Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Autism as Academic Paradigm by Tyler Cowen

I was delighted when this article was forwarded to me yesterday. I am posting it on my blog since, in my view, it is full of truth telling--about what I have learned in recent years from Temple Grandin and others as well as my quick look at Nikola Tesla and my talks with folks at GCHQ. But also there is much in the article that exactly parallels the points that I and others have been trying to make with respect to the talents of dyslexics. In fact, several years ago I happened to meet Vernon Smith (mentioned in the article) at a George Mason University reception and I asked him whether he had encountered highly talented dyslexics among his associates. To my surprise, he started telling me about his own autistic-like behaviors, when he would "zone-out" while thinking of some long-term problem. The article does mention dyslexia, but, of course, there is much, much more. Several times Temple Grandin and I have discussed the highly visual ways of thinking that some (many?) of those with autism or dyslexia seem to share--in spite of being very different conditions. Perhaps the time is right to look into these matters in a conference of some kind. As the literature continues to develop, it would appear that autism and dyslexia may be opposites in many ways. However, they would appear to be similar with respect to being misunderstood--having professionals looking only at cognitive weaknesses while pretty much ignoring cognitive strengths. (Or, allowing major strengths to entirely overshadow the weaknesses so that the weak areas are hardly noticed.) I hope the link below will work for the next few days. (Just now I am going through proof pages of the new edition of In the Mind's Eye.)

-----Original Message-----

An article from The Chronicle of Higher Education was forwarded to you

This article, "Autism as Academic Paradigm" is available
online at this address:


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Chronicle for up to five days after it is e-mailed.

The article is always available to Chronicle subscribers at this


1 comment:

  1. Thomas,

    Any chance you could forward me that article? It's no longer online... My studies in visual thinking and problem solving seem to have led me to the same areas of study. Traditionally, I'm a designer, but information design and brain studies have led me more in this direction for design sake. Best, James L. - james [@] jameslytle.com