‘The Pattern Seekers’: What autism can tell us about the evolutionary tipping point that made us human

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Credit: Simon Baron-Cohen
Credit: Simon Baron-Cohen
[In “The Pattern Seekers: How Autism Drives Human Invention,” psychologist Simon] Baron-Cohen argues that humans split off from all other animals to become the “scientific and technological masters of our planet” because we evolved a unique piece of mental equipment that he calls the Systemizing Mechanism… While everyone has a Systemizing Mechanism, it’s tuned especially high in people who are inventors and in those drawn to fields like science, engineering, music, competitive sports, high-level business and often, too, in people with autism.

Here’s how the mechanism works: Humans alone observe the world and ask questions that demand why, how and what… They use those patterns to build theories, which they then repeatedly test, looking always for systems to further employ and exploit.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

As Baron-Cohen describes it, the Systemizing Mechanism is so all-powerful, it explains evolutionary change, historic progress and individual excellence — including, for example, the ancient shift from simple to complex tool use, the invention of the light bulb and the late Kobe Bryant’s highly regimented training schedule. It’s true, all these scenarios can be described as looping sequences of if-and-then reasoning. But it’s a much greater leap to show that this is the main engine of evolution, or that it demonstrates how human brains work in real time, or that the two things have much in common.

Related article:  Fauci: “This phenomenon is quite real and extensive’. More needs to be done to treat COVID ‘long haulers’

[Editor’s note: Find “The Patter Seekers: How Autism Drives Human Invention” here.]

Read the original post

Outbreak Featured
Infographic: Gene transfer mystery — How 'antifreeze' genes jumped from one species to another without sex

Infographic: Gene transfer mystery — How ‘antifreeze’ genes jumped from one species to another without sex

It isn’t surprising... that herrings and smelts, two groups of fish that commonly roam the northernmost reaches of the Atlantic ...
a bee covered in pollen x

Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

First introduced in 1995, neonicotinoids ...
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
glp menu logo outlined

Get news on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.