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How To Use Logic to "Read the Room" -- Ratigan's Song Analysis ("The Great Mouse Detective")

Updated: Jun 16

A mechanical smiling rat.

(2023 Note: Now that I compared myself to other autists, I've realized I have Asperger's Syndrome, which can be considered part of ASD, or the Autism Spectrum Disorders. I, however, am no longer sure if I am indeed an autist, even though I was diagnosed with both Asperger's and ASD. Please, take this article with a grain of salt, as I expect you to do, with any of my articles).

Understanding the Social World

There's a misconception that autistic people can't grasp social situations, even though it is possible. In reality, we can learn from personalized learning methods, that there are different ways for autists to understand reality. As such, some learning methods are better than others, and it depends on the individual's strengths and weaknesses.

While I excelled in school and got a graduation diploma, other people struggled more and unfortunately failed. On the other hand, many people find it easier to learn from teachers, while I enjoy learning by myself, in peace and in quiet.

Therefore, on the societal level, while autistic individuals may process social cues differently, it doesn't mean they can't understand them altogether. Furthermore, thinking that you will never optimally understand society, and that therefore you shouldn't try, is a product of the nirvana fallacy. It is but a matter of finding the appropiate method for each individual.

Many autistic people learn and navigate the social world in their own way. This might involve a more literal interpretation of communication or relying less on non-verbal cues. Regardless, autistic people can develop strong social understanding and meaningful connections, like romantic relationships, which often require a deeper understanding of your partner than other connections. That is despite the difficulties that may follow, resulting in autists struggling with love.

Here's, however, an empowering viewpoint: Autistic people bring unique strengths to social interactions, and their uniqueness doesn't always have to be a liability. For example, some may find social awkwardness cute and endearing, rather than condemnable or disgraceful. Perhaps they excel at direct communication, or bring insightful perspectives due to their different experiences of the same world.

Let's challenge the idea of something being "permanently hidden" from autistic people. The social world might function a bit differently for them, but understanding is definitely achievable.

Am also an autist, and wrote a guide on autism on Philosocom for those interested.

A Lesson from Autism and "The Great Mouse Detective"

Ratigan: A Master of Manipulation, Yet Blind to Honesty

Professor Ratigan, the film's villain, is a cunning deceiver, a manipulative egomaniac, and arguably a psychopath with no sense of remorse or empathy. This criminal mastermind orchestrates a plot to take over Mousedom, a kingdom of mice.

His plan involves extorting a toymaker to create a robotic replica of the Queen, used to fabricate her "coronation" of Ratigan. However, despite his intelligence, Ratigan possesses a critical weakness: his deep-seated insecurity about being a rat, not a mouse.

The Power of Honesty: A Lesson Learned (the Hard Way)

Interestingly, Ratigan leverages this insecurity to manipulate his henchmen. His theme song, "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind," glorifies his intellect and upcoming coup. While celebrating with his intoxicated minions, one unlucky soul, Bart, spits out the truth and breaks a taboo: "To Ratigan, the world's greatest RAT!"

This honest declaration throws Ratigan into a fury. Despite being a biological fact, exposes his deepest insecurity. Bart's honesty, sadly, leads to a gruesome demise, to get eaten by Ratigan's giant cat. It was a reminder of the dangers of defying Ratigan's carefully crafted persona.

Understanding the Nuances of the Song's Story

Ratigan's decision in the song, which required the song to be stopped mid-way, highlights the importance of social cues and understanding unspoken rules. For autistic people, navigating these nuances can be challenging, requiring extra effort and different approaches.

However, just like autistic people can learn social skills, Professor Ratigan, despite his flaws, demonstrates a twisted form of social intelligence. He understands how to manipulate others and exploit their weaknesses. Manipulation is, too, a social skill that can be learned, which indicates these skills can be used for good and for bad.

Learning the professional world in greater depth can teach us why bosses and workers shouldn't socialize too often:

  • People who don't get along can lead to the use of coercion, which can create unnecessary stress between people and factions within the organization, decreasing overall productivity.

Ratigan's mistreatment of his gang members reveal the liability of his leadership as a narcissist. When your ego gets in the way, as a leader, it can become a great obstacle in your quest for success. Discarding a follower for a slip of the tongue isn't problematic necessarily because of him. It could be problematic because it threathens your false sense of ego.

My theory is that Ratigan's song was a manipulative attempt to discard followers who threathen Ratigan's inflated sense of ego. What if "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind" is actually an elaborate loyalty test? It didn't have to be seen as just a celebration of a plan that became devised, but also part of that plan itself. Ratigan couldn't allow himself to allow followers ruining the public image he's trying to build as a future politician. So, to further consolidate his power, problematic elements were to be discarded from the very beginning.

Instead of teaching his gang the valuable lesson of secrecy, he chose to oppress them instead, striking terror into their hearts.

And I'd like to offer the idea that it is better to work on a healthy ego, than "having" to sacrifice people away. However, to do so one must realize his or her flaws. Being seen as flawed is a great threat to megalomaniacs, who might have a deep-seated fear.


And that is how one can read the room using logic and research of different aspects of life, from politics to power dynamics to psychology. The common interpretation focused on the celebratory nature of the music, and the sick delight of being evil, overlooks a deeper meaning.

And therefore, social understanding can manifest in diverse ways, and trained by oneself or with external guidance. Recognizing these differences and appreciating the unique strengths autistic people bring to the table, we can build a more inclusive and understanding world. One that sees the special needs of people, and realizes the importance of alternative methods for the overall growth of society. Disabled people or otherwise.

This analysis, based on reason and knowledge rather than personal experience and impressions, highlights a strength that can be found even in neurodivergent people just as in neurotypicals: the ability to think critically and draw insightful conclusions from available information and research.

This example demonstrates that autistic people can understand complex social situations, even fictional ones, through careful analysis and reasoning. Social understanding can be achieved in various ways, and autistic individuals bring valuable perspectives to the table.

I've been Mr. Tomasio Rubinshtein -- thanks for reading.

Review by Ms. Tamara Moskal

Feeding Bart to a cat as a punishment for telling the truth is an allegoric example of widely accepted double moral standards in life. It also illustrates the problem with Immanuel Kant's universalizability principle, which states that for an action to be permissible, it must be possible to apply to all people. Yet, not everyone has the same priorities, perceptions, and sensitivities, and only empathic individuals can comprehend others [on a deeper level].
Bart paid the ultimate price for not understanding that lying about Ratigan's identity was normative in the dictatorship [he was going to build] and was so crucial to the tyrant that it would save [Bart's] life.
We [can] all agree that Ratigan is a narcissistic villain and that Bart's sentence was a crime against truth and free speech. However, our communities encourage dishonesty in many ways for the "greater good," like propaganda, lying to protect others, and keeping the truth from enemies and competitors.
Most of us approve of lying as morally justified in certain situations. However, Kant disagrees. He proposed that there are no conceivable circumstances in which lying is ethically acceptable. In his views, morality is rooted in our capacity to make free choices based on logic, and lying is an assault on morality because it aims to undermine this capacity.
Did Bart make an illogical choice by telling the truth and dying in consequence? Maybe Bart didn't understand the "logic" of telling the objectively illogical lie to please the megalomaniacal Ratigan.
As members of society, we are expected to understand and follow the delicate norms of lying and deceit for the "greater good," to please others, and to succeed as politicians, leaders, professionals, and even parents. Small children are brutally honest, disregarding communal sensitivities because they still have to learn how to lie to fit into society.
Telling the prohibited, undesirable, or blunt truth can lead to social rejection or legal consequences. As full-fledged society members, we are expected to conform and follow the choices of our leaders and mentors rather than being authentic and making free choices based on truthful logic.
We are supposed to fit like uniform bricks in our local societal structure, but sadly, not [to] the universal humanity well described by Immanuel Kant.
The key to omnipresent human values lies in the seemingly paradoxical combination of individual desensitized authenticity and moral, logical empathy. To fit or not to fit in the societal matrix is the question only you can answer for yourself.
I adhere to moral reasoning, remain loyal to philosophical truth, and happily blend into Philosocom's colorful wall of unconventional and honest writers led by Mr. Tomasio.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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