Aspergers under white hoods

Dave proposes
Sara disposes
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3 responses to “Aspergers under white hoods

  1. Sara seems to lump scientists and engineers into a common group with respect to their worldview. She seems to say that this worldview somehow makes it easier for them to end up in hate groups. In my experience, scientists and engineers are two very different types.
    She also cites industrial psychologists’ studies that find scientists and engineers can suspend their emotions to consider problems dispassionately. I don’t understand how that makes them more likely to join hate groups when hate groups and related groups actually appeal almost exclusively to emotion.

  2. Mark, two things:
    One: Dave and I have both noticed (and commented on before) is the unique presence of a certain kind of gifted scientific mind among authoritarian religious and political groups. My argument is not that these guys (and they’re usually guys) don’t feel emotions. They do. But, to a greater degree than most people, they are very, very uncomfortable with them — to the point where they may have no acceptable means of expressing their feelings openly at all, and may not even be very much aware of their own emotional state.
    This leaves them with a huge load of frustration that needs to be projected onto something else. Since they also tend to be great at abstraction, they abstract themselves a shadow to hate. For guys who join hate groups, the emotion they feel most strongly (and thus have the strongest need to displace) is anger. The hated groups are the target for that externalized anger.
    Unfortunately, this emotional tangle does get into the intellectual works, and tends to warp a lot of other thinking as well.
    The effects of emotional repression have been understood since Freud; projection of hated parts of the self onto others has been understood since Jung; and the ways this translates into anti-social behavior has been understood since Hannah Arendt and Alice Miller. These are Psych 101 concepts with a lot of history behind them.
    Most mature scientific/technical personalities do find satisfactory ways of managing their emotional loads — some of which are unique to their type, others which aren’t. And the methods chosen depend a lot on the specific emotion being suppressed. Projection of self-loathing and anger onto a hated other is a pretty extreme one, and fortunately not terribly common.
    Two: Your opinion regarding the differences between scienists and engineers is not borne out by the research I cited, which considered the emotional processing styles of both and found no substantive differences. The cognitive styles and preferences may indeed be different. But the way they run their emotional lives is not.

  3. This is by now a dead horse, but I will leave one more comment: A study by some Lockheed (appeal to authority) psychologists means very little with regard to the difference between engineers and scientists. As one who is familiar with both, I can assure you that they are very different in their outlook on life, not just in their outlook on their profession. Engineers are not engaged in applied science. They are engaged in the contruction industry. Some use science, but those who do are scientists, not engineers.
    I remain unconvinced that your and Dave’s observations comprise any kind of statistically-valid assessment of the presence of scientists or engineers or other “intelligent” persons in hate groups. Perhaps you could cite a legitimate study to that effect. Otherwise, I point you to the old adage (old by now): the plural of anecdote is not data.