A Proposal for Masonomics Fieldwork
By Arnold Kling
A comment on my last post on political dispositions:
The real reason people with high IQs lack common sense is neurological. You can’t be cerebral without sacrificing cunning. It takes real live brain matter to support each. Unless you’ve got a second brain hidden somewhere, you can’t get around this tradeoff. The extreme form of this can be seen in the autistic brain. While autism is just a behavioral profile at present, the brains of high-functioning autistic people have been studied enough to reveal a pattern of early abnormal overgrowth in areas implicated in the things autistic people do well: art, music, mathematics, etc. The price they pay is a corresponding undergrowth of the white matter linking the neocortex to the rest of the brain. (There are other abnormalities as well.) The neocortex is responsible for executive function, working memory, and generalization, among other things. Generalization is how we acquire biases. Autistic people are bad at this. That means they lack prejudice, which is what we call the biases we don’t like. The ones we like, we call common sense. If you want to get some idea of what the world would look like if we overcame bias, go to a group home for autistic adults.
Emphasis added. The last sentence sounds like a proposal for Robin Hanson to do fieldwork. Up until that point, it was sounding like Tyler Cowen, but Tyler does not leave anonymous comments here. By the way, I cannot vouch for the commenter’s knowledge of neuroscience. Given that both neuroscience and autism are both controversial fields, my guess is that there people who would dispute the commenter’s generalizations.