Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Jenny, it's not the vaccinations

NPR's ATC yesterday had this interesting report (link here) about a California study on autism cluster, where researchers have looked or environmental factors that cause a 70% higher incident rate of autism diagnosis than surrounding communities. None were found. What was found:

"HAMILTON: ... parents' age and race had a relatively small effect, but the effect of education was huge. In most areas, a child whose parents completed college was four times as likely to be diagnosed with autism as a child whose parents did not finish high school.

Dr. HERTZ-PICCIOTTO: It doesn't necessarily mean that higher education causes autism, but that it gets you the diagnosis more frequently.

HAMILTON: Hertz-Picciotto says that's partly because educated parents are more likely to request services for children with autism.

Dr. HERTZ-PICCIOTTO: It may also have to do with people with more education are just better able to navigate a very complicated and possibly arcane health system.

HAMILTON: But she says parents weren't the only factor affecting diagnosis rates.

Dr. HERTZ-PICCIOTTO: A couple of the clusters were found actually fairly close to a treatment center in California."

So if you are geographically close to a specialty treatment center and educated, you're in a "cluster". As Dr Desert Flower used to do autism research, this subject has a place near and dear to our hearts.

Link to the audio, here.


  1. Anybody with any knowledge of applied statistics knows the old adage, "Correlation does not imply causation". In other words, living near an Autism clinic does not cause autism, nor does being educated, despite the statistics that might show this. Of course the studies of autism's link to vaccines don't even show any correlation at all, let alone causation. So I doubt more knowledge about science, statistics, or logic would help the Jenny-McCarthyite ignoramuses.

  2. It doesn't "cause" it.. but it does drive over-educated, overly-concerned, more-aware, over-reacting parental behaviour.

    I have a similar theory on child predators, abortions, and other things that appear to have a higher incident rate today than ever before, when in fact, it's increased awareness and reporting that is skewing the statistics. Indeed the internet has made the access to information (and opportunities, ie 'to catch a predator') more prevalent, but it's also made access to mis-information and mis-interpretation of that information more prevalent as well.

    "McCarthyite ignoramuses" - you caused me to laugh, loudly, this morning! =)

  3. Hey, sometimes correlation does mean causation. There's a high correlation between Jenny McCarthy's idiocy and my desire to smack her across the face with my schlong. That's causation right there. Want multiple data points? I'll smack her twice.


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