Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lost in Space

I'll be in the Alpha Quadrant of the galaxy for the next couple of days, so I may not be able to get another post up till late Thursday or Friday. Meanwhile, another open door crashed through: Many children who are disruptive in school classrooms are misdiagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, when all they really are ... are young.

As I have noted here before, ADHD is a disease label that is applied more or less indiscriminately to children whose behavior adults don't like. I say indiscriminately because there is no diagnostic marker for the "disease," no physical manifestation, no test you can give. School demands something of children that evolution did not equip them for very well: to sit quietly in rows and concentrate on boring tasks for hours on end. Some kids just can't seem to do this. So we give them pills, which are literally and precisely the biological equivalent of the illegal drugs of abuse cocaine and methamphetamine, which stunt their growth and damage their hearts. It's a huge industry.

What this study tells us is simply that some kids who get this label are on the young end of the age distribution in their class so they haven't had the discipline sufficiently pounded into them yet to conform to expectations.

However, we have much bigger problems than this. In the face of multiple world-historical crises, cynical extremists have completely captured the political discourse with a campaign of religious bigotry. It is not only working on its own terms, it has silenced the urgent conversation we need to be having about climate change, the ongoing destruction of the oceans, the long-term economic decline of the United States and the very real short-term threat of global economic collapse, the possible dissolution of civil order and national integrity of both Iraq and Pakistan (very dangerous, either one) . . , oh, I don't know, pick your own nightmare. Meanwhile, nobody who isn't stark raving insane should give a fart whether people build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan.


robin andrea said...

Your last paragraph sums up the world as I know it, Bart. Well done, scary and true.

roger said...

we are a nation of sheep distracted by shiny baubles.

C. Corax said...

Can we please take back the effing airwaves? They don't belong to Murdoch.