Know Your Aspe

Searching for Aspe

There was a comment from Murray Duffin that I’ve been holding in the “Moderation Queue”, not because of anything wrong with it, so much as that it really needed some “context” wrapped around it.

First off, not everyone reads everything nor remembers all of it forever (only the compulsive Aspe types ;-)

So a couple of times I’ve equated Aspe with Asperger’s Syndrome in a posting. But if you do a generic “search on it” you get things like:

ASPE Joins the Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition On Monday, Feb. 21, ASPE became the sixth member organization of PERC. » Full Story

Yes, the American Society of Plumbing Engineers.
But no, I’m not the guy who designs toilet drains…

You also get:

American Society for Precision Engineering (ASPE)

The American Society for Precision Engineering (ASPE) focuses on many areas that are important in the research, design, development, manufacture and measurement of high …

Well, we are getting a bit closer, in that many of those engineers fixated on excessive precision and loads of numbers will likely be high function Aspies (an alternate spelling), but it’s still not going to get you to the answer you want.

Then there is:

American Society of Professional Estimators – ASPE

ASPE serves construction estimators by providing education, fellowship, and opportunity for professional development. Dedicated to the promotion of the profession of …

Folks who will help you get more precise numbers for things that have no numbers and poor precision… so they will help your “precision guys” make more “professional plumbing”, or at least let them estimate how much of your money to take… but still, not what you were looking for…

ASPE – Association of Standardized Patient Educators

ASPE is the International Organization for Professionals in the Field of Simulated and Standardized Patient (SP) Methodology. Learn More

So now we’re drifting even further afield into folks who do medical training.. then we start in on things like:

Aspe – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aspe is a town and municipality located in the comarca of Vinalopó Mitjà, in the province of Alicante, Spain. The town is located in the valley of the river …

And we’re off to Spain… And while they have a nice old church in the Mission Style:

Basilica in Aspe, Spain

Basilica in Aspe, Spain

Original Image

It’s also clear that the Wiki is not going to be of any help. No, to find out what Aspe means, you must put it in WITH what it means. Only then does the search engine find anything of much interest. Doing that, you also find that the abbreviated form can be, variously, Aspe, Aspie, Aspi, etc. Even then, it looks like Aspi and Aspie are somewhat more common. (Why make the abbreviation with an “i”? Perhaps so you don’t get calls for a plumber…)

To Murray’s Comment

OK, at this point it’s pretty clear that I need to do something to define what this “token” is that I’m using, and have it be where putting it into the “search box” in the upper right corner of this site will find the article. It’s also clear that Murray’s comment makes a nice “jumping off point”. Unfortunately, it’s taken me a couple of days to get the time to do it, which has left Murray to dangle; probably thinking I’m P.O’ed at him when it’s really just “time management” and being distracted by other “Oooh! A Shiny Thing!” events. (Yen rocketing up, then down, markets crashing, then stopping, nuclear meltdowns per the MSM that are no such thing, and a few more wars breaking out with us dumping bombs on folks. Other than that, not much… ;-)

So, ok, here is Murray’s comment that’s “en queue” for the thread:

(Which is where this discussion of Asperger’s, me, and the world began in earnest).

Delightful!! Stay with me. None of the following is meant in any deragatory way. You have used the term Aspe several times and I didn’t make a connection. However from your writings, your analytic style, your defensiveness in some cases, your amazingly detailed search for data/information and then unrecognized selective use and application of that information in non-technical analyses, your super analysis of technical data (like surface instrument temperature), and a few other oddities, I had concluded that you are a high functioning borderline autistic, and was just discussing you, relative to that conclusion, with my wife yesterday. Then it struck, Aspe = Asperger’s.

So at this point, Murray has had an “Ah Hah!” moment; and I’ve realized that not everyone has been following along with every post for the last 2 years…

(However, he’s put a few “symptoms” on his list that are “just wrong”. Aspies are not “defensive” in nature and there is no “unrecognized selective use”, it’s all fully recognized and deliberate use; that Murray doesn’t get the point of the use is “not my problem”… )

An important point to make here is that the connection is made between Autism and Asperger’s. And “borderline Autistic” is pretty much what Asperger’s is. Except that would be “plain Asperger’s” and I’m more of “borderline Asperger’s” so even further back the line. Why this matters is due to this being what is called a “Spectrum Disorder”.

We Bring The World DisOrder

Ok, first bit of “rant”. “Disorder”. How can you possibly call something where one of the defining characteristics is a penchant for excessive order and higher function, a “disorder”? Yet they do… Yes, at the more extreme ends it can be very “disorder” in nature. But the assumption here is that “we” are not “normal” and “they” are “normal” so “we” are “disordered”. Um, no.

So Aspies (I’ll be mixing up the spelling of it a bit so different searches will find the article and so folks will know the other mappings too) have coined the term Neurotypical as an alternative to “normal”. Why? Because you are all so… so… how to be polite… so “typical”… To find out more about the term, and what it means, just click on the word and the link will take you to a site that explains how you are seen by others…

But back at the point about “spectrum”. In fact, we are all, every one of us, even you, on a single spectrum. One end is anchored in the institutionalized highly dysfunctional Autistic (often driven there by NTs who frankly can drive some of us batty). The other end is anchored in folks who are so non-functional the other way that even NT’s class them as “disordered”, but in a different way. As you rise up from them, you reach the central group of folks called “normal” but they have all sorts of problems, just not ones classed as a ‘disorder’. Why? Because there are more of them and they get to vote on the definitions…

But in fact, you will find every trait of an Aspi somewhere in the “normal” community. It’s all a question of degree. How many and how strongly for the traits. For many fields of work, having more of the traits is highly beneficial. Being able to memorize an encyclopedia, for example, is helpful for passing stupid information retrieval “I.Q.” tests. The NT folks find this hard to do and the tests difficult. We find it fun to read the encyclopedia (though the second time is dull as we tend to remember it…) and stupid to take the “test”. But it’s “abnormal” to remember everything. So we’re “disordered” as we get really tired of doing brain deadening things like writing the same stupid story or sentences 20 times. NT’s need to do that kind of thing to learn something. For us, it’s just a form of torture. But complaints will be treated, sometimes with medication, badly. Can’t have folks who are undisciplined and don’t do their rote homework, after all…

So we are ALL on “A Spectrum” but only some of us are defined as being on “THE Spectrum”, or “disordered”. Just like we all have skin color that ranges from pitch black to translucent pink-white. While it is no longer PC to call blacks lesser people for their color, we still call albinos color a “defect”… So what color is your brain?…

So, along the way, I’ll have some references to Autism, and some to Asperger’s, and I’m not going to be keeping them strongly apart. They are different in degree, not so much in kind, but so is everything. Even black and white…

A Sidebar on Another Disorder

There is another interesting “spectrum” disorder that I think is an important analog. Epilepsy. Epileptics are stimulated to have a seizure by a light flashing at about 3 cycles per second. If you are strongly epileptic, it sets you off almost immediately. The lower the tendency to seizure, the longer the light takes. But the light is very annoying to folks with that trait. It aggravates. Far more than for “normal” folks. Well, the medical profession latched onto this as an interesting diagnostic, and some researchers wanted to find out who was MOST irritated by the light, but did NOT have seizures. Would they be the more dumb? The less physically coordinated? Did it map to low verbal skill? Clumsiness? Clearly some other precursor disorders. Perhaps even some sorts of mental retardation? We ought to identify them so we can remove them from dangerous occupations… So they ran their tests.

Then crapped their collective drawers…

THE Profession with the highest number of folks with the most tendency to “irritation” at the flashing light were professional airline pilots. Yes, those paragons of ability, both mental and physical. Those folks whom we trust daily with the lives of thousands. Well, that caused a bit of a ‘rethink’…

(Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I picked that up. Somewhere about 40+ years ago. Searching now does not turn up a reference in short order, so it’s buried under 1/2 century of ‘newer’ research…)

The conclusion was that:

The Gift

Whatever trait causes epilepsy when there is too much of it, causes exceptional performance when there is a lot of it, more than “normal”, but not too much.

It is my opinion that the same pattern holds for what makes an Aspe an Aspi and for High Function Autistics too. That’s why folks often call it “The Gift”.


Michelangelo might have had it. So, too, may Einstein, Socrates and Jane Austen. All are claimed to have had Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. What is it about this developmental disorder that can lead to genius?
Instead, two medical experts have drawn this conclusion from studying contemporary accounts of the artist’s behaviour – his single-minded work routine, few friends and obsessional nature – and comparing it with traits displayed by adults who have been diagnosed today.

It’s a theory which has been rubbished by art historians, but which has piqued the interest of Eileen Hopkins, of the National Autistic Society. The artist’s meticulously observed figures and high work rate resonate with such a diagnosis.
The same posthumous diagnosis has been made of other historical figures, among them the scientists Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Marie Curie, the politician Eamon de Valera, the poet WB Yeats and Pop Art giant Andy Warhol.

Attention to detail

What is the link between this condition and creativity, be it in the arts or sciences?

Professor Michael Fitzgerald, of Dublin’s Trinity College, one of the experts who posed the Michelangelo theory, says it makes people more creative.

“People with it are generally hyper-focused, very persistent workaholics who tend to see things from detail to global rather than looking at the bigger picture first and then working backwards, as most people do.”

But Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, of Cambridge University, says it is more accurate to describe this creativity as “systemising” – a strong drive to analyse detail.

“This might be in mathematics, machines, natural phenomena or anatomy, to identify rules that govern a system and any variations in that system.”

Thus it is thought possible that some maths and physics experts, far from being bright but anti-social misfits, may actually have had Asperger’s. One whom Mr Baron-Cohen has helped diagnose is the British mathematician Richard Borcherds, the 1998 winner of the Field’s Medal – the Nobel Prize of the maths world.

The naturalist and TV presenter David Bellamy mentions in his autobiography that although undiagnosed, he believes he has a form of autism. And Microsoft boss Bill Gates’ personality quirks have been compared to those of an autistic.
On a lighter note, fictional characters said to display characteristics of those with Asperger’s include Mr Spock, Lisa Simpson, Mr Bean and Cliff from Cheers. And one of the school boys in Grange Hill, Martin Miller, has the condition and so has found himself in difficulty after taking a mate’s advice on girls literally.

“Mr Spock is an extreme example of someone driven by logic and systemising, but who has no interest in the feelings of others,” says Mr Baron-Cohen.

Notice it says “identify rules that govern a system ” not “fabricate rules that meet your goals” or “justify your already existing view of what it ought to be”. What IS comes first, then what we “want” later, perhaps.

But by all means, let’s “Fix it”… they must be broken…

One comment I’d make is that watching the “experts” try to explain it is like being a person who sees the world in color have folks who only see black and white try to describe it.

That discussion of “work from detail” and not seeing the big picture? Just sooo wrong. Yes, we see the detail. Incredible detail. We also see the whole. (At least, I do). Some folks are “top down” (what they call working from the “big picture” to detail) others are “bottom up” (what they call “systemising”). What I do is both, at the same time. Perhaps that’s what happens when you don’t have too much of The Gift. Perhaps those at the Autistic end DO ‘systemising’. I can’t speak for them. But I can say that most Aspies I’ve met are pretty darned good at seeing the whole picture.

Often, for me, the frustration is with how long it takes to translate that whole picture into serial sentence word form including the detail. The typical time I realize I’ve got The Gift and NTs don’t is exactly when the NTs are “working from detail” wandering in the forest of the symbol maze and NOT seeing that just over the hedge is the exit… I’m “outside their box” looking in and can just SEE where to “dig here!” to get out. I get “the flash”; then spend a few hours figuring out how to communicate it to the NTs…

OK, with that said, yes, I LOVE the detail. It has to be RIGHT. And RIGHT means the jigsaw pieces have to be all there, all in the right places, and all precisely placed. It’s not enough to put a bluish piece over near one sort of the same shape and say “It’s a sky piece so I think it goes there”. I look at it and see a tiny white fleck and know it’s specular reflection off water (and sometimes see the formulas for the math and the images of times and places where I read those books and…) and know about where it needs to go, down in the pond section, and then proceed to find the other pieces that match and get it in exactly the right place.

That’s NOT detail up, that’s what I call “middle out and ends in”. You have the big picture, you have some detail, those are both used to put it with its mates and place them on the board, then the assemble happens “in the middle”. (I’ll sometimes scan the pieces in the box and just see the one that goes somewhere and place it where it belongs. Harder pieces take more work ;-)

Detail without the flash is like those systematic “fishbone diagram” “root cause” analysis methods folks are forced to learn. Why bother when I can just SEE what’s wrong and fix it? But no, all the linear mind NTs demand that we must do things their way, plodding little scrap by plodding little detail hoping that if we follow all the crumb trails we can see the picture. Why not just step back and see it with all the detail?

At the same time, sometimes the system is so fascinating, it’s captivating. Watching sand flow, making the ‘mental model’ of how water flows around mud dams. As a child I spent hundreds of hours making mud dams in the gutter and watching water flow. To an NT, it looks like mindless fixation and detail fixation. To me it was absorbing “waterness” and “mudness” and just coming to know them. BOTH with intimate detail AND with “big picture”. So now when I see processes happening in the real world, the model runs, and I get “the flash” that says “That section of river bank is going to collapse in about 20 minutes, get the hell out.” The “systemising” is just the data loading step, not the whole package.

OK, back at Murray:

I mentioned in one of my replies some days ago that I have had a thesis running around in my mind of the relationship between people’s political bent, and other aspects of their mentality and mentation. You fit my idea perfectly. I haven’t wanted to bring it up, for fear that you would be offended by the suggestion, but evidently you are somewhere between acceptance of and pride in your difference. Good on you.

I’m not “between” anything. Flat out: It’s a gift I’m very glad to have. It makes me who I am and gives me superior abilities in many areas. It comes with a cost, but a very minor one and one I’m happy to pay. That cost is largely irritation at NTs who screw things up a lot, including most of the planet.

Is there a connection to political bent? I think so. And I think you are slowly sidling up to an understanding of it (but in that typical NT way of trying to call our way of seeing things slightly broken somehow).

Anyway old sport, I won’t continue this type of discussion, because we are wired sufficiently differently that we will never agree, and IMHO it is a question of wiring. At the end of the day, our failure to agree on issues like Obama and socialism is about you, and about me. You perceive the world through a filter very different from mine, as evidenced by the fact that you truly disbelieve, and therefore are unable to see that you do have a filter. You perceive associations and relationships and motivations etc through the filter of Aspergers. To you, your perceptions are right, and others’ are often “batshit”. C’est la vie.

First off, what I’d said was that my behaviours often drove others “batshit”, not that their ideas were same. But that aside…

What Murray has missed is the essential nature of Autism and Asperger’s. We ARE missing a filter. We DO just see and absorb “what is”. We are DRIVEN to high detail with fidelity and precision. In the limit case, like Rainman, memorizing a whole phone book perfectly. That is NOT a “filter”. Michelangelo did not “filter” his drawings of anatomy, they were as perfect as possible with the materials of the time. He could do no less.

So no, Murray, I don’t see the world “through the filter of Aspergers”. I see it unfiltered, in full detail, high definition, living color. Where we have problems is trying to see the “warpy world” seen by NTs through their “fun house mirror” lenses. Understanding why in the world I ought to do 20 math problems all of exactly the same form when I learned to do it on #1 and would now like to learn another new thing, not waste my life doing such stupid things. Understanding why lips say “I don’t need a gift” and the “right” thing to do is go get a gift. All the ‘social cues’ we ‘miss’ are the distortions and lies of normal ‘polite society’. The person who says “My, that is interesting” and means “I’m bored as hell with you telling me about 20 kinds of thermometer”… we are supposed to pick that up from the glance at the wrist watch or the mixed message from the eyes vs the lips. BUT we heard the words exactly and they said what they said. UNFILTERED. You could be looking at your watch to just check the time.

And no, our disagreement over Obama, and is he or is he not a socialist, is because you are driven first and foremost by what you want it to be, and I am driven only by the definition and the ‘fit’. I have no agenda and you are more agenda driven. You start from your belief, then rationalize. I start from no belief, but rather from a question. “Is it a fit?”. It has nothing to do with my “wiring” wanting any particular answer. As pointed out in comments on another thread, Einstein just wanted to know “IF I’m right”. Typical Aspi behaviour, and stronger in Autistics. You will often see this accurately shown in film. The Columbo or Monk characters where things just have to be “right” and “FIT” even if it is to their own detriment. So you don’t LIKE the answer, and reject it. I don’t care what the answer is, but it must be honest and accurate. (You will see more on “honesty” below).

I love reaching understanding, even when I can’t reach agreement. Lets get back to hard technical subjects where we can reach agreement.

cheers, Murray

Unfortunately, you have reached a false understanding. So no, I can’t let it go as a drive to completion and accuracy is also an Aspe trait. It’s like asking Mr. Spock to just agree to use 3 for Pi as you understand it’s something like that…

OK, with that said:

I think there is merit in your thesis that the nature of the mind lends itself to different political bent. FWIW, my observation is that American Democrats (and perhaps Progressives globally) work from an emotional position or response first then to a desired outcome then to actions to take and do not dwell much at all on principles, collateral effects, precedents and the impacts of same, or what history shows simply has never worked. They seem to miss both the “big picture” and the “details that don’t fit”.

So you get arguments of the form: “Someone must act” and “Think of the children” and “It’s cruel to kill animals” and “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself” (A nonsensical sentence if ever there were one; what about death from starvation? I’d call that worth fearing in a Great Depression.)

Republicans to some extent, but Libertarians even more so, tend to look at a much broader scope of detail and mechanism (so likely do attract more Aspies, but I’ve no data on that, other than a citation below). They tend to work from “Given these established principles, what can we reasonably do?”. They care about things like logical consistency and having all the pieces “fit”. So you find them looking at things like precedents for action, history of successes and failures.

So you get arguments of the form “The founders did not mean that in the constitution” and “There is no legal authority to do that under the commerce clause” and “That infringes on property rights” and “The budget must be balanced at some point. Soon.”

IMHO, it is due to higher use of a more analytical approach and less use of emotionalism. That will have some overlap with the Aspi tendency to be analytical and wanting things to “fit” and “be complete”.

So why would Libertarians have more attraction to Aspies? Perhaps because Thomas Jefferson was one. “Jeffersonian Libertarian” now makes a bit more sense.


Did you know…Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. president and author of the Declaration of Independence may have had Asperger’s Syndrome? For further information, go to and look up the book, Diagnosing Jefferson.

So yes, I think your thesis has merit, it’s just the path you’ve taken to get to it, and the conclusions you have reached about Aspies that’s wrong.

But that’s OK, per the wiki, you can call me a Hitler:

Adolf Hitler – Austrian born, Nazi German politician, chancellor and dictator

(Folks on the “right” can fire back with Al Gore… though I think both are mistaken. I’ve not seen a lot of Aspe character in any politician I’ve ever met.)

Though I also have to note a couple of others they list:

Hans Christian Andersen – author
Lewis Carroll – writer, logician
Charles XII of Sweden – speculated to have had Asperger syndrome
Anne Claudine d’Arpajon, comtesse de Noailles – French governess, lady of honor, tutor
Charles Darwin – naturalist, associated with the theory of evolution by natural selection
Emily Dickinson – poet
Paul Dirac – British mathematician and physicist. He was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, 1933–1963 and a Fellow of St John’s College. Awarded the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the mathematical foundations of Quantum Mechanics.
Janet Frame – New Zealand author
James Joyce – author of Ulysses
Stanley Kubrick – filmmaker
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – composer
Charles Richter – seismologist, creator of the eponymous scale of earthquake magnitude
Nikola Tesla – Serbian inventor, and electrical and mechanical engineer. Was able to mentally picture very detailed mechanisms; spoke 8 languages
Alan Turing – pioneer of computer sciences. He seemed to be a math savant and his lifestyle has many autism traits about it.
W. B. Yeats – poet and dramatist

Yes, definitely a “rough crowd” and not at all the kinds of folks you would expect to see the world without a lot of ‘filter’ in the way /sarcoff>.

Diagnosing Asperger’s


Parents often first notice the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome when their child starts preschool and begins to interact with other children. Children with Asperger’s syndrome may:

Not pick up on social cues and may lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others’ body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking.
Dislike any changes in routines.
Appear to lack empathy.
Be unable to recognize subtle differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of others’ speech. Thus, your child may not understand a joke or may take a sarcastic comment literally. Likewise, his or her speech may be flat and difficult to understand because it lacks tone, pitch, and accent.
Have a formal style of speaking that is advanced for his or her age. For example, the child may use the word “beckon” instead of “call” or the word “return” instead of “come back.”
Avoid eye contact or stare at others.
Have unusual facial expressions or postures.
Be preoccupied with only one or few interests, which he or she may be very knowledgeable about. Many children with Asperger’s syndrome are overly interested in parts of a whole or in unusual activities, such as designing houses, drawing highly detailed scenes, or studying astronomy. They may show an unusual interest in certain topics such as snakes, names of stars, or dinosaurs.
Talk a lot, usually about a favorite subject. One-sided conversations are common. Internal thoughts are often verbalized.
Have delayed motor development. Your child may be late in learning to use a fork or spoon, ride a bike, or catch a ball. He or she may have an awkward walk. Handwriting is often poor.
Have heightened sensitivity and become overstimulated by loud noises, lights, or strong tastes or textures.

OK, one thing to note: They do manage to say “Appear” to lack empathy. IMHO, many of these “symptoms” are just an NT not knowing what’s going on. I have intense empathy. But I’ve learned to shut it down and bottle it up as it brings too many mixed messages (about the social lies people tell) and too much pain. I can let it run with animals and with folks who are trusted, then it’s an amazing gift, too. At the bottom is a video about an Autistic who describes the empathy with cows.

And of course, it’s a disorder to be able to design a house as a child, or to name all the constellations and know how the solar system works and use “big words”…. and to want to do those things. Look, watching a ball bounce or keys rattle is interesting for about 10 seconds. Then I’ve absorbed ‘ball bounce’ and ‘key rattle’. NEXT! Learning to design a house takes a bit longer, so is more interesting. (At 7 I helped take apart and put back together a barn / garage. Yes, we pulled the nails out and reused them. That Amish frugal thing… and in the process I learned how to make wood frame structures and make nails and make lumber and make and mix and pour cement and install electrical wiring. I was “wiring hot” at age 7. Makes playing “catch” seem really stupid and boring. So it’s a ‘disorder’ to be able to do construction trades, several, at 7.)

As a kid I did “stare at folks”. This is interpreted as something broken. In fact, what I was doing was using very broad scan vision to pick up every detail all around me. The persons face, body, clothes, texture, weave, lighting, room contents, how their hair moved as they spoke. Everything. You can’t do that with a normal “scan and stop, periodic eye contact”. I learned how to do that as the “stare” spooks some folks and others think you are broken. It’s harder, but I now do a ‘scan and stop’ while picking up all the detail.

The “one sided conversation” comes partly from a need for completion. Someone asks “How does an engine work?” and you tell them. Unfortunately, that’s about a 40 page data dump. So that’s what you do. Only later did I learn that when someone asks “How does an engine work?” they don’t really want to know. What they want is some broken mis-fit puzzle piece, so you are instead supposed to say “Fuel burns and fire turns the engine”. That’s wrong, but it’s what they want.

Similarly, the “one or a few interests”. It takes time to absorb everything there is to know about radios, or dinosaurs. I’ve had a hundred passions. Then again, I’ve had 50+ years, so that’s about 2 a year. A 6 year old spending half the year fixated on “ants” causes some folks concern. To me, it’s just “completion”. Some folks spend 6 years getting a Ph.D. in ants. I’d figure they would be happy to know that an Aspe can pick it up in 6 months instead, but no, we must be broken.

OK, there’s more, but we’ll skip it and move on to post childhood. But I do note they realize that Aspe means more “The Gift” and less “issues” than with Autism

Although the condition is in some ways similar to autism, a child with Asperger’s syndrome typically has normal language and intellectual development. Also, those with Asperger’s syndrome typically make more of an effort than those with autism to make friends and engage in activities with others.

Though I’d not call the intellectual development of the above listed Aspe/Autistics as “normal” nor “typical”… but rather more to the gifted side…

Symptoms during adolescent and teen years

Most symptoms persist through the teen years. And although teens with Asperger’s can begin to learn those social skills they lack, communication often remains difficult. They will probably continue to have difficulty “reading” others’ behavior.

Your teen with Asperger’s syndrome (like other teens) will want friends but may feel shy or intimidated when approaching other teens. He or she may feel “different” from others. Although most teens place emphasis on being and looking “cool,” teens with Asperger’s may find it frustrating and emotionally draining to try to fit in. They may be immature for their age and be naive and too trusting, which can lead to teasing and bullying.

All of these difficulties can cause teens with Asperger’s to become withdrawn and socially isolated and to have depression or anxiety.

But some teens with Asperger’s syndrome are able to make and keep a few close friends through the school years. Some of the classic Asperger’s traits may also work to the benefit of your teen. Teens with Asperger’s are typically uninterested in following social norms, fads, or conventional thinking, allowing creative thinking and the pursuit of original interests and goals. Their preference for rules and honesty may lead them to excel in the classroom and as citizens.

At this point some percentage of the folks reading this will be seeing themselves. Many of the folks here are very bright. That, IMHO, means there will be higher than normal odds of a ‘match’ to the above.

So you have a very bright, trusting and intensely focused kid who can tell you everything in the encyclopedia about whatever has interested them who’s being bullied, and you are surprised they feel like they don’t fit in? It’s called “Reality”, it’s not a delusional state…

Oh, and notice that “defensiveness” is not one of the “symptoms”. (Though being very persistent in showing when something is a matter of factual data and not a personal opinion would be. To misinterpret my focus on what IS, rather than accepting arguments “to the person”; as “defensiveness” is a typical NT behaviour. Perhaps we can all chip in and buy Murray some “couch time” to help fix his “misplaced focus on people instead of facts”…)

I’d just point out that I hate stupid rules. intelligent ones can be helpful. I think they are wrong in thinking we like rules, we just believe people in authority when they tell us “these are the rules” so tend to use them. Someone says “If you are bullied tell the teacher” and that’s what you do. So for a few years you get beat up and tell the teacher… and nothing is ever fixed. Eventually you catch on that the NTs have a “feel good” rule, that’s broken, and they lie about it, both to you and to each other. But until then, you think the rule is what you are supposed to do, so you do it. Doesn’t mean you have a preference for it. I always prefered personal liberty and freedom… Also a lot of Aspes, once they realize the rules are trash, often go on to things like being Goth… not exactly “rule based”…

Eventually you go “off page” and learn to make your own rules. Like the kid in the video on this page.

(The youtube version was taken down, and I’m not interested in learning ‘yet another embed’ method at the moment, so you get to hit the link to watch the video. It shows a small kid punching a bigger kid who eventually gets tired of it and body slams the bully to the ground).

The odds are that somewhere in the past of the kid being punched there are adults who told him “It’s bad to fight” and “Don’t fight” and “If a bully picks on you tell {list of useless people}”. He’s probably followed their “rules” for a few years. Aspies are often “bullied” as stated above. Eventually we learn that the “rules” are lies. Then this happens.

I had my moment too. Now nobody gets a ‘free shot’. Pick a fight, I’m not going to accept it. Zero lag time response and full on “get ‘er done”. That is not being “defensive” either, though it is using defense skills. It is simply learning what works in reality, and what are lies and errors.

And yes, we are uninterested in social norms and fads. Nehru Jackets? Bellbottoms? Bobby Socks? Madonna? J-lo? Are you kidding me? They are just so stupid. We find it amazing that NTs do that stuff. And we won’t even get into the whole ‘wigs in the 1700s’ or Egyptian shaved heads or coats with tails and top hats or Team Colors… folks actually get into fights over who can move an inflated lump of animal skin into which end of a field. If that is not madness, I don’t know what is. And you are surprised we are uninterested in joining in your delusional madness?… So the NT’s define that as a “symptom”…

Symptoms in adulthood

Asperger’s syndrome is a lifelong condition, although it tends to stabilize over time, and improvements are often seen. Adults usually obtain a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. They are able to learn social skills and how to read others’ social cues. Many people with Asperger’s syndrome marry and have children.

Some traits that are typical of Asperger’s syndrome, such as attention to detail and focused interests, can increase chances of university and career success. Many people with Asperger’s seem to be fascinated with technology, and a common career choice is engineering. But scientific careers are by no means the only areas where people with Asperger’s excel. Indeed, many respected historical figures have had symptoms of Asperger’s, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Thomas Jefferson.

For “read others’ social cues” substitute “Learn all the usual patterns of social lying” and I’m in agreement.

Oh, and how nice of them to grant permission that we might, just maybe, be able to “marry and have children”…

OK, at this point we see our “little professors” grow up and become real professors. Largely technical, but also in arts. And it’s so comforting to know that professors, engineers, scientists, and gifted composers can “marry and have children”… almost like a normal person…

My Perspective

From my point of view, I was thrown into daily prison with violent inmates for 12 years of my life between age 5 and 18. I had no recourse, and I could not get any help from anyone. The “advice” I got was largely platitudes and other useless forms of “social lying”. I was forced, against my will, to perform mind numbing stupid rituals for most of my day in the presence of people with whom I shared nearly nothing. Pointing out these facts to the “responsible authorities” gets more platitudes and a load of “stupid rules” (like “The State Mandates” this and that… or policy says you must…).

When I was uninterested in performing more stupider rituals, like cheering at the daily bullies as they fought over a piece of inflated dead animal skin, I was deemed “socially awkward”. When I believed adults advice, and it was wrong, I was a bit “slow to catch on” and continued to believe them for far too long. That makes me “naive”, I guess. As you can imagine, this can make you a bit unhappy… so “depression” is a “symptom”…

So how about if, instead, we just accept that some of us are bit brighter than the others. We like to absorb all of Asimov over a single marathon in the town library, and maybe it is far better for us to do that, than to be forced to read 2 paragraphs out loud in class and then sit slowly going mad as 24 other kids do a crappy job of reading their 2 paragraphs when we already read the whole damn book in one day…

And maybe, just maybe, it isn’t US who are broken, but the system that tortures us for having The Gift.

(BTW, Asimov is also listed as being an Aspe as well; and his Mnemonic Service describes what looks to me like the typical “spectrum” trait of absorbing lots of detail and remembering it.)

Another Perspective

This is a view from what is typically thought of as the ‘completely broken’ end of the spectrum. I was always seen as “gifted”, but many Autistics are seen as retarded and demented. I had very early language development, while Autistics may never learn to talk, but often start late. So we are a long way from each other. Still, I understand where “she comes from”… I was much more ‘social’ and liked other kids, but the gap between us was sometimes hard to bridge. I got along much better with the adults around me who could hold deep and technical conversations. So there are also significant gaps between Aspes and Autistics.

I tend to be ’emotionally flat’. This lady has full blown Autism and had ‘fear issues’. I watched a rather good movie about her and the first clip below is from that movie. The other clips are of the actual person, being herself. She ‘connected’ with cows. She knows how they think. She was driven by that empathy to find a way to make the slaughter of cattle more humane. To take the fear out of the process for the cows. Along the way she became world famous.

If you eat beef, odds are very high that it comes from a cow who was processed through a facility using her designs, insights, and based on her empathy with cows. If you watch this, you will likely gain a better understanding of The Gift. Also note what she says about watching sand flow. It’s a very complex and interesting model, and it’s very interesting to ‘be the sand’… IMHO, some of her tendency to fear is a personal issue or an autism issue more than a generic trait of the spectrum. In part 4 she spends some time on ‘sensory overload’. IMHO the ‘not connected’ explanation is not correct, the sensory overload point gives the clue. The nerves are working way too well. At “just enough” added nerve function, it’s an advantage, at “way to much” added gain, it’s very problematic, and parts of the brain try to damp the excess by turning it down.

I give you Temple Grandin, Ph.D and Autistic:

This clip is from the HBO move about her and captures much of the essence in a couple of minutes

These are parts 1-5 of a BBC show, each about 9 minutes.

In Conclusion

My point in all this? To give a quick overview of the nature of the difference. That it IS a greater awareness of the facts, a greater depth and precision in the detail, a finer accuracy of the search, and a greater honesty and fidelity to the data. That is the antithesis of a ‘filter’; and when 9 times out of 10, or sometimes much more, TESTING the conclusions shows that method more right, and the NT way more “warped”, well, after a while you might just start to be unwilling to trust the assertions from an NT that “you are wrong and it is because of how you think”.

Just ask Temple Grandin about all those folks who could not see what she saw and told her she must be wrong. And ask all the folks who now follow her advice to get the best results possible. An entire industry “had it wrong” and they told her she was wrong… But she could not turn away from the truth so easily…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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46 Responses to Know Your Aspe

  1. xyzlatin says:

    There has been an interesting study a few years ago in Australia, comparing the walk of an autistic person, and the walk of an asperger person. There was a difference shown which appears to indicate that aspergers syndrome is not the same as autism.

    Another general study has shown that the brain lights up in the emotional part before it does in the logic part so all decisions of everyone are emotional first. Now whether the study had any AS people was not stated. (other abbreviations are AS and NT).

    Language is said to be 80% non verbal ie the words are only part of it, it is the delivery speed, the inflection and tone of voice, the context, the body movement (raised eyebrows etc), the emotion, and the backstory, and even what is not said, but left out.

    It is very hard for someone who hears and uses the literal meaning of the words only, to communicate with someone who is using the full palette of language, and vice versa.

    It doesn’t help when there are misunderstandings, if one side starts accusing the other of lying or playing games.

    Anger about AS versus NT communication errors is unproductive and particularly destructive in marriage situations if there is a combination AS/NT union.

  2. xyzlatin says:

    It is interesting to speculate whether Asperger brain is an evolutionary branch of the human species.
    Viewing it like this, it does not equate with normal versus abnormal, merely this pathway, or that pathway.

    Has the brain evolved to AS, or from it?

    Or is it a parallel evolution, supplementary to neurotypical brain, which both combined have worked to further the human species?

    The neurotypical brain is able to process more emotionally complex language with regard to social skills and networking and co operation, which is needed for social cohesian, an important survival skill.

    The asperger brain is able to focus deeply on detail, which is needed for technical advancement.

  3. Ruhroh says:

    My wife gave me the book

    Look Me In The Eye,

    (or as we siblings said to our youngest,
    ‘Lick me in the eye’…)

    Part way through it, I started thinking ;
    ‘gee that feels familiar’…

    After a few of those I would notice myself thinking;

    “Well, at least I never did That!”, not quite anyway…

    After more than a few repeats of this pattern, I eventually was able to accept my inner Aspe traits.

    My wife, on the other hand, made a request that I not read that book anymore;
    ~’You’re always worse after you read that thing. I’m sorry I gave it to you’…

    In retrospect, a lot of the very best engineers I’ve worked with, clearly had more than a bit of this trait axis.
    (And most of the really thorny ones within that group had it in spades)…

    Personality ‘disorders’ are like vacation destinations; Some of us spend a few weeks per year there, some only go there ‘in their minds’, and it wouldn’t be a destination if some people didn’t live there nearly full time…

    “Normalcy is over-rated”…
    PS; been too long since we spoke over generic asian fuud…

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    FWIW I also “speak sign language”. A large part of which is facial expression and posture.

    It’s not the mode of the language that’s the problem, it’s the way that folks use it sending sometimes conflicting messages and sometimes sending ones that are simply horrible.

    And yes, correctly identifying them as “lies” is helpful.

    (Also remember that while you may feel some emotional baggage attached to the word “lie” and not like that feeling; to me it is just a correct technical description of the process of telling an un-truth. There is no emotional overtone to it and it is simply stating: “This is the process that is used, lack of honesty and misdirection for other goals that may be better and more appropriate.”)

    That is the key that unlocks this particular door. Learning that when an NT says “Fighting never fixes anything” it is an aspirational goal and certainly NOT true and absolutely wrong advice for your circumstance; that it is a personal lie of comfort for them: That is what lets you get past their words and move on. Learning that “Love your new shoes” never ever means that they “love your new shoes” but are just indulging in the lie of flattery, that lets you understand why you must throw away what they have actually said and spend more time with the “people reader”.

    Don’t believe that? Then try “Honesty is the best policy” for a day. Spend 24 hours being absolutely unequivocally honest with everyone. Pretty darned quick you will learn that “Lying is the best policy” if you want to keep your spouse, your job, and your friends.

    How do I know? I conducted an “experiment” on honesty when I first realized this bit of insight. I “tested the thesis”. Lasted about 2 hours… then the overwhelming clarity of the result caused the rest of the test to be scrubbed ;-)

    (I think that was at about age 4? 6? way back…)

    Squirming away from that nature of that truth is not something I will do…

    So then I set about inspecting each of the things that I’d been told were wisdom by the ‘trusted adults’ around me, and thus was born a lifelong skeptic…

    So, got an Aspe child near you? Try coaching them in “the ways people lie” and I’d expect you will see some improvement. They will learn more rapidly that it’s up to them to sort out the truth and that the words are not to be trusted, no matter how beautiful a creation they are; nor how good they make someone feel.

    On Evolution:

    As noted above under the Epileptic topic, I think it’s one of those things where nature finds an optimal point that’s a mix, and then the population gets some outliers.

    Like “food pickyness”. This has been shown to be a genetic trait. “Adventursome eaters” love new foods. During times of famine, so the theory goes, they will be willing to try new things and find SOMETHING to eat, so survive. The “picky eater” will starve first. But during “feast times” they are more likely to try that interesting mushroom and die of food poisoning. The picky eater will survive better.

    As we have a feast / famine cycle, BOTH traits are needed somewhere in the population if the population is to survive.

    So we need our Aspe professors and engineers, but also need our plumbers… both, together, can do more than either alone. The population needs both traits to survive.

    (This, BTW, is also why eugenics is daft and will fail. Because some damn fool will decide we all ought to be smarter, or more food adventursome, and select for just that ONE trait. Then the whole population will fail on one turn of the cycle…)

    And before asserting that the Aspe can’t “process more emotionally complex language”, take a moment to revisit that list of poets and movie makers. I think you will find quite a bit of “emotionally complex language”… (but not a lot of ‘social lying’; more a laser beam on social foibles. Clockwork Orange? Oh, and Hitchcock was an Aspe… so Psyco and Vertigo … then read your W.B. Yeats and Emily Dickenson…) That’s why I keep pushing the point that I think there is a ‘volume knob’ issue, not a “missing tubes” issue; and that it’s the conflict of two data streams, not one missing… (Though I also grant it may vary by person and by degree of spectrum).


    Love that vacation analogy…

    One of my personal quirks is that I can’t spell worth a damn. Why? Early on I found olde Engysh was spelt diferrent and that was OK, then found that Spanish, French and German often had the same words, but spelled and pronounced differently. Precision in spelling was not needed and was a waste of resources… The rest, as they say, is all downhill from there…

    So while some Aspies will be scroupulous about having the exact match dictionary spelling (and / or be the “its it’s police”; I’m happy with an auditory match, even for printed words that are never spoken… (then again, I can read those complete “hash” writing examples where the letters are all moved around at about full speed. Text that’s upside down, backwards, through the window from the backside or mirror writing, just gets ‘auto corrected’…)

    So I live “all the time” in the land of funky spelling ;-)

    PS; I’ll call.

  5. j ferguson says:

    Could it have been an aspe that gave Cleopatra all that trouble or maybe it was just that funky spelling?

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @j ferguson:

    Well, I’m not that “up” on my heiroglyphic spelling, and I’m pretty sure the Greek was different, so I’d have to say no ;-)

  7. Verity Jones says:

    @j ferguson – Groan.

  8. Jerry says:

    Thank you for sharing a bit of a look from the inside.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    I think this may help illuminate the point:

    We all lie, all the time. It causes problems, to say the least. So why do we do it?

    It boils down to the shifting sands of the self and trying to look good both to ourselves and others, experts say.

    “It’s tied in with self-esteem,” says University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman. “We find that as soon as people feel that their self-esteem is threatened, they immediately begin to lie at higher levels.”

    Not all lies are harmful. In fact, sometimes lying is the best approach for protecting privacy and ourselves and others from malice, some researchers say. Some deception, such as boasting and lies in the name of tact and politeness, can be classified as less than serious. But bald-faced lies (whether they involve leaving out the truth or putting in something false), are harmful, as they corrode trust and intimacy—the glue of society.

    Kidding yourself

    Many animals engage in deception, or deliberately misleading another, but only humans are wired to deceive both themselves and others, researchers say. People are so engaged in managing how others perceive them that they are often unable to separate truth from fiction in their own minds, Feldman’s research shows.

    Now, what if you mind ISN’T wired that way? What if you DO ‘separate truth from fiction’ compulsively? What if you don’t really care to “manage how others see you”? What if you have little or none of that “social filter” to “play the lying game”? What if you are a bit more like a cow or bunny rabbit and a bit less like a predator?

    The study, published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology, found that 60 percent of people had lied at least once during the 10-minute conversation, saying an average of 2.92 inaccurate things.

    “People almost lie reflexively,” Feldman says. “They don’t think about it as part of their normal social discourse.” But it is, the research showed.

    “We’re trying not so much to impress other people but to maintain a view of ourselves that is consistent with the way they would like us to be,” Feldman said. We want to be agreeable, to make the social situation smoother or easier, and to avoid insulting others through disagreement or discord.

    Men lie no more than women, but they tend to lie to make themselves look better, while women are more likely to lie to make the other person feel better.

    Extroverts tend to lie more than introverts, Feldman found in similar research involving a job-interview situation.

    So you see, I’m not being emotive when I use the word, I’m just “doing what we do” and correctly and accurately reporting the data, even if it causes “discord”.

    Self-esteem and threats to our sense of self are also drivers when it comes to lying to co-workers, rather than strangers, says Jennifer Argo of the University of Alberta.

    A recent study she co-authored showed that people are even more willing to lie to coworkers than they are to strangers.

    “We want to both look good when we are in the company of others (especially people we care about), and we want to protect our self-worth,” Argo told LiveScience.

    What happens when your sense of self is not dependent on how “others” see you? When you know who you are already?

    Then we get a return to the “honesty is the best policy meme”:

    “I guess closely tied to this is that people appear to be short-term focused when they decide to deceive someone—save my self-image and self-worth now, but later on if the deceived individual finds out it can have long-term consequences,” she said.

    Feldman says people should become more aware of the extent to which we tend to lie and that honesty yields more genuine relationships and trust. “The default ought to be to be honest and accurate … We’re better off if honesty is the norm. It’s like the old saying: honesty is the best policy.”

    So while a lot of this story is devoted to the essential nature and pervasive level of lying, it ends with it’s own little feel good lie…

    What happens when you are really driven to figure out why in one paragraph it says “Not all lies are harmful. In fact, sometimes lying is the best approach” and in another the exact opposite “honesty is the best policy”?

    What happens is that you realize that mastering this lying thing that all these other people do all the time is somewhat important…

    Notice that one of the traits listed for Aspes is “Internal thoughts are often verbalized”. We are very open and honest folks and need to specifically learn to hide “internal thoughts” and lie about them to “fit in” with the nearly pathological level of lying that goes on arround us, apparently unnoticed by it’s practitioners. “but only humans are wired to deceive both themselves and others”.

    So I’d speculate that perhaps part of what makes us us, is we didn’t make that “Great Leap Forward” from honest animal to lying human quite so much as every one else…

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    If you havn’t hit the “neurotypical” link, hit it. It really is a “hoot and a half” ;-)

    It’s a parody page, treating NT as NTs treat Aspes, complete with “symptoms of the disorder” 8-) and along the way really “lifts the cover”…

  11. Rarm says:

    Sorry – random IP.

    I pontificate – the human condition is multi-dimensional.

    Add the spectrum (dimension?) of bipolarity. I shall not try to analyse all, but ‘Winnie’ fits that better. I speak as a Bipolar, with an semi-Aspe (semi-Aspie?) son. (Difficult from my perspective to distinguish Asperger’s/Autism). He ‘saw’ numbers, & their relations. Perfect memory, sp. numbers.
    He’s now gone (almost distressingly) ‘normal’ (40+).
    I keep my burden.

  12. Rarm says:

    Oh – the pills help.

  13. David says:

    E.M, I do not know if you got my post at the bottom of the Fascist comments as you had moved on to bigger events. As stated my wife has worked in special ed for 35 years. I have talked to her a great deal and had independently come to realize that we are all dealing with the same assets and disabilties, it is just that in some groups certain aspects are more extreme, positive or negative.

  14. Malaga View says:

    Can you hear the applause from Malaga?
    This is such a wonderful posting to read…
    Thank you… Thank you… Thank you…

    You have articulated so many things I don’t know how to say… I don’t even know where to begin… and the really sad part is that life experiences taught me to “switch off” so many parts of ME that there was almost nothing left… but age does have some benefits… one of them is having the freedom to start “switching on” all those bits of ME I learnt to “switch off”… its not easy “coming out of the closet”… its a long road… but it sure does feel good.

    Some folks are “top down” (what they call working from the “big picture” to detail) others are “bottom up” (what they call “systemising”). What I do is both, at the same time.

    I never thought I would see someone describe the way I operate… I have never even tried to explain it… I am not gifted… I cannot do it at the same time… I can only single task… so I alternate until the “top” and the “bottom” meet in the middle.

    Thank you again for a wonderful posting.

  15. E.M.Smith says:


    I saw it. I tend to be semi-compulsive about keeping up with comments (though lately the tendency has been to higher comment volume so a bit more hustle needed). But I was busy making this posting and didn’t have a lot to say to the comment right then… and now I’m ‘prepping for party’…

    @Malaga View:

    One of my “odd bits of gift” is that the two sides of my brain communicate with each other A LOT. I’m pretty sure I’m symetrical with language centers on both sides ( I’ll often get what I call a ‘word collision’ where two equally valid but different words merge on the tongue and speculate that is from the two centers having a mis-sync moment… So “big” and “large” arrive and I say “That was a very barge dog!” )

    Verbal and non-verbal IQ are about 2 points from each other. (on a test with a 20 point +/-) PSAT scores identical. SAT scores identical. Etc.

    This, I think, gives two advantages:

    1) The verbal side can explain what the non-verbal side did (or the less verbal side still has enough language to do it…)

    2) I can “run” both the big picture visual sym at the same time as doing the detail linear crawl… just run both sides in isolation with “check in” crosstalk only.

    At any rate, I think that’s why I can say what I do. The non-verbal side has a comm channel out ;-)

    On many occasions I find my self just knowing the answer, and that it’s right, and trying to figure out how in the heck I did it and how to explain it to a linear… Being a math tutor for a few years first showed it up, then helped me hone the translation skills. I’d just visualize the problem set up / answer; then have to figure out “how do I put down in words…”

    At any rate, glad to be a voice for those who need one.

  16. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. Great post, and yes, I suspect a lot of your readers (including me) did some metaphorical jumping up and down, saying “Yes! I remember THAT happening to me!”

    Myself, my wife, my best friends — we are all “wired a little bit differently”, as I delicately phrase it. And yes, it does vary along a spectrum. One of the more pleasant parts of my life is the fact that I have a circle of friends who share many of the traits you speak of.

    I have wondered what causes this difference, and have a rough working hypothesis. Obviously, part of the reason is genetic, but I think there is an epigenetic or at least neonatal or early natal factor. A rather high proportion of the people whom I know to be borderline or functional Aspie, experienced a premature birth or some sort of neo-natal trauma. I would estimate perhaps 60% or 70%. There are still major swathes of nervous wiring being built up through at least the second or third year or life. I wonder whether the biochemical changes accompanying prolonged physical pain might either alter or sensitize a child’s nervous system.

    Any thought from those of you who would place yourselves among the somewhat Aspie members of the spectrum? I realize this is not a scientific poll, but how many of you experienced life threatening or very painful events in the first couple of years of life?

    Just a closing parenthetical comment: Information about the experience and effects of pain on infants is relatively new. It is only in the last twenty or so years that it has become common practice to use anesthetics — as opposed to paralysis drugs — on newborns. Abdominal and open heart surgery was routinely performed on newborns without anesthetics. The consensus was that the nervous systems of infants was too undeveloped to allow the experience of pain.

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    Poke it, it cries; then it feels pain.

    No ‘early life trauma’ but supposedly the last trimester was ‘difficult’ and Mom was advised to spend a lot of time in bed.

  18. gnomish says:

    yah, well it’s to be expected, i guess, that in the death throes of the abrahamic era, anyone who believes that truth is truth and nothing else is must be sick.

    after all, when the dominant philosophy of the west names self sacrifice, submission and faith as primary virtues (nota bene that those are the negations of life, knowledge) you have no room for the original sinner declaring that there is a such thing as truth, that a human being must know it to survive as a man and that he is perfectly capable of knowing it.

    you remember things because you have a structure you can rely on- because you’ve tested it – because you dared to try it despite the propaganda poured out from nearly every authoritarian mouth since the beast herders of the desert started applying animal husbandry to their fellows.

    one time i was doing a job and the teen-age son chatted me for a bit. he was on lithium and diagnosed. he was a ‘troublesome’ boy and big and scary, sometimes, when he would get frustrated in his interaction with adults…

    we chatted no more than 15 minutes about things he could never get anybody to answer for him – the absolute fact that truth exists was the thing he wanted confirmed. this was consistently denied and refuted and discussions on the topic assiduously evaded by the adults at school, at home, on the television – everywhere.
    i simply told him that yes, as he suspected, most of the world was crazy and he was not.
    at this point, he was no longer troubled. he had what he needed to know. he never took his lithium again. he was never troublesome again. how about that? is a mental defect cured by reason or what is it that is cured by reason?

  19. Joe Prins says:

    A..ha moments. Regularly visit your site and find it fascinating to find out similar “solutions” have occurred to “similar” thought processes.
    Thought I’d let you know.

  20. gnomish says:

    asking questions without prejudice is a discipline.
    always, the main loop of a conscious mind is the question ‘what is it’
    ‘what’ IS the question.
    ‘connecting’ with a molecule, sand or an animal is merely a matter of asking instead of prejudging.

    meet my autistic cat

  21. gnomish says:

    what makes h. sapiens distinct from all other creatures:
    he defines himself, well or poorly, but what he decides he is – that is what he comes to be.

  22. E.M.Smith says:


    What troubles a soul is unique to each. Knowing that there is an absolute truth and that it’s OK to strive for it can be all a person needs to find truth. Being affirmed in the quality of their thinking is just adding a great big comfy recliner chair to their mental life, one with a small fridge in easy reach…

    After that, a lot of mindless worriers can be told to go pound sand as they are not worth the cycles… Ya done good (but you already knew that… ;-)

    OH, and your cat has a skin problem 8-}

    @Joe Prins:

    Thanks! I’ve generally found that good minds, with the same data, reach the same or very similar conclusions…

  23. Mike G says:

    Thank you for writing so eloquently. You have achieved something that I have been stumbling towards ; this posting has, and will be, a great help to me.

  24. gnomish says:

    e.m. –
    suppose it told you that consciousness is identification and that it’s an easy algorithm to implement; then, further suppose i explained that is strictly physical and requires only the law of implication (if A then B)?
    suppose further that this law of implication is easy to abstract due to the fact that cause always precedes effect – and that temporal position in a sequence of events is what the brain of any chordate (and even some organs and muscles) abstract – a thing called learning.
    suppose further that 400 ms has been shown to be the biologically favored frame length and that a fellow named skinner showed this using the above named algorithm for abstraction of an identity from a temporal sequence.

    let’s examine the law of implication, then-
    if A then B means but one more thing than it explicitly states:
    if not B, then not A. voila the law of contradiction, or falsification. it’s built into nature.

    (to implement any form of conceptual engine is actually trivial – nature does it all the time and anybody who really thinks about it can see the circuit required to duplicate it)

    a brain is pretty damn simple and easy to operate. unfortunately for the human race, the science of hobbling and crippling it has been very well studied and implemented as well. the exploit of the wetware is the validation problem. operant conditioning does a good job of extraction however it does not constitute logical proof of what was learned/taught. therefore, lies can be taught and learned. the only defense against this exploit is validation, i.e. a logical proof. that is why it is this faculty, critical thinking, which has been under attack by the mystics of the mind and the thugs of muscle since the first slave was made to submit his reason to another’s force.

    but, n.b., that logic is the system of abstraction that deals with abstraction of truth and that to perform logic, language is required – and not babble, but precisely defined terms that correspond 1:1 with reality.

    the tools of cognition are words. words have definitions.
    if it has no definition it is not a word (law of implication) they are grunts, or often snarls.

    You need Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology to provide the proper tools for removing the truth from occultation by a 2000 year tradition of viral infection by deliberately spread anticoncepts – ideas that render logic impossible.

    btw – atlas shrugged movie part 1 comes out april 15

    it really is black and white – and if one doesn’t see the dots, he’s just not at high enuff resolution or something.
    A thing is a kind of thing and so the linnaean tree accurately represents the structure of consciousness, for it is a taxonomic exercise at root.
    there is nothing that is not part of a larger set – and there is no such thing as truth without context. without specifying the independent variable, there is no ontological significance to an allegedly dependent one.
    and if it is not true – then it is false. there is no other possible state.

    mystery – the phylum of anticonceptual viruses characterized by unprovable assertions, must be recognized as an assembly of falsehoods.
    anything true can be proven. if it can not be proven it is false. there is no other possible state.

    heh. it’s only one more step of thought that would allow you to complete such a circuit on your desktop. but that’s only for those who can get there on their own. i bet you can.
    hint – dreams are intellectual waste products – and that’s why it’s worth the risk of being vulnerable to predation for 1/3 of your life while sleeping.

    i could present you no greater gift, e.m….. pah rum pum pum pum.

    btw- there never has been, ever, a reptile such as chocolate. lol – not many owners of such animals will even touch them without welding gloves. the difference? he wasn’t lied to. force is the 3 dimensional real.time lie that kills a mind. imagine a human being raised so well, eh?
    most i’ve met are autodidacts – the self possession having been established early enough for them to refuse submission and to code their own identity. of course they are not ‘generic’ looking when compared to the Sans Nom mob.members who BELONG to a group – i.e., are explicity owned by others than themselves. so they have branded themselves and so they become.

    there was a bit from M.I.B. i loved- Will says something like:
    “you can’t fool all these people! people are smart!”
    to which Tommy lee replies something like:
    “no; individuals are smart. people are ignorant, ugly and dangerous.”

  25. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Well Smith, are we abbi – normal or subbi – normal? I always prefer abbi normal. By the way camofloge looks wrong. Some about the shine. pg

  26. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m generally “with you” right up to the negation point. FWIW, Jevons made a “logic piano” in the 1800s and I’ve seen folks make various AND, OR, NAND, and NOR “gates” out of all sorts of odd things just to prove a point. (Pullies and ropes, water buckets and levers, etc.) So yeah, you can make “logic” out of darned near anything.

    But at the negation:

    If A then B does not prevent the exitence of another:
    If C then B

    so you can say:

    If Not B then Not A

    but must be careful not to assert

    if B then A

    as there is that C so you can have C and B, Not A.

    I know, you didn’t make that assertion, I’m just putting it here for forlks who might miss it to be warned that multiple causality makes the “reversing logic” thing a bit of a danger zone…

    Then, there is the further state where, in fact, you can have trinary logic. A can be TRUE, FALSE, or UNKNOWN.

    Just because it was easier to build binary logic systems does not mean others are not possible, and even highly useful. Trinary logic in particular has a host of benefits. I use the “UNKNOWN” state flag quite a bit to good measure. (In fact, one of my reasonably frequent checks is: “Is this knowable?”. It prevents searching for a TRUE vs FALSE that can never be found as there is an “UNKNOWN” at a critical point in the logic series…

    So, in fact, there are “Not TRUE and not FALSE” states; and we use them all the time.

    For example: “Silicon life exists on another planet in another solar system”. That is neither TRUE nor FALSE as a valid assertion, it is only UNKNOWN.

    An early form of computer used a base 10 logic structure, though I can’t site which one at the moment.

    BTW, there is “grey”. Even at the atomic level, you can have different levels of light emission in spectral bands of electron states. Yes, eventually you reach the level of quantum mechanics; but above that level having a 1000 or even 10000 shades of gray between black and white is valid. That some charlitans exploit that to create false visions of reality does not preclude it being useable for other things. (For example, my “light dimmers” that let me adjust the lighting to just where I want it… there were analog computers before binary digital, after all, and I love my sliderules…)

    Per MIB:

    I love that quote too, though you’ve got it a bit “off”:

    Edwards: Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it.
    Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.

    Edwards: What’s the catch?
    Kay: The catch? The catch is you will sever every human contact. Nobody will ever know you exist anywhere. Ever. I’ll give you to sunrise to think it over.
    [starts walking away]
    Edwards: [shouting after Kay] Hey! Is it worth it?
    Kay: Oh yeah, it’s worth it.
    [starts walking again, stops and turns back briefly]
    Kay: If you’re strong enough!


    @P.G. Sharrow:

    I’m fond of Abby Normal myself. Especially in the Mariliyn outfit…

    And yes, Camo has a surface “sheen” to it that reality doesn’t have, a kind of ‘light texture” from the thread surface for many fabrics (though not all). Also, it’s often “too random” and you can pick it out as the negative space of a surface, the place where “the surface isn’t”… (Unless you were talking about something else I didnt’ catch…)

    So any “polyester cotton blend” will still have the minute specular reflections off the polyester thread parts… those then tend to ‘blur out” at a distance. That’s when the “negative space” search works better. (IMHO, part of why most folks CAN see a person in Camo, when they know how to look…) though you can still get a “net offset from average luminosity” for the whole surface.

    The things I’ve spent time “looking at”… (“?How is it that I can see the guy in camo sometimes and not others? ?What is it I’m picking up?)… The other tool is “specific camo pattern match”. Once I’ve got a particular type of camo “known” I can pattern match against it in particular. The present “digital camo” used the the USA is specifically designed to thwart that method…

    I’ve a very interesting book on the U.S. and British Camofleurs of W.W.II that I just love… it was kept secret up until something like 1980 or so; they were that effective. Yet if you know “just how to see”…

  27. E.M.Smith says:

    @Mike G:

    I’m just happy to know that in some small way I can help make the world a better place. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Would you believe that I flunked “Freshman English” in high school? Yup, flat out “F”.


    The “teacher” was an Ass.

    There was a girl, a nice girl, who was just not the sharpest tool in the drawer. She had been “held back” to take English again, having flunked the first time.

    OK, that right there is going to mean that she is just a bit stressed…

    So we’re about 2 weeks into this “class” and learning to diagram sentences. He calls her to the board to break a sentence into subject, verb, object, dependent phrases…

    She gets stuck and marks something wrong…

    Mr. A, a physically large and imposing man with a goatee beard, and his name DID start with an A, will get a new monicer in my mind from this moment forward…

    To make a long story short, this AssHole drives her to tears in front of the entire class with bullying and badgering. Saying things like “You ought to know how to do this, I taught it to you last year, are you going to wallow in your own ignorance forever?”. In front of the whole class. While this poor, nice, innocent girl says in a soft voice, though tears, while stairing at the floor “But Mr. A…. I really don’t remember…” and he continues to berrate her then sends her to sit in her chair and “be lazy and ignorant”.

    OK, I’ve had a few years of bullies by this time, and I know one when I see one. Furthermore, this AssHole had given my elder sister the SAME “wallow in your ignorance line” a couple of years before. I know a pattern when I see one…

    I know absolutely that I will never be able to work with this AssHole. Ever.

    So I go to the “Advisor” and explain that I’d like to transfer to another teacher as this isn’t going to work out. He proceeds to “explain” that we can’t just transfer because we don’t ‘like’ a teacher and I must “give it a try” for a few weeks. (AND I know that after a few weeks it’s almost impossible to transfer… as the other teacher will have a full room and noone else will swap into this hell hole).

    Knowing full well that this is an intellectual death sentence, I leave the advisors office. Trudge back to Prison with “Ivan The Terrible”… and, well, just decide to “wait it out for a year”. I can be “very patient”…

    But I don’t accept bullies “worth a damn”. I’m fond of saying “I don’t intimidate worth a damn” to describe it. I may be polite about it, but a bully will NEVER make any progress. So, being bright, and bored, and VERY empathetic to Said Nice Girl, I see no reason to “help this Asshole” in any way.

    We have a weekly homework assignment. I maybe did 3 or 4 of them the whole year. We have ‘reports’ assigned to be written. Maybe one? Out of a bunch. We have weekly tests, that I take and score “well” on (about a B, which is pretty good when you are doing NOTHING to prepare, not doing the work, and not reading the books.)

    Happily, the Nice Girl is getting about a D+ (enough to pass out of this AssHoles class) and I’m coming in behind her. That makes ME the target, not her. This is “A good thing”. I don’t intimdate worth a damn, so “I’m good with that”. Don’t know if she ever realized someone was “running cover for her”… I do know I never saw her cry again.

    I wear my F grade with great pride. (Even though “pride is a sin”…)

    Next year, I’m the soph repeating “freshman English” and getting a pretty decent B+ / A-. Wonderful woman teacher about 4 foot 6 tall and maybe 2 years out of school. Polite, helpful, and kindof cute. She expected a turkey with attitude problems. She got a ‘model student’.

    (I did still have some things to ‘fix’ as I’d not learned some basic stuff along the way. Like “What IS a “report”?” I’d asked from about 5th grade on and would get: “A report is a small essay”. Then I’d ask “What is an essay?” and get “An essay is like a formal report”. Repeat for 4 years… Finally, this women took the time to actually explain what the purpose was, what was the essence of this “meaningless token”. So I started “writing reports” for the first time… well, other than ‘book reports’ that I’d learned in 5th grade were a broken retelling of the story in the book… IIRC, what she said was “A report is where you tell your story about something. What you have read, or what something means to you. It’s how you put your evaluation and interpretation on some topic”. She also talked to me like I had a brain and knew how to use it.)

    So, time passes…

    About 10? years later, I find out at a High School Reunion that the OTHER teachers used to “Rib” (i.e. harrass) Mr. AssHole endlessly in “The Teachers Lounge” about the fact that EVERY OTHER TEACHER in the school had the brightest kid they had ever seen who got A to A+ and the sporadic B+ grade, and even this ROOKIE TEACHER could ‘get him to perform’, and he had failed with me.

    Yes, I wear that F with great pride…

    Every grade I have ever gotten (up to college) has been a direct reflection of the competency of the teacher, and says nothing about me or my abilities. Mr. AssHole gets an F.

    And the other teachers knew it.

    It took me about 15 years to get over the hatred of writing I “learned” at his hands. To finally find the joy that had always been in reading words could also come in writing them.

    I wonder how many other students are being broken to “wallow in their ignorance” in our present child prison system by Ivan The Terrible II …

    Want to fix it? Vouchers.

    Then it is up to the parents to decide if their child ought to have such torture, or not. And the schools will be more motivated to do something about such people.

    I don’t care at all about any of the other “political” things wrapped around the “issue” of vouchers. I care about one thing. It brings choice, and a market place, to the classroom; and that will drive out the AssHoles and Ivan The Terribles…

    I’m just glad I “survived it” and “recovered from it”…

  28. gnomish says:

    almost as fun as college days, eh?
    e.m., if i we ever get a chance to chat for hours at a time, i assure you that, once allowed to define my terms (perforce idiosyncratic to a degree, to make them self consistent), you’d rerender what i said and find not only zero flaws, but the sharpest edge a person could use.
    the bottom line, though, is that there are concepts which correspond with reality and there are concepts which do not. ones that do not are false, however useful they may be.
    the square root of negative one does not correspond to any reality and that’s explicitly stated. the use of it is called ‘occultation’ because you make something up and remove it before the equation is complete as if it never was there.
    in reality, the unknowable is false.
    a mystery is a lie. however, historically it is used to extract a benefit from a chump – the benefit of the doubt. fear=> ignorance => doubt .

    it’s just semantic- but the improper use of language thwarts noncontradictory parsing of the meaning.
    logic is the art of non-contradictory identification.
    semantic analysis of the proposition that ‘something is unknowable’ will immediately expose the self contradiction.
    actually, this one is a hybrid psychovirus of the simple.self.contradiction genus, crossed with the embezzled.premise genus.
    for you to be able to state what it might be that should be unknowable you will have had to identify it to be able to speak of it, accepting, under the table, the premise as a means of refuting it. and you are treating the negation of an absolute as if it were an absolute. major error. just because a person failed to destroy something this morning does not imply that he built or produced anything.
    similarly, lack of darkness is not light emission, is it?
    otherwise my solar powered shadow caster would be a market sensation. (i hope i’m not overloading your circuits and you do get my jokes!)

    not for me to go aspie on you over that horseshoe nail, but seriously- it is one that loses the war if it’s allowed to run on the wetware.

  29. gnomish says:

    wow… how long winded was that.
    i should have just said:
    “oh, something is unknowable? prove it!”

    if it is true, of course it can be proven.

  30. P.G. Sharrow says:

    We are all glad you recovered or grew in spite of the trama.

    In the early 1950s I was “treated” by a good sister of Fatama for my deslexia who felt that it was deliberate acting out that she could break me of. After 6 months of effort she gave up. I’m still deslexic, and very “stiff necked” about anyone trying to force me to do anything. And would rather dig a 100 yard ditch then write an essay or report. I did learn to read the next year, my 4th grade teacher realized something was wrong and taught me to speed read. After that I read every book in the school. I’m not sure that school vouchers would have help, as that was a privet school.

    Years later my son was to start the 2ed grade with a known very poor teacher in our small local public school. Students that finished his class tested lower then when they started. The 3rd grade teacher was an old high school mate of mine, she pulled my son into her class, so he did not do 2ed grade. Good thing thing he was a quick learner and big for his age. That poor teacher was well protected by the Teachers Union and the administrator felt he would do the least damage teaching 2ed grade. pg

  31. E.M.Smith says:


    the bottom line, though, is that there are concepts which correspond with reality and there are concepts which do not. ones that do not are false, however useful they may be.


    But please do note I did not say something was absolutely and forever “unknowable” (though I’m not prepared to assert such things do not exist, either), but rather what I said was that some things have the status of UNKNOWN and that is a valid logic state.

    One need not “prove” an UKNOWN, by definition.

    So in a trinary logic system, I can say that my state is either “Full”, “Hungry”, or “unknown”. And that more accurately reflects my reality than saying that I’m either “full” or “empty”… as it’s a “spectrum disorder” ;-)

    I believe you will find that you will end up at the same effective conclusions about abuses of logic, misleading folks, etc. using trinary logic, but the proof tables become larger. I think it’s also helpful, as it shows where it is the MIS-use of the “Unknown” state that is the key to “how the deed is done”…

    Basically, I think (though have not proved) that it’s the appication of “two state thinking” to “three state existence” that lets the folks mislead to a false “Do This For ME” then packaged as a “two state” choice. (You are either “with me or against me” a “good Catholic or a sinner” and “Good soldier or traitor”. The reality is I can be a “good soldier who holds your order illegal” or a “Good Catholic who thinks the priest might not be holy when didling little boys and the Pope is not so holy for ignoring it” and I can be “Watching from the sidelines, neither with, nor against, combatents”.

    It is the redefining of the valid “third state” into one of the “yes / no” states that gives the lever to mislead…

    But yes, there are many things where only two states are possible. Those are to be cherished… They are often ultimate truthes.

    In fact, I’d add that “one can not be a good Catholic and simultaneosly hold the doctrine of infalability AND that the Pope is being less than holy” as an example case. The “Forced Binary” is “G.C. and D.of Infalible”, and that PRECLUDES the “trinary” of “G.C. and ‘Pope’ less than Holy”… so you either have to address the silly nature of the D.of Infaliblility or give up on being a Good Catholic; and thus does the recognition of the Trinary case threaten the church… so they use the “false binary” to herd all the G.C.s back into line… “You DO want to be a Good Catholic, don’t you?… then the Pope is Infalible…” and the charade begins again…

  32. gnomish says:

    why three? conditioning by the trinity?
    there is no limit except as defined.
    the thing is that any parallel process can be expressed linearly and that’s the level where shakespeare noted the question is: existence or nonexistence.
    there is no such a thing as nothing
    zero can not be enumerated as it is not a number but a markup symbol that defines a place for information – ‘no thing is here. there is no such a thing as nothing.
    existence exists; it is the fundamental axiom and the only axiom required for a complete metaphysics, including an objective morality and an ethics appropriate for human beings as human beings.
    guess that’s why there has been such a concerted effort over the centuries by the mystics to deny it, eh?
    btw, i read that pope john read only 2 commercial works of literature in his life. one was a book of poems by robert frost. the other was atlas shrugged. i’ll bet a nickel i understand the significance of a bunch of high clerics convincing him he had to know what it was about.

    what is it that reason can cure, then? and why are so many scared to find out? :)

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, I was not raised Catholic. I just like to use them as an example as they are “well studied”. So no, no “trinity” conditioning.

    Three is because of the three states of “TRUE”, “FALSE”, and “UNKNOWN”. And nothing else.

    Yes, you can have ‘higher order’ logics, but they are even harder to explain, make examples of use, etc.

    has a decent “getting started” description.

    In logic, a three-valued logic (also trivalent or ternary logic, sometimes abbreviated 3VL) is any of several many-valued logic systems in which there are three truth values indicating true, false and some indeterminate third value. This is contrasted with the more commonly known bivalent logics (such as classical sentential or boolean logic) which provide only for true and false. Conceptual form and basic ideas were initially created by Łukasiewicz, Lewis and Sulski. These were then re-formulated by Grigore Moisil in an axiomatic algebraic form, and also extended to n-valued logics in 1945.

    Concerning fuzziness, ternary logic might be seen formally as a fuzzy type of logic as a value may be different from just false (0) or true (1); however, ternary logic is defined as a crisp logic.

    Crisp logic being of the same sort as binary logic, i.e. not “fuzzy logic”.

    BTW, I had a formal symbolic logic class at university that I just loved. One of my favorite classes of all time. Just pure, clean analysis… but I digress…

    so again “it’s not about ME” as this was defined long before I ever existed…

    And yes, there is such a thing as “nothing”, and yes, there is such a thing as “I don’t know if it is nothing or something”. IMHO, they are very important to exactly the kind of thing you advocate.

    So when I say: “John was big”

    Was john male or female? Or “other”?

    Kind of depends. If “John” was the toilet, then neither “male” nor “female” is accurate.

    Thus, saying: “John must be male or female” is a false binary. The correct assertion would be “John must be male, female, or OTHER”. (And yes, in this case you can say “John must be male, or not-male”, but in some cases you can’t… what do you do with a hermaphrodite? )

    So that’s why I’m “less than enthusiastic” about using binary logic as the basis of a life philosophy…

    So “The Pope is infallable”. “All Good Catholics follow the Doctrine of Infallibility”. “The Pope made the Doctrine”. Makes a tidy binary logic trap. Once you accept “Pope => Infallable”, then you are conducted down the road to the pen. If you allow “or OTHER”, then “doubt” can start to dissolve those chains.

    “The Pope is Infallable, (we’ve tossed out ‘regular folks’ type of fallability), or ‘other'”. (Perhaps not defined in terms of some truth or another, not wrong, just not all knowing.)

    “All Good Catholics follow the doctrine of infallibility, or ‘other'”. (I may hold that the Pope is accurate on interpreting the Bible, but does not have all the information needed to know some answers).

    “The Pope made the Doctrine”.

    So the Pope could have made the Doctrine as an “OTHER”, not an infallable, and so the Pope may still be “OTHER” rather then infallable. As a Good Catholic one can believe in The Doctrine of Infallability or “OTHER”… so if just for a moment, I think that maybe I can be a good Catholic and question “IS the Pope infallable, or “OTHER”?” Then I can arrive at the conclusion that maybe he’s just not in a position to know fully what makes a person a “Good Catholic” and maybe some of that is up to me. That is the stuff revolutions are made of.

    The “average Catholic” has recognized this. So you have the “Infallible Pope” saying that Birth Control Pills are “not Catholic” and the average western Catholic Woman saying “I know what makes a good Catholic, and I am one; the Pope just “doesn’t have full knowing of what women’s issues are as he isn’t one”. So he may be infallible on doctrine, but he is “OTHER” on women. I accept the Doctrine of Infallible on church issues and apply “OTHER” outside the religion.”

    So, in computer terms, we can have a Zero, a ONE, or a NULL.

    You can know if I am presently hungry, not hungry, or you may have no information. SO which is it, do you know if I am hungry or not hungry right now?

    IMHO, the best tool for breaking down exactly those oppressive structures you dislike the most is the allowance of the “third state” of “Maybe they just don’t know” and that then leads to skepticism and challenging… They don’t have to be proven “Right or Wrong”, they only need to be potentially clueless…

    Does CO2 cause warming? AGW advocates say “YES, now PROVE ME WRONG”. Deniers say “NO, now prove ME wrong”. I say “Probably not, but we really just don’t know. We ought not be doing anything drastic until we sort this puppy out for sure.”

    I.e. the “null hypothesis” of “nothing there different from what we know until you can prove your case, not just assert someone must prove you wrong”.

    Great energy is expended between these two sets of folks, each demanding a ‘prove a negative’, when the truth is a simple “NULL” case… and it’s that third option that sets you free to question and to challenge.

  34. gnomish says:

    i think i get a part of your perspective-
    if i did, then it would be goedel’s theorem of incompleteness, usually used to refute knowledge, per se, in this conundrum:

    “you can’t know everything, so you really can’t be sure you know anything.”

    well, that’s an abuse of the theorem – giving up instead of simply enlarging the context as it really implies; for truth only exists in context – specified as a proposition with the implication as described previously.

    if it’s about false dichotomies, one phrase for it is ‘thinking out of the box’ . but the previously unspecified dimensions outside that box were always there, of course. the shortcut failed and you need to specify more dimensions to locate the 2 way implication, never falsified, that is an identity.

    anyway, the universe is infinite and our data processing and storage capacity is not. therefore, as with most chordates, we digitize the infinite universe in frames of finite duration.

    concepts are sequences of percepts. you’ll be able to think up a million confirmations as you note that a touch typist can type way faster than physically possible if shown but one letter at a time. sequences become integrated into single units and we can manage about 5 at a time quite handily.

    but for each idea we define, i.e., create a set that has distinguishing criteria to be met for the entity to qualify for the label, there is no limit to the number of dimensions available to specify if one wishes to. the universe is infinite, after all.
    senses fill bit columns and a mind learns how to arrange the columns by remembering the sorts that function to produce identities (which collapses a sequence to a unit) – or, more precisely, those which are falsified by previous experience are simply rejected – just as natural rejection drives evolution.
    if you want to specify a context for a proposition, you can use as many as you wish, e.g., in this place, at this time, with this weather, with this company, with this amount of beer, etc. etc. then this is the result, thereby producing a proposition that is true if you like.

    for example, i drop something and then it falls down- every time. never up, sideways or otherwise. identity! label: gravity. but now i am out in the shuttle and drop something. falsification of my simple identity? nope – just need to enlarge the context by adding a few more columns for more dimensions and remove any that have been shown not to apply – like ‘down’ up there. no prob. minds do that stuff naturally – it’s what they’re made to do and you have to deliberately run them thru a program to cripple and hobble that if you want such as we see populating much of the ‘civilized’ world. that science is very well developed as you well know. it is universally practiced and on a daily basis upon your kids and you.

    yes, accepting a false premise can affect one’s survival. believing that lies are true happens to be the layman’s definition of insanity, by the way. sanity is a metaphysical world view that corresponds 1:1 with reality and anything not qualifying for that label isn’t sane. i’m not saying any of us is free of these ‘scotomas’, but those who are devoted to the truth constantly groom their minds by reexamination of premises on a regular basis – keeping the orderly accurate mind is simply good hygeine.

    anyway, when you make a column that indicates ‘unspecified’ (or a value if you want to use more than 2 characters), you are not marking an attribute of the entity at all – you are marking an attribute of your state of knowledge of it. what you mark can be perfectly true but has no effect on the nature of the entity you fail to observe.
    existence exists independent of any individual’s observation. that is important to examine how it can be no other way. kant couldn’t but a man can. and post modern thought isn’t.

  35. gnomish says:

    ok, try this=
    can you think of any ‘aspie’ whose ‘characteristic behavior’ can not be explained by a strong and possibly life-long aversion to falsehood? (low bullshit tolerance)
    as if they considered it an existential threat, i mean.

    anybody with a low tolerance for it can be expected to isolate himself from it with the concomitant results.

    consider if it really is an existential threat and judge the sanity of believing and acting on the belief. darwin will help you evaluate this. he seems to have known what good and bad really meant.

  36. Jason Calley says:

    There are even forms of logic that allow truth values of zero, one, and i, the square root of negative one. Setting up recursive logical statements using i allows a formal interpretation of such old “paradoxes” as the Epimenides Paradox; “I am a Cretan and all Cretans are liars.”

  37. Jason Calley says:

    @ gnomish “minds do that stuff naturally – it’s what they’re made to do and you have to deliberately run them thru a program to cripple and hobble that if you want such as we see populating much of the ‘civilized’ world. that science is very well developed as you well know. it is universally practiced and on a daily basis upon your kids and you. ”

    I suspect you are already familiar with Rand’s essay on the subject:

  38. gnomish says:

    hi jason
    that proposition reduces to ‘i am a liar’.
    that’s not an unambiguous paradox such as the statement:
    ‘i only lie’, or ‘everything i say is a lie’

    but it’s a great study of the simplest type of psychovirus-

    let’s look closely at it. the for the statement to be true, it must be false and for it to be false, it must be true.
    this reduces the the most basic formula A= -A, or ‘the thing is not itself’. pretty elementary, really – but let’s look at the effect it will have in the wetware if it’s run:

    the circuit is implemented with a single inverter.
    the output, which is the opposite of the input, is fed back to the input. thus, if it is true on the input, it will be false on the output and send that back to the input, making the input now false and causing the output to be true, and so on.
    this is how to make an oscillator that clocks as fast as the transition can manage.
    being as how wetware consumes resources according to the rate of firing, this wetware buzzer drains resources in a noticeable way, detracting from any other running programs – like critical thinking.

    of course the simple way to resolve this type of exploit is to not try to run it within its self contradicting context but to expand the context to encapsulate it – give it a name and define what are its characteristics. It is a simple self contradiction and has no meaning apart from the use to which it is put – for educational purposes, of course…lol

    finally, let’s note that there is actually one case where the equation a = -a is true. that is when the value is zero – which is to say that it does not exist at all- which is to say is false (in fact the simplest possible example of falsification, logically).
    therefore, all self contradictions are lies, even if disguised.

  39. gnomish says:

    jason- i freakin love laws of form since reading it about 30 years ago.
    i just hate the ugly syntax and prefer my own markup system…lol

  40. Jason Calley says:

    @ gnomish “being as how wetware consumes resources according to the rate of firing, this wetware buzzer drains resources in a noticeable way, detracting from any other running programs – like critical thinking.”

    Ah! Nice way to explain it. Yes, that makes sense. :)

    “of course the simple way to resolve this type of exploit is to not try to run it within its self contradicting context but to expand the context to encapsulate it – give it a name and define what are its characteristics. ”

    Which was Bertrand Russell’s solution. “This form messes everything up, so formulate a new rule which says ‘Don’t allow this form!'”

    “It is a simple self contradiction and has no meaning apart from the use to which it is put – for educational purposes, of course…lol”

    Ahem… obviously a new usage of the phrase “educational purposes.” :) Yes, you make a good point, and the near universal acceptance of doublethink shows how well the lesson has been accepted. War is peace and freedom is servitude.

  41. Murray says:

    Sorry for the delayed response. Had a nasty injury and have been off my feet for a few days.
    I find both this and the long “its not about me” to both be defensive. You don’t. I’m probably a high functioning NT. You are not. We are wired differently. My comments were in no way judgmental, simply noting the difference and a little self-pleased that I had diagnosed the difference accurately from your global style, from internet postings, with no visual or close contact.
    FWIW, based on a big batch of psychological testing I had to undergo to get a VP job one time, I score in the top 2% for “critical thinking”, quite a bit of which includes social sensitivity and non-verbal skills. My biggest strength was noted as an ability to see connections that others normally don’t see and # 2 was the ability to examine issues objectively with low paradigm paralysis.
    I appreciate, and in many ways admire your difference, but it is a difference, and it is clearly evident to me that you do have a filter, and it is characteristic of your difference that you do not, (indeed cannot) perceive your filter.
    A responder above denied that his emotions are flat. He might be right, not every-one has to have the full spectrum of any set of characteristics to have an overall characteristic behaviour. Also he may have no referent, so doesn’t know what non-flat is. Rolling hills are hillie to the prairie dweller, pretty flat to the high mountain dweller.
    You proclaim loudly(but not defensively sarc) that you do have empathy, but I will bet, and will bet that you will agree, that you would make a lousy caregiver. Again, no referent, and no way for you to have a real refrerent.
    The insensitivity to social signals thing goes way beyond facial and body language, it also includes more abstract things like contextual positioning, background formation, etc, especially when reading and deciding what to believe in texts on subjects like sociology, politics, politico-economics etc. To me, you have that insensitivity in spades, which is clear from your excerpts and the way you position and use them. To you, that insensitivity is not possible. Comjme j’ai deja dis, c’est la vie.
    You have tremenduous strengths, which most people would envy. Quit being defensive that you don’t have it all. No one has it all, and we need the full spectrum to function as optimally as we can as a society.
    Enough for me on this subject.
    Cheers, Murray

  42. E.M.Smith says:


    Still off in the land of “swing and a miss” I see. Unable to accept a clear and rational description from the person in the best postion to provide it. Unable to accept that “Lack of Filter NT” is what you see as “my filter”, unable to see that an empty space can just be empty…

    FWIW, I’m a stellar “caregiver” and have done it often. At my Fathers death I stayed in the room for days. I was the only one who still knew what he wanted and made sure he got it. (Part of it was that I could “decode” the garbled speech better, but part of it was better empathy for who he was and what he would want.) I’ve done home “wound care” on a C-Section that didn’t close on the first go, so had to heal “from the bottom up”. Weeks of tending both the wound, and the person. I tend to be sought out by my family for such tending and I am also the one most emtionally tied to giving it. Oh, and I’ve tended animals in more sizes, species and needs than I care to list.

    And yes, I do have a “real referent”. The thanks and feedback from the tended.

    What I think NTs miss is that: just because someone doesn’t start running around screaming and shouting it is false to assume they are not emoting. Think of the oriental “Saving Face” behaviours. Think of a Spartan not showing fear. So yes, the “volume control” on my physical display is set lower. You interpret that in strange and wonderous ways (including asserting that the emotion isn’t there, or that I can’t “connect” or “empathize”) when it is there and I do emote and do connect and empathize. I’m just not going to be a blubbering mass of tears while I’m doing wound care. I’ll feel it, but not run off the cliff with it.

    Now, what YOU bring to a topic that makes YOU think it feels defensive to YOU, is “not about Me”…

    And as long as you persist in that mistaken belief, you will persist in reaching broken conclusions.

    FWIW, my scores were a couple of std deviations above yours… My lowest score of ANY, and it was way lower, was in “Clerical” at 86 percentile. (Boring, mind wandered…) I was also examined by a couple of NASA MDs including a shrink and accepted into a program that was used to set the psych profile of all astronauts from that point forward. It’s that “Right Stuff” character. The ability to have the adrenaline off scale and know you may die in the next few minutes and state clearly “Houston, we have a problem”… Doesn’t mean y’aint got “pucker factor”, just means the shorts don’t get brown…

    So take a look at the astronaut corp and you are looking at my psych profile. Really think that’s broken and has filters between them and reality? That they can’t emote and are lousy caregivers? Or are they exactly the kind of person you would want doing an emergency appendectomy on you 10 days out from Earth and providing the followup care and support?

    That I look at the crap passed off as “Science” in sociology class (that was largely political indoctination class) and that I see history unfiltered through any wants or desires that it fit my present personal political paradigm is simply seeing what is there. Unfiltered. To somehow find a way to make it “insensitive” to say “Fascists came from a socialist root and many of the Progressives of the day lauded them” is simply to lie about a factual report of the history as recorded. The “Filtering” being done is by the folks who see that truth and simply can’t accept it, and run away in horror from the history of their own beliefs. It’s called Denial, Murray. And it’s what you’ve got.

    “Don’t like the message? Then the messenger must be broken”… Always has been wrong…

    So you want to dismiss historical facts based on your evaluation of how I must feel about things, or what I must be incapable of emoting over, or that I must be emoting in a defensive way when that suits YOUR need. That is doomed to fail. Always.

    But enjoy your boat ride on the Nile… I’m sure it has a pretty rose colored view…

  43. PA says:

    If this never sees the light of day, I won’t mind :)

    Mostly just commenting to add a quiet cheer from a long-time lurker behind the punch bowl. This explanation and the following comments demonstrate one of the biggest reasons I hang around here–it is such a joy to watch you and the others think. It sets my mind alight. So thank you for that.

  44. E.M.Smith says:


    Welcome out from behind the punch bowl!

  45. P.G. Sharrow says:

    I remember the high school aptitude tests, My scores were so high the evaluator said that they had to be wrong, except clerical, that was 43. I was told I could do anything as lon as it didn’t entail clerical tasks. This in an age when a word prosesser was a manual typewriter, a pocket calculator was a slip stick and computor was a person that operated a machanical adding machine. Maybe I could be a ditch digger or other manual labor. :-) pg

  46. EM – again going through the back-issues. A lot of Bingos for me on this one, though I know I make a lousy carer – I never learnt enough to feel competent, and I’m maybe too aware of what I don’t know medically. On explaining how an engine works, a long-time friend of mine said of me “Don’t ask Simon to explain something. He will!”. Before he’d told me about that, I’d assumed that if someone asked then they actually wanted to know. Now I tend to ask how much someone wants to know – a superficial description or do they want to build one? I deduce whether someone is lying to me from what I already know – can’t tell by body language in general.

    Having a wide range of types of people gives an advantage to a team or group. Some people see one path to a solution, others see others. We need the plodders as well as the intuitive problem-solvers, but we also need respect between people so that we achieve the advantages of the different viewpoints. If each person takes the part of the job they do best, then the job gets done quicker and probably better. One guy in the design group was an “old woman” (and he said it himself) who made sure we kept to all the Company rules on issuing designs. Come to think of it, he’s probably well up on the spectrum, too. Without him, we wouldn’t have done so well getting designs accepted – they couldn’t find any faults after Allen had been through it.

    Gift? It is once you’ve gotten through the social problems and understand who you are. I may have recommended it here before, but “The Speed of Dark” by Elizabeth Moon is a good book that gets under the thoughts of people further up the spectrum than us. (Disclaimer – I have no financial involvement with Ms. Moon!)

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