Join 3,418 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Go ahead: diagnose yourself! Are you an Aspie?
November 5, 2008 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Do you have Asperger's Syndrome? Answer these questions and find out. I'm skeptical about this, but I find it fascinating. For years, I've suspected I'm an Aspie, and, as it turns out, I answered the questions exactly the way the researchers predict an Aspie would answer them. My "normal" wife answers them they way "normal" people do. I am almost incapable of understanding the "normal" answer. To me, the Aspie answer is obviously correct. Here is a great discussion about the research. Here is the original research paper (MS Word file).

Sorry for basically just reposting a boingboing article, but I thought many MeFites would find this interesting.
posted by grumblebee (179 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm still not sure I entirely get it. Sure it was intentional, but the intention was to get the largest drink. The commemorative cup was incidental and the extra-dollar was a means to an end. Forgive me if I'm missing something.
posted by jonmc at 6:47 PM on November 5, 2008 [21 favorites]


I don't get it. I would say neither or both were intentional. I don't see the difference.

The post is sorta weak sauce, fwiw.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:47 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've never considered myself to have Asperger's and I don't fit any of the criteria under any other rubric, but I answered this as they say an Aspie would. Weird.
posted by youcancallmeal at 6:48 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


(Or what jonmc said...)
posted by youcancallmeal at 6:48 PM on November 5, 2008


I think the questions in the blog are basically bullshit. The transaction itself is always voluntarily, and it's entirely possible for a person, withor without Asperger's Syndrome, to be insensitive to price and not give a shit about a plastic cup. The questions as presented also seem to be founded on a stupidly vague definition of "voluntary" that doesn't take into account the fact that Joe had begun negotiating to acquire the smoothie before he knew about either the cup or the price increase.

The "Knobe effect" in the first paper linked by the blog may have some merit, though it basically reveals that most of the human population is a bunch of cynical hurf-durfers. I agree, as I am one: meanwhile, I could have told you that without a research grant.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:49 PM on November 5, 2008


Here's an easy test: hold your finger in front of your eyes and focus on it, move your finger back and forth (left and right) a few times a second - if it looks blurry (ie. your eyes can't keep up) try keeping your finger still and move your head back and forth at the same rate - if your finger stays in focus, than your an Aspie.
posted by stbalbach at 6:52 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Simon Baron-Cohen's website has a much better test for ASD's here. (and yes, he's the cousin of Sasha Baron-Cohen AKA Borat and Ali G.).

For those who want the full-deal clinical versions, see his published work-- I think you can find them on his academic website. Those are validated. This does not appear to be.

I don't think you can diagnose Asperger's very well with two questions-- this is based on an N of 14 with Asperger's!!!!
posted by Maias at 6:53 PM on November 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


I would like to take this moment to point that Joe is an idiot for thinking that a smoothie would properly hydrate him. He needs to order a glass of water if he is indeed dehydrated.
posted by NoMich at 6:53 PM on November 5, 2008 [22 favorites]


You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It's crawling toward you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Are you intentionally not helping?
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 6:55 PM on November 5, 2008 [74 favorites]


For me, the key is that my brain holds a very literal definition of "intention." He made it really clear that his INTENTION was to quench his thirst. All other info is absolutely irrelevant to his INTENTION. I can't see how any other answer makes sense. My wife explained it to me, but I still don't really get it.

To her, it's obvious that it was his intention to spend the dollar. I don't know if our differing mindsets say anything about whether or not I'm an aspie, but it is odd.
posted by grumblebee at 6:55 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


As other commenters on the Psychology Today site point out, this thought experiment seems rather arbitrary. I answered it abnormally which suggests that either there is a problem with the language of how this is presented or my conception of intentional actions suggests that I have Asberger's.

Joe was feeling quite dehydrated, so he stopped by the local smoothie shop to buy the largest sized drink available.

Assumption: Joe's intention is to buy the largest sized drink available.

Before ordering, the cashier told him that the Mega-Sized Smoothies were now one dollar more than they used to be. Joe replied, ‘I don't care if I have to pay one dollar more, I just want the biggest smoothie you have.' Sure enough, Joe received the Mega-Sized Smoothie and paid one dollar more for it. Did Joe intentionally pay one dollar more?

No, Joe intentionally bought the largest sized drink available. He was "quite" dehydrated and didn't seem to give a shit about a commemorative cup or how much the smoothie cost. There is no presumption that he's short on cash or interested in collecting cups. The only presumption is that he's thirsty. Perhaps I'm missing the point?
posted by ageispolis at 6:56 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I EAT TAPAS, I find it impossible to answer your question. There's not enough information. I'm not sure why the character in your story ("I") doesn't flip the turtle over. It seems likely to be intentional, but I don't know enough about his inner psychology to make the call.
posted by grumblebee at 6:58 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


That was a pretty crappy test. First of all, it was ambiguous in the second case whether or not the first case had ever occurred when Joe stopped by to get the drink. Second, intent is different from imiplication. His intent was to get a drink. But because the implication of the largest drink was an extra dollar, he was willing to pay the extra dollar. So no, his intent was not to pay the extra dollar.

Unless I'm a closet Aspie. *rolls eyes*
posted by Phire at 6:58 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The first was unintentional because it is an "unimportant" feature of the transaction whereas the second involves an "important" factor. That is to say, in a purchasing transaction, "everyone knows" that price is important. And the way the story is set up, we are primed to think that the size is also important.

In the first story, Joe says the cup doesn't matter, so when he ends up with the cup we know that it wasn't intentional, i.e. Joe didn't make a decision based on that factor.

In the second story, Joe says the price doesn't matter, but through our past experience (and maybe some innate bartering thing) we don't believe him and/or we still feel it weighs in the decision. Therefore we feel he DID make a decision based at least in part on that factor and therefore it was intentional.

...is my $.02.
posted by DU at 7:01 PM on November 5, 2008 [7 favorites]


From the boingboing discussion:

"If a non-Asperger's person says 'I don't care if I have to pay an extra dollar ...' - it means to them that they have evaluated the entire expression ... and they understand that the other person's intent is to let them know of a change ... as a kindness to give the customer an opportunity to evaluate their purchase. ...It is an interaction between two people."

"For someone with Asperger's, when they say 'I don't care if I have to pay an extra dollar ...', it means that they have performed a short-circuit cost-benefit analysis of the commercial exchange and that, in this instance, the extra dollar is irrelevant or trivial. Consideration of human interaction is not a part of this function. The numerical valuation of the cost of the item may not even be part of the cost-benefit analysis, if the person with Asperger's is not prepared to re-evaluate how much they are spending on the item at that point in time; Decisions on whether or not to continue to purchase an item that is purchased routinely are often performed later, at a time dedicated to working out budgets."
posted by grumblebee at 7:02 PM on November 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


We're supposed to think that paying an extra dollar is intentional because it's a cost and people don't bear costs unwillingly, or something stupid like that. But does this test detect aspies or people with plenty of disposable income?
posted by fleetmouse at 7:03 PM on November 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


Dude just wanted a big smoothie. Worst Internet Asperger's Test Ever.
posted by emd3737 at 7:03 PM on November 5, 2008 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure why the character in your story ("I") doesn't flip the turtle over.

Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about your mother.
posted by carsonb at 7:04 PM on November 5, 2008 [18 favorites]


The questions as presented also seem to be founded on a stupidly vague definition of "voluntary" that doesn't take into account the fact that Joe had begun negotiating to acquire the smoothie before he knew about either the cup or the price increase.

My versions of the questions didn't say anything about "voluntary". I don't think the connection between an action being "voluntary" and being "intentional" is very clear at all.

Personally, I thought the second scenario was intentional, but the first one might not have been. I say this because it seems that Joe expected, in the second scenario, for his actions to result in him paying one dollar more. Generally, I think people intend the expected outcome of their actions.

In the first scenario, it's just not clear whether Joe intended to get the commemorative cup. It's easy to interpret the cashier's mention of the cup as an attempt to sell him drink size other than the largest size, and Joe's response as a rebuttal to this offer.

In contrast, in the second scenario, it's hard to see why the cashier would mention that the Mega-Sized Smoothie cost one dollar more than it used to, if the Mega-Sized Smoothie wasn't the largest size drink available.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:04 PM on November 5, 2008


That is to say, in a purchasing transaction, "everyone knows" that price is important.

Ah. And there's the rub. The point isn't just that "everybody knows" but that everybody knows that everbody knows -- that it's pertinent to most people that something is common knowledge.

To me, your "everyone knows that price is important" statement is TOTALLY IRRELEVANT. His intention was to quench his thirst. THE END. What everyone knows or doesn't know has not effect.
posted by grumblebee at 7:05 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, the second one says that the drinks are "one dollar more than they used to be" which is a subtle clue that Joe has been buying these drinks for a while. Therefore, he needs to make a conscious decision (which is to say *intend*) to pay more. So when he does buy the drink we infer that intent.

These questions aren't perfectly parallel, but perhaps that's the intent. Flush out those filthy Aspies.
posted by DU at 7:06 PM on November 5, 2008


Maybe the real test is whether or not you start arguing about the test on the internet.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:07 PM on November 5, 2008 [20 favorites]


Oh, I misread. He didn't order before hearing about the smoothie, so neither really looks intentional to me.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:08 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are you intending to make this ChatFilter by replying to every comment?
posted by DU at 7:08 PM on November 5, 2008


Yes, because if there's one thing the world needs, it's more self diagnosed ass-burgers cases. Because, you know, there's not already enough of them. Every asshole with poor social skills and a collection of anime DVDs is an "Asperger's sufferer" already, despite having never seen a psychologist or doing anything other than reading the Wikipedia page for Asperger's Syndrome. I'm going to start my own pharmaceutical empire by marketing some fake placebo as an Asperger's treatment. Just press up a bunch of sugar pills and put some colorful coating on it, because these dorks deserve to be exploited. Autistic spectrum disorders are a terrible affliction, not something to latch onto to make your boring identity more interesting and to use as an excuse for your shortcomings.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:09 PM on November 5, 2008 [42 favorites]


Also, the second one says that the drinks are "one dollar more than they used to be" which is a subtle clue that Joe has been buying these drinks for a while. Therefore, he needs to make a conscious decision (which is to say *intend*) to pay more. So when he does buy the drink we infer that intent

I think that's what threw me off in the second scenario, but maybe the cashier just has been telling that to everyone.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:09 PM on November 5, 2008


This discussion seems to hinge around the semantics of 'intentionally', and whether it refers to an aim or an action. The test seems to use the meaning of intentionally that's roughly synonymous with deliberately, but intention has several different meanings for different contexts. If intentionally was replaced with deliberately, would those with ASD answer differently?
posted by eschatfische at 7:11 PM on November 5, 2008


The commemorative cup for a Mega Smoothie sounded like a promotion. Like, I know you want a big smoothie, and there may be a larger smoothie than the mega smoothie, but if you get the mega smoothie anyway, you get this great cup. But the extra dollar was a warning, like "you might be used to paying this for the largest smoothie we have, the mega smoothie, but this week they've gone up a buck".

So the guy unintentionally scored the fancy cup because he honestly didn't care, he just wanted a delicious smoothie, but the second time around he had advance notice of the price hike, so paying the extra dollar was intentional.

That being said, I have to join the chorus of "Man, whatever". Also, quenching your thirst with a smoothie is textbook Doing It Wrong, so it might be Asperger's, or it might be ignorance.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:11 PM on November 5, 2008


You guys are totally over-thinking a commemorative cup of smoothie.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:11 PM on November 5, 2008 [7 favorites]


Great, now I'm gonna get all fucked up when I'm ordering soft drinks because I'm concerned about my intentions.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:13 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Heard of this little condition called beveragereceptacleanalysisiasis, Lo-Carb? Man, quit being so insensitive!
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:13 PM on November 5, 2008


Isn't the order of the questions kind of misleading here? When I read the second question, I'm invariably thinking about the first question. In the original study, "The order of vignette presentation was counterbalanced between participants." (18) Unfortunately, it's not clear (at least to me) whether or not they controlled for this, making it a pretty poorly designed study if, this is the case. The Psychology Today blog doesn't switch the order of the questions anyhow, making it even more invalid than the study.
posted by k8lin at 7:14 PM on November 5, 2008


Harrison Ford should be asking the question.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:15 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a horrible test but the thing you're supposed to pick up on is the difference between obtaining a value-laden item (the cup) vs. merely paying a universal penalty (dollar) for essentially the same thing. It's two ways of saying the same thing - money for big cup, but the commemorative aspect of the first cup throws a curveball.

It's supposed to identify whether you distinguish between an (obvious to non-Aspergers) unwanted, unvalued cup and the assumption that a dollar is more important and it's a conscious decision to intentionally pay the dollar for the largest item rather than pay the dollar for the commemorative cup, which is incidental. The idea is that people with Aspergers have a tough time with motives in acquiring things like commemorative cups and would assume that it wasn't incidental. It's a terrible (and insulting) thing to put a test like this on a website. Aspergers is a serious condition and it's not like discovering that you're left-eye dominant. You (or people around you) already know.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:15 PM on November 5, 2008


Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about your mother.

My mother? Let me tell you about my mother!
posted by tim_in_oz at 7:15 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


If only you could see what I've seen with your mother.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:19 PM on November 5, 2008 [7 favorites]


To me the difference between the cases is obvious.

He would have gotten the smoothie regardless of whether it was in a special cup, but he would have had to go without if he didn't pay the extra dollar. So he intentionally paid the extra dollar.

Aspies can understand, er, our normal brains by backtracing the logical answer to the question of "why". Why did he get the cup? Well, he didn't really mean to actually. Why did he pay the dollar? Because he wanted that drink.

Huge difference.
posted by dydecker at 7:20 PM on November 5, 2008 [8 favorites]


Also, the second one says that the drinks are "one dollar more than they used to be" which is a subtle clue that Joe has been buying these drinks for a while. Therefore, he needs to make a conscious decision (which is to say *intend*) to pay more. So when he does buy the drink we infer that intent

I think that's what threw me off in the second scenario, but maybe the cashier just has been telling that to everyone.

I don't see how it makes a difference whether or not the cashier tells this to everyone or whether or not Joe has been there before and ordered smoothies. He clearly says that his intention is to quench his thirst, so that's his intention.

If my intention is to go to Europe and you tell me that all planes are grounded and I'll have to go by boat. If I say, "I don't care how I get there, as long as I get there," my intention isn't to go by boat, it's to go to Europe. The means of getting there is irrelevant to my intention.
posted by grumblebee at 7:22 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is a great post. The internet needs nothing quite so much as it needs more nerds who've diagnosed themselves with Asperger's without consulting a doctor. Thank you for this.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:22 PM on November 5, 2008 [7 favorites]


I couldn't get past the fact that someone dehydrated would order a goddamn smoothie to quench his thirst. That grossed me out so much that everything after that was a blur. A cold, thick, cloying, fruity blur. You don't drink something thick to quench your thirst. I'm gagging right now.
posted by iconomy at 7:23 PM on November 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


I think eschatfische hit it on the head. He did it "on purpose", which I guess means the same thing as "deliberately". He paid the extra dollar on purpose, the purpose being to get the largest smoothie.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:23 PM on November 5, 2008


He would have gotten the smoothie regardless of whether it was in a special cup, but he would have had to go without if he didn't pay the extra dollar. So he intentionally paid the extra dollar.

OHHHH! I see the confusion. It's between intent meaning "goal" and intentionally meaning "consciously."

Sure, he consciously plaid a dollar. But his goal (intent) wasn't to pay a dollar. It was to acquire the smoothie.
posted by grumblebee at 7:25 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Are you intending to make this ChatFilter by replying to every comment?

No, I'm just replying when something occurs to me to say.
posted by grumblebee at 7:28 PM on November 5, 2008


AS AN INARTICULATE EXPRESSION OF MY ASPIE ANGST I WILL NOW COUNT ALL OF THE BUMPS IN EACH OF YOUR KITCHEN TILES AND CATEGORIZE THEM BY SHAPE AND TEXTURE WHILE MAKING NOTE OF WHICH ONES REMIND ME OF THE PROFILE OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND WHEN I AM DONE I WILL PEE IN YOUR CORNFLAKES.

WARNING: IF I FIND PI OR LARGE PRIME NUMBERS IN YOUR KITCHEN TILES I COULD BE HERE ALL WEEK. BRING MOUNTAIN DEW.
posted by loquacious at 7:28 PM on November 5, 2008 [9 favorites]


God, how completely moronic. No wonder half the people on the internet have self-diagnosed Asperger's.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:32 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe the smoothie gave all of us brainfreezes.
posted by jonmc at 7:33 PM on November 5, 2008


In both cases, you intentionally pay the purchase price for the cup, in order to get the cup. You would do so even if it was not a commemorative cup.

That the purchase price is different in both cases is of no consequence; you intended to pay the price of the cup, and did so, just like you intended to ask the person for an opportunity to purchase the cup. If the person said "I can't sell you the cup, but my manager can" and you spoke to the manager, would you have intentionally spoken to the manager? Yep, in order to obtain the cup.

I won't speculate as to why different people would see this differently, although I have a few ideas.
posted by davejay at 7:34 PM on November 5, 2008


Self diagnosing ADHD is out and self-diagnosing aspergers is in? To be fair, the hipsters in my neighborhood are starting to self-diagnose themselves as having Ganser syndrome. Japanese teens are self-diagnosing with Briquet's syndrome and European housewives all think they have Capgras' syndrome. Ive also heard that all Russians who grew up during the soviet era are sure they have reduplicative paramnesia.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:35 PM on November 5, 2008 [7 favorites]


and now I want a delicious smoothie, dammit
posted by davejay at 7:36 PM on November 5, 2008


I'm sure this test was ripped out of a larger context, but it still seems somewhat sloppy, in that it hinges on the definition of "intention".

Ye Old Free Web Dictionary gives two definitions:

1. A course of action that one intends to follow.
2. a. An aim that guides action; an objective.

The first of these is inclusive, a big gestalt, i.e., "I want that big drink, so I'll shall do all that obtaining that big drink requires, including gritting my teeth and accepting the fact that it will be served in a stupid cup.... or that I'll have to pay an extra buck."

The second is more a matter of active preference, i.e., "My passionate desire is to get a big drink."

It's possible that Inigo Montoya was given the chance to peer review this, but at first glance, it seems not.
posted by darth_tedious at 7:36 PM on November 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Here's an easy test: hold your finger in front of your eyes and focus on it, move your finger back and forth (left and right) a few times a second - if it looks blurry (ie. your eyes can't keep up) try keeping your finger still and move your head back and forth at the same rate - if your finger stays in focus, than your an Aspie.

Huh. grumblebee, can you do that? I'm kind of curious.

For me, the key is that my brain holds a very literal definition of "intention." He made it really clear that his INTENTION was to quench his thirst. All other info is absolutely irrelevant to his INTENTION. I can't see how any other answer makes sense. My wife explained it to me, but I still don't really get it.

Think about it this way. When you want to do something, you need to come up with a plan to do it. If I want some pizza, there are a lot of steps I need to take. Pick up my keys, go to my car, go to the store, buy a slice of pizza. But completing each step in the plan is also a goal in itself.

So with the extra dollar, the guy finds out the bigger cup costs more, and so he has to change his plan. He adds a new step (paying an extra dollar). Paying that extra dollar, and carrying out that step is an intentional action, just like every step along the way is an intentional action.

On the other hand, with the commemorative cup, no plans change, no new steps are added.

"If a non-Asperger's person says 'I don't care if I have to pay an extra dollar ...' - it means to them that they have evaluated the entire expression ... and they understand that the other person's intent is to let them know of a change ... as a kindness to give the customer an opportunity to evaluate their purchase. ...It is an interaction between two people."

I didn't see it that way at all. The fact that it's an "interaction between two people" doesn’t change the internationality. After all, the commemorative cup thing involves interaction as well. It may be that the cashier really loves the cup and wants everyone to know about it. The customer could be a rude bastard by telling her he doesn’t give a fuck about her awesome cup.

But boingboingers are all idiots so it's not surprising they'd come up with a theory like that.

Finally, the language is ambiguous and if you think about it too long all the different possible meanings of "intent" can get confusing, and different people might simply read it differently.
posted by delmoi at 7:37 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


There seem to be subtle clues in the language of Joe's responses that help non-Asperger Syndrome people detect the intent:

"I don't care about a commemorative cup, I just want the biggest smoothie you have." Here he rejects the commemorative cup.

"I don't care if I have to pay one dollar more, I just want the biggest smoothie you have." Here he accepts the additional cost. "I don't care if I have too pay..." is the same as "I agree to pay." This makes it intentional.
posted by luckypozzo at 7:39 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's an easy test: hold your finger in front of your eyes and focus on it, move your finger back and forth (left and right) a few times a second - if it looks blurry (ie. your eyes can't keep up) try keeping your finger still and move your head back and forth at the same rate - if your finger stays in focus, than your an Aspie.


Huh. grumblebee, can you do that? I'm kind of curious.

I never heard of this test before. My result is: moving finger (blurry); moving head (totally in focus). This isn't true for everyone?
posted by grumblebee at 7:43 PM on November 5, 2008


"I don't care if I have too pay..." is the same as "I agree to pay." This makes it intentional.

But "I don't care about a commemorative cup" is not the same as "I agree to accept your lousy cup"? He could, after all, have said "Oh, then I'll take the next smaller cup."
posted by Slothrup at 7:43 PM on November 5, 2008


Here's an easy test: hold your finger in front of your eyes and focus on it, move your finger back and forth (left and right) a few times a second - if it looks blurry (ie. your eyes can't keep up) try keeping your finger still and move your head back and forth at the same rate - if your finger stays in focus, than your an Aspie.

Can you cite this as a diagnostic?
posted by ageispolis at 7:45 PM on November 5, 2008


Lame lamey lame.

The tester is saying that if you want anything bad enough to not care about how it's packaged or how much it costs, then you have Asperger's. So, all junkies, and parents who bid 500.00 for dancing Elmos on eBay apparently qualify.

And yeah, smoothie? Is this a trick question?
posted by emjaybee at 7:45 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


but can an aspie tell the difference between a literal and a figurative viking?
posted by felix grundy at 7:48 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I never heard of this test before. My result is: moving finger (blurry); moving head (totally in focus). This isn't true for everyone?"

Yes indeed, I was just joking. Extra points if you can explain why this is so - the eyes are moving back and forth at the same pace, except the first case (head still) it is blurry, and the other (head moving) it stays in focus.
posted by stbalbach at 7:55 PM on November 5, 2008


She killed her sister to see the man at her funeral.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:03 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I vote no and no. Does that make me half an aspie?

At eqsq.com - EQ is 21 and SQ is 116. I've taken other (online) tests for Asperger's and test high for a woman (as I did in this one), but never this high. It's odd that in other tests I've taken show me as more empathetic than anything else.
posted by deborah at 8:05 PM on November 5, 2008


I got the Barrack Obama commemorative cup.
posted by fixedgear at 8:07 PM on November 5, 2008


See, there's this airplane. . .
posted by flotson at 8:07 PM on November 5, 2008


I'm struck by the hang-up everyone seems to have with intentionality. I've always thought it meant that if you knew x would happen if you do y, that doing y was intentional to causing x. Apparently people don't all agree.

Independent of that, my interpretation of the 'test' is that what draws people in different directions is their interpretation of the statements of "I don't care". In scenario A, the statement leaves the possibility that the character may or may not get the cup, and my inter-personal understanding is that it is okay for the clerk to do either, and the character may either get a commemorative cup, or not. Thus, no intention.

In scenario B, the statement "I don't care if the price is a dollar more, I want the drink" is exactly the same as saying "I would like to pay a price that is a dollar more for that drink" because we know that is the consequence of the action. Saying you would like to pay a particular price strikes me as intentional.

The difference here is my intuition and understanding of how I would expect the cashier to act in each of these situations.

--

No doubt a pretty lousy way to diagnose a mental condition.
posted by meinvt at 8:09 PM on November 5, 2008


Slothrup, I think it comes down to detecting the ideology in Joe's responses. In the first response he's flippant about the cup, which in turn has no other consequences for him. His attitude about the cup implies that he doesn't intend to buy the cup; he just wants the smoothie. Ideologically, he rejects the cup even though physically he accepts it.

In the second, he demonstrates the same flippant concern for his money, which in turn has consequences that should be known to him, which then implies intent. He's saying, "Who cares about money? I want the smoothie." By having no concern for the money, his ideology is saying he agrees to spend it.
posted by luckypozzo at 8:09 PM on November 5, 2008


I said "yes" and "yes," but I didn't have a strong feeling about either answer. I think my intuitions about what's intentional have been primed by law and philosophy, so I may not be a good test subject. But it's an interesting result if it holds up.
posted by grobstein at 8:15 PM on November 5, 2008


I saw both as unintentional and there's no way that I have Asperger's. It's just a rubbish example.
posted by ob at 8:18 PM on November 5, 2008


I don't understand why he'd want to drink a smoothie if he were thirsty. Those things are mostly pretty awful and too sweet. So that stopped me at the beginning. Erm.
posted by jokeefe at 8:28 PM on November 5, 2008


Lawrence wondered what use America would find for him.

He went back to Iowa State, considered changing his major to mathematics, but didn't. It was the consensus of all whom he consulted that mathematics, like pipe-organ restoration, was a fine thing, but that one needed some way to put bread on the table. He remained in engineering and did more and more poorly at it until the middle of his senior year, when the university suggested that he enter a useful line of work, such as roofing. He walked straight out of college into the waiting arms of the Navy.

They gave him an intelligence test. The first question on the math part had to do with boats on a river: Port Smith is 100 miles upstream of Port Jones. The river flows at 5 miles per hour. The boat goes through water at 10 miles per hour. How long does it take to go from Port Smith to Port Jones? How long to come back?

Lawrence immediately saw that it was a trick question. You would have to be some kind of idiot to make the facile assumption that the current would add or subtract 5 miles per hour to or from the speed of the boat. Clearly, 5 miles per hour was nothing more than the average speed. The current would be faster in the middle of the river and slower at the banks. More complicated variations could be expected at bends in the river. Basically it was a question of hydrodynamics, which could be tackled using certain well-known systems of differential equations. Lawrence dove into the problem, rapidly (or so he thought) covering both sides of ten sheets of paper with calculations. Along the way, he realized that one of his assumptions, in combination with the simplified Navier-Stokes equations, had led him into an exploration of a particularly interesting family of partial differential equations. Before he knew it, he had proved a new theorem. If that didn't prove his intelligence, what would?

Then the time bell rang and the papers were collected. Lawrence managed to hang onto his scratch paper. He took it back to his dorm, typed it up, and mailed it to one of the more approachable math professors at Princeton, who promptly arranged for it to be published in a Parisian mathematics journal.

Lawrence received two free, freshly printed copies of the journal a few months later, in San Diego, California, during mail call on board a large ship called the U.S.S. Nevada. The ship had a band, and the Navy had given Lawrence the job of playing the glockenspiel in it, because their testing procedures had proven that he was not intelligent enough to do anything else.
posted by not that girl at 8:43 PM on November 5, 2008 [24 favorites]


...the eyes are moving back and forth at the same pace, except the first case (head still) it is blurry, and the other (head moving) it stays in focus.

Um, it's blurry both ways for me. I'll bet it depends on the background -- I'm doing it in front of bookshelves, which have a lot of horizontal detail (if you see what I mean) that my finger is roughly the same size as and moving in front of.
posted by The Tensor at 8:47 PM on November 5, 2008


If I replace the word "smoothie" with the word "beer", I become an alcoholic Asperger.
posted by Hoopo at 8:49 PM on November 5, 2008


Um, you can't use this test to diagnose Asperger's. At best, it's a test of how logically you approach certain issues and your opinion on money. The latter is going to be a huge influence on this. If you want to be technical, there is a socioeconomic bias. I'll buy that someone who has Asberger's will tend to think more literally about such things, but not everyone who sees no difference between these two questions is autistic -- not even remotely. The suggestion is actually pretty asinine.
posted by cj_ at 8:51 PM on November 5, 2008


This is one of those Metafilter threads that's way too timely. I just started reading a fresh new book (first one to get it from the library!) about agency and animacy called Cognitive Adaptation that deals with just this issue. Though I haven't gotten far, I have read a bit about how autustic people aren't so good at recognizing agency (others' ability to think/feel/believe/etc.). I think that is the real gist of this test.

By the by, the author says in the comments that this is NOT adequate for diagnosing Aspberger's.

Oh, and I also just read about the whole eye in front of finger thing somewhere else. It is also connected to agency. It's your brain's super-special trick that lets you tell when you are moving as opposed to when something else is moving. And it lets you walk around and stuff. Neat.
posted by nosila at 8:52 PM on November 5, 2008


Extra points if you can explain why this is so - the eyes are moving back and forth at the same pace, except the first case (head still) it is blurry, and the other (head moving) it stays in focus.

Because the vestibular system is working like an internal gyroscope. The brain needs to interpret the surroundings with a fairly constant orientation in order for the body to maintain balance and perspective. If fixed objects appeared to move as the head moved, you would live in a state of perpetual dizziness without the ability to judge distance or remain upright.
posted by weebil at 8:53 PM on November 5, 2008


I don't care how you feel. I would like your commemorative cup.
posted by Kloryne at 8:53 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


This fails. Intentions change, constantly in matters as trivial as smoothie purchases.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:57 PM on November 5, 2008


More interesting: Two people with Asperger's, one commemorative cup.
posted by ob at 9:05 PM on November 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


The difference between the two cases is that in the second the person is implicitly offered the choice to back out of the purchase. Backing out upon hearing of a price increase would be a routine response, and the customer knows this, so we can assume that he makes a deliberate choice to continue with the purchase. On the other hand, it would be unusual for someone to decline to purchase a drink because it comes in a commemorative cup. In that case, all the person is doing is brushing off some irrelevant information that the cashier gives him.
posted by obvious at 9:11 PM on November 5, 2008


What if you answered normally, but were diagnosed with AS as a child? Does that mean you're cured or something?
posted by hellojed at 9:15 PM on November 5, 2008


To put it more simply, the statement "The price has increased" comes with an implicit question, "Do you still want it?". The statement "It comes with a free commemorative cup" does not.
posted by obvious at 9:21 PM on November 5, 2008


By the by, the author says in the comments that this is NOT adequate for diagnosing Aspberger's.
Fair enough. I was responding to the title of the FPP which is: "diagnose yourself! Are you an Aspie?"

I mean, I get the difference in the two situations, but they were offered as a test, so I diagnosed them very analytically in the first place. Perhaps if I were in this hypothetical position, I would think they're different. But probably not, because a dollar is jack to me and I wouldn't think twice about paying an extra dollar if I wanted the big drink. I'd just say "whatever". Maybe someone counting their dollars would consider it beyond that. I'd hope so, anyway.

Maybe my beef is just with the submitter who conflated the correlation with something more meaningful.
posted by cj_ at 9:21 PM on November 5, 2008


This is a test of the Asperger's spectrum network
posted by hortense at 9:22 PM on November 5, 2008


All I wanted was a Pepsi.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:28 PM on November 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


I scored 10 on the test.
posted by dydecker at 9:29 PM on November 5, 2008


Neither question makes sense to me. I read the english words contained there-in but it doesn't scan at all as being comprehensible.

This may be because a) it's 11:30 pm where I am and fnord I've had a long day or b) I fnord am a robot
posted by Severian at 9:31 PM on November 5, 2008


Yes, because if there's one thing the world needs, it's more self diagnosed ass-burgers cases. Because, you know, there's not already enough of them. Every asshole with poor social skills and a collection of anime DVDs is an "Asperger's sufferer" already, despite having never seen a psychologist or doing anything other than reading the Wikipedia page for Asperger's Syndrome ... Autistic spectrum disorders are a terrible affliction, not something to latch onto to make your boring identity more interesting and to use as an excuse for your shortcomings.

I wish I could favourite this a thousand times. Between the guy I work with that fits this description exactly to my former on-line mothers' group where they all managed to self-diagnose themselves as having ADHD with a test on a site that sold - wait for it - pills for dealing with ADHD, I am thoroughly sick of people self-diagnosing syndromes to excuse the fact that they are actually either rather boring or need to put a bit of effort into controlling their own lives.
/rant
posted by Megami at 9:33 PM on November 5, 2008


The important thing is that when you order a drink at an airport bar and they say "Would you like to make that a double for $2 more?", and you say yes, you probably like alcohol a lot. Also, relative bargains.
posted by padraigin at 9:33 PM on November 5, 2008


Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!
posted by bwg at 9:34 PM on November 5, 2008


I have a much simpler test:

If you're willing to sit down and read this entire thread, and carefully evaluate each statement and opinion -- then you probably have Asperger's.
posted by webmutant at 9:35 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


According to the test, I'm an aspie.

Oh wait, no, I am not.

I wish everything was solved this way, with just one quick question to determine if you have some serious condition... for example:

Sally takes a train to Baltimore and discovers that she needs to go to the bathroom halfway through the trip. What should she do - go to the bathroom on the train, and risk getting an STD from the toilet seat, or wait until she gets to Baltimore so she can use the restroom at the house of Garth Brooks?

"mmmm I say use the restroom on the train."

"You have cancer."
posted by bradth27 at 9:38 PM on November 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


If you're willing to sit down and read this entire thread, and carefully evaluate each statement and opinion -- then you probably have Asperger's.

And they laughed at me when I said I only read the favorited comments.
posted by hellojed at 9:52 PM on November 5, 2008


Grumblebee, dude, this was a really bad way of framing this post. This is not a test to see ifyou have Aspergers or not, it is a test to see how people with Aspergers differ from the standard population in the way they view intentional action.

I think it is interesting how Grumblebee's formation of the post influenced how people answered the question. It would be interesting to see if the results people had would be different if they took the question after reading this thread first.

Yes indeed, I was just joking. Extra points if you can explain why this is so - the eyes are moving back and forth at the same pace, except the first case (head still) it is blurry, and the other (head moving) it stays in focus.

Vestibular system. Also posting joke self diagnosis tests about psychological conditions id kind of an asshole thing to do.
posted by afu at 9:53 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also posting joke self diagnosis tests about psychological conditions id kind of an asshole thing to do.

Ah good, just the psychological issues. After I submitted my one question cancer test earler in the thread, I started to think that I might offend someone.
posted by bradth27 at 10:00 PM on November 5, 2008


Mostly now I'm just thirsty.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:07 PM on November 5, 2008


This is BS, as webil notes. Humans subconsciously correct eye fixations based on proprioceptive (body position) sensory feedback. Thus it's much easier to move your head while looking at a still object (as we do everyday while walking about) then it is to follow a moving object with a still head. Since Asperger's is associated with poor proprioception, the opposite of the first poster's test might actually be more accurate.
posted by anthill at 10:08 PM on November 5, 2008


Oops, I'm wrong - vestibular-ocular reflex is indeed the right answer.
posted by anthill at 10:10 PM on November 5, 2008


I'm going to start my own pharmaceutical empire by marketing some fake placebo as an Asperger's treatment.

Wouldn't a "fake placebo" be - by definition - a real treatment?

Congratulations, DecemberBoy! By discovering the cure for Aspergers, you could well become MetaFilter's very first Nobel Laureate!
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:10 PM on November 5, 2008


No, a fake placebo is a product so worthless that it does nothing, no matter how much you believe in it. You're looking for an antiersatzplacebo.
posted by lukemeister at 10:18 PM on November 5, 2008


Also posting joke self diagnosis tests about psychological conditions id kind of an asshole thing to do.

Freudian slip?
posted by ODiV at 10:36 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


"For someone with Asperger's, when they say 'I don't care if I have to pay an extra dollar ...', it means that they have performed a short-circuit cost-benefit analysis of the commercial exchange and that, in this instance, the extra dollar is irrelevant or trivial. Consideration of human interaction is not a part of this function. The numerical valuation of the cost of the item may not even be part of the cost-benefit analysis, if the person with Asperger's is not prepared to re-evaluate how much they are spending on the item at that point in time; Decisions on whether or not to continue to purchase an item that is purchased routinely are often performed later, at a time dedicated to working out budgets."

This was precisely the logic I was following. He declared he was price-independent, at least for that range of increase - therefore the price increase was irrelevant to the purchase decision, just like the nice cup, and thus the extra cost incurred was unintentional. That there was a human factor, that he was acknowledging the cashier was 'being nice', didn't even come into my thinking.

On the other hand, the moving finger thing is no trouble at all either way round, and I'm not bad at TF2, which relies on hitting fast moving targets a lot.

My mum (an ex psychiatric nurse) half-jokingly diagnosed me with mild schizophrenia years ago. (I've struck the items on this list that don't apply to me)

social withdrawal and isolation
excessive fatigue or sleepiness, or sleep disruption (I'm often tired, but struggle to sleep)
loss of concentration
dropping out of activities, loss of motivation
apparent indifference even to important events
decline in academic or physical performance
loss of interest in personal hygiene or fashion sense (the latter)
purposeless activity
bizarre or inappropriate behaviour (when I'm stressed)
preoccupation with spiritual matters (does Obama's election count?)
incoherent illogical speech (only when I'm tired)

I also work in IT, have a fiance and a number of friends, but very few close.

So do I have mild aspergers, mild schizophrenia, or am I just geeky?

I don't get hallucinations, I don't talk to myself or get excessively paranoid (it's not paranoia when the UK government really is recording your emails and web-traffic!) , I don't feel the need to wear a tinfoil hat, and I can hold down a job because I'm good at what I do, even if I'm a little hard to work with when I'm under a lot of pressure. My paraphasia is only getting slightly worse as I get older. I have a wonderful girl who I'm going to marry next year. So what does it matter?
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:18 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I didn't take the test because I think this type of tests are crap, but here's my thoughts, let's go from the opposite, unintentional means without knowledge. Let's say I know that a certain drink is 1.50 and I tell my friend to get one for me and give him a fiver and tell him to give me change back. The drink is now $2 and he gives me back $3. I unintentionally paid half a dollar more, but if he asked me beforehand and I said ok, then you could not say I unintentionally paid more. But saying 'intentionally' is a little bit stronger than saying 'not unintentionally'. It shows a hint of preference. You have several options and you prefer one. For example, if you could pay a dollar more or you could sign up for a discount card and not pay extra but you'd have to spend some amount of time and you're in a rush, so you choose to pay a dollar more. Without knowledge = unintentional. With knowledge but without having a choice or a preference = not unintentional. With knowledge and with preference of one way of getting to the goal vs. some other ways = intentional.

This is kind of a matter of individual use of the word, too, someone may use the word only in the sense of when it's your primary goal. Languages are fuzzy.
posted by rainy at 11:28 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I may or may not have Aspergers, but there's one thing I know for certain. That was fucking stupid.
posted by joe defroster at 11:40 PM on November 5, 2008


Hmm. Here's a much more detailed test. I scored 36. Bugger.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:45 PM on November 5, 2008


Ok, just did it again more carefully. Got 38.

11-22 is normal (men get 17, women 15 on average).
35 is average for high-functioning autistics/aspergers
50 is maximum.

Oh well.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:54 PM on November 5, 2008


He declared he was price-independent, at least for that range of increase - therefore the price increase was irrelevant to the purchase decision, just like the nice cup, and thus the extra cost incurred was unintentional. That there was a human factor, that he was acknowledging the cashier was 'being nice', didn't even come into my thinking.

It all makes sense now--Asperger's is just neoclassical economics at work!
posted by DaDaDaDave at 12:03 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is this that Joe the Plumber guy? Because if so, he might not really be quite as thirsty as he claims. Something to think about.

But seriously, in the first instance, Joe is offered something extra that is irrelevant to him, while in the second, Joe is required to acknowledge that he must give something more than usual in order to acquire what he wants. In the first instance he can say that he unintentionally received a commemorative cup, but in the second he can't say that he didn't intend to pay the extra dollar. The same would be true, actually, if the cashier has stated that the price was whatever the old price was. He intended to pay the cost of the largest smoothie, whatever that price was. He never intended to get a commemorative cup.
posted by taz at 12:36 AM on November 6, 2008


You know who else wanted the biggest smoothie they could get? That's right, the women in the Two Girls, One Cup video.

They didn't much care about the flavour though, so I guess they were Aspies too?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:40 AM on November 6, 2008


11-22 is normal (men get 17, women 15 on average).
35 is average for high-functioning autistics/aspergers
50 is maximum.


So I got 10, which is 'low'. I've no idea what 'low' means though. Does that make me the anti-Aspie? Does it mean that Aspies turn to stone when they gaze upon my mighty empathetic being?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:52 AM on November 6, 2008


If only I could favourite DecemberBoy more than once.
posted by rodgerd at 1:17 AM on November 6, 2008


Hmm. Here's a much more detailed test. I scored 36. Bugger.

Yeah? Well, funnily enough, I did that test and came up 33, so I ought to be a classic person with Asperger's. And yet, I've done psych tests a few times for jobs, administered by actual psychiatrists and I come out clustered around normal. Tending towards answers typical for women, actually, which is kind of amusing.
posted by rodgerd at 1:22 AM on November 6, 2008


Japanese teens are self-diagnosing with Briquet's syndrome and European housewives all think they have Capgras' syndrome.

Pfft. I self-diagnosed China Syndrome.

Now that's a chilli.
posted by Grangousier at 1:47 AM on November 6, 2008


Be careful who you guys make fun of. We make your smoothies, and we know where you live.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:50 AM on November 6, 2008


I'm almost certain I have Stockholm Syndrome.

And you guys are always too hard on Bush. He's an alright guy. He's done a lot of good for the world.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:55 AM on November 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Brain Freeze and coconut milk.

The key to this problem is 'if'.

‘I don't care about a commemorative cup, I just want the biggest smoothie you have.'
‘I don't care if I have to pay one dollar more, I just want the biggest smoothie you have.'

Apparently, also, I'm a high functioning autistic, which is a surprise and a relief. I thought I was just lazy, shy and unmotivated with a method of passing time when waiting which involves maths and/or counting - a side effect of cruel and uncaring parents who used to leave me waiting for hours in the car (but with the windows down) without reading material.

Huh, imagine if I went to a gp tomorrow and suggested s/he recommend a specialist to me because the intertubes said I had autism. That sounds like a plan.
posted by b33j at 2:32 AM on November 6, 2008


I really don't understand why we rush to pathologize ourselves. The results on a psychometric test really doesn't matter worth a shit compared to how well we function in our daily lives and we really don't need to take them unless we aren't. I'm pretty sure I would have been diagnosed with an ASD as a child if it had existed. I went through days of clinical medical and psychological tests because schools though I was "weird" and my parents were concerned. Really, I was just a radically undersocialized hillbilly that was moved to the city. I didn't need diagnosed, I needed compassionate consideration and guidance from my teachers and peers - that would have helped a lot more than the tests.
posted by mrmojoflying at 4:26 AM on November 6, 2008


Oh, and I'm not making a Tom Cruise argument. I have a sister with BPD, and she needs the help she gets. I'm more talking about the rush to diagnosis and self-diagnosis tropes that creep up in popular culture.
posted by mrmojoflying at 4:27 AM on November 6, 2008


I think it is interesting how Grumblebee's formation of the post influenced how people answered the question. It would be interesting to see if the results people had would be different if they took the question after reading this thread first.

For the record, I agree that I screwed up how I framed the test. My INTENTION (when I wrote the "diagnose yourself" title) was to make a joke. It didn't occur to me that people would take it seriously. As I said in my post, I'm skeptical that this test could actually work as a diagnostic tool. I do find the researcher's claim interesting, though, which is that Aspies answer the question differently than non-Aspies. That claim needs to be peer reviewed.

I'm a bit flabbergasted that so many people are angry at friends who self-diagnose. But their anger makes sense. I don't have any friends who self diagnose AND use that diagnosis as an excuse for rude behavior. If I did, I wouldn't keep them as friends. Frankly, if someone showed me a brain scan that proved he had Asperger's, I wouldn't accept that as an excuse for bad behavior, either. Asperger's creates some hurdles to socialization, but they can be overcome.

I don't think all self-diagnosing is bad. I've haven't self-diagnosed myself after taking some bogus online test. I've done it after a couple of decades of reading up on the subject. Even with that, I'd give my self-diagnosis only an 80% chance of being correct. And it's definitely not an excuse for anything.
posted by grumblebee at 4:27 AM on November 6, 2008


I flipped down to the results section of her paper. The PPV of this 'test' is 4.7% assuming a 2% rate of aspergers in the population. That's not very impressive as a test.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:46 AM on November 6, 2008


I really don't understand why we rush to pathologize ourselves. The results on a psychometric test really doesn't matter worth a shit compared to how well we function in our daily lives and we really don't need to take them unless we aren't.

A diagnosis -- self or otherwise -- is useless unless it helps you overcome problems. If it doesn't do that, it IS just fodder for excuse-making or it's an inert label.

Framing myself as an Aspie, whether I'm kidding myself or not, has been incredibly helpful to me. It's given me an understanding of what happens to me in social situations and its given me tactics I can employ to help myself deal with those situations. Maybe I'm not an Aspie, but those tactics really help me. Maybe they help me due to some sort of placebo effect. But they still help me. My life improved after I concluded I had Asperger's Syndrome.
posted by grumblebee at 4:52 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Framing myself as an Aspie, whether I'm kidding myself or not, has been incredibly helpful to me.

I totally respect that. I just wish that more people treated the concept of "diagnosis" as thoughtfully as you do, because it's a very, very powerful trope in Western culture and one that is often used to marginalize individuals and groups of individuals.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:03 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really don't understand why we rush to pathologize ourselves. The results on a psychometric test really doesn't matter worth a shit compared to how well we function in our daily lives and we really don't need to take them unless we aren't.

Pathologizing our differences is just the new form of wondering if you're adopted. It's a way of asking: is there a material reason for my feelings of alienation and estrangement? People surprise me sometimes... is that because they're built differently than me?

Another way to put it: in my experience, most people have wondered at least once whether their experience of redness is anything like other people's experience of the color red. You fight with the question a little bit, and decide it doesn't matter, because it's just a color, and so long as we all call the same things 'red' we should be satisfied.

But once you head down this path of wondering whether your eyes might be fooling you, other questions pop up. We have plenty of examples of strange behavior: people who mean something different by 'torture,' 'justice,' and 'beauty.' These purely linguistic distinctions start to matter a bit more, and psychopathology is one kind of explanation for these differences.

What if my brain is fooling me about important things, too? You can always learn a new definition for a word, do translation in your head. But what if the problem is syntactical? What if our brains don't all scope intentionality the same way? What if that argument I had with my wife was because my brain is structured to parse propositions differently than hers? How will we ever resolve such a fundamental difference? How will we bridge the gap that separates our brains and their limitations? What if everyone else, including her, means something different when they say 'I love you'?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:30 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


clearly, this test indicates that I could make a lot of money upselling cars to people who have Aspergers.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:40 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have a psychiatric diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome, and I had no trouble with coming up with the 'Neuro' answer to these probes. My capacity to understand complex human motives has never been broken, I just have trouble reading people's body language and have extreme environmental sensitivities.

Knowing I'm Aspie is mostly a tool for telling why the rest of my family acts like they shambled off the boat from a mysterious country, and why innocent people assume I'm a foreigner. There are rules to being in my family. You respect my mother's unusual private religion. The colour yellow is forbidden. No loud noises are permitted; music is only for rare, low stimulated occasions. Lecturing each other is a social activity. Grooming is important, but painful, and clothing is intended to pass for normal while being as comfy and shapeless as possible.

My diagnosis was based on lack of eye contact, the monotone voice with the unique familial accent (you can instantly tell family members are related), and a checklist questionnaire or two. No "probes" were used. On the other hand, I’m starting to wonder just how severe my Aspergers is. Am I a hyper-sensitive person, who having been raised in the weird family bubble, learned my family’s Aspie traits as a result of no external examples? Or am I deluding myself and my Aspieness is more dominant?
posted by Phalene at 5:43 AM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


You guys that are criticizing the questions are missing the point. This isn't designed to figure out who has Asperger's and who doesn't; it's intention is to help understand Asperger's better. Since the Asperger's and non-Asperger's populations consistently understand question 2 differently, something about the wording of that question is a clue to how they processes information differently. It doesn't matter if you like the wording or not--they consistently different interpretations in the two groups is all that matters. The fact that "normals" all understand crappy, badly worded question 2 to in one way and the "Aspies" all understand crappy, badly worded question 2 in a different way is enough to make this useful.

Funny how many people missed the intention of the questions about intention.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:51 AM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


This makes no sense to me. Joe's primary intention in both cases is to receive a drink, for which he offers money. In both cases, he pays money. In the first case, he also gets a commemorative cup, which he doesn't care about. Whoopdi-doo. A cup. Yay. In the second case, the cashier is politely telling him that the price--which he can be assumed to be used to paying, as the price difference is recent--is a dollar more than he expected or offered, and he pays.

It's the cashier's intention to receive the price ($X, or $X+1), for which the cashier offers a drink. In the first case, the cashier also has the intention--presumably having been paid to market them--to give out the commemorative cups. In both cases Joe paid, not because he wanted to give away money, but because he knew that if he did not pay, he would not receive the drink. Did he intend to pay? No, it was just the means to achieve his end. If the drinks were offered free, I'm sure Joe would have gladly taken one; and if the cashier had asked more than a certain sum for a drink, Joe would have gone away empty-handed, thirsty, and annoyed. Annoyed, because his intention was thwarted. Simple.

From the article: But if we understand that the agent believes that it is necessary for him to pay this extra-dollar in order to obtain what he wants (a smoothie), then we can ascribe to him the instrumental desire to pay an extra-dollar.

You can ascribe that desire to him, but it is specious to do so. Desiring to pay an extra dollar is economically irrational behavior. Granted, he might want to tip the cashier or something. But people who go around saying "oh, I'll just pay an extra dollar for the hell of it" are generally considered weirder than Aspies, if not outright mad.

FWIW, I test well below the Aspergers level on actual proper psychologists' actual proper autistic spectrum disorder tests.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:56 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damnit I was expecting some form of a multiple answer quiz to waste time....
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:57 AM on November 6, 2008


The War Crimes Case
George was feeling quite dehydrated, so he bombed by the local Iraq shop to buy the largest sized petroleum-producing dictator-run country available. Before bombing, the secretary of defense told him that the delicious oil fields were now one hundred thousand civilian deaths more than they used to be. George replied, ‘I don't care if I have to pay one hundred thousand civilian deaths more , I just want the biggest petroleum producer you have.' Sure enough, George received the petroleum producer and paid one hundred thousand civilian deaths more for it. Did George intentionally kill one hundred thousand civilians?
posted by Slothrup at 5:58 AM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Funny how many people missed the intention of the questions about intention.

Your point makes a lot of sense. But I think the reason why we miss the intention, is that the questions are worded like a logic puzzle, and as such we naturally expect to be told "Aha! But you are wrong because ..."
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:59 AM on November 6, 2008


All I wanted was a Pepsi.

I'm not crazy. YOU'RE the one that's crazy.
posted by phearlez at 6:00 AM on November 6, 2008


What does the cup commemorate?
posted by Floydd at 6:20 AM on November 6, 2008


Here's a variant to help explain to the people saying "I don't see the difference" what the difference is that some of us do see:

Joe was feeling quite dehydrated, so he stopped by the local smoothie shop to buy the largest sized drink available. Before ordering, the cashier told him that she was honor-bound to guard the mega-sized smoothies with her life, and that the only way Joe could obtain one was to kill her. Joe replied, ‘I don't care if you live or die, I just want the biggest smoothie you have.' Sure enough, Joe killed the cashier and got himself a mega-sized smoothie. Which is Joe guilty of, murder or manslaughter?

Now, as in the other two cases, Joe's intention was simply to get the largest smoothie available. So if you're arguing that Joe's goal is all that matters, you'd have to conclude that killing the cashier was unintentional. But I think we can all agree that this would be crazy talk, the sort of thing only Anton Chigur would say. So what's the factor that distinguishes killing from accepting the cup?

The obvious answer (to me) is that accepting the commemorative cup is passive; killing the clerk is active. By this criterion, the people who say that paying the extra dollar is intentional are seeing it as an action that Joe must perform to get the cup.
posted by baf at 6:25 AM on November 6, 2008


So does someone with Asperger's have a different idea of what is "intentional," or just a different reading of the situations in the two questions? The questions don't seem to be written very well to get at the authors' point. They want to prove that in the case of a "foreseen cost-benefit trade-off", where a negative side effect occurs while achieving a goal, the side effect is not seen as intentional by most people with Aspergers. Yet neither the trade-off nor the negativity is necessarily clear because of the situations' wording.

What's really odd to me is that there were apparently no other question pairs in either of the two studies that used these two questions, so there was nothing to identify whether question wording affected the results. Also, the Asperbergers-specific study was of a total of 40 people (just 14 with Aspergers as Maias mentioned), plus they were all French speakers, meaning the questions were translated along the way.

Uh oh. Are critical thinking and skepticism traits of Asperger's?
posted by HarshLanguage at 6:31 AM on November 6, 2008


Yes, because if there's one thing the world needs, it's more self diagnosed ass-burgers cases.

God, this statement fills me with such bi-polar rage!
posted by Pollomacho at 6:48 AM on November 6, 2008


HI I'M ON METAFILTER AND I COULD OVERTHINK THE INTENTIONS OF A THIRSTY GUY
posted by Plutor at 6:50 AM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Funny how many people missed the intention of the questions about intention.

This is my fault. I framed the post poorly.

baf, your explanation doesn't help me, but this thread has convinced me that my problem is a semantics issue. In my mind, the primary meaning of "intent" is "goal."

Jane's intent is to buy a Christmas card = Jane's goal is to buy a Christmas card.

So I would say that even if Joe intentionaLLY killed the cashier TO GET THE CUP, his GOAL -- his intent -- was still to get the cup. Killing the cashier was a tactic he employed to achieve his goal. Tactics can be conscious or unconscious, intentionally or unintentional, but they are not goals; they are means of achieving goals.

In your example, I could imagine Joe pulling out a knife and moving towards the cashier to kill her. At that point, lets say the manager comes in and says, "Joe, the cashier lied. You can kill her if you want, but you won't get the cup that way." IF Joe went ahead and stabbed the cashier anyway, I would say that his intent was probably to kill her all along (and he was just lying about wanting the cup). Or that his intent had changed from wanting a drink to wanting to kill the cashier. Or that he got so wrapped up in a tactic he was unable to stop himself once he started. But I suspect he would say, "Oh, well in that case, I won't kill her. What CAN I do to get the cup?" Which would prove that his intention was never to kill the cashier.

But, again, if you are asking whether I believe he was going to INTENTIONALLY kill the cashier, I would say yes. He was going to intentionally kill her, but killing her was not his intent (his goal). It's a semantic issue hinging around the definition of intent.
posted by grumblebee at 6:52 AM on November 6, 2008


Here's a better autism spectrum test that has the added bonus of being written by Simon Baron-Cohen, who is also the cousin of Borat.
posted by jonp72 at 7:04 AM on November 6, 2008


I think the test clearly demonstrates who has Asperger's by causing all the aspies to out themselves in this thread by deconstructing the definition of "intent" and picking the question to pieces. Which I find utterly delightful and very useful for my mental spreadsheet of all the various characteristics you weirdos possess. Of course, I scored a 56-48 spread on that EQSQ test linked to above so if we were in a room together I would probably never, ever say that to your face. I'd probably try to make you feel good about your differentness, you googly-eyed wackado.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:19 AM on November 6, 2008


To me the questions "Was it your intention to [foo]?" and "Did you [foo] intentionally?" are completely different questions. I can think of all kinds of things that I didn't have an intention to do, but then when the thing presented itself, I still ended up doing it intentionally.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:33 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I totally don't have Asperger's.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:39 AM on November 6, 2008


My master's-in-counseling-psych-seeking SO says that this test lacks construct validity. I say Psychology Today can only find enough good content to publish bi-monthly, so a blog might not be their best bet.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:58 AM on November 6, 2008


grumblebee, you're basically just bashing on about whether people use "intentionally" and "unintentionally" in the same way they use "intent" to mean "goal." They don't. Intentionally doing something is, in the vernacular, pretty much the same as consciously doing something that requires an action (or conscious rejection of an action, go into Kant here if you like).

I unintentionally run over some trash in the road if I am unable to avoid it due to reaction time or not seeing it. If I saw it and had available time to react, then running over it is intentional. To me, intentionally doing something means that given new information I might change my choice since the circumstances have changed. If I walk into the store expecting the largest drink will cost $5 and I walk out having paid that price and received the largest beverage, then it's a done deal. It doesn't matter if the cup is commemorative or not, since that piece of criteria is likely irrelevant. Price is a relevant criteria here because it's part of the chain of expectations.

That said, this wasn't a test, it's just a question that a disproportionate amount of people on the autistic/asperger's end of the spectrum will answer in a particular way. If a disproportionate amount of people with Asperger's love orange shirts, it doesn't mean that orange shirt ownership is a "test" of any sort, only that it might indicate a predisposition or explain a love for that color that might be otherwise unexplainable.
posted by mikeh at 7:59 AM on November 6, 2008


I took the EQSQ test that deborah mentioned and I scored 57 for empathizing (way above average for both male and females) and 50 for systemizing (about average for females). Yet I was still labeled a systemizer. I guess I am fucked because I can read maps?
posted by desjardins at 8:02 AM on November 6, 2008


I thought that the cup and the dollar were both intentional. Apparently, I neither have Asperger's nor am free from Asperger's.

I'm a counterexample to the law of the excluded middle! I am personally responsible for overturning all of formal logic! Philosophers and logicians bow before me!!!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:10 AM on November 6, 2008


I've run out of time so I can't read all of the comments here (after reading the Psychology Today and BoingBoing comments). I'm an Aspie and I just realized the entire thing turns on the statement "I don't care..." When Aspies say that, they literally mean they don't care. When neurotypicals say "I don't care about the cup" they don't care about the cup, but when they say "I don't care about the extra dollar" they mean "Yes, I'll pay the extra dollar."
posted by kindalike at 8:11 AM on November 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


What's a tortoise?
posted by rusty at 8:15 AM on November 6, 2008


What doesn't make sense to me about the original is that I don't understand WHY the cashier made a point of saying the drink was in a commemorative cup. If the price is no different, who gives a shit? Throw it out if you don't want it. I mean, unless it was commemorating Hitler or somesuch, why "warn" the customer? I can't see this happening in real life. The second case makes perfect sense - he is warning the customer that he is going to have to pay extra money to get what he wants. This is just polite on the cashier's part.

If you take the human interaction out of it, would the responses be different?

Joe was at work and wanted to buy a Coke from the vending machine. The only Cokes available were the commemorative Olympic ones. He didn't care what kind of can it came in, so he put his money in and got his Coke. Did he intentionally get the commemorative Olympic can?

Joe was at work and wanted to buy a Coke from the vending machine. The price now said $1.00 instead of 75¢. He didn't care that it cost an extra quarter, so he put in $1 and got his Coke. Did he intentionally pay the extra quarter?

ANSWER: COKE IS ALSO UNSUITABLE FOR REHYDRATION.
posted by desjardins at 8:17 AM on November 6, 2008


I answered no to the second case assuming he didn't know what a regular cost. In other words he intentionally paid the bottom line price whatever is was for the largest available. He didn't calculate regular+1 = cost and weigh the two options because he didn't know what regular was. He just intentionally paid the price of largest. He made a choice between 1 options. So to nitpick terminology, I'd pick on what "extra" means to him and suggest nothing material. It's like "I don't care about your pricing calculations, just give me what I asked for and tell me how much to pay."

So the test too ambiguous to tell about ourselves but if Joe knew the original price he's an Aspie for not caring, and if he didn't then we can't tell about him either.
posted by scheptech at 8:21 AM on November 6, 2008


What--no free refills? I'm outta here
posted by Restless Day at 8:47 AM on November 6, 2008


So do people who self-diagnose with Asperger's have to pay an extra dollar to join MetaFilter?
posted by rocket88 at 9:03 AM on November 6, 2008


I scored 25-79 on the EQSQ test and 33 on the AQ. While I expected the first, the second was higher than I figured it would be.

Is it more accurate, for these tests, to "go with your gut" and pick the first answer that comes to you, or to carefully consider and weigh just what makes the difference between "strongly" and "slightly" agree/disagree? And does one's approach have any bearing on their possible "autistic tendencies"?

For the record, I've never had any psychological diagnoses. While I definitely feel on the awkward and sometimes clueless side of sociability, I get by alright, and feel no need to self-diagnose or to seek a professional opinion. I just think these types of tests/quizzes are interesting.
posted by owtytrof at 9:19 AM on November 6, 2008


rusty: "What's a tortoise?"

A: A turtle with rabies.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:42 AM on November 6, 2008


A prime example of why a researcher shouldn't generalize from a study of 14 participants.

They turn an unpublished paper on 14 people into a generalizable conclusion that has no other research support. Then blog about it with some pride...

1. Bad research + blog
2. ???
3. Profit!
posted by docjohn at 9:53 AM on November 6, 2008


What doesn't make sense to me about the original is that I don't understand WHY the cashier made a point of saying the drink was in a commemorative cup. If the price is no different, who gives a shit?

Never worked retail for a franchise, I take it?

Part of my take on the whole thing is that in the first question, it isn't clear that the mega size is the largest size or that Joe will get the commemorative cup. In the second question it is clear that the mega size (now $1 more) is the largest size.
posted by ODiV at 10:11 AM on November 6, 2008


a |                                      /
s |                                    /
p |                                  /
e |                                /
r  |                              /
g |                            /
e |                         /
r  |                       /
s |                     /
   |                  /
s |               /
u |             /
f  |           /
f  |         /
e |       /
r  |     /
s |  /
       -----------------------------------------------------
                   Internet Speed
posted by scabrous at 10:27 AM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Never worked retail for a franchise, I take it?

I missed a line in the question and thought he wasn't trying to upsell, which he was. I thought it was just an "oh by the way..." comment and that Joe already wanted the mega drink and the cup it came in made no difference. So, nevermind.
posted by desjardins at 10:42 AM on November 6, 2008


Suspense in idiot an keep you do how?
posted by doctorschlock at 10:44 AM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this testing whether I'm an aspie or thirsty, Mr. Deckard?

Also, half-jokingly, a V-K test like this could be used in unfairly screening unwanted members of society, couldn't it?</small
posted by electronslave at 11:40 AM on November 6, 2008


stbalbach: "Here's an easy test: hold your finger in front of your eyes and focus on it, move your finger back and forth (left and right) a few times a second - if it looks blurry (ie. your eyes can't keep up) try keeping your finger still and move your head back and forth at the same rate - if your finger stays in focus, than your an Aspie."

And if you move both your head *and* your finger, it means you don't be takin' none of their bullshit, foo.

(Regardless of the blurriness of the finger.)
posted by Rhaomi at 12:06 PM on November 6, 2008


Jamba!
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:21 PM on November 6, 2008


But you're not helping. Are you intentionally not helping?

I'm a giant, towering Blade Runner fan. But post-Portal, I can only read this in the mental voice of the computer.

I'd just like to point out that you were given every opportunity to succeed. There was even going to be a party for you. A big party that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend the tortoise. Of course, he couldn't come because you murdered him.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:05 PM on November 6, 2008


Interesting.

I definitely say "Not intentional" in the first case, and "Intentional" in the second - that's without any real thought put into it.

I would probably diagnose as mild aspergers.

Of course,I hate labels and am completely unqualified to diagnose anything.

Breaking the two questions down is kind of interesting - I can see that one way to read this, they look structurally identical. I want to buy something for a reason. Clerk adds a condition. I say I don't care.

The two cases are different, conceptually.

In the first, I am being upsold. I am being asked if I would like something OTHER than what I asked for.
In the second, I am being informed of a condition - my product costs more.

In the first, I"m really interpreting it as "I don't care about hearing your offer, just give me my coke"
In the second, It's more like "I accept that it costs more, just give me my coke"

Very similar words, very different meaning.
posted by TravellingDen at 1:44 PM on November 6, 2008


If your hand is bigger than your face, you have Asperger's.
posted by klangklangston at 1:57 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


And both are intentional—he is aware of the commemorative cup and the price increase, and he continues with the action. An unintentional act is when you are not aware of the consequences.
posted by klangklangston at 1:59 PM on November 6, 2008


I would probably diagnose as mild aspergers.

Of course,I hate labels


"Mr. Smith, I'm afraid you have psoriasis."

"Don't try to label me, man!"
posted by DaDaDaDave at 2:13 PM on November 6, 2008


According to the EQSQ test, I am not empathetic enough to give a damn about Joe and his smoothie. I scored 30 EQ vs 88 SQ, which just validates what other tests have told me: I have a male brain. (I am female) I also had to move my head to get my finger to stay in focus. Add this to the ADD and the OCD - I guess my male brain is messed up.

As for the whole proprioception/autism correlation...is it possible that the increase in autism in the US reflects the trend of not carrying babies around as much as in previous human history? Not that it would outright cause autism, but maybe be a factor among many?
posted by Biblio at 2:26 PM on November 6, 2008


klangklangston: And both are intentional

Not true necessarily. In the first example it is not clear to us until purchase that the Mega size is the largest size. It may be clear to Joe based on other factors (a sign, for instance). There could be a super-mega size that unfortunately, does not come in a commemorative cup.
posted by ODiV at 4:00 PM on November 6, 2008


I most certainly do not have aspergers - and one proof is that I get emotionally bent out of shape about jive-ass word games like this. There is simply not enough context to make on call on what is meant by the terms. Might as well be "when did you stop beating your wife." I have a syndrome where I do no like living in a world where people shun context and perspective.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:06 PM on November 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The meaning of "intentional" is NOT a controlled variable. We can't get inside peoples heads or understand their cognition purely based on how they respond to one particular, magic question. And even if we could, using language to get there would be like trying to determine the paint colors inside somebody's apartment by reading their outgoing mail.

That said, there may be some other things at work – possibly in having to do with pragmatic understandings required of the 2 scenarios, capitalizing on the ambiguity of framing with words like "intentional" that lends itself to detouring certain populations onto an alternate stream of thought. But it's such a wide net that it potentially (but not intentionally) catches lots of extra fish, possibly including but not limited to: tired people, people with reading and/or comprehension difficulties, non-native English speakers, cup collectors, slurpee lovers, and psychology majors. Oh, and those with pragmatic disorders, such as Aspergers.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:02 AM on November 7, 2008


This also reminds me of an example mentioned in George Lakoff's book, "Philosophy in the Flesh." I believe the mention was based on Lera Boroditsky's work with meaning, metaphor, and framing (I don't have time to find and cite refs). Anyways, the idea was about the ambiguity of the phrase "Move the meeting ahead two days." Using priming language, cognitive scientists found that they could orient people's cognitive frame of time one of two ways:
1. Towards our perception of time as a moving object. (Christmas is coming closer!)
2. Towards our perception of time as a landscape that we move over. (We are approaching Christmas!)

Priming for a particular cognitive frame could clear up the ambiguity when asking test subjects "If we move the Wednesday meeting ahead two days, what day is it on?" The people skewed towards #1 would say the meeting is on Friday. The people skewed towards #2 would say the meeting is on Monday.

The crux of the question lies in the ambiguity of "ahead" and its relation to your cognitive bias, primed or not. So yes, it isn't foolproof. Some people have experiences in their lives that "cement" the meaning one way or another. Some people have cognitive disorders. Some people could be resistant to the framing, for whatever reason. But it'd be crazy to draw any conclusions about the motivations or cognitive abilities of the group of people that chose one interpretation over than another, other than to say that they chose that interpretation. It would be a circular argument at best. You can look for answers in the framing, but not in peoples heads.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:26 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


There are 15174 words in the comments above this comment.
posted by dirty lies at 4:58 AM on November 7, 2008


I don't know what to make of my score on the Baron-Cohen test: 57 EQ / 78 SQ I'm a bit freaked out to have scored above the average on both counts, and to have scored higher on the SQ. Was definitely expecting the opposite, lol.

Yes, because if there's one thing the world needs, it's more self diagnosed ass-burgers cases.

What's more annoying is lay persons who diagnose their friends, acquaintances, and total strangers. Countless times I've been in a group conversation where some nice guy or gal will depart and some know it all goes "oh brother, low spectrum ass-burgers or what?" and then a couple more jack asses jump into agree. Idiots seem to have taken it on as a way to dismiss or insult perfectly normal people who aren't exactly the same as they are.
posted by zarah at 7:09 AM on November 7, 2008


"Not true necessarily. In the first example it is not clear to us until purchase that the Mega size is the largest size. It may be clear to Joe based on other factors (a sign, for instance). There could be a super-mega size that unfortunately, does not come in a commemorative cup."

Well, except that by extrapolating backwards, the mega size is the largest, and it comes with the cup. I mean, I grant that it's an ambiguous use of "intentional" to use it to describe something taking no action, but I'd also say that it was intentional to leave a drowning man if Joe saw one on his way to get the cup and ignored him because he really wanted that smoothie. That would be an intentional lack of action, just as it is here, because (again) Joe's aware of the situation.

And we're not even into the phenomenological view of intention, which would complicate this further, what with "intending" meaning "to turn consciousness toward."
posted by klangklangston at 9:04 AM on November 7, 2008


Or the way "intentional" can prime "incidental", as in the examples above.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:52 AM on November 7, 2008


No-one has split more hairs on the question of intention than practitioners of criminal law. "Mens rea", the guilty mind, criminal intention.

In English law, s8 Criminal Justice Act 1967 provides a statutory framework within which mens rea is assessed. It states:
A court or jury, in determining whether a person has committed an offence,
(a) shall not be bound in law to infer that he intended or foresaw a result of his actions by reasons only of its being a natural and probable consequence of those actions; but
(b) shall decide whether he did intend or foresee that result by reference to all the evidence, drawing such inferences from the evidence as appear proper in the circumstances.
Under s8(b) therefore, the jury is allowed a wide latitude in applying a hybrid test to impute intention or foresight (for the purposes of recklessness) on the basis of all the evidence.


So if possession of commemorative cups was illegal, and Joe bought a Mega-Gulp knowing full well (having been warned) that it would come with a commemorative cup, he would probably be found guilty. Getting the commemorative cup would be a natural and probable consequence of the purchase. The same goes for paying a dollar more, if that were illegal too. From a legalistic perspective, almost everything a person does is presumed to be fully intentional, unless the jury and/or judge (presumed to be reasonable people) can be convinced otherwise.

From a psychological point of view, on the other hand, "intention" is a subset of "volition", and that's one of those shadowy ideas: the more light you shine on it, the less it's actually there. An argument can be raised that from a psychological perspective we have very little volition at all, and our "intentions" almost entirely consist of after-the-fact justifications of what our instincts and subconscious want us to do. Having taken an instinctual dislike to Fred, we justify it to ourselves by picking elements of Fred's personality that we "rationally" object to, and emphasise them in our assessment of Fred. On the other hand if we had taken an instinctual liking to him, we would ignore or downplay those elements of his personality. People--at least, "neurotypical people"--tolerate in themselves and in their friends, things that they would condemn their enemies for.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:23 PM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry, should expand a little on my first point: if possession of commemorative cups was illegal, and Joe had no warning and could not reasonably be expected to know that the Mega-Gulp would come with one, he should, for justice to be served, be found not guilty. (Although his actions with regard to using or divesting himself of the cup would be relevant.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:25 PM on November 7, 2008


I hate this test so much that I did not have a smoothie today, just so I wouldn't be standing there thinking about how little agency I had in the cup choice and price and blah blah blah. And also, aeschenkarnos, you should know as well as I do that it goes both ways and you can make a call that our volition is the way we describe our way of being, not the way we rationalize it once we've been it. I give you the classic of this case: "I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it."

You probably know more than I do, as you sound schooled, rather than just having hung out with those people.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:51 PM on November 7, 2008


it goes both ways
True, and that is getting into philosophy, in which "intention" is a variable. :)

you should know as well as I do ... You probably know more than I do
Maybe, about this at least, but: the fact that you made these comments in the context of a forum-based discussion is interesting in itself. To me it seems those might be comments that fit more with a one-on-one conversation, ie where you address only me, and I address only you, so your knowledge and mine are directly relevant; whereas when addressing a "crowd", it seems to me that any individual in the crowd might know more or less than you or I, and thus it is reasonable to make a point that many are aware of already, and some may wish to expand on. So it seems a bit odd to use the one-on-one comparison tone. I really don't mean this as a call-out or criticism of you, Lesser Shrew - it's just that it's an oddity that, given the nature of the conversation, is interesting enough to be worth mentioning. :)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:51 PM on November 8, 2008


Man, the only thing this thread proves is a lot of people are interpreting the meaning of the term "intentional" in a really weird way.

If my intention is to go to Europe and you tell me that all planes are grounded and I'll have to go by boat. If I say, "I don't care how I get there, as long as I get there," my intention isn't to go by boat, it's to go to Europe. The means of getting there is irrelevant to my intention.

The question is not whether or not Joe had a goal of spending an extra dollar. The question is whether he paid the extra dollar deliberately, on purpose. You'd get on that boat, and you'd get on it intentionally, because you want to go to Europe. If the scenario was, "Hey, if you go to Europe by boat you'll have a nice view of the ocean." and you said, "I don't care about the view," are you intentionally seeking a nice view of the ocean? No, you are not.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:33 PM on November 17, 2008


But you want to go to Europe, even if it means going by boat. You're told it means going by boat—you're consenting to go by boat because you want to go to Europe. It doesn't matter if you kill someone because you want their Keds—it matters that you killed someone. If you were told, "The only way you're getting these Keds is if you motherfucking jack someone," and you jack someone? That was intentional.

For some Keds, man. Think about what you've become.
posted by klangklangston at 10:13 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Think about what you've become.

A viking?
posted by 23skidoo at 6:52 AM on November 18, 2008


« Older Gore Vidal. Ralph Nader. Two men, praise worthy ...  |  You thought Bonsai Kitty was a... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments