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The Pattern Seekers Reviews

The Pattern Seekers by Simon Baron-Cohen

The Pattern Seekers: A New Theory of Human Invention

Simon Baron-Cohen

Score pending

2 reviews

Category: Non-fiction, Psychology
Imprint: Allen Lane
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 28 Oct 2020
ISBN: 9780241242186

'Sheds light on one of humanity's most distinctive traits, celebrates human cognitive diversity, and is rich with empathy and psychological insight.' - Steven Pinker

4 stars out of 5
Jay Elwes
14 Nov 2020

"unpicks the instincts and processes that have driven human progress"

Extreme systemisers, especially autistic people, tend to lack what Baron-Cohen calls the Empathy Circuit, which is the ability to ‘read’ other people. The Empathy Circuit also provides a capacity for ‘flexible deception’, a significant evolutionary trait that gives the ability to anticipate behaviour and plan accordingly — to dig the pit and cover it with leaves. The ability to empathise also allows humans to exert influence by implanting ideas in the minds of others. This makes literature possible, not to mention book reviews. It also gives rise to a ‘theory of mind’ — that is, the intuitive sense that there is another mind in there. Extreme systemisers and autistic people tend not to have this sense.


2 stars out of 5
6 Nov 2020

"his engaging book"

It’s not that I necessarily disagree with him, it’s more that his certainty seems misplaced. It may indeed be that 70,000 years ago in Africa a naked ape evolved the ability to systemise and so conquered the world. Might it also be, though, that 70,000 years ago our ancestors also evolved grammatical language, meaning that at last the best inventors were able to pass their inventions on? It’s at least possible. Baron-Cohen has a habit of making assertions of fact that I’m not sure have reached that standard of evidence yet.