Two Essays You All Should Read

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 9.648% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

TIME magazine has this really fascinating essay on the rise of autism, which posits that the increasing rate of autism/asperger’s is due to societal factors and simple evolution.  To wit:

  • In the 1970s, women began getting math and science degrees in record numbers;
  • Marriage patterns changed so that people started meeting potential mates at work or school;
  • People began choosing marriage partners for themselves based on similar temperaments and interests, as opposed to arranged marriages or societal matches;
  • In the 1990s, the dot-com rise enabled tons of people with high IQs and low social skills to become well-off;
  • Bam!  A higher rate of self-selected autistics.

I’m not sure about the association between “smart nerds” and “Asperger’s/autism,” but in a way it’s something I’ve considered for a time; people with Asperger’s aren’t necessarily dysfunctional, merely dysfunctional in a society made of non-Asperger’s people who have different needs.  And if it is true, then what we have is a society that’s self-selecting itself towards a subculture. Food for thought, anyway.
The full essay is here, but it’s behind a register-wall.  I’d suggest BugMeNot.
Tim O’Reilly then pointed me at this rather magnificent essay: Why Amazon Can’t Make A Kindle In The USA.  It’s all about how money-saving outsourcing to foreign countries has left us with without the expertise to build the next generation of technology.  Money quote: “Decades of outsourcing manufacturing have left U.S. industry without the means to invent the next generation of high-tech products that are key to rebuilding its economy.”

1 Comment

  1. Evan
    Aug 23, 2011

    Actually, this is sort of a twist on a more mainstream theory in psychology, that states because of the increased number of career-driven women, people are getting married and settling down later in life, which leads to families ready to have kids closer to the end of their child-bearing years, which in turn leads to more chances of something going wrong (i.e. children being born with autism). Could be anything, though, frankly. Studying the incredibly dramatic increase in autism in just the past ten years is a little creepy. o.O

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