Our “Bipolar Disorder”

I don’t generally write on this blog about social issues beyond those that have to do with science because the discussions can get very complicated. Like many other things, we all exist on a spectrum of social views. Lately, however, it appears that we are not in a spectrum. We, the people of the United States, seem to be completely polarized on a ton of issues that are important. We go at each other’s throats if we happen to disagree.

Just the other day, a friend of mine put a bumper sticker on his car which claimed that the Second Amendment was the most important amendment in the Bill of Rights because it kept a tyrannical government at bay. He asked for my opinion, and we haven’t talked since. We haven’t talked because I said that the First Amendment was the first for a reason. If the government tells me that I can have all the guns in the world but woe unto me if I speak ill of the government, I’d rather keep my free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. On the other hand, if the government says that I can say whatever I want, that journalists can uncover all the secrets they can and expose all the corruption they can, then, please, take my guns. Of course, that’s the polarized view; the view that you either have one or the other and not both, like we do in real life.

My friend, polarized as he is, decided that I was a “liberal” and not someone he wanted to associate with. I’m sure he’ll come around. Continue reading

Contributors to society

If you don’t do so already, I highly suggest that you read the daily postings by Orac over at Respectful Insolence and by his “friend” over at Science Based Medicine. You’ll learn a lot about critical thinking and how it can be applied to the anti-science movement. Today’s post at RI was a rough one to read. It had to do with the death of a child with autism at the hands of his mother and of his caretaker. The long and short of it is that the mother and the caretaker of the child could not deal with his autism (and the behavior resulting from the autism) and so decided to kill him. His murder was appalling in itself, but the way they went about it was brutal.

Within the comments section of that blog post was this comment (with my emphases in bold):

“i agree with t’s comment.

i understand the opinion isn’t popular with people who have severely autistic/disabled children – but the only responses those people have provided to t’s logical post, are purely emotion-based.

lilady – i’m very sorry for your loss, but even you can’t provide any way that society benefited from pouring resources into keeping your severely disabled child alive for 28 years – only that you loved him and were happy to have him in *your* life for that time.

the money put into those services doesn’t magically appear – it comes from tax-paying citizens and their businesses, and it is a finite resource. the money spent on severely disabled people – who, without sugar-coating, are of absolutely no benefit to society as a whole – would be better spent improving education, healthcare, infrastructure, etc… for those who are able to put back into the system.”

Yes, that’s our “lilady” that he is addressing. And, if I may be “emotional” for a second, I would slap him across the face for talking to her that way. But I digress… Continue reading

How we view people with autism matters a lot

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know what some anti-vaccine people who are parents of children with autism have to say about their children. In their minds, they “lost” their children, or their children are an intolerable burden. They write and say these things in the context of vaccines, blaming vaccines for their children’s autism. They also write and say these things in an effort to blame someone for their situation, almost as if to say, “Look how bad I have it!” Many times, it’s all about them.

When they do write about their children, they usually write horror stories about temper tantrums at malls and stores, misbehavior at school, and things of that nature. The woman who wrote that her son was like the Connecticut shooter told us stories of almost being killed by her son. In short, willingly or not, some of these parents are placing their children in the worst light. And there are people who read that and go with it. There are people who look over at their own autistic child, or any autistic child, and wonder what will happen with them and their experience. Continue reading

The people with no science

I’ve been thinking a lot about people in the world who go through life with little to no science education, and I feel really, really bad for them. I feel bad for the mother of the child with a cleft lip who is convinced that the child was born that way because she was out of the house during a solar eclipse. Imagine the kind of suffering she must be living through to think that she is responsible for something that was pretty much out of her control. All it takes is a little science for her to learn and understand that these genetic things happen, and that — except for smoking and some other drugs — there is not much someone can do to avoid them.

I also feel bad for the many, many women who have been ostracized or even killed by their communities because of claims of witchcraft. It still goes on today, and an understanding that there is no such thing as magic would do wonders for people that still fear “witches.” Those same communities would save money and resources spent of magic potions and “spells” to heal disease or bring about wealth. The best chance of amassing wealth comes with hard work, saving, and being judicious on what money you spend and what lifestyle you live. There’s science in that, you know? Continue reading

The aimless

I see them every morning on my way to work, a group of kids who are not heading to school that day or any other day. If they were heading to school, they’d have books with them and be dressed for it. They certainly would not run on and off buses, or openly steal a bicycle that wasn’t tied down to something. But maybe I’m just biased.

One sector of the public has stated that these “hoodlums” are beyond repair. They are of the opinion that these children should be rounded up and thrown into jail, and that those in jail should stay there since — in their view — they are a threat to “western civilization”. I’m not joking.

Another sector of the public blames all sorts of things for the behavior of these kids. They blame Wall Street, the White House, Congress, the 1%, the police, the courts. They blame anyone and everything but these kids for their behavior. As if the moral compasses that are found in every human being are missing in these kids. They refer to them as automatons, mere criminals who can’t help to do what they do.

I take a different approach. I see these kids and see that they lack a role model, a good leader. The “alpha male” in the “pack” is a bad seed. They are not being led or influenced by people of good. The people of good have abandoned them.

Just the other day, on the bus, the leader began to harass an older man. The leader started yelling at the old man, cursing at him and mocking him for being old. The man just sat there with a silent strength. The other kids followed the leader in making fun of the old man. People on the bus nervously looked at each other. As it turns out, an off-duty cop got on the bus and scared them away, but not before they laughed one more time at the old man.

How would these same kids react if their leader decided that they were going to help the elderly instead of mock them? One can only imagine. That’s why I’ve come to call these kids “The Aimless”. They wonder around, jumping on and off public transportation, walking up and down the street, not necessarily to commit crimes or cause trouble. They just meander about without any goal for the day. there doesn’t seem to be an aim to their actions.

Imagine for a second that we collectively decide to treat the problem of crime and lack of education — because these kids are most definitely not going to school — imagine if we treated these things like we treat public health problems. Imagine if those two politicians arguing over each other right now on their quest to be POTUS decided that they were going to use their power and position in society to provide these aimless kids with a reason to live.

Yeah, imagine that. And what if we threw our resources at putting these kids in school and, for the older ones, to work and learn? Heck, I’d just ask one of the “Super PACs” to give 1% of the money they’re putting toward getting their candidates elected to a YMCA, Big Brother/Big Sister club, after school program in any of our inner cities. Just 1%.

Sadly, too many in power at all three levels of government don’t see this as a necessity. See, they don’t ride public transportation with me. They have their own drivers or high-end cars. They fly past us with their police escorts. And things don’t change “down here” while they are living well “up there”.

So, on top of everything else I have going on all over the place, I’ve decided to help the aimless. Gosh, I’m such a softy.