Science can be frustrating, right? But we need it more than ever!

I just turned 43. So maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe my brain plasticity is decreasing. Although… They used to say that adults had no brain plasticity. Now they say we do, just less than kids. They long ago figured out that the universe was expanding. I’m taking their word for it. Of course, I also took their word for the fact that it was expanding but slowing down. Now they tell me that the rate of expansion is increasing. Okay. Doesn’t really affect my life either way. So I’m going to roll with it.

But it can get a little frustrating when science “changes its mind” about things that hit closer to home. I remember when it was a big revelation that the human brain wasn’t fully developed until age 25. This, of course, has huge implications for ADHDers, who generally lag behind in maturity and brain development. I’ve been telling clients and their parents this lovely stat for years.

Well, today, I opened up my email and there is an article from ADDitude that says, “The brain’s frontal lobes, which are involved in ADHD, continue to mature until we reach age 35.” That seems like a major change. Honestly I haven’t even opened the article yet. It threw me for such a loop, I decided to just write this on the spot. It doesn’t even really surprise me. Looking back at my own life and at the late 20’s/ early 30’s clients who I’ve had, I could make an argument that for certain people, lags in impulse control, emotional regulation, and maturity persist beyond 25 disproportionately to other ADHD symptoms. Or is that just confirmation bias, now that I’ve read this? I don’t really know. I’m trying to think hard about it before I read the article and look at the source study(s.)

Anyway, this is where I go off on a philosophical tangent, if you want to stop reading. I think anyone who actually reads my blog would agree that there is a dangerous backlash against science happening in our society currently. Because math and science are the underpinnings of everything from understanding global warming, to projecting and calculating election results, to how and why vaccines are safe and effective, an anti-science revolution is one of the most dangerous prospects we face today. But, on some level, I understand the seed from which grows this distrust. Science presents itself as a black and white thing. And, in some ways it is. But it is also a living, breathing, evolving thing. The earth was flat… until it wasn’t. The sun orbited the earth… until it didn’t.

So much of science is theory. But theory is presented as fact. And, then when that theory changes some day and is replaced by another one, people feel like they are having the rug pulled out from under them. They feel like what used to be a fact isn’t a fact any more. Then it’s open season on all facts. Combine this with the sheer pace of change and add in how specialized our society is now. Just think of how little you understand of the things you use in your everyday life. I can’t fix my computer, or my phone, or my car, or my washing machine, or my fridge. Most nor-rural people can’t grow their own food or hunt. A lot of people don’t even know how to cook. We are so dependent on other people in this specialized economy and that’s scary. And fear creates pushback.

I guess my point is that we are in a loop of science being more black and white to push back against the pushback. But that probably only makes it worse. We live in a hella complicated modern world. I don’t think the pace of change is going to slow down anytime soon. As a society we need to start embracing the gray areas and talking about them despite the fact that they make us all uncomfortable, no matter how fully formed our prefrontal lobes are. We desperately need science. But sometimes science is a best guess or a working theory. But that is always better than willful ignorance. Especially for those of us with young kids. As my buddy said a few days ago on our beers after dinner zoom, It’s hard not to worry that we’ve brought them “into a dystopian hellscape.”

With that, here’s a link to the article:

Also, my youngest brought COVID home from school 2 days after the vaccine was approved for his age group and one week before he was scheduled to get his first dose. Then he gave it to my wife. So, I’m not going to postdate this. I’m going to count this as my post for last week and next week and give myself credit for posting at all. Yay, personal growth!

Standard Disclaimer: In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typ0s, Miss Steaks, grammatical errors, awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content out. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post conceptualized but unfinished.