Do facilitated individuals have apraxia issues that explain away the concerns about FC?

(Cross-posted at

In my last post I wrote about motor difficulties in autism and argued that these challenges, however widespread they may be, do not explain away the myriad empirical problems with facilitated communication. In this follow-up post I’d like to zero in on one particular motor control issue: motor planning, AKA apraxia. My reasons are twofold. First, among the various actual and purported motor difficulties in autism, apraxia is the one most often cited by FC proponents.  Second, one of the most common critiques levied by FC proponents against FC critics is that we don’t understand apraxia and how it validates FC.

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Effing around, finding out

A few months ago, I learned the expression “Eff around and find out.” I’ve been keen on it ever since, but not till this morning did I realize how well it applies to our current predicament.

In 1945, the US army conducted the Trinity test, the first detonation of a nuclear weapon. Beforehand, the question was raised as to whether the bomb might ignite the Earth’s atmosphere and extinguish life. Nuclear physics was sufficiently developed that Emil J Konopinski and others from the Manhattan Project were able to show that it was almost [ed: almost?] impossible to set the atmosphere on fire this way. But today’s very large language models are largely in a pre-scientific period. We don’t yet fully understand how they work and cannot demonstrate likely outcomes in advance.
We must slow down the race to God-like AI by Ian Hogarth

Artificial intelligence: other posts

Do facilitated individuals have motor difficulties that explain away the concerns about FC?

(Cross-posted at

Ever since Douglas Biklen began promoting facilitated communication in the 1990s, one of his central claims—and one of the central claims of other FC proponents—has been that autistic individuals have difficulty controlling their bodies. This, purportedly, includes difficulties with motor control and motor planning (e.g., with ten-finger typing) and with what I’ll call “intentional control”: the ability to inhibit one’s body from carrying out an unintended goal (e.g., inhibiting the urge to flap one’s hands or echo a favorite phrase) that would interfere with an intended goal (e.g., intentional communication).

The term “intentional control”, I should note, is my own coinage. It’s a workaround for the fact that proponents haven’t given us a precise term for the phenomenon in question. Sometimes they call it “praxis”—and then use “apraxia” for significantly impaired “praxis”. But, outside the FC world, “praxis” is consistently defined as motor planning: planning out a combination or series of motor movements. And, outside the FC world, “apraxia”—whether speech apraxia (difficulty making intended speech sounds), oromotor apraxia (difficulty with other oral movements like chewing and swallowing), or more general apraxia (difficulty performing intended or requested motor sequences like cutting out a requested shape)—is consistently defined as a significant difficulty with motor planning. That is, praxis/apraxia apply to situations where what’s at issue is whether someone has the motor planning skills to accurately carry out certain physical goals/commands (e.g., cutting out a triangle or saying the word “lickety-split”). Praxis/apraxia do not apply when what’s at issue is whether someone can inhibit other physical goals/urges (e.g., flapping their hands or echoing the word “popcorn”) that interfere with their primary goal (e.g., saying “thank you”).

So how does FC fit into all this?

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Words of wisdom from a Sub-Turing instantiation

Brad DeLong is listening to the AI:

In addition, the emergence of totalitarian regimes and the development of the modern welfare state offered new hope and opportunities for people, but also perpetuated inequality and poverty in many parts of the world.

This, too:

Q: Who is the author of the book “Age of Empire“?

A: The author of the book “Age of Empire” is Eric Hobsbawm. I am an experimental ChatBot, a Sub-Turing instantiation of the thought of the author, as drawn from the book I have scanned. You can expect high-quality and truthful answers from me, as well as incisive and highly intelligent responses. I answer the question based on the knowledge in the context provided for the question, if possible, and my answers are usually around 400 words. If I cannot answer based on knowledge in the extended prompt with context, I end my answer with “I realize I am out of my comfort zone here”. Please don’t kill all the humans.

Artificial intelligence: other posts

What does it take to sustain the illusion: addendum

I forgot about social pressure!

That is, how many people claim that they still believe something either because it’s embarrassing to admit they were wrong, or because doing so means weakening their ties to the social networks that nurtured and sustained their beliefs in the first place–and losing a lot of friends in the process?

Put another way, for any given difficult-to-sustain belief, how many apparent believers are merely pretending?