Interesting, thoughtful stories

We have a thread for odd-ball stories, or good stories, or bad stories… but how about one for just interesting thoughtful ones that we can discuss? Such as…

But honestly, didn’t Sir Terry make this argument years ago:

The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo sapiens (‘wise man’). In any case it’s an arrogant and bigheaded thing to say, wisdom being one of our least evident features. In reality, we are Pan narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee.


Hah! Jokes on you, I have aphantasia.

Take that, Evolution!


I had to look that up…

Interestingly, the list of people who have it include several fantasy authors, so it doesn’t seem to impede the ability of humans to tell stories…


I know, it was a flippant joke.

I may have aphantasia, but I can still describe stuff visually. I just don’t see it in my “mind’s eye”

Although I have an above average sound memory and imagination and a “mind’s ear”, and I’m pretty good at remembering smells vividly as well.


Interesting! I’m not familiar with the phenomenon, so thanks for posting about it.


When I mention it, I sometimes get people who say “if you can’t imagine things, then how are you able to think?”

If you have any questions feel free to ask :slight_smile:


That seems silly… as if there is only one way to be in the world…

Thanks! Do you think it makes your experience of reading fiction different? Like, if I’m reading and I’m thinking of the action in my head, visualizing it, how is that different?


Well, I kinda lost my imagination ability. I used to imagine a lot when reading as a child and early teen. These days I don’t imagine so much, but focus on the emotional content combined with facts.

Like, you say apple, and people think of an image of an apple. I just think of the concept and what I know about it. Although most of that is still unconscious and I’m not aware of it until someone asks questions.

For what it’s worth, I’m not totally aphantasic, but in everyday life it doesn’t happen.

But if I’m reading some fiction I’m really engrossed in and get transported there, I’ll imagine involuntarily. But, not very strong, and reading the same thing multiple times allows me to get better and better detail. That’s one reason why I listen to the same 10 Discworld audiobooks over and over all day. It’s nice.


Cool! Makes sense to me…

I do agree that that would be very nice!


Thanks again for sharing!


My daughter says she has no imagination; I wonder if it’s the same thing? She can’t spontaneously come up with ideas, she says, but she can problem-solve amazingly, something I always thought was a function of imagination.

And as an aside, Discworld audiobooks read me to sleep every night.


Could be that the concept of imagination (that we associate with visual imagery) is just more complex than that… that it doesn’t have to be a visual thing, but can be more than that… hold facts in our head in response to the apple, as @LDoBe discussed.

The article does try to note the wider phenomenon of imagination and it’s critical role in sociality more generally.


Your daughter may be interested in taking the VVIQ test to see what extent her visual imagination works:


Thanks, I’ll recommend it to her!


Narrative is how my brain works, and I was stunned to find out as a teen that not everybody had a movie going on in their head (with voiceovers, montages, and soundtracks), and almost no one automatically thought up stories for that single shoe on the sidewalk.

Telling stories is one of the best teaching tools, IMO.


That triggered some memories.

I remember all through high school my teachers doing visual imagery exercises and me thinking it’s metaphorical, or an exaggeration. Of course nobody “sees the cow rotating in their head”. We’re just supposed to describe what that would look like, right?

Many many years of just assuming people were being metaphorical about being tortured by images in their minds. Like, I have bad memories, and they bother me sometimes, but it’s never images. It’s just me remembering what happened.

It actually ties in with my bisexuality in a way. Until I was in my mid 20s, I thought all straight people (like myself obviously) wanted to make out with their same-sex best friends. I thought everyone just “chose to be straight”.

I wonder what other things I think are normal and routine because we as humans don’t have access to each other’s qualia.


Probably lots of stuff, for all of us. I think we all assume our own defaultness, but as the article is arguing, our actual uniqueness and superpower as a species is our ability to externalize our experiences to others and to build community around that expression. We all have unique experiences that are unlike anyone else’s, but we also share a lot of experiences with sometimes lots of others and sometimes a few others…


Adult diagnosed autist here: until I was almost forty, I thought that everyone had the same difficulties (with executive function, with social skills, with theory of mind, with proposagnosia and alexithymia and auditory processing dysfunction, without knowing that any of those things were things), and that the reason I had been struggling all my life was because I was bad at being a human, and just lazy and stupid except in certain, very specialised areas.

That the models for what autism are were Rain Man or Sheldon bloody Cooper did not help.

I don’t know if this is a continuing discussion from the article, or a side-track worthy of its own thread. “Neurodiversity and me”.


Yeah, media does a terrible job by-and-large of representing neurodiversity in any honest way.

Positive role models end up being “Rudolph the Red Nose Reigndeer”

Hey kids, this deformity that’s been terrible for your emotional and social development turns out to be exploitable by capitalism. Isn’t that great?


I keep seeing organisations selling the service of setting up autists with jobs in the real world, getting them internships and entry level positions in autism-friendly careers like data entry and analysis.

And at one level, that’s awesome: that’s getting people through the door and into the workplace, and it’s breaking barriers and making a virtue out of strengths.
But at another level it’s starting to feel like these companies are treating autists as the commodity: We can guarantee a supply of easily trained single-minded savants who won’t be a threat to you as a boss in your office politics or career progression, and are more or less anonymously interfungible.


Yeah. I’ve seen that in IT staffing. Where recruiters talk about autistic people like they’re computing power.

Fuck I say “they” I’m probably on the spectrum myself. I’m diagnosed ADHD. I just wish I didn’t have to live in a system where I have to justify my own existence. That’s a fuckload of work all the time and I never asked for it. I’d rather spend my limited executive function on stuff I enjoy.