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Visual Thinkers

Western Kingbird, San Antonio NM, April 15, 2010

When I talk to other people I translate my pictures into stock phrases or sentences I have "on tape" inside my head. Those kids who called me Tape Recorder were right about me. They were mean, but they were right. I am a tape recorder. That's how I'm able to talk. The reason I don't sound like a tape recorder anymore is that I have so many stock phrases and sentences I can move around into new combinations. All my public speaking has been a huge help. When I got criticisms saying I always give the same speech, I started moving my slides around. That moved my phrases around too.


Being verbal thinkers, behaviorists hadn't really thought about the visual environment. When they talked about the environment rewarding or punishing an animal in response to something it did, they usually meant food and electric shocks. That made sense for a Skinner box, where there's nothing much to look at, and if you mess up you get a shock. ... In the wild though, there aren't any electric shocks, and you can't get food by pecking a lever. You get food by being highly attuned to the visual environment. Behaviorists finally started to catch on to the importance of vision to an animal when somebody did a famous experiment showing you could teach a monkey how to push a lever just by letting him look outside a window every time he hit the lever. They didn't need to give the monkey a food reward, just a view. Animals need to see. and they want to see.


I always find it kind of funny that normal people are always saying autistic children "live in their own little world." When you work with animals for a while you start to realize you can say the same thing about normal people. There's a great big beautiful world out there that a lot of normal folks are just barely taking in. It's like dogs hearing a whole register of sounds we can't. Autistic people and animals are seeing a whole register of the visual world normal people can't or don't.


Visual thinkers of any species, animal or human, are detail-oriented. They see everything and they react to everything. We don't know why this is true, we just know from experience that it is. I've had interior designers tell me, "I see everything." The worst thing that can happen to an interior designer is to work with a sloppy contractor. The designer will see every little flaw in the contractor's work. Tiny mistakes no one else even notices, like grout that's slightly uneven, will jump out at visual people. They go crazy. Visual people feel horrible when little details in their visual environments are wrong, the same way animals do.

Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin, pg 18,24,26

clipped March, 2005

Collection: Philosophy

I Ain't What I Was
Alex Can Spell
Alex Can Think
Beware of Hypnotic Media
When Hope Dies
Commitment is the Glue that Binds
Concentrated Space Intensifies Everything
Frustration Between People in Creative and Non-creative Universes
The Credential of the Dominant
Lifestyle's Supports and the Difficulty of Understanding
Digging Your Toes
Digitally Thin
Do We Really Mean What We Say
That's the Point of Emotions: Survival
Ever Tried, Ever Failed
Finding a Balance in Execution, Reflection and Articulation
Finding the Words to Fit It
First Find What's Truly Significant
Fit In Better
Float Your Ideals
From Knowledge to Wisdom
Genetic Determinism and Human Nature
God made mud. God got lonesome.
Growing up... it never stops
Skepticism is Helpful
How Do You Know
Haunted Until his Humanity Awakens
Gets Me Into My Boots
It's Time to Go Home
It was the Crickets
Leaving Home
Life is Strange
Life is to be Lived, Not Controlled
Make No Little Plans
Mix With the World
More Toward Realism than Fantasy
I Mourn the World in Which I Live
Normal Damage
There is Nothing a Man Will Not Do for Another
Now, Dazzled
Transcript of Barack Obama's Speech on Race and Politics
Observational Learning
One Forgets
Others Choose the Path of Healing
Our Peripheral Existence
Over Fifty
Passing Time in Byzantium
Our Past is Written Deep
People are Themselves
Persistent and Ineradicable Instinct
Playing and Learning and Loving
Politics and the English Language
Primary and Secondary Emotions
Proficiency in Knowledge of the World
Relive Your Traumas
Running With the Pack
The SEEKING Circuit
Shopping for sensation
Sincerity Itself is Bullshit
Or So I Feel
The Speed of Wisdom
Stay What You Always Were
That Ideas Should Freely Spread
The Bottom Line
A Theory of the State
The Speed of Darkness
Our Three Brains
Tools for Communicating
To Remember Safely
I Tremble for my Species
Truth and Story
Something Useful Can Be Artful
The Value of Notebooks
The Value of Time
Vision, Novelty and Fear
Visual Thinkers
A Voyage and a Harbor
Walk Humbly
Walking the edge, I am. ...
Was Love Then
What a Deale
What I've Learned
Ask What Surprised Them
Words Get in the Way
Writing From the Inside Out