Autism and “intelligence genes” / Aye, yai, yai!

Note: A weasel word is an informal term for words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that a specific or meaningful statement has been made, when instead only a vague or ambiguous claim has actually been communicated.

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University of Edinburgh, May 2016

Autism genes and intelligence link found

Genes linked with a greater risk of developing autism may also be associated with higher intelligence, a study suggests. Researchers have found new evidence linking genetic factors associated with autism to better cognitive ability in people who do not have the condition.

Note the unfortunate and misleading use of “linked” in this context: “linked genes” are, specifically, genes that are located on the same chromosome. That’s not what is meant here: this is very sloppy word usage and causes a great deal of confusion about genes and autism.

Autism is a developmental disability that can cause significant language and speech difficulties.

Developmental disorder

The relationship between autism and intelligence is not clear, researchers say.

Up to 70 per cent of individuals with autism have an intellectual disability, but some people with the disorder have higher than average non-verbal intelligence, the team says. (Verbal and visual intelligence ARE NOT mutually exclusive!) Non-verbal intelligence enables people to solve complex problems using visual and hands-on reasoning skills requiring little or no use of language.

Wow! Thank-you for acknowledging visual intelligence! But might this be evidence that Asperger people are simply “visually dominant” processors and thinkers who have been misidentified as autistic, due to social prejudice regarding nonconformity to social expectations?

It is a whopping contradiction to maintain that intellectual disability and visual intellectual ability are both identifying symptoms of developmental “failure”. 1. Either intelligence has nothing at all to do with “autism” or 2. Verbal intelligence is developmentally “correct” but “visual intelligence” is developmentally “incorrect”. Logic? Nonsense.

Cognitive ability

Researchers analysed almost 10,000 people recruited from the general population of Scotland. Individuals were tested for general cognitive ability and had their DNA analysed. The team found that among people who never develop autism, carrying genetic traits (!) associated with the disorder is, on average, linked to scoring slightly better on cognitive tests. In other words; this is total “WT” – “weasel talk”

Intellectual advantage

Researchers found further evidence of a link between autism-associated genes and intelligence when they carried out the same tests on 921 adolescents who were part of the Brisbane Adolescent Twin Study. (weasel words)

There are no “statistical” brains; there are ONLY SPECIFIC BRAINS. The “numbers” allotted as “intelligence points” are not intelligence; intelligence cannot be “statistically” spread across “brains”.

The study suggests genes for autism may actually confer, on average, a small intellectual advantage in those who carry them, provided they are not affected by autism.

Yikes! Intelligence is a complex characteristic, with many components, often culturally defined. No one has solved the almost impossible task of getting people to agree on “what IT is”, and yet here we have the typical irrational insistence that one “unproven, unconfirmed guess” is the magical key to intelligence. And most egregious, the contribution of the person’s environment is ignored!

The study is published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. The research was funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, Scottish Funding Council, The Wellcome Trust, The Medical Research Council and Age UK.

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Genetic Literacy Project website https://www.geneticliteracyproject/2016/03/23/genes-linked-autism-also-common-in-general-population/

Genes linked to autism also common in general population

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The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

The same genes involved in predisposing people to autism appear to influence social skills in the wider population, suggesting that the autism spectrum has no clear cut-off point, scientists have discovered. (We’re mixing apples and oranges here: social skills and general intelligence)

Researchers have previously shown that autism is linked not just to one or two powerful genes, but to the combined effect of many small genetic changes.

The latest findings, published in Nature Genetics, suggest that social charm, empathy and the ability to make friends is about more than just practice and upbringing, but is also affected by how many of these autism risk gene variants we possess.

Dr Elise Robinson, from Harvard University and a lead author on the paper, said: “This is the first study that specifically shows that … factors that we have unambiguously associated with autism are also very clearly associated with social communication differences in the general population.” Really? C’mon! This is a sweeping generalization that cannot be “tested” and “proven, disproven” by the scientific method. It’s NARRATIVE: storytelling, not fact.  

But at last, some common sense: Rather than viewing a person as either having or not having such a disorder, Robinson believes our social skills are better viewed as sitting on a sliding scale across the whole population. Did we not already know this? Yes. It’s reasonable observation, and has been for thousands of years. Why have millions of $$$, been spent to arrive at the obvious?

Autism spectrum disorders are linked with a range of behaviours, including difficulties in communicating with others, maintaining friendships and empathising. As opposed to the “difficulties in communicating with others, maintaining friendships and empathising” that the typical person experiences!  

“Across the genome, [around] 30% of the common inherited genetic influences on ASDs [austism spectrum disorders] are shared with the common inherited influences on social communication behaviour across the population,” said Robinson. Meaning that Autism is an invented “label” for a range of non-genetic, possibly genetic, and ‘known” genetic conditions.

Read full, original post: Autism spectrum has no clear cut-off point, research suggests

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