What utter garbage. Simon is a Psychologist for God’s sake (a pseudo scientist). Presumably he has no claim to an understanding of bio genetics. He should know better than to make scientific claims that are outside his area of professional competence.
Neither do I have any such qualifications, but I can see no reason for Geeky people to have more defective genes leading to children having autism than any other kind of people. A Geeky couple are no more likely to both have autism genes (if indeed there is any such thing).
Autism is a tragic problem for many loving parents. It should be treated seriously and with respect for those affected.
Being called a Geek is not anything to be ashamed of: except for the immature people who do the calling. It is merely a silly high school perjorative made popular by some crummy films and TV shows.
What utter garbage.
It’s not quite that. Baron-Cohen (the brother of the guy who gave us Borat and Bruno) is a very well respected researcher in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder — this isn’t some random crank with a stupid idea.
Part of the problem is that science journalists are really bad at distinguishing ASD from autism itself. When Baron-Cohen is talking about his patients, he’s not talking about the “Rain Man” end of the spectrum, he’s talking about the Einstein end — typically, people with high-functioning Asperger Syndrome, not autism.
The hypothesis that there’s a genetic component isn’t far fetched at all — it’s well studied that there’s at least a weak genetic component to ASD. Nor is the hypothesis that those with high-functioning Asperger Syndrome tend to excel at science and engineering disciplines (Baron-Cohen was a major researcher in the area). The notion that social patterns have changed in a way to increase the likelihood of geeks reproducing with geeks could go either way — it’s plausible, but so is the opposite — that it was more likely for geeks to meet when they were outcasts, and today it’s easier for geeks to partner with non-geeks — so that hypothesis could stand better testing.
The article even makes it clear that Baron-Cohen recognizes these weaknesses. It makes a point of talking about his philosophy of getting ideas in circulation even on weak evidence, so that they get some attention and get properly tested.
So, aside from maybe an inappropriate focus on autism, rather than ASD, the article isn’t really that bad.
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