rocking the boat

Tesla was a great physicist and a very intelligent man but his wording was rather lousy.

I get the gist of what he wanted to say and I basically agree with him but I don’t think “anti-social behaviour” aptly describes what he had in mind.

The real meaning of ‘anti-social’ is ‘acting against the interests of the group of which the perpetrator is a member”: from stealing to high treason.
What I understand of Tesla’s words are gestures made against ingrained habits which induce social stiffness – social rigidity that inhibits innovation and adaptation.
And in fact all these gestures are pro-social, they are good for the society at large and not at all bad or anti-social.

It is true that today ‘anti-social behaviour’ has been ‘stretched’ to include all actions that disturb ‘social norms, socially sanctioned customs and widely held beliefs’ but this would be true only as long as these ‘habits’ were still useful to the society we are speaking about.

I don’t think Tesla would have condoned theft or any other criminal activity, no matter how anti-social, but he would have applauded, had those things happened during his life, what Copernicus, Giordano Bruno and Darwin had done. Or Martin Luther King.