Binary Thoughts

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"-- Mark 8:36

I've been accused of black-and-white thinking in the past. Binary thoughts. Right. Wrong. I keep getting told there are shades of gray that we must all dwell in.

I like gray. My closet is painted gray. Can't see much of the walls, though, so it's easy to forget that it is indeed that color. That every morning I start my day in gray. My closet's crowded, though, and I find choosing outfits to be a serious pain in the ass, so I have a "uniform" of the same shirt in all the possible colors (same goes with pants and shoes, what can I say?). In other words, I may start my day in gray, but I hightail my ass right out of it as fast as I can.

I don't like dwelling in gray places, places where you must navigate a world where morality is muddled and ethical behavior a secondary consideration, if even that.

Learning to live in gray places gives me a decidedly icky feeling. I'm having some problems with it, to be honest. There's right and there's wrong. I'm not talking legalities. Laws can be changed and what was the prior day wrong may now be right. I'm talking about ethics and principles. Guiding lights that help our path through all that murky gray remain clear and hopefully untainted.

Let me give a personal example of where that gray exists and where two competing principles that I try to live by are right now making me feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. On Countering and at Science 2.0 I write about science, about pseudoscience, and about lines we should not cross. You know, like not using your kids as guinea pigs and feeding them pot in brownies because it's ethically, morally, and legally wrong to do something like that. Not that I feel strongly about it or anything. Or putting a nicotine patch on them because you read on a yahoo group that it helps (or that you should put it where a teacher won't casually discover it). Sure, nothing wrong with doing that kind of thing, is there? Except that if you got caught doing that crap to a non-disabled child, you wouldn't have custody of the kid for long. Or giving a perfectly healthy child who happens to have autism a herpes medication. That kind of stuff I have an ethical problem with. 

This personal position clashes at times with my other principle, which you find at the Autism Blogs Directory, which is inclusion and acceptance. That means that there are people on the directory who may actually engage in those behaviors I have ethical issues with. Let's take facilitated communication, which anyone who has read me knows is one of my serious pet peeves. There are individuals on the directory who are facilitated. Take rapid prompting, FC's cousin. Yup. That's represented there, too.

It sets up a tug-of-war, these two competing principles that can manifest in the real world and leave me fighting my binary thoughts while warring against various biases and heuristics that are hardwired into me to help me resolve the cognitive dissonance as quickly and painlessly as possible through sunk-cost fallacies and self-justification.

It bites. Or is it bytes?


kathleen said...

It bites..and can bite you..that is true. Yes-we have blogs on the directory that I don't particularly agree with. But-blogs are different than every day interactive life. They are one persons personal thoughts and opinions. I counter what I don't like by writing my own. The directory is all inclusive..people/individuals can glean what they want from it-it is personal. It is also free. There is no agenda-with the exception of being all inclusive..and no profit is made. I don't see that as acceptance-other than the idea that at the directory we accept that their are other positions and points of view.
Outside of a blog-in the world off of the internet it is very different. A directory is just that..a directory.
sorry for your tug of war. (((())))

usethebrainsgodgiveyou said...

They used to say of President Bush that he took up the understanding of whoever spoke to him last. I'm that way sometimes, and the older I get, the less inclined I am to certainty. But there are a few things I hold on to, too. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything, as the saying goes.

Just an example, I think I am the only pro-life democrat in existence. But when I reach over and touch the arm of this child whose birth mother allowed him life, well...I just can't let it go. I've tried, for years. I hate the politics of the republicans, but...So I just stay quiet, search out my own people, and quit trying to be something I am not.

I think we all have parts of ourselves that can't be overcome by coercion or force. The inner woman, the soul, true ethics. On most things, we just deal...but somethings can't be forced.

You need to hold on to who you are. I've heard your reasoning, and it is honorable.

KWombles said...

Thanks, Kathleen. Yes, there's a difference between what we do online with the directory and the real world.

Rose, thanks, your words mean a lot.

That battle to maintain internal consistency and integrity while navigating the wider world...well, it was a whole lot easier when it was just me and the kids at home together.

farmwifetwo said...

I've learned that the older I get, the less I care to cater to others. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that people can't be bothered for the most part to think for themselves and form a rational argument... Really enjoying "the believing brain"... think some of those ABA people should read it... :) It drives me insane that they just go along, stuck in their rut, linking in proof as someone elses opinion/video yet should you do that say on Floortime... "that's not science"... Pot, kettle, black???

Which is my point entirely. In today's world there is no science, there is no burden of proof, it's simply a special interest groups links game... he who has the most, he who screams the most has got to be right all the time.

So, instead I do what is right for me and mine. Sometimes I'll compromise if I don't have a firm opinion... If I do have one, I'll defend it and I won't compromise.

K- floortime lite mama said...

I hear you
It's a tough one
Direct me to any post u have on rapid prompting .. Is this the soma method.
Recently read "strange son" and was rather intrigued

KWombles said...


It is basically FC redone. Note Dr. Todd's comment at the end of the comments.

K- floortime lite mama said...

Thanks for sharing
I read your article with interest

BiolArtist said...

I'm distancing myself from a local group because its Board is so set on "accepting" all possible opinions, they don't mind that some of the people they're inviting wish harm to their members. This Board also has a policy that members are not supposed to criticize or contradict anyone. So if someone comes in promoting homeopathy or eugenics, I can't point out why these are bad.

At least you can post your own opinion on your own blog for people to read and compare.

usethebrainsgodgiveyou said...

Don't stop putting yourself out there. I could never do what you do, and somebody needs to!

KWombles said...

BiolArtist, sounds difficult and something I'd have a hard time navigating.

Thanks, Rose. :)