Visual Thinking: Neurotypicals Don’t Have A Clue

Neurotypicals misunderstand how visual thinkers think. This is easily demonstrated. Visual thinking is achieved without words: that’s why it’s visual thinking. Try to think without using words.

1. Arranging concepts graphically is not visual thinking. 10_tools_2

2. Arranging concepts by drawing squiggly lines is not visual thinking.    7-intelligences-mind-map-adam-sicinski

 Drawing words instead of using type fonts is not visual thinking. imagesZVAA5QRM

Visual thinking means that my experience of the world is dominated by images that are dense with information. Processing that information is not conscious; it does not require words. I didn’t have to learn to think visually. It’s normal for me.

I must translate my visual thoughts into written language, a process that is easy if I’m dealing with common objects, but word concepts have little meaning unless the words refer to physical reality. Social concepts are mostly the product of magical thinking and exist only in the supernatural dimension – which is created by thinking in words.

Translating visual information into verbal language is difficult, even with high verbal skills; in fact I suspect that I developed verbal skills because I had to translate my visual world into a “foreign” word language. Visual vocabulary is dense and timeless but verbal language is generic. For a visual thinker, required social communication is like suddenly being constrained to a vocabulary of ten words. Substantive interaction with neurotypical people is at times nearly impossible due to this dearth of expressive tools.

Neurotypical verbal language does not describe physical reality, it expresses ideas about reality, most of which are incorrect.

While necessary for functioning in modern social environments, verbal language has become so nonspecific in everyday use that it no longer connects with anything real. It’s devoid of content and meaning. What passes for communication is the repetition of empty phrases and the recitation of supernatural scripts. In visual thinking, the image is the content and meaning. The social demand to use and respond to verbal-written language has diminished visual thinking in modern humans. The function remains, but has atrophied because brain resources are hijacked by social functions. Visual thinking was most selected against during human domestication and visual processing atrophied.

Research confirms that typical humans are very poor at accurate visual perception. Eyewitness accounts cannot be trusted. The population for whom visual thinking is active and dominant is very small. Visual thinking would have been standard equipment in our wild ancestors.



From Don Hoffman, author Visual Intelligence, UC Irvine 2004.

“This seminar is a highly illustrated and accessible introduction to visual intelligence, informed by the latest breakthroughs in vision research. Perhaps the most surprising insight that has emerged from vision research is this: Vision is not merely a matter of passive perception, it is an intelligent process of active construction. What you see is, invariably, what your visual intelligence constructs. Just as scientists intelligently construct useful theories based on experimental evidence, so your visual system intelligently constructs useful visual worlds based on images at the eyes. The main difference is that the constructions of scientists are done consciously, but those of your visual intelligence are done, for the most part, unconsciously.” 


2 thoughts on “Visual Thinking: Neurotypicals Don’t Have A Clue

  1. I was surprised at your essay on visual thinking because it seems to harmonize with the philosophy I have developed—and as far as I know, I don’t have the Asperger Brain, but I suppose their could be some sort of connection, I am not exactly a normal thinker. I would have preferred to send you a more private email but I couldn’t find your email on your site..Here is a fairly short introduction called “Theological Materialism and Philosophical Naturalism Basics”:


    • Visual thinking isn’t exclusive to Aspergers. One of my contentions is that all pre-agricultural-urban humans perceived and processed the environment visually. There is evidence for this in remnant hunter-gatherer groups, although these peoples have been largely contaminated and exterminated. As a thought experiment, if you place yourself in a nomadic or hunter group, a visual brain would have been superior: can you imagine the average modern social human in the wild? Modern humans suffer from inattentional blindness, which is why eyewitness testimony is unreliable.

      I checked out your blog. It’s a bit out of my realm; I have no belief in the supernatural nor theology nor do I have any philosophical background.


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