Friday, October 29, 2004

Nerds reading faces

Speaking of ads, in the UK, there was a cinema commercial of the organge mobile phone company for their 'orange wednesdays' offer. It showed executives of an advertizing company brainstorming in front of a huge wall clock for a title of their new programm promoting BOGOF cinema tickets 'every a clockwork...we're talking film'. Then the boss obviously comes up with an idea and prompts his coworkers 'yeah...give it to me...' and then proposes 'orange wednesdays'. His inferiours are nodding and making slightly strange faces.

I had a long discussion with Annette about this spot and whether the coworkers liked the idea or just nodded because they didn't want to ruin their bosses succes of coming up with something they thought was stupid. The spot was on the internet as well but now you have to pay 15 pounds to see it, so unfortunately, you cannot judge for yourself.

I tell you about this because not being able to read people's expressions is one of the symptoms of autism. Not that I claim I am autistic, but sometimes you wonder whether being a string theorist brings you quite some way in that direction.

I enjoyed a lot the 'curious incident of the dog in the night-time written from an autistic boy's perspective. It is alarming how he tyranises everybody around him without noticinig. A must read! And the chapters are numbered from P, the set of prime numbers rather than N.

There is also Asperger's syndrome, something like Autism Light. That is probably pretty common in certain academic departments. Reading this page makes clear that I and most people are far from that stage (there was a student in Cambridge who was a diagnosed sufferer of asperger's syndrom and knowing here makes clear that all the nerds and geeks around you are way in the middle of the bell curve) but sometimes you wonder...

If you want to see for yourself, wired magazine has an online test. They say, the average person scores 16.4 and people with asperger or mild autism typically score 32 and more. My score was 28. What's yours?


Urs said...

I don't understand psychological tests like that, the questions seem too ill-defined.

Take the first one. It asks you to say to which amount it is true that

"I prefer to do things with others rather than on my own."

My answer is a clear It depends!, but that is not offered. I know that agreeing will make the test tend to say that I am suffering from autism.

For instance right now I am sitting here alone on a Saturday afternoon in my office reading a paper. Am I an isolated psycho? My girlfriend sometimes tends to agree. ;-) But actually I am reading your paper that you refered to in our SCT discussion . So secretly I am communicating!

Higher Pi said...

I find their faces quite difficult to judge in that advert as well... the point is that the boss is saying:

"Wednesdays.. like CLOCKWORK... and we're ORANGE", so his employees are expecting him to refer to the film "A Clockwork Orange" in his title.
Of course, he doesn't, so the employees are deflated.

Paul Crowley said...

(*) The boy in "Curious Incident" has severe Aspergers, not autism

(*) The co-workers are definitely expecting him to say "Clockwork Orange". As he's building up to him, his sidekick says something like "say it!" indicating they think they have the same idea. They all struggle to regain their composure once he says "Orange Wednesdays" and try to pretend that's what they were thinking.