Dear Dr. Cannell,
I just read that someone discovered “geeks” are more likely to have children with autism. I know lots of geeks ‘cause I’m one myself, and it’s scary. I seldom see the sun. Your vitamin D theory of autism fits this geek discovery to a tee. Why can’t other scientists see it?
One reason is that I’m not a real scientist, I don’t practice science. I read, think, and write. I just came back from speaking for four hours at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and I understand some “real” scientists are upset the AAAS invited me. If I was a real scientist (practiced science, i.e. conducted studies, worked in a lab, etc.) I’d be upset as well. It is just that I saw what scientists did not, in part because my ignorance also meant I had no preconceived notions.
I am afraid that Occam’s Razor is at work here, or “plurality should not be posited without necessity,” which is to say, keep it simple. The autism experts are jumping on and sliding down the razor, theorizing multiple new theories that certain types of minds (math and computer brains) somehow are at more risk for autism. All the autism scientists have to do is stop, open their eyes, and look where the geeks are all day long (inside, out of the sun). It’s that simple. Instead of riding the razor, they need to use Occam’s razor to cut through to the simplest theory. The story below makes it clear that the simplest possibility never crosses their minds.
Andy Coghlan Childhood autism spikes in geek heartlands. New Scientist, 6/20/11