Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Myth of Genius

It was this somewhat misguided qoute on leftbrain/rightbrain that got me thinking;

"The severe autistics are in fact geniuses. Autism will eventually be seen as symptomatic of genius and not retardation."

21 comments:

Joseph said...

I think a more interesting question is this: does innate talent exist?

Some researchers think it doesn't, some think it does. Incidentally, this area of research overlaps with autism (see: embedded figures test.)

.... said...

Practice and study certainly can bring performance up to high levels, and someone with only moderate ability can then maybe be even better than someone with ability but not practice, for example in musical performance.

However there are limits, I certainly don't have the right kind of configuration of musculature to be a weight lifter, no amount of pumping iron would change that, however my long fingers do confer a natural advantage for some kinds of musical perfomance, even though I do not play keyboard, I can see that I could certainly do things that someone with stubby fingers could not.

jonathan said...

Thomas Edison, considered a genius by some, once said that genius is 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration. Autism impairs my capacity to apply myself and work at much of anything, as I feel the urge to twiddle (self-stimulate) all day, due to the defect (not difference) in my brain. I think this is true for most persons with autism, though I realize there can always be exceptions to the rule. Therefore, no matter how much innate talent an autistic person might have at any endeavor, 90% of the learning curve needed to become a "genius" has been taken away from them.

The author said...

In essence what you are implying Jonathon, is the opposite of what Tom Smith was implying in the original quotation about Autism and Genius.

Do you then feel that there have never been any Autistics who possess that elusive quality of genius, or even talent?

Catana/Sylvie Mac said...

There's only one legitimate use of "genius," and it's applied to people who have significantly changed a field of knowledge, and granted by people in that field. Extraordinary intlligence, whether it's in a so-called normal person or an autistic is not genius. And from what you said about Beckham (which is literally all I know about him), his skill would be more like that of a savant than a genius. His skill is unique to himself and changes nothing in sports.

The claim that autistics are geniuses, purely by virtue of being autistic, is as groundless as the claim that all autistics are retarded. False claims always bite back, eventually.

The author said...

By that definition then, Newton and Einstein (whatever there place on or off the spectrum) still come in as genii.

Michelangelo too, and Beethoven made significant advances in there respectives arts.

Shakespeare too, towers head and shoulders over his contemporaries.

Poor old Becks, remains just a celebrity sportsman, like his one time team mate Cantona, the philosophical footballer.

Socrates said...

99.2% - Bow Down, insect!

jonathan said...

well maybe matt savage at music, Stephen Wiltshire at art, and there are probably some others who were able to apply themselves. Morton Gernsbacher claimed that persons with severe autism had made great contributions to the arts and sciences in her essay, "autistics need acceptance not cure", yet fails to mention these and would not respond to my email asking who these individuals were. Stephen Wiltshire was given as an example of a person who made great contributions to art by some autism's gadfly readers when i posed the question. I am still waiting for an example of a severely autistic person who has made great contributions to science.

Clay said...

Uh, don't you mean Leonardo DaVinci, rather than Michelangelo? Or has the latter simply gotten better press in the UK?

As for Jonathan, I think he should redouble his efforts, and spend twice as much time twiddling as he does now. He really needs to apply himself, if he wants to get ahead!

Foresam said...

Larry,
I think all golfers are genuises too because we know how to make golf balls bend around trees. We also have a secret equation for calculating double-breaking putts that we can all do in our heads.

r.b. said...

When Ben was little, his adopted grandmother said he was brilliant. When I was told he was PDD, I had a persistent idea of the bell curve--with those on both ends having more in common than those in the middle, and I'm somewhat shy to say it had a deified insistence, if that makes sense. "The really smart ones start off different, Rose",his godmother told me, "His mother was brilliant."

It's not his grades, his IQ score, but rather his ability to have a single-mindedness of purpose that makes him a possible visionary, at least in my dreams for him. Autism may prepare one for greatness in that ability to focus. Many less important things fall by the wayside. The focus is primary.

Most people are far too bothered by minutiae. Like hair.

Hell, if all it takes is messy hair, I'm in!

The author said...

No Clay

I do mean Michelangelo, who is much overlooked, he and Leonardo did not get on because they were rivals. It has to be said Michelangelo was much more successful than Leonardo, and did get things finished.

As Vasari describes him "he was a man who would argue with Popes"

Joseph said...

Therefore, no matter how much innate talent an autistic person might have at any endeavor, 90% of the learning curve needed to become a "genius" has been taken away from them.

Let me ask you this, Jon. Do you feel you have a right to be a genius, and this right has been taken away from you?

jonathan said...

Joseph: I don't know if larry will publish this as he did not publish my last comment, but I have a right to be able to work up to my potential that has been taken away from me by autism. Parents of autistic children have a right to pursue research that will lead to better treatments (if not a cure because admittedly that is formidable goal) that will help them function as well as possible without their condition being trivialized by neurodiversity idealogues and with certain individuals undermining the noble goal of trying to help the person on the spectrum be all they can be.

The author said...

I have not stopped any of your comments Jonathan.

I fail to see how a "thing" can take away rights, rights are something that are conferred by human beings and taken away by them.

It would be like saying being born a boy has taken away my right to bear children, absurd.

However if you look at it another way, you could rephrase what you said and say that you have a right to max out your potential (and not everyone gets to be president remember) that has been taken away by not having had your autistic problems addressed properly, and I might find that harder to disagree with.

Socrates said...

Sorry,

I made a mistake:

99.8% - Bow Down, Amoebae!

Yeah, like, but so fuckin what? - I'm still a client of the Learning Disabilities Partnership - so stick that up yer Kanner's.

Which for me, concludes this debate.

Jonathan, you are seriously screwed in the Bonce, but it's got nothing to do with Autism. Get help (of the DBT,CBT kind).

Foresam said...

Larry, You may comment on my blog if you stay on topic.

Socrates said...

L,

Done a Special Vid for you 16:9 HD - Heavy Buffalo.

I'm as drunk as you should be - working on my Auntie NAS production - also in HD 16:9. She shat on my boots. And I'm 'avin' 'er up before the Beak in the morning. And then Socrates is done.

Be fuckin good to get out of this ditch. Bog Snorkelling in JB's Leachate.

David N. Andrews M. Ed. (Distinction) said...

"I fail to see how a 'thing' can take away rights, rights are something that are conferred by human beings and taken away by them."

I'm with Larry on this. Assuming that autism is a thing in the first place (in the same way that cancer is a thing), it's hard to see how it can take rights away in and of itself. And autism is not a thing, like cancer is. So autism cannot be cited for blame as something that removes a person's rights.

New campaign out by the National Autistic Society in the UK... and it is not autism itself that is cited as the reason why autistic people are experiencing "'anxiety, confusion, delays and discrimination' when using services"; rather, the NAS cites "poor employment and benefits support".

The system that is supposed to help all people is not helping autistic people; we get written of when prospective employers think 'autism=uselessness' rather than reading individual assessment reports about individual autistic applicants.

It isn't autism that causes this: it is attitudes towards it and processes that do not work for autistic people.

Mitchell needs to take Autism 101... he of all people ... ah, what's the point? He doesn't set out to listen and find anything out... he just goes out of his way to insist he's right when he's patently wrong. No teaching people like him.

Joseph said...

Rights are taken away by people, that's for sure. I'm guessing that in Jon's worldview, the "right" to not be disabled (which doesn't exist) is taken away by people who are not working quickly enough to find a cure. I suppose it's also taken away by people who don't campaign for a cure heavily enough.

David N. Andrews M. Ed. (Distinction) said...

"I'm guessing that in Jon's worldview, the "right" to not be disabled (which doesn't exist) is taken away by people who are not working quickly enough to find a cure. I suppose it's also taken away by people who don't campaign for a cure heavily enough."

Exactly... very irrational thinking on his part, but he's sticking to it... I think he's a one-man pity-fest; that is remarkably sad. Some of us are trying damned hard to improve the situations of ourselves and others in our sorts of situations by working on a number of things such as societal attitudes, and service models, and clarifying the roles of mental health, education, social services and disability services staff... in this very Stalinist country not bloody easy ... but we still do it.

He sits on his fat arse and whinges.