Attention Deficit Science Disorder
Can we trust science On ADHD? Yes … and no.
To be more specific, does science have any definite answers to our problems with ADHD? If the answer were “yes” then there would be no need for any further research. That leaves the answer as definitely, unequivocally a resounding NO! ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is complex and children have different combinations and severity of symptoms, as well as the behavior problems being caused by many factors with ADHD.
In the last ten years science has made HUGE leaps in our understanding of how the brain functions. What science has shown us with these discoveries is how little we understand about this organ, which has been described as the most complex organ in the universe.
There is a general rule, that if we know very little about a subject, we should not make authoritative and over generalized statements on that subject.
There are two sources of knowledge we can use. One is the official academic peer review journals material; the second is educated, knowledgeable experts with insight outside the academic sphere who write helpful books, or researchers like Dr Daniel Aman who is an alternative thinker. It is an individual choice who’s advice we prefer to follow. It is an individual choice if who we prefer to follow. To be labeled a victim, a broken person who needs drugs to cope, or take control of our own lives. It is a choice and we need to look at ADHD from all perspectives to choose what is best for us personally. What works for one soul may not work for another. Everyone must find his or her own solution to their ADHD walk through life.
The peer review system has checks and balances to ensure that rubbish does not get published. However it is a rigid system, stifling creativity to keep the status quo. This rigidity has three negative results:
- Consensus science is usually lagging behind creative free spirits outside the confines of the academic ivory towers, by protecting the established paradigm.
- Consensus science tends to follow fashions. Some theory will dominate a subject field, until another theory becomes dominant. There is then the tendency to forget some of the past wisdom in the pursuit of future knowledge.
- Scientists read articles in their field in which they specialize. Other scientists writing in other fields discover things the first group is unaware of as they are so deep digging a hole in their particular niche. This is the problem with ADHD research. The ADHD consensus opinion researchers are suffering from paradigm blindness.
Educated and Knowledgeable Experts
Educated and knowledgeable experts with insight writing books outside the academic world can be as scientific, or sometimes even more scientific than the academics. Here the peer review process is the response from people in the general public who can relate to their writing and use common sense in judging the advice and insights in these books.
These writers often have a broader overview than the careerist academics who are so digging a hole for themselves in their niche they tend to oversimplify complex problems. An example is serotonin in depression and dopamine in ADHD.
The strength and weakness with peer reviews are reliance on statistics and referring to some abstract “norms.” We who have a problem to solve are flesh and blood unique individuals and not statistical averages. This is where the non-academic experts are better, as they deal with real life problems and can give solutions without being restricted by statistics and narrow-minded niche specific paradigm blindness.
Ten years ago it was widely believed the adult brain does not generate new brain cells. It was also believed the adult brain does not develop. Many, outside the confines of academic institutions, understood that this was wrong. If it were true then there would not be any point in learning new skills as an adult.
Now academic science has become aware of this fact and says that an adult brain can generate new brain cells, and our brains continue to develop until middle age. This late development explains why supposedly mature adults sometimes behave like teenagers. Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah Winfrey’s couch is an example of this.
Among the ADHD theories, there are some that have been widely accepted, in spite of being founded on wonky science. That some theory is accepted by “consensus science” does not imply that it is supported by good science.
The standard diagnosis for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the DSM-IV
(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition).
The DSM-IV codes are great as a guide, but it does have the drawback of
being categorical, while ADHD is dimensional.
The dimensional aspect of ADHD is due to its complex nature, as the symptoms can vary enormously from person to person and so do the severity of the symptoms. There is no magic line between ADHD and non-ADHD. This online test is as a good guide as it gets.
What steps to take afterwards, if you do have ADHD, or are on the border, is a personal choice. There are supplements which work as well as medication, but without side effects, there is cognitive training, which is a more effective solution than stimulant medicines, ADHD coaching which helps develop coping strategies, games which help teach controlling impulsivity, balancing board, ball chairs and other items that help develop the brain or help dampen hyperactivity.
Problems testing ADHD
Mainstream ADHD research has a problem with focus. They focus on the problem rather than the solution. This is an attitude partly as a result of dishonest science.
There is a certain similarity between ADHD consensus opinion and the Global Warming consensus opinion, so this is a good example to demonstrate the unreliability of insincere science.
Dishonest science is where the scientist chooses data to fit the preconceived theory. Planning a study and interpreting results to fit this predetermined theory are also methods used in dishonest science. It must be mentioned that some scientists are not consciously dishonest, but have been led to believe what they are doing is correct by their dishonest professors, because they gullibly believed everything taught in the lectures. Professors do not have that excuse.
Climate Consensus Science
Belief: There is a man made global warming.
Proof: Average global temperatures have risen from the early 1700s and this has accelerated since the early 1970s.
That is FACT and therefore TRUE (the warming that is, not the man made influence).
Error: This only looks only at a part of the picture. The part that supports the “man made global warming theory.”
Reality: The Earth is in a continuous series of climate change. In the last 5,000 years there have been four periods colder than today, and four periods warmer than today. The warmest of these was about 3,100 years ago. Our present climate is about average over these last 5,000 years, at an average temperature of about 57°F (14°C). There have been at least seventy-five major temperature changes during this time
These are also FACTS and therefore TRUE.
The Full Picture
Back to ADHD Theory
There is a similar abuse of facts in the ADHD controversy. We can choose different words for the same thing to convey positive or negative attitudes. For example:
Medication helps children focus, or,
Medication makes children compliant.
There is a seldom-mentioned disorder associated with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and that is the ADSD (Attention Deficit Science Disorder), which some scientists studying ADHD suffer from.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Paradigm blindness – when they are unable to accept another point of view.
- Criticism phobia – when they get arrogant and call critics unqualified.
- Careerism – when they make a career out of their personal theory.
- Conflicts of Interest – when bodies that benefit financially from their theory fund them.
The paradigm blindness can be caused by greed for financial gain and a pathological need for prestige. The result is that only one explanation fits the data results of a study, and that explanation supports the pet “theory”. There is a neurological deficit in ADSD causing an inability to accept any alternative explanation. Their brain are unable to process any thought or concept outside their limited paradigm.
Criticism phobia is an unpleasant phenomenon when the sufferer’s brain blanks out and is unable to conduct a rational scientific discussion. Facts and interpretations of facts are not debated, but character assassination is used to disqualify the critic. Words such as unqualified, incompetent or ignorant are used.
Careerism and conflicts of interest tend to be driving forces in these people. The danger for us who listen to these people uncritically is to makes us vulnerable to manipulation by academics with fancy titles.
Serious science designs studies to test the paradigm and prevent logical fallacies, or fallacies in reasoning. Logical fallacies usually occur when explaining results that appear logical if you avoid looking from other perspectives than your own.
Science and statistics say specifically that correlation does not imply causality. Statistical correlation is not scientific evidence.
There are many good sincere scientists, doctors, psychologists and ADHD coaches who have their feet firmly planted on the ground and deal with the reality of ADD and ADHD on a daily basis. Among them there are many theories on ADHD. We need to look at the ADD-ADHD critically with an open mind. This is a serious subject, too serious to be entrusted in the attitudes and motives of academics with conflicts of interest.
The Main problem with the ADHD Consensus Opinion is anchored in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition) as an absolute definition. The DSM-IV5 is great as a guide, but it is based on opinions on ADHD held in the late 1980s. By anchoring our concept of what ADHD is on this diagnosis prevents us from moving on.
The idea of what ADHD is has changed over the last century. A review of ADHD history shows clearly that we who have ADHD, or have a family member or friend with this condition, need to be aware of in which direction the current ADHD research is heading. We need to move forward and not be bogged down with outdated two-decade-old science.
ADHD is a dimensional condition, while the DSM-IV is a categorical system. Child behavior falls along a continuum or spectrum Unfortunately, despite this being mentioned in the DSM-IV introduction, the dimensional aspect is often overlooked in research as this is difficult to deal with statistically.
There is no ADHD “epidemic,” this is a part of the natural variations within humanity, what is false is diagnosing a disorder where there is not one. Coping with the modern Western society as a person with ADHD is problematic, but needs a focus on a lasting solution and not medicating away symptoms, which also medicates away the benefits of having ADHD.
There is nothing in the DSM-5 linked to a physiological or neurological criteria. The DSM-IV manual states this clearly:
“There are no laboratory tests, neurological assessments, or attentional assessments that have been established as diagnostic in the clinical assessment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.”
(DSM-IV, page 88)
Unfortunately this statement is still valid today. The latest DSM, the DSM-5 does not clarify these misunderstandings, because instead of making an overhaul, the DSM-5 is developed from the DSM-IV.
ADHD is a dimensional condition, while the DSM-5 is a categorical system. Child behavior falls along a continuum or spectrum Unfortunately, despite this being mentioned in the DSM introduction, the dimensional aspect is often overlooked in research as this is difficult to deal with statistically.
The Term “Disorder” as Used in the DSM-5
There are four logical explanations for the use of the term “disorder”:
- It is an historical artifact of the terminology used for a hundred years.
- The term is used for health insurance purposes, so that children with these behavior patterns can be legally protected during their education, receiving special help and not be discriminated against.
- A specific technical definition understood by consensus among professionals using the DSM-5. This definition is based on deviance, distress and dysfunction. Unfortunately most researchers use the common dictionary definition of the word “disorder” which not only confuses them, but us outside the academics’ ivory towers.
- A common standard for research purposes, so that research results can be compared, nationally and internationally. DSM-5 is the research standard.
The DSM-IV committee had difficulty with the term and decided this term was a compromise:
“The problem raised by the term mental disorders has been much clearer than its solution, and, unfortunately, the term persists in the title of DSM-IV because we have not found an appropriate substitute. . . Mental disorders have also been defined by a variety of concepts (e.g., distress, dysfunction, dyscontrol, disadvantage, disability, inflexibility, irrationality, syndromal pattern, etiology and statistical deviation). Each is a useful indicator for a mental disorder, but none is equivalent to the concept, and different situations call for different definitions.”
(Introduction page xxxi)
This is still as relevant with the latest DSM edition, the DSM-5.
According to an international poll of mental health experts conducted in England in 2001, the DSM-IV codes were voted one of the 10 worst psychiatric papers of the millennium. It was considered “junk science.” But the problems associated with ADHD are still there and the DSM codes are a useful guide to understanding oneself better. It can help towards better self insight and to better be able to choose which intervention to follow; ADHD coaching, developing coping strategies, behavior coping strategies for oppositional behavior in teens, games which teach impulsivity control, balancing board, ball chairs or other items that help develop the brain or help dampen hyperactivity.
The philosophical difficulties in the ADHD diagnosis, which the DSM codes diagnosis does not tell us about, are covered in the article: DSM ADHD misdiagnosis.