On Being Smart and Stupid
"I'm incredibly smart and incredibly stupid."
Regarding stupid: I was at least 12 years old before I memorized
what order the months are in. Before then, I never even thought
there was much need to do so.
I consider myself to be a high-functioning autistic. Perhaps
even "savant". Oh heck... perhaps even an "Idiot Savant."
By nature, my mind just doesn't absorb what "everybody knows."
So I'm left to try to figure out the universe myself. I make an
assumption based on observations, which is pretty typical. But
then I try to make statistical estimates as to whether or not my
assumptions are consistant.
By nature, my thought processes are unusually objective, but I
also try very hard to find increasingly objective ways
of looking at things.
For example, when I was very young, my Dad explained the
basics of conservation of matter and energy.
Since then, when
figuring out all sorts of things in life,
I frequently ask myself about how energy and/or matter are being
From that, I figure how quickly a car can go around a corner, how well a toaster or refrigerator ought to work,
or whether I should walk through the woods or keep on the sidewalk.
Another example of this has to do with guns. When I first thought about the recoil caused by firing a gun, my
young mind spent quite some time being fascinated and confused.
The bullet was so much more likely to kill someone than the
recoil on the gun. Why, I asked. After all, they're both equal amounts of energy.
I assume most people find it incredibly obvious that you probably
want to be BEHIND the gun when it goes off.
Since my nature is
to not just assume things or simply use "common sense", my then-young
mind spent a lot of time thinking it over.
The answer, of course, lies largely with how the force is distributed;
whether a bullet cuts into flesh or whether a large padded handle presses
onto someone's hand.
Again, these may seem silly and trivial, or more to the point OBVIOUS.
But by thinking it out brings out more and more questions.
The bullet doing a lot of damage is largely because there is a "cutting
So that leads to trying to figure out just how and why that
In turn, it then leads to a better understand of how knives,
scissors, drills, and tearing paper works.
The gun handle not hurting the user leads to all sorts of questions
that relate to padding and force distribution. These questions point to
theories that have a
lot of implication with respect to protecting things such as oneself.
These "protecting" theories were then extremely useful in situations
such as "what should I do now that the car is already in a nasty skid
and it's now a issue of what/how I hit something, not whether-or-not
I hit something."
Back on the subject of "smarter AND dumber than most people" I've noticed
that when in emergency situations I've historically thought about minimizing
the damage much more than avoiding it.
Another big part of "extrapolating the world" is trying to keep some type
of statistical "running total" of how often I seem to be right or wrong.
The number of times I came out undamaged proved that my estimation of 'driving physics' is correct. However, in some conditions, I had to adjust my calculations accordingly.
My real point is that I tend to look at things very differently than most
Most people have at least as much "common sense" as I do. It's when most
people don't know how to do something that my unique view of the world is
likely to be really useful. :)