As y’all know, I’m a big fan of Anonymous Conservative’s version of r/K selection theory. Briefly, the amount of free resources in an ecosystem determines the psychology of organisms inside it. Rabbits — the “r” part — are adapted to unlimited resource availability. Wolves – the K’s — are designed for highly competitive environments where resources are scarce.
Anonymous Conservative develops this into a theory of liberal behavior based on the amygdala, which seems to work extremely well (I lack the biology background to evaluate the science, but his book lays it all out in detail if you’re interested). I wonder if this can’t be expanded to cover autism as well.
Yesterday’s post was just a placeholder, so I didn’t bother to spell out my terms. When I hypothesize that liberals are autistic, I’m obviously not talking about a DSM-V compliant condition than any randomly chosen group of psychiatrists would agree upon. Autism is a spectrum disorder — there are greater and lesser degrees of impairment — and given the vast differences in people (differential development rates, etc.), you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who conclusively did or didn’t have “autism.” There’s also the issue of “Heisenberg indeterminacy” (for the pretentious) or “test bias” or what have you — the tests themselves are so odd, and the experience of getting poked and prodded by white lab coats so disorienting, that the testing process itself might cause false positives.
That said, consider this list. Sound familiar?
Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people. Liberals are famously averse to competition. They’re completely binary about awards — either all the children must receive prizes, or none. Their favorite sport is soccer, where it’s nearly impossible to tell who’s good, and games frequently end in 0-0 ties. Their other favorite athletic activity is distance running, where just finishing the race is the prize. Their interests, of course, must be vigorously policed, lest the wrong kind of fans come around, having the wrong kind of fun. Just cruise down to the Edits if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing (though you should; Correia has one of the all-time great vituperative styles).
Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty understanding another person’s feelings, such as pain or sorrow. Self-explanatory. If you don’t understand the other person’s perspective, you can’t share his feelings. Liberals demand “trigger warnings” on everything from blog posts to breakfast cereal, but don’t hesitate to sling the vilest, most hateful insults at people they disagree with. Ask a liberal about Clarence Thomas or Condi Rice, for instance; you’ll get stuff that would make Bull Connor blush.
Difficulty understanding their listener’s perspective. For example, a person with autism may not understand that someone is using humor. They may interpret the communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning. Liberal “communication,” even between liberals, is highly ritualized. For instance, I’ve noticed the heretofore-baffling tendency of folks in my college town to launch into political diatribes as conversation-starters. It’s not like they’re trying to convert me; they have no way of knowing I’m an apostate. The point seems to be a Two Minutes’ Hate, a bonding ritual. At least, I thought it was a bonding ritual…. but now I think it isn’t. It’s much more likely that they simply don’t communicate very well. Normal folks can use standard-issue small talk — hows about that weather? — as a springboard for further communication, because they can read their interlocutor and tailor the conversation accordingly. To the autistic, a bit of small talk about the weather is… a conversation about weather. Ranting about politics gives them the semblance of an emotional connection — we both hate George W. Bush! — without actually having to interpret the other person’s behavior.
Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autism often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously (echolalia). We’ve all seen this one over at Morgan’s, but it’s also very common among the Old Left, and in academia. Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language” is great on this.
modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don’t have to hunt about for the words; you also don’t have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry — when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech — it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.
Orwell thinks this is deliberate — “elimination of unreliable elements” is clean and sanitized; by using the phrase, you don’t have to think of people being “imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps,” which is what actually happens. It might have been deliberate back then — and still is, for Alinsky and the like — but I don’t think it is for the majority of liberals now. For them, it’s like a computer program — they can’t see the other guy’s perspective, so they really don’t know what this whole “religious freedom” thing could possibly mean. But they must respond, so they have a canned, focus-grouped phrase ready to parrot back. Cf. Vox Day’s “Gamma Identifier” — they have to use
“You seem to be saying” or its variants “It appears you are saying” or “So you’re claiming/telling me”
because those are the program’s triggers. They can’t grok what you’re actually saying, so they don’t know which canned response to use. They’ve got to shoehorn your words into one of their memorized templates (and you can almost hear them beating their heads against their desks in frustration when you don’t say your lines on cue).
Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and adults may be fascinated by video games, trading cards, or license plates. Goes without saying, but this does explain liberals’ well-known aversion to followup questions. They’re obsessed to the point of madness with the cause du jour, but once the Hivemind determines the new cause, the old cause will never be mentioned again. Intimately connected to
A need for sameness and routines. For example, a child with autism may always need to eat bread before salad and insist on driving the same route every day to school. As we all know, “diversity” really means “superficially different skin colors and sexual orientations, but exactly the same behaviors.” Connected to
Stereotyped behaviors. These may include body rocking and hand flapping. Or ironic facial hair, PBR, and the Daily Show.
Now, consider all this from the r/K perspective. For the rabbit, there is zero cost, and great potential benefit, to a “false positive” threat assessment. There’s no downside to running away from a false threat — since resources are unlimited — but failing to run from a real threat is death (rabbits, like most r-selectors, are a prey species). Why, then, should the human rabbit bother learning how to pick up social cues, or play nicely with others? Either “others” are a threat or they’re not, and either way the response is the same — run! The rabbit’s one social responsibility (if you can call it that) is to shriek, alerting the rest of the warren to a perceived possible threat.
Wolves, needless to say, work differently. They’re geared toward low-resource, high-risk environments. A wolf who runs from a false positive threat assessment doesn’t eat that day, so reading others’ behavior is crucial. Wolves can’t stray too far from reality, and they can’t abandon their pack (there is no such thing as a “lone wolf” in nature).
Psychologically, this is very similar to Morgan’s “architects vs. medicators” distinction. Anonymous Conservative’s r/K theory, on the other hand, makes these behaviors biological, not mental. The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to see it in biomechanical terms. Why the huge spike in autism diagnoses these last 50 years? Part of it is better awareness, the proliferation of psychiatry, etc…. but is it not at least possible that the seemingly unlimited resources available to Americans since the end of World War II has rewired this variant of the species in an r-direction? The Old Left — that is, the Marx-n-Mao brigades of the 1930s and 40s — had wacky ideas, but they retained at least a basic sense of reality. Walter Duranty knew he was lying. Do Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama know they’re lying? Do their supporters?
I honestly don’t know. It seems incredible that Hillary Clinton is still the presumptive Democratic nominee for president in 2016 — she should be in JAIL. It’s impossible that the vast majority of Americans — including lots of folks who can’t wait to pull the lever for her — don’t know about this. That’s messed up. Or is it? R-selectors don’t care, because hey, resources are plentiful and always will be. Hillary’s just getting hers; we’d do the same, think the rabbits, if we were in her position. Stuffing themselves to bursting is what all prey species do in nature, every chance they get.
If r-selection among Americans really has produced a higher number of autistics, lots of otherwise baffling liberal behaviors start to make sense.