(via) The Lindy effect is a concept that the future life expectancy of some items or concepts such as technology or an idea is proportional to their current age, so that every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy. My idea of Lindy comes from reading Nassim Taleb, who expands upon the writings of Beniot Mandlebrot who described an effect of a deli
Lindy is a deli in New York, now a tourist trap, that proudly claims to be famous for its cheesecake, but in fact has been known for the fifty or so years of interpretation by physicists and mathematicians of the heuristic that developed there. Actors who hung out there gossiping about other actors discovered that Broadway shows that lasted, say one hundred days, had a future life expectancy of a hundred more. For those that lasted two hundred days, two hundred more. The heuristic became known as the Lindy Effect.
Perhaps, it can be best thought of via example eg that butter is more Lindy than margarine and that olive oil is a very lindy cooking oil of our times.
Lindy is not really meant to be applied to perishable items. Nonperishable are Lindy. Ideas, technologies and institutions.
So… I think autistic thinking has been Lindy over the ages. Why might this be the case?
Autistic thinking tends not to follow the dominant social consensus thinking of the time, I also argue, autistic thinking can importantly lead to radical breakthrough where you have leaps of understanding that perhaps typical thinking would not demonstrate.
Rates of ASD diagnosis in the US are around 1 in 65, with New Jersey as high as 1 in 45 and between 1 in 50 to 1 in 100 a likely typical range in Level 4 countries.
If you look back 70,000 years there’s evidence that early man, Neanderthal man looked after his disabled siblings into old age..
Anecdote suggests that autism and autistic thought has been present in human society for hundreds of years, while both environment and genetic factors both plays roles I find it noteworthy that nature and its Darwinian forces seemingly have conserved autism and that autistic thinking might be Lindy.
If there is some aspect of autism that is Lindy why might it be so? I might be entirely wrong but let’s go a storytelling...
Why might that be…?
Autistic thought tends not to follow the crowd of “herd” thinking or social pressure or social learning.
These traits can be incredibly useful.
Think about any paradigm shift in thought which requires ideas outside of normal. A non-autist has social pressures and social learning that an autism might not.
An ice age has set in. On the one hand, you need tools and weapons to hunt. You need social communication to co-ordinate large groups of people. You need leaders of those groups.
But, you need inventors to create tools which are different to the status quo. If everyone hunts the mammoth in only one way and that way stops working, you need someone who can think differently and sees a solution not because “we’ve always done it this way” but because there’s a way that makes sense to autistic thought that non-autistic thought can’t reach easily.
The rest of the human society, maybe the leader of those small ape-like human groups, can see the value in these different autistic thinkers who have ways of seeing and answers to problems the “herd” can not solve.
Maybe I go too far to suggest that this different thinking is treasured.
But if the autistic way has been treasured for tens of thousands of years, perhaps that’s one explanation for why is survives in humans today.
And with estimated rates of 1 in 100 (and rising) with close to 1 in 45 in New Jersey being diagnosed on the spectrum, is this an argument for autistic thought being Lindy - and for why we should still treasure our autists and their way of being.