Thesis Proposal Introduction – Attempt 1

It is time, the Walrus said, to write the proposal…okay, so no walrus actually said that and that’s not even how the quote goes.  But here is my first attempt at writing the intro to my proposal.


Abstract

Autism Speaks is the self-described “world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization.”  However, looking further into their practices shows what they really advocate for: the eradication of autism.  Two integral questions arise from this finding: (1) how does Autism Speaks have the authority to pursue this objective, and (2) who does Autism Speaks really advocate for.  To begin answering question 1, we need only look as far as their self-description, which reveals where the authority of Autism Speaks comes from: science.  Autism Speaks funds, reports on, and is influenced by science.  

Analyzing Theory of Mind (ToM), or the ability to know what other people are thinking and feeling (an ability autistic people supposedly lack), from the theoretical frameworks of rhetoric of science and disability studies reveals that ToM is, at best, a pseudoscience, and at worst, an enthymematically dehumanizing rhetorical move.  By analyzing how Autism Speaks responds to ToM, we are lead to the following disconcerting conclusion: pseudoscience (ToM) leads to pseudoadvocacy (Autism Speaks).  This leads to Autism Speaks advocating for the parents of autistic children by conquering the autistic through dehumanizing enthymemes found within ToM thereby muting autistic people into a crippling silence which Autism Speaks then uses as a further warrant for eradicating autism.


Propo Intro

The subject of my thesis is how autism advocacy organizations approach science illustrates not only how they advocate, but who and what they advocate for.

Autism Speaks is the self-described “world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization.”  However, looking further into their practices shows what they really advocate for: the eradication of autism.  They pursue this objective through science.  Autism Speaks funds, reports on, and is influenced by science. After analyzing Theory of Mind (ToM), or the ability to know what other people are thinking and feeling (an ability autistic people supposedly lack), it can be shown that ToM is, at best, a pseudoscience, and at worst, an enthymematically dehumanizing rhetorical move.  Autism Speaks responds to ToM research as if it were Truth with a capital “t.”  This leads to the following disconcerting conclusion: pseudoscience (ToM) leads to pseudoadvocacy (Autism Speaks).  This leads to Autism Speaks advocating for the parents of autistic children by conquering the autistic through dehumanizing enthymemes found within pseudoscientific theories like ToM thereby muting autistic people into a crippling silence which Autism Speaks then uses as further warrant for eradicating autism.

Drawing from disability studies and the rhetorical perspectives on semiotics, terministic screens, and the rhetoric of science, my culminating project is built to answer two primary questions.  First, how does Autism Speaks have the authority to pursue the objective of the eradication of autism?  Second, who does Autism Speaks really advocate for?

Accordingly, in this proposal, I explain the initial motivation behind my research; present a methodology that unites disability studies with rhetoric of science, and apply this new framework to Theory of Mind research; analyze findings from a preliminary study of the Autism Speaks website; provide a rationale and overview of the full study; and describe the larger societal implications and significance of this project.


Okay, so I don’t quite like the way this sounds right now.  So, I’m gonna just wait a day and rewrite it tomorrow.

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