Monday, August 13, 2007

Paranoia and Bias

When venturing into new corners of the Web, or posting certain things, I sometimes experience a bit of anxiety and regret. It happened when I started this blog, too.

What's to be so scared about?

Well...I worried that I would be flamed off the neurodiversity blogosphere because I'm neither an autistic nor the parent of an autistic, and therefore don't belong here. I make my neurological status, connection to autism, and lack of traditional authority clear up front on the home page of this blog, so as to avoid any confusion and alleviate any concerns about me taking anyone's voice away or deluding anyone.

Why was I scared? Largely because I read this.

It's understandable why some people would be paranoid about NTs taking the voice away from autistics. A couple posts on NTs Are Weird talk about how when two people with differences or disabilities go out, the more "normal" looking one is assumed to be the more competent one to handle the money. If people tend to assume that the more "normal" people are more competent in general, then they might flock to the NTs in the movement, especially parents, teachers, doctors, and therapists (i.e., authority figures), or give their voices more weight than is due to them.

However, I get the sense that many people venture into the neurodiversity world primarily to hear the perspectives of the neurodiverse themselves - a perspective neglected or minimized in other spheres of discourse about neurological and psychological issues. That's what originally attracted me to it: to learn about autism from people who have lived the experience.

But even if people concentrate mainly on the perspectives of the neurodiverse thesmelves, that doesn't mean that some voices will not get undue or undeserved weight. When people seek out information and opinions - and I'm no exception to this rule, by any means - they tend to gravitate toward those who already think along the same lines they do. Furthermore, people also have a tendency to misinterpret or edit out or leave out information that does not agree with their preconceived notions. Add the media, influenced by the preconceived notions of society at large, and it gets worse. A lot can still be left unheard as a result, even if people only talk to the neurodiverse.

There's no magical formula to prevent bias and the failure of important information to be properly heard.

And I doubt that an NT talking about autism on the web, who is neither a desperate parent trying every bit of quackery to turn their kid "normal" nor an angry affection-starved wife who doesn't think autistics are capable of loving people, is any serious danger to the neurodiversity cause. No wonder some people in the neurodiversity movement advocate separatism. The most visible non-autistics with opinions on autism are unrelentingly hostile toward autism and autistics, and/or perpetuate dehumanizing views of them. I'd like to see that change. That's why I started this blog.

1 comment:

Fore Sam said...

The opinions you read about autism on Neurodiversity blogs are designed to obscure the true nature of autism. Neurodiversity is an elaborate sham that exists to help drug companies avoid lawsuits. They have nothing worthwhile to say.