Episode 5, "New Paradigms, New Values"

Amelia: Before we begin, I just want to let you know that this episode will be pretty confusing if you haven't heard the previous episodes. So if you haven't already listened to those earlier episodes, I suggest you go back and do that now.

Wait, hold up

Amelia: Throughout this season, we've been dunking on the concept of "theory of mind," and the role it has played in autism research. But there’s a potential problem with all this dunking: some autistic people find this concept helpful. The idea that autism is a “theory of mind deficit” seems to help some people make sense of their experiences.

I’ve had these types of experiences. I’m thinking about times when I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what other people were thinking—and they couldn’t figure out what I was thinking. And I know I'm not alone—other autistic people often experience difficulty figuring out what on earth is going on in other people's heads. Joanna, does this seem like the type of experience that can be explained by a “theory of mind deficit”?

Joanna: Even after all of our talking about theory of mind and “theory of mind deficit,” I’m not so sure? As we’ll discuss later in the episode, there are other ways of explaining your experience, too. And given that some people use the theory of mind deficit view of autism to understand these types of experiences, we can’t simply get rid of it. We also need to replace it with better ways of making sense of these experiences: a new paradigm, founded on a better set of values.


Amelia: This is NeuroDiving, a philosophy podcast about neurodivergence. I’m Amelia Hicks.

Joanna: And I’m Joanna Lawson.

Amelia: In this episode, we ask: what are some better paradigms for understanding autistic people’s experiences with perspective-taking?

The “theory of mind deficit” view is bad, but maybe also helpful?

Amelia: As we’ve already discussed in previous episodes, there are many problems with the theory of mind deficit view of autism. The research supporting this view of autism is plagued by methodological failures, and the view itself harms autistic people.

Joanna: For one thing, theory of mind is often regarded as an ability that sets human beings apart from other animals. As a result, the theory of mind deficit view of autism can dehumanize autistic people.

Amelia: Here’s Travis LaCroix, who you’ll remember from our previous episode, describing the relationship between dehumanization and the theory of mind deficit view of autism:

Travis: If autistics lack a theory of mind, and if theory of mind is one of the quintessential abilities that makes us human, then it logically follows that autistics are not fully human, right? Nobody says that one in the literature, but like, you put two and two together, right? And so one of the more sort of puzzling ones for me is if autistics lack a theory of mind, then a community of autistic persons is impossible. This is a claim that a philosopher makes, without their tongue in their cheek.

Amelia: Yes, a philosopher did write that a community of autistic people is impossible. Travis is talking about the book called The Ethics of Autism, which the philosopher Deborah Barnbaum wrote in 2008. In that book, Barnbaum begins with the assumption that autism is a theory of mind deficit, and then proceeds to draw out the philosophical implications of that assumption. The problem, of course, is that Barnbaum doesn’t thoroughly interrogate her starting assumption—she just runs with the theory of mind deficit view. And as a result, she ends up concluding that autistic communities are impossible, and that autistic people don’t have fully intact moral agency.

Joanna: But this isn’t just a problem with Barnbaum’s influential 15 year old book. Many philosophers and psychologists make these types of assumptions, and as a result they engage in dehumanizing rhetoric about autistic people.

Travis: So all of this, right, why does this matter? All of this is just dehumanization 101, right, where you can define dehumanization however you please as either, you know, the denial of full humanness to others or the denial of specific traits that are said to unite all humans or separate humans from non-human animals, the denial of a group's ability to experience complex emotions, the exclusion of a group from moral boundaries, the denial of a group's community or identity.

Amelia: Dehumanization 101. But like I mentioned earlier, some autistic people find the theory of mind deficit idea helpful for making sense of challenging experiences. And we want to take those perspectives and experiences seriously too, right? Here’s Joe Gough, who you’ll also remember from the previous episode. You’ll be hearing from both Travis and Joe throughout this episode.

Joe: It's a thing that I've been pushed on both by autistic people and by clinicians, who like, are working closely with autistic people and their families and saying, “well, there's this thing that people want explained. They want to find ways to think about this that are helpful for them.” And this is probably the most benign reading of why the theory of mind deficit view sticks around is that for clinicians who are talking to autistic people and their families, it gives them a lens for looking at what's going on here and some handle on how to think about it, right? And that's a role that it is worth having something to play, even if it's provisional. And so I think one thing I think is a better language for talking about this stuff is just social differences. I think there are clearly some social differences between, um, people of different, shall we say, neurotypes, right? Like, they might not perfectly map onto every autistic person is socially different in exactly this way, but there are certainly kinds of social difference that a lot of autistic people identify.

Amelia: There are social differences between autistic and non-autistic people; people with different types of neurological functioning often communicate differently, and use different strategies for perspective-taking. How can we talk about this, without talking about theory of mind?

Alternatives to the theory of mind deficit view

Joanna: What is the alternative to the theory of mind deficit view of autism? On the one hand, we want to acknowledge that many autistic people engage in perspective-taking a little differently, at least some of the time. But on the other hand, we don’t want to fall back into tired old dehumanizing tropes about autistic people. How do we talk about these differences in a way that’s accurate, helpful, and respectful?

Amelia: Well, I have good news and I have bad news.

Joanna: Hmm… bad news first.

Amelia: The bad news is that I don’t have a simple answer to your question. After all of our research on this, it doesn’t sound like there’s one grand unifying theory of autism that can simply replace the theory of mind deficit view. And this actually makes sense, given how heterogeneous autism is.

Joanna: Okay, so the bad news is that there’s no simple theory of autism that can replace theory of mind deficit view. What’s the good news?

Amelia: The good news is that researchers are starting to explore a variety of autistic experiences with perspective-taking, and as a result we’re beginning to see new research that offers several ways of understanding how different people engage in perspective-taking.

Joanna: So it sounds like there are actually several different theories related to autistic perspective-taking that researchers are starting to work on.

Amelia: Right. Some of these alternative theories are sociological, because they focus on dynamics that emerge during social interaction. Some of these theories are more psychological, because they focus on how individuals process information. And some of these alternative theories are almost physiological, because they focus on how sensory processing influences a person’s understanding of mental states.

Joanna: So like, what’s a sociological theory that helps explain autistic people’s experiences with perspective-taking?

Amelia: Well, one really important sociological theory is called the double empathy problem. According to the double empathy problem, misunderstandings between autistic and non-autistic people are a two-way street. Sure, autistic people sometimes struggle to understand non-autistic people’s perspectives; but non-autistic people also often struggle to understand autistic people’s perspectives. So, it doesn’t really make sense to talk about autistic people being uniquely deficient when it comes to perspective-taking.

Joanna: Is there any research backing up the double empathy problem idea?

Amelia: Yeah, there’s some! Researchers are beginning to study how autistic people communicate with each other, how non-autistic people communicate with each other, and then what happens when autistic and non-autistic people try to communicate. And what they’ve found so far is that autistic people communicate well with each other, and understand each others’ perspectives pretty easily; they’ve also found that non-autistic people communicate well with each other. But communication and perspective-taking problems emerge in interactions between autistic and non-autistic people.

Joanna: So it’s like, according to the double empathy problem, what we’ve been calling a “theory of mind deficit” in autistic people is actually the result of a dynamic that emerges in interactions between autistic and non-autistic people. And it sounds like autistic people get blamed for those miscommunications, because their communication and perspective-taking is a less common style of doing those things. That’s interesting. So that’s a sociological alternative to the theory of mind deficit view. What about a psychological alternative?

Amelia: There are a bunch of psychological alternatives to the theory of mind deficit view of autism, but one idea that’s popular in the autistic community is called monotropism. This way of thinking about autistic cognition was first proposed by Dinah Murray, Mike Lesser, and Wenn Lawson in 2005, and the basic idea is that monotropism is a style of cognition that involves a very narrow attention tunnel.

Joanna: Hm, is that like being detail-oriented?

Amelia: It could help with being detail oriented, but it’s not exactly the same thing. If someone is being “monotropic,” that means they’re focusing intensely on a small number of things. So like, imagine that someone has to complete a very detail-oriented task, like maybe they have to statistically analyze a bunch of data, and imagine that this person gets into a nice flow-state; they’re crunching numbers and analyzing the hell out of that data, and while they work they can almost tune out the rest of the world. Maybe they don’t hear the neighbor’s dog barking, or maybe they don’t notice that they’re getting hungry. That’s an example of monotropism—it’s when you really focus on one thing, or on one task. Monotropism can be a strength, like when you need to focus on a single task. But it can also create difficulty when you need to process tons of different pieces of information all at once, like in social interactions.

Joanna: OK, so, how is monotropism an alternative to the theory of mind deficit view of autism? Like, how does really focusing on one thing lead to a different style of perspective-taking?

Amelia: Well, often, figuring out what another person is thinking requires taking in a huge amount of subtle information from a variety of different sources. Reading a person’s facial expressions and body language involves processing lots of little pieces of information; and of course, all those social cues need to be interpreted according to the current social context, which itself contains many relevant details. Plus, I might also have to process the words that a person is speaking, which might or might not be a literal description of what that person is thinking. So if I rely on monotropic thinking, processing all those tiny details from all those different sources of information is going to be a long and laborious process; and as a result, I might socialize differently and I might use different strategies for understanding other people.

Joanna: Yeah but this doesn’t sound like only an autistic thing. People with ADHD, like me, also sometimes really focus-in on engaging tasks. So is it really a good theory of autism?

Amelia: That’s a really important point. Monotropism isn’t supposed to be only “an autistic thing.” Actually, the autistic autism researcher Patrick Dwyer wrote a blog post about this a couple years ago, pointing out that monotropism shows up in both ADHD and schizophrenia, too. This all gets pretty complicated–and to be honest, this topic is underdeveloped, because it has been neglected by so many researchers. But Dwyer points out that monotropism is sometimes driven by what a person wants to focus on, and at other times it’s the result of a person’s attention being captured against their will. So, there might be different types of monotropism, which lead to different patterns of cognition in both autism and ADHD.

Joanna: Yeah and I guess to complicate matters even more, autism and ADHD often co-occur, so I guess it’s not so surprising that different types of monotropism would show up in both.

Amelia: Right. I also want to highlight something Travis pointed out to me, which is that these alternative theories we’ve been discussing—like the double empathy problem, and monotropism—are not in competition with each other. They could both be true. Maybe the double empathy problem and monotropism can team up to help us understand autistic people’s experiences with perspective-taking.

Travis: They're certainly not incompatible. It might be the case, right, because monotropism deals less with the aspects of social interaction directly and more with the cognitive functioning of autistic brains being able to sort of hyper-focus on a thing, which can be positive. It can also be detrimental, right, when one forgets to attend to one's needs as a human being, for example. Whereas the double empathy problem really focuses on social interaction. And so, you know, there's nothing that's incompatible between these two views. They can both be true at the same time. And these are viable alternatives to things like theory of mind deficit, weak central coherence, all these other sort of cognitive explanations that really begin from a deficit sort of model and then go from there to try to explain autistic behavior as being dysfunctional or disordered or something like this.

Amelia: And, as Joe pointed out, we have even more resources for understanding autistic perspectival differences. For example, some researchers are now focusing on how autistic people process their own emotions and physical sensations, and how that influences perspective-taking.

Joe: Another theory, not inconsistent with that, that I have some sympathy for, is theories based on interoception. So, a lot of the way it seems, according to some research, that people attribute emotions is they unconsciously have a sympathetic bodily reaction. They gauge their sympathetic bodily reaction, and then they attribute an emotion on the basis of what sympathetic bodily reaction they're having. Now, interestingly, it appears that autistic people actually have a heightened sympathetic physiological reaction, which fits very badly with the idea that they're somehow, you know, reduced empathy. But there's some evidence that autistic people have a harder time with certain kinds of interoception. So it might be that there's this heightened physiological sympathetic reaction, and then there's a greater difficulty inferring the relevant emotion from that reaction than neurotypical people would have. So there's lots of these kinds of more domain general or relational theories that might partially explain different aspects of the social differences of autism that kind of break it up into different areas of theory that take it seriously and give something that you can help people understand themselves with, without turning it into, “well, you're impaired in the faculty for doing that,” which is effectively the answer that the theory of mind deficit theory gives, which is, “oh, you wanna know why you have social differences? It's because there's a magic module that neurotypical people have and you are worse at it.”

Amelia: So, instead of claiming that autistic people lack a magic brain module, we can understand autistic people’s experiences with perspective-taking by drawing on several different sociological, psychological, and physiological theories that are now being studied empirically. What ties all of these theories together is that they don’t have to explain autism in terms of deficits. Instead, we’re looking at differences in social interaction, differences in information processing, and differences in sensory processing.

Joanna: Now, you might be thinking that the move from deficits to differences isn’t a big deal. But it’s actually a huge deal, because it reflects a change in the values that drive scientific research. When we think about autism in terms of deficits, our thinking reveals a certain set of value assumptions that influence autism research; and when we start to think about autism in terms of differences, we adopt a new set of value assumptions, and we begin to develop new approaches to researching autism.

Values in science

Amelia: One common thread in all of these new lines of research is that they don’t require thinking in terms of “deficits” or “disorders.” These new lines of research are often explicitly motivated by a particular set of values, like the value of human neurological diversity. But is it bad for science to be so obviously driven by value commitments? Isn’t science supposed to be objective?

Travis: But you know, feminist philosophy of science in particular since the 1980s at least–there’s other philosophers of science earlier than this but–many philosophers of science have rejected the value-free ideal of science, saying no, actually, when we're cooking up scientific theories, when we're doing experiments, when we're trying to confirm hypotheses, and so on and so forth, all of our actions are deeply value-laden. So, values play a huge role in scientific inquiry at basically every stage of the pipeline. So you might think, you know, of course choosing which research projects to work on in the first place are going to be value-laden insofar as you're going to depend on your own interests, right, what you find interesting, but also maybe what you can get funding for and so that's gonna have to do with the values of funding agencies, what they care to give out grants for and things like this. So that's undeniably value-laden, but the actual process of doing the experimental work, getting experimental or empirical data, interpreting the data, all of that sort of stuff is supposed to be free from certain types of values, right? Things like personal values or political values or social or cultural values. So those who reject the value-free ideal of science suggest, for a number of different reasons, throughout the sort of history of the literature, that actually no, these kind of personal values, political values, social values, things like this, deeply influence science at sort of every stage of that pipeline, regardless of whether it's picking a project, but also actually doing the scientific work that you that you need to do, things that are typically thought to be objective are just not. They're heavily influenced by the values that we have as human beings.

Amelia: Value-free science is impossible. Our values influence what we study, and how we study it. And when we try to do totally “objective” science, we simply end up importing socially dominant values without even realizing it.

Joanna: So, let’s give an example. Feminist philosophers have repeatedly pointed out that science and medicine often tacitly assume that the “norm” for a human is a male human. And that’s a value assumption, which can have tragic consequences. The value assumption is the reason why women often don’t know when they’re having a heart attack—because the so-called “classic” symptoms of a heart-attack, such as pain in the chest area, are in fact less common in women, even if they’re classic in men.

Amelia: Travis thinks that something similar happens in autism research—researchers often import value assumptions about autism into their work without even realizing it.

Travis: So the standard sort of framing of autism is that of a medical pathology, right? A disorder or a condition, which of course leads to things like stigmatization, dehumanization, abuse, harm and trauma and so on. And so another autistic scholar, Nick Walker, refers to this standard frame as the pathology paradigm. And that's the sort of status quo for a lot of autism research. And so basically the idea here is that there is one right or normal or healthy way for human brains and minds to be configured or to function. And if your neurological configuration or functioning diverges substantially from this dominant sort of standard, then there's something wrong with you, right? That's deeply value-laden because it's taking a dominant neuro-type and saying this is the right way. And so we'll just get rid of the tails of this kind of standard distribution or normal distribution and we'll say you need to fit within this mold or something. That's a value judgment. So in contrast, what Nick Walker refers to as the neurodiversity paradigm assumes that there is diversity among human minds and that this diversity is natural, healthy, and indeed valuable for human diversity. And so in light of this there's no normal or right way for a human mind to be in the same way that there's no normal or right gender or ethnicity. It just seems like a category mistake. But of course the social dynamics that manifest in regard to other forms of human diversity, things like diversity of race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, these sort of dynamics include the dynamics of social power relations, so social inequality, privilege, and oppression, as well as the dynamics by which diversity, when it's embraced, acts as a source of creative potential within a group or society. When you think about it in terms of competing paradigms, if the status quo is this pathology paradigm, the sort of medical model of autism, then you can see how you're entrenching the views of the dominant neurotype in society, and that's a deeply value-laden decision. Whereas if you, you know, deny the pathology paradigm and embrace neurodiversity, then you can start to see the way in which the social dynamics operate such that autistics or other individuals who are neurodivergent are an oppressed group and are a minority group and suffer at the hands of this sort of entrenched kind of dominant view or this dominant neurotype.

Amelia: Travis pointed me towards a great example of the pathology paradigm in action. A couple of years ago, some researchers studied differences in moral decision-making between autistic and non-autistic youth. But because of the researchers’ value assumptions, they interpreted their data in a way that was totally bizarre.

Travis: So right, a recent study gave individuals the choice between incurring a personal loss but funding a morally good cause versus receiving a personal gain but funding a morally bad cause. And what they found was that autistics were more likely than non-autistics to support the good cause at a personal loss. And moreover, they found that autistics made the same choice even when the choice was private and no one would know if they chose to support the bad cause for personal gain. Whereas in private, non-autistics tended to switch their choice to funding a morally bad cause for personal gain. So in public, non-autistics will take a loss to support a morally good cause or not support a morally bad cause, but in private when no one's watching, they'll take that personal gain. Whereas autistics will do what you might think is the morally correct thing in both cases, right? They don't switch, is the point. And so you might think, right, like suppose you just got that evidence and you think, “okay now it’s time to write a discussion section of our paper. What does this imply? What can we, like, think about?” So you might think the result seems to suggest that autistics have a stronger moral compass, for example, than non-autistics because they won't support the bad cause regardless of whether it's public or private despite the fact that it incurs a personal loss to them. But of course these researchers in their discussion section claim that these findings demonstrate that autistics have a low theory of mind. They suggest that autistic individuals, unlike healthy control subjects–which is the language that they use in that paper to describe the neurotypical participants–they suggest that autistic individuals, unlike healthy control subjects, blurred the distinction between private and public conditions while making moral decisions, which they think is consistent with theory of mind deficit hypothesis. Like I don't understand when I'm being observed or something like this, and so I can't distinguish between public and private. And they go on to say that their results confirm that autistic individuals do not appear to consider their social reputation when making immoral or moral choices consistently across contexts. So basically, they conclude from the data that they get that autistics are unable to recognize situations when making a moral transgression is beneficial and without social reputation costs. So like, just think for a second about what the default here is, is that the correct, the objectively correct answer from the point of view of these researchers is that “of course if nobody's looking, you do the thing that is personal gain, right? Because that's good for you or something and nobody's going to find out. So who cares?”

Amelia: Our values will always shape our science. And so the best we can do is reflect on our values, and reason about the ways in which those values are shaping our science. And that’s why philosophically-minded people everywhere need to contribute to autism research.

Reflecting back on Chloe

Amelia: My conversation with Travis reminded me of my conversation with Chloe Farahar, who you heard way back in episode 1. Remember how Chloe was describing her Autopia, and she said,

Chloe: We're starting to see more queer Autistic research done by Autistic people, but we definitely need more of that as well given that a large percentage of Autistic community members don't identify as, say, cis or heterosexual, like more needs to be done around that. But not around the why. Like, why does it matter? Why are we more likely to be queer? What we need is, well, how do we adjust healthcare, gender affirming healthcare, or just not gendering healthcare necessarily for autistic people in general or thinking of the sensory issues when you have to go and have quite, feels like quite personal and quite invasive, you know, check-ups and procedures, all these kinds of things, like that research and what can we do to actually support those people.

Amelia: This comment from Chloe illustrates a different way of doing autism research, motivated by a different set of values. For Chloe, autism research definitely shouldn’t be motivated by the idea that autism is a deficit. And she’s even skeptical of the idea that autism research should simply seek to understand autistic differences. From Chloe’s perspective, it’s like “who cares why Autistic people do or don’t make eye contact in certain ways?” Even if we figured out the answer to that question, that knowledge wouldn’t benefit anyone.

Chloe: Because, you know, learning for learning's sake, okay, that might be useful for some things, but not when we're dealing with humans, I don't think.

Amelia: Instead, Chloe hopes for research that focuses on practical benefits. We shouldn’t try to “fix” autistic people, and we shouldn’t study autistic people as if they’re oddities in need of exploration. Instead, we should listen to what the Autistic community says they need, and then research practical strategies for improving their wellbeing. Obviously this type of research requires understanding autistic differences—but it goes way beyond merely studying difference. This way of doing autism research is driven by the value of autistic wellbeing, which provides the reason for studying autistic differences in the first place. So, Chloe productively irritates the field of autism research by challenging researchers to think deeply about the values that drive their science.

The value of the philosophy of autism (with some advice)

Amelia: Travis is definitely in favor of interrogating the values that lie at the foundation of autism research, in order to promote autistic wellbeing. In fact, that’s exactly what he thinks philosophers ought to be doing.

Travis: Well, I think this is part of that kind of productive work that philosophy can do. The sort of standard argument for philosophy is, “oh, critical thinking is a good thing and we need more critical thinking” and all this sort of stuff, right? So if we just have our values, I think that this can become problematic when we don't reflect on them. So philosophy, particularly in the realm of discussing things like autism, theory of mind, and so on, gives us a chance to kind of reflect on those values and see like, does this actually stand up to scrutiny when we really kind of, like, push on this hypothesis or something like this?

There's a lot of good work that can be done in philosophy outside of this sort of bioethics realm. So thinking about the philosophy of science and looking at what I take to be kind of low-hanging fruit, looking at things like theory of mind and explaining clearly and coherently why this is pseudoscientific, it's a bad research program. It just does not describe the world. And thinking pragmatically about the consequences of the uptake that this theory has gotten is deeply harmful, it's deeply damaging, it's dehumanizing to autistic individuals. And so this is... bad.

Amelia: But philosophers need to be careful. Bad science often leads to bad philosophy, and philosophers are just as vulnerable to holding stigmatizing views as anyone else. So Travis has some advice for philosophers who want to weigh in on these topics: read work by autistic scholars, and seek out work that engages deeply with autistic people’s experiences.

Travis: I guess one thing to note about thinking about doing good philosophical research about autism, I guess if I had advice to give to young scholars who are interested in the subject, right? Because as you well know, having read a lot of philosophical work and probably other work on autism, there's a lot of really bad work out there. And if you don't know the difference, you might take for granted that some of this is actually maybe good work, when in fact it's dehumanizing or stigmatizing or further entrenches harmful stereotypes about autistics and so on. And so, you know, my one piece of advice is, so, avoid The Ethics of Autism by Deborah Barnbaum. Instead, you know, look toward Ian Hacking, right, who recently passed away, is just stunning for approaching autism with a certain degree of respect for autistics that you just don't see in this literature. So Ian Hacking's work is great. As well, just, like, look up autistic scholars like Chapman, like Botha, who we discussed already, Damian Milton. There's a huge contingent in the last five years of autistic scholars producing great philosophical work about autism. This is an excellent place to start for anyone who's interested in that sort of stuff.

Amelia: There is now quite a bit of reflective, philosophically-minded autism research being produced across disciplines, in large part by neurodivergent researchers. So, for those of you who want to start researching the philosophy of autism yourselves, Travis suggests you begin with authors like Monique Botha, Robert Chapman, Damian Milton, and Ian Hacking.

Looking ahead to empathy

Amelia: There’s a complication with all of this that we’ve ignored up until now, which is that “theory of mind” is also sometimes called “cognitive empathy.” There’s this vague idea that theory of mind is related to–or part of, or necessary for–empathy in general. And this vague idea, combined with the theory of mind deficit view of autism, has led to the stereotype that autistic people lack empathy. And lacking empathy sounds scary, it sounds bad. Empathy seems like the type of thing you have to have in order to be a good person.

Joanna: But these ideas about autism and empathy are misguided. In the past several episodes, we’ve learned about the theory of mind deficit view of autism and its many shortcomings; and we’ve explored some alternative ways of understanding autistic styles of perspective-taking. But in upcoming episodes of NeuroDiving, we will turn our monotropic attention over to empathy–a related vague concept with big implications. We’ll look at different ways of conceptualizing empathy, and learn about how autistic experiences of empathy challenge our everyday assumptions about empathy and morality.

Amelia: Next time, on NeuroDiving:

Ryan: Like do I, it goes back to values, like are your, is your empathy higher than your values or vice versa? Like am I only giving to a poor person because I'm looking them in the eye at the second and I feel an empathy towards them? Or am I giving to the poor because I've got a value that says we should all have certain privileges, we should all have certain blessings like wealth is something to be shared? So, so yeah I mean I think, but, I think everybody does have empathy just in different ways.


Amelia: This episode was written, produced, and hosted by me and Joanna Lawson, and I also produced the music for the show. Thank you again to Travis LaCroix and Joe Gough for speaking to me about some new avenues in autism research, and about the roles of values in autism science.

We will see you in the New Year with some new episodes about empathy. And I’d like to take a moment to offer some heartfelt thanks to some people I haven’t yet mentioned. The philosopher Barry Lam, host of the Hi-Phi Nation podcast, has offered me and Joanna invaluable mentorship throughout this project, as has Joseph Fridman. Thank you so much to Barry and Joseph for your insights. And I also want to give extra thanks to Joanna, who has been a tireless supporter of this project. She has offered me so much good advice. Thank you, Joanna, for hopping on the NeuroDiving bandwagon and producing this unusual podcast with me. And, of course, many thanks to the Templeton Foundation and the Marc Sanders Foundation for their support of the show.