FC goes to MIT

According to Robert T. Carroll at the Skeptic’s Dictionary, several people associated with facilitated communication have been working with Professor Rosalind W. Picard of the Affective Computing research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab. In “Facilitated Communication Infiltrates MIT’s Media Lab,” Mr. Carroll reports about Professor Picard’s connections with supporters of what he says is now called “supported typing.”

Why would MIT’s Media Lab be involved with something that is clearly a discredited pseudoscience?

MIT’s Media Lab’s involvement with FC goes back several years.

A private FC conference occurred in May 2008 involving Douglas Biklen, Head of the FC Institute, Rosalind Picard, Head of the MIT Affective Computing Group, Margaret Bauman of the Massachusetts General Ladders Program (a long time FC advocate; she tried to get the New England Center to use FC in the early 1990s; she just got $29 Million from Nancy Lurie Marks a major, major FC supporter), Martha Herbert of Harvard Medical (supports the view that autism is a movement disorder, justifying FC)…That meeting seems to have been designed to establish liaisons between FC advocates in the Media Lab, the Ladders Program at Massachusetts General, the Syracuse FC Institute [now the Institute on Communication and Inclusion], and the University of Buenos Aires (i.e., Daniel Orlievsky), and cannot be unconnected to this upcoming event in July.

Mr. Carroll has much more on this. Given the problems with FC, one must wonder what a prestigious institution such as MIT would gain from such a connection. Is it possible that the researchers are legitimately investigating FC?

What about other developments from this lab? How valuable are they? One can’t dismiss them simply by association. Does this bracelet that seems to capture galvanic skin response and feed it wirelessly to computers actually have much value? Tracking GSR across time does look interesting to me. What clinical applications might emerge? Will they be beneficial?

You can read Facilitated Communication Infiltrates MIT’s Media Lab in its entirety on the Skeptic’s Dictionary.

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