February 4, 2010

"Temple Grandin" on HBO

On Saturday night at 8pm, HBO is putting on a biopic with Claire Danes playing Temple Grandin, the high-functioning autistic animal sciences professor who is so interesting from a sort of sci-fi point of view, like HAL 9000 come to life. Her view, however, is that autistic people tend to have brains that function not like computers but like animals -- they can't see the forest for the trees. Animals are constantly spooked by small visual details that don't bother non-autistic humans because we barely notice much of what goes on around us that isn't relevant to our main trains of thought.

Here's a very positive review of the Temple Grandin film by Dorothy Rabinowitz in the WSJ.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

36 comments:

Chuck said...

I saw a very interesting interview with Grandin on C-SPAN a couple of months ago. The way she talked about her autism it almost seemed as if she were standing outside her body watching what exactly was going on with her mind and her reactions.

I read up on her and found out that she's also professedly asexual.

Anonymous said...

She kind of looks like a younger, more robust John Derbyshire.

Andrea said...

OT: Support Kevin MacDonald. We need to stick together against the venal Left.

http://theoccidentalobserver.net/tooblog/?p=662

l said...

The narrative of such movies as this and "A Beautiful Mind" is confusing: Geniuses give us so much, but they're so maladept in their personal lives that we should pity them. Oh, and they're just like us after all.

Thursday said...

The CSPAN Grandin interview is here:
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/214625

Mr. Anon said...

Hollywood always does such a good job matching the actor to the role.

This is Claire Danes:

http://www.freshnews.in/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/claire-danes.jpg

This is Temple Grandin:

http://www.caica.org/Autism%20Nancy.jpg

Hell, they could practically be twins.

Cordelia said...

OT: Ancient tribe becomes extinct as last member dies

Last member of one of 10 Great Andamanese tribes, the Bo, died.

catperson said...

"Animals are constantly spooked by small visual details that don't bother non-autistic humans because we barely notice much of what goes on around us that isn't relevant to our main trains of thought."

It sounds like she's describing schizophrenia not autism. I have read that the problem with schizophrenics is that they lack latent inhibition which means they can't ignore irrelevant details, however if one has a really high IQ, they are able to synthesize those distracting thoughts usefully and instead of becoming schizophrenic, they become creative geniuses. That might be why genius and madness seem linked. Both invole the inability or unwillingness to supress irrelevance, however only genius requires high intelligence:

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/10.23/01-creativity.html

Perhaps some people who were high IQ at their peak used their strange thoughts to become geniuses, but as their IQ declined those distracting thoughts became schizophrenic.

Some believe autism is the extreme opposite of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is extreme female brain while autism is extreme male brain:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200803/male-brain-vs-female-brain-ii-what-is-extreme-male-brain-w

By this logic autistics should seldom get distracted, focusing only on one topic (i.e. physics). This too perhaps leads to creative genius as many suspect Einstien was autistic.

Anonymous said...

You can find high functioning autistics talking about their condition at various places on the web. Very interesting!

josh said...

Re Chuck:"professedly asexual" I wonder if that explains Paula Poundstone,perhpas the least sexually enticing woman to ever draw breath?

eq_cho_9 said...

why should this be interesting to us? are you saying we're autistic??

acy said...

Another interesting thing about Grandin is that she used to be a religious believer but her faith disappeared after a physiological event, a fever. Not a psychologically traumatic illness IIRC.

acy said...

My son is on the autistic spectrum. When he was small he noticed details (his unusual interests) but did not integrate his visual world. Now that he is older he misses details - expects the forest to be static, and doesn't notice the squirrels going here and there.

Anonymous said...

Per James Bowery's theory of autism, she could've eaten too much Indian food when she was younger.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

"autism is extreme male brain"

Interesting. So that's why autism hits so few girls -- and why Ms. Grandin is so masculine-looking?

rob said...

Per James Bowery's theory of autism...

I've never met the dude or anything, but from his writing see pretty autistic. Stilted, awkward structure, repetitive phrases, and idiosyncratic topics.

keypusher said...

Mr. Anon said...

Hollywood always does such a good job matching the actor to the role.

Unfortunately, Nancy Culp is dead. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Kulp

But actors are frequently better looking than the real people they play. Shocking, I know.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure Jim Bowery's theory mentions Indian food, just that there is a very high correlation between the numbers of autistic children and the presence of Indians.

The family Im most familiar with who have autistic children have two boys, both autistic. Mum is white British, dad is partly Indian. Just an anecdote.

Uncle Peregrine said...

For once they could have gotten someone who was a great actress, but not attractive for the role and they pick Claire Danes.

Anonymous said...

Per James Bowery's theory of autism...

I've never met the dude or anything, but from his writing see pretty autistic. Stilted, awkward structure, repetitive phrases, and idiosyncratic topics.


That's what I thought too from reading his writings. But I've heard him interviewed a few times and he doesn't sound autistic at all. He sounds very normal actually, and I was surprised by this. He was interviewed by Jim Giles and on Majority Rights radio. They're available online if you want to check yourself.

He was a computer programmer, but also worked extensively in a leadership/management capacity, which further suggests that he probably isn't autistic.

Dannon said...

I believe Jim Bowery's theory of autism basically says that there is a very high ecological correlation between autism and Indian immigration/presence. I think he says that it is THE highest correlation among a large set of variables.

I'm not sure if he posits a specific cause, but I think he said that it could be poor Indian H1Bs or poor Indian restaurant workers who carry some kind of bug that they're adapted to but that causes autism in other populations.

Anonymous said...

Random bit: I found Temple Grandin's description of how she experiences the world and her theory that it is similar to how animals experience the world very reassuring after I gave birth. Women don't talk about this very much but it is very common for a postpartum woman to be tormented by imaginary scenarios in which gruesome things happen to the baby, triggered by visual stimuli. These feel incredibly strong, as if they are really happening, and are very visual. When I read Ms. Grandin's descriptions of her consciousness and her theories about it, I went, aha, I am experiencing pure animal consciousness. This is clearly how my brain works to make me keep the baby safe from threats - it scares me good and proper when there are potential threats. This was a lot more reassuring than thinking it was demons or mental illness!

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure if he posits a specific cause, but I think he said that it could be poor Indian H1Bs or poor Indian restaurant workers who carry some kind of bug..."

Basically it says that he got pushed out of his engineering job by Indian immigrants and he's really mad about it.

catperson said...

"Per James Bowery's theory of autism, she could've eaten too much Indian food when she was younger."

If there's any correlation between autism & Indian food, it's probably caused by the fact that a lot of Indians work in the high tech field, and a lot of autistics have parents who are good at math (male brain).

SFG said...

Here's my explanation for autism and Indians: the highly educated Indian immigrants, frequently programmers, go to places like Silicon Valley where autistic-ish computer programmers also correlate.

If Indians cause autism in whites, why don't they have more in England?

Dutch Boy said...

Relatively few autistics are of the Temple Grandin variety. Most are mentally-retarded and profoundly dysfunctional. This male brain stuff is hooey cooked up by the medical establishment to distract the public from the environmental causes of autism (including toxic substances in vaccines). Testosterone potentiates the toxicity, estrogen is protective, thus the 4:1 male to female disparity among autistics. In the old days, doctors of the Bruno Bettelheim school blamed autism on "refrigerator mothers" whose supposed lack of maternal affection caused their children's autism. Eventually, that theory was shown to be a crock. The male brain theory is just the latest version of pseudo-scientific hocus-pocus explanations for autism.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever noticed that the parents of autistic children tend to be strange? Is this due the rigors of having a child with this condition or is the child autistic because the parent is too old/too odd/too geneticly messed up?

Anonymous said...

a lot of Indians work in the high tech field, and a lot of autistics have parents who are good at math (male brain).

I mentioned the family I know of with autistic boys. He works in IT, she has a maths background, both bright.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever noticed that the parents of autistic children tend to be strange? Is this due the rigors of having a child with this condition or is the child autistic because the parent is too old/too odd/too geneticly messed up?

You probably only know professional class parents. Lower class parents of autistic kids aren't any more strange than anyone else.

Anonymous said...

I saw this woman on an Australian show 'Landline' and thought she was an idiot. Her groundbreaking ideas about stock handling are just common sense that any good farmer (or kid raised on a farm) knows.

She came across as a very attention seeking woman squawking about her autism to make her feel special.

Markku said...

I mentioned the family I know of with autistic boys. He works in IT, she has a maths background, both bright.

How old were they when they had their autistic children?

Anonymous said...

Some believe autism is the extreme opposite of schizophrenia.

Others believe psychopathy is the extreme opposite of autism.

catperson said...

"Others believe psychopathy is the extreme opposite of autism."

Really? Well if schizophrenia is arguabley the opposite of autism, then psychopaths might also have opposite traits since both schizophrenia and psychopathy are related to psychoticism.

My understanding is that autism and psychopathy are similar in that both fail to show empathy for others, however psychotics fail because they they lack the emotions to feel what others are feeling while autistics fail because they lack the intellectual ability to see the world from the perspective of others. That's not to imply that autistics are unintelligent, but rather they seem to lack a specific part of intelligence that is of great importance in social interaction.

Anonymous said...

Have any studies been done on the ages of autistic parents at the time of the child's birth?

Anonymous said...

Hippocampus and Neocortex communication being screwed up. Not vaccines, Global Warming, or the age of parents. That's the cause of the Autism epidemic IMHO.

David said...

>Have any studies been done on the ages of autistic parents at the time of the child's birth?<

Here's a recent news story.