Seeing What Others Cannot See by Thomas G. West (book review)

June 20, 2017 | By | Reply More

It’s odd that I haven’t come across any of the other books by Thomas G. West because he specialises in the genius mind. With ‘Seeing What Others Cannot See’, the sub-title, ‘The Hidden Advantages Of Visual Thinkers And Differently Wired Brains’ gives what this book is all about. Namely, key scientists have a stronger sense of visual that led them over practical experimentation. It still has to start off with some information in the first place but the likes of Einstein would have had to visualise what he was getting at. In other words, we are examining what it takes to be a genius.

From the start, West grabs your attention by pointing out so many scientist geniuses are fully or partially dyslexic, easily bored by having an attention deficit problem or even lonesome by nature. Do you notice the resemblance to some of us? I think we’re talking geek. Those of us inclined that way might not be all geniuses but I suspect we’re all multi-talented in some way and share similar traits. In other words, I think we’re back in the Boolean Curve.

In some respects, I wish West had explored and compared to others in such a curve. If the dyslexics are at one end, then surely those like me who learnt to read early and can digest and make sense of a lot of text must be at the other end and still have a balance between science and creativity.

The examples of dyslexic scientists in this book is staggering and surprising, even for West. Benoit Mandelbrot admitted he was one when interviewed and think of all those patterns he discovered from his unorthodox approach. You do also have to wonder if any employer holding back from employing a fully or partially dyslexic scientists is doing a disservice.

Between all the examples cited, West makes a good argument about how education fails such visual scientists because it isn’t geared up for their mindsets. It’s even more remarkable so many succeeded as well but think how much better they would have been had they been taught differently. The same might also apply to any creative talent. I was fortunate to have a good art teacher at secondary school but I left my English teachers and class standing when I was story writing with a visual sense although they appreciated what I could do. It might also explain why so many of us geeks are drawn to comicbooks when young, we needed visual stories as much as prose. With computers being so much of a visual medium these days, there does need to be a lot more thought on how programming is taught as well.

I should point out that this is not a long book but is certainly a mind-opener and gives some insight into thinking differently to other people. From a geek perspective, we tend to treat ourselves as being normal this way not that we’re particularly different. I hope West can find a contemporary opposite number to explain how ‘normal’ people think so we can get some insight into that as well. If you’re geek inclined, then you really need to read this book.

GF Willmetts

June 2017

(pub: Prometheus Books. 250 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $18.00 (US), $19.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-63388-301-7. Ebook: Price: $11.99 (US), $13.99 (CAN), $14.07 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-63388-302-4)

check out website: www.prometheusbooks.com

Category: Books, Culture, Science

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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