Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My mind to your mind

I was discussing a number of things with an online acquaintance the other day, and the subject became one about the fact that I am autistic. As I've already mentioned before, I take great pride in being autistic. It allows me to discern patterns quite well, my mind is more logical, and even what is considered the primary problem autistics have (social ineptitude), I consider a blessing.

There is, however, one thing that I feel I am missing out on: Visualization. According to Temple Grandin, people have three different ways of thinking. I am a pattern-based thinker, but my online acquaintance is exceptional in the realm of visual thinking.

As the discussion went on, I was reminded of an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (starting at about 6:15 in the video).

The way we think, as well as other aspects, cause each of us to see the world differently. If you saw the world as I do, but with your experience in your method of thought, you would likely not be able to make heads or tails of what you saw. There are many reasons for this: Autism, pattern-based thinking, Taoism, the way I was raised, and the combination of these things (as well as many other things that each have a small say in the way I see the world).

When you think of the sages, do you think any of them see or saw the world in any way similar to the way you see it? Jesus, Moses, and Mohammed. Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Siddhartha Gautama. The great sages of the West and the great sages of the East. Yet all of them saw the world differently than we did. Can we truly understand their words without also understanding their minds?

The way I see the world is very different than the way you see it, and that's a good thing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We often forget that people are human.

Think of a field that you are knowledgeable in. It could be anything, really. Now consider this: Do you know everything in that field?

I was discussing the Aspie Quiz a while back, and one of the people I was discussing it with dismissed it because of the fact that they had been tested for a number of things (including OCD and ADD), and the doctor doing the testing would know if they were autistic, not some quiz online. It actually reminded me of something an autistic had mentioned on Wrong Planet. He said that his doctor dismissed autism because of the fact that he was well-spoken.

Of course not all doctors are going to assume that sort of thing, but misconceptions about many things abound and it is a fallacy to believe something is true merely because a figure in authority says it. While doctors are more likely to be right in their particular specialty, they are not necessarily always right. In many fields (including medicine and psychology), students are taught to believe certain things to be absolutely true and without question. It is heresy to to question this. In addition to this, there is the possibility of remembering something wrong or just plain ignorance of something (such as a particular study or experience working differently for them than the average).

This same problem can be applied to religion, as well. Sages are wise, but not all-knowing. In many cases, it is better to listen to the advice of the sages. Sages are sages because they're wiser than you, and thus more likely to be correct. If you were wise like a sage, you would be a sage as well (and thus have no use for the title). However, I would suggest that you always keep in mind that things are not true because people say they are true. Things are true because they are true. It is really that simple (and yet oh so complex).

It is never a good idea to assume things based on the source. If action is required without the ability to properly know something, then it would probably be best to act as if the source is right. However, if given the opportunity to question the source's knowledge, I would suggest that you do it. This is why second opinions exist, after all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago. I have trouble killing insects, even by accident. This is not an issue for most people, but it is a major one for me. One person in that discussion suggested I get help, which confuses me. Why is compassion for other beings a bad thing? Shouldn't not having compassion be considered unhealthy? His response to this was that the majority of people don't have a problem with it. Majority is healthy, minority is unhealthy.

Now, if you don't have a problem with killing insects, that's fine. I don't think that you need to have compassion for insects to be a good person, but having compassion for them shouldn't be considered unhealthy.

One of the interesting aspects of being autistic is how logically my mind works, so I naturally have trouble when people use logical fallacies, such as his: Argumentum ad populum, or appealing to the majority.

What is all this doing in a blog about Taoism and autism? Well, because autistics are weird (very different from the majority), and thus are unhealthy. Instead of accepting the difference and displaying some humility of belief, many neurotypicals (and undiagnosed autistics) assume that autistics are unhealthy mentally. Naturally, a lot of this comes from misunderstanding autism as a whole, but much of it also comes from that logical fallacy.

On the Taoist side of things: Many of my individual beliefs are very bizarre to people. Some of those are from the Taoist beliefs. In a given situation, I am more likely to act differently than the average person. I am more likely to do what they would consider wrong. Because these are commonly held beliefs (and are featured often in popular media to be the correct belief), I can be labelled as a bad person. I have always strived to do what I believe is right, though. Just because most people think it's wrong, that doesn't make it wrong.

I can see myself making more posts about logical fallacies in the future. Many relate to autism, autism activism, and Taoism.


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