Science CONFIRMS what we have always known – again


Let’s Hear It for Confirmation?

WHY are Common Sense & “Anecdotal” Evidence SUSPECT
until scientists obtain funding to “verify” what we already know?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Modern Media Headline News?

I really must stop reading the paper!

Anger and frustration grow increasingly stronger, page after page, reading even the headlines. When there is absolutely nothing one can do about what one reads, they are such uncomfortable, unproductive emotions.

I have come to expect various negative emotions whenever I read what passes for political commentary and coverage. I’m never sure which makes me crazier: what most of the politicians say and do or what most of the “news” reporters write about what the politicians say and do.

No longer do I spend hours of my time exploring alternate reportage in a vain attempt at determining the truth beneath a story printed in whatever paper I happen to pick up first.

As cynical as it sounds, I have finally been forced to accept that any political reportage I might read would be little more than another permutation of party SPIN in service of the almighty dollar, crafted primarily to attract a greater readership share than the journalistic competition.

Yet it seems that I have not yet jettisoned my naivety entirely.

Naivety, Hope & Timing

I still believe that research scientists truly mean well and are working to save lives and improve its quality for the next generation.

Nonetheless, it makes me Grumpy to note their lack of urgency as they take careful steps to build their careers and reputations – almost as if their patience with the process indicates that they need to think about the lives of this generation as “acceptable casualties.”

But about those reporters . . .

Science reportage in the majority of articles in the popular press retains the full force of my disdain.

  • “Don’t ANY of them read original sources?” I wail silently, frowning over whatever I’m eating or drinking as I read.
  • “Or is it that they don’t have adequate long-term memories?  What’s been around for decades is not NEWS.”

I had those thoughts again, just last night – as I enjoyed a margarita with a Cactus Pear specialty nacho salad during a solo evening dining out at the restaurant within walking distance of my apartment building.

To keep me company, I picked up one of their copies of the March 23 – 29 issue of Citibeat, Cincinnati’s alternative paper. Hoping to read something brief and not too upsetting so I could enjoy my dinner, I turned to Worst Week Ever! – one of their running features.

There – along with a blurb about the Pope’s brand new Instagram presence and a long paragraph about the GOP’s refusal to consider Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee “or anything else the man wants” – was some “news” about the intelligence of dogs: Scientists Believe Dogs Are More Intelligent Than We Give the Little Bastards Credit For (alternative paper, remember).

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar for a reminder
of how links work on this site, they’re subtle (scroll UP for it) ==>

Click graphic for the intro post describing this Series

Dogs aren’t dumb animals without feelings

WOW!  Who knew?

The reportage began by noting that, as recently as ten years ago, scientists had not delved very deeply into the “dog psyche,” but that in the past decade scientists have taken a deeper look.  Oh really!?

Jaak Panksepp

One of my favorite affective neuroscientists, Jaak Panksepp, has been beating this drum for many decades – conducting cruelty-free experiments exploring animal emotions (even though many to most of his colleagues steadfastly persisted in down playing his findings and assertions).

Since the majority of Panskepp’s research was conducted with rats (and there wasn’t a lot of grubby money attached to replicating his findings), the scientific community saw fit to discount his conclusions until relatively recently — or, at least, to assert that it couldn’t possibly apply to mammals in general – or even poor lab rats – since what he claimed was “inconsistent with the body of knowledge of the field.”

Related article (with applications for struggles with activation):

Is activation “Seeking System” Dependent?

 

Guess what this “new”
research has uncovered? 

Supposedly recent science officially “indicates” that dogs can “reportedly” learn hundreds of words, understand social cues, and even comprehend non-verbal cues as subtle as the significance of a gaze.

Ultimately, “researchers found that dogs can operate at the same mental level as two-and-a-half-year-old human babies.”

Pet owners shake their heads

Irrespective of rubber stamp “validation” from the scientific community, I’ll bet this “news” comes as no surprise to Cooper’s caretaker, whose Shih Tzu has learned to shape-sort and count in addition to “standard” tricks like lie down, sit, shake hands, and more.

Even among those dog owners whose pets do not perform the standard tricks, anyone who has ever lived closely with a dog will tell you that they have never doubted that dogs understand and possess emotions as well as intelligence well beyond the range that science will ever deign to “prove.”

  • After all, as column voice Danny Cross squanders precious column space to remind us sarcastically, research of this sort proves “how little the world’s brightest researchers have to do these days.”
  • Gosh yes, Mr. Cross, we wouldn’t want anyone spending time on trivial research that might lead to the “scientifically verified” conclusion that we share the planet with other species that deserve kindness and respectful treatment (much less that research on animal intelligence might have applications to human neurology!!!)

Journalistic, as well as Scientific confirmation bias borders on an arrogance that is the polar opposite of what either field claims is foundational.

Related article: Confirmation Bias & The Tragedy of Certainty

Not just Dog Research

Regardless of arena, it makes me unbelievably Grumpy any time I read popular press reportage of “new” scientific information that isn’t new at all — or whenever I hear scientists or science writers discount the cumulative experiences of many hundreds of individuals with first-hand experience as “merely anecdotal.”

Wouldn’t you think that scientific curiosity alone
might encourage them to take these assertions seriously,
if not respectfully?

I think what makes me especially Grumpy is that, while the scientific old guard deliberates about the legitimacy of Journal publication for ground-breaking research, science stands still – sometimes for decades (as with Merzenich‘s early work on neuroplasticity, and Taub‘s on stroke recovery).

Meanwhile, far too many people who might have been helped
die without relief from life-long health problems,
and/or spend decades struggling needlessly with limp-along lives
that could have been so much more.

It seems to me that, in pursuit of science and scientific validation, science has lost its essential humanity, overlooking the reality that the quality of people’s LIVES are at stake – and they matter.  NOW.

Related article: Science and Sensibility – the illusion of proof

 

Let’s hear it from YOU

I invite you to dump YOUR Monday grumps and gripes
in the comment section below each of my own – related or NOT.

As long as you don’t make individual people wrong, and do your best to avoid the dreaded “should” word, I will approve all comers (link-spammers shot on sight, however).

© 2014, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”

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There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with Executive Functioning struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

14 Responses to Science CONFIRMS what we have always known – again

  1. Pingback: Predicting Time to Manage Tasks | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. tmezpoetry says:

    Gosh, if only I had more coffee this morning I’d be ready to write an essay in response lol. I’m an alternate media advocate. Exclusively watching or reading the main media outlets is narrowing the focus on the subject. You are right, it is about the spin but even more so, it is about the funding. You hit on so many good topics here it is hard to address them all but in a nutshell…right on 🙂

    Like

    • Yeah – main media is kinda’ like network television. Are you kidding me?

      btw- ALL Monday Grumpy Monday posts are coffee-generated. (Though they are sometimes Sunday-generated as well, I must confess.)

      I know me – so I fill carafes. No such thing as “if I only had more.” Sans coffee, my posts would slide way over the mean-girl edge. Coffee is the drug that keeps the world alive. 🙂

      I’m glad you liked the rant, and thanks for ringing in
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • tmezpoetry says:

        haha I like your style~

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks – and ditto

          Liked by 1 person

          • tmezpoetry says:

            Aww thanks

            Like

            • 🙂

              Like

  3. Pingback: The Importance of Community to Health | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  4. Dizzy Chick says:

    Dogs smart? Hmmm. Have they wondered why we have service dogs? Seizure Dogs? No, that doesn’t take a brain!
    My little dog is smart, and I haven’t been good at training her. Funny thing, I can point to the window and she’ll run and look out to see the dog going by. She knows I’m pointing to something she will like. ha.
    She loves to watch animals on TV, and she knows when it is animals and not people or cartoons. I’ve had the volume off and she will pop up during a commercial with a dog. She watched all of the Winchester Dog Show. She seemed to have a favorite but he didn’t win.

    Like people, some dogs are smarter than others. I’ve seen some that aren’t too bright, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a brain that worked.

    They are so empathetic. They cuddle. They care.

    How can you do research on these animals?
    That’s the reason they don’t want to admit dogs are smart, then it would be inhumane to experiment on them. Like chimps, rats, mice…. They are sentient beings.
    Just like humans. We should do no harm, first and foremost.

    grump.

    I’m grumpy today because my x-rays showed degeneration in my neck. This is very painful. They said it was “mild degeneration”. I’ve been told I have degenerative arthritis before, but it wasn’t confirmed by x-ray, and the pain wasn’t as bad. Now I realize that this pain is forever, and will get worse. I know the future isn’t written and anything could happen, but I have to be prepared.

    or do I? don’t I need to take each day as it comes and not worry. I can’t change it. just one day at a time.

    This is another loss, another thing I have to deal with. I’m tired.

    luckily the other parts of me have calmed down for now.

    stress, stress, and more stress.
    grump.

    Like

    • First, I’m thrilled to see that you dumped your Grump here – even though my heart hurt to read why. A future of chronic pain is an unbelievable thing to even consider. But from everything I’ve read about pain, the mental component makes a key difference. Wendy [Picnic with Ants] swears by Mindfulness, focusing on the NOW – with good reason. Pain research shows that the anticipation of pain exacerbates the pain.

      NLP techniques swear you can reduce pain through impartial observation – rating it 1-10, then focusing by “moving” it one number lower. What I think NLP has in common with Mindfulness is that you recapture a sense of control, with the expectation that you CAN handle it (vs. making it worse by, essentially, freaking out).

      I vote for the “take each day” part of your comment. Keep yourself as healthy as possible, mental as well as physical, while you continue to look for info indicating that new research is on the horizon with something that will help. Put yourself on watch-lists for study participation.

      I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you haven’t already considered – I’m just putting it in writing and supporting that kind of thinking, hoping it might help a little.

      Your dog sounds adorable btw. My 15 month old Shih Tzu is unusually smart too. I haven’t yet enrolled him in Agility classes or taken the time to challenge him to perform more than most of the basic tricks (which he picked up in a flash). Your comment is a nudge to do more for the little guy’s brain development.

      One of the reasons I’m so big on Panksepp is that his feelings about animals mirror yours. Check out some of the related links I’ve added to this post (above). I think you’ll love him too.

      xx,
      mgh

      Like

      • Dizzy Chick says:

        You are right, mindfulness is the way for me to deal with this. If you read my post on Grief and Acceptance that I wrote recently, I’m in the grief stage about this I think. I need to accept it a bit more. I’ll deal with it better soon. I know. Decided to start going though a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class on line. Free, self paced…but really you should do it in 8 weeks.

        You are such a sweet lady to care so much.

        I am going to start PT to help with the nerve compression. yes, my arm and face tingle, sometimes my arm hurts a lot.
        Stupid accident years ago. But I’m lucky, I could be paralyzed or worse.

        We want to have more professional training for Kiki too. We got her right when the hip stuff started so we haven’t gotten there yet. She’s 3. But she is still great at learning, I think she’s better now than a year ago. She was too traumatized when we first got her to learn much. Now she wants to learn. After the move, maybe we can focus on that.

        good to “see” you.
        thanks for letting me grump.
        xoxo

        Like

        • My dear friend — IMHO, there would be something wrong if you were not in one of the early stages of the grief response! You’ve been hit with a sudden change. While it is certainly true that nobody can will themselves to shorten the process, there are many things we CAN do to avoid lengthening it. While I know you KNOW that, I want to offer a bit of reading that might help you normalize (or give you something to DO while you move through the stages of grief).

          As I believe (and have written about in my Grief and Diagnosis Series), the fastest way through it is STRAIGHT through it – good for you for allowing yourself to grieve. I liken moving through Grief to peeling the layers of an onion, and one of the articles contains a reminder of some self-care steps to keep in mind as you peel (and during whatever comes up during your PT).

          My prayers are with you. (more in the comments section of the article on YOUR blog)
          xx,
          mgh

          Like

  5. janetkwest says:

    Dogs smart? Who knew? Lol. My cat senses my moods and seems to know when things. Anecdotal though it is, she still is clingy before I leave on a trip.

    Like

    • Janet, there is actually some fascinating research on what could almost be described as animal “precognition.” They are not sure how they do it, but there is some prelim research that has shown THAT they do it. So I guess we are now almost allowed to believe that our pets can read our minds? 🙂

      Whatever the mechanism, pet owners have long reported cats who hide whenever the owner even thinks about retrieving the carrier for a vet visit, dogs who get excited when a partner (and co-owner) is coming home, or that their dog will offer a particular trick (among many) when they are holding a treat – before they ask for exactly that trick.

      Probably after you and I have moved on to whatever’s next, science will finally find an explanation of the mechanism, but meanwhile . . .
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

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