Monday, April 05, 2010

Create Your Own Economy, Tyler Cowen

Tyler Cowen's Create Your Own Economy argues that Asperger's syndrome and Autism are more common than most people realize, and that part of the reason is that people like Cowen gain more advantages than disadvantages from their condition. The overall point of the book is that we should treat neuro-diversity as an asset, both to society, and (for the neuro-diverse) to themselves.

The advantages that come with aspergers are a greater ability to focus, and to creatively find order in data, while the concomitant weakness is a lower ability to see the big picture. The condition is sometimes referred to as the autism spectrum, because there is such a variety of symptoms, but Cowen points out that both the strengths and weaknesses have a large and largely independent range. One of his repeated refrains is that finding ways to see the strengths has two beneficial effects--it both enables us to take better advantage of our personality quirks once we recognize them, and it encourages others to find the strengths hidden within the ways they see the world and develop them. So overall society benefits from people who think of themselves as differently-enabled rather than differently-disabled, and find ways to contribute and earn, rather than ways to get support and assistance from others.

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