Funny GIF of Laura Ingraham realizing that she's Nazi saluting at the Republican National Convention


Damn it, Dan Brown!. We had a perfectly lovely word: “Symbolism” for what you were trying to say. And you… you supplanted it with something that’s just so damn ugly.


Symblage or symblishness are my preference.


I like “symbollogism” (as I think Inferno, specifically, would be a better book if reduced down to three lines).


“Symbology” is the study of symbols, right? I suppose it may not be the right word. Maybe just “symbols” would have been sufficient. “Simulacrum” also seems appropriate in another way.


She seems so high she probably had an apparition of the Führer by the end of her speech.


It varies a bit.

It’s a neurological issue, but there’s a definite psychological component; they get worse if I’m stressed, or startled, or self-conscious about being observed. And they move around; at the moment I’ve got the arm-flick, a tendency to jerk my chin to the right, an occasional tongue-cluck and a stutter (that one sucks; I’ve never stuttered before, and I’m a highly verbal sorta person).

Previously, I spent six months where my head would always be twisted down and to the left onto the palm of my hand (kind of a Rodin’s The Thinker pose, but left instead of right and on the palm instead of the back of the hand) unless I was making an active effort not to do it. My hand still tends to drift up to under my chin when I’m distracted.

The really sudden ones like the arm flick are kind of like a patellar reflex (knee-jerk, the classic doctor’s office one); no warning, no sense of volition, but nothing too freaky. It doesn’t feel like you’re a marionette or anything.

Most of the time, though…you know how when you’re going to bed, you try to get yourself into a comfortable position, but there’s always that one last semi-involuntary wriggle before you’re properly comfy?

It’s kinda like that, except that you never, ever get comfy.

Awesome guy with NSFW Tourette syndrome uses a power washer
Wonderful video of teen with Tourette's cooking an omelette


That’s an amazing description!


Yup. Symbology and symbolism are definitely not synonymous. Indeed even symbolism and symbolysm aren’t.



I used to have a tic where my head would jerk to the side. Happened for years.

It went away though.


They demand we use a proof-beyond-any-doubt standard, basically.


If you want to get right down to it, the academic specialities concerned with symbolism include “Iconography” and “Semiotics”, as well as various schools of anthropology.


Meh. Probably not a Nazi. Probably.


Would you say it was


Love that song (and Andrew Bird)


Like a lot of psych/neuro stuff, it’s not a thing that’s completely outside of the normal continuum of human variation; it’s more a case of something being ramped up to the point that it becomes seriously impairing.

Tourette’s is probably related to dopaminergic dysfunction. The main roles of dopamine in the brain are attention and impulse control, which probably explains why dopaminergic drugs like opiates tend to be strongly addictive.

For addiction, it’s a double whammy; not only do you get impaired impulse control, you also get rewired so that the drug of addiction is a very strong attractor of attention. That factor is kind of a chemical hijacking of the pair-bonding system (i.e. love, lust, family), which is also heavily dopamine-dependent. Neurologically, the brain activity you get after a shot of heroin (for example) is rather similar to what you get when you look at your spouse or child.

Re: Tourette’s, we’ve all got a bunch of half-formed impulses constantly bubbling away in our heads, most of which never see behavioural expression unless they’re accompanied by a surge of dopamine. But my dopamine system is apparently fucked up, so the normal “static” of background brain activity gets amplified into physical action.

There’s a related mechanism underlying Huntington’s Chorea (AKA “St Vitus’ Dance”) and Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is pretty much reverse Huntington’s; instead of causing tics and tremors, it causes frozen immobility. They’re both caused by progressive neurodegeneration in the dopamine circuitry of the basal ganglia.

The writhing tremors commonly associated with Parkinson’s aren’t actually the result of the disease; they’re instead a side-effect from the dopaminergic medication used to “unfreeze” Parkinson’s patients.


I’m guessing you’ve probably read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat…there’s a chapter about a jazz drummer with Tourette’s whose improvisation skills seemed linked to the disorder, at least subjectively. IIRC, he worked out a system with Dr. Sachs where he would take his medication early in the week to help suppress the Tourette’s symptoms during the work week, but ease up on the dosage later in the week to allow him to drum better on the weekends. I was reminded of that by your comment about half-formed impulses seeing vs. not seeing behavioral expression.

Thanks for the interesting comments! (This is the sort of thing that makes me think going off topic isn’t necessarily a bad thing.)


Saw the movie trailer for that last night. So absurdist.


The book was bad, like really bad.

The last straw was the description of the virus. MAJOR plot spoilers ahead:

[spoiler] The conceit of the book is that the world is overpopulated, so this guy created a virus to thin out the population a bit. The virus does so by rendering a third of the infected (randomly selected) infertile. The designer of the virus compares this to how a plague would kill about a third of the population before dying out.

Now, I can’t talk about how viruses work, and whether that would be remotely plausible (the “at random” seems especially dubious, though). But comparing a one-time die-off of 30% to a continued 30% drop in birth rate is one thing (the one is a rather large but temporary dip in the ever-growing population graph, the other is a long-tailed descent into extinction). The incredible failure of math skills is another.

The biggest problem with this virus is that if you have two people who each have a 1/3 chance of being infertile, then the chance of them both being fertile is (2/3)*(2/3) = (4/9) = 44.4%. That’s not a 30% decrease, that’s over half.

I did the math and I think it worked out to about twenty generations before the complete extinction of the human race (even factoring in a genetic immunity to the virus similar to the numbers of people immune to HIV).

I get it that Dan Brown books are light on accuracy and heavy on narrative convenience, but I expect a scientist character to possess basic math skills.[/spoiler]