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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Al Gore and Aspergers Syndrome

The post about famous people with Aspergers last month mentioned that Al Gore was included on a couple of lists of people with Aspergers. Seeing his name on the list was an eye-opening moment; the diagnosis makes perfect sense.

In 2000, press analyzed Gore's charisma-challenged personality by saying he was a beta male who hadn't yet learned to be alpha, as evidenced by his choice of earth-toned clothing. The press was wrong, as usual. Gore's problem had nothing to do with being cowed too easily, or a lack of self-esteem.

Gore was also described that election year as being a bit of "a wooden Indian," which was a lot closer to the mark. He's just awfully stiff. Even walking and gesturing don't seem to come naturally to him. He moves like someone who has just been taken out of a box.

Gore comes across like a robot who's learned how to act like a human being from a book. After painstaking study, he now does a passable imitation. But really, it's only just passable. (And the robot does seem inordinately proud of that second-rate imitation.)

Think of how he speaks, in that slow, slightly overemphatic, pedantic tone. He always sounds as if he's explaining something to a group of particularly backward third graders.

Another trait of people with Aspergers is that they are very rigid in their beliefs. While there are respected scientists on both sides of the global warming argument, Gore obviously believes in it as if it is established fact. And he gets becomes infuriated at anybody who doesn't believe in it -- as a true Aspie would.

Despite all of Gore's preaching, he himself lives in a sprawling house in Tennessee whose carbon footprint is famously twenty times that of the average citizen's house. He takes private planes and drives around in an SUV. Hypocrisy of course does not prove Aspergers, but tone deafness is an indicator. And being unaware of how you come across is one of the essential components of Aspergers. 

I once heard another Aspie say that her child had to go to the right school "in order to earn social skills." This is a prototypically Aspergerian belief, that learning the social niceties and how to get along with others is something that you would need a school to teach you. Normal people pick up social skills through trial and error wherever they grow up, and whomever they interact with. Only someone with Aspergers would believe that you have to be "taught" how to say hello, how are you, and so on.

Now that I think of it, a specialized school just for people with Aspergers actually wouldn't be such a bad idea. Such a school might teach its students to be less robotic, to recognize humor, to banter, to look people in the eye, to not have a meltdown when criticized, etc.

Al Gore would make a good student body president there.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're an ignorant ass.

Anonymous said...

You're an ignorant ass.

Anonymous said...

You are an ignorant ass.

John Craig said...

Anon --
A little repetitious, aren't we?

Nice, skillful rebuttal of the post. And thanks for illustrating my larger point about people with Aspergers.

(Okay if I just call you Al?)

Anonymous said...

You are an ignorant ass.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Not sure whether this time was a joke or the same person; hope it's the same person, and I sure hope that person's initials are A.G.

Anonymous said...

Wow - An interesting mix of fact, hypothesis, fiction, and anger against a handicapped population group. Does the author also like to vent anger against blind folks, people in wheelchairs, and other handicapped people?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous, being blind or deaf are PHYSICAL disabilities and are hardly the same thing as a disorder. Imagine comparing being deaf to having narcissistic personality disorder.

John Craig said...

Most recent Anon --
Thank you. You seem to be a lot more intelligent than the Anon who preceded you.

Steven said...

I actually found Al Gore charismatic and appealing in an inconvenient truth. Shame on me?

John Craig said...

Steven --
I never saw the movie, so I don't have an informed opinion. (But my guess is, yes!) I will make an effort to watch it, or at least a snippet of it, now though.

I've heard, btw, that the movie is full of convenient misdirection. (For instance, showing a river which has dried up and implying that it was due to environmental reasons when in fact it was mostly due to a dam being built upstream, that sort of thing.)

Steven said...

I watched it when I was a lot younger, about 22.

I did investigate the science of global warming once and after as rigorous an analysis a I could muster, I ended up coming to the conclusion that it was indeed as the human caused orthodoxy says so that's what I confidently believed for a while...at some point I heard that somebody I greatly respected said it wasn't true, which planted a seed of doubt in my mind that hasn't gone away.

John Craig said...

Steven --
I know that at 22 I was much more impressionable than I am now, as an old man. As far as global warming, I'm agnostic. It's an incredibly complicated issue, with a huge number of factors impinging on it, and I'm not an expert in any of those fields. I do know that most of the same people who believe in it with such fervor know noting more about science than I do, and I know that the media which promotes that agenda is dishonest about a lot of other things, so, naturally, this makes me suspicious. I also know that there were 72 Nobel Prize-winning scientists who signed a declaration that the media was spinning the global warming scenario misleadingly. On the other hand, humans have taken over this planet in an unprecedented way, we are changing its ecology for the worse, and common sense would say that we could well be having an effect. So I just don't know.

Mike McCroskery said...

What is the problem with Anon.?I have Asperger's Syndrome and I would be ecstatic if IF Al Gore does too. This line might show that if he does have AS he has a big ego for it "I invented the Internet" That line was just opinion and not meant to be taken serious.For those that haven't being able to get over him saying that ,I say"Get a life"

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid, I'd have to agree with the anon. You are an ignorant arse. As with most diagnoses across the entire Autism spectrum, many can not have all the traits and to go through them like it's a tick box is just wrong, which if you are too busy reading this and thinking of some smart arse reply, was what you were doing.

Furthermore, you are dealing in absolutes i.e. "Only someone with Aspergers", it's screaming ignorant and uninformed. I suggest you do some serious research into Aspergers Syndrome and come back with a better post.

And since you clearly have nothing better to do than reply to posts, I implore you to waste your time by replying to this post as I'll probably never see your post or your website ever again.

John Craig said...

Anon --
I love the way liberals like you never refute what I say about Gore (or anyone else), but merely call me names instead.

I may be an ignorant arse, but that's not much of a defense of Al Gore!

PS -- PLEASE don't go. I'll MISS you.

Manbearpig said...

You're an ignorant ass.

John Craig said...

Manbearpig --
And you are, let me guess, an Aspie.

(And not a particularly original one at that.)

Ian Jarrett said...

As someone who was diagnosed with Aspergers just three years ago at age 47, I find your article more than a little patronising.

Anonymous said...

If you look up a list of people known or suspected to have Aspergers you'll find the bulk of humanity's progress in various fields. Sure, there's insufferable Aspies who contribute jack shit beyond unwarranted narcissism (e.g. the writer of this blog), but it's a small price to pay to no longer be primates.

John Craig said...

Anonymous Aspie --
Your comment was a perfect illustration of Aspergers. You want to claim all of humanity's stars for your club, and you lash out at me for describing Aspies as they are. And then, the worst insult you can come up with is to call me an Aspie with "unwarranted narcissism." Projecting much?

I actually think I'll take your comment and turn it into a post.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between the list of famous aspergians of the past and the present.
In the past they wanted to show a person could achieve success in spite of their disorder (which is actually a noble goal). They did go overboard with claiming einstein and washington were aspies (though I do believe Al Gore and Bernard Montgomerry were aspies, they had success in spite of their disability).

The modern day lists are claiming they achieved success due to their disability (which is bullcrap, we should be encouraging people with aspergers to find success in spite of their handicaps and learn to function better with education and therapy instead of this mental illness denial).

John Craig said...

Anon --
Great points, though I think it's possible Einstein was an Aspie.

I also dislike the concept of seeing Aspergers sufferers as being "differently abled," or whatever terminology they use. It's a syndrome, and one that handicaps people socially and emotionally. And a guy like Gore did achieve success despite it, not because of it; there's no way that being an Aspie is an advantage in politics. That said, there are fields, like the sciences, where being an Aspie might help one focus. (Being obsessive does have SOME upsides.)

Anonymous said...

Hey John, I stumbled upon one of those guys who keeps diagnosing people with Aspergers/Autism, he is probably behind many of those lists. I want some help wrapping my head around what kind of guy he is since I can't figure it out.

He is a neurodiversity supporter, a rabid one, but on the other hand he has written books about "criminal autistic psychopathy", a new term he wants inserted into the diagnostic manuals, and has diagnosed many criminals with it.
This is a slide I found he made:
http://www.richmond.org.mt/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Prof.-Michael-Fritzgerald-Developmental-Disorder-and-Autistic-Spectrum-Disorder.pdf

He has so far "diagnosed" Hitler, Charles De Gaulle, Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh, Charles Darwin, Harold Shipman, HG Wells, George Orwell, Thomas Jefferson, Nikola Tesla, Mr Spock (yes he diagnosed a fictional character), and WB Yeats, and about 1000 other people with it. His name is Michael Fitzgerald. I decided to find a video of this guy because I kept wondering "Is he smoking something? What does this kind of guy sound like when he talks?"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIFex4cOjCs
A little wooden, while he is Irish his accent is strange to me. I watched other videos to check, and he is like that in the rest. His writing is unprofessional too and poorly punctuated, and he frequently doesn't cite at all, he inserts his own opinions often, or quotes somebody but rephrases it without giving source material. He writes his papers in first person, and usually just lists all the material he read before writing something at the end of his papers, and leaves it at that.

Yet this guy is taken seriously. He reminds me of that Muslim Arabic linguist who keeps publishing papers on how English, Chinese, and Spanish are all descended from Arabic, and how native Americans used Arabic as a holy language, yet he is a fully paid academic. There are people who really are accepted into academic circles despite making a layman easily go "What the hell? Really?"

So I want to ask, what do you think is with him? Or is he just a normal person, and a regular guy really does think he can diagnose Ted Bundy and Charles De Gaulle with ASD while churning out poorly written paper after paper? Maybe he is just doing it for money, it's all a con, but he has hardly any charisma when he writes and none I detect in his videos, he doesn't strike me as a conman.

Is he on the spectrum too? I feel some doubt, if he just kept diagnosing famous people with it, I may suspect something, but he did diagnose Bundy and McVeigh and write a book titled "Criminal Autistic Psychopathy", why would he want to do that if he was also ASD?

I don't know...

-Ga

John Craig said...

Ga --
I tried to get that youtube video four times, but it wouldn't come up. But my initial reaction was, there's probably a lot of projection going on here. From your description, it sounds as if Fitzgerald is on the spectrum himself.

I sometimes think being a professor is good "cover" for an Aspie, as professors are a little like artists in that they're *expected* to be a little offbeat, the type who march to their own drummer, etc.

And that list of people makes no sense. Thomas Jefferson is in the same category as Harold Shipman? Ridiculous. He's grouped serial killers like Shipman and Bundy with people who aren't even sociopaths, like Tesla (who was unquestionably autistic, and OCD), and George Orwell, who was also obviously not sociopathic (sociopaths generally aren't content to sit alone in a room and write, nor are they truly creative).

Just goes to show how clueless academics can be.

Anonymous said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vSbas-1X-w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETNtH4VmCr0
These videos may work.
He talks the exact same way and makes the same faces in all videos I've seen of him.

He seems strange.

What impression do you get?

-Ga

John Craig said...

Ga --
Just watched the one about how he supports Planet Aspergers. He's a weird-looking guy, sort of looks grandmotherly, and he has a number of strange tics as well, he can't seem to keep is eyebrows still. I'm not sure what to say. It could certainly be Aspergers, but it could be some nervous condition as well, not sure what the diagnosis would be. But given his focus on Aspergers, that would be my first suspicion.

I've known several Aspies and none of them had tics like that.

Anonymous said...

Adding to the list of people many people can't figure out what they have, or at least if they have something, they still don't fit neatly:

-Alex Jones (Is he smoking something? His ex-wife said he was unstable, and he believes Obama has the presence of Satan in her. No, Obama doesn't need Satans help, people can do things without Satan telling them to!)
-Hitler (Hysteria maybe, thats what they all said in the 40s. Father was abusive, mother was loving, does that place him in some weird twisted personality mishap? A malignant histrionic/hysteric guy?)
-Kim Jong Un (Maybe he is just a fat bastard with too much time on his hands, and is so immature he can't inhibit himself from doing cruel things with his power, like any 5 year old would.)
-My uncle who believes in Aliens and the Cabal and spirit channeling, conspiracies, loves UFO sightings, claims to have seen a real Ghost in Cambodia in a hotel
-A bank manager I met who seems to speak weird "I need you to sign this, so we can send it, so please you need to sign this because they need to get it when we send it but you need to sign it...", one of his eyes was always half closed and the same side of his face was not moving, arm on same side of his body was almost frozen (Stroke?)
-Vladimir Putin (I already went in circles about him)
-Rami Malek (he talks in real life the way he does in Mr. Robot, he sounds kinda flat, and his face is usually flat, looks awkward when he smiles or shows expressions)
-People who always look half asleep and speak slowly, half stoned. I've seen people like this, they are like "sup....hey...", like Benicio Del Toro's characters in some of his movies, or Snoop Dog (I know he smokes a lot of weed, but plenty of people don't look stoned 24/7 even if they use tons of weed).
-Nicholas Cage (maybe just eccentric, but he plays himself in almost every movie. He is one of my favorite actors for very strange reasons, or maybe he is just a regular guy who was so bad at acting that it was unintentionally good, or does he know that and keep up his weird way)
-Charles Manson (He is obviously a psychopath, but he also seemed schizo, I saw your article on his son and it says he has it, so maybe he inherited it from his father? But good manipulation requires intact abilities so not too severe?)
-Jeffrey Dahmer (Psychopath too, maybe is on the autism spectrum, not intelligent, he is "slow" from maybe inbreeding? Dunno)
-Adam Lanza (Autistic obviously, but his behavior was noted by his brother to have changed in puberty, he acted more bizarre and irritable. But It's is not unheard of for some ASD patients to experience some further mental change in young adulthood...maybe he has a unique case? Some deterioration?)
-Omar Mateen (yes he was a muslim fanatic, but his wife said he was depressed a lot, thought he was bipolar, and he was quite effeminate in some of his pictures. I don't think you can diagnose bipolar from the word of one person, but I do now wonder if some terrorists have something, I hear it is common for people with neurological conditions to be turned into suicide bombers, there was a bomber who was later found to have been diagnosed with schizoaffective and been in and out of hospitals many times, and I think I read about a white autistic kid in scandinavia trying to join ISIS and another white autist trying to do the same thing in some other western countr)
-Jar Jar Binks (Is he just really really stupid? But look up the "Darth Jar Jar" theory, maybe there is more than what seems)

I think I will stop here. I think anyone would need a book to list everyone they've ever meet or seen who seems "different" but have no idea what the hell they have or what else is going on if they have one thing already.

-Ga

John Craig said...

Ga --
Good list. I can't figure a lot of those people out either. Alex Jones, Hitler, and KJU are all mysteries. Something is wrong, but it doesn't fit an identifiable pattern.

I hope your uncle isn't hallucinating about the $100,000 he's going to leave you either.

Putin, good question. I read a report once that the CIA had supposedly analyze him as having Aspergers, but I don't buy that at all. He seems to me to be exceptionally sly, and successfully manipulative, the opposite of an Aspie.

Mateen, good question. I'm not a Star Wars fan, so have never seen Jar Jar Binks. (And I wouldn't mix in a silly fictional character like that if I were you.)

Anonymous said...

Putin is not a malignant person, he is austere for someone with as much power as himself, and he looks like he gives a shit really about the world. I don't think he is a narcissist or psychopath. That's what is so confusing. I suspect some developmental problems, not aspergers or retardation, but his motor movements show signs of childhood problems. I read the actual pentagon report. Don't think it is fullblown autism or aspergers, but I do believe some abnormalities.

Remember, he may have something that isn't recognized yet or may not be for another 100 years. People didn't know polio existed 200 years ago, they just thought is was random creeping paralysis.

-Ga

Anonymous said...

https://zh.scribd.com/document/254718657/2008-Putin-Study
This is it. Reading it, I suspect some slight disorder in his development.
Everyone has small quirks in them. In this case, if Putin has any some small dash of "autismus" (as coined by Bluerler), it's not enough for a regular diagnosis.

Everybody has stuff swimming inside them. Nobody is normal. Some people have disorders where it's detrimental. If it's not detrimental, there isn't a disorder, but everyone is still an individual even without one.

Putin I think, if the report is based on true evidence (not fabricated or unreliable accounts), would have some hints of developmental disorder, PDD-NOS at most, or just small hints of some developmental condition that he's partially recovered from.

You cannot breed out numerous conditions: schizophrenia, bipolar, autism, OCD, ADHD, depression, parkinsons, alzheimers. We would have gotten rid of them all in the past 250,000 by now. They are a price we pay for complex human evolution, they come and go. Popping up, then laying dormant. Genetic? Yes, but like being gay is genetic (sorta), not like blonde hair or green eyes genetic.

Hints of everything are swimming around in every human. Everyone has their phenotype. What is a normal person anyway? Everybody has their private life and uniqueness.

But enough of that:
What is Putin's non-organic condition? If he has one. The report elaborates little on his character outside the organic, that is, what is his character.
I can't figure that out either!

Ah crap, went in a circle again!

-Ga

John Craig said...

Ga --
I never saw Putin as malignant either, despite his GB background, in fact have always had a grudging admiration for him. I don't buy that Pentagon report; I think that the military psychologists/psychiatrists felt some pressure to come up with *some* diagnosis the would be less than flattering to Putin, and so that's what they came up with. I think it would be very hard for an Aspie to climb through the ranks at a place like the KGB and hold onto power the way he has.

You're right, nobody is "normal." Get to know anybody well enough and you'll see the quirks.

Anonymous said...

I wanna add another to that list, Elliot Rodger, not his diagnosis, we are all pretty sure he was on the spectrum. BUT his sexuality! That, I cannot figure out.

I also recall your distinction between "aspies" and "autistics", Aspies imply being not heavily disabled but are autistic, autistic implies disability and troubles, and that got me wondering where I fit. I guess im closer to autistic than aspie since I have trouble with cognitive tasks and learning disabilities, difficulty with speech, have unexplainable comorbidities.

I am passive symptom heavy, lots of cognitive problems, poor memory, difficulty with vocabulary, obsessive behaviour which I am self aware of and feel distress when repressing, irritability, flattened emotions at times followed by bursts of random feelings, anxiety, clumsiness.

Though I am much lighter on the stereotypical symptoms such as meltdowns (I don't have meltdowns, I dont bang my head or scream out loud in public over getting the wrong meat in my sandwich), I do burnout and am prone to mental breakdown rather. or handflapping but in private i do find myself randomly repeating an action like twitching a finger or repeating a phrase or speaking a random sentence to nobody ("I saw a car on the roof of my trousers...wait why did I say that?") which my mom sometimes asks "What are you saying?" when she walks in on me, i suppress it in public.

My mental flexibility is normal, but inhibition is poor, normally its flipped for ASD.

My social skills are kinda a mess, my testing shows I have compared to other people on the spectrum more mental awareness and a stronger theory of mind but at the cost of paranoia. I can be naive at times but since I have some basic understanding of other people's existence of thought yet lack an ability to infer, I can be argumentive and defensive. I know they can read me but I cannot read them. If I were more ignorant, less self aware, and naive ironically, I would feel better off. I am clueless but I know I am.

And there is stuff I do or have that none of my conditions explains. I said to my psych "some of this stuff i told you, it's not autism, adhd, depression, or anxiety, what is it?" She was honest and said "That's true, I don't know what it is, I'll admit we professionals don't always have answers", I admired her honesty, many other professionals I met believed they had an explanation for everything, or outright denied what I told them exists if they couldn't figure it out.

I am not just weird or different among regular people, I am unusually among ASD. I don't fit in with aspies or other autistic people I've seen maybe except 1 or 2. I am weird among them. I am alone. Where can I find people to relate to? I am just too different compared to EVERYONE I think.

-Ga

John Craig said...

Ga --
I don't know what to tell you. I've said before, you don't come across as either Aspergery or autistic in your comments (most of the time). Maybe your high IQ simply disguises it better. (I know someone else like that.) And you say you have a poor memory, but you seemed surprised the other day when I didn't remember that you had told me about the Kaczynski/CIA connection previously. Maybe you expect too much of your own memory. We all forget things from time to time.

As far as social skills, keep in mind that another thing that can make someone seem weird to others is simply a very high IQ. That can render you a misfit among more average IQ's. I'm not suggesting you don't have Aspergers, or another syndrome, or maybe even a combination as you suggest. But "high IQ" can seem like a syndrome unto itself at times.

My guess is, and it's only a guess, that you have Aspergers and something else. That something else could low level depression, which sometimes isn't recognized. Or it could be circumstantial, an overall anomie caused by the fact that you're not happy with your life situation. In that sense, maybe your feelings are a good thing in that they'll motivate you to do something else with your life.