Two posts ago, I translated an interview about Greta's Asperger's Syndrome (and autism in general) with a top Czech child psychiatrist. The post has attracted some aggressive activists who immediately launched a totally unjustified hateful campaign against Dr Matýs, his credentials, as well as myself.
Some of you must have immediately realized that their motivation is another part of the "politically correct movement that has run amok", the so-called "inclusion". That's a euphemism for the ideological thesis that the society has the moral obligation to live with the psychiatrically ill and similarly handicapped people, to fight their isolation, and to pretend that they don't differ at all (which is why it's just another example of the blinded egalitarianism and identity politics). In particular, healthy students "have to" get a proportional number of handicapped classmates.
Inclusion isn't among the most discussed PC topics in the West but it actually is one of those in Czechia (it's also a favorite topic of Klaus Jr, the leader of the Tricolor Movement) – partly because Czechia has one of the world's most meaningful systems of "special practical schools" etc. that treat various types of kids by special methods and with appropriately designed goals, separately from the healthy children. So an overwhelming majority of Czechs think that inclusion is one of the most hurtful, ideologically driven pathologies that are being enforced upon our schools by the European Union. Almost everyone knows that the system works better when certain very awkward interactions are minimized and when some "obviously helpful" aspects of segregation are allowed – common sense dictates that such segregation is usually better for both sides.
Some of us know much more about these matters than others, as some of the TRF readers know.
So sorry, it's complete nonsense that a self-proclaimed founder of a pro-inclusion NGO knows more about autism than the top Czech psychiatrist who has worked with some 500 autistic patients. Even if we look at the number of officially diagnosed autistic people in Czechia, it's 11,600, over 0.1% of the population. Many others are non-diagnosed. You don't belong to any "medical elite" if your daughter happens to be autistic. It's a rather widespread condition and being a patient (or her relative) is something else than being an expert. On the other hand, Matýs is an elite psychiatrist.
Fine. Accidentally, independently from Greta, Alejandro R. has pointed out an incredible story that I missed – a story that says something about the helpfulness of inclusion and combines autism, a fake parenting expert, a fake expert on physics geniuses, and some criminal investigation that is all about the widely different statements about the age of a girl or a woman. What's going on?
The Barnetts and their kids
If you search for the name of Jacob Barnett on this blog, you will find two references about the smart autistic boy. One was from 2011 and observed that it was cool that a 12-year-old boy who liked physics was already a student of the Purdue University in Indianopolis. Another blog post from 2013 observed that Barnett got connected with the Perimeter Institute in Canada and Neil Turok mentioned his name during an event.
Well, in the same year of 2013, Kristine Barnett wrote the bestselling book at the top, a biography about her raising of the autistic young physicist Jacob. She sold lots of copies and the average rating from almost 600 reviews is 4.7/5.0. She and (to a lesser extent) her equally Christian husband Michael became "stars at parenting". Well, now the couple is divorced and faces serious charges due to their parenting. Search for Kristine Barnett at Google News.
Aside from Jacob and two more biological sons, the couple has adopted a Ukrainian girl Natalia who suffers from dwarfism back in 2008. Here is the picture of the Ukrainian girl from a relevant year, 2012. (More pictures here.) According to the reports, it seems obvious that there exists a standardized Ukrainian birth report that says that this girl was born in 2003 so on the picture above, she was a 9-year-old girl which is compatible with my guess although she clearly has a condition that makes these estimates harder.
However, it's equally demonstrated that Kristine and Michael Barnett have legally changed her age from 9 years to 23 years – and there doesn't seem to exist any medical or otherwise tangible justification for this change. These days, one may apparently change his or her reality when it comes to the sex but also the age. Do you want to be young again? Or much older? Just undergo a bureaucratic procedure and the reality will be changed. So now, Kristine Barnett claims that the Ukrainian girl has always been an adult psychopath who wants to kill her and her ex-husband. Kristine Barnett, a role model for all mothers, "forgot" to mention this aspect of the idyllic atmosphere of their heavenly household to the readers of her 2013 book.
These failed foster parents have paid a rent for the adopted daughter in Lafayette, Indiana, gave her no other money or infrastructure, told her to say that "she looked younger" to everybody, and moved to Canada. At some moment, the girl didn't pay a rent and some investigation started. Kristine and Michael Barnett claim that they were scammed in the adoption process. If true, they should have solved the problem with the help of police instead of just abandoning the child/woman, right? Also, they should have figured out that the girl was 20 and not 6 in 2008 – could you really confuse these two ages, even with the dwarfism? OK, I can't be 100% certain but the claim that e.g. this photo shows a 20-year-old woman seems utterly implausible to me. The condition seems to affect fingertips at that age – I just don't think that it can make a 20-year-old face look like a healthy 6-year-old girl's.
Meanwhile, Jacob Barnett is a graduate student at the Perimeter Institute in Canada. The Inspire database shows that he co-wrote one paper, namely in 2015, about the fermion doubling problem in loop quantum gravity. Jacob's co-author was a guy who claims to be as profound an expert in physics as Kristine Barnett is an expert at parenting – the man on this picture who was being pointed at by Marvin Minsky's finger, and looked at by Jeffrey Epstein (source).
Well, the paper only has 1 citation by now. Things may get better but one paper with one citation after all these years isn't exactly what you expect from a prodigy. The publication record seems to imply that it was a bad idea for Jacob Barnett to "fly quickly" through all those schools. In 2015, Jacob probably had some valid idea about an (obvious) problem with loop quantum gravity. But if he had something really ingenious, he would have had a good physicist as a co-author instead and the paper would have more than 1 citation after many years.
(You don't really need to be a prodigy to see that loop quantum gravity is a dysfunctional pseudoscientific junk that doesn't work at all. Also, the question whether loop quantum gravity has a fermion doubling problem is an ill-defined one because loop quantum gravity doesn't even allow a near-flat-space-like solution so you can't count the number of fermionic spinor components on a space at all – because no space exists.)
Jacob, if you haven't learned e.g. Joe Polchinski's textbook on string theory yet, do it within a year, otherwise I refuse to believe that you're promising as a theoretical physicist. Being a grad student is a right place where these advances should be simple enough.
And if all those ambitious claims had been accurate, he would have almost certainly written many more things. So with some hindsight, I think that the claims about his supernatural skills from Kristine Barnett's book (like learning years worth of school mathematics within two weeks) were probably untrue, too. After all, Kristine Barnett isn't really a math-physics expert so there's no reason to think that she can distinguish a genius from a non-genius, even if she wanted to be completely honest. Much like in Greta Thunberg's case, it seems like another example of ambitious and unethical parents' financial exploitation of their autistic child through highly misleading hype.
I may have missed some important points and you may discuss them – after you discover them in the newspaper articles about these neglect charges, arrest warrants, and the events that led to them. But as far as I can say, the main lessons are:
- Inclusion doesn't really work: the environment (e.g. foster parents) of handicapped people may face hurdles that are too difficult to be solved properly and it's just wrong to pretend that these difficulties don't exist
- Self-described experts in "new lifestyle methods" that are "in" because of some fashionable ideology (and because of many readers who desperately want to hear something that isn't true) are very likely to be frauds
- These frauds are rather likely to start a cooperation with frauds who work in "other fields" – hype-based fraudsters in the book market, parenting activism, science institutes, and media are rather tightly connected
- The Barnetts' defense also seems to abuse some racism against the Ukrainians