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24 Aug

Each datum permits multiple possible explanations: this is true of visual and auditory perception, but also of the social world.

A pretty girl laughs a little too long at a man’s joke; is she trying to flirt with him, or just friendly?

“And so Isabelle went over and got into the lady’s van, got in the back seat, buckled up and was waiting to be taken to Dairy Queen with that family.” Jessica had no idea what had happened to Isabelle and was frantically searching for her when the driver of the van approached her and explained that she had been starting her car when she looked up and saw Isabelle’s face in the rearview mirror. Every teacher at Isabelle’s public school has been warned.

Isabelle is not allowed to tell them that she loves them. And, you know, I’d rather her be overly safe than be on CNN.” Some of the research on these kids is fascinating – I’m not sure I believe the study finding that they’re incapable of racism, but the one finding a deficit detecting anger in faces seems pretty plausible. Threat-detection seems to be an automated process not totally susceptible to System II control. Intelligence can help a face-blind person come up with some systems to reduce the impact of their condition, but in the end it’s just not going to help that much.

There are a bunch of good stimulant abuse cases in the literature that present as “patient’s boss said she was unusually standoffish and wanted her to get psychiatric evaluation”, show up in the office as “well of course I’m standoffish, everyone in my office excludes me from everything and is rude in a thousand little ways throughout the day”, and end up as “cut your Adderall dosage in half, please”. NPR has a good article, A Life Without Fear, describing some of what they go through: Kids and adults with Williams love people, and they are literally pathologically trusting. Researchers theorize that this is probably because of a problem in their limbic system, the part of the brain that regulates emotion.

(“Why is that psychiatrist telling me to cut my Adderall in half? There appears to be a disregulation in one of the chemicals (oxytocin) that signals when to trust and when to distrust.

For every intellectually disabled person, there are a dozen who are just kind of dumb.

For every autistic person, there are a dozen who are just sort of nerdy. We naturally think of some people as more trusting than others, but maybe that isn’t the best frame.

“Trusting” implies that we all receive the same information, and just choose how much risk we’re willing to tolerate. A recent theme here has been the ways that our sense-data is underdetermined.

And then I had lunch with my friend, and she was like “It’s so stressful when all of your patients identify you with their parents and break down crying, isn’t it?

Don’t you wish you could just go one day without that happening?