about Galia, an autistic who was promoted as true by Daniel, one of the famous autistics. Her mother records that:

One day Galia fell asleep in the middle of a session but her hand continued to write. I asked her, “Galia, how can it be that you’re sleeping and your hand continues to write?” She wrote back, “Mum, you’re communicating with my soul, and souls never sleep.” 

I communicate with Galia through her soul, not through her intellect. Her intellect is that of a five-month-old infant.

A rational person would realize that given explicit other instances in which it was confirmed that the facilitator rather than autistic was communicating, that Galia fell asleep during a session yet the facilitator continued to write is evidence that in this case as well, the facilitator is communicating, rather than arriving at the terutz that it is even holier communication, the soul communicating. I would note that similar claims have been made about the more popular autistics, such as explanations that they can read minds and that is why they can answer even before the question has been posed.

The rational answer is that it is the facilitator accidentally communicating, despite the "25 proofs" otherwise. It is far easier to come up with a terutz to each of these 25 proofs.

Here is an example involving the popular autistics:
"Usually, when we begin the FC session, Binyamin (the oldest in the group) starts first and then, Daniel. First I ask if there is a message they'd like to transfer and then I read them the questions or comments from the guests (from the website) and they reply. This time it was a little different. I noticed that in previous FC sessions, sometimes they give me answers before I even complete the questions. I remember one time particularly that Binyamin said that in the North Pole, animals that were never there before were discovered, due to global warming. When I asked him how he knew this, I mean, did he go there recently? He replied, "If you read it in the newspapers, I know." In other words, I think that they are capable of reading people's minds. Because this site was not build for this purpose, I did not relate it, but this time, it was very noticeable. When the facilitator sat next to Daniel, ready to begin the session, Daniel started answering before the questions were asked."
Rather than concluding that there is something wrong with the FC, they end up being more inspired! Oy!


michael said...

When the autists (or facilitators?) started this a few years ago, most of the haredi establishment was enthusiastic, since they were doing great kiruv work. Now that their criticizing the establishment on certain issues, rabbis are finally doubting the stuff.
Amazing politics!

joshwaxman said...

indeed. i agree it is was a big problem that they overlooked the fringe aspect because of the kiruv angle. as i intend to cover in a later post, many of the haskamos on the early book indeed noted the danger, and tried to circumvent it by placing the caveat, but people don't read the haskamos carefully, or else reinterpret them.


Yosef Greenberg said...


Its this subject which first introduced to your blog.

In fact, you don't really have to write a post for this; you can simply copy what you wrote on Global Yeshiva word for word regarding the haskamos.

I love the "Oy" comment, though. :)

joshwaxman said...

while i agree with you regarding the kiruv angle, i would add a few points.
first, even back then, yated neeman had opposition from a number of gedolim to FC. second, while one might see a political angle, i am nowhere near any sort of powerful rabbi that i am worried about my own power, and never supported it for kiruv reasons. third, unfortunately, not enough people are opposing it nowadays. rather, you hear an unfortunate silence on this matter.

Yosef Greenberg:
indeed. in fact, some of the haskama stuff i do intend to copy over, hopefully giving it a new audience.

kol tuv,

Michael said...

I never accused you of supporting FC. Sorry if it sounded like that. I also know of many rabbis who opposed it, but their voice was weaker than the enthusiasts.
Rabbis and other religious who actually worked with autistic children were the most critical of FC.

joshwaxman said...

ok. i just wanted to clarify, in case.


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