Literacy in an age of extremes
I note a new bitter nihilism out there souring discourse about mental health. It has two forms:
- Data! Only data! Look at nothing else!
- Nothing important can be truly known through research, so don't show me any.
Dr. Thomas Insel, in his essay "Autism Spring" speaks with authority and reasoned optimism in saying "The answers — and there will be answers — will no doubt merge genetic risk and environmental exposure to help us reach the far side of the complexity of ASD."
I tire of the seemingly opposite but actually co-supporting nihilism of scientific debate over eating disorders. It would seem to be opposite sides of the spectrum to say "Nothing is known without research" and "research can't tell us anything real" but I find both positions lazy and simplistic.
Those who would dismiss everything not already in the AHRQ and those who don't know or care about such documents are in reality conjoined and co-morbid. They both use their positions for fig leaves over a lack of understanding or caring about the big picture. While people take positions that exclude the "other" extreme the discourse just gets dumber and less useful. These are not really positions on the topic: they are plays for power or defenses against small intellect or - most often - excuses for not wanting to do the hard work of integrating data and practice.