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Re: Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview

by allolex (Curate)
on Sep 21, 2003 at 09:30 UTC ( #292973=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
in thread (OT) Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview

Not to mention the potential numbers of programmers with Asperger Syndrome:

It's a familiar joke in the industry that many of the hardcore programmers in IT strongholds like Intel, Adobe, and Silicon Graphics - coming to work early, leaving late, sucking down Big Gulps in their cubicles while they code for hours - are residing somewhere in Asperger's domain. Kathryn Stewart, director of the Orion Academy, a high school for high-functioning kids in Moraga, California, calls Asperger's syndrome "the engineers' disorder." Bill Gates is regularly diagnosed in the press: His single-minded focus on technical minutiae, rocking motions, and flat tone of voice are all suggestive of an adult with some trace of the disorder. Dov's father told me that his friends in the Valley say many of their coworkers "could be diagnosed with ODD - they're odd." In Microserfs, novelist Douglas Coupland observes, "I think all tech people are slightly autistic."
(Steve Silberman. 2003. "The Geek Syndrome", in Wired.)

--
Allolex


Comment on Re: Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
Re: Re: Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by tilly (Archbishop) on Sep 21, 2003 at 17:37 UTC
    I am somewhat dubious of the amount of that which is theorized to exist.

    No, I am not dubious that Asperger's Syndrome exists. Or that it could be positively correlated with being a geek.

    But my observation of psychologists is that they go through fads of diagnosis. I would bet that a lot of kids who are currently being diagnosed would not have been diagnosed a few years ago, and most would not be so diagnosed in a few years. Most are probably within the normal range of human behaviour and are just fine. Remember that psychology is the "profession" which was responsible for mass misdiagnoses of childhood abuse (see False Memory Syndrome), electroshock therapy, frontal lobotomies, etc, etc, etc. While I acknowledge the difficulties in establishing a real science of human behaviour (the lack of useful models much simpler than a human is a non-trivial problem), I reserve a substantial amount of doubt on their claims.

    This goes double when their claims allow non-technical people to take pot-shots at people who are otherwise put on a pedestal. (People have a strong tendancy to avoid uncomfortable comparisons with others, typically either by elevating the others to a god-like status where you don't have to compare, or by cutting the idol down to subhuman status so that the comparison is more comfortable.)

    But this is a generalized level of doubt. I have not done more than read the general articles and had a gut level reaction. If I cared then I would look into it farther. Until then I don't know, but am unconvinced that self-proclaimed experts know either.

    Disclaimer: As a kid I was diagnosed as having childhood schizophrenia by someone who was thought to be an expert on the topic. For a variety of reasons I am confident that the diagnosis was ridiculously wrong. And that initial experience may have permanently biased me on the topic of psychologists...

      But my observation of psychologists is that they go through fads of diagnosis. I would bet that a lot of kids who are currently being diagnosed would not have been diagnosed a few years ago, and most would not be so diagnosed in a few years. Most are probably within the normal range of human behaviour and are just fine.

      The psychiatric journal reports on AS specifically refute the diagnosis fad theory, according to an NPR report on the topic. They (the articles in the journals, written by psychiatrists) also cited the reason for a certain underdiagnosis as being due to the marginality of the behavior of AS subjects, i.e. their behavior was considered a bit strange (marginal), but not necessarily beyond the range of what people consider to be "normal". A study of such a case can be found here.

      Remember that psychology is the "profession" which was responsible for mass misdiagnoses of childhood abuse (see False Memory Syndrome), electroshock therapy, frontal lobotomies, etc, etc, etc.

      No need to remind me ;) (This is common knowledge.) But also remember that the practice of medicine used to involve blood-letting. Substantial progress has been made in both areas.

      This goes double when their claims allow non-technical people to take pot-shots at people who are otherwise put on a pedestal.

      I think you are underestimating "people" here, but your suspicion may have some merit in certain individuals. In any case, pot-shots are also fired at non-technical people.

      But this is a generalized level of doubt. I have not done more than read the general articles and had a gut level reaction. If I cared then I would look into it farther. Until then I don't know, but am unconvinced that self-proclaimed experts know either.

      The experts in this case are a bit more than self-proclaimed. What you are saying amounts to "I don't know anything about this, but I won't give anyone else's claim the benefit of the doubt." You apparently feel strongly about this topic, so I think you might want to look into the claims in a little more detail before rejecting them too strongly. :)

      Disclaimer: As a kid I was diagnosed as having childhood schizophrenia by someone who was thought to be an expert on the topic. For a variety of reasons I am confident that the diagnosis was ridiculously wrong. And that initial experience may have permanently biased me on the topic of psychologists...

      Well, your forthrightness definitely goes to your credit. ( At least you didn't start quoting L. Ron Hubbard :P ... a reference to the anti-psychologist theme throughout Mission Earth)

      --
      Allolex

      Update 2003-09-22 16:02:43 CEST: changes above underlined.

        But my observation of psychologists is that they go through fads of diagnosis. I would bet that a lot of kids who are currently being diagnosed would not have been diagnosed a few years ago, and most would not be so diagnosed in a few years. Most are probably within the normal range of human behaviour and are just fine.
        The psychiatric journal reports on AS specifically refute the diagnosis fad theory, according to an NPR report on the topic. They also cited the reason for a certain underdiagnosis as being due to the marginality of the behavior of AS subjects, i.e. their behavior was considered a bit strange (marginal), but not necessarily beyond the range of what people consider to be "normal". A study of such a case can be found here.
        That they would address the issue hardly surprises me. That a journalist would be convinced hardly inspires confidence in me - my past experiences have lead me to have low confidence in the judgement skills of your average journalist.

        In other words what you have stated from my point of view is non-information. It is material that I would expect to exist, and therefore being told of its existence does nothing to convince me either way of anything.

        Remember that psychology is the "profession" which was responsible for mass misdiagnoses of childhood abuse (see False Memory Syndrome), electroshock therapy, frontal lobotomies, etc, etc, etc.
        No need to remind me ;) But also remember that the practice of medicine used to involve blood-letting. Substantial progress has been made in both areas.
        I had no way of knowing that there was no need to remind you of the above.

        That said, comparing my points about psychology with bloodletting in medicine is somewhat disingenuous. Yes, medicine advocated bloodletting at one point. That point was several centuries past, before there was a methodical attempt to understand the human body, and before, for instance, William Harvey's demonstrations that blood circulated through the body, pumped by the heart.

        Certainly medicine has not advocated bloodletting within the lives of current practitioners, and it is easy to identify changes in medical training and practice between that time and the present which should lead to medicine doing better now than it once did. (Though medicine could do better still. I was personally shocked to discover that evidence-based medicine - the idea that medical treatments should be based on actual clinical trials and not local traditions - only really caught hold in the 1990s.)

        By contrast every one of the failures I just listed for psychology took place within the lifetimes of current practioners or their mentors. Nor has there been any obvious sea-change in the past decade or two which would indicate that psychology can be expected to do better now than it in the recent past.

        This goes double when their claims allow non-technical people to take pot-shots at people who are otherwise put on a pedestal.
        I think you are underestimating "people" here, but your suspicion may have some merit in certain individuals. In any case, pot-shots are also fired at non-technical people.
        I admit to being cynical here. I used to be less cynical, but seem to become more so as I have more experiences. YMMV.

        But this is a generalized level of doubt. I have not done more than read the general articles and had a gut level reaction. If I cared then I would look into it farther. Until then I don't know, but am unconvinced that self-proclaimed experts know either.
        The experts in this case are a bit more than self-proclaimed. What you are saying amounts to "I don't know anything about this, but I won't give anyone else's claim the benefit of the doubt." You apparently feel strongly about this topic, so I think you might want to look into the claims in a little more detail before rejecting them too strongly. :)
        I think that you misread my original post.

        You originally replied to me quoting the same standard articles on Asperger's Syndrome that I always see quoted, and treated what they said as fact. I read those articles when they came out, and was left mentally labelling those as being interesting, but far from interesting. Therefore I posted what I did to say that I have my doubts, here is why and what their nature is.

        Had your post not been a response to mine, I probably would have commented. But it was, so I replied in the spirit of trying to encourage healthy skepticism and critical thought about what people see and read. Since I know that some people tend to put undue weight on my opinions, I went well out of my way to indicate the basis of my doubts, and what weak grounds they rest on. In other words I don't want people to say, "Asperger's must be garbage because tilly says so." I want them to either make their own minds up, or else know why they aren't made up.

        In short I actually don't have a strong opinion about what the real incidence of Asperger's is, but I don't like blithely accepting what the experts say because the track record of experts in psychology is pretty bad.

        Disclaimer: As a kid I was diagnosed as having childhood schizophrenia by someone who was thought to be an expert on the topic. For a variety of reasons I am confident that the diagnosis was ridiculously wrong. And that initial experience may have permanently biased me on the topic of psychologists...
        Well, your forthrightness definitely goes to your credit. ( At least you didn't start quoting L. Ron Hubbard :P )
        I like encouraging critical thought. Part of critically analyzing anything presented to you includes trying to understand the biases (and therefore likely distortions) of the person doing the presenting. Reporting my own biases is therefore a useful thing to do.

        I am somewhat puzzled as to why you would think me likely to quote Hubbard's brand of pseudo-rationality in an attempt to encourage critical thought. Did I really sound like someone who is that far in the realm of cuckoo-land?

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