I'm going over the story... again. I've actually read the article three times already but I keep kind of hoping that it's going to change somehow. It sounds like such a far fetched idea but it seems like someone is actually trying to implement it... or at least that's what it sounds like from the article but --given that it's not exactly what I would call an impartial report-- it is hard to be sure of just how serious the situation really is.
It seems like some bright politicians --who are clearly under the influence of either some rather heavy drugs or drug companies-- have decided that it would be a good idea to impose mandatory psychological screening on all school aged children in an attempt to identify potential troublemakers before they can actually start causing trouble.
I'm not even going to get into the many reasons why such a policy could come back to bite most of its intended 'beneficiaries' in the ass... like the fact that it would be like shooting all the people who have a particular gene that makes them prone to some deadly hereditary disease because some of them might die because of it anyway so killing them beforehand would spare them the pain. The fact is that there's no way such a policy could not be a disaster for some --if not most-- kids.
Take Jim for instance. He is a sentinel and his sentinel genes were active when he was younger, before life caused him to repress that side of himself. What would have happened if such a program had been in effect back then? I think it's safe to say that standardized tests would have detected that there was 'something wrong' with him and that probably would have caused him to be medicated... unfortunately it would have been the wrong medication --seeing how his condition doesn't require him to be medicated in the first place-- and, given his many drug sensitivities, the results would almost certainly have been catastrophic.
So, maybe a sentinel is not a fair example... I mean, they certainly are rare enough to qualify as an extreme exception to the rule. So maybe I'd make a more 'normal' one.
The truth is that I didn't have an easy time in school. I ran into quite a few teachers who hated me for being a smart mouthed kid that proved them wrong more than once... and more than once they tried to tell Naomi that there was something wrong with me, that I had ADD or some such thing. Twice they went so far as to bring in 'specialists' to argue their point. Luckily my mom had even less faith in western medicine back then than she does now and their attempts to 'talk her' --read bully her-- into medicating me never got anywhere. It wasn't until I was ten years old that someone figured out that the problem was that I was bored to tears... unfortunately it was a small town and there wasn't exactly a class for gifted students, but at least after that things got a little better.
What would have happened if those teachers --and their so called specialists-- who insisted I had ADD had been given the power to force Naomi to medicate me? Would I still be me? It's a scary thought but I don't think so.
It is true that there are ways to tell the difference between intelligence and ADD, but I don't think standardized tests would be effective in that regard. I'm an anthropologist. I know how hard it is to create a truly accurate IQ test, devoid of all cultural bias. I'm living proof of that. Even though I'm basically part of the mainstream society that is used as a model in the development of those tests I fell through the cracks. I took an IQ test when I was six and I barely qualified as normal... the reason? Since the test was intended for small children it dealt mostly with shapes and patterns... and the pattern of the resulting test scores couldn't really tell the difference between dyslexia and stupidity. And it is not uncommon for dyslexics to have higher than average IQs, even if --because of the nature of both the tests and the condition-- their test scores can often be described as average at best.
The point is that I can easily see how both Jim and myself would have fallen through the cracks with such a program and even though sentinels are rare, bright children are routinely misdiagnosed as having ADD by people who want to label them in such a way that doesn't make them look as incompetent. As the different ways in which things could possibly go wrong --the different ways in which children can possibly be misdiagnosed by a standardized ten minute test kit-- are added up, the more apparent it becomes that in the end errors could easily turn out to be the norm rather than the exception. So I guess the real question is: how many people are out there whose lives could possibly have been ruined by this thing, had it been in effect when they were growing up?
Author's notes: Okay, a couple of comments, first, this story was born after reading a discussion on a proposal to imposse some sort of strandardized psychological screeining on all school-aged children. Second, I know there's no evidence that Blair is dyslexic, that little tidbit was borrowed from Garett's bio... somehow it seemed to fit the story.