[extropy-chat] FWD [forteana] Mathematicians, Brains, Asperger's - and Fort

Terry W. Colvin fortean1 at mindspring.com
Sat Apr 16 04:25:18 UTC 2005

Matt Ridley brings together two (or three) subjects much
discussed in Fortean circles recently -  

"In the Mesolithic (around 50,000 years ago) human brains
averaged 1,468 cc (in females) and 1,567 cc (in males). Today the
numbers have fallen to 1,210 cc and 1,248 cc, and, even allowing
for some reduction in body weight, this seems to be a steep
[p. 35]

"Intriguingly, Asperger's children are often better than normal
at folk physics.
Not only are they frequently fascinated by mechanical things,
from light switches to aeroplanes, but they generally take an
engineering approach to the world, trying to understand the rules
by which things - and people - operate.
They frequently become precociously expert in factual knowledge
and mathematics.
They are also more than twice as likely to have fathers and
grandfathers who worked in engineering.
On a standard test of autistic tendencies, scientists generally
score higher than non-scientists and physicists and engineers
score higher than biologists.
Baron-Cohen says of one brilliant mathematician, a winner of the
Fields medal, who has Asperger's:`Empathy passes him by'"
[p. 61 "Nature Via Nurture" 2003 by Matt Ridley]  

Personally, don't care enough about people to take an Asperger's
test (joke!).

However, after long absence from any `academia' went back to some
"post-graduate" work a while ago and found everything (even
presentations before academic audiences) fairly `easy', almost
peurile compared with early struggles. Is that brain-shrinkage
accelerating in recent student generations?
Some might think the (continuously?) diminishing human brain is a
sign that an `experiment' - suggested by Alfred Russel Wallace
and more forcefully asserted by Charles Fort - is drawing (or
being brought) to a close.
["Google << Alfred Russel Wallace Charles Fort - I think we're
property >>]

Ray D

"Only a zit on the wart on the heinie of progress." Copyright 1992, Frank Rice

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA) < fortean1 at mindspring.com >
     Alternate: < fortean1 at msn.com >
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