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Medicine United Kingdom Science

Oxford Professor Taken To Task For Linking Internet Use To Autism 247

Posted by timothy
from the well-it's-just-a-theory dept.
esocid writes with excerpts from a piece written by Ben Goldacre of The Guardian: "Baroness Susan Greenfield, Professor of pharmacology at Oxford, apparently announced that computer games are causing dementia in children. ... Two months ago the same professor linked internet use with the rise in autism diagnoses (not for the first time), then pulled back when autism charities and an Oxford professor of psychology raised concerns. ... When I raised concerns, she said I was like the epidemiologists who denied that smoking caused cancer. Other critics find themselves derided as sexist in the media. If a scientist sidesteps their scientific peers, and chooses to take an apparently changeable, frightening, and technical scientific case directly to the public, then that is a deliberate decision, and one that can't realistically go unnoticed. ... I think these serious scientific concerns belong, at least once, in a clear scientific paper. I don't see how this suggestion is inappropriate, or impudent, and in all seriousness, I can't see an argument against it."
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Oxford Professor Taken To Task For Linking Internet Use To Autism

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  • Am I the only one who had to read that twice to be clear on who was supposed to be talking after the ellipses?

    • by kanto (1851816)

      Am I the only one who had to read that twice to be clear on who was supposed to be talking after the ellipses?

      That's how it starts, but at least now you can blame the internets.

    • Am I the only one who had to read that twice to be clear on who was supposed to be talking after the ellipses?

      Yep. Surveys indicate that most /.ers need to re-read it at least four times. I'm on my sixth and I'm still not sure what it all means.

    • It's quicker just to read the article. Whoever wrote the summary has absolutely no idea how to use quotes.
  • Maybe people are being vaccinated against the internet thus causing double secret autism!!! and video games just make them Rain Man savant killers!
    • by Dr Max (1696200)
      There are 56.5 guards (.5 cause one is napping due to his irregular breathing patterns) if i shoot 1 bullet at an angle of 36.6 degrees from the horizontal and 128 degrees from north i will kill 26.5 guards with 14 ricochets, and the rest when the bullet ends its flight by igniting the nitro glycerin in the armory. I WILL ONLY FLY ON QANTAS I WILL ONLY FLY ON QANTAS.
  • by mevets (322601) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:35AM (#37963466)

    A disproportionate number of people who are obsessed with video games score high on the ASD. These aren't controversial ideas.

    Causation is different, not so much for smoking and yellow fingers. Nutter's blathering aside, the real question is:
    Are video games harmful to people who score high on the ASD?
    although you might be tempted to apply that question to several other groups.

    Its just plain nuts to pretend a link doesn't exist (although that hasn't stopped climate deniers), the important bit is 'what is the effect', 'how do we mitigate it', and 'how certain are we of the linkage'. The rest is for dingbats.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:56AM (#37963554)

      Without reading the article, I reasonably expect this is the reason for "games, internet, or some other couch potato activity increasing autism..."

      - Many people who we would usually call geeks or nerds have a topic fetish, by removing other distractions they can focus on that. Autistic individuals tend to do the same, they focus on specific topics and are rather anti-social in situations that have nothing to do with their topic fetish. -

      But you see, you can classify pretty much everyone as having some autism spectrum disorder (oh god aspergers, absolutely nobody really has that) because they want a label and excuse to be dysfunctional and anti-social and remain on welfare.

      On the latter half of the 60 minutes program with the Steve Jobs Biography stuff, they were talking about how iPads can improve REAL autistic individuals ability to communicate (they don't speak.) They showed near the end that the brain of someone with autism has a "kink" or "bend" near the base of the brain responsible for speech. You can learn to speak if this area is "broken", but the brain wires more "capacity" to it. You can't say games cause brain damage, hence autism, so directly linking it is absurdity. Autism is a genetic "programming" bug that mis-allocates brain neurons because of less bandwidth availability. Speech is apparently low priority on our ability to survive. An analogy is that a regular brain has a 64bit address bus to the CPU, I/O and RAM, but an autistic individual has only a 32bit bus to the I/O, so more latency is the result.

      Autistic individuals can actually do work, they just require work that is "brain busy" like sorting/organizing things that fits their interests. Because they become distracted if their eyes are taken off the work, it has to be something that is easily focused on.

      Or at least that is what I got out of the program. I'm not a doctor, and I don't pretend to be one.

      • by epyT-R (613989) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @02:35AM (#37963808)

        or maybe people call themselves those labels because they're tired of having to conform with some kind of popular standard where they must be 100% gregarious and happy-go-lucky 24/7. after all, anyone who doesn't want to be around people absolutely all the time must be dangerous.

    • Of course a link exists. Autistic children get a lot of very direct feedback, and lots of reinforcement while they're playing a game, and games generally have much clearer goals than anything else they'll do. Generally speaking, a game never leaves you wondering if you've done well or not, you get points, you finish levels, you finish games.

      I think the correlation between internet use and autism diagnoses though is more an effect of everyone's new favourite physician, Doctor Google. Not to mention, blami

    • by sjames (1099) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @02:06AM (#37963722) Homepage

      There is a big leap between "A disproportionate number of people who are obsessed with video games score high on the ASD" and any claims of harm. I wouldn't be surprised to find that "A disproportionate number of people who are obsessed with nearly anything score high on the ASD".

      The most likely relationship is that people on the autistic spectrum tend to be attracted to video games. It is quite unlikely that the attraction to video games causes the ASD.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @02:20AM (#37963752)

        The most likely relationship is that people on the autistic spectrum tend to be attracted to video games. It is quite unlikely that the attraction to video games causes the ASD.

        I suspect it would be a lot more accurate to say that ASD causes video gaming rather than video gaming causes ASD.

      • by houghi (78078)

        The link that you mention is "being obsessed with". Are people with ASD attracted more to video games when compared to a control group that might be attracted to video games? Are they more obsessed with video games or are they just easier to notice?

        I can imagine that there are people who are obsessed with stamp collecting, but are not as much noticed.

        Perhaps the reason is that people who have tendencies to become obsessed have easier access to video games.

    • Its just plain nuts to pretend a link doesn't exist ... , the important bit is 'what is the effect', 'how do we mitigate it', and 'how certain are we of the linkage'. The rest is for dingbats.

      Arguably, without ASD, the world wouldn't have computer chips, video games, satellites, etc... so, ASD caused video games, and maybe ASD individuals like to play video games more than non-ASD individuals. Would ASD'ers integrate with "regular" society better if they played less video games? Perhaps. What seems to be happening in the last 25 years from my perspective is that "regular" society is learning to integrate better with ASD'ers, in part by playing more video games.

  • Crazy (Score:4, Informative)

    by crdotson (224356) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:37AM (#37963472)

    News flash, professors can be just as crazy as other humans.

    • News flash : The employment process and skills required for professors works to screen out most crazy humans, leading to a difference in overall craziness profile.

    • by houghi (78078)

      And research causes cancer in rats.

    • Re:Crazy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by martas (1439879) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @05:30AM (#37964228)
      Let's get something straight -- she is not crazy, she is a MEDIA WHORE. Just like Andrew Wakefield before her, and many others. If she were crazy, I could just shrug my shoulders and move on. But this is sooo much worse than that -- a calculated, cold-hearted misinformation campaign that is designed to use irrational fears in parents to her advantage, most likely causing a lot of harm to children in the process.

      There aren't many news stories that get me angry; this is one of them.
      • Re:Crazy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by segedunum (883035) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @09:04AM (#37964868)
        You are pretty close to the truth I'm afraid. I've always found Susan Greenfield to be sensationalist, full of her own self-importance and with very little if any evidence to back up what she claims. She points to something and claims that's what it is. Her TV programmes here in the UK have always disturbed me and she is a perfect example of why the general population is so distrustful of so called scientists. She doesn't do them any more because she was pushed off by the Royal Institution.

        Sadly, there are other 'scientists' who have followed her. When people challenge them on what they say and claim they think they can hide behind the cloak of being a scientist.
      • Comparing Greenfield to Wakeman is unduly harsh; Wakefield was concocting "research" to discredit a MMR vaccine that he intended to be competeing against.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      She's a woman, and even worse than that, a baroness.
      Who would put any credit in what she's saying? She clearly doesn't know anything about children, science, video games, or even people.

  • Autism... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tbird81 (946205) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:38AM (#37963474)

    will be for a good decade or so, one of these illnesses that people will blame or all sorts of mysterious "evils" that we experience in every day life.

    Lead in petrol, mercury in the sea, vaccines, internet, WiFi, video games, contraceptive pills, pesticides, radon, highway noise, electrical cables, plastic soft drink bottles.... There'll always be some crazy self-promoting dickhead trying to get some publicity for himself with his stupid theory.

    It's a natural human response to want to find the cause of something. That's why gods were invented (it doesn't have to be a rational cause). It's also why these theories occur around illnesses that are down to pure chance or at least not currently explained. You don't see many people blaming their chlamydia infection on aluminium pots, because it's well established what causes that disease! So things like lupus, other autoimmune conditions, cancer (not lung cancer), autism, tend to attract these kinds of lies.

    But just because it's human nature give Baroness Susan Greenfield a reason to abuse her position with crap like this. Shame on her. She should know better. I hope she loses her job for making up bullshit (and purposely difficult to disprove bullshit) like this. She's meant to be a scientist, not a self-promoting celebrity.

    • by _merlin (160982)

      The irony is a bunch of the things you listed really were the cause of serious heath problems. The negative impact of lead build-up in the body is well-known. Mercury in the ocean caused the Minamata disease. Most studies on non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia show positive associations with pesticide exposure. Contraceptive pills increase the risk of venous thromboembolism. Including things where the "crazy self-promoting dickhead trying to get some publicity for himself with his stupid theory" turned o

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You're missing the point: whether or not any individual item on the list is harmful, there is no credible evidence that any of them cause autism. In fact, AFAIK, there is no credible evidence that *anything* other than pure genetic chance causes autism.

      • Including things where the "crazy self-promoting dickhead trying to get some publicity for himself with his stupid theory" turned out to be right...

        The sad thing is, for every "crazy self-promoting dickhead" who gets it right... they will spawn dozens more taking shots in the dark at the next target. The next one to actually hit something correctly will be labeled genius and spawn a new generation.

        Said politely: this is the scientific method.

    • Re:Autism... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kaiidth (104315) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @07:53AM (#37964610)

      Greenfield actually was made redundant from her directorship at the Royal Institution in 2010.

      It was suggested at the time that, "She became a bit too convinced of her own infallibility" and whilst, "She is an intelligent, lively and interesting person [...] the level of recognition is a bit out of proportion to what she has actually achieved in science." Her love for designer clothes and appearing in places like Vogue raised a few eyebrows.

      "Self-promoting celebrity" is not an unusual description. If you were starting a collection of crackpots, you could do worse than starting here.
       

    • Lead in petrol, mercury in the sea, vaccines, internet, WiFi, video games, contraceptive pills, pesticides, radon, highway noise, electrical cables, plastic soft drink bottles

      Some of these things are not like some of the others.

      If you're seriously trying to say that the bolded examples are not bad then you have a problem:

      Lead in petrol, mercury in the sea, vaccines, internet, WiFi, video games, contraceptive pills, pesticides, radon, highway noise, electrical cables, plastic soft drink bottles.

      Some of the others are a problem in some contexts:

      Lead in petrol, mercury in the sea, vaccines, internet, WiFi, video games, contraceptive pills, pesticides, radon, highway noise, electrical cables, plastic soft drink bottles.

      And worrying about some of them is a good diagnostic of insanity:

      Lead in petrol, mercury in the sea, vaccines, internet, WiFi, video games, contraceptive pills, pesticides, radon, highway noise, electrical cables, plastic soft drink bottles.

      So, why the mixture?

    • You don't see many people blaming their chlamydia infection on aluminium pots, because it's well established what causes that disease!

      I know what they said causes chlamydia, but the way it ran through my dorm-floor in college, you'd swear it transmitted via toilet seats.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:40AM (#37963484) Journal

    If a scientist sidesteps their scientific peers, and chooses to take an apparently changeable, frightening, and technical scientific case directly to the public, then that is a deliberate decision, and one that can't realistically go unnoticed. ... I think these serious scientific concerns belong, at least once, in a clear scientific paper. I don't see how this suggestion is inappropriate, or impudent, and in all seriousness, I can't see an argument against it."

    Does this mean esocid (the guy who wrote the summary) is saying he agrees that video games cause dementia? And that he can't find an argument against it? Because I've seen a more confusing summary on Slashdot before, but not in a long time.

    • by Rennt (582550)
      You could always try reading the fine article.
    • It's a direct quote from Ben Goldacre in the article. He's saying that he can't see an argument against publishing these concerns in a journal.

    • by ph0rk (118461)
      Are you being deliberately obtuse, or did you just misread the summary and skip the article?

      The "suggestion" is that Greenfield put her ideas out into the peer review process, something she is probably afraid of doing.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:40AM (#37963488) Journal
    Tourettes syndrome FUCK YOU and similar FUCKETY fuck fuck problems. We all know FUCK that you know fuck face. Next thing they'll be saying the Internet causes FUCK problems with people's ability to interact in a FUCK face to FUCK face context. FUCKERS.
    • Tourette's was once considered a rare and bizarre syndrome, most often associated with the exclamation of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks (coprolalia [wikipedia.org]), but this symptom is present in only a small minority of people with Tourette's.

    • A 90+ crone that lived next to my place of business would occasionally have, or feign, bouts of Tourettes. Funny thing about her was that "Pussy Galore" was one of her most common phrases...

  • by myrt (634143) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:42AM (#37963496)
    This guy is worse then Jenny McCarthy.
    • by rve (4436)

      This guy is worse then Jenny McCarthy.

      Baroness Susan Greenfield could be a guy, I guess. After all, Jenny is perfectly cromulent boys name in the UK as well.

  • by Goldsmith (561202)

    Here's one argument:

    The critical review you get by publishing in mass media is more complete and honest than what you get in a peer reviewed scientific publication. Why publish in a scientific journal just to say you did it? The peer review and publishing process has ceased to be intellectually valuable and completely fails to separate lies from truth.

    Anyone else in science needs to ask themselves this question: is there some journal somewhere which would publish this, even if it was wrong or falsified?

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @01:19AM (#37963610)

      You're basically suggesting that crowd sourcing is better than peer review. Crowd sourcing works for some things. For simple fact finding or culling through large amounts of data, it can work. For researching things that may take years to study and would require a background in the field, not so much. In fact, the only place you'll find people who are qualified to check you on things like that are, you guessed it, amongst your peers in the field. The only reason to skip them and go straight to the press is because you're playing a political game, and politics should have no place in research.

      I suppose I'm being a bit idealistic and naive, however.

      Also, I think you're intentionally being obtuse by suggesting that getting it published anywhere is sufficient. Sure, there are crap conferences and journals out there. And if you get published in one of them instead of a higher tier publication it speaks volumes about the quality of your work and how much stock will be put in it. But the major publications still do their job pretty darn well, and you really need to get published in one that has an established reputation if you want for your work to be taken seriously.

    • by G3ckoG33k (647276)

      "Anyone else in science needs to ask themselves this question: is there some journal somewhere which would publish this, even if it was wrong or falsified?"

      Yes, there would be dozens if not hundreds of peer reviewed journals that would love to publish well done research on this matter.

      As it is a highly debated area any article would get high quotations which is the bread and butter for these journals. If it is plausible it would be highly cited for the wrong reason, bad science, then they will not publish i

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      The critical review in the mass media isn't "complete and honest". It's the crazed shoutings of a hundred million uninformed assholes, each with their own axe to grind. There will be some good feedback buried in the mountains of shit, but you could have gotten ~80% of it (without all the noise) by undergoing peer review.

      Publishing in the mass media instead of traditional channels is like using a really crappy amplifier. You may get a few extra decibels of output, but the SNR is going to be trashed. Plus

    • When I think "scientific rigor" the first association that springs to mind is "mass media journalism". /s

    • by orzetto (545509) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @03:31AM (#37963934)

      The critical review you get by publishing in mass media is more complete and honest than what you get in a peer reviewed scientific publication. Why publish in a scientific journal just to say you did it? The peer review and publishing process has ceased to be intellectually valuable and completely fails to separate lies from truth.

      Uh, I don't think so. Have you gone through peer review in a scientific journal? The process is long and can last 6 months or even a year. It is very thorough as there is always something that can be improved in a paper. In my experience papers usually come out better than the entered the process. You do encounter the occasional dick reviewer, but that is not enough to break the system.

      Critical review by mass media is not done by specialists who have several months to write their comments. It is done by journalists on a field they are incompetent in within an afternoon. It is done by pundits with an agenda (in this case against videogames and Internet), who will put their own spin on the issue. It is then fed to the unwashed masses who know nothing of the subject and can easily be swayed.

      The proper process is: first peer review, then, when the findings have been verified, you go to the public.

      [I]s there some journal somewhere which would publish this, even if it was wrong or falsified?

      You betcha. The results are interesting either way.

      • by Goldsmith (561202)

        I've been on both sides of the peer review process many times.

        What is the difference between a modern scientist and a pundit? A modern scientist is trained to put their own spin on their work, and there are great professional and financial incentives to demonstrate "success" regardless of the truth.

        Have you ever reviewed a paper? When you find a paper which is not fit for publication (let's say some results are obviously faked), what happens? If you can convince an editor to drop such a paper, it will on

        • by orzetto (545509)

          Have you ever reviewed a paper?

          Why yes I did.

          When you find a paper which is not fit for publication (let's say some results are obviously faked), what happens?

          Not obviously faked, but I was given a paper to review that had one obviously wrong parameter value. It was off 6 orders of magnitude from typical real values. Substituting a realistic value invalidated the whole paper, as they were solving a problem due to the value of that parameter. The paper was well written and logically consistent, but they solv

      • Perhaps you should google Stapel.

        "We have some 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals where we are actually sure that they are fake, and there are more to come," says Pim Levelt, chair of the committee that investigated Stapel's work at the university.

        "Critical review by mass media is not done by specialists who have several months to write their comments."

        It wasn't done by those specialists reviewing his papers either. They simply accepted his data sight unseen.
        • by orzetto (545509)

          It wasn't done by those specialists reviewing his papers either. They simply accepted his data sight unseen .

          That's what you always do with data, you trust the submitter. What would the alternative be? Replicating the experiments is costly and there is no guarantee that reviewers (who work anonymously and for no money) have the resources for that. Still reviewers are the most likely people to spot errors or inconsistencies as they are experts in the field.

          Reviewers filter bad logic and bad math. Bad data i

      • The critical review you get by publishing in mass media is more complete and honest than what you get in a peer reviewed scientific publication. Why publish in a scientific journal just to say you did it? The peer review and publishing process has ceased to be intellectually valuable and completely fails to separate lies from truth.

        Uh, I don't think so. Have you gone through peer review in a scientific journal? The process is long and can last 6 months or even a year. It is very thorough as there is always something that can be improved in a paper.

        In my experience, in niche fields, it is a very political process wherein the reviewers are often personally acquainted with the reviewees because there is simply noone else qualified to do the review. Like all good legal-political encounters, the use of maximal permissible delay is a passive-aggressive tactic most often used for anything but the purpose of thoroughness.

    • by martas (1439879)
      This is simply false, all of it. 1) the "critical review" you get by publishing in mass media may be honest eventually, but with high probability there will be an initial phase of sensationalism and media panic that may last anywhere from weeks to years (e.g. see MMR vaccine controversy). 2) your claim about the failure of the peer review process is an extremely strong one, and you make it without presenting any sort of evidence; simply put, you're "full of shit", as they'd say. If you do have such evidence
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      You've incorrectly assumed that research was performed. It wasn't.

    • by funkatron (912521)

      Here's one argument:

      The critical review you get by publishing in mass media is more complete and honest than what you get in a peer reviewed scientific publication. Why publish in a scientific journal just to say you did it? The peer review and publishing process has ceased to be intellectually valuable and completely fails to separate lies from truth.

      Here's one counterargument:

      Writing and publishing a paper (in a journal or even just sticking it on your website) allows for the inclusion of a lot more information than a newspaper article. Measurements, statistics, methods used etc all form part of a scientific paper but are either summarised (and simplified) or omitted in the newspaper version.

    • Here's one argument:

      The critical review you get by publishing in mass media is more complete and honest than what you get in a peer reviewed scientific publication. Why publish in a scientific journal just to say you did it? The peer review and publishing process has ceased to be intellectually valuable and completely fails to separate lies from truth.

      See: SCIgen [wikipedia.org], especially the List of works with notable acceptance [wikipedia.org].

  • by hedgemage (934558) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:46AM (#37963516)
    Dementia is no one single illness or condition, it is a blanket term used for any condition that affects normal cognitive functions. The way the original statement was made was just as scientific as the blanket statements about 'hysteria' in women at the end of the 19th century. I'm surprised that someone who holds such an esteemed position in academia would apply such a crude label to a problem, real or otherwise. Perhaps the Baroness will recommend which of the four humors need to be drained in order to cure this dementia, or if trepanation is in order to relieve the heat from the brain.

    On a related note, there is substantial evidence to support the high percentage of insanity amongst the noble houses of Europe due to centuries of inbreeding.
    • by msobkow (48369)

      From Webster's Online Dictionary [websters-o...ionary.org]:

      1: The removing of a bone disc from the skull for limited intracranial exploration

    • by lexsird (1208192)

      Don't be a knave, hold on a second. What is her data? Let her present her data and equation before we burn her at the stake?

      Cue the Monty Python.

      She turned me into a newt! ....

      Well..I got better.

  • by FlipperPA (456193) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:51AM (#37963540) Homepage

    ...that everything is causing autism in children. Shit, I'm probably autistic. And please, that microwave does NOT belong there.

  • by lexsird (1208192) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @01:19AM (#37963614)

    Just how far up on the scale of stupid is she?

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @01:19AM (#37963616)

    .... a genetically based disability. I swear some of these people are just off the wall clueless. A more accurate statement would be "Heavy screen time stunts social skills". It certainly doesn't cause autism though.

    • by Kiuas (1084567)

      That's one of the things I always wonder when you get these types of "X causes autism" studies. These people treat autism as if it's a thing that can be contracted, that you can somehow "catch" autism from something (like vaccines).

      Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm not a medical professional), but isn't it like OP said that autism is indeed a genetic defect. This means that it cannot be caught after birth. You either have it or you don't. As far as I know excessive exposure to radiation is one of the only things

      • by DavidTC (10147)

        While you are correct about genetic defects, it is entirely possible for radiation to cause genetic defects. That's essentially what cancer is, after all. (The cells are genetically defective and will not stop replicating. In fact, cancer usually requires two genetic defects, one to make it run wild, and one to cut off the self-destruct that's supposed to trigger when it does.) As a child's mind is still developing, any sort of genetic change could get replicated enough to cause damage.

        However, there's no

  • So by not seeing the data as more ASD individuals simply USING the internet, you're saying it CAUSED ASD? Autism shows it's first symptoms at 2.5-3 years. I didn't have an AOL account until I was 6 & I doubt any toddlers are hitting up Club Penguin that early. If this "professor" had simply modified the criteria to include OTHER forms of electronic media like television or video-games, it wouldn't be so...retarded, for lack of a better word. Incidentally, my first recallable memory is Super Mario Br
  • Wow. Just... Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macs4all (973270) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @01:42AM (#37963674)
    It sure looks like Oxford's standards are slipping.

    Perhaps the actual thing that is happening is that Autism is this decade's Disease du Jour, and like ADHD before it, is being overdiagnosed at a truly frightening rate.

    But just wait until the next DSM comes out. We'll ALL be diagnose-able with SOME sort of mental disorder [ncpa.org]. So, at that point, maybe nutjobs like BARONESS von Greenfield will eventually be "right" (at least according to the increasingly out-of-their-ever-lovin'-minds psychiatric community).
  • Look... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @01:44AM (#37963678) Homepage Journal
    My generation was exposed to a lot of shit. Leaded paint. Mercury (It was not uncommon for children to play with mercury.) Fallout from the nuclear testing in Nevada and the Pacific atolls. Asbestos. Leaded gasoline. Dentures made of uranium. The list goes on.

    People from my generation and older are the ones most commonly found in Congress now. Most of those guys are obviously quite insane.

    I'm sure a lot of that crap also addled our DNA, which I think probably explains a lot about kids these days. Having insane parents probably doesn't help, either.

    Now if you have an axe to grind with the Internet or Video Games, that's all well and good, but I really don't think you have to go out of your way to explain why kids these days or their parents are quite abnormal. The parents just chewed on too much leaded paint as toddlers, and their kids are getting a double whammy of messed-up DNA and whacky parents from that.

    • by DavidTC (10147)

      I have to agree with you. People (Of all ages) have a higher rate of cancer than seen before, and children have a higher rate of genetic defects.

      Not just autism, but I'm convince stuff like the impossibly common nut allergy. Where the hell did that come from? That's insane. The human race used to live on nuts! And unlike autism, there's no way that could have just been 'undiagnosed'. No, super-allergies have to be some sort of very slight genetic defect.

      Well, it's pretty simply to add it up. Environmental

  • It's backwards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday November 06, 2011 @02:28AM (#37963778) Journal

    Near as I can tell it's the aspies causing the games, not the other way around. If the game's not inhumanly complex and impossible for mere mortals to complete it's savaged in the press before it's even launched, and a commercial failure. You have to have perfect recall and reflexes that border on precognition to play some of these games. It's been like this for something like fifteen years. I couldn't beat Zelda on the Nintendo 64 even now.

    Maybe I'm just old and slow. Games aren't my thing. My eight year old son used to laugh at my feeble gaming skills in Unreal Tournament. Now and the he'd let me snipe him just so I'd continue to play. When he got tired of killing me he would just follow me around and if I turned about suddenly, wax me on the spot. He's voting now - not the online poll, gamer ranking kind of voting - he's Of Age. I've got a second grader that regularly slays me on some Wii Mario game, when I'm really trying. Maybe it's just me. I think I'm an above average guy, but what these kids can do - it scares me.

    I was introduced to computers in what's now called "middle school" but back then was called "junior high". Back then a computer was a pretty serious thing, demanding respect and training before you approached it. I was precocious, and got in this game early. Now it's an environmental thing. My youngest was online, playing games at two years old. My first grandson adored Angry Birds on my phone and Android tablet at 18 months. My oldest son, just now 18, types 150 wpm on the crappiest keyboard available - not because he's deliberately trained for that specialty, but because the keyboard is how he's communicated for as long as he's been talking to people. The keyboard is his tongue.

    • Pretty much everyone I know complains about games being too easy and designed for casuals. Not sure what world your living in, games were way harder back in the day. You have to look for games specifically designed for hardcore people to get a challenge these days. Games are rife with dumbing down, civ5 is a great example, I can beat it on the hardest difficulty yet I can only best civ4 on a couple of levels lower
  • by Hentes (2461350) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @02:38AM (#37963816)

    She completed a full research on the topic in less than 2 months. It must have been a proper and thorough.

    • She completed a full research on the topic in less than 2 months. It must have been a proper and thorough.

      She's a Baroness dude. She's awesome.

  • Here is an interesting scientific question: Does receiving a royal title make you wacky? Or are wacky folks given royal titles?

    A "Baroness," you say? Well, I never voted for her. Or are such titles the result of hurling scimitars in mythical aquatic ceremonies?

    However, her Wikipedia entry seems to indicate that she is a serious scientist, with a popular science sideshow. Which baffles me a bit, as to her statement and, more so, her reaction to the criticism.

    So does dabbling in popular science erode s

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @04:32AM (#37964104)
    mothers must have had computers in in their womb
  • That holds for discussion in seminars on future work, a referee report, conference presentation, or an email to get a statement, ever ask for proof. Never doubt the result directly in a personal communication with the author. Specifically ask for clarification on the 'unclear points'. A 'You present very interesting results, and i think a quantification to estimate possible effects would be extremely important' can not be dismissed easily as an attack. If the other side looses temper then, the fault is cle

  • by SlothDead (1251206) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @06:22AM (#37964352)

    Things like this give me cancer...

  • This isn't to agree or disagree with the paper but I can say that computer use definitely has an impact on how I think.

    If I haven't used a computer in a while I think differently.

    If I try to write a to-do list on a piece of paper and try the same task on a computer the results are different. Why? I've been using computers since I can remember but there is definitely an effect.

  • Baron Silas Greenback will be suing science advocacy organisation the Royal Institution for daring to make her redundant merely for having run the Institution into the ground.

    The neuroscientist, peer and supervillain’s job was abolished after a review of the Institution’s managment financial and financial structure suggested that blowing £22 million on an office refurbishment and leaving the organisation in massive debt may not have been the ideal forward-thinking move for the future.

    Baron

  • And global warming is caused by a reduction in the pirate population: Average global temperature vs. Number of pirates [wikimedia.org]

    Making up correlations is fun!

  • Two months ago the same professor linked internet use with the rise in autism diagnoses (not for the first time)

    I have two small nephews, one 9 and one 8. Both exhibited strong autism and ADHD from a very early age (before they reached the age of 3). Both underwent a lot of therapy and the older one is functioning normally (being a very active, honors kid). The younger one, unfortunately, is still battling with autism, and sometimes has to rely on medications to be able to focus and participate in the class room.

    Both extremely intelligent boys, strong in math and music and until recently training in TKD. But one,

  • He missed one step. Internet use leads to increased masturbation, which leads to autism, weight loss, shifty-eyes, sweaty palms, and social retardation. Got it?

  • by Cyberllama (113628) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @07:49PM (#37969508)

    . . . Over the last 20 years or so. And yes, internet usage, interestingly enough, has increased over the same time period.

    Here's a list of other things you can correlate to the rise in autism diagnoses:

    1) Cell Phone usage
    2) Rap Music
    3) Movies starring Keanu Reeves.
    4) The Simpsons
    5) Baby names that start with the letter "J"
    6) The number of different flavors of Mountain Dew
    7) The decline of the fax machine

    Clearly, we as a country, need to use fax machines more and name all of our children "Cody" from now on.

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