Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More of SB's BS

Well I see pop psychology icon Simon Baron-Cohen is at it again. In a recent article He states his concern about the development of a prenatal test for autism, claiming that it is not very far off in the distant future and claiming there is some relationship between math skills and autism and that if we had a prenatal test and autistic fetuses were aborted we might be depriving the world of math skills or certain gifts. Previously I wrote about SB's nonsense in my essay about autism genetics and whether my suffering is necessary to society. In this piece he states that there is an increased incidence among autistics in the relatives of mathematicians than in the general population. I know that Baron-Cohen did some sort of study about autism being more prevalent in the family of engineers than in the general population but I am not aware of any empirical evidence that included mathematicians that he has produced. Interestingly enough my father is an engineer. However, on my mother's side of the family there is a family history of depression ADHD and possibly other things connected to autism. Also, my mother feels that her uncle was probably autistic based on his family history, though a child born prior to 1900 would not have had a diagnosis, so it is very possible at least some of the genes for my autism may come from mom's side of the family.

Also, I wonder about physicists which is a profession somewhat related to mathematics, computers and engineering in terms of aptitude. If Baron-Cohen's reasoning is true, then physicists must also be included under this rubric. I wonder how SBC would explain the fact that my brother-in-law is a Ph.D. physicist, his father is a physicist as his his younger brother. I am fairly certain there is no family history of autism in my brother-in-law's family and thankfully neither of my nephews has autism. SBC certainly has some explaining to do in this regard if he feels that preserving autism is necessary to society because of these genes.

Further, Baron-Cohen, does not explain the fact that in the majority of cases autism is a disorder involving multiplex genetic etiology, the interaction of many different genes on may different chromosomes being associated with autism. Most of these genes are autosomal, i.e. not the X or Y sex genes. Autism is also X-linked for example Fragile X may account for like 5% of all cases of diagnosed autism. Also one must consider based on the fact that the concordance rate for autism is not 100% in identical twins as well as the fact that the concordance is higher in fraternal twins than in siblings who share exactly the same genetic makeup that there must be something else operating other than genetics in the etiology of autism. It is true we have a prenatal test for Down's syndrome which involves an abnormality of one chromosome but due to the fact that autism is not exclusively genetic, involves many different types of genotypes producing a similar though maybe not an entirely identical phenotype it is not an apt comparison. Therefore, I really question his five year timeline that he presents in the article.

It is possible that at some point in time a prenatal test will be developed for Fragile X before other types of genetic disorders that could cause autism. But considering the severity of most persons with Fragile X, if Fragile X fetuses are aborted, would this be aborting math skills? Again, there is no basis for SB's reasoning.

From my correspondence with autism researcher Matthew Belmonte, who at one time was a postdoctoral fellow working in SBC's lab, I think Baron-Cohen has read my essay in which I questioned the premises that he makes about genetics as well as Temple Grandin. I did not seem to change his mind.

Interestingly enough, Matthew Belmonte also got a grant from CAN while working in this lab. In one correspondence I had with SBC he seemed to think that some persons with autism should be cured if their autism was severe enough and he said that he supported CAN and their research funding.

As many people know, SBC has also written an essay questioning whether or not high functioning autism is really a disability. He consulted with alleged autistic David Andrews on this essay and others whose functioning level would be much greater than mine. I resent SBC claiming that what I have is not necessarily a disability. If he had an autism spectrum disorder that is as severe as mine is, he never would have been able to get married, go to graduate school, get his doctorate or write or publish his books or have a platform for the exposure of his warped and uninformed opinions.

To sum up, it seems quite improbable that there will be a post-natal test that can reliably tell whether or not a person will become autistic anytime in the foreseeable future. It is most likely many decades off. Also, for the reasons I have given above it is unlikely it would affect math skills or any other positive traits, even in the unlikely event that even a portion of most types of autism could be detected in utero.

I am sick and tired of SB's BS but I suspect I will have to hear more of it in the future, but hopefully someday I can apply myself better and find as good factual information as possible to dispute it.

2 comments:

Foresam said...

Jonathan,
http://tinyurl.com/6prbj5
Here is a link to a very important fraudulent study concerning autism. I believe it is the most important thing I have ever written.

Nobody on either side of the autism "debate" will comment on it at all.

This shows that the people who did this study are blatent liars which explains why ND will not comment.

The fact that the loudest voices from my side of the debate will not even recognize that this study exists shows that they are not genuinely interested in winning the war. Led by Kirby, they are pretending to give people the truth but are doing so in a manner that keeps their followers in a perpetual state of limbo, chasing their tails in a circle instead of delivering the knockout punch.

Both sides of this public debate are a sham. The whole truth that I try to present is ignored by both sides while partial truths are used in an attempt to deceive every person on the planet.

It is the same tactic used in Presidential elections. The rulers of the planet only allow you to see their candidates. It doesn't matter which one wins because they are both working for the same bosses. That is the reason that candidates who might actually change anything are prevented by being seen by the public when they are banned from the debates.

SM69 said...

Well written, I am totally sick and tired of SBC too and I really think that pop psychology is the real term to describe what he does. This person is most skilled as a business entrepreneur, he knows how to attracts attention, funding and how to be fashionable. Full stop, he does not know that much about autism, given that anyway he has only studied highly selected subjects to confirm his theories, not to confront reality. His theories regarding testosterone, empathy and excess maleness are equally flawed. I speak as a scientist. His pre-natal screen is also none sense, and oh oh, let’s wrap it in some sort of warning that talents would also be lost by the same token, just to make sure that the ND quarter remains happy. He has not read about biology of autism, why should he? He has no training in biology. He has not read about what could cause it. There are many causes and we are talking about a high degree of complexity, this is why genetic studies have been so fruitless so far, candidates all over the genome, no strong candidate that could encapsulates all the cases we see today. No, but this guy has got to come up with fashionable ideas, every now and then, using the media and the links he has established so well. BTW the other day I heard him present a revolutionary approach called Lego therapy with Tony Charman. They have come up with this brilliant theory that playing repetitively Lego with an autistic child help engaging with him and therefore his development. Amazing! Now does that take gov. grant funding to find this out, and a PhD and a lab in Cambridge? Hell. He comes up with that sorts of thing, because he is an entrepreneur by nature, and he need to secure his funding, and his pride, brush his ego and look after his aura. No other reason, nothing to give a real support to people with autism. He does not want to see anything but his idealistic view of what autism is as this makes him feel good about himself. Nothing else. He has put people around him to maintain his empire, and it is secured, and this is how science works, across many fields, and the more money there is into play, the more true that is. AIDS is another HUGE area like this. Corruption. That what it is. SBC is Nb one. It works and I am afraid it will, because he will change his stance the minute he has other information that he needs to grasps in order to maintain his leadership position. One day he will say what he has dined as being true, because that will be best for him, one day he will be in total confrontation with him self, publicly, officially and he will still get away with it. Corruption that’s what it is, and we are hitting these issues in a big way as far as autism is concerned.