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Author: Subject: Hypthesis on Autism/Asperger's
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[*] posted on 9-4-2014 at 13:43
Hypthesis on Autism/Asperger's


Hey all, not really sure how to phrase this but I a hypothesis on the occurrence of Autism/Asperger's Syndrome and I felt it related to biochemistry. Well, obviously or it wouldn't be here...

Anyway, I felt Asperger's/Autism might be a physical adaptation to avoid other humans as vectors of disease. As an altered brain structure is noted in Autistics, which generally relates to social interaction and sensory input. Which would indicate some sort of biological adaptation to some sort of environmental stimuli.

I'm not entirely sure how to test such an hypothesis, but the reason it struck me is that humans are a very strong vector of infection/disease. Anyone have any ideas how you'd investigate such a thing?
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[*] posted on 9-4-2014 at 17:27


It certainly would be hard to prove. You could start by doing a study of varying infection rates of autistic people during epidemics, to see if autistic people get infected less. This would only answer part of the question, though.



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[*] posted on 10-4-2014 at 05:00


Well, the first thing to understand is that evolution doesn't purposefully "adapt" organisms to anything. Asperger's/Autism would simply be emerging traits which might or might not be selected for over time if they have some benefit to an individual. You could check infection rates as Cheddite suggested, however this would only be a tiny piece of the puzzle - you'd also have to demonstrate that these traits are actually increasing survival in some significant manner, enough that they have better or equal odds of being passed on to the next generation as "normal" traits do, in whatever scenario you're looking at.

I consider it very unlikely you'll find any evidence for the idea, but that doesn't mean it's not worth seeking out if you're curious.
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[*] posted on 10-4-2014 at 19:16


I think your assumption that humans are very strong vectors for disease is incorrect. Perhaps that is the case now, but back when we were walking around africa that was almost certainly not the case. Since we have only become disease vectors in the past couple of hundred years (insignificant on an evolutionary timescale) I dont think your hypothesis has much hope of working out.



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[*] posted on 15-4-2014 at 07:18


im ill once a year and its partially controlled.. i just had my illness, it lasts approx 1 week and its all in all just being snotty and having fever, plus loosing hearing more / less intense
rest of the year im not ill at all
however i once had more or less an accident with cold weather making it that i cant really feel cold so i just dont wear jacket in the winther periods even tho it can drop to -12*C where i live

i was at this place where other youths would end up when i was 16-18 and many of them were labelled autists by some degree, they always told me ''i can feel you are autist'' although i never got the label
just an interesting thing.. however i dont remember how frequently the labeled ones were ill

the rise in autism i recall as being somewhat above 700% within the last 10 years, last measurement i could find was from 2007

some could point towards the idea that vaccines have added things that arent healthy for the human body, but such theories have no place on this forum as it becomes political, not to mention it usually starts flame wars




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[*] posted on 15-4-2014 at 07:54


Quote: Originally posted by Antiswat  
the rise in autism i recall as being somewhat above 700% within the last 10 years, last measurement i could find was from 2007


Couldn't this be due to better diagnostics? Or the fact parents are more prone to go to the GP when they think there is something wrong with their child?

The number of children dying before the age of 1 has declined significantly over the last decades, but you never hear anyone about that. Although it is correlated with better diagnostics / health care.

Another example is the ''fact'' the Netherlands have the highest pre-born mortality rate of the EU. The only reason why the former fact is presumed is because in the Netherlands the definition is different, I don't know the numbers but I would dare to bet it is not the highest in the EU.
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[*] posted on 15-4-2014 at 07:58


They now have test for certain forms of autism in utero and
have identified a primary protein defect that triggers it.

http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?hl=en&q=http://www.res...

Curiously the protein folding defect is triggered by a relatively low
grade fever. As vaccines can trigger a fever they could appear
to cause autism when in fact any fever would do it.
As this can be tested for before any vaccines are given
you can pretty much say that at least in these cases,
that vaccines are not the cause.

One likely cause of increases in genetic based defects is that
natural selection has pretty much been eliminated for three to five
generations. Things that would have previously prevented
reproduction no longer do. Plus environmental toxins are
increasing mutation rates.

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[*] posted on 15-4-2014 at 09:20


I'm pretty sure natural selection is still happening, just the mechanisms have changed. Less saber toothed tigers and starvation, more drunk driving, drowning and falling down stairs-

I'd guess we're selecting for resistance to artificial chemical and radiation induced genetic damages as well.




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[*] posted on 15-4-2014 at 10:24


I'd say we have reversed natural selection. We send our
healthy young men off to war to be killed. Keep sick people
alive as long as possible. More intelligent people tend to
have fewer off spring. In a few generations we will be
back to slime on a rock.

Lawyers jump all over anything "chemical" that could be harmful. Are these things really more harmful than naturally
occurring toxins?

To me it looks like ADHD <---> Autism has been turned into a continuous scale. This allows big pharma to sell more pills,
the schools to hire specialists etc. Of course the people at the far ends of the scale really do need this kind of help.
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[*] posted on 16-4-2014 at 00:23


Unless things changed since I last checked, there is no scientific consensus as to whether the increase is of autism itself, or diagnosis. Remember the DSM manuals are somewhat arbitrary and change, and lumping Asperger's with autism will affect diagnostic statistics.
http://www.asatonline.org/about_autism/ontherise

And for anyone curious, pharmaceutical companies don't generally give that great of a return on investment and their profit margins are somewhat attenuated. Big money is in high risk/high reward startup sellouts. Blockbuster drugs aren't being discovered, they get more expensive to research daily.
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/average-profit-margin-small-b...

http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/average-profit-margin-phar...

http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/health_systems_and_services...

It is just bad in pharma, funding/climate-wise, as everywhere else. Maybe worse due to all the scientists competing for diminishing funding resources.
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[*] posted on 16-4-2014 at 02:00


Quote: Originally posted by gregxy  
I'd say we have reversed natural selection. We send our
healthy young men off to war to be killed. Keep sick people
alive as long as possible. More intelligent people tend to
have fewer off spring. In a few generations we will be
back to slime on a rock.


I don't share your opinion, healthy men have always died young, in the last millenia, and in the last one million years. On the contrary, couldn't this even be a force for natural selection? As healthier men die a little less then the little less healthier? Dead is the number one driving force for selection.

Intelligent people have less children, no question about that, but their children are raised in a far more healthy and secure environment, which gives them the opportunity to become intelligent as well. This does not mean they are becoming bigger in number, but it also doesn't mean they are out-selected. One thing that is important for the above stated is that intelligent people mate with intelligent people, which is true. It could lead to the formation of two different species, but we are not there by far.

Keeping sick people alive as long as possible has nothing to do with natural selection, as they don't reproduce anymore. The fact we do this is because it would be unethical not to do while we can.

Natural selection is still going on strong, but not in the way it was centuries ago, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I just think the definition of natural selection is taken wrong. Natural selection is the selection of the fittest in his environment, but the environment doesn't have to be ''natural'' in my opinion.

[Edited on 16-4-2014 by Tsjerk]
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[*] posted on 16-4-2014 at 10:19


by what i have witnessed 'sick people' do get children
i have even witnessed mentally impaired having more than 3 children, but ofcourse they have rights so somewhere its not ethically wrong

with the psychiatry we have today anybody can get labeled
i know a person who have been labeled with something that basically describes that the person wants to be around other people the whole time
where i would perhaps be labeled anti-social, perhaps its because pretty much everybody i know drinks their brains out, kills themselves halfway on hard drugs even on a normal day or have no actual passion in life and seemingly just wastes time waiting to fade away




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[*] posted on 21-4-2014 at 16:06


Quote: Originally posted by Tsjerk  


I don't share your opinion, healthy men have always died young, in the last millenia, and in the last one million years. On the contrary, couldn't this even be a force for natural selection? As healthier men die a little less then the little less healthier? Dead is the number one driving force for selection.

[Edited on 16-4-2014 by Tsjerk]


I was thinking of back in WWII where you had to meet certain health standards before they sent you off to war.
Now with the volunteer army (in the USA) its harder to tell what effect war has.


Quote: Originally posted by Tsjerk  

Keeping sick people alive as long as possible has nothing to do with natural selection, as they don't reproduce anymore. The fact we do this is because it would be unethical not to do while we can.
[Edited on 16-4-2014 by Tsjerk]


Its not just the elderly. Elimination of childhood disease (better sanitation, antibiotics etc) saves millions of lives each year. What we are losing is (directly) is the ability to combat bacteria. Beyond that it's difficult to say. And of course it would be unethical to let people die. There are also some theories that diseases like asthma are due raising children in too sanitary an environment.

One thing that is promoting evolution in humans is that people are having children later in life.


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[*] posted on 22-4-2014 at 08:39


Quote: Originally posted by Antiswat  

with the psychiatry we have today anybody can get labeled

Not just today. There is an unfortunately sordid history of mental health, psychosurgery, and even (to a lesser extent) psychopharmaceuticals. Psychiatry and psychology are not strong, hard objective sciences which rely on signs, but often self-reported symptoms and subjective interpretations which involve what is known as "the demarcation problem.". The behavioral systems and variables involved are too complex and individualized to examine under controlled conditions, which leads to the teaching that everyone has degrees of nonpathological categorization, and that mental health is a spectrum.
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[*] posted on 22-4-2014 at 10:31


And that is why I think more research is needed, hopefully getting to a point where we can get strong, hard objective evidence for what is wrong where when certain symptoms are seen, as I believe most if not all psychological deceases have a physical causes.
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[*] posted on 22-4-2014 at 10:33
avoid other human vectors


Asperger's syndrome, ADD, OCD, etc, just seem like categories to me. Not bad and not good, just different categories. These categories of people have been around forever, we are just given more labels now. IMHO, "normal" people are a mean and judgmental and unintelligent and militaristic and magical thinking and generally dangerous group. To keep oneself safe, as a self preservation instinct, it makes sense to avoid the human problem vectors. Have certain choices associated with antisocial behavior become a significant part of natural (un)selection? Maybe. I think the idea is interesting. It is sad that "labeled" people are more concerned with thinking and experimenting and creating than with making copies of themselves.
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[*] posted on 23-4-2014 at 11:06


Quote: Originally posted by Bert  
I'm pretty sure natural selection is still happening, just the mechanisms have changed


The Mechanisms are most likely the same as ever.

The idea that Human Intervention is somehow unnatural is a bit odd.

We're no more than a naturally occurring phenomenon, a bit like an algal bloom, or a volcano erupting.
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[*] posted on 23-4-2014 at 12:15


Quote: Originally posted by aga  
Quote: Originally posted by Bert  
I'm pretty sure natural selection is still happening, just the mechanisms have changed


The Mechanisms are most likely the same as ever.

The idea that Human Intervention is somehow unnatural is a bit odd.

We're no more than a naturally occurring phenomenon, a bit like an algal bloom, or a volcano erupting.


I agree with you. Actualy, us "polluting" the earth might be an event comparable to the GOE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Oxygenation_Event) where new, more advanced species will arrise thanks to our "pollution". We are merely one more phenomenon that has more impact than others but we're still part of the nature and the evolution chain.

PS: Before I get jumped by an environmentalist, I'm not saying I agree or disagree with Earth Pollution. Just stating a fact.
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