Do you remember that crazy college professor you had? Chances are there was more than one. As a late friend used to say, that’s why we pay good money to go to college. I have an idea, perhaps even a theory, that the neurodiverse used to be largely institutionalized. And I don’t mean in mental hospitals or “insane asylums.” I mean in two well-respected social institutions: the university and the church. Before you can object to the latter, consider that ministers, and before them priests, derived from shamans. Nobody would doubt that shamans think differently than most people. So, my theory is that when neurodiverse people came along in capitalist societies, they were shunted toward jobs in higher education and religion. Out of sight to most people most of the time. Then capitalism grew.
Both the church and the university became businesses. Again, if you doubt me about churches, get to know a few bishops. You’ll soon see. In higher education, business people were hired as deans and presidents. Not knowing how to handle their neurodiverse employee pool, they began hiring more “normal” people. Those who, with no real insight or ambition, figure teaching is a cushy job. It pays well, and it’s respectable. But to do the job right you might just have to be neurodiverse. Now, I don’t have the means to test my theory, but I suspect if you surveyed students over time as they graduated, you’d find fewer and fewer crazy professors. As my departed friend would likely have said, they’re not getting their money’s worth.
Money doesn’t compromise. Many people are driven by it without ever asking themselves why. Do they want to be able to build private rockets to take them to Mars when capitalism finally destroys this planet? Do they want private jets and the endless headaches of having to worry about getting even more money? Studies tend to show that wealthy people are far from the happiest on the planet. In fact, many of them are privately miserable. They don’t have to work, true, but what do they think about? Deeply. I’ve never been driven by money. I would like a bit more than I’ve been able to manage with my background and specialization. Enough not to have sleepless nights over whether we can afford to fix the roof. And still buy books. It may be crazy to still read like a professor when I’m no longer in the guild. I like to think I’m participating in a very old tradition.