My eye was caught by the measurable correlation between extremism and the math/tech skills nexus. Are we looking maybe at an alternate presentation of mild autism? One aspect of autism is, iirc that the autistic personality finds the world too various, overwhelmingly complicated and distressing. Retreat from this onslaught of perceptions and impressions may be as extreme as catatonia, or may manifest as rage; but on the borderlands of the condition, an intolerance or despair at the sheer bloody complexity of human life seems to me an adequate motive for seeking a simpler narrative.

Autists also commonly lack social skills/instincts that others take for granted, like the instant “reading” of subtle nuances of facial expression, speech and body language. This deficit even when slight is often very noticeable to more neurotypical folks, who intuit very quickly that something about the autistic person is “a bit off, somehow.” This social awkwardness, the speed with which neurotypicals detect even slight deficits and label others as “different” … can be a driver for profound, persistent loneliness.

I’m speculating somewhat wildly here, but may there not be a nexus between autism, social unease, isolation, loneliness, intolerance for complexity, and the desperate latching-on to an ideological framework that offers a simple narrative plus the illusion of solidarity with fellow believers?

I say “illusion” because — in my experience, anyway — extremist sects, cults and vanguard parties almost invariably start to eat their young at some point. But that’s another story…

Retired; ex-software engineer. Paleo-feminist. Sailor. Arduino tinkerer. Enviro. Libertarian Socialist (Anarcho-Syndicalist, kinda). Writer. Altermondialiste.

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