Archive for the ‘Autism’ Category

MBTI criticism / critique

This article in Fortune Management had me wondering for a while what kind of personality type the author has. Some kind of narcissistic guardian?

Have we all been duped by the Myers-Briggs test? By Roman Krznaric

Sorry, that was silly. Almost as silly as the journalist’s claim that “… the MBTI mistakenly assumes that personality falls into mutually exclusive categories”. That’s not the MBTI’s assumption. That’s the journalist’s superficial assumption about what the MBTI does.
Read more…

Categories: Autism Tags: , , ,

Autism: Genes or environment? What a question!

A recent New York Times article, prompted by a study of autism in twins and other siblings, tries to comment on the relative importance of genes and environment in the development of autism. The result is not a success.

Firstly, the question is wrong. Nothing is ever the result of just genes or just environment. If something is biological, then it’s under the influence of both genes and the environment. Read more…

Categories: Autism, Health

Irrationality in Autism Research

Today’s post is about a piece of writing that I don’t really recommend: A report from the French Food Safety Agency called

Efficacy and safety of gluten-free and casein-free diets proposed in children presenting with pervasive developmental disorders (autism and related syndromes)

This report is a splendid example of irrational “scientific” thinking: Intelligent people following what they consider good rules, and ending up with a completely ridiculous result. Just how ridiculous it is, becomes apparent if we try to use the same logic to decide whether or not we should use CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) to save drowning victims. The French researchers’ point of view would have to be that we should never make this attempt:

  • CPR involves risk. You can blow air into the patient’s stomach, which can can cause vomiting, which can get gastric acid into his airways. You can also blow in too much air, and can cause lung damage. And you do heart compressions, you risk fracturing his ribs.
  • You don’t know whether it’s going to work or not. No double-blind study has yet been done, where drowned patients have randomly been assigned to the treatment group and placebo group.

Everybody can see that it’s a completely ridiculous proposition to advise against attempting CPR to save drowning victims.

Why is it so much harder to see that it’s just as ridiculous to argue against attempting to use dietary changes to save autistic children?

That question is actually quite easy to answer. There are seven reasons:

Read more…

“Gluten-Free” is Not the Same as Gluten Free

“Gluten-free” foods may be contaminated

This article by Genevra Pittma brings our attention to a new study of supposedly naturally gluten free products. Unfortunately, many of these appear to contain gluten after all.

Researchers analyzed 22 naturally gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours off supermarket shelves. They tested the amount of gluten in those products against a proposed Food and Drug Administration limit for any product labeled gluten-free, 20 parts contaminant per million parts product.

Seven of the 22 products wouldn’t pass the FDA’s gluten-free test – and one product, a type of soy flour, had a gluten content of almost 3,000 parts per million, the authors found. Other products from the sample that weren’t truly gluten-free included millet flour and grain, buckwheat flour, and sorghum flour.

My reflections: This study illustrates one possible reason why children on a GFCF diet don’t improve more than they do: Gullible researchers think the children are on a Gluten Free diet, while they are, in reality, only on a “Gluten Free” diet.



Another Look at the Danish Study of the MMR Vaccine and Autism

Another look at the Danish study of the MMR vaccine and autism

The famous Danish study comparing the vaccination and autism rates of Danish children born between 1991 with 1998, has been in the news again lately. The reason is that one of the key witnesses for the defense of the MMR vaccine has gone missing along with approximately 10 million DKK (2 mill USD) of other people’s money.

This morning, I took a closer look at both the study and Ulf Brånell’s analysis of it. Brånell’s conclusion starts out soundly enough:

“All the sources of error identified in the study distort it in the same direction: obscuring the role of the MMR vaccine and exonerating it from any suspicion that it may cause autism. This strongly indicates deliberate fraud”.

I can follow him all the way here. The study authors have designed their study so that it counts vaccinated children too young to be diagnosed with autism, as non-autistic. What kind of proof is that? To me, it’s proof of either stupidity or dishonesty. Brånell points to four other sources of error as well, all leaning the same way.

Brånell doesn’t stop there, however. Here’s how his conclusion continues, in a crescendo of improbables: Read more…

Do Toxins Cause Autism?

Do Toxins Cause Autism?

Nicholas D. Kristof asked this question in the New York Times the other day.

Here’s the answer I sent him:

Dear Mr. Kristof,

Thank you for bringing up the autism/toxicity question. You are closer to the truth than you may have imagined. An example that you didn’t mention, is the Somalis: They have one of the highest autism rates in the world – but not at home. It’s only after they come to America.

The problem is huge. Its financial implications are already crushing the families who are raising these children. In the future it will be just as crushing for America. These children are not going to pay any taxes, they’re going to need a lot of care, and they’re not going to die young. In that perspective, one autistic child can equal at least 25 retiring baby-boomers for the long-term financial health of our societies.

This is a problem that hits 5 times more boys than girls. By a lucky coincidence, it takes 5 (female) caregivers to look after my son round the clock. That’s six people out of the productive workforce for 1 case of autism, not counting me … and I’m TIRED.

We’re starting to look at autism rates of 1%, up from 0,05% when my son was diagnosed.

This is a tsunami story. The wave is already out there. It’s gainging force. New children are being added to it every day. Its first tendrils have already started creeping up the beach, towards health bueraucrats that are sitting with their heads in the sand, thinking that as long as parents are taking care of the children, they somehow don’t count in the national equation. What are they going to do when the full force of the wave hits? Divert 5% of the national workforce to take care of the 1% that have been sacrificed on the altar of cheap products and scientific shortcuts?

We’re also looking at a Semmelweiss story. You write in your article that “… fears that vaccinations cause autism — a theory that has now been discredited…” I suggest you study this further.

* Our health authorities have spent enormous amounts of energy on discrediting people who reported what they saw, and asked a question that had to be asked.

* Our authorities have so far only managed to camouflage the problem, with poorly designed statistical studies (unless the point of the studies was not to investigate, but to discredit).

* Meanwhile, other scientists have repeatedly replicated the original findings, and the question is still open: Can we add autism to the list of possible side effects of these vaccines?

* However, the witch-hunt against the scientists who asked the question first, is making everybody else a little jittery about repeating it in public.

All vaccines are not safe for everybody. That’s why we have compensation systems. By pretending that they are safer than they are, i.e. that autism is the one side effect that vaccines can’t possibly have, even in sensitive individuals with a high toxic load, our health authorities have exposed that their reactions are based on a belief system rather than science. Most people don’t see this yet. When they do, we’re going to need other people in charge who can restore the confidence in the vaccine schedule that it deserves, with proper scientific backing, instead of the present mess.

Another part of this tragedy, now that I’m at it, is that autism can actually be treated if we start early enough, and take into account what we already understand about the underlying pathologies. The chief difference between my son (lifetime need for round-the-clock care) and my stepson (getting good grades in high school, socially integrated and on track to becoming a good taxpayer) is not the diagnosis nor the symptoms nor the treatment they received, but the fact that my stepson received that treatment at 21 months, while my son was 8 years old.

Solving the autism problem will be expensive, because it will involve retiring some products that are cheap and otherwise useful. Not solving it, and not using what we know about treatments, already amounts to a national disaster.

Thank you for your help!
Jorgen Klaveness