The NEW Retards

We live in very twisted times indeed… an era where morons are deeply invested in portraying geniuses as helpless victims.

Here we have an article written by a guy who is NOT a software developer and of insufficient intellect to excel at anything beyond modern online journalism, a fast dying vocation, attempting to write an authoritative article about how people with Aspberger’s should really be thought of and treated as morons, not as people who are valuable and who have unique potential.  Just to be clear… he’s also apparently not a clinical psychologist either.

…nope just a guy who’s greatest intellectual and technical achievement in life is writing about stuff.    I wouldn’t be inclined to belittle Simon Parkinson’s intellect if he hadn’t also revealed himself to be a disaster at even his chosen vocation… journalism.  In this article we have somebody who is either willfully dishonest and manipulative of the facts or just not bright enough to even reason about them clearly.  The basis of his article is… a slide deck I wrote two years ago to present to a group of big company recruiters about how to look for and hire engineering talent outside of the usual industry formula.  Of course the slide deck is just a list of bullet points that I intend to speak to, they contain no content of their own, but that didn’t stop Simon from fabricating a vast warped fairy tale about the points in the slide-deck without hearing a single message I actually said about them.  Of course being a brilliant, honest and high integrity journalist, Simon contacted me to get my take on what I said about those subjects?  Nope, actually, he completely fabricated everything he attributed to me and I wholly deny having said or expressed ANY of the views he presumes to attribute to me in this highly dishonest article.  Let’s just start with the phony premise of the piece;

In the ensuing outrage, a PowerPoint presentation written by St. John surfaced which included a slide in which he referred to engineers with Asperger syndrome as being “the holy grail” of hires. “They work like machines,” he wrote, “don’t engage in politics, don’t develop attitudes and never change jobs.”

So first this presentation didn’t “surface” from some secret embarrassing pit of shame buried on a TOR site, it’s posted proudly on my blog because I talk about these subjects publicly all the time.  I am the source of MY PowerPoint Presentation because I proudly tell everyone what I actually think all the time… on MY BLOG.  Second and most importantly our brilliant journalist fails to correctly parse the two words in the entire presentation that he presumes to fabricate his idiotic article about.  The two words from my presentation are “Asperger’s Engineer”… see they appear in the same sentence side by side.  In the English language, which Simon presumably has some mastery of, that means they are associated.  I didn’t say anything about EVERYONE with Asperger’s, I only spoke about the SUBSET of people with Asperger’s who are ALSO engineers.  Nobody, least of all me, was participating in the perpetuation of some straw-man stereotype that everyone with Asperger’s is a future Bill Gates. So we have somebody who is either an idiot, dishonest or both taking extraordinary disingenuous liberties with my content and my views.

Fine I’m used to that, let’s set that BS aside and try to analyse the horrendous ignorance that he then presumes to foist off as carefully researched and qualified journalism.  Before we proceed let’s make sure everyone understands exactly what Autism is.  Autism… according to the Autism Society… is;

About Autism

It’s not a disease, it’s not a genetic disorder, we have NO IDEA what causes it… it may not even be an actual condition, just a bunch of uncommon personality traits that human beings grouped together and called a mental condition relatively recently.  Most importantly after years of research that has FAILED to correlate these “symptoms” with any specific cause, it’s likely that Austim is NOT an actual physical disorder, just a broad group of common personality traits (often correlated to a low IQ) that humans decided to call a “condition”.   Now “Asperger’s” another recently fabricated medical term is defined as follows;

“The condition is what doctors call a “high-functioning” type of ASD. This means the symptoms are less severe than other kinds of autism spectrum disorders.”

So “Asperger’s” is BY DEFINITION, a high-functioning condition.  These people are NOT characterized as completely socially dysfunctional or developmentally retarded.  They are just, “poor communicators”.  Frankly that could be 99% of the population, it’s a wonder that they only think it applies to 1 in 68 people.  Now Simon, who clearly isn’t autistic because he excels at communicating his ignorance says the following;

“The stereotype has been fully embraced by many software companies.”

Right… because the CONDITION IS A STEREOTYPE.  It’s just a collection of attributes that we arbitrarily ascribe to people and call “Aspberger’s”.  But since Simon is confused by English sentence structure he fails to grasp that the STEREOTYPE perfectly and consistently applies specifically to Asperger’s-Engineers… not just anybody diagnosed with Asperger’s or Autism.  The word was coined as a medical term in 1994, just 22 years ago.  I had been HIRING Asperger’s engineers (nerds) for almost a decade before they even FABRICATED the term.  Prior to the recent invention of the term, I came to be familiar with the same set of symptoms under entirely different circumstances.

I’m a 5th Generation engineer.  My family has been producing male engineers who founded technology companies and developed large patent portfolios at a young age since the late 1800’s.  In the late 1970’s and 1980’s there were a number of studies on IQ development in which researchers conducted generational IQ testing on families with a history of producing “high IQ” people, in this case defined as engineers, founders and inventors.  Both of my parents were teachers and they participated in these studies.  I was identified at a young age as having an unusually high IQ and was exposed to a great number of tests designed to qualify the personality traits and mental approaches of people who were assessed to be “high IQ”.  At that time one of the observations was that people who tended to score highly on IQ tests lay on a spectrum of personality traits that grew stronger the higher the IQ score.  In essence a high IQ score is a personality type.

Many of the personality traits associated with a high IQ are compulsive and repetitive in nature.  People with high IQ’s don’t get bored with seemingly mundane information as fast as highly social people do.  Being highly social actually correlates directly with… wait for it… being stupid!

“Out of 45 dimensions of personality, 23 dimensions were not related to IQ. This included gregariousness, friendliness, assertiveness, poise, talkativeness, social understanding, warmth, pleasantness, empathy, cooperation, sympathy, conscientiousness, efficiency, dutifulness, purposefulness, cautiousness, rationality, perfectionism, calmness, impulse control, imperturbability, cool-headedness, and tranquility. These qualities were not directly relevant to IQ.”

So if smart people don’t tend to be social… what ARE they like?

“These findings suggest that a smaller anterior hippocampus contributes to an increased efficiency of neural processing that subserves overall intelligence.”

That’s right, “intelligence” is the result of RETARDED development of the hippocampus which is governed by specific genes.  Why does a RETARDED hippocampus produce people with higher IQ’s?  Because the hippocampus plays a very important role in early brain development.  Its job is to help us decide what information is worth learning and what information is unimportant and should be forgotten.  People with an underdeveloped hippocampus… are inefficient at “forgetting” irrelevant data.  Everything is equally fascinating to a person with a RETARDED hippocampus.  They don’t get bored with studying seemingly trivial information or from engaging in constant repetition.  The fact that early hippocampus size and dimensions is governed genetically is important because it suggests that this trait serves an evolutionary purpose… it’s not an environmental accident.

As we all know the human brain is a remarkable organ.  One of it’s most fascinating attributes is how it evolved to produce creatures as mentally versatile as us from apes.  Proportionately speaking much of human anatomy is based on adaptations that enable us to give birth to GIANT brains.  Despite the astounding relative size of a human brain when it is born compared to all other mammals, the human mind is still a fraction of its future size at birth.  Massive genetic compromises took place in shaping the human brain to maximize it’s size and learning velocity at birth while still keeping it small enough to actually pass successfully though a human birth canal.  One of the most fascinating compromises is the size of the hippocampus at birth.  So to grossly simplify the observation, people born with a large hippocampus tend to be more social, more gregarious and faster at learning language thereby better preparing them to succeed and survive in a human civilization.  People born with an underdeveloped hippocampus are less social, less accomplished at language but become better tool makers and inventors because of their inability to differentiate “important” social information from “unimportant” other information.  These people perform better at IQ tests which does not necessarily make them more successful in the real-world because they can also be viewed as socially dysfunctional.

As it turns out the classic stereotype of the absent minded professor or (nerd) actually has a strong genetic foundation in modern intelligence research.

Now here’s the good news… human brains grow fast and fill-out over time.  There are lots of fascinating studies about the consequence of this, but in this context I’m going to presume to make the connection that people’s IQ tends to converge or normalize over time.  In other words, wide disparities in intellectual potential measured among the young tend to converge with age.  Those early differences in IQ and brain structure appear to have an indelible impact on our personalities and interests but in adulthood they appear to fade.  The nerds become more social and the jocks get “smarter”.

So what I learned about intelligence before we invented the term “Asperger’s” to sweepingly include “anti-social” people who are poor communicators, is that a disinterest in socializing coupled with a repetitive fascination with seemingly unimportant information is a symptom of a high IQ personality.  In this context the “social” people who are better at writing and talking than thinking want to broadly characterize people who don’t appear to be as social or gregarious as they are as the “retarded” ones… while they are normal and “high-functioning”.  Because they have categorized these people as “dysfunctional”, wanting to hire them on purpose must be “exploitation”.

The modern rush to fabricate a medical condition and then (politely) characterize a broad segment of our society as “retarded victims” is a strange phenomena that will never cease to amaze me.  In my personal case I was diagnosed at an early age as having severe dyslexia, I’m also left handed and left eyed but can write with my right hand.  I use both a right and a left mouse at my computer when I’m working.  Dyselexia and left-handedness (or weak right-handedness) are also genetically linked to an underdeveloped hippocampus at a young age.

bimageSMCARRADINE2“Many of the genes implicated in dyslexia play a role in general neural development. For example, dyslexia candidate genes DYX1C1, ROBO1 KIAA0319, and DCDC2 appear to be involved in neuronal migration.[10][22][23][24] Animal models are especially useful in determining the function of these genes. For example, Gene knockdown in utero of DYX1C1 disrupts hippocampal development and causes impairments in auditory processing and spatial learning in rodents[25] and mutations in DCDC2 impairs visuo-spatial memory, visual discrimination, and long-term memory in mice.[26] The role of neuronal migration in dyslexia is reviewed in Galaburda (2005).[27]

Interestingly some of the genes linked to hippocampal development are also associated with myopia which itself correlates to an average 7 point increase in IQ.  So those nerd glasses aren’t really a stereotype either.

“Taken together, our results provide evidence for a role of the RASGRF1 gene locus in hippocampus-dependent memory and, along with the previous association with myopia, point toward pleitropic effects of RASGRF1 genetic variations on complex neural function in humans.”

Now Simon thinks that Microsoft recruiting “Asperger’s Engineers” is a new special-needs program that that they are just launching to be charitable, but I was identified and hired by Microsoft when I was 25 with no formal education or even a high-school diploma in 1992.  I was later promoted to management and received extensive formal training in Microsoft’s management and recruiting practices which DEFINITELY included learning how to identify and recruit others like myself regardless of our educational backgrounds or grades and included guidance on how to manage them… before Asperger’s was even defined as a medical condition.  There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that if Bill Gates was born today he would have been diagnosed with Asperger’s at an early age.  My particular proclivities for left-handedness and high aptitude for all things technical (22+ patents and climbing) have a strong genetic lineage in my family culminating in raising daughters who are also very technically accomplished and may-or-may-not share other interesting personality traits associated with people who achieve maximum SAT scores.

In later years as I came to run much larger technical organizations I was exposed to the high-tech world of “Leadership Development” in which big companies like Microsoft and many others perform extensive personality assays on their executives at great expense and produce huge bound volumes of analysis on each persons leadership potential in various areas.  Sitting on my desk as I write this I have several 300+ page binders titled “Leadership Development” that are comprehensive leadership assessments of my previous executive management teams at VC funded technology startups, produced by consultants at the behest of our investors and board members.  These guys don’t leave anything to chance when it comes to investing millions of dollars in high-risk ventures.  Not surprisingly these (very expensive) leadership assays tend to show a very high correlation between “Asberger’s” like personality traits (poor social and communications skills) and the most technically accomplished executives.

What’s really tragic and irritating to me about this piece and the other Asperger’s-as-victims promoters is that they do a terrible disservice to people who really have these personality traits by validating the popular belief that there is something wrong with them.  This statement from one of the interviewees in the article captures it all.

“Autism is seen like some sort of mental superpower where we can see math in the air,” he says. “In my experience, this isn’t really the case. Mathematics-heavy programming is something that takes me a while to do.”

Who is making this kid TRY to pursue mathematics-heavy programming?   He’s doing it to himself!  Normal people don’t challenge themselves constantly to tackle mathematics-heavy programming if they can avoid it, yet this poor kid thinks he’s disadvantaged because he’s DOING it for no externally driven reason but doesn’t find it easy!!!  Throughout the article Simon AND this kid portray him as some kind of misunderstood VICTIM of Autism.  Simon… an IDIOT who manages to be completely incompetent at his life’s chosen profession of journalism… has this poor kid characterizing HIMSELF as the retard! Give this kid a few years of being this way about math programming and I guarantee that everyone will eventually think he was always a math genius.

Look at what they did to this poor kids mind:

“For Gillmer, the greatest challenge of living with the disorder is the self-doubt and loneliness. “I constantly worry that I’m not making sense.”

Tim_Cliff_GDC08_verge_super_wide.1351110575 hqdefault (1)Somebody needs to tell this poor kid that “other people” don’t understand him because they’re STUPID not because there is anything wrong with him.  He won’t be lonely the minute he finds a job at a tech-startup founded by others like him where he will discover that the anti-social lifestyle of coding 80hrs/wk with other equally intelligent and dedicated people is extremely satisfying for people with his personality.  He should stop taking career advice from people who can’t get through an 8hr work day without watching at least 4 episodes of Family Guy every night and partying with as many friends as possible to recover from the stress and exhaustion of trying to use their minds for a tiny fraction of their waking lives.  I worked with many kids like Gillmer in the game industry back in the 1990’s.  Their names where John Carmack and Tim Sweeney and that nerdy anti-social awkwardness?  They almost ALL grow out of it, and despite having made more money than any of them will ever need in life… they also still work constantly and will never stop because they’re doing exactly what they love.

Don’t let the idiots define you Gillmer, we’re the ones who pioneered the greatest inventions and built the greatest technology companies in history.

The sad thing is that a great number of “normal” parents have these kids and have no idea what they are or how to raise them.  Somebody diagnoses them with Asperger’s or ADD and the parents proceed to raise the kids thinking he/she is some kind of retard.  Maybe sometimes it’s true, maybe many if not most really do have no intellectual potential, but if even the “socially functional” people like Simon Parkinsons here can manage to get paid writing total garbage as a journalist I see no value whatsoever in characterizing anybody else as a special category of useless and dysfunctional.  I do know that many “normal” parents have no real idea whether or not their kid has any special potential as a technologist, there are very few environments that bring out that potential other than technology startups.  I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with parents of kids I wanted to recruit that basically went like this;

“Look I know you think your kid is weird, dysfunctional and hopeless, I appreciate that you are trying to warn me, can you just humor me and let me put this kid in a intense tech setting and see if he/she surprises you?”  

Not ALL of them will magically thrive, but enough do to make it worth shouting as loudly as possible that trying to characterize these people as dysfunctional victims who are somehow being exploited by doing what they love is a terrible societal crime that should be loudly spoken out about.  You “socially functional” people are not qualified to identify them or understand how they should be trained or employed.  They’re not like you, they don’t like the stuff you like, they don’t relax the way you relax, they don’t “burn out” the way you burn out, they don’t value balance the same way you do.  Try to get it through those bloated Hippocampal lobes of yours that Asperger’s engineers are fundamentally different from you which is why you can’t understand the way they communicate naturally.  They communicate with each other just fine and they build companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google given the opportunity.  You are the idiots, not them.

Update:  I’d like to thank everyone reading this article who provided me with a barrage of feedback on every typo, run-on sentence, imprecisely stated factoid, poor use of hyphenation and commas and suggested ways to optimize the loading time of my blog page.



  1. > (22+ patents and climbing)

    22 is already very specific. Why the “+”, then?

  2. IQ measurement has changed a lot since we were kids. Check out a fascinating Scientific American Library book called Human Diversity by Richard Lewontin. It’s over 20 years old now but even then, the author noted that IQ tests were on a trend to intentionally correlate more strongly with scholastic achievement. So much so that having a high IQ test score now might pretty much mean little more than you’re likely to do well in school (versus, say, become wealthy, or have lots of patents, or whatever other metric people might use to measure the result of being “intelligent”). Given how the education system has been changing to hand out “A”s just for showing up, this might be something to keep in mind when looking at studies of IQ correlations.

    • Oh sure, I think we can all agree that IQ tests alone are not an accurate measure of intelligence. I would observe that they measure something more than academic potential however because they often require engaging reasoning skills that are seldom taught or required in K-12 educational settings. I have used the term IQ casually as a catch all for a much broader set of intelligence measuring methodologies. One of the ones I participated in that was quite interesting was the learning strategy assay. It measured the range of tools people employed to learn. That assay generally showed an extremely narrow set of learning skills among people who had conventional educations and a much broader range of learning skills employed by people who where not formally educated. The test generally showed that formal education severely constrained the plasticity of peoples intelligence. It is generally believed that people cannot “Learn” to improve their IQ scores but what they really found was that people who are traditionally educated can’t do it. People who employ other learning strategies CAN train up their IQ score with practice. At the time they categorized those people as super-learners because they could even learn to improve their IQ’s with practice.

  3. > Not ALL of them will magically thrive, but enough do

    What percentage of “tries” converts into productive software developers in your “intense tech setting”?

    • It’s hard to give a properly qualified answer to that because the people we hire for those opportunities have already exhibited personality traits that we are looking for. We’re not looking for people with “Aspberger’s”, we’re actually looking for certain personality traits that have, in modern times, been associated with the term. For example people who are socially uncomfortable/awkward often have a much easier time relating with a computer and with other people via a computer. The “depersonalization” of human interaction via a computer seems to make it easier for many of them. The thing that makes them “Great” at computing is not necessarily any special intrinsic IQ advantage, it’s that they are far more interested in dedicating a huge amount of time to mastering it. Most of them are not “born computer geniuses”, they’re just people who are far more comfortable in a computing environment than in a social one and as a consequence, their advanced mastery of computer skills improves dramatically just as any skills improve with constant training and practice.

      So generally if you find somebody who is socially awkward and tends to “escape” the pressures of social interaction via books or computers and tends to exhibit interests in unusual things at an early age, there is a good chance that if you put them in front of a computer in a professional software development environment and support them properly they will eventually excel at computing. One of the aspects of socializing that “normal” people have trouble understanding is the casual meaningless interactions they have with others that they enjoy are stressful to these folks. That does not mean that these folks don’t enjoy interacting with and communicating with others about the subjects THEY find interesting that nobody else does. In a very tactical goal driven work environment they can be very efficient communicators because they prefer to express themselves in writing and diagrams, they prefer to convert everything into rules, processes and structure and they are happy to communicate with one another about better ways to automate everything to reduce their need to engage in social contact with other people to accomplish things.

      Generally you can’t really interview for it. You just have to put them in front of a computer and tell them to do something that should be too hard for them. Not surprisingly we’ve “automated” that process a bit at our company so we find that about 2/3rds of the people we recruit into our “startup garage” turn our to become employable engineers with a little time and experience. It’s hardly scientifically qualified because people are all individuals. I’ve seen great geniuses with brilliant minds and perfectly normal social skills ruin their careers with drugs and I’ve seen some of the most socially dysfunctional people you could imagine turn into engineering wunderkinds seemingly out of nothing. No training, no school, no support, we just put a machine in front of them and told them to solve an impossible problem and… they do it!

      I remember one many years ago that we poached out of Nabisco where he was employed to automate their french-fry making machine. As Asperger’s stereotypes go, you couldn’t possibly get a better real-life match. This guy was totally incapable of eye-contact, he practically ran from any kind of social dialog that involved conflict or a casual disagreement of opinion, he was a total disaster at interviewing.
      Q: Can you code?
      A: Not really
      Q: What do you do for Nabisco
      A: I fix the french-fry machine when it breaks
      Q: What do you mean “Fix” it?
      A: The software crashes
      Q: So you reboot it?
      A: No I disassembled the code and patched the instructions in assembly to bypass the faults that were causing the machine to stall.
      Q: Who taught you how to do that?
      A: It’s not hard, I just looked up the processor architecture and wrote out the binary patch in a hex editor and copied it into the ROM.

      Years later the guy is happily married, has kids, still works at his dream job on World of Warcraft making a fraction of what he’s worth but he would never dream of subjecting himself to the social stress of asking for a raise or interviewing around. I often coached him on how to negotiate for better pay but he just says “I don’t need anymore”. I saw him change jobs a couple times after he got married which is how it usually goes for these guys. They don’t care about their pay but their wives like to see them advance professionally and “encourage” them to job shop occasionally. They code all day at work and when they go home, they code something else for fun.

      • “we find that about 2/3rds of the people we recruit into our “startup garage” turn our to become employable engineers”

        2/3 is a pretty good success rate.

        What does usually happen with remaining 1/3 that does not succeed? Do they usually leave themselves? Or do you have to fire them?

        • It is if once you qualify the claim with the observation that they were pre-screened for success in the first place. We run a whole program for it out here and we try to get them around high-school age. When they are that young we just put them in the garage with a seasoned engineering team, give them free meals and a card key and assign them what we call a “horrendous task”. A horrendous task is a solvable problem of unknown scope like porting some old opensource library to Windows for example. We don’t tell them how to do it or give them much help, we just assign it to them and see if they give-up or not. Don’t care if they’ve never coded. If they give-up, no harm no foul. If they solve it, you’ve got somebody who is going to make a great engineer. We have a relationship with the local CS University which gives them scholarships. If they complete our horrendous task they’ll generally skip their last year of high-school and first year of University Computer Science. We try to get them through University with a CS degree in three years. We have 7 kids like that at the moment who have gotten the scholarships and two that will graduate with CS majors next year at 19. Both of them are well paid development leads at our company today and will graduate with little or no college debt. They probably work here 40-60hrs/wk while doing a full accelerated CS program. The fallacy that the idiots in the media like to perpetuate is that there is some evil boss MAKING them work this way. It’s not necessary to push them at all, once they discover it, it’s all they want to do. As you can see, all we really need to do is put them in a challenging environment surrounded by others like them and give them a very difficult but solvable problem with persistence… and if they are persistent, they’re going to be a valuable engineer eventually.

          We don’t do anything to recruit them, they, their parents or their teachers will literally just send them to our offices. I’ve come back to the office from travels and found people sitting at a desk working away on a computer as though they’ve always been here that nobody knows how they joined the company. (Not kidding). Everybody here knows the program so when people show up in the garage they just get them started when I’m not around. Our youngest is 15. Parents heard about us and dropped him off. Now he’s on our GPU team writing test automation scripts. He’ll take the scholarship exams in November and hopefully be our youngest CS major yet.

          The unfortunate thing is that many of them were really struggling at school and really avoided it and the last thing they wanted to do was deal with more social contact at University. The parents think their kid is a FWOT at that point and may even be punishing them for trying to escape into computing. We tell the parents and the kid that if the kid finds the startup environment appealing, we’ll train them provided they agree to pursue the accelerated CS degree. So far it seems to work out sell for everybody involved. The parents are hugely relieved to discover their kids have potential and can be gotten through University and the kid is thrilled to learn that they can avoid a huge amount of school and still get a degree while getting paid to work on stuff they love.

          Do any or all of them have Asperger’s? Don’t know, don’t care. They’re definitely not functioning well in traditional educational settings.

          • 1) How long does horrendous task usually take to complete in case of successful completion?

            2) What percent of candidates complete that horrendous task?

            3) How do they skip first year of CS degree?
            Do you give them any tips for that?

            4) Why do you need your candidates to get CS degree? Why not just make them work without college degree?

          • The horrendous task is by definition a problem of unknown scope. We need the people who tackle them to know that there is no help to be had in advance of starting. We need them to feel the “despair” of approaching an insurmountable task in total ignorance. In practice the longest one (that didn’t give up) has taken a couple months. People who make it through have overcome the worst of real-world software development and will find everything to be easier than that task.

            2/3rds of the people who start them have finished so far. But again they have usually been qualified by other attributes in advance of starting. Generally they’ve already shown an aptitude/interest in computing.

            The University offers 10 paid scholarships/year to all of the local high-schools. The scholarship includes skipping the first year of CS. It’s a very competitive program that lots of students spend their senior year studying for. The University heard what we were doing here and includes us in their annual scholarship testing… then we just sweep them usually with kids who are actually in their third year of high-school. We got 5 of the 10 last year. Our methodology is pretty simple and frankly pretty funny but it works better than anything else known apparently.

            I was lucky, I managed to become very successful in computer science without the formal education. In practice many of these folks will not become good communicators or effective in interviews. Their resumes need to do the work for them. They need the degree and the long work experience and a reference from somebody like me to get their next jobs. We also need them trained in advanced mathematics formalism which Universities do much better than we do. We tell them to load up on all the math they can get. We also have a friendly deal with the University. They run these scholarships because it’s difficult for them to find students who are well prepared to pursue CS degrees. We send them qualified students and they send their graduates to our recruiting events. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Many of our tech advisers are all current or retired professors who come down and do training sessions for our teams. I’ll have to get around to posting some of those at some point, they can be quite amazing.

            Of course my goal is to employ all of them indefinitely BUT startups don’t always succeed and this isn’t always the perfect setting for everyone. I’ve encountered some, for example, who find dealing with unbounded problems really stressful even-though they have the aptitude to solve the problem, they need a job where everything they work on is highly structured and defined. These folks are better suited to more traditional structured jobs at big companies. We have deals with two of the biggest technology companies in this area to refer those folks to them for jobs if we believe that they have the skills but aren’t well suited to a startup. Nobody produces trained talent like we do, I’m happy to share because it’s worth it to us to train 5 to find 1-2 keepers and these companies hire us for their R&D projects.

          • “2/3rds of the people who start them have finished so far”
            “about 2/3rds of the people we recruit into our “startup garage” turn our to become employable engineers”

            Are these two different 2/3rds?
            That is: candidates that passed initial filters get “insurmountable task” and 2/3 of them successfully complete that “insurmountable task”.
            Then 2/3 of those who successfully completed that insurmountable task stick as your employees (successfully).
            That is: 2/3 * 2/3 = 4/9 ~= ~44% success rate from the batch produced by “qualified by other attributes” initial filter?

          • It’s the same 2/3rds. anybody who can finish a horrendous task is going to become an employable engineer with experience. They have the most important attribute which is indomitable persistence in the face of futility. Everything else can be learned through experience.

  4. I’m a programmer, I have an official diagnosis for “Autism spectrum disorder”, I have a Mensa level IQ and I totally stand by everything you’re saying here!

    It is my impression that we live in an upside-down society where the pathological is increasingly normalized and normality is increasingly pathologized.

    • yeah, it’s silliness, don’t embrace the label! A bunch of idiots decided to group fish and rabbits together because they both breath and declared them all “frabbits” and then get upset when you won’t identify with all frabbits because you’re a fish.

      • I don’t feel offended by the mediocre masses not being able to distinguish between genius, retardation and insanity. All three are equally alien to them, so it’s only logical that they struggle to make the proper distinctions. Also, there are many shades of grey between these three extremes.

        Anyway, I wear the “Aspie” label as a badge of honor, much like I suppose you do with your reputation as an inconsiderate jerk. 😉


        “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
        — Jiddu Krishnamurti

        “The secret to success is to offend the greatest number of people.”
        — George Bernard Shaw

        • There is no substance in any message that the emotionally fragile or close minded find tolerable to listen to and it is no courtesy to anyone to pretend otherwise.
          -Alex St. John

          …you know not all of us are as good at picking up on social cues… 🙂

  5. As someone with a brother with a developmental disability (aka retarded), I find the name of your article highly offensive. I read the whole thing. You have no right to use the word “retards.” It is like black people calling each other the N word – they can do it, but it’s offensive if those who aren’t in that community do. I feel you are using the word as article headline click bait when it has NOTHING to do with the article, then twisting its meaning to suit your hippocampus use case. Autism is not retardation. Asbergers is not retardation. I’m sorry someone misused your PPT, but YOUR use of a word that has specific meaning to a specific community like myself is highly offensive.

    • Sure I do, grow up and try not to be so emotionally fragile. It’s not about you. If somebody calls out “hey asshole” in a crowded room are you the one who answers to it? If you’re the guy who embraces the label, then I don’t care if it upsets you to identify with it… that would be a bizarrely self-centered behavior YOU are engaging in.

      …think about what you are doing here. You are on a public blog telling the world that YOU associate your kid brother with being a member of the “retard community” and you want everyone else to do the same. Meet your brother and think to themselves “don’t say RETARD!”? This would be a good example of why I think these labels are silly, what you think you are doing on your brothers behalf is far stupider than anything he’s likely to pursue in life. May I suggest that you should spend more energy worrying about your own intellectual potential?

      Imagine the blog traffic I would get if all the people who SHOULD identify with the term retard saw this?

      • I am defending the dignity of those who cannot defend themselves. You are obviously not very progressive or you would understand the label “retards” has a very specific meaning to a very specific community. I’m not here to pick a fight but to defend those who cannot defend themselves. It is beyond the pale that you would use this word, then defend it when someone is offended by attacking that person as being “emotionally fragile.” I am speechless. If you were an employer sending this blog out to your employees, it would be an HR violation. Good luck with that.

        • You think there are people out there who identify themselves as retards that need you to express outrage for them? I would have thought they would be glad I was trying to broaden the membership to their club… do you think that nuance was lost on them?

          • …now you have me worrying that there may be thousands of angry retard community members who are trying to barrage me with comments but are getting filtered by my comment captcha. Fortunately their leader with the 86 IQ was able to make through after only a few hundred failed attempts.

  6. > Being highly social actually correlates directly with… wait for it… being stupid!<

    Just one nitpick in a generally interesting post, it says "These qualities were not directly relevant to IQ”, not that they have a negative correlation.

    However following on from the SA article:

    "IQ was negatively related to orderliness, morality, nurturance, tenderness, and sociability, but again, the negative correlations were much smaller than the relationships among IQ, intellectual engagement, and mental quickness."

    I am presuming 'morality' in this context means received morality rather than engaging in moral problems, and 'sociability' is also rather a matter of participation rather than engagement. The paper itself references definitions (labels, labels, and more labels) without making them particularly explicit.


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