Daily Archives: January 17, 2011

* The Age of the Infovore by Tyler Cowen

I thought, very naively as it turns out, that The Age of the Infovore, with its subtitle of Succeeding in the Information Economy, would be an informative treatise on how to function well in the digital age. And I had read and loved Discover Your Inner Economist, in which the author applied economic theory to practical problems in a most entertaining manner, so my expectations were high. How wrong I was.

Instead, this book is a bizarre and rather tortured defense of autistics (his word) as being uncommonly well suited to the new communication channels that allow asynchronous, impersonal contacts, and to a world where information flows in fire hose manner and therefore specialization flourishes. He regales us with tales of geniuses that he knows, just knows, are autistic, from Sherlock Holmes to Adam Smith. He even tells us that autistics have just the right bend of mind to become Buddhists, which is apparently the “in” religion in the information economy. I imagine that the Dalai Lama may respectfully and lovingly disagree with that opinion.

I’m all in favor of embracing diversity, including autism. But aren’t we confusing absent-minded professor behaviors (which may exasperate but are not truly disabling) with bona fide disabilities? Surely the professor is on the very safe, very high-functioning side of the scale. Let’s attack the real problems, not the avoidance of absent-minded professors by more gregarious types.

 

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