Debunking the Vaccination Causes Autism Myth

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University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan debunks the urban legend that vaccines cause autism. To wit:

Recent research on many fronts in medicine and science has nailed the coffin shut on the mercury-in-vaccines-causes-autism hypothesis. The connection is just not there. Perhaps the key fact, which has garnered little attention, is that thimerosal [the mercury containing preservative alleged to cause autism] has been removed from vaccines in this and other countries for many years, with no obvious impact on the incidence of autism

If there has been a more harmful urban legend circulating in our society than the vaccine-autism link, it is hard to know what it might be. At a time when vaccines may be our last best hope in facing some of the greatest challenges we and our children face, this legend needs to be put to rest. Vaccination, not vaccine-bashing, is what this nation needs.

A point I made a while back here

NEXT: Lou's Blues

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  1. Which leaves the important question as to whether autism incidence truly is increasing, and, if so, what can be done about the increase.

    Now that we are past this threshold issue, it will be nice to see some posts on the more important, underlying public health issues.

    My anecdotal, totality of my experiences impression is that autism truly is increasing and that it is not just “better diagnosis.” I understand that parents / public schools may get more taxpayer $$$ if the diagnosis is “autism,” but I still think there are genuinely more autistic kids out there than there used to be.

    think we need work on hardening the criteria for autism and making them more determinative so that we know what (if any) kind of new health problem(s) we are facing. Maybe court challenging the “autism” status of resource-hungry children in public schools is the answer. Of course, if it turns out that the diagnoses are good, and autism really is on the rise . . . well, that would be a hard situation for a libertarian to face.

  2. What is the timeline on thimerosal? From what I have heard, it wasn’t discontinued from production until 2002 or 2003. And even then, existing supplies were not destroyed. Can we be sure that the first thimerosal-free generation is old enough to measure their incidence of autism?

  3. In the past year I’ve participated (as a test subject, not a scientist) in two vaccine studies, one for typhoid and one for anthrax. I’ve gotten a few hundred bucks for it, it hasn’t taken much time, and hopefully the study will lead to something useful.

    Plus, if it works, I’m protected against anthrax and typhoid, so that’s a plus.

  4. This was never an “urban legend”; it was always a lie. A LIE.

    When will the liars like Rich Tucker be made to pay for their lies? When will their publishers, like the egregious townhall.com be made to pay for knowingly and deliberately trying to kill children? Because that’s exactly what they did.

  5. How do they do that anyway? Do they give you the vaccine and then mail you a mysterious white powder, or are they only testing safety?

  6. Everybody knows that the “vaccination campaigns” are just part of the conspiracy to implant RFIDs in all of us.

    How much did “Big Vaccine” pay you to be part of the coverup, Ron?

    ;P

  7. Did they really kill any kids? How many idiots where convinced not to get vaccines? Unless you reach some critical mass – I don’t know what that level is, or if we reached it – you won’t really increase the incidence of disease.

  8. Timothy-

    They check my blood for circulating antibodies a few weeks after the injection, and then again a few months after that. Granted, they can’t test for life-long immunity that way, but I think they’re looking at this more as a reactive measure. As I understand it, there is no placebo group, because the vaccine has been tested already, what they vary is the dosage, to see how low of a dose can still stimulate a response.

  9. Also, there were two recent articles in Slate.com related to autism. The first claimed that rates of autism were on the rise and were highly correlated with cable television penetration rates. Basically, whenever a zip code got cable TV, the autism rate began to climb after remaining steady prior to the introduction of cable TV.

    The second article made the claim that the incidence of autism is not on the rise, and that the increase number of diagnosis’ is only the result of labelling kids autistic who used to be labelled “slow” or “retarded”.

    Both these propositions could be true, but why would the introduction of cable TV lead to changes in the way we label/diagnose kids?

    I’ve also read that autism is highly correlated with income, which leads me to believe it really is a labelling issue. Poor people just call their kid “stupid”. Rich people claim their kid is “autistic”.

  10. In common law, attempt is considered the same as completion of a crime. (I.E., inchoate crimes=choate ones).

    Even if no child died as a result of a disease for which he could have been vaccinated but wasn’t thanks to the “vaccines lead to autism” liars, their attempts to halt such vaccinations can only be interpreted as deliberate attempts to murder children.

    All along, the science said this was bullshit. The child-killers knew this. Clearly, their motive was to murder children. What other motive could there be?

    Since the only reasonable penalty for murder is death by public burning, Rich Tucker, his publishers, and anyone who aided such filth, deserve to be burned until dead in the public square.

  11. probably need to spend more time at Slate and less here. thanks, narwahl! Those two articles sound like a good way to catch up on both sides of the health issue(?) here.

  12. Wow.

    Tell the truth, Ron Bailey hired you so make him look good by comparison, right?

  13. Both these propositions could be true, but why would the introduction of cable TV lead to changes in the way we label/diagnose kids?

    The correlation of cable TV to autism was shown by a pair of economists by looking at historical data. They make no claims as to why cable TV correlates to autism.

    However, just prior to the publication of this study, one of the Slate writers pondered whether television viewing could produce autism. At very early ages, the child’s brain is not “ready” to process lots of two-dimensional images. So the writer wondered whether plopping infants down in front of a colorful TV display could harm brain development.

    Two totally unrelated articles popped up within a week or so of each other that implied that early TV viewing could increase the risk of autism. It was spooky to catch both of these articles in the order that they appear on Slate.

  14. a while back i was speaking to a woman whose postdoc work is on autism testing and children, and she’s fairly convinced that autism is overdiagnosed, partially because it’s a way for odd developmental disabilities to be more easily grouped into an understandable category.

    what’s very interesting about autism is why it is diagnosed in more boys than girls, something that can’t be easily laid on environmental/chemical/cable television/etc.

    maybe it’s a testosterone thing?

    i like the folks who think all vaccines either cause disease or are worthless.

  15. The sexual energy between joe and Ron could power a small city.

  16. i like the folks who think all vaccines either cause disease or are worthless.

    The polio vaccine did some very good things and some very bad things.

  17. The sexual energy between joe and Ron could power a small city.

    Are you on the payroll of Big Tantra?

  18. “Poor people just call their kid “stupid”. Rich people claim their kid is “autistic.” –narwhal

    Brilliant. Anybody who takes popular press reports on medical and health matters seriously is gullible at the very least.

  19. Gimme Back My Dog asked:

    “What is the timeline on thimerosal? From what I have heard, it wasn’t discontinued from production until 2002 or 2003. And even then, existing supplies were not destroyed. Can we be sure that the first thimerosal-free generation is old enough to measure their incidence of autism?”

    I dont know about the US, but in some countries the thimerosol phase-out began well over a decade ago. Denmark for instance stopped using thimerosol in 1992, with no subsequent decline in autism rates.

    Anne-Marie Plesner, Peter H. Andersen and Preben B. Mortensen Kreesten M. Madsen, Marlene B. Lauritsen, Carsten B. Pedersen, Poul Thorsen. Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence From Danish Population-Based Data. Pediatrics 2003;112;604-606.

  20. thoreau

    It’s amazing that you could take time from your busy schedule as a physicist (i.e. posting nonsense here)to take part in such a study.

  21. “Poor people just call their kid “stupid”. Rich people claim their kid is “autistic.”

    Unlike previous generations when rich families were thrilled with the “retarded” label and it carried no stigma, so long as the retard’s parents had money./sarc

  22. A good summary of the state of knowledge on the autism / thimerosal issues can be found here and here.

  23. “The second article made the claim that the incidence of autism is not on the rise, and that the increase number of diagnosis’ is only the result of labelling kids autistic who used to be labelled ‘slow’ or ‘retarded’.”

    A lot of autistic people used to be misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, as well.

  24. DenkerDichter said:

    “All along, the science said this was bullshit. The child-killers knew this. Clearly, their motive was to murder children. What other motive could there be?”

    Nah, these people are just garden-variety True Believers. Wrong though they might be, they certainly believe they are right of vaccines.

  25. Note to self, anthrax shipments to physics professors may prove ineffective. Time to chart new course of action.

    (Joke! It’s a joke! Please no one get upset. I’m not Dave W or Edward. It’s simply a joke about the Unabomber, an admittedly unfunny topic. I officially apologize and retract my joke.)

  26. Edward,

    What gave you the impression physicists are busier than anyone else? They just spend their time with differential equations instead of selling widgets.

  27. (Joke! It’s a joke! Please no one get upset. I’m not Dave W or Edward. It’s simply a joke about the Unabomber, an admittedly unfunny topic. I officially apologize and retract my joke.)

    Hey, I’m just joking, too! Geez. Do I need to apologize? I thought everybody was joking here.

  28. Actually, I’m speaking from experience.

    I married into a rich family, so all of wife’s friends are filthy rich. A couple of them have “autistic” kids who are not autistic in any real sense of the word. They’re just slow. I wouldn’t even say they’re retarded – they’ll probably end up with a 100 IQ, or so, and they’ll do fine in life. But, calling them autistic confers all sorts of social benefits on the parents, and allows them to get their kid into all sorts of programs that they otherwise would not be allowed to utilize.

    On the other hand, I grew up in a lower middle-class neighborhood. There were two “retards” on my block. Their parents just accepted that they were retards and didn’t go for all the fancy interventions…

  29. I sat next to a very sad lady on my last flight to Chicago. She was attending a conference from some arse who wrote a scare book about this. She was shelling out cash to ‘force action’ at this guy’s book event. It made me sick.

    She had an autistic son and wanted to sell me on the whole thing. I just kept saying “I understand your concern for truth, and skepticism is a good idea, but make sure you are skeptical of everyone equally. This guy wants your money, too.” She went on and on highlighting passages in his book and crying.

    Ugh, that was rough.

  30. JasonL

    C’mon, nobody posting here all day is engaged in anything as serious as physics. Those of us who aren’t independently wealthy are probably stealing paid time from some unsuspecting employer.

  31. The autism/cable link might be as simple as something like this: the acquiring of cable is just part of a community’s general trend towards creating more links with the rest of the world, and the resulting greater access to information causes more people to learn about autism and request that their children be tested. Viola, “more” autism.

  32. “My anecdotal, totality of my experiences impression is that autism truly is increasing and that it is not just “better diagnosis.” I understand that parents / public schools may get more taxpayer $$$ if the diagnosis is “autism,” but I still think there are genuinely more autistic kids out there than there used to be.”

    I just want to point out that this means absolutely nothing. The whole point of insisting on statistically rigorous sampling is to weed out biases exactly like this. You don’t know at all if what you said here is true, so be careful what you propose as a remedy.


  33. Plus, if it works, I’m protected against anthrax and typhoid, so that’s a plus.

    Or, you’ll get teh autism… whichever comes first.

    But seriously, this myth is still running strong. I was listening to a local call-in show on NPR where they were debating the HPV vaccine. The expert Dr. who was very pro-vaccine, but anti-mandate (re: the Texas governor) was asked by one of the callers about the “strong link” with Thimerosol and autism. The Dr. quietly mentioned that there was not Thimerosol and went on. I was hoping he’d give her the smackdown. He didn’t.

  34. calling them autistic confers all sorts of social benefits on the parents

    Nice to see that the public school system is still useful for some filthy rich people. A lot of them private school or homeschool. They say it is a better education.

    At least, I hope you are talking about public school rather than need based gov’t programs. If not, the fraud in using the “autism” label would be dwarfed by the fraud of claiming need where there is none.

  35. Edward,

    You seem to have an odd set of assumptions about how serious physics is as opposed to other things you might choose to spend time on. Not to say physics is unserious, but rather that many pursuits are as serious as physics. Physics requires a lot of mathematical rigor that other areas don’t, but don’t get caught up in a romantic notion of what is being done.

    They work, they try to come up with some good theory, they play on the internet during work hours, they probably even use the restroom semi regularly.

  36. JasonL,

    You forgot about the bubbling beakers with colored liquids and the arcing electricity thingies.

  37. FWIW, I’ve also seen studies linking autism to older (>40?) fathers. I’m not sure if this correlates to cable or not. Maybe the late night cable shows help the old guys.

  38. I get my best thinking done when I’m supposedly doing something else. I keep myself as busy as I can with paper-pushing tasks, I think, when I have an idea I work on equations, sometimes I write code and test it, then I think for a while about whether my results make sense. Sometimes in doing so I play around. Sometimes I’m unable to think about it at all, so I do something else. Sometimes I go home and get my best ideas, and then work on them the next day.

    I’m producing interesting results that seem to match up with data, so nobody really care what else I do during this creative process.

  39. You’re a physicist, thoreau?

    Can you help me talk to grandma? Or do I actually have to be in the room with the candles?

  40. There is a hypothesis floating around that I think is interesting:

    In developed countries, people who are highly quantitative are likely to marry each other (because they meet each other in calculus classes etc), making their children more susceptible to Asberger/autism. Think of it as left-brain inbreeding.

    Given that the math skills are high income skills, this essentially becomes an affliction of the wealthy. The correlation between autism and cable TV can thus be explained by the notion that a zip code has cable TV for the first time because that computer engineer family just set up a brood there.

    As I said, it’s an interesting hypothesis, and provided you can get your hands on the data you can prove it one way or the other.

  41. The left-brain-right-brain thing is yet another lie.

  42. As is the whole concept of “mental illness”

  43. As is the whole concept of “mental illness”

    I see, so John Nash was just faking it for 40 years.

  44. I sat next to a very sad lady on my last flight to Chicago.
    Ugh, that was rough.

    Thank you for reminding me why it’s a good idea to have a policy of not talking to people on airplanes.

  45. I’ll admit, at the time (my first son was born in 2002) I was very concerned about thimerosal present in vaccines. I insured my pediatrician used the new (at the time) “single dose” vaccines that were thimerosal free. (I don’t think it was possible for the flu vaccine) I’m sure that being concerned about the amount of mercury the state was forcing me to allow get thrushed into the bloodstream of my newborn infant son makes most here think I was crazy. Call me whatever you want. But in the real world, I’m a pretty reasonable guy and I’m glad it looks as if thimerosal may not be the cause of the increase in the rate of autism.

    It is a lot easier to be rational about it when there isn’t a needle sticking in your kid’s thigh.

  46. Like all good urban legends that hurt the public good, this one will never die. Facts and logic are no way to win this argument. When we had our kid last summer, we went to a midwifery clinic. The midwives were generally up to speed on the science, but when the topic of vaccines came up, they went completely tin foil hat brigade on us.

  47. I thik the cable/autism link (assuming it’s true) is supposed to be that it’s not good for very young children–toddlers or younger–to spend too much time watching television (or to be specific, spend too much time on a non-interactive thing wherein they keep their eyes focused on a small area filled with moving two-dimensional images).

    And when cable TV comes in, it’s possible for a kid to spend all day watching TV shows they find interesting, whereas in the days B.C. (before cable) a very young child probably wouldn’t want to watch too much TV, since there were times when there wasn’t a single fun-for-kids program to be found among the four or five channels available.

  48. tf

    Good point. When we and ours are at risk, it is difficult to be rational.

    However, I think the fact that you saw that your kid did get his vaccinations – as opposed to not getting them at all because of the purported risk of autism – speaks well of your ability to weigh risks.

    Even with the safest vaccines, there is always a small portion of the population that suffers injury from the vaccination itself – a fact I’m reasonably certain you knew before you chose to have your child receive ANY vaccinations.

  49. It is a lot easier to be rational about it when there isn’t a needle sticking in your kid’s thigh.

    Plus it’s alot worse for your first kid as opposed to any that come along later; experience tends to make parents more moderate. In fact, that reminds me of a joke….

    When your first child drops a pacifier on the floor, you pick it up, wash it with hot, soapy water, dip it in a bleach solution, rinse with pure, deionized water and allow it to dry before giving it back.

    When your second does it, you pick it up, wash it with soap and water, rinse with tap water, and then give it back wet.

    When the third does it, you casually saunter over to the sink, rinse it off, and give it back.

    When the fourth does it, you pick it up, look for any big particles, and pop it back in his mouth.

  50. “joe | February 7, 2007, 12:59pm | #
    You’re a physicist, thoreau?

    Can you help me talk to grandma? Or do I actually have to be in the room with the candles?”

    LOL!

    (or the other answer is, “shaddap an’ keep diggin’!”)

  51. joe-

    You can imagine the jokes I got back when I was a teenager and interested in cosmology. I had to explain that I was not interested in styling hair for a living.

  52. I am not sure that the MMR ever had the preservative. I believe it was only the DTP that had the preservative. Same thing for flu shots (who ever mentioned that above.

  53. Interesting that just a few stories up Weigel is talking about a completly different issue from the chief thimerosal bashing cheerleader, Don Imus.

    Maybe it is time for the media to stop hiring guys with ranches, like Imus and that dope at ABC TV.

  54. I can’t believe that no one mentioned the most obvious source for the increase in autism: CORN SYRUP.

    Surely it has been the adoption of corn syrup over other sweeteners that has led to this.

    Or maybe it’s the CANOLA OIL which is RAPESEED!

    Or maybe I am kidding…

    Personally I suspect it either has something to do with the general, average increase in the ages at which parents now spawn (father and mother are older than a generation ago and a generation before that) OR it is fundamentally a relabelling of all kids with mental difficulties as autistic in addition to a general increase in diagnoses among the actually autistic.

    When I was a kid no one had restless-leg syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple chemical whatevertheycall it and fibromyalgia…

    Of course no one has the vapors or the consumption anymore. Must be a result of flouride …

    (yes, yes settle down, I know consumption was another word for cancer.. geesh!)

  55. “Poor people just call their kid “stupid”. Rich people claim their kid is “autistic”.”

    My rich boss’s junior high aged son is autistic. I met him about a month ago. He is just about the nicest young man I have ever met.

  56. Garth,

    Consumption was another word for tuberculosis.

    I said “sanitarium.”

    I thought you said “santitation.”

    You shouldn’t have said nothing. They would have thought you was a horse and let you go.

  57. “As is the whole concept of “mental illness””

    One thing is certain — you’ve never met my ex

  58. “Of course no one has the vapors”

    I still gets ’em every time I gets me a good long gander at young Master Parker.

  59. People had IBD (UC) and Crohn’s back then.

  60. OK right, tuberculosis, my bad… But my point wasn’t that people didn’t have these things, just that before they were named they were unknown. Like OCD, ADD (ADHD) etc. What seems to happen is that once named lots of people suddenly have it and then it is likely over-ly used for a greater number of ills than actually present.

    Eventually, as with cancer, which now has a plethora of sub-disease names –
    * Carcinoma
    * Lymphoma
    * Sarcoma
    * Mesothelioma
    * Glioma
    * Germinoma
    * Choriocarcinoma

    As also is the case for mental illness… Used to be your uncle was “crazy” now he’s one of many specific ills.

    They’ll probably atomize the varients of “autism” along the way…we already have Asperger’s and Kanner’s … there will yet be more…

  61. VM | February 7, 2007, 3:31pm | #
    “joe | February 7, 2007, 12:59pm | #
    You’re a physicist, thoreau?

    Can you help me talk to grandma? Or do I actually have to be in the room with the candles?”

    LOL!

    (or the other answer is, “shaddap an’ keep diggin’!”)

    That’s almost as funny as the sign in my hometown advertising “Physic Readings”.

    Go figure.

  62. thoreau

    Could you work this out for me?

    6,0 * 10^-8 = 2pi*?(m/80)

  63. Edward,

    Suggestion: If you want to try to make a point about which you are embarrassingly wrong, at least throw a mechanics problem at him. Highschool students can work that out for you. You should have algebra by the time you are a junior.

  64. Edward-

    You have the integral of m/80. What is the variable of integration? Is it m, or is m a function of some other variable? And what are the limits of integration?

    At least, it looks like an integral sign on my screen. It’s a pretty small integral sign, and not terribly clear. It almost looks like a slash for division, i.e. /, but there’s another slash in that equation, so I can’t tell.

  65. thoreau

    Just as I thought.

    6*10^-8 = 2pi*?(m/80)
    (6*10^-9)/(2pi) = ?(m/80)
    [(6*10^-9)^2]/(4pi^2)= m/80
    m = 80*[(6*10^-9)^2]/(4pi^2)

  66. Ya know, I like to bash T. for his smug, hegemonic politics, rather than any lack of science or math skill I may perceive on his part.

    Still, I was surprised he didn’t pick up on that standard form of a square root sign.

    J***** C*****, sometimes I think the only way to succeed in this world is to either metaphorically or literally stroke wealthy ppl.

  67. Edward,

    you made an arithmetic error. You changed 6*10^-8 to 6*10^-9.

    Now leave T alone. Don’t you know his grandparents were swarthy illegal aliens? He has come a looonnnnnng way.

  68. Last June, I got immunized against both small pox and Anthrax. So far, I have noticed no change in my artistica abilities.

  69. I never do math symbols in HTML. I usually do math symbols in LaTex, so I didn’t recognize that square root sign.

  70. so I didn’t recognize that square root sign.

    just for your reference, that is the square root sign that is generally used in books (the pulp kind) written about math and physics.

    If that same symbol includes a little tiny 3, then that means cube root. If it includes some other prime number nth then it means the nth degree root. No number in the symbol means that a two is implied and the symbol is properly interpreted as a square root.

    A year ago or so we had a discussion about using the quadratic equation as an entry test to make sure only adults got into adult-appropriate websites. I shudder to think.

  71. The way it’s showing up on my screen it barely looks like the square root signs in my books.

  72. Seriously, it’s showing up as a forward slash with a tiny bump sticking out to the right at the top and a tiny bump sticking out to the left at the bottom. That could just as easily be an anemic integral sign as an anemic square root.

    When I see square root signs, the part sticking out from the bottom is generally more pronounced.

  73. In the Old West, guys who had a reputation as badass gunslingers could never go to a saloon and drink in peace, because there was always some jackass wishing to prove the existence of his balls by challenging the gunslinger to a shootout. I guess the same holds true for Internet posters with a reputation for being intelligent; ballless wonders then troll the online saloons challenging them to solve mathematical equations.

  74. Wayne

    I made the mistake purposely to see if Dr. Thoreau would pick it up. I’ve exposed a fraud. But then, hey, who knows who anybody really is?

    Jennnifer, you are a discredit to your sex (if it really is your sex.)

  75. It’s not really my sex, Eddie. I stole it from you.

  76. Edward, like I said, the thing showed up weird on my screen. It was barely recognizable as a square root symbol on my screen.

    Suppose that you wrote a paragraph with really sloppy handwriting, to the point of being barely readable. Would you call me illiterate if I said I couldn’t quite understand it?

  77. Edward: That barely looks like a root sign, I guessed integral first too. If you increase the text size five or six times it starts to look like a square root, but aside from that it’s not like integral calculus is less difficult than taking something to the 1/2 power.

  78. thoreau

    Write your own physics equation, and explain it to us. Make it a simple one. I’ll wait.

  79. Here’s an equation that I’m working on right now

    d/dt [VEGF]_{soluble} = D del^2 [VEGF]_{soluble} – k_1 [VEGF]_soluble (1-[VEGF]_{bound}) + k_2[VEGF]_{bound}

    It’s a reaction-diffusion equation of a type commonly used in biophysics. The left hand side is the time derivative of the concentration of a soluble growth factor VEGF. The first term on the right hand side, the Laplacian of the concentration, is a diffusion term, because the soluble growth factor can diffuse. The second term is the rate of binding to the extracellular matrix, proportional to a rate constant (k_1), the number of soluble molecules available to bind ([VEGF]_{soluble}), and the number of unoccupied binding sites (1-[VEGF]_{bound}). (Note that I write “1-[VEGF]_{bound}” rather than subtracting [VEGF]_{bound} from some saturation concentration because I’ve normalized everything in the equations to a saturation concentration.) The third term is the rate of spontaneous unbinding from the matrix, proportional to a rate constant and the concentration of bound molecules. The third term is necessary because binding is a reversible process.

    We haven’t found good estimates for k_1 and k_2 in the literature, but we can use equilibrium thermodynamics to show that k_2 = k_1 exp(-\Delta G/k_B T) where \Delta G is the free energy change when a molecule binds to the matrix, k_B is the Boltzmann constant, and T is the temperature.

    Any questions?

  80. Of course, that equation needs to be supplemented with an equation for the time dependence of [VEGF]_{bound}, as well as appropriate boundary conditions.

  81. I heard you can drill a dime at a hundred yards, Black Thoreau. Prove it! Let’s us have ourselves a fight!

  82. Sorry to interrupt the cock fight, but just out of curiosity, what do you (any of you) think does cause autism?

    I tend to agree that the vaccine connection is wrong, what does cause it? Genetics, a trauma at birth, or maybe shortly after? Any ideas?

    Do you shoot, Jennifer?

  83. Obviously, the Jews cause autism. Same as they cause all the wars in the world.

  84. “Obviously, the Jews cause autism.”

    Ah…. so, it is genetic.

  85. Wow! Thoreau, I apologize. You really are a physicist! How on earth do you find time to engage in all this fringe political gibberish? Anyway, once again I’m sorry for my unfounded insinuations. I like to joke around, but I don’t want to seriously offend anyone’s dignity (not even Jennifer’s.)

  86. I think diagnoses have expanded to include a many cases of just plain low intelligence. What causes low intelligence? Possibly reading too much on Hit and Run. Mine seems to be on a downturn.

  87. I’m trying to figure out if Edward was serious with his apology or not. Hell, I’m not physicist (I don’t even play one on TV!) but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. That makes me enough of an expert to recognize that thoreau 1) really is a for-real physicist and 2) Edward really has a tendency to be a jackass.

    Back on topic, I think the answer to this particular deal is that 1) autism may be slightly on the rise, BUT 2) it’s even more likely that autism – like ADD/ADHD – is being grossly overdiagnosed.

    Nice to know that my hippie-ish parents were right to get me vaccinated, tho, and that they weren’t suckered in by the tin foil hats. (Probably helps that Mom’s a nurse…)

  88. Rob

    You’ll get no argument from me on point 2.

  89. I mean your first point 2.

  90. Edward – Actually, I think my “first point 2” probably applies to just about every member of the human species who’s ever lived. At least we’ve got company.

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