The question I ask is pretty straightforward. After viewing this video – Addition & Multiplication Practice – please let me know if you agree that the sum of two negative numbers is itself a negative number. For example, do you agree that -7 + -7 = -14? (You can leave your thoughts about this in the “comments” section of this post. I’d be very interested to know how you feel about this and, most importantly, how does this assertion potentially impact your self-esteem.) I bet you are still scratching your head wondering why I ask such a ridiculous question. Why would I ask you if you “agree” that the sum of two negative numbers is itself a negative number. The math is the math. The answer is what the answer is. It’s ridiculous to ask you if you “agree” with this. This much I think we can all agree on. (Slight pun intended.) But then what are we to make of a question recently posted on Facebook by the Edge Foundation? Their question was:
Do you agree with this 3 min. description of executive function & ADHD outlined by Dr. Russell Barklay [sic] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR1IZJXc6d8&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Let me state right now that I have nothing against the Edge Foundation. However, I do have something against the use of the word “agree.” In the video, Dr. Barkley is not describing a theory that came to him the other day while he was taking a long, hot shower. He’s presenting a theory based on over 25 years of scientific research. The use of the word “agree” implies that Barkley is presenting something that we may not like, that may not comport with “our” reality. The use of the word “agree” gives us the right to DISagree with what Barkley says. By using a word that allows for DISagreement, as if the facts were not the facts, it leaves open the possibility for alternate explanations which, we know, are simply bright-sided, feel good theories of ADHD (it’s a gift; it’s a set of superpowers; it’s the basis of entrepreneurialism, blah, blah, blah). If someone believes that the theory is wrong, then one should provide alternate scientific evidence or should show how the data can be interpreted differently.
So, how should the question have been worded? The problem is that it WAS a question. It should not have been a question at all. By posing it as a question, it implies a level of doubt about the truthfulness of Barkley’s theory. Further, by posing it as a question, it opens the door for the perpetuation of alternate explanations of ADHD which, it seems, cluster around the kumbaya feel-good myths about ADHD. ADHD is a serious neurogenetic disorder. It’s time to take it seriously. It’s time to move beyond the “back-slapping, have-another-beer, throw-another-dime-in-the-jukebox” attitude that too many ADHDers perpetuate and, in so doing, undermine the true seriousness of this DISorder.