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30 April 2009

Autism News

Since I have become involved with "Todd W." and "IVAN3MAN" from the Bad Astronomy Blog in fighting the anti-vax pro-disease nutters, I've been keeping my ear to the ground for news. So today Dr. Plait posted a link to news saying that scientists have actually identified the gene that can be traced to 15% of autism cases. That's good news in many ways. First of all, it confirms that vaccines got nothing to do with it. Also, with our better understanding of genetic therapy, we may be on the road to figuring out more effective treatment for autism.

While on the subject of autism causes and information, there is also the "baffling" correlation to folks who have vinyl flooring. Keep in mind, correlation is not causation... That's the same bad reasoning that got hold in the pro-disease nutter community. Scientific American has also run an article on a possible connection to a Vitamin D deficiency. Of course, on the same page there is a link to an article talking about environmental factors causing autism. While overall the jury is still out on this, we are starting to find some of the myriad of interrelated factors that can play into it. One thing we do know though is that it's NOT vaccines that play into that particular myriad.

I also can't help but to put out a warning and admonishment to people. Don't try to look for the simple answer. All over the internet, I see parents and debaters attempt to simplify autism as to being caused by X or Y and say that's the end of the discussion. Most of the time, the people who do so are laypeople who have no scientific training, so I can sort of forgive them. However, we live in an incredibly complex and dynamic world. Almost nothing is simple anymore. It really is imperative that the responsible citizen get at least some amount of scientific literacy. Otherwise they will continue to be simpletons looking for the simple answer.

Science is pretty cool though. We don't have answers to something, so we look into it, and then we find it. We don't make up fairies or pixies, but use what we know and delve into it more. It's almost as if Science Works Bitches!

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