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Research Tunnel Vision

Why so much research into Autism suffers from insularity and COMPETITION

By John Counsel

Sensory Processing Disorder is a part of the Autism Spectrum. I suspect that a LOT of so-called “independent” disorders will eventually be recognised as common companions on the Autism Spectrum, including ADHD, ODD, PDA, etc.

The problem is that so many researchers focus so narrowlyand fail to talk to each other or stay up to date on other research — that we end up with a rash of supposedly-independent conditions that are, in reality, all aspects of the Autism Spectrum.

The nature of research funding and motivation today is too often NOT on the benefits to Knowledge about Autism, but…

1. Qualifying for research funding

2. Publication of research — including exclusivity

3. Academic requirements for Ph.D and Masters degree candidatesrequired for accreditation as Clinical Psychologists — and competition for that research funding and publication of results — are typically based on completion of original research.

They’re like John Godfrey Saxe’s legendary poem…

Six Blind Men and an Elephant

There were six men of Hindustan, to learning much inclined, 
Who went to see an elephant, though all of them were blind, 
That each by observation might satisfy his mind. 

The first approached the elephant, and happening to fall 
Against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl, 
“This mystery of an elephant is very like a wall.” 

The second, feeling of the tusk, cried, “Ho, what have we here, 
So very round and smooth and sharp? To me ’tis mighty clear, 
This wonder of an elephant is very like a spear.” 

The third approached the elephant, and happening to take 
The squirming trunk within his hands, thus boldly up and spake, 
“I see,” quoth he, “the elephant is very like a snake.”

The fourth reached out an eager hand, and felt above the knee, 
“What this most wondrous beast is like is very plain” said he, 
“’Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.”

The fifth who chanced to touch the ear said, “E’en the blindest man 
Can tell what this resembles most; deny the fact who can; 
This marvel of an elephant is very like a fan.” 

The sixth no sooner had begun about the beast to grope, 
Than seizing on the swinging tail that fell within his scope; 
“I see,” said he, “the elephant is very like a rope.” 

So six blind men of Hindustan disputed loud and long, 
Each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong; 
Though each was partly in the right, they all were in the wrong!

They fall for one of the most common booby traps in everyday life… they go searching for something different and end up being hoodwinked by similarities to things that are fam­iliar to themand conclude that those similarities are the differences they seek!

Another common research boobytrap

Whilst it’s great that so many psychology students are aiming to specialise in Autism, there’s an inherent risk, when accreditation as a Clinical Psychiatrist is required in order to give a formal diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, that research for the sake of research as a means to an end may lead to more and more fragmented outcomes that deliver less and less value.

There’s already prima facie evidence that this is occuring. Left resolved, there’s a possibility that we’ll soon see a situation lampooned by the Spanish Inquisitor, Don Alhambra del Bolero, in the Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta, The Gondoliers

©2019 John Counsel. All rights reserved.


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