Re: Fwd: The Geek Syndrome

From: Ben Damm (
Date: Wed Dec 19 2001 - 13:33:05 MST

I scored 40.

However, I think the test is truly ridiculous! I understand that the test
is taken as a whole, that each question can be answered incorrectly (that
is, against any condition you have) because of some other factor. My
question is, what kind of profiles can score highly on this test yet not
be autistic or have Asperger's? What kind of profile can score low on
this test and be autistic? "Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism
or a related disorder scored 32 or higher." Sounds to me like 20% fell
through the cracks! Why!

Let's examine some of the questions:

3. If I try to imagine something, I find it very easy to create a picture in
my mind.

Yes, I can imagine what the front door of my house looks like. I can also
create an imaginary world and write a story about it. But compared to
what? Compared to my ability to envision, say, the path of execution down
a recursive procedure tree, or a theoretical inheritance graph while
designing a complex system of classes? Compared to that, I'm practically
blind! I answered "Agree" to this one. (There are only two choices for
each question, probably standard practice but I'm behind in my study of
psychology methodology).

5. I often notice small sounds when others do not.

Is this a question on hearing, information theory, or signal processing?
"Small" in amplitude or "small" because most people don't think the sound
is important? I can hear sounds coming out of an engine that many people
don't seem to hear. Or is it my description of the sound and their
resulting attempt to hear what I'm hearing (where my description is not
good) that is causing me to think this? Or maybe I'm delusional and
always hear/see patterns where there are none? Or are they perhaps
referring to high frequency, such as the buzz of a television set? (Drives
me nuts.) How is any person not equipped with a laboratory and a slew of
willing volunteers supposed to answer this question objectively?

13. I would rather go to a library than to a party.

Perhaps because parties are a waste of time? Sometimes I like to head out
to the odd party.. but only because it's a challenging mental game. Over
the years I've managed to build up quite a good set of rules for dealing
with parties, and usually manage to go to clubs or parties and fit
in. What if my set of rules becomes so rich that I enjoy parties? What
if I dislike libraries and parties?

35. I am often the last to understand the point of a joke.

Hold on here.. jokes are a way of playing on cultural context. If you
grew up outside of the "normal" culture (as I did, being discriminated
by (other) parents and teachers because my mother has always been
single) then it is only natural that one might not get most jokes.

I'm not claiming that the test is bogus (after all, I scored high, maybe I
really am abnormal along with the other 95% of the population), but I
would like to hear some informed feedback on how people think the test
stands up against a rigorous logical dissection. What kind of delusion
does someone need to score high or low, and be placed in the wrong
category by this test? (Heck, maybe even asking this question puts me in
the "autistic" category, but if that's true, humanity is in serious need
of more autistic people.)

Someday psychologists will discover that there is no normal. Then it's a
not-so-simple matter of letting the rest of the world know.


"But as we know, Buddhists too are made up only of non-Buddhist
elements" -- Thich Nhat Hanh

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:28 MDT