Wikipedia editors allege bias and bigotry against AS



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VMSnith
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:11 pm

A number of "wikipedians" - volunteers who edit wikipedia - have alleged that the Wikipedia article on Asperger's is biased towards a pathological view of Asperger's, and have also alleged bigotry against those with AS.

Most of us are under the impression that "anyone can edit wikipedia." Well, that's true. The thing is, your change will usually be quickly reversed. In actuality, most substantial articles are formed "behind" the article in a "Talk" section, where editors debate back and forth to reach consensus on content.

At least that's what's supposed to happen. In the case of the Asperger's article, however, attempts to reach consensus have failed and a good many editors have walked out in frustration.

The article, http://www.wikipedia.org/Aspergers can be found here. Ordinarily, you could see the debate for yourself by clicking the Talk tab. However, the Talk page was recently 'archived' rendering it tucked away from public view. You can peruse the debate - (warning, it is very long) - by visiting the archives here :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Asper ... /Archive17

Here are some comments made recently by editors (each comment is by a different, registered editor) :

"I am shocked at the opening paragraph. What was a reasonable paragraph has now regressed to a point where it only extolls one extremely [opinionated] stance. ... I would not show this article to anyone I knew as authoritative about Asperger's."
Alex Jackl 17:36, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

The article certainly reflects certain prejudices about autistic people, and there is a group of people working very hard to keep it that way. I can only reason from what I see, and I see a posse that goes to great lengths to pathologize a minority group. Of course this means everything has to be "just right" according to their jaundiced view, and all other views need to be suppressed by an means necessary.
Species8471 09:16, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

... this condition has the potential for both deficits and special talents. These talents include mathematical skill, musical (and auditory processing), memory (fewer false memories, incidents of 'photographic' memory) and others. The refusal to include these sources here represents a failure in Wikipolicy (the only consideration here). It also represents an act of bigotry.

CeilingCrash 16:03, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

I think his concern - and I share it - is more with the general bias on pathology and deficits.
Fenke 10:38, 8 November 2007 (UTC)



Last edited by VMSnith on Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

beau99
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:14 pm

Feh. Nothing to get in a debate over. I actually quit editing Wiki a while back because of stupid editors making up their own rules.


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VMSnith
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:49 pm

I think that is basically what happened, people gave up and went away. The concern that lingers, I think, is that Wikipedia is a top-ranked search hit for AS, and as such a prejudicial bias has the potential to do harm ...



SheDevil
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:50 pm

I hope everyone hears you.......and loud and clear. And this is why.

I strongly suspect both of my boys are Aspie, one 20 the other 14. The 20 year old I have suspected for some time and have casually approached the topic with him (he has an Aspie uncle). He refuses to acknowledge that it is even possible. The signs have always been there....his father would shake him and shout at the top of his lungs "don't you understand what I am saying?" It always ended the same way. My son would say he would do something and then do something else. It was when things reached this level I thought I should approach him about it.

Why does he not want to acknowledge the possibility? I think anyone on this forum can answer that question. He associates Asperger's as a handicap when he is brilliant and fun to be around. He finished high school early and was taking college courses his sophomore year. The good about AS is not getting out.....You have looney tunes like the Judy (Singer) and Maxine (Aston) show out there preaching what is WRONG with Aspies. Of course he does not want the association.

The 14 year old idolizes his older brother. Fortunately, I have more influence and a better understanding of the dynamics in our home. I am able to stress the positive and this past weekend he took the Aspie quiz.....OMG, just reading the questions were my clues and made me think my attention was on the wrong child....now I know most 14 year olds like Southpark, but how many can sing every song with every word in that series? So yeah, it's cool to him. Now. (BTW, he scored AS all the way).

Ok, end of the mom lecture....but I want my kids to be proud of who they are and as long as there are individuals casting a disease sentence, "Aspie" is going to be something to hide. I am not familiar behind the scenes at Wiki.....can anyone just post comments on that talk page?

SD



Last edited by SheDevil on Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Capriccio
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:51 pm

Wikipedia isn't exactly considered an academic source anyways, given the fact that it can be edited by anyone, so I hope people would take everything they see there with a grain of salt.



TheZach
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:57 pm

A lot of the local schools around here have actually banned wikipedia for use in school research because of the amount of dung in it.


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Myrkabah
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:58 pm

This is actually an instance of where people with our talents could excel at affecting change in the tone of the article.

The vital weakpoint of getting your viewpoint properly represented on Wikipedia is sourcing. Instead of writing your own opinion, find an MD who shares your opinion and has expounded or researched on it to some degree, paraphrase it in a form where it's presented as an authority's conclusion and not your own, and then cite the conclusions in MLA form. At that point it would be extremely difficult to remove without raising some red flags - the only real recourse would be to source information which conflicts, which correctly gives the impression that it is a subject of some debate rather than a foregone conclusion.

I'm actually quite good at this type of thing... I used to do a lot of writing at everything2.com and derive extreme enjoyment writing persuasive essays and from researching and presenting conclusions in written form. If you guys could give me a list of viewpoints and information that you would like to see included in the article, I can see what I can do about making it happen. If I were to see the edits in particular that were reversed I may be able to shed some insight on why.



SheDevil
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:18 pm

I don't doubt Wiki is called into question. But did you read that talk page? This was my number one source when I was researching AS. This was in 2005, well before it became the label slapped on every psycho (another subject I can quite easily go *off on). It was the Wiki article that had the links that I used. Wiki led me to another forum (AFF) and it wasn't until later I found WP.

Myrkabah, I can't agree with you more.....the Aspies talented in writing and research should be able to knock this one down. My word, I wish I had half of some of the talent I read here. If there is the possibility this stilted text could be challenged, shouldn't it? If there is any way we can make one child lift his/her head a little higher, even a fraction, isn't it worth it?

SD

(I wish I could remember the websites, but about a year ago war was declared on a blog that was slamming Aspies. Let's just say they were sliced and diced and served for lunch. And, I don't think a statement was made without it being backed up by outside sources, indexed and with footnotes, lol).



EvilKimEvil
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:23 pm

My school's official position is that Wikipedia should not be used because it is not authoritative. I use it recreationally because I think it contains some good information. I compare its authority to that of a typical television program--it's probably true in a general sense but contains some inaccurate, biased, or unreferenced information. Some articles have good "external links" sections and therefore can be used as starting points for serious research. But I would not recommend it as a primary source of information.

I became a registered editor when I noticed that articles on many species of wild animals were rudimentary or nonexistent. I hope that a Talk section is not necessary in order to offer basic information on grey banded kingsnakes, for example.



ooohprettycolors
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Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:41 pm

I believe Alex contributed to the AS wikipedia article some years ago. Last I read it was a year ago. Seems to have changed. I'm incompetent at editing wikipedia (the code) but someone here who can do it should change things.



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Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:53 pm

Myrkabah wrote:
This is actually an instance of where people with our talents could excel at affecting change in the tone of the article.

The vital weakpoint of getting your viewpoint properly represented on Wikipedia is sourcing. Instead of writing your own opinion, find an MD who shares your opinion and has expounded or researched on it to some degree, paraphrase it in a form where it's presented as an authority's conclusion and not your own, and then cite the conclusions in MLA form. At that point it would be extremely difficult to remove without raising some red flags - the only real recourse would be to source information which conflicts, which correctly gives the impression that it is a subject of some debate rather than a foregone conclusion.

I'm actually quite good at this type of thing... I used to do a lot of writing at everything2.com and derive extreme enjoyment writing persuasive essays and from researching and presenting conclusions in written form. If you guys could give me a list of viewpoints and information that you would like to see included in the article, I can see what I can do about making it happen. If I were to see the edits in particular that were reversed I may be able to shed some insight on why.


I couldn't agree more with you Myrkabah. Breathless conspiracy like allegations never have any other purpose but to impart bias. The issue has already been brought up before on WP. I've edited Wikipedia and even been involved in a few judicial reviews. The place is fair and reasonable. You get jerks on there...and jerks can distort an issue for a while but they always fall prey to those who follow the ground rules of Wikipedia and who are willing to stick it out. "Talk" is where most of this occurs, and if there is a lot of "talk", it gets archived. If you don't want to read and play by their rules, avoid Wikipedia. Take Myrkabah up on his offer if you want to bring your viewpoint across. The opening is a bit too clinical. Minor edits would make it better. Unlike a encyclopedia, WP is a living document. That is bad because editors can corrupt it briefly, but it is good because it allows for all to have a say.


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VMSnith
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:52 am

Myrkabah, glad to hear your constructive attitude, i hope you have better luck than these editors. There is actually a big pile of very high quality sources to work with, present in the Talk archives. (You can get the original source materials from this link ...)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Asper ... _abilities .

and also

Mathematical Talent is Linked to Autism, http://www.springerlink.com/content/21t03377610752g0/

There are also a few notable quotations by leading researchers in the field :

""AS, more than perhaps any other developmental disability, highlights the need for
research to consider not only the deficits displayed by individuals with this
condition but also, and importantly, their strengths and even special talents...
The studies reported here throw light on the nature of the deficits in the
condition, but alongside of these there are areas of not just intact performance,
but also of unique skills."
... the term "difference" in relation to AS/ HFA is a more neutral, value-free, and fairer
description than terms such as "impairment," "deficiency," or "disability" ..."

-- Simon Baron-Cohen, "What's so special about
Asperger Syndrome?" Brain and Cognition 61 (2006) page 2.

"""It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential." - H Asperger



VMSnith
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:02 am

I thought i'd save readers here the click-through. This stuff is all pasted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Asper ... _abilities . ... the links to the specific original sources can be found there ...

-----------

I'm going to use this section to collect sources - primary and secondary, for consideration. Plz open up a new section for discussion, so that this can remain a simple list. These won't be in any particular order.

memory : Beversdorf DQ, Smith BW, Crucian GP, et al. Increased discrimination of "false memories" in autism spectrum disorder. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (peer reviewed, eight research centers participating)

"We found that individuals with ASD are able to discriminate false memory items from true items significantly better than are control subjects. Memory in patients with ASD may be more accurate than in normal individuals under certain conditions. These results also suggest that semantic representations comprise a less distributed network in high-functioning adults with ASD. Furthermore, these results may be related to the unusually high memory capacities found in some individuals with ASD."

PMID 10900024

Cited by 16 articles per Google scholar

memory/visual Do high functioning persons with autism present superior spatial abilities? Caron MJ, Mottron L, Rainville C, Chouinard S.

"Superior performance for individuals with HFA was found in tasks involving maps, in the form of superior accuracy in graphic cued recall of a path, and shorter learning times in a map learning task. We propose that a superior ability to detect ... simple visual elements yields superior performance in tasks relying on the detection and graphic reproduction of the visual elements composing a map. Enhanced discrimination, detection, and memory for visually simple patterns in autism may account for the superior performance of persons with autism on visuo-spatial tasks that heavily involve pattern recognition"

PMID 14728920

vision : Superior visual search in adults with autism.

"Recent studies have suggested that children with autism perform better than matched controls on visual search tasks and that this stems from a superior visual discrimination ability. This study assessed whether these findings generalize from children to adults with autism. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that, like children, adults with autism were superior to controls at searching for targets. Experiment 3 showed that increases in target-distractor similarity slowed the visual search performance of the control group significantly more than that of the autism group, suggesting that the adults with autism have a superior visual discrimination ...ability."


PMID 15358868

Cited by 7 articles per Google scholar

(thanx for the PMID, sandy, i don't really know how to turn those up.)

vision Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Netherlands, peer reviewed, two research centers participating).

Superior Disembedding Performance of High-Functioning Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Their Parents: The Need for Subtle Measures.

We assessed the disembedding performance on the Embedded Figures Test (EFT) of high-functioning subjects with autism or autism spectrum disorders from multi-incidence families and the performance of their parents. The individuals with autism spectrum disorders were significantly faster than matched controls in locating the shape, but their parents were not faster than a control group of parents. However, both the individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their fathers made significantly fewer incorrect attempts before finding the right shape than matched controls.

PMID 16612576

No citations in other articles per Google scholar

acoustic

Enhanced Pitch Sensitivity in Individuals with Autism: A Signal Detection Analysis

http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs ... 3321208169

doi:10.1162/089892903321208169

Cited by 25 articles per Google scholar

general (secondary source - not a primary study):

Is Asperger’s syndrome/High-Functioning Autism necessarily a disability?, Simon Baron-Cohen, U. Cambridge Centre for Autism Research

This article considers whether Asperger Syndrome (AS) or high-functioning autism (HFA) necessarily lead to disability or whether AS/HFA simply lead to 'difference'. It concludes that the term 'difference' in relation to AS/HFA is a more neutral, value-free, and fairer description than terms such as 'impairment', 'deficiency' or 'disability'; that the term 'disability' only applies to the lower functioning cases of autism; but that the term 'disability' may need to be retained for AS/HFA as long as the legal framework only provides financial and other support for individuals with a disability.

PMID 11014749

updated CeilingCrash 14:19, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Cited by 16 articles per Google scholar SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:32, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

general (secondary source, not a study)
Autism: Common, heritable, but not harmful.

We assert that one of the examples used by Keller & Miller (K&M), namely, autism, is indeed common, and heritable, but we question whether it is harmful. We provide a brief review of cognitive science literature in which autistics perform superiorly to non-autistics in perceptual, reasoning, and comprehension tasks; however, these superiorities are often occluded and are instead described as dysfunctions.

doi:10.1017/S0140525X06319097

(thanx to SG for the scholar reference counts, which i think are pretty good indicators of general acceptance)

general (not a study)

Enhanced perceptual functioning in autism: an update, and eight principles of autistic perception.

We propose an "Enhanced Perceptual Functioning" model encompassing the main differences between autistic and non-autistic social and non-social perceptual processing. Increased perceptual expertise may be implicated in the choice of special ability in savant autistics, and in the variability of apparent presentations within PDD (autism with and without typical speech, Asperger syndrome) in non-savant autistics. The overfunctioning of brain regions typically involved in primary perceptual functions may explain the autistic perceptual endophenotype.

(bolding is mine - CeilingCrash 19:03, 25 September 2007 (UTC))

PMID 16453071


abstract reasoning The Nature and Level of Autistic intelligence.

(This is a very recent, rather long and complex study. I'll excerpt some passages here, with the caveat they are out of context. Also, it is not clear to what extent autism, HFA and AS have been intermingled, or this is just Autism proper.)

"A third of the subjects scored above the 90th percentile on Raven's Matrices" (more excerpts to come)

PMID 17680932 Full article http://psych.wisc.edu/lang/pdf/Dawson_A ... S_2007.pdf

updated CeilingCrash 19:07, 25 September 2007 (UTC)



UncleBeer
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:21 am

Wasn't it alleged that the most active editor of the AS article worked for a pharmaceutical company (and was so brazen as to place a picture of her product on the page 'til someone removed it), and that she'd made thousands of edits to the page within the course of a year, and scores of changes within a 24 hour period? I seem to remember this from a previous WP thread.

Shameful if true.



Myrkabah
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:59 am

VMSnith wrote:
Myrkabah, glad to hear your constructive attitude, i hope you have better luck than these editors. There is actually a big pile of very high quality sources to work with, present in the Talk archives. (You can get the original source materials from this link ...)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Asper ... _abilities .

and also

Mathematical Talent is Linked to Autism, http://www.springerlink.com/content/21t03377610752g0/

There are also a few notable quotations by leading researchers in the field :

""AS, more than perhaps any other developmental disability, highlights the need for
research to consider not only the deficits displayed by individuals with this
condition but also, and importantly, their strengths and even special talents...
The studies reported here throw light on the nature of the deficits in the
condition, but alongside of these there are areas of not just intact performance,
but also of unique skills."
... the term "difference" in relation to AS/ HFA is a more neutral, value-free, and fairer
description than terms such as "impairment," "deficiency," or "disability" ..."

-- Simon Baron-Cohen, "What's so special about
Asperger Syndrome?" Brain and Cognition 61 (2006) page 2.

"""It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential." - H Asperger


Thanks, this was exactly what I'm looking for. Let me dig into the talk pages a little and see what I can put together.



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