Neurodiversity and Science Fiction Fandom

Frankenstein (1931) film poster

“School is starting up soon… It has brought up a whole childhood can of worms regarding my less-than-lovely educational experience, and makes me reflect on issues of social acceptance for neurologically atypical people overall. That leads me to fandom. I can’t help but think neurodiveristy is an area in which science fiction and fantasy fans are a long, long ways ahead of society in general.

A few years ago I attended a panel at Norwescon that was supposed to be about the future of psychology but quickly became a discussion of the neurological make-up of fandom. The lively and engaged discussion covered dyslexia, Asperger’s, ADHD, autism, sensory integration dysfunction, and related topics. The general consensus was that among convention-goers, the percentage of people with such atypical neurology ranged around 60 to 70 percent. Almost all the audience members who spoke identified with one or more of the above, or mentioned a close relative that did.” (Tor.com)

Dissertations — in 17 syllables

Grave of YosaBuson (与謝蕪村墓)

“The Web site Dissertation Haikus has been around for a few years, but it’s enjoying a late-summer surge in popularity. The concept is irresistible. As its creator explains, “Dissertations are long and boring. By contrast, everybody likes haiku. So why not write your dissertation as a haiku?” Why not, indeed! For the writer, the site provides a way to dramatically expand the universe of people with a loose grasp on how you spent several or 10 or 12 years of your life. For the reader, it provides a way to painlessly survey what passes for the cutting edge of knowledge, without having to negotiate precious, colon-hobbled titles or scientific jargon.” (Boston Globe via laurie)

A Taste for Flesh

After seeing more than 60 zombie films, Johnathon Williams explains: “If civilization is ever overrun by zombies — which for the purposes of this essay shall be defined as reanimated corpses who feed on the living until they’re dispatched by a gunshot to the head — I know exactly what I will do. I will gather my family and I will take them to Wal-Mart.” (The Morning News)

Physicist Proposes Solution to Arrow-of-Time Paradox

“Entropy can decrease, according to a new proposal – but the process would destroy any evidence of its existence, and erase any memory an observer might have of it. It sounds like the plot to a weird sci-fi movie, but the idea has recently been suggested by theoretical physicist Lorenzo Maccone, currently a visiting scientist at MIT, in an attempt to solve a longstanding paradox in physics.” (Phys.Org)

In other words, time flows both ‘forwards’ and ‘backwards’ but we can only remember one of those unfoldings?

Depression’s Evolutionary Roots

Prozac, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibit...

“Two scientists suggest that depression is not a malfunction, but a mental adaptation that brings certain cognitive advantages”. (Scientific American) Evolutionary explanations are appealing, for if depression were not adaptive then why would it be so prevalent across cultures and epochs? Estimates are that between one quarter and one half of the public are clinically depressed at some point in their life.

The suggestion here is that the depressive state, with ruminative thinking, social isolation, and loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, etc. promotes periods of uninterrupted analytical thinking. This turns some of the therapeutic approaches to depression on their head. Interventions which discourage ruminative thinking might prolong the resolution of a depressive episode. Patients encouraged to amplify on their ruminating, such as journalling, might do better. Perhaps even antidepressant medications might interfere in constructive problem-solving?

I have thought there might be a different evolutionary advantage to depression. After a loss or setback, the depressed person’s lack of energy, motivation and activity act to conserve resources. Their way of thinking about the world, with pessimism and a helpless sense of lack of control over what befalls one, might be more realistic, at least at such a time.