The Spoon Theory, Deafness And Skepticism (I’m One-Degree-Of-Separation Most Days)

Do you know what the Spoon Theory is (pdf link)? If you don’t, you can also check the following video after you read about my day.

I just came in from a lovely lunch with two wonderful people who work for disability services in town. We all knew each other from different circumstances, as skeptics – and then suddenly realised over a plate of olives, cheese and mocktails that they worked in the same building and never realised it!

If you’re a local, you’re shrugging as you read that last paragraph. People in Perth know that, without any hint of karma or magical connection, somehow everybody is connected in some way to EVERYBODY ELSE in this city.

See that guy over there? He went to school with your brother. The waitress at the other table? She was at your second cousin’s wedding and arrived on the arm of the guy who was in your Chemistry classes all through your undergraduate year.

If you accidentally go home with the wrong coat after a night out at the Geisha Bar, chances are you’ll find that it belongs to the former room-mate of your co-worker three cubicles over and you’ll see them during Sunday morning pilates classes. Tell them I said hello, because they’re also my sister-in-law. It’s ridiculous. You could probably create an Infinite Improbability Drive via figuring out how improbable that is, tap it into a finite improbability generator and give it a fresh cup of really hot coffee from Dome.

Checking the Tweet-stream on the way home I notice that another two wonderful people are catching up – MiltOnline and ZenMonkey. Once again I’m a single degree of separation between them and there’s yet ANOTHER one of those funny coincidences – because they’re also chatting about health and skepticism. ‘ZenMonkey’ (aka Joey Hayban) has written in the past about the intersection of skepticism and chronic illness, such as this blogpost that she linked to for Milton.

Which leads me to also mention this Australian article that Joey tweeted, which deserves to be read. In response to Australia’s Business Woman of the year, Dimity Dornan’s choice of words reported by the Sydney Morning Herald; “I think deafness is at the same stage polio was… It is a scourge in our world but it can be almost completely eradicated. I believe we can truly make this happen” – you can go read My Deafness is no Scourge; An Open Letter to Dimity Dornan by Jennifer Blyth:

You are promoting yourself and your organisation as miracle workers who will make deaf children hear and speak, as if you were god and had granted a cure upon us that we would receive gratefully like a lucid sufferer of Alzheimer’s would. While I will cede that there are people who would rather learn to speak English and never use Auslan, which is their rightful choice, there are also thousands of people who are Deaf and proud of it. These people all speak either in sign language or spoken language, or even better, both. These people don’t want you to compare deafness to polio, to a disease that maims and kills people.

Of further interest – here is the interview I did last year with Joey, on the Token Skeptic podcast: Episode Twenty-Six – On Chronic Illness, Deaf Culture And Skepticism – Interview With Joey Haban  - the transcript will feature in my forthcoming book, with many thanks to her.

I think a little communication can go a long way – as the YouTube video with Christine Miserandino demonstrates. Go view that now if you haven’t already.

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.


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