Famous People with Aspergers

with evidence they have Aspergers

Scientists

Scientific discoveries are generally made by people who think for themselves rather than (or at least as well as) relying on received wisdom.  Since Aspergers (AS) makes communication with others more difficult, those with the condition have to rely more on their ability of original thought.  This may make it more likely that they will make an important discovery.  It may also make it harder for them to convince others that their work is correct, but the following four have valid claims to be the greatest four scientists in history:

Richard Feynman Albert Einstein Isaac Newton Galileo Galilei

Other great scientists give little evidence of AS.  Marie Curie and Enrico Fermi were both dedicated scientists who followed a determined course to accomplish great things, but I suggest that the spark of magic is not so present in these cases.  Most of the people I have worked with could be described as like these two but less intelligent.  I think my father and I could better be described as like Richard Feynman but less intelligent.

If it is true that the four greatest scientists in the last thousand years all had AS, there would seem to be considerable value in the idea of nurturing children with AS to reduce the risk that their problems will cause their talents to be wasted.  Unfortunately, the education systems around the world have become more and more standardized during the last century, and there is less and less chance of someone with AS reaching the point at which his talents are recognized.  Is this why no fundamental advance in basic physics has been made since string theory was first postulated around 1980?  Would any of the four have achieved anything if they had been subjected to current implementations of No Child Left Behind?

Those who doubt that these four (or other famous people with AS traits) really had AS often point out that many were popular as teenagers.  Feynman has pointed out that it did not seem that way to him, and that he considered he had to become a 'faker' to become popular.  In other words, he used sheer intellectual horsepower to mimic a 'normal' person, and did it so well that he became popular, the same way a female impersonator, consciously mimicking a woman, produces a more 'feminine' result than any real woman. I also suggest that the people mentioned on this page had unusual adult support during at least part of their childhood, thus helping them compensate for the more difficult aspects of AS.

There is one other unusual factor these four have in common: their academic careers had a gap during their early twenties.  I do not know the reason for Galileo's gap.  Newton's occurred because the university was shut down for two years because of the plague.  Einstein failed to get his doctorate on time because his department head considered him 'a lazy dog' and spent several years working as a patent clerk.  Feynman went off to do what he called engineering on the atomic bomb.  AS people report that one reason they get into conflict with their employers is that they need more 'down time' than average: was this extended 'down time' an essential part of the success of these AS people?

I knew James Sayers because I was briefly married to his daughter.  He was the most intelligent man I ever knew, but he was so shy that when he retired he moved to a farm in rural Northern Ireland.  He had grown up on this farm, which his family had later sold to outsiders.  As a teenager, he had designed and built a small hydroelectric generator for the farm.  When I visited him there, the dam and waterwheel were still there, but the dynamo had been sold.  How had he persuaded his father to back him on the generator?  I suspect that this paternal support was crucial for his later success.

This discussion of John Nash speaks for itself.  I am particularly interested in him because the little mathematical research I have done was an attempt to extend his work.

Vernon Smith

Leaders

I'm putting here anyone who decided that all or part of the world should be different, pushed for the change in relentless Aspergers style, and managed to acquire a significant following.  Whether this was done in the field of religion, politics, business, or whatever does not change the classification here.

Florence Nightingale.

Bill Gates more Bill Gates

Artists

I suspect that AS is associated with great art as it is with great science.  Unfortunately, I know even less about art than about science, so I'm hopelessly unqualified to construct this section.  If anyone knows of a site that has something that would fit here, let me know and I'll put in a link.  Or if anyone wants to write something here please email it to john-blackwell@caseint.com .

Meanwhile, I have not read this book myself yet, but it was recommended to me by a good friend, who also showed me this link.

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