Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘handicapped

Let’s experiment

Posted on November 26, 2010

Whether we admit it or not, every person has constructed a mental model of how he views the universe and life.  

For example, was the universe created, is it infinite, is it timeless… 

And what is life, the purpose of life, what happens after death, is there a soul, what happens to the soul, is the soul individual or a collective soul…?

Since antiquity, philosophers have been discussing and reasoning on the following matter:  

“Do mankind enjoys an innate general spirit (regardless of ethnicity, culture, gender…) that expresses how he views the construct of the universe, or it is an individual learning process relevant to the manner the various sensory organs observe nature and people and organize the information”?

The hypothesis is

Do people with sensory handicaps (blind, deaf…) extend the same kind of subjective understanding of the universe and life as “normal” people do, across all ethnic cultures with oral and written myths and traditions?

First, we need baseline stories on “What do I know about the universe and life?” from “normal” people with “normally” functioning sensory organs (vision, audition…). 

The baseline stories should be captured from varieties of ethnic cultural entities in the five continents, privileging the oral cultures with No recognized written documents, and minority cultures with written cultures but Not read or disseminated universally. 

The baseline stories must discriminate between genders (between group factors) and the ethnic stories within each gender groups.

The baseline stories must discriminate among the stage of maturity of the storyteller (young, adult, middle age, and older people). 

The baseline stories must discriminate among the literacy levels of the subjects (such as they read and write in one language, read only, and only orally literate subjects).  Thus, the team of experimenters must be trained to adequately record answers and stories in uniform fashion.

The next phase of the experiment is gathering stories of sensory handicapped people in the above ethnic and gender groups (blind, deaf…)

We may extend this experiment by artificially handicapping a normal subject by preventing him to see or to hear while resuming his “normal” live for a period.  Do you think that his mental model of the universe might be altered significantly?

Another extension may be involving normal sensory subjects but with different mental capabilities and limitations (over developed or under developed brain powers).  

This experiment would answer the question: “Are reading and listening to stories generate different types of observational data due to further brain processing mechanisms?”

The most essential preparation for the experiment is the designing of an exhaustive questionnaire with exhaustive options to educate the subjects on the varieties of viewpoints and myths. 

For that purpose, the questionnaire will be tested on many preliminary samples of ethnic cultures in order to catch and collect the varieties of relevant options, sort of exhaustive compendium on the different myths and mental models. 

I would recommend that the design requires every question to be answered. This means that those logical procedures of demanding the subject to skip several questions, as in filling tax forms, be eliminated:  We should not fall in the bias of enforcing our rational logic on oral culture ethnic groups and the illiterates.

It is advisable that follow-up oral stories accompany answering the questionnaire. Then, another follow-up written story be attached to the oral story. 

The written story would condense the individual story into a comprehensive and coherent story after the preceding two educational sessions. 

The teams of trained experimenters would have to fill the initial questionnaire with the new information generated by the oral and written stories; missing information can be filled by default, using the original questionnaire for each subject. 

Thus, data analysis can be conducted on the two questionnaires: the before learning process and the after learning process of the mental models.

I find it interesting that, after the written story, the subject would give his opinion on the current theories of astrophysicists on the universe in order to check the cohesion and compatibility of the subjects in their perception of the universe. 

For example: what they think of the theory that this universe is the product of a collision between two universes; that a universe revolves around each black hole; that what we see is a simulated universe of a matrix universe; that the sky is a wall on which the image of the stars and galaxies are projected onto it (a universe as hologram); that the universe keeps changing every time we observe it… 

Do you think that you might change your view if a theory (coming from an astrophysicist) impresses you?

The spontaneous suggestion is “why not ask a subject to tell his story before answering a questionnaire? At least we can have an original version, unbiased by constructed questionnaires.”  

This suggestion is pertinent if it is feasible to nudge a subject to start telling a story without a prompt sheet containing the necessary lines of thoughts to guide the subject in the endeavor: The prompt sheet must be devoid of any biased suggestions.  

In any case, I believe that devising such a prompt sheet is necessary, even if not applied in the experiment, in order to get the questionnaire developed and cleaned of idiosyncratic allusions and local imageries.

The experiment is complex and will need to be subdivided in meaningful stages of shorter experiments.

It is time intensive and for a long duration.

It requires training of large teams of researchers and experimenters.  Preliminary experiments would show the best ways of experimenting piece meal this vast project.

Note 1:  I tend to include materials we read and stories we heard as sensory inputs since they are processed by the brain, at various levels, as sensory observations.

Note 2: Many scholars present the view that what we actually sense are in fact “processed observations”, and not the raw sensed data, since all sensing observations are data processed by the brain at different levels of manipulations.

Good enough: We are dealing with what mankind is observing: That is what is available to forming a coherent structure of the universe and the environment we live into. 

The follow-up lesson is:  Other reasoning species must be viewing the universe differently since their senses have different capacities and limitations, and their brain structures are different from mankind.

Note 3:  The essential question that the previous experiment might offer an answer to is:  “If an individual is handicapped in one or more sensory organs then, by reading or listening to stories, can his brain re-establish what normal people comprehend of the universe?”

Note 4: I conjecture that all the facts, observations, experiments., philosophy… will Not tell us anything “sustainable” of what is life and the universe. What this experiment could boils down to is to “know”:

How the majority, in any ethnic group, likes to conceive the nature of Life and the Universe?

This is fundamental to to evaluate the evolution of human “Emotional Intelligence

“I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much”: Handicapped Stella Young, a comedian and journalist

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you dramatically. I am not here to inspire you. I am here to tell you that we have been lied to about disability.

Stella Young is a comedian and journalist who happens to go about her day in a wheelchair — a fact that doesn’t automatically turn her into a noble inspiration to all humanity. In this very funny talk, Young breaks down society’s habit of turning disabled people into “inspiration porn.”

This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxSydney, an independent event. TED’s editors chose to feature it for you.

The rights to know and be informed; Abortion cases (February 17, 2009)

            The rights to know and be informed include the rights to voluntary deciding not to know and not to be informed.  There are various domains that are affected by these rights but this essay will focus on the cases of fetuses that are known to be born handicapped because of development in medical technologies and knowledge. The legal consequences for those who want to know and those who refuse to know are different but their offspring are not supposed to bear the consequences of the parents’ decision as long as the acts of the offspring do not legally affect the parents.

            The medical field has the capabilities to predict a wide array of ailments and diseases that a new born might experience by testing a blood sample from a pregnant woman.   Let us take the case of parents, for some kinds of principles or religious beliefs, opt not to know and the new born is handicapped for life.  Who is to pay the bills and the physical and psychological maintenance of the handicapped? If the State legislates against abortion then it is the State responsibility to support both the handicapped person and the parents.  If the State legislates for abortion in specific cases but the parents decide to keep the baby then can the State refuses to shoulder its responsibilities because it permitted choices?  If a State refuses to give choices then people would label it authoritarian, patriarchal, dictatorial, and other defaming connotations. In any case, it is the whole lot of citizens, “the community of the larger village”, that would sustain the brunt of the calamity.

The surgeon Bernard Bebre published an interesting case.  A pregnant mother fears that she contracted rubella from her one of her sons and tells her gynecologist that she prefers to have abortion if she has contracted rubella.  The laboratory tests were negative; she has no rubella.  The new born is handicapped and shows all the signs that the mother indeed had rubella.   After many years in courts and counter appeals the highest court in France decides that both the parents and the new born are to be materially compensations in the millions of Francs.

Dr, Debre is not happy that the court has compensated for the handicapped new born on the ground that a causality link was established that “what did not prevent abortion of a handicapped baby has contributed to the handicap”.  Dr. Debre is perturbed that the medical profession would get on the defensive and physicians would no longer exercise personal decision; Dr. Debre complained that the appreciation of the court is not competent and has no means to evaluate what the medical practioner could have “decided in his soul and in his conscious”.  I beg to differ.

The supposedly independent court of justice has to do its job as the physician has to do his job of warning his patients of potential diseases.  If the court fails to remind the State administrations that there are important cases to study seriously and legislate for them then who will do it?  The Parliament in France finally legislated that only the parents can demand compensations for wrong doing; and the law ended by stating that the solidarity of the whole community should take charge of any deficiencies in handicapped born babies.  Thus, the whole burden is laid on the parents to demand to know and to be informed of the status of their fetus and then to decide for an abortion.  France would be glad to save tons of money on handicapped persons by permitting abortions before 12 weeks of conception if parents care to save their potential handicapped baby from physical and mental miseries.

Simone de Beauvoir wrote “If a single individual could be regarded as detritus then one hundred thousand people are a mound of garbage” That quote is fundamentally valid of how apartheid, totalitarian, theocratic, and racist political systems think of and act toward their citizens.  But this saying is not relevant to our case.  If a handicapped person thinks all his life that he is detritus in the view of society at large and that he just show brief moments of revolts against his conditions and the attitude of society, then should this handicapped individual be permitted to live on the ground of potential brief spiritual victories over his condition?

I take the position that a pregnant mother should by law know and be informed on the potential diseases of her fetus; and yes parents who refused to abort based on full knowledge should be judged for carrying through a handicapped baby.  Handicapped individuals too have rights to taking to justice parents who let them suffer, be humiliated, be treated worse than dirt, in isolated basement or attics and away from the common people.  I challenge all those people who refuse to know and to abort to sign up for taking the responsibility of the handicapped new born.




December 2022

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