Most of the time my speech is 'normal', but occasionally I speak in a roundabout way, the opposite of what I mean and play the devil's advocate and other people just don't get me. I am sober while I speak like this. They consider me a weirdo and avoid me.
Oh dear, they think you are 'too Norwegian', whatever that is as a reason! How about the reason that not everyone enjoys a party?
This Christmas party analogy has reminded me of my corporate days when I did join in the drinking as it helped me to blend in. But my brain that is apparently unable to socialise, empathise or understand other people is the only one that spotted that there were a couple of people who didn't drink by choice and as such did not find the alcohol based activities much fun. So at my suggestion we started to socialise with different activities such as going bowling, going to the cinema, going to theatre shows, etc. The non-drinkers thought it was fantastic because they could finally do something that sought to include their needs rather than feeling peripheral and sloping off early because the conversation had become too drunken. Unfortunately I still struggled with the social aspect of those events too but at least felt part of it with a clear role as organiser.
Though I struggled I was pleased to have found something that could be more broadly enjoyed. When I read that autism meant you couldn't empathise and that this was a problem I was bewildered. Maybe I can't emphasise as such (the debatable point of this thread), but I can observe that people are uncomfortable when seemingly empathetic people are oblivious. I think that's a pretty good skill myself and one that is actually beneficial to the human social situation.
I think it differs depending on the person and the only way you can really know is to question what someone means. That's not always welcome and may not always be practical, but just understanding that someone else may have a different interpretation of something can be sufficient in some cases.
I don't feel that I understand the complexities of the theory of mind stuff. I saw the basic Sally Anne test to determine theory of mind and I can't get my head around how that test then demonstrates that someone cannot then understand that other people have different thoughts and perceptions. It seems a leap to me. There is an underlying perception with the test that if you give one answer it means this, and you give another answer it means that. The idea that there are only two possible outcomes to the test seems fundamentally flawed to me and relies on the person who designed the tests' perception of the world as being the one true perception of the world. If that perception is not universal then surely it is a flawed test because the assumptions cannot be stated as being categorically true.
So what is their understanding and what is ours? It could be anything and you can only try to gain an understanding by questioning the assumptions you have and asking someone what their understanding is.
This is why IQ tests are questionable, I think, in the sense of cultural specificity and educational background. I'm not sure that these tests can ever be truly neutral. When I took a Mensa IQ test, there were some mathematical questions that required more than either commonsense, logical reasoning or lateral thinking. With a body of mathematical knowledge that I didn't then possess, I would have scored higher.
katfish said:So what is their understanding and what is ours? It could be anything and you can only try to gain an understanding by questioning the assumptions you have and asking someone what their understanding is.
But what questions do you ask....and you have to be receptive to others first.....open mindedness is also another trait that is difficult to find.....
your points are very true and valid...
ElephantInTheRoom said:open mindedness is also another trait that is difficult to find.....
Yes. And whilst I have a quote from Spinoza on my desk which speaks of my intentions - 'I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them' - I struggle with that 'understanding' all the time on my bumpy road to enlightenment! I find certain political and spiritual positions very hard to comprehend, no matter how much I might take into consideration variations in people's genetic make-up, developmental environment and life experiences. One person born into straitened circumstances, and who benefits from the collective welfare of society, may grow up holding fast to certain political principles. Another person, similarly raised, may reject those principles altogether. On the other hand, someone born into affluence and privilege may renounce those entirely - or may be forgiven, perhaps, for not being able to understand the experiences of someone from the other end of the scale. So many variables! I do try hard to keep my mind open in that sense. But it isn't easy. I suppose, at least, I'm aware of this imperfection. Perhaps, as Socrates said (or was it Plato?), a wise man is one who knows that he knows nothing!
Agreed......I am also fully aware of all my many imperfections and the closed door of other minds...do those other minds need to be open to be read first!?
One of the ironies of the wider availability of information that the internet has brought us is that it has, in many ways, led people into even more entrenched and polarised positions than might have been the case before. I can understand this to some extent. My natural tendency is to be attracted to people and causes that accord with my own beliefs and world-view. It gives me a sense of security and common purpose - and it bolsters my already very fragile ego. Perhaps that's the same for everyone. But when you combine that with the factor of social distance that is inherent in internet exchanges, it makes it much easier for people to eschew 'rational discussion' in favour of indignant ranting and abuse. I've been guilty of it myself. It's the same thing as when you're in a car and someone cuts you up in traffic. What happens? You shout and swear, maybe shake your fists at them. Because you're safe in your car, and they can't touch you. If you were to get out of the car and face them, however, you'd probably be far more moderate in your tone. Okay... maybe not! But you see what I mean. I think this entrenchment is a very bad thing. We only progress through discussion, acknowledgement, compromise, understanding.... and eventual acceptance. That's the essence of humanity and civilisation. Unfortunately, I see more and more people taken the other option - because it's safer and easier. It also reflects, I think, in the way that certain institutions of higher education - supposed bastions of enquiry and discussion - will ban certain speakers for fear of 'upsetting' some students.
An unexamined life is not worth living......
Which was either Socrates or Plato, I can't remember which - and I'm not going to check on the internet, but just profess my ignorance!