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Beautiful Young Minds
I have discovered there was a 90 minute documentary on BBC2 last night about the British team for the International Mathematical Olympiad, so I am, unsurprisingly, agog to see it. With a bit of luck it will be on my V+ box's catchup list; otherwise I'm sure I'll be begging for a copy.

It turns out that people who spend years doing competitive maths contests for fun have a tendency to autism spectrum 'disorders'. Who knew?

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I wouldn't mind seeing this as well . I think the cause/effect link is probably the other way round . I have the Simon Bar-Cohen book on Autism if you want to borrow it by the way .

I am fairly sure that the documentary, award-winning though it is, is the maths equivalent of 'Sci-Fi Nutters Beam Down on Glasgow'. Most of the people I met in maths competitions were, well, very like SF fans (in fact, plenty of them read SF extensively as you might imagine). On average slightly poorly socialised but no more than that.

Spending all one's spare time trying to run, or swim, faster than anyone else; or trying to be excellent at hitting a ball over a net, is not considered aberrant behaviour. Young musicians practice for typically 5-6 hours a day; it's considered laudable. When people who do those things get together, naturally they talk about their interest. I myself can bore for England on the topic of the melodeon.

But as soon as the interest in question is an 'academic' subject -- it's somehow considered nutbar territory. Most people who do school maths competitions, even at IMO level, are no stranger on average than SF fans, IT professionals, or gamers; and the fact that they enjoy their hobby or like to talk about it to the exclusion of other things is so transparently normal as to be not worthy of comment.

Quite separately, I would like to borrow Simon Baron-Cohen's book; moments like this remind me that my mother was warned when I was a very tiny child that I was likely to be autistic and she should be prepared for that. In that way of fans, I'm reasonably sure that if I were a child now I *would* acquire an autism spectrum diagnosis, with all the heartache that goes with that for children and parents. In practice of course instead I just spent my school career being 'clever and badly socialised'; and eventually I learnt to turn part of my intellect to learning the social rules I'd never bothered to notice.

eventually I learnt to turn part of my intellect to learning the social rules I'd never bothered to notice
Very handy skill that. So far as I can tell it's not quite the same as doing it instinctually, but it has some advantages as well.

I read a review of the program this morning in The Metro and am now terribly intrigued. I'll also be checking Virgin when I get home to see if it's there.

eventually I learnt to turn part of my intellect to learning the social rules I'd never bothered to notice
Isn't that pretty much why Dexter does well with his girlfriend (in the series Dexter), he has no instincts to get wrong, so he has to apply intellect, which makes him (seem) a listening/caring person because he works at it!


Thankfully I'm no a sociopath along with it. I just play one at weekends.

one or two of the people in my Mensa group are autistic -you can always tell who they are because they have the best manners

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