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Seeing What Others Cannot See: The Hidden Advantages of Visual Thinkers and Differently Wired Brains

$33.63  Paperback
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Thomas G West

  • Seeing What Others Cannot See
  • Seeing What Others Cannot See
    investigates how different kinds of brains & different ways of thinking can help to make discoveries & solve problems in innovative & unexpected ways

277 pages
ISBN: 9781633883017

For over 25 years, Thomas G. West has been a leading advocate for the importance of visual thinking, visual technologies and the creative potential of individuals with dyslexia and other learning differences. In this new book, he investigates how different kinds of brains and different ways of thinking can help to make discoveries and solve problems in innovative and unexpected ways. West focuses on what he has learned over the years from a group of extraordinarily creative, intelligent, and interesting people -- those with dyslexia, Asperger's syndrome, and other different ways of thinking, learning, and working. He shows that such people can provide important insights missed by experts as they also can prevent institutional "group think."

Based on first-person accounts, West tells stories that include a dyslexic palaeontologist in Montana, a special effects tech who worked for Pink Floyd and Kiss and who is now an advocate for those with Asperger's syndrome, a group of dyslexic master code breakers in a British electronic intelligence organisation, a Colorado livestock handling expert who has become a forceful advocate for those with autism and a family of dyslexics and visual thinkers in Britain that includes four winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics. He also discusses persistent controversies and the unfolding science.

This is an inspiring book that not only documents the achievements of people with various learning differences, but reveals their great potential -- especially in a new digital age where traditional clerical and academic skills are less and less important while an ability to think in pictures and to understand patterns using high-level computer information visualisations is rapidly increasing in value in the global economic marketplace.

Table of Contents

Preface 9

Introduction 13

  1. Seeing the Whole 21
  2. Visual Perspectives 53
  3. Seeing Along the Spectrum 69
  4. The Power of Design 91
  5. Those Who Can See 101
  6. Insiders, Outsiders 119
  7. Seeing and Technology 133
  8. Visual Families and Nobel Prizes 151
  9. Conclusion 181

Acknowledgments 201

Copyright Acknowledgments 203


  • A - Letter from Delos Smith 205
  • B - Dyslexic Advantage-Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide 213
  • C - Sources of Information 217
  • D - Postscript 221

Notes 225

Bibliography 243

Index 259

"""For twenty-five years Thomas G. West has been a leader in the movement to highlight the value and beauty of minds that see the world in nontypical ways. In Seeing What Others Cannot See, he presents his strongest case yet for the importance of recognizing, educating, and utilizing nonverbal strengths, and their special value in our contemporary world. Recommended for anyone interested in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, innovation and creativity, technology, and education."
- Brock Eide, coauthor of The Dyslexic Advantage and The Mislabeled Child.

"People who think in pictures have contributed greatly to both scientific discovery and artistic expression. Thomas G. West carefully documents their abilities. Our education system needs to change from an emphasis on deficits to the development of a student's strengths."
- Temple Grandin, author, Thinking in Pictures and The Autistic Brain

"In this fascinating book, Thomas G. West revisits and interprets his earlier theories in the light of ongoing changes in society, highlighting the importance and awareness of positive aspects of dyslexia by contrast with the traditional deficit approach. Here he extends his thinking to include a novel evaluation of Asperger's, drawing links between distinctive visual thinkers in both groups in a series of compelling case studies. West argues most persuasively for greater emphasis on the power of visual literacy and the need for new tools to evaluate these strengths throughout life, to meet the challenging demands of our modern environment."
- Angela Fawcett, PhD, former editor, Dyslexia, and coauthor, Dyslexia, Learning, and the Brain

"West argues convincingly that dyslexics and related intellectuals seem to fail in elementary school learning while excelling at the broader level of graduate school. Many whose stories he recites were smashing successes in business. West urges that this is because of extra gifts in visual learning and thinking. He goes beyond praising dyslexics' hidden strengths in visual thinking and learning, their ability to see what others cannot see--he demands that we stop hiding the imaginative strengths of all children under their weaknesses in reading."
- Donald Lindberg, MD, Director Emeritus, National Library of Medicine