RE: Fwd: The Geek Syndrome

From: Chen Yixiong, Eric (
Date: Mon Dec 17 2001 - 21:11:33 MST

> Please would someone repost the URL for this test which is
> indicative of Aspergers? I missed it during an especially
> busy time. I anticipate a temporary lull in the action around
> the solstice. spike

The Geek Syndrome
What's behind the rise in Asperger's syndrome? It's in the genes, and techie parents may be passing it along.
By Steve Silberman

Take the AQ test

Think Different?
Inside the mind of autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen.
Interview by Oliver Morton


People with the capacity for great depth of interest, adapted for pathfinding at the edge of the known, are poor at elaborate low
risk/low gain social activity. This is because language and self are the most dense and complex areas of the interest system,
requiring maximum breadth of modelling. We postulate that self and language tasks as they are habitually performed may require more
breadth of arousal than is available in some interest systems. Many of the problems in relating to society experienced by people
described as autistic are the result of different modalities of language use and of the modelling of the self, other and the words

The other extreme of this normal distribution of types of mind consists of people with very broad but not very deep minds. This
category includes those most highly rewarded by society, chat show hosts and politicians. Such people do not posses outstanding
specific talents, but have great ability to model other people, giving them power to manipulate social, rather than actual,

We cannot think of Autism as an illness for which a cure can be discovered [17]. We do however observe in people described as
Autistic a cast of mind that renders them unsuitable for conventional forms of employment. However, we see this economic frame of
reference as holding the key to a happy outcome. In benign circumstances, people with the capacity for deep concentration have a
great capacity to learn skills which are beyond the broad mind. Mass production culture may have deprived the deep minded of
occasion to contribute to society as the pathfinders to physical resources, but it has opened a vast spectrum of new opportunities.

It is the deep mind that has the capacity to read, understand and apply the technical manual, to enter into the intricate labyrinth
of the logic of the integrated circuit and the computer program. It is the forager mind, insensitive to the way everybody knows
things should be done, which creates the paradigm transforming technologies. Appropriate education would enable many ingenious and
creative people to be part of things, who are now totally excluded from the mainstream of society. Education based on understanding
could transform this apparent problem into an opportunity.


Every population has a surface, however diffuse. This fact of topology firmly drives brain evolution. Autism in particular is
primarily the result of adaptation to the inevitable sparseness of population outer regions. This yields not only autism, but an
autism spectrum. It also gives rise to the great variety of autistic forms and genes. These conclusions sharply limit the possible
clarity of autism diagnosis and preclude any simplistic "silver-bullet" response to the rigors of autism. The theory accounts for
the observed correlation of autism and gender, and predicts a correlation with latitude of ancestral homeland. Autism emerges as a
major feature of brain evolution: It is generally not a disease. Autism has been with humans as long as humans have been and has
markedly influenced human history. It evidently has shaped forms of religious practice.

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