Intriguing Theory. Full disclosure up front: I *am* Autistic, and thus these types of books tend to demand my attention as I attempt to understand my own mind and body. That noted, Baron-Cohen (no apparent relation to the actor of the same surname) here proposes a theory that those who are “high systemizers” – those he defines as people driven by a process many in programming will recognize as a version of Agile Programming – are the ones who have driven human innovation from the dawn of the species. It is a theory that has at least some degree of merit, but perhaps has a few weaknesses that the author omits – though he does make a point of discussing some competing theories, it is possible that there are other explanations that fit at least some of the data better according to Occam’s Razor. Still, he makes a repeated point that even those suspected of being Autistic should not seek a diagnosis unless their abilities are somehow causing problems, which is a point that many in the Autism literature – at least that which I have read – fail to make or even contradict, and for that reason alone this book is a refreshing change of pace. (It also opens with one of my favorite quotes, from The Imitation Game – the story of Alan Turing, the father of Computer Science and a suspected Autistic – that “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”)
Overall a a must-read book for those seeking to understand Autistics, as it really does make a lot of very solid points – points that were affecting me nearly as much as my first viewing of The Imitation Game. This is yet another one that I will absolutely be recommending those seeking to work with me professionally read, as it can give them many clues both how to understand me – and how to use me much more effectively. Very much recommended.
This review of The Pattern Seekers by Simon Baron-Cohen was originally written on July 8, 2020.