Wednesday, September 16, 2015

message to a mad genius rocket scientist about sanity

You have rightly criticized the fuzzy left-brain thinking in that the recent Science article.

It reminds me of a great keynote talk I heard a few years back, from a woman named Laurie Granit (I think),
famous for two things: (1) how she made a lot of money starting from zero in a business including stuff like shovelling shit from animals ; (2) how she is a true autistic personality, and speaks up for autistic people. She spoke at a conference on psychology research, where most of the people were professors of psychiatry and such. She said: "Yes, I am autistic. Let me tell you what it MEANS to be autistic. I think in images not words..." (Most of the people in the room looked incredulous... but a couple of engineers at my table looked worried that so many people in the room thought that that was strange...) And then "People say we have a crisis of autism,. but let me tell you, that's bullshit, and not the clean real kind I handle in my business. Autism is when people rely on the right hemisphere of their brain, and have a weak left hemisphere. The real crisis in this country is the exact opposite -- I think they call it William's syndrome." (Side comment: OK, maybe she didn;t get the words right. What do you expect? She IS autistic. But she does know her left from her right!) "It's the syndrome where people depend totally on their left hemisphere, and lose the right hemisphere. All words, all BS, no reality at all behind the words. Why isn't this mental health crisis recognized? That's easy. Because the patients are the ones running the asylum."

As we look at Congress and most of the candidates today... and other data... she has a point. Lack of a sense of reality is the underlying reason why our present space programs are so utterly misdirected and so much core technology is at risk.... 
but your posting, and some other news reminds me that us right-brain people are not so perfect either. It is equally possible for people to be so "real" and so deep in the trenches, without a sense of reality about human institutions and what they require, that they too would be doomed to total failure if they were in charge. 

Like Granit, I have worked hard to learn how to use words, too... but for me, as with you, I am mostly still translating into English words,
and despite efforts to the contrary, I have an uncanny ability to alienate people no matter how hard I try... like other right-brained people.
At least I try.

Well, at least Einstein was also a right-brained person. And also the guy who invented the world's one and only Stirling engine design 
with decent efficiency, size and manufacturability.  I heard that even Kasich has the same ability I do, to work hard to be rock-hard rational and collegial, and still drive a lot of folks nuts. 

As it happens, I am due for cataract surgery next week, and they actually did MEASURE left versus right dominance. It seems my left optic nerve (which goes to right hemisphere) has grown enormously in dominance since last I was tested back in graduate school, when I was more of a 50-50 kind of person. The doctor was pretty much freaked out by what he saw... but surgery on the right eye seems pretty straightforward, and after that we will see. I hope.

Best of luck,

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