January 09, 2009

A prenatal test for autism would deprive the world of future geniuses. [Via]
  • Also in the news today, 'Cancer-free' baby born in London I can't help but wonder how future screening will affect generations down the road... Brave New World becomes more real with each passing day!
  • Yeah, this is kind of mixed-bag stuff. There are few things more nightmarish in the land of parenting than having a severely autistic child, but I also find it very unsettling.
  • Correlation does not imply causation. Most autistic kids aren't geniuses. Some of them are, but some non-autistic kids are geniuses, too. Ridding the world of autism won't rid us of geniuses, any more than curing polio rid us of U.S. presidents.
  • A similar, related question might be, if the word were freed from all disorders now classified as psychological, how would that impact the arts and arenas where divergent thinking can sometimes yield amazing creativity? Consider how many writers, artists, musicians etc. have used their craft as a means of self-treatment... consider this list. Plus, with the all-too-common use of antidepressants etc., how many are not creating that might have if not treated? I often wonder about this, since the definition of mental illness is often subjective and has changed much over time.
  • I didn't read into either link that way (referring to mechagrue's comment). I understood it in a more general sense, specifically, that we do not understand what the implications are of selectively eliminating genetic disorders (theoretically). Sure, there *are* geniuses in autistic and non-autistic individuals. That still does not clear the way for screening and essentially eliminating a disorder just because we can. We can, therefore we should? Does this not subtract from the overall human experience? How can we learn to have compassion without disorder? If we're all perfect little humans free from the vast majority of disorders and disease, will we not stagnate and fail (beyond what some would argue we already have)? Perhaps I'm just rambling, but for some reason this pushes one of my sensitive buttons. Ouch!
  • SMT, you've said it more clearly than I could, and I totally agree. Without mutation, there would be no evolution... life without aberration sounds utterly dull indeed. P.S. My school's slogan, when I attended, was "Majoring in the Human Experience" (now I think it's something like "learning how to get a job").
  • Artist suffer from depression because the world in our heads is so much better than the real world.
  • Oh, how nice to think that having more disorder in this life is really necessary! Sorry, there will always be shit going down in this world. Right now we have so many kids sick, starving, homeless, lacking an education, hurting, being mistreated. We need to curb our population growth and we need to start now. Let's start taking care of all the children we have in the world NOW, and start having healthy kids TODAY, so that the next generation can help the one after and the one preceeding. We need to fix what we can, not continue to produce what we know will be unfixable at this point in time. Every baby born on this earth needs to be wanted and valued, as they certainly are not now. If that means reducing our population growth to a steady state, or even below for a while, that's all to the good. Can you imagine how many highly intelligent writers, artists, musicians etc. are dying daily in third world countries or having their spark extinguished by piss-poor education even here in the good ol' USA?? We are never going to be perfect humans living in a perfect world. There will always be accidents, illness, mutations, and death with us. Screening for autism or other serious birth defects will not eliminate all forms of retardation, psychosis, or anti-social tendencies. Stagnation and failure WON'T come from trying to insure that every child that comes to us is born healthy and has a loving home with enough to eat and a good education. Hell, it might even bring us to a new, and better, human experience. Rapists and murderers are aberrant, doctors, artists, musicians, and mathematicians can be diverse, unusual, unique, peculiar, clashing, and colorful. If anyone here is familiar with Temple Grandin, you know what the world would be missing if she had not been born. She is a wonderful, kind, well-educated woman that has given much to us, and a woman I admire greatly. And she is autistic. However, she is a fully functioning human being with a mild case of autism, not someone so genetically damaged that they function below the level of a toddler. I won't deny that having compassion for a severely damaged autistic person is important, but we have so many severely damaged individuals in this world whom we ignore, whom we do not have compassion for. Why create another? The world is never black and white. These kinds of decisions are hard--and never black or white. We need educated people--not just lawyers, or God forbid politicians, but philosophers, artists, doctors, teachers, humanists--to make these decisions. But in the final analysis there are too many people in this world. Also seconding Mechagrue.
  • Better hide that study. Wouldn't want to lower our collective IQ.
  • That sound you're hearing is Jenny McCarthy sticking her fingers in her ears and going LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.
  • I think that this is an interesting discussion, but really probably won't be too much of a problem. Somewhere near fifty percent of the population of the US (for example) think that abortion should be illegal. It would be fair to assume that most of those people are not going to have abortions. There are also people like me who are in favor of legalized abortion but cannot imagine any circumstance where I would participate in one. Then there are people who for one one reason or another will want an autistic child. I realize that still allows for quite a few aborted autistic fetuses (feti?), but I think that a very high majority of them will continue to be born no matter what.
  • Personally I wonder if we are on the cusp of an explosion in creativity. For the first time in a couple of generations there won't be all that tetraethyl lead floating around to inhibit brain development.