Friday assorted links

1. Short Bolivia photo essay.

2. Asperger was a bad guy.  “Put another way, autists were ‘enemies of the people’.”

3. GMU strivers not schemers.  And yet not everyone envies my corner of the world, fancy that.

4. The Emotion Police.

5. Is street art being corporatized?

6. Economists at Amazon.


6. "Unlike economists in academia or government, the work of Amazon's economists is almost entirely secret. . ."

That made me chuckle.

I’m a cuck!

You are mentally ill.

There are drugs that can help you.

Poor little poster on little internet sites!

you see, poor little fellow, the odds of someone like you, with your disgusting addiction to dreaming of other men as "cucks" - the odds of your being, in real life, someone who is not actually mentally ill - OCD, on the spectrum in a real bad way, or just plain cursed with a schizo-affective disorder - are very small.

Think about it.

And get help.

And when you are better, thank people like me.

You're a cuck too! I can smell it!

"Unlike economists in academia or government, the work of Amazon's economists is almost entirely secret. . ."
What? The economists in government or academia are not Straussians?

3. Could it be that a degree from a good state university be the ticket to a good career, as was the case many years ago when I attended a state university? That the wealthy parents who spend their way into admission to an elite college for their children is just a waste of money? That the college ranking guides are nonsense? I appreciate a good fiction as much as Cowen.

This op-ed is nonsense. What you are paying for at Georgetown is a shot at consulting/banking/lobbying firms, with some prelaw/premed sprinkled in. Going to Georgetown for nursing or any other trade would make no sense, unless you are going for the status and potential opportunity to marry rich. On the other hand, George Mason will not buy you entrée into the world of the capitalist/management/political class.

Take for example, this extremely unscientific ranking by WallStreetOasis:
Georgetown is ranked 17th (although it has nearly 1/5th the number of students as #2 ranked NYU). Georgetown even explicitly touts its connections to Wall Street. Just look at the Wall Street Alliance website on Georgetown's "advancement" website:

Elite schools all play at this, from the Ivies, to the exclusive liberal arts schools and yes, the almost Ivies like Stanford, Georgetown & Duke. The op-ed just starts to ramble at the end and contradict itself. No a VT engineer (even in comp sci) is not on the same career path as a classics major at Harvard. Engineering jobs pay high at first and the earnings plateau in their 30's.

I get that Tyler is trying to posture and raise the status of GMU, but unfortunately for Mason and America, this is not how the world actually works.

Engineering is for loser cucks I’ve always said that.

Wonder if the high stakes derby of elite college admissions, combined with the social milieu of unconstrained self-seeking that these wealthy schemers inhabit, amounts to a criminogenic environment. That, and the fewer spaces available to them as a result of “elite” colleges admitting more low-income students than ever.

"Asperger’s syndrome has been laid to rest in the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (though not yet in the international one), but in the popular imagination it has become the province of awkward boy geniuses who create our digital worlds to be, which we ‘neurotypicals’ (itself a cultural construction) fit ourselves to and swarm within. In this turn of the biocultural screw, autism, deserving of death in 1940-45, has become a ‘neuro-platform’ for ‘disruptive innovation’, a cultural good, and a site of identity politics."

2 got it
so aspergers was/is
mostly just another
"narrative/fake diagnosis"?


1 did your prizewinning psychopathology
turn out to be a cultural construct in the cold yella dawn?
2 does your aspergers research/narrative/journeyjournal
no bring you joy
when you hold it?
call us
what is the number?

furthermore, vertical flowery language is not the same as horizontal flowery language. therefore, the ends justify the means.

at the end of the day
would be when
we ask
how can aspbergers be a medical diagnosis in europe!
but not in the u.s.?

parenthetical references are didactic as hell.

so anybody got any more social constructs
masquerading as medical conditions
involving children and hormones?
you wanna tossed?
gender theory? gender theory?
we would like to hear the narrative of the
children and the sex hormones again!
we are predicting lawsuits!

I guess the thing about wish fulfillment is the thing you want most is really nothing compared to thing you've always had. It's so easy to forget the thing you hold inside, and I mean within you, the thing that shakes you because its not yourself its not anything but its special and real like a handshake gone wrong, a handshake gone wrong, with fine enough eye contact, eye contact1

+1 postmodern?

2. Yay!! Another take-down of a flawed human who is today only thought of in the most superficial way (by an eponymous disease, in this case). Let's delve into his life and see how he deviates from our current standards of morality.

Bonus 1: He was Nazi-adjacent ("He may not technically have been a Nazi – he never joined the party"), so we can hate him

Bonus 2: We can learn lessons from his life that nicely dovetails with the values of the author of the piece.


He sent children to their deaths, knowingly.

So, in some future time when eating meat, or abortion, or assisted suicide is considered murder, we can expect a similar takedown of one of our contemporaries? So tired of this crap. Move on.

No it wasn't acceptable to knowingly send children to their death in the 1930's. This is not a case of retroactively applying standards. He was evil then and remains evil today.

"He dispatched a five-year-old girl, Elisabeth Schreiber, who had motor unrest and could only say ‘mama’; she tried to communicate with sign language. ...Elfriede Grohmann was diagnosed, essentially, as ‘ineducable’. Asperger sent them to Spiegelgrund. Elfriede knew she was being sent to her death. ‘I’ll tell you only one thing,’ she wrote to her uncle, ‘we will not see each other again.’"

I got a good laugh out of this.
"He killed children."
"So? What if meat eating was considered immoral in the future? "

Also the descriptions of what happened to the children sent to Spiegelgrund are chilling. That stereotype of a "Nazi doctor" from the movies is no joke.

I have young children. I'm not going to read anything to do with that. I wouldn't be able to sleep afterwards.

True. I probably shouldn't have either ....

Seconded. Ever since I had kids I can't watch or read anything about kids being (badly) mistreated or hurt.

You didn't have kids, you just stuck it in there. Your Wife had the kids, for 9 months in her belly.

and then a stretched twat or a zip bag strip across her tummy, saggy tads and a lined belly, and wiping ass for three years.

While you were out there chasing female tennis pros, complaining about your Wife's mood swings.

Wow, have you been spying on me? Don't tell my wife about the female tennis pros. Or the male one!

i didn't figure you to be a turd burglar too

Never a father, obviously.

Looking forward to reading a takedown of one of our contemporaries in the future when eating meat or abortion are considered murder. So tired of this retrospective moralizing. Time to move on.

Armin, were your feelings hurt by the big, bad words on the web page? Close the tab if it greatly hurts your anus.

#3: Or consider how, amid the waves of righteous indignation that accompany news stories of prominent people misbehaving, there is a note of relief: finally, someone has screwed up enough that we can unleash on them the full force of our unlimited rage.

Most of that essay was fluff, but that was a really good line.

'And yet not everyone envies my corner of the world, fancy that.'

That is because the university president had to apologize for what some wealthy Americans apparently felt was their due in relation to their donating money - 'In an email sent to faculty, students and staff Friday night, Cabrera said some gift agreements accepted by the public institution in Northern Virginia “raise questions concerning donor influence in academic matters.”

“The agreements did not give donors control over academic decisions, and all but the earliest of these agreements explicitly stated that the final say in all faculty appointments lies in university procedures,” Cabrera wrote. “Yet these agreements fall short of the standards of academic independence I expect any gift to meet.”

The gifts supported faculty positions in economics, and the agreements granted donors “some participation in faculty selection and evaluation,” Cabrera said. The pacts were accepted between 2003 and 2011, and all but one have expired. Agreements ­obtained by The Washington Post show that, in some cases, committees that helped select professors included members designated by a donor.'

A strange day to post that second link.

1) That looks like fun.

4) Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't philosophy majors have to take a course or two in psychology in order to graduate? There, we learn that emotions are signals that call our attention to something important, and from there we can reason. Much ink spilled for something they should have learned as undergrads.

#4 " a professor at Bielefeld University in Germany". I stopped there because everyone knows that Bielefeld doesn't exist. What a made up story!

Huh? It is not high-status, but it exists. Maybe you're making an inside joke or something.

o/t. But I am having a hard time finding a discussion of the phony sports team dimension of the story. I am having a hard time picturing how the coach thought they could firewall it.

I mean, did the kid show up to practice? Of course not, everyone would talk. Unless of course this sort of thing happens all the time, and it's a huge open secret.

So, how did it help? If the kid was billed as a hot prospect, scholarship material etc., then presumably there's a lot of discussion between admin and recruitment and the athletic department. And the assistant coaches would for example know it was a sham.

But, if it was only a photo on a rowing machine, how does that help the kid get admitted? Hey, he might be on the team... and.... how does that help?

There's more to this angle, and it seems to me it's underreported.

It is also damming evidence that the kids knew full well that the fix was in. Here's Johnny, put on this USC jersey and pose on a rowing machine. Oh, take the damn vape pen out of your mouth.

... of the college admittance scam story....

As long as we are venturing off topic.... also under-reported, how easily and fully and widespread the SAT/ACT test proctors let themselves be bribed. That strikes me as the buried lede.

There have been occasional reports of fairly widespread cheating on the SAT, albeit primarily involving non-US students. One wonders how much goes unreported ...

"... a federal grand jury indicted 15 Chinese nationals in a scheme in which they paid up to $6,000 for other people in the United States to take the SAT, the GRE, and other college and graduate school standardized entrance exams for them to help them gain entry into U.S. universities.

This was not an isolated incident; scores were withheld after every single SAT administration in the 2014-15 school year in Asia amid reports of sophisticated cheating networks in which students obtain questions in advance. This year was not isolated either; the same problem has marred SAT administrations overseas for years. For example, the scores from the entire May 2013 administration of the SAT and SAT Subject tests in South Korea were cancelled because of a leak of questions."

The SAT on this story is like the bond rating agencies in 2008. Everyone was holding their breaths and afraid to answer the phone.

These seemed to be minor sports: crew, soccer, volleyball, etc. It's completely believable to me that the Admissions Office never followed up to see whether the students actually played the sport after arriving on campus. It's not clear that these students even took a scholarship slot or whether those minor sports even offered scholarships. I think the coaches just flagged these applicants for the admissions offices to give preferential treatment. Other (legitimate) players and assistant coaches might not even have been aware that these fake athletes were on the preference list. I don't think we're talking about Div. I football and basketball here.

One could ask why universities even offer preferential admissions for these non-revenue sports. Apparently, universities' emphasis on athletics is not motivated merely by money, as is often claimed. They might offer preferential admissions for women's sports to find enough players to satisfy Title IX requirements. It's not clear why they would prioritize admitting enough student-athletes to fill their non-revenue mens teams. Maintaining some pretense of equal treatment between non-revenue and revenue sports?

Yea, I wondered about a Title IX dontaskdonttell backdoor. But in that case, this probably isn't the first time someone noticed the loophole that fast tracked kids into the system with minimal scrutiny.

Given the amounts involved it MUST have been a valuable factor. Whether or not previously exploited before this scam, it's an aspect the media might want to probe now.

It was a freaking TSA Pre-Pass of college admissions. A pay-to-pay exception that reveals the lie in the system.

why don't admission notice?
Colleges admit a lot of students. There seem to be about 40 parents charged and at USC alone admitted 8000 students last year (

Why do colleges offer preferential admissions for non-revenue sports?
It's prestige based, colleges love pointing out that their students win awards. also based on the amount of student's admitted given 1 slot to each coach/team wouldn't make that much of a difference (I counted 14 sports categories on the USC website).

did the kid show up to practice?
Once the student is admitted, they have no obligation to play the sport (they might lose a scholarship if they stop). In a benign case consider a track prospect who tears their acl during the summer after their senior year and so drops the sport.

Which raises the natural question of whether the sports backdoor entry is just the tip of the iceberg, or if this entrepreneur was the first opportunist to monetize it.

Remember parents paid up to $500,000.


My guess is that schools don't "notice" on purpose. Major sports like basketball and football are revenue generators. But minor sports are one of the ways that schools use to attract exactly these sorts of wealth, academically unqualified students who nonetheless make the campus more desirable for the social elite. Don't be fooled. The universities know what they're doing. But the only difference is admissions would rather students actually have played the sport. Other than that, all the outrage is because Singer is stealing the money that the colleges want for themselves.

"minor sports are one of the ways that schools use to attract exactly these sorts of wealth, academically unqualified students who nonetheless make the campus more desirable for the social elite."

A good observation, but the same charge could be leveled against say classical music programs or theater programs at universities. Someone who's a good violin player or good actor can get admitted on that basis while having weaker academic credentials.

But I think most people would view those situations differently, one being legitimate cultural contributions and the other a backdoor for under-qualified but wealthy students to get admitted. Are they wrong, or if they are right, what makes one legitimate and the other not?

The lowest AA special invite cutoff from Harvard allegely is SATeq 1100. Thus for tier1 universities those accepted applicants with SATeq ≤ 850 are most probably athletes (the A-team). From 42,715 self reported application data from there are 707 A-team accepted. The interesting part is that for the A-team on average they sent out only about 1 application and received about 1 acceptance, acceptance rate of about 100%. On average the poor applicants with perfect SATeq of 1600 got acceptance rate of about 64% for their on average 3.26 applications and 2.10 acceptances.

Though some of it might be owing to ongoing social approval of the "well-rounded girl," the sports thing must be an important box to check that lets other boxes go unchecked somehow. Of the boy-girl pair annually (seemingly by custom) chosen from our local public high school for admission to MIT, the girl is often an athletic prospect; the boy never is.

#2 As a non native speaker of English, and a moderately competent German speaker, I cringe when i hear native English speakers pronounce Asperger. They make it sound like Ass Burger!

There is no way they can top the GOT parody story arc:

#3) Wow, I used to write FOR a college and never quite laid it on that thick

2. This needs to be excerpted:

Populism required individuals who would now be called ‘neurotypical’ – Gemüt-ful in the Nazi context – who could be cued into melding into the Volk and then triggered or choreographed to swarm in one direction. Autism, by contrast, was about being unmoved, solitary in a crowd, impervious to affective communion. The crux of Sheffer’s argument is that autism and Nazism were inverse states. To be ‘cured’ at the clinic was to be brought into Gemüt-ful tribalism. To be asocial or introverted or disobedient or unruly was ‘rubbing against the community’ – which amounted to ‘gemütlosen Psychopathen’.

Put another way, autists were ‘enemies of the people’. But Sheffer turns the screw on a tidy moral reading that makes of all this an exclusively Nazi phenomenon. She reminds us that the welfare state set the stage for socialising children into collective life. Asking what was normal, it then codified what was abnormal. Eugenicist ideas were in circulation in the 1920s and earlier, long before the Nazis; the theory and practice of forced sterilisation was imported from the US and continued there after the war. Nazi psychiatry did not arise out of nothing, and it hasn’t been tidily buried. Thirty diagnoses created under the Third Reich are still in use today, created against the idea of a ‘model personality’.

What's your opinion on why you find this worthy of emphasis - "The crux of Sheffer’s argument is that autism and Nazism were inverse states"?

That is, do you find the dualism and inverse wrong (autism is real or not real but in either case, it is not the inverse of Nazism) or is your take more a anti-fascism and pro-autism that simply confirms the dualism that Shaffer supposes, but inverts it (autism is the opposite of fascism and this makes autistics and even solitary individuals who stand apart from society superior!)?

The former is plausible, but not especially interesting while the latter is banal and moronic.

The excerpt is of the whole two paragraphs. I'm more interested in the general thesis that the Nazis essentially invented the concept of "autism" by defining the more socially-conformist type of personality as "normal". They wanted people who would fall into line, tribally, with the national socialist program. They did not want individualists who wanted to go their own way. Thus, people with more individualistic tendancies were classified as abnormal and pathologized. Even today people tend to joke that libertarians are autistic. But that word, and the entire concept were invented by people who had a social agenda, one in which conformity to the group was paramount. The Soviets wanted to create a "New Socialist Man". They too wanted humans with a specific personality type - and not individualists. The argument the author is making is that autism is socially constructed and draws it's origins from the social engineering efforts of Nazis and eugenicists.

I don't think I'd say that autism is the inverse of Naziism, but the inverse of autism (conforming to the group too much? Too much empathy?) could probably be given a medical name and pathologized in the same way.

I mostly agree with this. I think it would be harder for any authoritarian government to get high compliance from autistic people. The only part I take issue with is on autism and empathy. Research on how empathetic autistic people are is mixed. The large difference in results is due to how empathy is defined and measured. When studies measure how well autistic people understand how another person is feeling (cognitive empathy), empathy scores are lower. But someone can understand how another person feels, and not actually feel for them. When looking at how people actually feel about other people's experiences (emotional empathy), autistic people measure as being *more* empathetic (see: "The Empathy Imbalance Hypothesis of Autism: A Theoretical Approach to Cognitive and Emotional Empathy in Autistic Development"). I think this fits well with the Nazi idea; Nazis might have understood how their victims felt, but they likely were not in distress over committing those acts.

This is all seems silly though. No conformity research has ever found libertarians or autistic people are less likely to conform to social pressure. (N of 1 but the only guy I know of with diagnosed hf autism seems to find his repititive obsessions and social bewilderment no barrier to conforming to a fault in every discussion to society's status quo). Autism does exist (in specteal, multicausal form) and is a debilitating disability, not a nonconformist super power. We can discuss model but there is an underlying phenotype that is real, and detrimental, not a social construct.

E.g. on conformity - - "Autistic participants (N = 22) and neurotypical controls (N = 22) completed a memory test of previously seen words and were then exposed to answers supposedly given by four other individuals. Autistic individuals and controls were as likely to alter their judgements to align with inaccurate responses of group members. These changes reflected both temporary judgement changes (public conformity) and long-lasting memory changes (private conformity). Both groups were more susceptible to answers believed to be from other humans than from computer algorithms."

Persons with autism probably have some more difficulty knowing what others persons actually think, but don't have less likelihood to conform when they do, when they're explicitly told. Not resistant to conforming to social ideas, when they are clearly communicated to them.

Thanks for finding that study, M. I think the results are more mixed than the abstract implies, however. The authors only looked at adults in this study, and conceded that the only studies looking at children did find reduced conformity among autistic people (although not in all cases, at least for teenagers). They hypothesized that "adults with autism have acquired social conformity as a social strategy, whereas autistic children may have yet to develop such a strategy". Two thoughts on this: 1) The Nazis putting most of their focus on autistic children rather than autistic adults makes sense in this light. 2) Some of the benefits of autism may dissipate due to neurotypical culture.

See my previous comment on possible increased emotional empathy in autistic people as well. I don't know about libertarians, but it does seem possible that autistic people, and particularly autistic children, may have been less likely to conform to Nazi ideology. (This is not to suggest that neurotypicality is a "debilitating disability" or that something so central to a neurotypical's personality is "detrimental", just that growing up with neurotypical traits is naturally going to change your perspective on the world. Some of that change will probably be good, some bad, but overall I think diversity in thought is a good thing. I'm happy to be autistic, and am happy that you seem content with being allistic.)

Perhaps the term "social conformity" is the wrong description to put on it. I think the Nazis were maybe thinking of it more as the ability to "fit in" and work as a group with others. You could call it the ability to be a "team player". They would have identified autistic children as those who tended to play alone and not make friends which would have struck a person with a socialist ideology as anti-social and undesirable. Again, it is socially constructed - if you think that being a good team player who is able to fit into a group is the correct normal desirable social behavior, then being a loner who works best alone becomes a "disorder".

I read "Gemüt-ful" as more or less equivalent to the the "agreeableness" big 5 personality trait.

He's another fun article about this subject:

She is at her best when she unpacks how the Third Reich created what she calls a “diagnosis regime” by labeling anyone who disagreed in any way with Nazi aims, achievements, or ideology as being fundamentally ill. This was done primarily through the use of two catchall terms: Volk, which referred to the importance of the German national character and its people, and Gemüt, a word the Nazis used to indicate a person’s “fundamental capacity to form deep bonds with other people.” Viewing the world through these lenses led to the medicalization of any and all dissent: Anything less than full-throated chauvinism meant a person was deficient in Gemüt, which, in turn, was potentially damaging to the Volk.

#4... "What is even the point of doing public philosophy if you don’t get to tell people what to think, do and feel? "

I don't know, but as someone who studied philosophy in college and graduate school, I never thought of my teachers as being especially trained for telling me what to think, do and feel. A more modest agenda is studying the assumptions and reasoning behind particular views of how we deal with existence.

Policing emotion: Didn’t Ayn Rand try to tell people empathy is bad?

# 6. Economists at Amazon.


"Amazon's PhD economists game out real estate decisions, set the lowest prices that will deliver a profit, precisely determine what customers care about and whether advertisements are working — all using machine-learning algorithms that automate decisionmaking on a massive scale"


...those 150 pricey economists are doing standard market-analysis not sophisticated economics (apparently with heavy dependence upon existing software)

would you hire elite Harvard trained medical physicians to work as pharmacists in your drug store chain, instead of normal qualified pharmacists ?

#6 - @Lucas - my critique of your post is, would you rather have the high-priced Amazon economists do macroeconomic forecasts? That would be a complete waste of time. :)

#4) The Emotion Police need to please take her downtown for a little talk before her next column. But her series does raise a question: Is it legit to call yourself a philosopher, or is that an honor that other people should decide to bestow?

#5 - on street art being commercialized.
In the Philippines, I saw little street art save one, it's the best street art I ever saw, that was a quote in fancy font, drawn by hand, that basically said (without referring to my notes): "This new pedestrian bridge will look like junk in a few years due to the fact these NGO-funded projects are not maintained but built to impress foreigners that the Philippines is becoming a first world country" (not an exact quote but that was the gist). Signed by the artist's logo. I think they painted it over quickly, but I got a photo. LOL funny and so true.

In Los Angeles, some political street art in the early 1990s was also good, and suppressed, by the artist who stenciled on utility poles "New World Odor" when the then pres. George Bush used the phrase "New World Order" in a speech. The LA authorities wanted to arrest and fine the artist, not sure what happened.

In Greece, in a certain Athens suburbs, and I've seen the same in Serbia, the authorities have allowed youth to paint up designated abandoned walls. In the Philippines as well, they painted with official murals the EDSA Manila main road with various non-political funky art, you sometimes see this in small PH towns as well.

NYC has a fetish for signs as art.

But if education is mostly about signaling, then is George Mason really as good as Georgetown?

Yes, and GMU is about as good as NOVA, or home schooling, or self-study. But it's difficult to prove to a future employer, so you must go to college.

4. “the exercise of empathy makes the world worse, [and] that it leads to more suffering and less thriving”

This is actually Dark Jedi philosophy. Not even joking.

1) Bolivia is one of the most interesting countries in the world. Loved this essay, brought back memories. Have you been TC? Don’t recall any posts on MR

"Amazon's PhD economists game out real estate decisions"

Were they the ones were tasked with milking those taxfree deals with city and state governments? Doesn't sound very free market to me.

“doesn’t sound very free market . . .” Of course not. Why would you think they’d be interested in free and fair competition? How would you maximize profit that way? That’s only a “model”. The best model would be one where what is left over for the community or the overall economy would be . . . nothing. THAT is what they are working on.

Come on Tyler. You're a golf pro at a country club. The real money gets made, and handled, up at the clubhouse. By the way, there's nothing wrong with country clubs! It's how capitalism works. What gripes my ass about unis is the 'holier than thou' attitude they have, which is just wildly hypocritical bullshit. Nobody's a bigger phony than a university scion.

#4: Facetiousness and philosophy are a discordant combo.

Yeah, I had the same problem. Taking the column at face value, a number of glaring problems present themselves, e.g., the fact that "empathy" is not an "emotion". Neither is "hatred" according to most taxonomies of emotion I've seen.

And at the core of her argument on hatred is the perhaps trite but nonetheless fair critique that she says:

a. you can't hate ANYTHING, not even Hitler, not even Nazis, not even Nazism.

b. she defines hatred like so: "to hate something is to have an emotional apprehension of it as bad, without thereby apprehending anything else about it as good"

c. she characterizes hatred alike so: "an emotion that is all bathwater, no baby... Hatred has no redeeming qualities. It is a bad way of being bad. We should excise it from the human soul."

According to her own framework, it's clear that she "hates" the emotion [sic] of hatred. Which she says is something you're never allowed to do, not even when it's directed at abstract ideologies or thought processes.

A little silly, but then so is the column.

#3: "...the mania to get into brand-name schools that fueled the criminal charges against 50 wealthy parents, college coaches, test officials and admissions consultants .... a betrayal of the core American value of equal opportunity."

Meritocracy. I'm reading Helen Andrews' excellent Hedgehog Review piece from a few years ago, that was re-upped in the wake of this "scandal" (shouldn't the word scandal be reserved for things that are really shocking or at least surprising?), and it suggests, among other ironies (yes, they really are, read it), that one meritocratic prize is to write the latest book decrying the results of the meritocracy.

I don't think we quit talking about this subject until we figure out the problem.

A mechanic nowadays obviously knows his own subject better than the members of the meritocracy, *but* he knows their "subject" better as well.

Why is this? Are we admitting stupid people, somehow, to elite universities? Or are universities making smart people stupid?

If the latter, the solution is to close down the schools.

2: Tyler's succinct title is accurate with regard to that LRB article by Pridmore-Brown and presumably the book by Sheffer.

I have not read deeply about Aspberger, but I found the article jarring because just a few years ago there were complimentary articles about him, perhaps largely due to a book by Steve Silberman.

Here's the pro-Aspberger story, as reported in those articles (and presumably the book, I haven't read these books).

The articles claimed that Aspberger saved children's lives, rather than taking them. And this was tied directly to his major achievement in psychology (which even Pridmore-Brown's article acknowledges): he observed a spectrum of symptoms and advocated that society (yes specifically Nazi German society) find ways to treat and accommodate children along that spectrum especially the high-functioning ones. I.e. not send them to death asylums. Reportedly he spun and fudged the diagnoses of some of his patients so they could stay in his treatment center instead of being sent to their deaths.

Moreover his scientific research positing a spectrum was contrasted with the major American researcher into autism, Leo Kanner, who claimed that autism was a more binary and disabling syndrome or disease. IIRC reportedly Kanner for years tried to fight against Aspberger's notion of a spectrum. But in the end, Aspberger's model has prevailed.

Here's one example of these pro-Aspberger articles.

This one goes deeper into Silberman's accusations against Kanner:

Thesis, antithesis, and synthesis? In this case an easy and potentially correct answer is that Sheffer's and Silberman's claims are both correct.

E.g. here's an article that perhaps points at how these differing views arose: it cites yet another book, this one by Donovan and Zucker, that seems to be the one that made the claim that Aspberger knowingly sent children to their deaths.

So my tentative evaluation is that Pridmore-Brown's article is one-sided. Silberman's book too, but Silberman was presumably ignorant of the research that Donovan and Zucker were about to uncover.

And thus unsurprisingly, depictions of Aspberger as hero or as villain are too narrow and one-sided.

My darker question is that maybe the Kanner vs Aspberger wars continue and these researchers are digging up ammunition about Aspberger to engage in ad hominem attacks (and ad hominem defenses)? But this could just as easily be honest non-partisan biographical research.

The thing is that it's not at all clear that he was trying to save children. The documentary evidence is that he was involved in deciding which children were "educable" and did condemn many as "uneducable". Plus he was friends with the doctor who ran Spiegelgrund, so he had to have known what went on there. It's also mentioned in some places that his "Heil Hitlers" were if anything a little too enthusiastic. It seems less like he was going out on a limb to save kids, and more like he was going along with the Nazi program to survive. The best you can say is that he wasn't an ardent Nazi and that his theory about autism and research program may have resulted in fewer kids being sent to death than otherwise. Not that he was really trying.

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