Why Autism Research Goes Nowhere – The Researchers Who Takes Us Down All The Blind Alleys

Sceptical Rating for the article reviewed: Four Plungers – 

The following article was originally published on the Child Health Safety blog. We appreciate their kind permission to reprint this important information here.

Have you ever wondered why supposedly no one knows where “all the autism” is coming from?  Here we set out a blatant example of a misdirection of research results taking the medical professions and the public down a blind alley. 

In the case of the paper “Advancing Paternal Age and Autism” Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63:1026-1032 the authors had and published data which was and remains fundamental to proving the increase in autistic conditions since the expansion in the vaccine programmes in the mid to late 1980s is real and substantial.

For the best part of two decades health officials around the world have insisted untruthfully that the increases in autistic conditions since the 1980s are attributable to “better diagnosis” and “greater awareness”.  They also used to insist that autistic conditions are caused by genetics [have “internal” causes] until it started to be established that the huge increases could not be accounted for on such a basis – because if it was all genetic then the numbers should have been the same all along over centuries.

What the data from “Advancing Paternal Age and Autism” showed and shows was that prior to the introduction of vaccines to Israel the figure for cases of childhood [ie typical or Kanner] autism was 8.4 in 10,0000 children and there were even fewer cases of Asperger’s syndrome so the increase in cases of Aspergers is even more dramatic and serious than even that of childhood autism cases.

The data the authors obtained when compared to current data shows that not only has the incidence and prevalence of childhood autism increased dramatically but also that the incidence and prevalence of Asperger’s syndrome has been even more dramatic since the mid 1980s and dwarfs the increase in autism.  The data was obtained using current diagnostic criteria so was and is comparable to current data for current cases. So what the data and results of this paper really show is that the allegation the increase in autistic conditions is “better diagnosis” and “greater awareness” is false. You can read more about this here:

Autism Figures – Existing Studies Show Shocking Real Increase Since 1988

The authors not only ignored what seems a very obvious finding from their data and results but also misdirected the medical profession and the public away from that finding and down an obscure and blind alley.

Medicine in general is the best example of misdirection of research efforts where commercial and conflicting interests – ie pure greed for making money – seem to ensure that research in many areas is directed down all the blindest of blind alleys and the obvious avenues are either ignored or the research is suppressed or prevented.  The research funds are spent on research guaranteed not to find causes or cures, but at the very best only for drug treatments to be paid for over a lifetime of non cure treatments with drug adverse effects of the drugs aplenty. 

There is a great deal of money to be made that way over many decades.  “Genetic” research is a great general example where billions of US tax dollars have been spent and there is little to show for it – and especially where autistic conditions are concerned. 

Good old medieval serfdom and feudalism never died they have just been refined and redefined.  The majority, the 21st century “serfs”, pay their feudal “tithe” to their new feudal Lords in different ways.  In the 21st Century this means paying with their health and sometimes their lives – not much change there then.

Instead of focussing on an important result the authors of Advancing Paternal Age and Autism made a very different and obscure claim.   The claim was that fathers aged over 40 had a higher probability of having autistic children.  The authors made that the focus of their paper.  The claim was made on the basis of scant data.  The paper was a statistical study [ie this was tobacco science not clinical investigations] and this claim was based on a very small sample with a poor confidence interval.  Fathers aged over 40 involved in the sample accounted for 3 per cent of the children concerned and the confidence in the figures was very wide and thus of extremely low reliability.

Misdirection from studies like this one must obviously be holding back the uncovering of fundamental information regarding autistic conditions and supports and enables government health officials to continue to make over far too many years the kinds of false claims they have been making about the causes of autistic conditions.

The authors and the institutions for which they work need to explain themselves.  Israeli parents who performed their military service deserve better than this – which looks like it is mostly by Americans exploiting their connections with Israel.

Here are the details of the institutions and of the authors:

  • Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1230, New York, NY 10029 (Drs Reichenberg, Silverman, and Davidson),
  • Seaver Center for Autism Research (Dr Silverman), Mount Sinai School of Medicine;
  • Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University (Drs Gross, Bresnahan, Harlap, Malaspina, and Susser);
  • New York State Psychiatric Institute (Drs Gross, Bresnahan, Malaspina, and Susser), New York;
  • Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, England (Dr Reichenberg);
  • Department of Psychiatry, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer (Drs Weiser and Davidson);
  • School of Social Work, Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan (Dr Rabinowitz);
  • School of Social Work, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Dr Shulman);
  • Medical Corps, Israel Defense Forces, Tel Aviv (Drs Lubin and Knobler), Israel.

9 thoughts on “Why Autism Research Goes Nowhere – The Researchers Who Takes Us Down All The Blind Alleys

  1. I think I get it….. Any research that is done to explore the complex issue of autism etiology simply must be junk unless it is designed with the express purpose of pointing a finger at vaccines.
    Nice example of objectivity.

    • To Matthew June 7, 2012 at 7:46 pm.

      You seem to miss the point. So let us help you. The Journal of the Israeli Medical Association seems not to have missed the point: Time Trends In Autism IMAJ Nov 2010:12,711. But you were not interested in the evidence.

      The authors of “Advancing Paternal Age in Autism” appear to have chosen not to report the most obvious finding of their data – that it shows autistic conditions in Israeli children in the period before the substantial increase in autistic conditions started were extremely rare.

      That also knocks a large hole in the idea that the prevalence of autistic conditions has always been the same – and with that also your “two studies” [which you provide no reference for – so we can assume you do not know which ones they are even if they exist].

      The authors of the paper chose instead to claim that 3% of the cases were born to fathers over the age of 40. They chose to lead the world to conclude that must be a significant cause of autistic conditions. Even if that were true [but the confidence interval of the data is low] there is no way 3% of cases can account for the substantial increase for the other 97%.

      So their paper might be described as a less than subtle and sloppy sleight of hand to gloss over the fact that there has been a real and substantial increase in prevalence of cases of autistic conditions.

  2. If (as at least 2 studies have demonstrated) the prevalence of autistic spectrum disorders in adults today is 1 in 100, simple math tells you that in the 1980s the prevalence in kids was already 1 in 100.
    The “rise” is nothing but an illusion.

      • Very good question, CHS – I was wondering the same thing myself actually. I remember one ‘study’ coming out of England about a year ago, but it was so small and so poorly designed, surely this wouldn’t be one of those that Matthew was relying on? Surely not!

    • I remember reading of a study that was done whereby they rang around adults and got a reading of the number of people who lived by themselves and were a little anti-social. They then equated those people to 8 year old kids who couldn’t talk and regularly smeared feces on walls and said “Look! Those kids will grow up to be just like those 25 year olds who don’t make friends easily!” And so the conclusion was that the rate of such people was much the same in the adult population as in the child population.

      In a few hundred years time (when humanity has moved away from vaccinations to some new version of collective insanity) this study will be used as a textbook example of just how unbelievably perverse and self-serving medical “science” had become (although history students will have an awful lot of these examples to shift through).

  3. Against the argument that the increase in autistic cases is only because the diagnostic criteria were broadened in the early 1990′s [in DSM IV] (they were in fact narrowed) here is information published in the Journal of the Israeli Medical Association which shows a benchmark was established for the position pre 1989: Time Trends In Autism IMAJ Nov 2010:12,711:

    This is the analysis Dr Reichenberg of Mount Sinai School of Medicine New York USA and his co-authors did not put forward. The information is straight from their paper “Advancing Paternal Age in Autism”.

    Nice? Gives us sceptics plenty to be sceptical about regarding modern medicine. No need for conspiracy theories when all you have to ask is “How could they all possibly have missed that, when causes for the increase in autistic conditions was what they were looking for”?

    Don’tcha just love it? Hey NIH gimme a nice big fat juicy grant check so I can increase my standing in my university as a getter of cash whilst ensuring I don’t produce anything which will get to the bottom of the real problems but obscure it all instead. And just to make sure, I will make sure that a news release is put out around the world reporting the results of my junk science.

    Yep. A nice big fat juicy news release went out around the world claiming that a cause of autistic conditions was that Dads get old and have more kids.

    ‘ “Better cull the old Dads then huh?” Bill Gates’

    [No Bill did not really say that but then he might if we get more research like this junk coming out].

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