The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Dr. Temple Grandin (Full Transcript)

Dr. Temple Grandin: Well, there’s a lot of things, I mean, for one thing in the ’70s, my first professional group was the American Society of Agricultural Engineering, I thought I could fix the world with engineering. I absolutely believed that everything could be fixed with engineering. I now realize only half of it can be fixed with engineering. And I had a major equipment failure, which was a real epiphany. I was hired by a company in 1980 to run the old slaughter plants. The pigs had to walk up to the third floor in the real old plants. And they wanted me to build a conveyor system to put in the floor of the chute to take the pigs up this ramp. And I said, I’ll design that.

Well, the problem is it flipped all the pigs over backwards. And it did not work and we had to tear it out. But then I started realizing now why are some pigs not capable of walking up this ramp? Well, I start getting the ID numbers off of the different pigs and I found out that all the pigs that a problem came from one farm. And they had a genetic problem called spraddle leg, where the hips are very, very weak. What I should have done, by trying to make a conveyor, that was treating a symptom of a problem. We should have gone back to the source. For a fraction of the cost of this mess that we had, we could have bought that farm new boars — five or six new boars is all it would have taken, just a few thousand dollars — and gotten rid of that genetic problem. Would have solved it.

One thing I learned from that is you’ve got to treat problem at its source, rather than treating a symptom of a problem. Now I went into about a six month depression over that. That was not fun. But I learned a really important lesson from that.

Female Speaker: So we’re out of time now. So please everybody join me in thanking Temple Grandin for coming to Google.


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