Last month I read a story that claimed that “Half of All Children Will Be Autistic by 2025, Warns Senior Research Scientist at MIT“. Since I’ve been studying the similarities and differences between High sensitivity and the autistic spectrum a bit, of course I was curious.
Especially because I always feel, that proving something ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ is an enormous challenge for scientists.
The research scientist who declared that ‘At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic’ was Stephanie Seneff, PhD. For over three decades, Dr Seneff has researched biology and technology, over the years publishing over 170 scholarly peer-reviewed articles. However, Dr Seneff is a computer scientist with no background in epidemiology, who gave a talk recently where she presented the following graph:
And yes, this graph shows an increase in children with autism parallel to an increase in amount of glyphosate applied to corn and soy.
This graph also is what statistics call a correlation. A correlation, in contrast to a so-called regression does not imply causation. A correlation does not say, nor is it based on a cause-consequence relationship. Quite similar to this correlation between number of children with autism and glyphosate applied to corn can be found between individuals diagnosed with autism and organic food sales:
This might somewhat blow Seneff’s observation.
But does it?
Just so you know it: during my time in the scientific environment we always were warned about mistaking a correlation for a regression and thus arriving at wrong conclusions. Yet a correlation can be valuable in itself. It can help to broaden your thinking, to adjust your theory and your hypothesis in a way that you previously had not considered.
The author who cited the graph on organic food sales claims that the increase in autism cases is largely due to increasing rates of diagnosis and changes in how autism is diagnosed. He also states that Dr. Seneff is ‘antivaccine and anti-GMO (genetically modified food)’ and ‘thinking that she can transfer her computer science and artificial intelligence knowledge to knowledge of epidemiology, biochemistry, and medicine.’
Does this look a little bit like Dr Seneff’s credibility is being questioned?
It does to me.
And I would love to see more bold people who dare to seek ways to apply their knowledge to pressing issues. And thus help us to re-think our old beliefs and explore new ways of thinking. Like all famous inventors have done.
And in the meantime, I trust my gut feeling that consumption of organic food will have less adverse effects on me, my loved ones and the environment than opting for a diet including a broad-spectrum herbicide.
But that’s just me.
- What are your thoughts on reports like the one linking autism and glyphosate use?
- What are your feelings about reports linking autism to glyphosate use?
- And what do you think and feel considering the graph linking autism to organic food sale?
- Does any of this affect your consumption?
The challenge to produce rock-solid scientific evidence is also discussed in the book I am currently writing, ‘Expedition High Sensitivity’ (in Dutch). Publishing date October 2017.
‘Is High Sensitivity heritable?’ Find out on the HSP congress in The Netherlands, 13 October! Here’s how you save up to €72 on your registration.
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