Not everyone can be Martin Luther King, Tyler Cowen posits in his recent philosophy book, Stubborn Attachments, but hints that those who can be will make a huge difference. How to know what to do… There’s a common sense morality that many of use that implies we do the best we can for our families and friends and acquaintances but, for instance, we don’t divert all of our time and resources to helping the extreme poor or to fighting climate change.
One trait that autistic thinking seems to have more than typical thinking is a stubborn focus. This focus borders on what typicals would find too difficult. It can manifest on an insistence on only doing something one way, for instance only drinking out of a certain cup but also an insistence on, say, fighting for the truth.
Autistic thinking can sometimes have a concrete consistent logic that defies the niceties of typical thinking - either social niceties or the (wilful) blindness that typicals exhibit - a tendency to tell the truth as they see it - for example “you are fat” as statement of fact or “we are destroying the planet”
Typicals obviously can display these traits, but I find it notable in the atypical population.
Perhaps, it is unsurprising to note Greta Thunberg, 16 years old is on the autistic spectrum (Asperger’s diagnosis) and is a climate activist.
She finds the lack of progress by the Davos’ elites as bewildering and the use of airplanes (and meat eating) by those professing to be combating climate change as inconsistent.
Thus displaying a consistent concrete logic by travelling by train, activist campaigns and turning her parents vegan. And with a disregard for Davos social niceties.
A recent CNN article on her advocacy at Davos:
“"Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we will have created, but that is not true, because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame," Thunberg said flatly. "Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular, have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people."
There was a short pause in the room before Bono started clapping.” (Full text here: https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/25/our-house-is-on-fire-greta-thunberg16-urges-leaders-to-act-on-climate
Her recent Washington post Op-ed
And her previous UN COP24 speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFkQSGyeCWg
My blog on Tyler Cowen’s Stubborn Attachments
My blog on Nassim Taleb on Climate risk:
A short hought on learnings form autism