Fried Chicken Initiatives, Internet Laws, Cognitive Dissonance, and Self-Justification


We shall here by invoke "The fried chicken initiative" which means the minute someone casts doubt on someone's intelligence because they are from the south-they immediately lose the argument.--courtesy of Kathleen

Did you notice this new law Kathleen coined up above the mommy-blog banner? I've got, in case you didn't know it, another blog at Science 2.0, which from sheer numbers of readers is my primary blog. My science or autism related pieces go over there, usually with some slight modification  for a wider audience, and the facilitated communication pieces and the vaccine pieces get the most comments because folks who won't comment here will there. Recently one of the pieces on facilitated communication has continued to get attention from someone who really, really, really wants FC to be real, and after a weekend of an absurd tug-of-war where the poster decided to write that since I was in Texas, "she probably thinks the south won the war...or that there were two wars...the civil war and the war between the states...she might even believe the earth was created 4000 BC...or that it's flat." 

You can see how the fried chicken initiative came about, can't you? Yes, appeal to ridicule is such a profound way to argue that I must be wrong on facilitated communication since Texans are renowned for their intellectual prowess. Actually, it's the Texas Board of Education that can't get its collective head out of its collective arse, not necessarily individual Texans who have the problem. 

So another internet law, mirroring Godwin's Law, is created.

I won't belabor the point here that facilitated communication is a fraud; I've made that case repeatedly and backed up the contention with scientific evidence. I will note that even safe-havens of science like MIT, can fall for the woo (thanks Jim Todd, for sharing the link). 

Why does facilitated communication and its watered-down stepchild rapid prompting method  continue to draw such staunch (and often oddly worded) support? Just like the vaccines-stole-my-baby crowd, what's going on is people who are, to borrow, my insistent critic over at Science 2.0, "true believers." I think, that when you can reach people before they've been exposed, give them the science, show them how the ideomotor effect works, that you can keep those folks from being conned or buying into the belief system. Just like education about homoepathy and other woo works well before the fact, so to does demonstrating how easily it is to manipulate a relatively passive individual into being able to type whatever the facilitator wants.

But the need to justify a belief system after the fact is going to get in the way of reaching individuals. They've seen it with their own eyes, after all, finally had their child tell them the all important, longed for "I love you." It's powerful. I suspect, the longer they use FC or RPM, the more cognitive dissonance, the greater the need for self-justification, the less likely they'll alter their positions. Anyone who argues against their beloved position is the enemy.

In other words, it's no different than the anti-vaccine community. The need to be right outweighs the need to have accurate information, and anyone who throws a wrench in the works is to be vilified.

Watch the below video, where the Belgian coma patient is being clearly facilitated; although the media was initially completely gullible and bought into this too-good-to-be-true story, it was later debunked.

Science bloggers who wrote out about this case:

PZ Myers:

James Randi:



David Gorski:




Lee McPherson:



kathleen said...

I think it is the desire..the absolute WANT to give that person a voice...I think the realization of finding that persons voice had been co-opted would be devastating. Thus the arguments..

Anonymous said...

The desire to provide a voice - ANY voice - does seem to be the driver. But when the voice provided is evidently not the patient's own, it's time to abandon those methods and find genuine options instead. It's not as if FC is the only way to help non-verbal people find their voice. And if that was believed to be the case - that there was no better system available - then it's motivation to work on a new method, not stick to a disproven old one.

The point that these false practices actually robs the affected person of their individuality and voice, rather than provide them with those things, seems to get overridden by the defensive pride of the facilitator. It's no doubt embaressing to discover that your methods are false and you've simply been talking for the person.

If these facilitators want to advocate for the person, and make their lives better, they can do that without use of this ruse. I suppose it gives them the loudest voice in the advocacy system - if you appear to be the actual voice of the patient then you can get listened to first and the most.

Whatever the motivations, continuing with this method is clearly unjustified.

farmwifetwo said...

We used FC years ago to show him how to work the computer. We didn't pretend to be doing any more than being on PBS kids and having Teletubbies open and showing him (our hand moving his) how to make them "wash"... See push this, this happens... From there he's currently doing math games over on his computer that are Gr 2 level.

But as we discussed he's learning to put his thoughts on a computer. His "thoughts" are as jumbled as his speech is. His thoughts are that combination of clear speech, social stories, tv/adverts echolalia etc etc. His written thoughts are no different than his verbal ones.

So, I don't buy into it that someone magically communicates as long as someone else holds their hand and thinks they are guiding it to where that person who has no muscle movement tells them to.

Must be a magic link btwn facilitator and student.

farmwifetwo said...

I had a thought while I was meeting the bus...

IMO another form of FC, that is as dangerous, is when school's send home Teacher/aide completed work and claim your child "told them the answer". Until Gr 5 for the eldest and now Gr 4 for the youngest, I had never believed their report cards. I knew what they could do, I couldn't repeat what the school supposedly said they did and I burned anything that had "scribing" on it.

They can tell you anything... but until I see it myself... until I could reproduce the work at home... I simply ignored the stuff that was sent home from school and kept working with them afterschool/wkends/holidays. I had no proof my child had actually done the work.

I have watched him take a book, rewrite it, add to it, at home. I have saved the work on this computer... I know very well those convoluted thoughts are nearly impossible to reproduce and I recognize his speech patterns in the writing.

I'll take my gibberish - and I'm very excited he's "writing" - over scribed or FC'd work anyday... atleast I know it's his work.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the base bigotry of insulting someone's intelligence because of their residence in the South...there's something especially ironical that I can't quite get into words about the poster who invokes a presumption of an utterly unscientific belief on your part (4000-year-old earth) in order to defend an equally utterly unscientific belief (FC) on hers.

Unknown said...

I understand fc can be bogus, but sometimes it can and does work, I wouldn't be communicating at all if I hadn't the option of facilitated communication but it was my thoughts, I just wouldnt have performed to prove that at the start, I needed my space, my privacy, but I progressed now to being able to use my own device I still need Nate in the room but slowly I may be able to communicate on my own, just not yet, I am not ready. I am not really sure what to think of it all, I know its bad in many cases, but in some cases it does work and maybe that is what everybody tries to hold onto.