Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The following is in no way intended to disrespect people with Aspergers or Autism, but to provide insight.
I know Aspergers people in my personal life. There is no denying the intellectual gifts of people with High Functioning Autism and Aspergers; many great scientific breakthroughs have been made by people whose minds work a little differently.
But one issue Autistic and Asperger people share is they tend to take what they are told very literally; they sometimes find it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, when the fiction is presented as a fact.
Greta Thunberg, schoolgirl climate change warrior: ‘Some people can let things go. I can’t’
One day last summer, aged 15, she skipped school, sat down outside the Swedish parliament – and inadvertently kicked off a global movement
Greta Thunberg cut a frail and lonely figure when she started a school strike for the climate outside the Swedish parliament building last August. Her parents tried to dissuade her. Classmates declined to join. Passersby expressed pity and bemusement at the sight of the then unknown 15-year-old sitting on the cobblestones with a hand-painted banner.
Eight months on, the picture could not be more different. The pigtailed teenager is feted across the world as a model of determination, inspiration and positive action. National presidents and corporate executives line up to be criticised by her, face to face. Her skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for climate) banner has been translated into dozens of languages. And, most striking of all, the loner is now anything but alone.
She was never quite like the other kids. Her mother, Malena Ernman, is one of Sweden’s most celebrated opera singers. Her father, Svante Thunberg, is an actor and author (named after Svante Arrhenius, the Nobel prize-winning scientist who in 1896 first calculated how carbon dioxide emissions could lead to the greenhouse effect). Greta was exceptionally bright. Four years ago, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s.
“I overthink. Some people can just let things go, but I can’t, especially if there’s something that worries me or makes me sad. I remember when I was younger, and in school, our teachers showed us films of plastic in the ocean, starving polar bears and so on. I cried through all the movies. My classmates were concerned when they watched the film, but when it stopped, they started thinking about other things. I couldn’t do that. Those pictures were stuck in my head.”
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/11/greta-thunberg-schoolgirl-climate-change-warrior-some-people-can-let-things-go-i-cant
The following from Psychology Today explains how taking things literally affects people on the Autism Spectrum.
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder Take Things Literally
Failure to understand colloquialisms in ASD
Posted Apr 07, 2013
Let me give you an example of the problems faced by someone with ASD. I was told this tale by someone who had the job of placing adults with high-functioning ASD into work. One of her star individuals was a woman who was a highly skilled accountant. She had been working for her new company for a couple of weeks when her line manager came up to her and said that she was so good she felt she could wrap her up in cotton wool and take her home with her. A couple of hours later firemen were having to take the door off a lavatory cubicle – the woman with ASD had locked herself in there, convinced that her line manager was a crazed lesbian who wanted to kidnap her and involve her in some bizarre fetish involving cotton wool.
…Read more: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-gift-aging/201304/people-autism-spectrum-disorder-take-things-literally
If you think about it, Greta’s position is entirely logical, from her point of view. If the world is about to end, it makes no sense to continue with life as if nothing was happening.
What Greta likely doesn’t understand is most climate activists, even people voicing radical climate claims, don’t absolutely believe their own claims in the way Greta does. If everyone who says they are concerned wholeheartedly believed climate change was about to destroy the world, they would all abandon their jobs and normal lives, and march until something was done about it.
I don’t want to give the impression that Aspergers people are all easily led astray, their condition is more complicated than that. If it ever occurs to Greta to investigate climate claims in detail, instead of simply accepting what she is told, she will likely have no hesitation in changing her views – it is entirely possible she will flip over to hardline climate skepticism as soon as she realises what she has been told doesn’t make sense.
Of course if Greta becomes a climate skeptic, the movement she founded will likely continue; they will simply stop talking about her and try to pretend she doesn’t exist, the way Greenpeace tried to erase co-founder Patrick Moore from their history.