The Rosie Project

a novel by Graeme Simsion

Read:  2017-02-19, Rating:  10/10.

Can You Be Too Logical?

The Rosie Project takes you on a first-person ride inside the overly logical mind of a genetics professor. In one weekend, I finished reading this thought-provoking, humorous and touching novel. Below are my personal notes from the first half of the book. I highly recommend you read The Rosie Project!

My Notes

Naturally, the books and research papers described the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome, and I formed a provisional conclusion that most of these were simply variations in brain function that had been inappropriately medicalised because they did not fit social norms – constructed social norms – that reflected the most common human configurations rather than the full range.

It seems hardly possible to analyse such a complex situation involving deceit and supposition of another person’s emotional response, and then prepare your own plausible lie, all while someone is waiting for you to reply to a question. Yet that is exactly what people expect you to be able to do.

A story in which emotional behaviour would have led to disastrous consequences.

Imagine you’re hiding in a basement. The enemy is searching for you and your friends. Everyone has to keep totally quiet, but your baby is crying. You have a gun. With a silencer. They’re coming closer. They’re going to kill you all. What do you do? The baby’s screaming.

Shoot the baby.

Use the baby as bait.

How many guns do we have?

The parents made no constructive suggestions; some even tried to suppress their children’s creativity.

Apparently, they were more concerned with adherence to social convention than the progress their children were making.

The human brain is wired to focus on differences in its environment – so it can rapidly discern a predator. If I installed pictures of other decorative objects, I would notice them for a few days and then my brain would ignore them.

Standardised Meal System Advantages:

  1. No need to accumulate recipe books
  2. Standard shopping list – hence very efficient shopping
  3. Almost zero waste – nothing in the refrigerator or pantry unless required for one of the recipes
  4. Diet planned and nutritionally balanced in advance
  5. No time wasted wondering what to cook
  6. No mistakes, no unpleasant surprises
  7. Excellent food, superior to most restaurants at a much lower price (see point 3)
  8. Minimal cognitive load required

Highly Enjoyable Date Factors

  1. Familiar setting
  2. Meeting without pressure of being a date
  3. Somewhat intoxicated – hence relaxed and unaware of any social errors

Grasp the concept of sequencing tasks to minimise cost and risk.

Do you know how to relax? How to just have fun?

Difficulties are inevitable. Major projects require persistence.

I consider my own decision-making more rational than that of most people but I also make errors of the same kind. We are genetically programmed to react to stimuli in our immediate vicinity. Responding to complex issues that we cannot perceive directly requires the application of reasoning, which is less powerful than instinct.

Feel! Feel, feel, feel! Feelings were disrupting my sense of well-being.

Throughout my life I have been criticised for a perceived lack of emotion, as if this were some absolute fault. What they really mean is that I should give in to them. I am perfectly happy to detect, recognise and analyse emotions. Occasionally an emotion can be enjoyed but we need to be vigilant that emotions do not cripple us.

I had always justified my schedule in terms of efficiency. But was my allegiance to efficiency of was it to the schedule itself? Was I really like my father, who had insisted on sitting in the same chair every night? I had my own special chair too.

The Rosie Project