While it is a controversial number, US research suggests that one in 45 people are on the autism spectrum. Some of these people are low functioning, requiring considerable levels of support throughout their lives, while others are high functioning, a group often said to have Asperger's.
I have been labelled autistic, with some justification
People with Asperger's often have a high IQ, but less that helpful EQ. Many struggle with empathy and display an apparent unemotional rigidity. In my case, EQ can be a struggle and there are other symptoms, including OCD and depression. I am certainly rigid, particularly when it comes to processing information, or making assessments and decisions.
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I have long had a real problem with emotion and the application of emotions to the thinking process. I believe emotion has no place whatsoever in thinking. Real thinking only really occurs in the absence of emotion. Emotion is all about feeling, not thinking.
This is not to say that I do not value feeling. I value feeling and emotions very highly. The mission I have developed for myself reads: ''Encouraging a world inspired by the heart and guided by objective, critical and lateral thinking.''
I value emotions a great deal and they have a critical role in determining what we should think about, but they have no role in the thinking itself.
I am (consistent with Asperger's) highly intolerant of people who feel instead of think, or replace intellect with emotion. Very few things make me more agitated and almost nothing makes me lose respect for someone faster than them confusing emotion and intellect, feeling and emotion, subjectivity and objectivity.
I value most highly three types of thinking.
Objective thinking is the first pillar of all thinking, excluding subjectivity from all debate, focusing entirely on the data and nothing but that. What anyone may feel or want is irrelevant.
Critical thinking is the second pillar, which involves accepting nothing without the evidence to support it. Nothing should be accepted as truth or fact without the data.
Lateral thinking is the major source of the ideas and potential solutions that can be examined by way of objective and critical thinking. It is the thinking that drives innovation.
In the background right now, I can hear a television chat show on the ABC in which participants are being asked to state an opinion on subjects that they cannot possible have the data about. Every second person has a view on the Lindy Chamberlain’s guilt or innocence without having any of the facts to hand. People talk about football with an authority they lack the data to have. People debate political issues and state views without any facts at all. Christians tell us that they know there is a God, when there is no evidence of such.
I am particularly concerned when people diagnose health issues exhibited by friends without the knowledge to do so.
I hate it when people tell me what is good advertising and bad when they have no idea and no knowledge to base their comments on.
Teachers must find it distressing that every second person on the planet views themselves an expert on education without a relevant education themselves. I am infuriated when I hear from people without any data who think they know better than academics who do. I despise racists who ignore the fact that other than cosmetic differences, there are NO differences between the races. The fact is, there are no races.
Emotions have their place, but not in debate, assessing facts or in making decisions.
Science, including medicine, is predicated on, requires and only moves forward when there is a complete absence of emotion, with the sole focus being the data, no matter how pleasing or otherwise it is.
I greatly admire people with the intellect to think at a high level. I respect much more, however, those who use whatever intellect they have to always separate feelings and thinking.
I am not bad at this, partly because of the way my brain works, and partly because I know that thinking is the only thing that really moves the world forward constructively.
The value of Intellectual rigour is aspirational, but it is also lived.
What are your core values? How do they impact on your behaviour?