Different Kinds of Minds: Temple Grandin at TEDxDU

By | July 10, 2019


A tireless advocate for people who think differently, Grandin makes the case that we need the collaboration of all kinds of minds to solve problems, prevent disasters, and accomplish objectives. Diagnosed with autism and someone who “thinks in pictures”, Grandin sees the value in every individual’s ability to make a contribution. See complete bio and view all TEDxDU Talks at www.tedxdu.com.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)



Transcript provided by YouTube:

00:00
a lot of things to talk about very
00:09
quickly cuz only have 12 minutes and
00:11
they got this clock up here counting
00:13
down and I know I’m not supposed to sell
00:15
things but the HBO movies available on
00:17
amazon.com and i9i weren’t able to they
00:21
actually wanted to buy it and give it
00:22
their buddy but they couldn’t figure out
00:24
how to order it from the Borg at the
00:25
Time Warner building now where we got
00:27
the really good radical collaboration
00:29
was with people that made the movie
00:31
Emily Gerson Saenz the mother of a
00:33
mother of an autistic child Mick Jackson
00:35
a great visual thinker Christopher
00:37
monger the writer a word thinker so it’s
00:39
visual thinker word think our work and
00:42
together we got to think about different
00:44
ways of thinking you know my work with
00:46
animals you know you got to get away
00:48
from language totally get away from
00:49
language to understand it animals world
00:52
is sensory based it’s not word based you
00:56
know there’s been some brain scan
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research that showed that the normal
00:59
mind drops out the details in my work
01:02
with animals I had a look at details
01:04
look at how that animals blocking at the
01:05
Sunbeam this place here they wanted to
01:07
tear down this whole cattle handling
01:09
facility you know what the cattle were
01:11
scared of the flag sometimes the most
01:13
obvious is the least obvious you’ve got
01:15
the semis look for the most obvious so
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I’d get down the chutes see things like
01:19
the shadows that would scare the animals
01:21
like see pictures in my head and the
01:24
movie showed exactly how my mind works
01:26
because Nick Jackson the director was a
01:28
total visual finger but visual thinkers
01:31
are not good on organizations I’d have
01:33
Christopher monger the writer he kept
01:35
the organization going I realized my
01:37
thinking was different when I was in my
01:39
40s and asked people about church
01:41
steeples and I was shocked to find out
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that most people generalized generic
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church steeple I only see specific ones
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and they just flash up like Google for
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Images just like this just like how the
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movie showed it and if you want some
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snow on it I can make it snow it’s like
02:00
a thunderstorm or a wedding I can put
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that in there too and when I design
02:04
equipment I can totally test run the
02:08
equipment in my mind I thought everybody
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could test run equipment in their mind
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I didn’t know that most people didn’t
02:15
have that kind of visual thinking and
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you know one you know really weird nerd
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nobody wants to talk to you so I learned
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they had to sell my work that’s the
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drawing starred in the HBO movie and
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they duplicated all my projects
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absolutely exactly and the nerd side of
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me really likes that and there’s they
02:32
are drawing that they built the dip fat
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system off of now I’ve noticed some
02:36
interesting things as the industry went
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from hand drawing to computers the old
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folks they went fine on the computers
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but some of the young people that have
02:44
never worked by hand
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they’ve never pulled anything we’re
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making a lot of very strange mistakes on
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drawings like they didn’t know where the
02:54
center of the circle was they were
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making 25-foot long gates they were
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making all kinds of stuff that wouldn’t
03:00
work and I’m really concerned that the
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schools have taken out so many of the
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hands-on classes they teach practical
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problem-solving
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we need practical problem-solving I used
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to joke around that had huge internet
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connection in my brain deep into the
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visual cortex and this dtic
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imaging show that I did and I got a
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really big one up here and some more
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fancier imaging up in the University of
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Pittsburgh that was paid for by DARPA
03:28
research that’s a a Defense Department
03:31
for people with head injuries they found
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out that 26 persone Lee 26 percent of my
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language circuit was working you know
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they had to work on me really really
03:39
hard to get that going I want to
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emphasize autism is a big spectrum at
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one end of the spectrum you got Einstein
03:45
you know you take out a few social
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circuits you get geek circuits do kinds
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of creative things at the other end of
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the spectrum you may have somebody very
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severe with epilepsy and they’re
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nonverbal now I am a photorealistic
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visual thinker who thinks in pictures
03:59
now this another kind of mind it’s the
04:02
pattern thinker this is your programmer
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this is your mathematician this is a not
04:07
my mind that praying mantis is made out
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of a single sheet of folded paper no
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cutting no scotch tape and what you see
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in the background that’s the folding
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pattern that’s not my mind now this is
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an important slide because I have found
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that there’s different kinds of thinkers
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there’s the photorealistic visual
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thinker like
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that absolutely cannot do algebra like
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that great long-term memory but I don’t
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have a very good short-term working
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memory and I’m seeing a lot of kids who
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cannot do algebra that need to be jumped
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right to geometry so how do me get
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through college I got to thank the math
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fads of the early 60s because I didn’t
04:46
have to take algebra I had to take
04:47
probability matrices and statistics then
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there’s the pattern thinker these are
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the kids when they’re in fourth grade
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may need to be five grades ahead math
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but they’re going to have trouble with
04:58
reading then you’ve got the verbal
05:00
thinkers these are not these guys are
05:02
not good at drawing these are the guys
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that we need to keep the structure and
05:06
the linear structure in two things being
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done by the visual thinkers then some
05:10
people are auditory just to show you
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that there is two ways of solving
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mathematical formulas a squared plus B
05:16
squared equals C squared okay that’s the
05:18
verbal way and that’s the geometry way
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where it’s done in a diagram a visual
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thinking way and there’s some people
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that say that algebra is the
05:27
prerequisite for geometry there’s one
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little problem
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geometry was invented before algebra
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little problem man now when different
05:35
people collaborate when the different
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kinds of minds get together they
05:41
complement each other I found that in my
05:43
own work I’m good at the visual thinking
05:46
things in my research you know we did
05:48
some pioneering work on cattle
05:50
temperament and how that effects on
05:51
weight gain and the cattle that get all
05:53
excited and crazy they gain less weight
05:55
when we did that 15 years ago that was
05:57
looked at as totally a radical it’s now
06:00
been duplicated a bunch of times well my
06:03
students are really good at the math
06:04
part now you know Japanese nuclear power
06:08
plant needed a visual thinker like me
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okay the mathematicians they know how to
06:12
design a nuclear reactor but when I
06:14
found out why this plant melted down I
06:16
was shocked I was reading a lot of stuff
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we’ll you know the earthquake came tore
06:21
down all the power lines emergency
06:23
generators came on coolant pumps were
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running everything was cool everything
06:27
was nice and then the tsunami came and
06:29
drowned the generators see the problem
06:32
is they had no backup for the seawall
06:35
that’s not the kind of mistake I would
06:37
make it would have walked around in that
06:38
plant I don’t know I don’t know how the
06:40
nuclear
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our plant part works but all I know is
06:42
that the coolant pump stops you’re in a
06:44
lot of trouble really fast I know how
06:46
pumps work generators work and I could
06:49
have seen the water either break in the
06:50
wall or coming over the wall filling up
06:52
the generator room electric panels are
06:55
only this far off the floor they’re
06:56
going to go nothing’s going to work and
06:59
it’s going to get hot really really
07:01
really quickly another kind of place
07:04
where you need the engineering mind more
07:06
the math mind in the visual thinker you
07:08
remember the whole disaster with airbags
07:10
airbags are killing little babies I
07:12
would have taken one look at those
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videos and would have gone wait a minute
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there’s no way this is going to work you
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see the engineering spec is that it had
07:19
to hold in an adult man with no seat
07:22
belt well you know he’d better put on
07:24
his seat belt and we’re going to need to
07:26
have an airbag it’s a little more gentle
07:27
just doesn’t work because with a visual
07:30
thinker and the math thinker need to
07:32
work together now the thing is I have
07:34
all these pictures in my mind so how do
07:36
i form categories and I find that a lot
07:38
of normal people are not very good at
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categorizing problems like for example
07:43
and the dog can do that when I’m on the
07:45
leash I protect my owner when I’m off
07:47
the leash I can go play and I find in my
07:51
livestock work that people have a lot of
07:53
problems
07:54
categorizing a people problem versus an
07:57
equipment problem and they want to get
07:59
in there and rip down the equipment but
08:01
remember how I said the most obvious is
08:03
the least obvious well that thing with a
08:05
generator that was a little bit of the
08:07
most obvious as far as I’m concerned now
08:10
yeah BT had lots of safety rules there
08:12
was a really interesting article in
08:14
Fortune magazine about British Petroleum
08:16
they were so proud of the fact that they
08:18
had lowered their slips and Falls
08:19
actions like if you visit a BP oil rig
08:22
and you don’t put a lid on your coffee
08:24
cup you might fall in the break room and
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you’re going to get written up for that
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and they had done a fantastic job of
08:31
reducing these kinds of accidents but
08:34
they forgot about process safety they
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forgot about the really important stuff
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like sloppy work and pushing pushing
08:45
pushing and doing stuff too fast then
08:48
there worked on those kind of projects
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that was a really big disaster but the
08:53
different kinds of minds have got
08:54
to work together I’m getting very
08:56
concerned now that our educational
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system is sort of just forgetting about
09:00
the visual thinkers the mathematics
09:04
thinkers things are getting way too
09:05
verbal you know we us visual thinkers we
09:08
need the verbal guys because the movie
09:09
would not have come out very good if we
09:11
hadn’t had Christopher monger the writer
09:13
keeping Nick in control on making the
09:16
sequence work he and the writer worked
09:18
right together you know Mick didn’t
09:20
change one thing in that script without
09:22
consoling Christopher there’s a great
09:24
scene in the movie where the cattle come
09:26
down to the water’s edge showing how
09:28
they a ramp into the dip fat system
09:30
should work and they ruined my design by
09:32
putting in a piece of metal people are
09:34
still doing that today I went to a plant
09:37
two days ago and I have the same kind of
09:40
inference on a thing called a center
09:42
track restrainer system half the cattle
09:44
in this country a processed on it they
09:46
go down the same kind of little ramp
09:47
non-slip little ramp and they cut off
09:51
the ramp and they would jumpin the
09:52
cattle in this is 35 years later you’ll
09:56
have a hard time getting away from this
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idea for some the annum well I drew a
10:01
drawing how to fix it up right my mentor
10:04
science teacher
10:05
he was essential for me because I even
10:08
though I got a lot of work skills and we
10:10
need to be getting middle school kids
10:12
exposed to interesting stuff you know
10:14
maybe they need to find out that oil
10:16
rigs have joysticks and excavators have
10:18
joysticks I got to sit in an excavator
10:20
simulator it was fun except I didn’t do
10:22
very well the bucket hit the cab that’s
10:25
like really really bad but we need to be
10:28
showing middle school kids they’re just
10:31
interesting things out there because the
10:33
lucky ones that are around these tech
10:35
areas like around here come to events
10:37
like this turns them on and motivates
10:38
them but then I just got back from an
10:40
autism meeting where I’m seeing some of
10:42
the same kind of geeky nerdy kids and
10:44
the labeled Asperger’s or labeled ADHD
10:45
or heavens forbid oppositional defiant
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that’s just absolutely the worst yeah
10:50
they’re going to turn oppositional
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defiant they’re not done but not
10:54
motivated I’m very concerned that our
10:57
educational system is not stimulating
10:59
the visual and the pattern thinker and
11:01
ten years ago this paper came out a
11:03
scientist ocation journal that visual
11:06
spatial thinking is getting overlooked
11:07
this
11:08
fools don’t test for mathematical and
11:10
they test for mathematical but they
11:12
don’t test for mechanical aptitude the
11:14
real visual kinds of thinking no bad
11:17
thing we need these people to shame so
11:20
many of the schools have taken out the
11:22
visual thinking and hands-on kind of
11:25
classes yes the Community College has
11:27
them but that’s too late for a lot of
11:29
these kids we gotta get them turned on a
11:31
lot younger we’ve got to do that
11:33
hands-on things those are the things
11:36
that saved me I’m also very concerned
11:38
that a lot of our quirky nerdy kids
11:41
these are the kids that are the
11:42
creativity for the future you know what
11:44
having all these cutbacks on education
11:46
and stuff like that I’m getting very
11:48
very concerned that maybe our country is
11:51
eating its educational seed corn just
11:53
want you to think about that I hope I
11:55
have gotten you to thank and I hope that
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this conference is going to get some of
12:00
the quirky nerdy kids turned on I have
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exactly 12 seconds left ten nine eight
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seven six five four three
12:22
you


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