Talent: What is it?

A. a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude

B. general intelligence or mental power

Talent is very general term that has come to be applied mostly to athletic, musical or artistic abilities and is one of those “I know it when I see it” qualities. We often forget definition “B” in which “thinking well” can be regarded as a talent, perhaps because we have come to regard intelligence as an invisible and “suspicious” something measured and confirmed by IQ tests. Intelligence has somehow been removed from everyday life in the U.S., where being good at thinking, unlike being good at baseball or golf, is felt to be unfair, undemocratic, and suspiciously unAmerican, a long-standing prejudice that associates “book-learning” with anti-Biblical ideas and (thanks in part to psychology) with deviance and mental illness. “Smart people are up to no good” ought to be: “Social predators are up to no good”

In the U.S., intelligence has been replaced by a less scary notion, that of “going to college.” Earning a degree of whatever type or quality (more and more it’s the equivalent of a high school diploma) is a democratic symbol, supposedly one that guarantees a job. Becoming an educated and interesting (eccentric) person in the traditional broad and deep cultural sense, (knowledge for its own sake) is regarded as a waste of time in an infantile society.

Talent continues to be the “lottery-winning” attribute for the few: athletes, entertainers, and celebrities who are not famous for anything really, except for having a talent for having photographs of themselves appear in social media. Anyone who “makes scads of money” is also “talented” especially if their acquisition of wealth is sudden and is based on an idea or product that “anyone” could come up with. This affirms the American myth that Everyone is a genius. A talent for “getting attention” may be the most admired talent today.


We never hear that “autistic talent” is in demand or that Asperger insight and honesty are valuable talents needed by the culture at large. At most, autistic savants are viewed as quirky demonstrations of peculiar and specific (entertaining) novelties who can be trotted out as proof of something (God has a dark sense of humor?) – story clips that are good “human interest” blips for the media to insert into otherwise grim news of the day. Asperger individuals are best not seen nor heard – we are “pathologic truth tellers” and therefore “buzz-killers” for the extravagant lies, misinformation and propaganda that is the life blood of American politics, advertising and “talking heads” nonsense.

I’ve said it before, and what a sad comment it is: it has been my talent (intelligence) that has provoked bullying and rejection over and above any social unconventionality. Who can calculate the “out of the box” contributions that are inherent in autistic and Asperger sensory processing and perception that have been, and continue to be lost due to ignorant prejudice? Can society really afford to demonize and reject fact-based Asperger analysis and egalitarian values?

As for now, social typical humans prefer to think of intelligence, especially of diverse types, as a threat, which it is, – to socially-promoted magical thinking.






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