Monday, June 13, 2011

The autistics' dirty pictures

In a comment on a previous post, an Anonymous commenter writes:
How can you write that anyone despises clal Yisroel... It is just your perception but you cannot prove that it is a fact.
I responded there -- check it out -- but I think I'll respond in a slightly different way in this post.

There is a famous old joke, unfortunately a little bit risque:
A man goes to a psychiatrist. To start things off, the psychiatrist suggests they start with a Rorschach test. He holds up the first picture and asks the man what he sees.
‎"A man and a woman making love in a park," the man replies.
The psychiatrist holds up the second picture and asks the man what he sees. "A man and a woman making love in a boat." 
He holds up the third picture. "A man and a woman making love at the beach." This goes on for the rest of the set of pictures; the man says he sees a man and a woman making love in every one of the pictures.
At the end of the test, the psychiatrist looks over his notes and says, "Wow! You certainly have a dirty mind!" 
And the man replies, "I have a dirty mind?! You're the one with the dirty pictures!"
What does this have to do with the messages of the autistics? It is simple. There are two ways to account for them. They are either messages from On High, or else they are messages from the facilitators, as a reflection of their private thoughts.

There are good reasons for thinking that they are the unwitting messages of the facilitators. I have gone into some detail in the past on this. But to explain briefly, in many other cases this has been established -- for instance, where the autistics were unable to answer a question correctly when only they had been told the answer with the facilitator out of the room, but were able to answer when the facilitator knew. This undermines FC in general. Furthermore, similar phenomena have been observed here -- these Jewish mystical autistics have admitted that they can 'answer' before even hearing the question (but where the facilitator knows), attributing this to their soul knowing and speaking. This even before you get to hashkafic and halachic disproofs of these nevi'ei sheker.

This is simply the ideomotor effect, which also is manifest on Ouija boards, automatic writing, and dowsing. None of these are real. It is rather the subconscious expression of the one conducting it. Thus, the facilitators themselves are saying this, and expressing their deep feelings and beliefs, and attribute it to the autistics and, by extension, to God. They are looking at the inkblots, saying all sorts of nasty things. But this is just an expression of their own (meaning the facilitators') ill will, rather than an objective description of reality.


Devorah said...

I have some friends with several autistic children in one family. They investigated FC a long time ago, and came to the conclusion it was nonsense.

Devorah said...

But having said that... you have to admit that the Dani.18 site did get some things right.... they just couldn't predict WHEN it would all happen. If the facilitator had just stuck to the facts, instead of inserting his own opinions into them.... it may have worked a lot better.

joshwaxman said...

i'm not persuaded that they got *anything* right, other than one would expect by random chance...


Anonymous said...

On the other hand, Josh, a man and a woman making love is a very beautiful and innocent thing to behold - what's with the psychiatrist to call it dirty??


joshwaxman said...

true enough. (though i don't know about 'to behold'.)

i'll confess, i selected the cleanest and tamest version of this joke that i could find, so that it wouldn't be too over the top.


joshwaxman said...

i'd add of course that seriously, if someone sees this in *everything*, this would indicate an obsession to the psychologist.

Ephraim said...

I figured FC was phony some time before I heard about this new breed of prophets . How did I know that the message were not genuine and were the thought of the FC'ers? Simple. Autistic kids, when they do communicate do so idiosyncratically. The FC messages didn's show typical idiosyncracies that we'd expect from a higher function autist. Instead of seeing this as proof that FC was a fraud, the proponents doubled down and declared FC prophecy. We see a similar response when we see these kids answering questions that they aren't asked.
But let's face it. We're not dealing with people who have a high school grasp of science. Some years ago I emailed one of the FC activists and asked him for proof. He sent me info about haskomos, and a few journal articles. Two of the so-called journal articles were not real articles, but rather case studies published in practitioner journals. Only one article was from a real journal, and the results essentially "proved" that FC fails most of the time, but was nevertheless better than the random control. So he's go not proof, but he convinced he has.

You are correct to point out that the FC messages are just preaching to the choir. But I what I find disturbing is how a segment of the community that prides itself on tradition in the style of חדש אסור מין התורה can come up with such innovations that have no source whatsoever in our מסורה. hy haven't we seen this phenomenon in the time of the Chazon Ish or earlier?

So here's my challenge to the FC advocates: show clear scientific and halachic proof that this phenomenom is genuine or shut down.

Ephraim said...

Another thing. I also suspect we're dealing with people who are in a sort of denial. They see having disabled kids as some sort of spritual stigma and thus they come with the defensive claim that they actually have given birth to a prophet. Perhaps, we already saw this in the Munchausen BP case last year where the community went crazy- all because they couldn't accept that one their own was mentally ill. (Of course, this is speculative....)


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