This is a list of people who are thought to have (or had) Aspergers, a mild form of autism:
You have to keep in mind that lists like this are usually compiled by people who themselves have Aspergers, or parents of people with Aspergers, so they want to claim as many accomplished people as possible, in order to provide inspirational "role models." (It's a little like listening to homosexuals talk about celebrities: they want to claim all the good-looking ones.)
The list linked above includes Thomas Jefferson, Michelangelo, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Isaac Newton, Beethoven, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and Mozart, among others.
I looked up a few other similar lists, and many of the same names are included.
Some of the people obviously deserve inclusion on the lists. Nikola Tesla, for instance, was obsessive-compulsive, which people with Aspergers often are, and extremely rigid in his personal life.
But is there really enough known about Michelangelo and his personal life to make that diagnosis? And there was nothing about Benjamin Franklin, a famous ladies' man, to indicate that he was mildly autistic. He was a successful diplomat, a role it would be hard for someone with Aspergers to fill, and he had a sense of humor, which those with Aspergers notoriously lack. It was almost as if they wanted to include him merely because he was so accomplished.
Ditto for Mark Twain: he was known for his sly sense of humor and his insight into others; yet the defining characteristic of Aspergers is an inability to read other people. (I'm guessing Twain was diagnosed as such because he became increasingly reclusive in his old age, but this seemed to be a misanthropy borne of disenchantment and world-weariness rather than an organically asocial nature.)
On the other hand, the list of contemporary people mostly rings true. It has been widely speculated that Bill Gates may have Aspergers; he evidently rocks back and forth in meetings, an autistic trait, and he certainly fulfills the nerdiness quotient. Al Gore was widely described as a "wooden Indian" when he ran for President, his pronouncements certainly seems tone deaf enough, and he is awfully rigid in his world view, most notably when it comes to global warming.
Seeing Keith Olbermann's name on the list was a real "aha" moment. Suddenly his personality made sense to me. Olbermann was despised by his coworkers at ESPN, and his colleagues at MSNBC ended up feeling the same way. He is annoying, and extremely rigid in his thinking. And he is widely described, even by those on his side of the political fence, as "crazy," the most common word used by those who don't understand Aspergers to describe those who have it. I had always assumed he was just a garden variety narcissist, but there are aspects of Aspergers which overlaps with narcissism, most notably in the unwillingness to admit one is wrong. And most intelligent narcissists do a better job of hiding their narcissism than Olbermann does.
Take a look at the list; you may have some aha moments as well.