Daily Archives: June 13, 2007

This isn’t even missing the forest for the trees.


I’m listening to an autism lecture (live, through the computer) at the moment by a prominent autism “expert”. She’s going on about buzz-phrases like Executive Function, Theory of Mind, Detail Focus, Central Coherence, etc. None of the things fit together and they’re all sort of disjointed.

The person who’s helping me listen to this lecture asked me whether I was accusing this woman of not seeing the forest for the trees.

My response was, no, she’s not even seeing the trees.

She’s taking a clump of forest indiscriminately: Part of an oak branch, a pine tree split down the middle, a quarter of a snail, some dirt, a sliver of rock, the bottom half of a wildflower, and a few blades of grass.

Then she’s calling that a tree.

And she’s making a theory around it and a little buzzphrase.

Then she goes and mutilates another section of forest and calls that a tree.

She’s not missing the forest for the trees, she’s missing the forest and the trees for random clumps of objects that she can’t tell the difference between them and trees. And I’ve found that this is what passes for expertise in autism: Memorizing loads of data about random clumps of partial bits of torn-off attributes that have theories built clumsily around them. This is not the same as understanding anything.