Being Libertarian May Cause Autism


Thinking without all the distractions

Back in November in my column, "The Science of Libertarian Morality," I reported some recent research by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues that showed how libertarian moral thinking differed from that of standard issue liberals and conservatives. One particularly interesting aspect of their research was how libertarians scored on the Empathizer/Systemizer scale: 

Some of the more intriguing results reported in this study involve the Empathizer-Systemizer scale. The scale measures the tendency to empathize, defined as "the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion," and to systemize, or "the drive to analyze the variables in a system, and to derive the underlying rules that govern the behavior of the system." Libertarians are the only group that scored higher on systemizing than on empathizing—and they scored a lot higher. The authors go on to suggest that systemizing is "characteristic of the male brain, with very extreme scores indicating autism." They then add, "We might say that liberals have the most 'feminine' cognitive style, and libertarians the most 'masculine.'" They speculate that the "feminizing" of the Democratic Party in the 1970s may thus explain why libertarians moved into the Republican Party in the 1980s.

Based on my anecdotal experience, I have long had a personal opinion that autism correlates with having highly intelligent parents. In my view assortative mating accounts for an increasing rate of autism because after the 1960s more intelligent women got to go to college where they met and married similarly intelligent men. This tendency was especially strong among engineering and science students. Now, I can point to some research that bolsters this long held private opinion. 

In a new study, Simon Baron-Cohen, PhD, director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge and his colleagues compared the autism rates in three different regions in the Netherlands, Eindhoven, Haarlem, and Utrecht. Eindhoven is a center of the information technology industry in that country. As Medscape reports

Haarlem and Utrecht are similar in population and socioeconomic status but have far fewer jobs in IT and technology.

The study showed that the school reported rates of ADHD and dyspraxia were similar for all 3 areas, but the school-reported rates of autism were markedly higher in the Eindhoven region than in the other 2 regions.

In Eindhoven, the prevalence rate of autism was 2.3% (229 kids per 10,000), whereas in Haarlem it was 0.8% (84 per 10,000) and in Utrecht, 0.6% (57 per 10,000).

"These results are in line with the idea that in regions where parents gravitate towards jobs that involve strong 'systemizing,' such as the IT sector, there will be a higher rate of autism among their children, because the genes for autism may be expressed in first degree relatives as a talent in systemizing," Dr. Baron-Cohen said in a statement.

"The results also have implications for explaining how genes for autism may have persisted in the population gene pool, as some of these genes appear linked to adaptive, advantageous traits."

A 2010 study in California found a similar correlation: 

Adjusted for other covariates, the majority of areas of autism clustering were characterized by high parental education, e.g. relative risks >4 for college-graduate vs. nonhigh-school graduate parents.

Of course, there could be all kinds of confounders. One caution mentioned by critics and even the researchers themselves is that highly educated parents are more likely to seek services for their children which could boost the apparent autism rate. Still, it's nice to have my confirmation bias, well, confirmed. 


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  1. the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion

    Can we play “Spot the Weasel Word”?

    Plus, I must obtain a “Not Neurotypical” T-shirt. It will make a nice set with my “Poor Impulse Control” boxers.


    Well, Balloon-Juice doesn’t like the libertarian celebration over the creative destruction of Borders.

    The post itself is nothing more than a critique of how Amazon was given an unfair advantage with regards to the sales tax placed on Borders merchandise. But the comments should be delightful.

    1. I don’t understand how you people tolerate Balloon Juice and PZ Meyers.

      1. You know, I wonder if that has something to do with my crippling depression.

    2. Surprisingly, most of the comments are against the article and pro-Amazon.

      There is this, however, which I declare the thread winner:

      …the loss of Borders (and of “bricks and mortar” bookstores in general) reduces the opportunities for non-name writers and books with little or no publicity to gain notice and traction in the marketplace.

      How is this narrowing of options and opportunities “a beautiful thing,” again? If this is the free market at work, then the free market is dysfunctional and a detriment to the social good.

      If Borders ultimately failed due to a failure to adapt to changing market conditions (in other words, poor management), wouldn’t a functional “free market” find a way to correct Borders’ flaws, rather than eliminate it entirely?

      You heard it here first, folks: if any business fails, then that’s a market failure. Markets only work if every business always stays open forever.

      1. I wonder if we’ve found the only thing that socialists can’t live without…Noam Chomsky books at a discounted price, delivered to your door.

        The fucking madness a sales tax would cause!

        1. I’d always search for Murray Rothbard books. They never had any. Fuck them.

      2. If Borders ultimately failed due to a failure to adapt to changing market conditions (in other words, poor management), wouldn’t a functional “free market” find a way to correct Borders’ flaws, rather than eliminate it entirely?

        We are all so, so fucked.

        1. That’s the spirit!

        2. The free market did correct Border’s flaws.

          Whatever those flaws were, they aren’t bothering anybody now, are they?

          1. I also believe that the free market gave them plenty of warnings, which they failed to heed in time.

            We should give everyone at Borders a trophy for trying their best.

        3. Yes. We are all fucked. That’s the kind of thinking you get from the more “thoughtful” among us. That person probably went/goes to a good college and got/gets good grades. Or maybe it’s a professor.

          1. The E for effort campaign that began in our schools 40 yrs ago obviously is not working and needs to be expanded to the corporate world.

      3. educes the opportunities for non-name writers and books with little or no publicity to gain notice and traction in the marketplace.

        Even that fragment is bull-pucky. I’ve read more self-published authors on the Kindle then I ever would have in Borders or B&N.

        1. In the last year I have read two self-published books, and I didn’t buy either of them from any damn bricks-and-mortar.

      4. And he’s completely wrong on the first point too. Many unknown writers have become successful e-book authors, thanks to Amazon.

        1. I was going to point this out as well. But then again, nobody ever gave BJ commenters extra credit for thinking things through

      5. Borders stopped carrying no-name self-published authors 10+ years ago. If anything Amazon and it’s kindle store have done more for these guys than any brick & mortar store could do.

        1. How many truly successful ones can you name?

          1. Certainly not me.

    3. The comments are amazing. Some people point out that Borders was expensive, horribly managed and had terrible selection compared to Amazon, and they are basically shouted down by the “AMAZON IS THE REASON STATE GOVERNMENTS HAVE DEFICITS” crowd. I managed to make it 53 comments in before this: “Income taxes are the way to go. With a significantly higher rate on capital gains than earned income, because capital gains are not earned.” I had to quit before my brain caught on fire.

      1. There also seems to be the tacit assumption in the BJ thread that Borders locations will now be burned to the ground and their land excavated and then salted to prevent any other use being made of their assets for any reason ever.

        1. Nah, with any luck they’ll be replaced by Walmart.

    4. Balloon Juice, bleargh. Stopped paying attention in about 2004.

    5. Funny, because when Borders was new, liberals were pissed off about the creative destruction of small independent bookstores.

    6. Funny, because when Borders was new, liberals were pissed off about the creative destruction of small independent bookstores.

  3. OK, let’s all say it together “Correlation does not equal Causation.”

  4. BC: But causation does correlate.

    1. Once again, my t-shirt is relevant.

      It’s a very interesting study. Hopefully it doesn’t mean our kid (two IT professionals) is going to be autistic.

  5. Where’s Jennifer?

    She’s been diagnosing some of us with Asperger syndrome for years!

    1. A couple of years ago, someone provided a link to an Asperger diagnositic test (the test assumes the testee has Aspergers and tries to measure how severe). The link discussed how engineers and IT people tended to score high on the test.

      I think I nearly hit the maximum score. I would be drugged out of my mind if I was growing up as a kid in today’s schools.

        1. Scored a 10 on that one.

          1. Librarian == 10

            Engineer == 35

            1. Yeah, but all that means is I’m a terrible librarian. Austism and OCD are common professional traits, albeit the female expression of autism–extreme shyness and lack of personal hygiene–is more common than being good with numbers.

            2. 34. As usual, some of the questions I find total bullshit though. The one about “collecting information” for example. WTF does that mean? Does my cunieform tablet collection count? Or isn’t the goal of reading anything to retain some of it in memory, and therefore, “collect information”?

              1. It was about collecting information on categories of things. “Categories” is the key word. People with a preference for systematizing would be more categorical in their thinking.

              2. Based on this question, add 5 points.

            3. I’m an engineer and I got a 17. Guess that means I’m better at manipulating other engineers than engineering.

              1. Tell us the truth. You were drawn to engineering by the paycheck and not by the opportunity to solve problems, right 😉

              2. How else could you have gotten them to give you my score?

            4. Quit a couple questions in. Seemed boring, especially since I already know I’m at least a little Asperger-ish.

            5. 26, engineer.

              Now what I really want to know — who’s got the spreadsheet of all of our scores, with the mean and standard deviation?

            6. Lawyer, 25

          2. I got a 12. Does this mean I’m insane?

            1. Yes. We’ll ask to be locked up together.

              1. geez, I’dve predicted most here would at least me north of 30. How in the hell are yall libertarians with those chick-like scores?

                1. We libertarians are nothing if not contrarians. I reject your preconceived notions and substitute my own.

                2. 27. I still have balls, but I don’t categorize what type of balls I have.

              2. No. You’re clearly crazier than I am. By two points.

              3. Don’t drop the soap.

        2. I scored 21.

          But the house had blackjack. Darn.

        3. this software developer scored 26

          1. I scored 25.

            1. I pulled a 12… should I hand in my libertarian nerd card, or can I do some remedial blogging?

              1. Twelve is the best score. Only the best of people score twelve. Not ten. Not fourteen. Twelve.

                1. I’m an excellent driver.

            2. Accountant here, scored 25.

            3. 23 here.

              Interestingly, I think my answers would have scored me much higher in high school, and somewhat higher in college. I was probably borderline autistic when I was younger, but spent a lot of effort trying to socialize for career and personal gain.

              1. I would probably score much lower earlier in my life. I now work from home and lack a great deal of interpersonal communication as a result. It has in turn made me a bit more introspective and reclusive overall I think.

            4. 25 here. Interesting that they don’t care about the degree of the inclination on the test.

              1. I would think that the Myers Briggs tests would show a stronger correlation with libertarianism. As I recall, I scored out as a INTJ.

                1. That was another thread. Lots of INTJs and INTPs.

                2. Ron Bailey: ENTP

                  1. Ya, INTP. Although I think that shit is only one notch above horoscopes.

                    1. Whatever I am, I have learned that I’m pretty narcissistic. I could do these tests all day long and just think about what it is about me that makes me so me.

                  2. Sudden: also ENTP

                    1. Fiscal Meth: INTP

            5. Data analyst, I scored a 24.

            6. Data analyst, I scored a 24.

          2. I scored a 22.

            They’re saying the average in the control group was 16.4, and I know this is a really small sample, but it does seem to correlate with the idea that libertarians trend towards…

            I could just keep restating the obvious, but then people might think I was autistic!

            1. Could you repeat that? I wasn’t paying attention.

            2. I know this is a really small sample, but it does seem to correlate with the idea that libertarians trend towards…


          3. Shit.. 35 for me.

            1. people hater!

          4. I scored a 46. Is that a passing grade?
            fyi I got the same score a year or two ago. The eq sq test in the article? I got an eq of 9 and an sq of 100

            1. I think it means you might qualify for government subsidized medical care.

            2. Jesus. I just scored a 38. What’s the max, a 50?

              Thsi confirms my wife’s diagnosis, which also has other aspects not adequately captured by this test.

          5. Finance/Real Estate guy, and I scored a 16. But I am a walking contradiction anyways…

        4. Scored 11. Not surprising. Prefer the company of complete strangers to family members, and my only autistic like quality is that I hate to be touched while eating.

          1. Who likes being touched while they eat?

            1. Depends on what you’re eating 😉

              1. I don’t get it.

                1. Neither do I. But my job still sucks.

              2. Depends on who is touching you, and how they are touching you, and if they are eating you. =O

            2. For me, it’s a Neanderthal thing. Protecting my status as an alpha by not letting others sooth me in to letting them share my grub.

              I don’t think it is quite the same dynamic with most other people.

              1. As someone with a lot of Northern European ancestry, I intend to write Neanderthal in the race section of the next census.

                I wonder what kind of scholarships Neanderthal kids get? I have a child entering college this fall. After all, we’re just cavemen, and your world frightens and confuses us. So we need a lot of money–and I mean a lot–to overcome your Cro-Magnon barriers.

                1. We need a Neanderthal Awareness Month to help others understand us and appreciate our cultural contributions.

                  Like fire. You like that don’t you, people. Where do you think you got that? From some prissy Cro-Magnon painting his face up with berry starches to go out and play fight with his kinsmen? I don’t fucking think so!

                  1. Fucking Cro-Mag oppressors.

                2. I think technically we’re all African-Americans, if you go back far enough.

              2. “Protecting my status as an alpha by not letting others sooth me in to letting them share my grub.”

                That’s why I couldn’t possibly have Asperger syndrome!

                I know what people are thinking without even having to ask!

                For instance, if you didn’t want me to eat the french fries right off of your plate? Then you wouldn’t left them there. You would have eaten them all first!

                See? I empathize. I intuit.

                1. Cro-Mags steal our fries and rape our women.

                  1. We fucking invented “French” fries.

                  2. If you didn’t want me to ask your girlfriend out?

                    Then you wouldn’t have gone to the restroom.

                    1. “If you didn’t want me to ask your girlfriend out?

                      Then you wouldn’t have gone to the restroom.”

                      I notice these things…because I care.

                2. I Inuit.

        5. this computer geek scored 24.

          I have traits of Autism though – but don’t we all.

        6. Got a 30, also an IT “professional”.

        7. 25 here. I started out as a software developer. Now days I am not exactly sure what I do for a living, although I make a decent living.

          1. One more point. I wonder how these scores correlate with IQ. Just as a point of reference, my IQ is 143, at least it was when I took a test about twenty years ago. I am also very much a science geek, majored in computer science, math and chemistry in college.

            1. I wonder how these scores correlate with IQ. Just as a point of reference, my IQ is 143, at least it was when I took a test about twenty years ago.

              I know that feeling. If it is still up there in that range after all the shit I’ve done, I’d be more surprised that anybody.

        8. I don’t think that test makes a very good distinction between Asperger’s and social anxiety.

          Someone with Asperger’s has a hard time understanding what all the social shit means while someone with social anxiety knows very well what is going on and simply does not like it.

          I think I am more social anxious then i am Asperger’s.

          I could very well read a person’s face but i would never know because I don’t look at their face because of fear of what that face might tell me.

          1. Welcome to my world.

        9. 18 and I’m pretty systems oriented. Sometimes it fun to go out and party, sometimes people need to fuck off and leave me alone so I can get shit done.

          Is it really that difficult to prioritize both, but at different times?

        10. clocked a 30 on it

      1. Of course, if you were really autistic, you would have remembered the URL…

        1. So few people understand there is a difference between “can’t relate to other people” and “don’t want to relate to other people”.

          1. I could relate to that, but it just isn’t important enough to me to bother.

              1. That’s funny, ADHD. 🙂

      2. Do you remember where that test can be found?

      3. I don’t think I have Asperger, but there are people in my family who have been diagnosed with it formally, and there are others who exhibit pretty profoundly obvious Asperger type behavior…

        I suspect that it’s possible for people who wouldn’t exhibit those systems otherwise–to develop those behaviors even if they don’t have a genetic predisposition…

        So, for instance, say both your mother and your brother have Asperger syndrome but you don’t–as you develop socially to learn social cues and things, things you learn from your parents and siblings–it seems to me that someone could develop some Asperger like behaviors without actually having all the necessary genes.

        I imagine someone who was adopted as an infant by a mother who had Asperger syndrome would develop Asperger like symptoms–if the person who taught you social cues from infancy is someone with Asperger syndrome, I would think you would score high on a valid Asperger test regardless of whether you had a genetic link.

        1. I have an autistic older brother. When I read Tyler Cowen’s Creating Your Own Economy which addressed how traits of autism are both helpful in the modern economy and something which many people with formally diagnosed family members that are autistic demonstrate fascinating.

          Also, my fiance works with kids with autism, so I’m probably just a small extension of her work.

          1. Sudden,
            I had the same thought. Here’s Cowen talking about the book:

    2. She’s been diagnosing some of us with Asperger syndrome for years!

      Rather has been taking up the slack for her.

    3. Remember, it’s pronounced “Ass-burger.” Think about it long enough and you can smell and taste it.

  6. The authors go on to suggest that systemizing is “characteristic of the male brain, with very extreme scores indicating autism.”

    We have two – count them, TWO – unsubstantiated assertions following each other:

    One, that systemizing is a male characteristic, and
    Two, “extreme” scoring in systemizing is indicative of: autism!

    Talk about the non sequitur following the non sequitur!!!

    (What’s “extreme” in systemizing scoring? Is it like a 42-3 victory in football?)

    1. Apparently 88-22 is considered extreme.

      1. robc: My EQ/SQ score was a mere 26-64 and I, too, was scored as an Extreme Systemizer. The male test averages are 39-61.2 and the female averages are 48-51.7.

        1. So I’m more empathetic and less systemized than the average woman? I should grow me a nice big old set of moobs.

          1. Don’t forget the mangina.

        2. eq 9 and sq 100. what does that make me? do I care?

          1. eq/sq is 12/84. And predictably based on such a score, I analyzed where that placed me relative to my fellow men and relative to women. I’d be curious to see if there are any ethno-cultural trends there as well, for example latin men skewing towards eq more than the larger male population or scandanavian women skewing more towards sq than the larger women subset.

          2. what does that make me? do I care?

            That depends. Are you a self-absorbed narcissist who believes in bogus tests?

            1. I have the results to that one question test you just took. It says, Mr. Poopy Pants is a party pooper.

  7. 22/88

    Big shock there.

    1. The SQ test was twice as long as the EQ test, because only systemizers would put up with that bullshit.

      1. SQ Testee #4, handing in the test: “I also corrected a few typos in the question booklet.”

      2. Yeah, it was wearing me out. How many times do they want to ask the same basic question? Jeez.

        1. I wanted to organize their questions.

          Is it bonus points for systemization if the direction changes (do you vs do you not) annoyed you.

          1. It annoyed me too, but mostly because I didn’t want to spend that much time on it.

            Have you ever taken a MMPI-2? It does that, but there are 567 questions. But only maybe 9 raw categories of questions asked in that many different ways. Fuck, that was tedious. And it would be so easy to skew if you knew even a little bit about psychology.

            1. You dont have to know shit about psychology. You do have to be attentive to the questions. I have taken 3 mmpi’s in 30 years. The therapist always shake their heads and tell me nobody is that perfect. It is a poorly constructed test for some people.

              1. Did it say you were an ax-murderer? Because some girls think that’s hot.

                1. Hmmmm. Is it the hot ones? but seriously. I have always done my best to skew the results to make me appear to be jesus incarnate. They have to know I did it on purpose. That’s all they need to know about me.

                  1. My Messiah Complex is really quite simple.

                    1. I didnt say I was the messiah. Forcing the test to give that result doesnt get me in trouble as opposed to say, ax murderer. It does tell them that I am able to fuck with their test. They can make of that whatever they want. As can you.

                    2. Who was talking about you, bb? I was talking about my Messiah Complex.

                      For, Lo, I am The Way and The Light. Come unto Me and Know Eternal Love…

                    3. My bad SugarBear.

                    4. You are forgiven, My Child.

            2. Fuck, that was tedious. And it would be so easy to skew if you knew even a little bit about psychology.


              ‘Put the first thing that comes to your mind,’ they’ll tell you at the start, but how is that not going to skewer the result? I may have strolled in the test room, whistling, hands in my pockets, and ready to just answer the damn thing. Then they give that advice. I then become aware of the possibility of inauthentic action. Who knows how that may change the results?

    2. 11/118

      Let’s see someone top that!

      1. Extreme Systemizing: 6% of Males; and 0% of Females.

        I had to settle for a wife with OCD.

      2. 11/110, 43. DAMN!

      3. 21/55 – Extreme Systemizer? Seems fairly normal, even though my empathy is lower than average. But that’s my Dutch genes.

      4. 27/69. Extreme Systemizing!!

        kinnath, yours would have to be categorized as Ultra-Omega Systemizing.

        1. It’s partly a feature of the question set. I always felt an enormous sense of wonder with the world. Everything in nature fascinates me. And since becomming an engineer, I can’t pick up any new widget for the first time without critiquing the design. And yes, I tend to remeber the stuff that impresses me and compare it to other stuff that impressed me.

          Apparently, this is how you become an ultra-systemizer.

          1. I collect, categorize, and systemically organize my beer collection. I think that alone gained me about 20 points on the systemetizing questions.

            1. Do NOT fuck with my DVD collection.

            2. Do NOT fuck with my record collection.

          2. kinnath–I would have loved to have been an engineer, I really would have, but I happen to have one of the most undisciplined minds in the history of mankind. ADD is a royal bitch.

            Thusly, the world is safe from my many Unintentional Machines of Death.

            1. Lack of discipline doesn’t preclude success as an engineer. Every company needs a least one whack-job that can walk into a room, solve an impossible problem, and then head back to the chaos of his or her office.

              1. No shit. Intuition is vastly underrated in engineering. Yes, you have to be able to back it up with math and numbers. But sometimes, the design that doesn’t feel right isn’t right.

      5. 18/80 pretty avg round these parts I spose. To the average yob I still get to be XTREME though. Yeee!

    3. 41/89

      1. You are far too empathetic for libertarianism. Turn in your monocle immediately.

        1. I have read between the lines and I understand that you are joking and that you have a deep down feeling that I should keep my monocle.

        2. My wife compliments me with her 18 EQ

      2. 43/69

        I’m a bleeding heart extreme systemizer apparently.

        1. Only in the company of libertarians is that true. I doubt you would answer “strongly agree” to “often accused of being a bleeding heart.”

    4. Hmm. 15/81

  8. highly educated parents are more likely to seek services for their children which could boost the apparent autism rate

    Highly educated does not necessarily mean highly intelligent.

    I’ve known some highly educated people who were extremely stupid yet somehow adept at pleasing their instructors and thus getting good grades.

    1. Can you say MFA?

  9. In Eindhoven, the prevalence rate of autism was 2.3% (229 kids per 100,000), whereas in Haarlem it was 0.8% (84 per 100,000) and in Utrecht, 0.6% (57 per 10,000).

    When The Bell Curve +6Sigma Meet – a romance novel for the “ADHD” crowd.

  10. I scored a 20 on empathizing and a 98 on systemizing. HUGE. BALLS.

  11. I have long had a personal opinion that autism correlates with having highly intelligent parents.

    o hai!

    1. I have long had a personal opinion that vehement opposition to vaccines correlates with extreme stupidity.

    2. There are always outliers.

      1. Doug Flutie.

      2. There are also really smart people who believe really crazy shit.

  12. Under this metric, what is the “appropriate” response to emotions?

    1. Punch in the face, I think.

      But I may be thinking too systematic about it.

    2. Re: Au H2O,

      Under this metric, what is the “appropriate” response to emotions?

      Well, if you laugh out loud uncontrollably when your bathtub falls through the floor while filling it, that should be a proper response to ultimate frustration……..detailpage

  13. One caution mentioned by critics and even the researchers themselves is that highly educated parents are more likely to seek services for their children which could boost the apparent autism rate.

    Not to mention the Social Security payments for treatment and the “Special Education Program” budgets. Noooo, no incentives to misdiagnose out there! None!

    “Everybody is autistic now” – pay up, bitch!

  14. Libertarians are the only group that scored higher on systemizing than on empathizing?and they scored a lot higher.

    Yeah, we’re a bunch of really smart, neat and tidy curmudgeons!!!


  15. 12/77 … Wow, I’m an insensitive jerk. But of course you already knew that.

    1. 10/86 here, now put your bleeding heart away.

      1. 12/84, You’re a bastard, but sarcasmic is a sissy.

  16. 63/43.

    Who knew I was the cuddly one on the board?

    1. Sugar Aids.

      1. I am a big old bear, bearded and hairy and huggably soft.

        1. My favorite moment at a gay bar in Montreal last week was the French Canadian twink describing to me his ideal bear. Methinks you would have been the belle of the ball, all in touch with your emotions and shit.

          1. Yet another path not taken. [sigh]

          2. his ideal bear.

            I read that as beer and was confused why you said gay bar. All is clear now though.

            1. Not to me. I am just real confused.

              1. The nice lads at the gay bar could help you out with that.

          3. Please don’t squeeze the SugarFree.

  17. “…the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion…”

    Fuck you if you think you can test that.

    There’s no way we’ll agree on what constitutes an appropriate emotion.

    And absolutely no way to objectively determine which one of us is right.

    This is a new-ish definition, as far as I know. Empathy used to be defined only using the first half of that quote. But since often successfully identifying someone else’s thoughts and emotions would lead you to want to cave their skull in with a pipe, I guess they decided to change the definition.

    1. I do like the part about “the drive to”.

      In truth, most of the time, I could give fuck all what other people’s emotions and thoughts are.

      I reserve caring about that for a very select few people.

      1. The fact that I thought about the fiancee on some of those questions probably saved me from having 0 on empathy.

      2. ^^ this

        friends and family come first.

    2. Yeah, part of the questionaire was “Do you feel bad when you see people suffering on the news?” No, cause nine times out of ten they got fucked over by their own dumbass mistakes. “Do you feel bad when someone gets offended by something you said that you didn’t mean to be offensive?” No, because a) it wasnt meant to be offensive and b) sometimes truth is a brutal and cruel mistress.

      1. Sometimes people get offended by things that they have no right to be offended by.

        Just for example, when in a conversation with a bunch of sort of hippie-lefty friends, I brought up the fact that the Native Americans did such non-environmentally-harmonious things as runs herds of buffalo off of a cliff and burn woodland to clear the undergrowth for hunting purposes.

        They were scandalized that I’d dare suggest that Native Americans weren’t always environmental saints.

        1. being offended by facts is a very lefty trait.

        2. An old Greg Easterbrook article pointed out the many ways that tear in his eye chieftain is just so much sappy crap. Pretty much why so much archeological evidence exist for them is because they were messy, and had no qualms about leaving refuse wherever they pleased.

          1. They also wiped out all of the large animal species of the Americas thousands of years before Europeans got there. Did you know that North and S. America used to have elephants?

            They were hunted into extinction.


  18. 13/86

    I must now admit defeat to my wife and allow that yes, I probably am an insensitive asshole.

    1. The proper term is, I believe, social prick.

      1. You are being rude and you don’t even realize it.

        1. Subtract 5. I believe that puts you at 17

          1. 6/80 with a 32 on AQ test…but I already knew I was an a-hole.

    2. 37/77 – Is it sad that as I was doing the SQ test, I thought some of the questions were great ideas?

      I mean, as you’re sacking groceries at the checkout, sort the items by their location in the kitchen? Brilliant! I always just try to make the bags weigh the same

      1. I always try to pack them to make optimal use of the space, so I have the smallest number of bags possible.

        1. My modus is time efficiency. If the payout of doing something like that is none or less, I don’t bother. Three or four items in each bag at Audi’s; absolutely no sorting beyond making sure soft things don’t get squashed.

          1. The only things I make sure that are together are the frozen items and if possible the refrigerated stuff. I don’t care about the rest, other than the eggs and bread.

  19. Political tags ? such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth ? are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
    -Heinlein’s Lazarus Long

  20. 49/101. I always thought it was just curiosity about how the world worked, didn’t think it was autism or anything pathological.

    What I’d find interesting would be a loved one answering the test for you and comparing their perceptions of your personality with your own.

    1. You could get multiple loved ones to take the test and build a database of their answers and . . . . . . . . .

      1. Point taken

  21. Respondent Average EQ Average SQ Brain Type
    Males 39.0 61.2 Systemizing
    Females 48.0 51.7 Empathizing
    Your Score 12 110 Extreme Systemizing

    Apparently I am a hyperman.

    1. 11/118

      Brother Ben takes the Eq prize with a 9, but I still rule the SQ score 😉

      1. I think anything below 10 eq gets into the sociopath realm. The 100 sq compliments nicely the sociopathy.

        1. The 100+ eq means careful enough to not get caught.

          Which is why I, with my lowly 77 sq, have never acted on my near sociopathic 12 eq.

        2. sociopathy probably would fail to be measured by this test unless the person was actually mentally unstable. Sociopaths usually understand empathy better than most people.

          1. Is it a learned understanding of empathy? If so, is it learned so it can be used in manipulation of others?

            1. I once read a description of psychopathy that explained it as a complete lack of boundaries. Because the psychopath has no personal boundaries, then everyone else is them, or an external aspect of themselves. You have no empathy, sympathy or morality when dealing with yourself, those are interactions between individuals.

              1. thus making this scale essentially worthless to predicting sociopathy.

              2. I thought they had identified psychopathy as an inability to feel guilt.

                It’s sort of like, it’s not that you don’t know you did something technically wrong … you just don’t CARE.

                It has something to do with the amygdala, which also regulates fear. If you have diminished capacity to feel fear and guilt, you’re much more likely to harm people, and you’re less likely to be dissuaded by the threat of punishment.

            2. both systemicness and empathy are learned traits where certain cognitive leans determine the strength of each. Autism is characterized by an inability to learn empathy. But this test doesn’t test ones ability to understand empathy or systemicness. It just tests one’s desire to exercise it.

              1. Or rather it, tests how you feel about your emphathetic abilities.

                There could be lots of reasons why you might feel “socially inadequate” which have nothing to so with autism.

      2. I just scored 8/97. No wonder most conversations with my wife involve so much eye rolling.

        1. A new winner on the Eq score.

      3. I’m late to the party because I had to work. 7/98.

        I’m gonna go home and ask my wife if she thinks I’m a sociopath.

        1. How many orphans did you run over while driving home tonight?

        2. 6/80 but who gives a crap about what others think.

    2. Goddammit. My cocksucking VPN disconnected before I could see my SQ score but I think I was well on my way to something at least in the 80’s judging from people’s responses here. EQ was 21. Female fail?

      1. You just get perfecter and perfecter.

  22. Who decides what an “appropriate emotional response” is here? It’s not that I don’t know that a sad person would feel better if I offered them understanding and sympathy, it’s that I don’t necessarily always feel inclined to make them feel better.

    1. The test is basically asking what you believe should happen and can’t guage your actual response. Serial killers understand empathy and how to react socially in many cases (which is how they can function undetected), but obviously their empathy ends at social understanding and not accpetance.

      1. Serial killers are outstanding at reading people. That’s how they pick their targets.

        1. I consider myself to be very good at reading people. Not because I care about their feelings but because my mind picks up on so many tiny cues. It is an organizational thing to me. I notice nearly everything. I just don’t know what to do with the information.

          1. I just don’t know what to do with the information.

            You bury it in the crawlspace, silly.

          2. I’m convinced I am a sociopath, because not only can I pick up on it what a person is generally feeling reasonably well, I know how to cater my response to validate their feelings. The thing is I usually don’t because more often than not, and by a long shot, their feelings are not worthy of validation.

            1. Either that or your estimations are completely valid and you’re just surrounded by shitheads who aren’t worth consideration. Do you, by any chance, live in L.A.?

              1. You nailed it.

                1. Me too. I expect my extreme sociopathy to disappear in two weeks when I move to flyover country where people aren’t total pieces of shit. It’s hard not to make the hasty induction that all humans are trash when the population of L.A. is your sample.

                  1. I believe my test results would vary depending on my mood, the last time I gave had sex, or how many beers I had.

  23. An autism rate of 229 children per 100,000 is 0.23%, not 2.3%

    Herefordshire, England

    1. And even the .23% is dubious, because its essentially lumping a bunch of potential disorders into one group. Kind of like how every kid is apparently ADHD now too.

    2. NR: Actually, it’s typo that I copied from Medscape. It’s actually, 229 per 10,000 kids. Will fix. Thanks.

  24. Systemizing doesn’t mean you lack the ability to empathize, its that you believe that solutions come from systematic processes rather than empathetic ones. Autism is characterized by a lack of understanding how to empathize, so the default is essentially to systemize.

    If I understand social cues and can react appropriately, but don’t believe I need to be guided by my empathetic side, that doesn’t mean I’m autistic, that just means autistic people happen to share a characteristic of mine. It’s pure coorelation with no associated causation.

    I would also like to point out that most serial killers would score extremely high in the empathetic section. So are liberals all serial killers. The world must know!

    1. What would Hitler score? or Stalin?

      1. Hmm, I’d say hitler 40/90 thereabouts, stalin 2/60 thereabouts.

  25. 28/67 here, extreme systemizer. I suspect systemizers would be more likely than most people to take the test.

  26. 21 EQ/81 SQ. Maybe I should have a penis. Does anyone have one that they’re not using?

    “I’m not autistic. I’m just ignoring you because I can’t stand you.” — Jenny McCarthy’s kid

    1. Yes, but it’s old and shriveled.

      1. It’s okay. I like antiques.

    2. NOOOOOO!!!! We need more women that don’t particularly enjoy cuddling. It gives us hope.

    3. 111/2

      1. +111/2

    4. 21 EQ/81 SQ. Maybe I should have a penis. Does anyone have one that they’re not using?

      On this board that would depend highly on what counts as using. You might want to be clear that “using” and “abusing” are distinct concepts.

  27. Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen

    Ah yes, Sacha’s nerdy brother.

    1. Joking aside, they’re actually cousins.

  28. Interesting…I scored a 22.

    I have also taken several “right brain / left brain” tests and they always come out 50/50.

    Oh, well…at least I am having fun…I think…maybe not…yeah probably…whatever!


  29. 23/52 here.

    I’m not very social, but apparently not very organized either.

  30. I’m increasingly convinced that so-called “high functioning autism” really is nothing more than normal personality variation.

    A couple of hundred years ago a person who would today be regarded as “slightly autistic”, would most likely have simply been regarded as an “absent-minded professor” type. In all likelyhood, Issac Newton, along with a large number of 18th and 19th centurty scientists – the people who formulated most of the major scientific principles we use today – would probably have been branded with this label.

    The difference today is that we’ve rid society of formal systems of ettiquette. As a result people who aren’t innately adept at negotiating social scenes tend to get socially ostracized. You don’t have to be autistic to develop social phobias from being bullied as a child and excluded from adult society. But People who are on the more autistic end of the spectrum today are much more LIKELY to be bullied and isolated, and thus much more LIKELY to end up with much worse social phobias than they otherwise would.

    The formal systems of ettiquette that once existed provided some simple explicit rules, which not only included basic manners, but also required social inclusion, at least in the middle and upper classes. It didn’t matter if a man was a little odd, given to talking about mechanical toys and steam enginers, or whatever, he’d still get invited to parties because he was part of a good family, and his parents would arrange a marriage for him. So that guy might grow up slightly shy and develop an intese interest in math and science, but he wouldn’t grow up bullied and ostracized and an emotional wreck as a result.

    What is happening is not that we’re identifying a new disease. It’s that our social interactions have changed in ways that isolate people who are “different” more.

    1. I blame Hollywood

      1. Yeah, well, possibly mass communication has some sort of social-norm-reinforcing effect. There’s a much narrower standard of what is considered “normal”.

        I suspect before the age of television and movies, there was much more social tolerance for a wider variety of personality types.

    2. Can you explain what an ‘autistic’ person is like? Is it a replacement word for ‘retarded’ since that word’s out of style? Like is an autistic are disproportioned drooling idiot or what?

      I genuinely ask, this whole ‘autistic’ craze never existed when I was in school except in college when it became a big trend for pesudo-altruistic bimbos to dream of a career “working with autistic kids.” They made them sound like handicapped retards though, and of course the phrase “retard” has become considered uncouth over the past decade. Whats the skinny?

      1. The skinny is that you are handicapped and retarded.

      2. Usually autistic children are not retarded. Maybe very severe cases.

        The disease is generally associated with normal to high intelligence levels but an inability to communicate.

        So called “high functioning autism” or “Asperger’s” syndrome I think is a crock of shit. Not a real disorder at all.

  31. Well, I flunk: 16/43 Extreme Systematizing.

    1. i wonder what a 100/100 and a 0/0 would look like. Both I think would have to be on some sort of drugs.

      1. I think my 43 systematizing response is skewed by artistic ability.

        When I look at a building or a painting, or a bunch of trees and flowers, I’m generally trying to appreciate the aesthetic aspects of it. I’m critiquing it for artistic effect. Like the way the artist captures light. I noticed the similarity between Piss Christ and Kincade’s work right away.

        I put down “slightly agree” for looking at the painting’s technical aspects. If you have some sort of skill in some sort of artistic area, you generally do get a little more interested in how it’s constructed. A musician probably thinks a lot more about technical aspects of music. An engineer thinks a lot more about technical aspects of machines.

        1. As neither an artist nor an engineer, I feel I balance the aesthetic and construction aspects well. I’m always interested in how something is made, whether aesthetically pleasing or offputting, so that I can identify if the technique created the aesthetic or if the same technique could create an alternate aesthetic.

          1. I think the test kind of overdoes the “collecting” and “organizing” things bit, too.

            How many questions do you really need about whether people had stamp collections?

            You can be systematizing in way more sophisticated ways than making lists and collecting shit.

            I can sit and think about how incentives structure economic behavior all day. Does it mean I’m not a systematized because it doesn’t involve collections of objects and numerical lists?

  32. Now this test is just silly.

    “I can sense if I am intruding, even if the other person doesn’t tell me…”

    A person who truly lacked empathy would say STRONGLY AGREE, because they would falsely believe they always knew if they were intruding, even if they had no idea.

    Also, I answered STRONGLY AGREE because I already know I’m intruding in all situations and don’t need to ask.

    Somehow this test gave me a 41 and that has to be wrong.

    1. Some of the questions really needed a “How the fuck should I know?” option.

    2. A problem with the test, as I see it, is that it measures how you FEEL about your social abilities. It doesn’t provide an objective measure.

      A better test might provide examples of social situations and offer you a selection of responses to choose from. Maybe with a time limit so you can’t sit there and think about it for a while.

    3. Yep. That’s what I was thinking. Self-reporting your own social skills is an opportunity for self-affirming cluelessness. There’s definitely the “unknown unknown” factor coupled with the incompetence of those who think themselves competent.

      Even for those who consider themselves socially adept, do they really know when a shy and reserved person wants to enter a conversation? Or do they know when something has offended someone who otherwise keeps that to him or herself, especially in a social situation where everyone is just meeting each other? Only if you realize your own limitations will you check a modified version of your original answer. You’ve got to have been social in the first place to understand that there are inevitable gaps in reading people. If anything, “strong” agreement in response to most of the questions would actually betray a lack of nuance and social awareness than the act of agreeing or disagreeing in itself.

      37/43, 25 on BP’s test.

    4. I got a 41/90. I might have gotten higher on systemitizer but I’m too lazy to balance my own checkbook and make my wife do it. So I had to disagree with the household finance and shopping questions.

      I still think a lot of the EQ questions are silly, largely for Hazel’s reasons.

      1. 41/89. This is the most ironic comment thread I’ve ever seen. A bunch of compulsive systemizers/catagorizers criticizing a test, one designed to catagorize people by the extent of that compulsion, for not being systematic enough and for not catagorizing properly. We all know we’re doing it, we all know it’s hilarious and yet we can’t help it.

      2. Fluffy, the science is settled.

  33. Libertarians are the only group that scored higher on systemizing than on empathizing?and they scored a lot higher.

    Personally — and I suppose my being female is relevant here — I am a libertarian because I so strongly empathize with people, specifically those who suffer at the hands of authority.

    A few years ago, when my state was debating a medical marijuana law, I wrote a story about it for the alt-weekly where I worked at the time. So I spoke to a local paraplegic (and minor celebrity on the medical MJ circuit) who smoked to treat his muscle spasms, then called a politico who opposed legalizing medical marijuana, told her about the paraplegic guy, and asked her point-blank how long she thought he should stay in prison.

    She refused to answer, of course, being both too craven and too callous to see or admit these were actual human beings affected by her legislation and votes. But, here’s the point of my anecdote: when my article came out a lot of people seemed very impressed (IIRC, it was even linked here), and everyone — lefty, righty, libertariany — acted so amazed that I would ask such a question. Whereas I remain amazed that question doesn’t appear every damn time the issue of medical marijuana is raised. Seriously, why should “Hey, y’know, these are genuine human beings here” be considered a revelation? By anyone in any area of the political spectrum? People aren’t goddamned abstractions.

    1. Speaking for myself, anyway, I tend to think of medical marijuana as a backdoor means of legalization. If you can’t think of a good enough reason to get a prescription in California, then there are clinics you can go to where they’ll…more or you think of something!

      That is, I support medical marijuana because I see it as a back door route to the legalization of recreational use–which is why so many people oppose medical marijuana too! People become so accustomed to thinking of libertarians as being callous about the concerns of parents–wanting to keep yeswecannabis out of the hands of children, etc…

      And that’s a valid concern–but it is a concern I’m relatively less sympathetic to.

      Empathy is certainly in the eye of the beholder. When non-libertarians read your columns, or Balko’s columns too, they often get an empathetic view of some concern they’ve been conditioned to ignore. And I suspect the libertarian mind is harder to condition that way–which is why we’re so prone to take the more logic driven view…

      Like I said up top too, you’ve been speculating about various libertarians having Asperger syndrome around here for years! I think you referring to Jean Bart that way was the first time I’d ever heard the term. You’re the first person I think I ever heard mention that there seem to be a lot of libertarians with Asperger like symptoms crawling around the web.

      I’m not saying you’re wrong about us being empathetic too–we are in our own way–but I think this study is further evidence that you were right about that tendency all along.

      The people I’ve known with Asperger syndrome too–they aren’t psychopaths. They often feel terrible when they realize that what they said hurt somebody; it’s just that they often don’t realize that what they’re saying will hurt somebody until sometime long after they said it–if ever at all.

      1. Despite my 8/97 score, I think I’ve got a lot of empathy, just not for the same people most people feel empathy for. Actually, now that I think if it, I have no idea who most people feel empathy for. But I’ve certainly got some for Cory Maye, Jose Guerena, Susan Kelo…

        Can I assume the rest of you low-empathy-number folks feel the same way? If so, it’s not that we don’t have empathy. We just don’t have empathy for slinkies like rather or Max or OO.

        1. That’s just it though.

          Libertarians don’t always need a big droopy eyed bunny to empathize with!

          Hell, I came out against torturing terrorists! I didn’t care if they were guilty or not.

          That was always my…slight ambivalence…about some of Balko’s stories. A common theme in those stories was exposing innocent people being mistreated by the police or the judicial system–and there seemed to be an implication in there that we should only fret about the innocent.

          I’ll come out in public using my real name against the cops and the judicial system mistreating rapists and murderers–who really are guilty. I don’t need a big droopy-eyed bunny to feel empathy.

          But I understand that for whatever reason–most people do. …and that might explain why more of them aren’t libertarians.

          1. To be fair, I think Balko pursues stories about droopy-eyed bunny types because a lot of people have a fairly fucked up idea of justice. You don’t like torture on principle, but many many troglodytes feel some people just deserve to be tortured. Balko’s stories are about the innocent because even the troglodytes can see where that’s wrong.

            1. Exactly!

              Balko wasn’t just preaching to the choir! And Jennifer isn’t either. They’re writing for a general audience–which is way better if we want to spread the gospel.

              Libertarians may not need as much of that though–and that may be part of what’s limited our appeal in the past.

          2. I just watched a movie titled, “Unthinkable”. It’s about torturing a terrorist. It is worth watching.

      2. Perhaps the dichotomy should be “indiscriminate empathizers” and “discriminate empathizers.”

        1. I think we all discriminate to some extent.

          In Jennifer’s example, it’s like there’s the libertarians who empathize with quadriplegics in pain on the one hand, and then there’s the rest of the world, who are scared to death their kids are gonna squander their lives stoned and playin’ Xbox.

          I can talk myself into saying that legalization won’t necessarily translate into children having more access to cannabis, but any way you slice it, I’m really not as concerned about that aspect of the issue as I am with others. …the brutality and expense of the Drug War.

      3. You’re the first person I think I ever heard mention that there seem to be a lot of libertarians with Asperger like symptoms crawling around the web.

        I’m not saying you’re wrong about us being empathetic too–we are in our own way–but I think this study is further evidence that you were right about that tendency all along.

        Concerning the subset “self-described libertarians with lots of time to spend on the internet” (or, in the case of M’sieur Bart, “lots of time to obsess over ex-strippers encountered on internet comment boards”), maybe. But then, the internet’s anonymous nature likely lowers empathy across the board anyway; there’s certainly lots of folks who are much ruder online than they ever would be in person.

        But as for generic lower-case libertarianism as a whole — or lower-case left wing or right wing — I think there can be different ways to approach it, and different reasons to hold those beliefs. You can approach them empathetically or formulaically. I don’t elevate emotion over logic or reason, but I *do* strongly empathize with those made to suffer at the hands of those in power.

        1. Thinking more about it: pretty much every political group can be divided amongst those inspired by empathy and those who are not. One thing I’ve noticed — I’ve written in defense of sex-worker’s rights for a certain left-wing publication whose readers all would identify as “left of center and super-concerned with women’s rights and improving the lives of the poor.” Yet a lot of them also have a bigoted loathing of sex work and sex workers, and when I told the story of how I — a woman who used to be very poor — managed to become not-poor in part by dancing in clubs — many of them became utterly furious. One commenter outright told me she could respect a stripper driven to it by a drug addiction, or craploads of kids to care for, but could NEVER respect one like me, who did it merely because I wanted to improve my situation.

          Maybe it’s not even “empathy” that’s the issue, but “the ability to admit and handle the difference between real people and theoretical ones.” If you truly believe all sex workers are stupid and oppressed, how do you handle it when one suggests otherwise? Same question applies to drug warriors faced with real cancer patients.

        2. I *do* strongly empathize with those made to suffer at the hands of those in power.

          Cancer patient denied marijuana: tangible wrong.
          Pothead living in mom’s basement denied marijuana: tangible wrong.
          School kid who might smoke marijuana if it’s decriminalized: this is so intangible that I can’t even imagine what the problem is here.

          My capacity for empathy absolutely ends when we enter the realm of “what ifs.” Meantime, for the sake of the what ifs, real people suffer tangible harm at the hands of those in power.

    2. then called a politico who opposed legalizing medical marijuana, told her about the paraplegic guy, and asked her point-blank how long she thought he should stay in prison.

      Superb! I agree with you that every politician/drug warrior ought to be asked this question repeatedly.

  34. Alternate explanation:

    Smart people who pursue careers tend to delay having children.

    Eggs age.

    1. Or, older women has less estrogen in their system when pregnant.

    2. iirc, the correlation for autism goes with the age of the father more strongly than the age of the mother, but neither has much of an effect size. iirc.

  35. 28/68. It angers me that my systemizer number is Jaromir Jagr’s number. It also angers me that I wasted time on that. Twenty-eight certainly does not accurately reflect the high level of empathy I have for the time-sappers in orbit of my existence.

    1. The fact that your first instinct upon noting the systemizer number was to relate it to a hockey player indicates that you probably merit a higher systemizer number. Gretzky’s 99 suffice?

  36. What are the average empathizer/sympathizer scale scores of the libertarian population and autism population? Sample sizes? Are sample sizes sufficient to reach statistical significance? Is the research peer-reviewed? Any other supporting or conflicting evidences? Any identical twin research? Length of study?

    You can’t just write stuff and act like it’s science. Leave factual reporting to scientists.

    You talk like being logical is a genetic defect. As far as I and fellow men are concerned, being logical is MUCH better than being stupid and emotional

  37. I also tend to think that OVERALL, the grouping of various types of socially awkward people together on a spectrum leading to autism isn’t very logical.

    Most of the geeky intellectuals and technical people I have known who were socially awkward and isolated didn’t suffer from a lack of empathy. They just had a lot of experience with not being particularly liked within their peer group and they reacted defensively with shyness.

    The test respondent who says they don’t like parties because they’re not expecting anyone there to be particularly enthused by their presence is dramatically different from the person who doesn’t like parties because they are overcome by anxiety in groups because they can’t understand complex social interactions. But to an observer they might LOOK the same. And thus we end up with pretty significant overestimation of the prevalence of Asperger’s.

    1. Or, how about people who are not particularly liked in their peer group tend to get less experience dealing with social situations, which results in a growing developmental gap, where they end up less skilled and thus have more anxiety. It’s a vicious feedback loop. The more socially isolated you are, the less chance you have of developing social skills.

    2. I was thinking that as I answered some of the questions, i.e. I can empathize with people who seem genuinely empathetic, and not people who whine a lot, blame others, and tend to make 99% of their own problems — but that nuance is completely absent from any of the questions.

      The other big question I had while taking this test is, “So?” Assuming this test and the shrinks’ conclusions means that libertarians are hurtling toward the Asperger’s end of the spectrum, while nice, bleeding-heart liberals are not, how is this bad? There seems to be an underlying assumption that “mentally-healthy” is necessarily interchangeable with “responsive, liberal, gregarious, and empathetic.”

      What they’re terming “Asperger’s” on this spectrum can simply be, as you suggest, an aversion to A-Listers/populars/loudmouths/attention whores based on experience. A seeking of isolation or of smaller, more private social opportunities because youthful experience teaches that the popular kids are uncomfortable to be around, and add little relationship value.

      People can be perfectly mentally healthy, but prefer to be alone or in the company of smaller, more intimate groups. They can be perfectly mentally healthy, yet shy or quiet. They can be perfectly mentally healthy, and simply not care much for the company of other people. They can be perfectly mentally healthy, while absorbed in hobbies or professions that require minute attention to detail. I hate to break this news to you, amateur armchair psychologists of the world, but people who *gasp* collect things or *gasp* work in high-tech can be totally sane, decent, reasonable people.

      1. Well, it’s not the technical capacity or the collecting things.

        The view is that unless you are emotional, empathetic and compassionate towards total strangers there is something wrong with you.

        Which, when you think about it, isn’t a natural, adaptive human trait, but a modern, largely Christian-derived moral perspective.
        Feeling universal brotherly love isn’t something that people living in small hunter-gatherer groups generally do. The “normal” adaptive human trait is to care about your immediate relatives and people in you close social grouping.

        1. Very insightful comment!

    3. Yeah, but what about who just don’t like parties. period. I don’t like parties, although I do sometimes socialize because my wife LOVES parties. I don’t feel ostracized, I was never disliked, etc. I have always had a small handful of close friends. It is beyond my comprehension that anybody could possibly have lots of friends, I think such people don’t really understand friendship.

  38. Down here at the very bottom of the empathizer scale, I admit I’m clueless about the effects my actions and words have a lot of the time. I get some things now that I didn’t in the past simply by repeated exposure. Figuring out what’s going on with you meatsacks is doable, but it’s hard fucking work. It does not come easily or naturally to me, and it takes a lot of energy. Most of the time, I ain’t gonna work that hard.

    1. Me too. It’s mentally exhausting.

      On the other hand, once I started hanging out with other intellectual geeky types instead of trying to “fit in” with the “cool kids”, I found it a lot easier to emphathize and get along.

      Maybe not everyone is naturally adept at understanding everyone else. Maybe people who are more alike understand eachother better.

      After all, the “empathizers” seem to think that the “systematizers” are fucking incomprehensible aliens too.

      Has anyone come up with a test to see if “normal” people read the emotions of autistic spectrum people well?

  39. Starting the test, er

    6) It doesn’t bother me too much if I am late meeting a friend.

    I’m never late to meet friends, so how would I know how that plays out emotionally?

  40. 59/64 “balanced”

    Make of that what you will.

    1. what i would have predicted. you never take a definable position, even diagnosticly :-]

  41. In a conversation, I tend to focus on my own thoughts rather than on what my listener might be thinking.

    If the thought passing through my head is, ‘learn to fucking edit your story, already!’, that is still focused more on what they are thinking more than what I’m thinking, right?

  42. It is hard for me to see why some things upset people so much.

    Oh, no, that was the intended reaction. Meaness takes a degree of empathy to be pulled off correctly.

    I am good at predicting how someone will feel.

    Whoops, time to duck!

  43. 26) I do not enjoy games that involve a high degree of strategy (e.g. chess, Risk, Games Workshop).

    Hate playing Risk, and Monopoly with a passion, but I’m a good chess player. Chess can be a very gestalt oriented game, especially if you tend to be a defensive player.

  44. Based on my anecdotal experience, I have long had a personal opinion that autism correlates with having highly intelligent parents. In my view assortative mating accounts for an increasing rate of autism because after the 1960s more intelligent women got to go to college where they met and married similarly intelligent men. This tendency was especially strong among engineering and science students. Now, I can point to some research that bolsters this long held private opinion….Still, it’s nice to have my confirmation bias, well, confirmed.

    The confirmation bias comes out most strongly in the fact that you see the study supporting your opinion, which it doesn’t. You are conflating intelligence with systematizing.

    1. NM: You persist in your suspicions about me- I am not “conflating” at all – instead just correlating. Sometime you might consider checking your confirmation biases – or at least become aware of them.

      1. You’re being overly touchy on this one Ron. Neither study provides evidence that “autism correlates with having highly intelligent parents.”

  45. 13/93

    But I’m sure I was docked because I hate seeing animals in pain, and didn’t spend my childhood cutting worms in half. WTF was up with those questions?!

  46. final — 58/83


    Dude, taxes are, like, the highest form patriotism.

    Government is an addict. Debt is its drug of choice. Unfortunately, we continue to fund its habit because it threatens to hurt us if we don’t.

  48. I have no idea what to make of the Eq/Sq test — it’s not clear what its purpose is.

    But I understand the Asbergers test just fine. Its purpose is to evaluate the degree of the condition in someone that has already been diagnosed by other means. It was never meant to be predictive in nature.

    And it does produce humorous results when you give it to socially-awkward, technical people 😉

  49. scored a 25 and I am definately an ADD, serial entrepreneur who loves technology and systems who also reluctantly mangages a decent size company??


    I got 20/20 on the SQ/EQ whatever test…. what does that mean again? I like the fact that it sounds good for my vision…

    1. What it probably means is that i generally don’t give a rat’s ass and tend to mind my own business. Which I think is odd for ‘teh normals’, who seem compelled to intervene in almost any situation. Last night I’m reading my book and eating my dinner at the bar as usual and this woman demands to know what i’m reading, and why… like bill hicks once said, “Hey! What you readin for?”… and so I answer her question, and immediately see she’s not interested in the answer, but just wants to engage with someone because she can’t stand not talking or being paid attention to. I cut myself short and am just like, “its probably only interesting to me…which is why i’m reading it”. Probably the most accurate answer. I don’t understand people who can’t sit quietly and think whenever given the opportunity. Or find their own ways to amuse themselves. Its not like the world doesnt give us enough food for thought.

  51. Funny, I’m a libertarian with Asperger’s!

  52. Autism: The Eusocial Hominid Hypothesis

    ASDs (autism spectrum disorders) are hypothesized as one of many adaptive human cognitive variations that have been maintained in modern populations via multiple genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. Introgression from “archaic” hominids (adapted for less demanding social environments) is conjectured as the source of initial intraspecific heterogeneity because strict inclusive fitness does not adequately model the evolution of distinct, copy-number sensitive phenotypes within a freely reproducing population.

    Evidence is given of divergent encephalization and brain organization in the Neanderthal (including a ~1520 cc cranial capacity, larger than that of modern humans) to explain the origin of the autism subgroup characterized by abnormal brain growth.

    Autism and immune dysfunction are frequently comorbid. This supports an admixture model in light of the recent discovery that MHC alleles (genes linked to immune function, mate selection, neuronal “pruning,” etc.) found in most modern human populations come from “archaic” hominids.

    Mitochondrial dysfunction, differential fetal androgen exposure, lung abnormalities, and hypomethylation/CNV due to hybridization are also presented as evidence.

    The paper:

    A short video introduction:

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