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Old 11-25-2007, 07:36 AM   #1
antoniogaud
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Wifi and Autism: A quick debunking

From ArsTechnica. As if this wasn't already painfully obvious to everyone with common sense and some knowledge of autism and the sad history of charlatans posing as scientists providing proof that X causes autism and - amazingly enough - requires the use of their business ventures to prevent.

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Given the increasing prevalence of WiFi use, a clear link between this technology and autism should give many of us pause. But a closer examination of the press release should raise enough red flags that the announcement should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

The first issue comes from the journal in which the results are apparently published. The press release calls the source the Australasian Journal of Clinical Environmental Medicine. As noted by a ZDNet columnist, however, that journal doesn't actually exist. The detailed reference refers to the "J.Aust.Coll.Nutr.& Env.Med," which translates to the Journal of the Australasian College of Nutrition & Environmental Medicine. This does exist, but the journal's web page is currently under construction. Information elsewhere on the site claims that it is peer reviewed, but it's not indexed by PubMed, meaning it's not on the radar screens of the vast majority of biomedical researchers.

The college behind the journal dates from the 1980s, but currently lists its mailing address as a PO box. It has affiliations with various other integrative and herbal medicine organizations in Australia. Overall, it appears to be an obscure organization that is operating near the fringes of mainstream medical practices. None of this actually impeaches the research itself (I've requested a copy of the paper, but have not yet received it), but results of this significance would be expected to appear in a higher-profile publication if the research were solid.

Other questions are raised by the two authors of the study itself. One of them, Dr. George Carlo, is based at what appears to be a Washington lobbying group. Carlo seems to believe that individuals sensitive to wireless signals exist, despite evidence to the contrary, and claims that there is a well-substantiated mechanism for explaining their existence. I've tracked the literature in this area, and I'm unaware of any such mechanism.

The second author is Tamara Jo Mariea, who has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and several professional certificates in clinical nutrition. Neither appears to be associated with any academic medical facility, an appearance furthered by the fact that the contacts on the press release have AOL and Verizon e-mail addresses. Thus, there's no indication that either of the authors have the training, experience, or facilities to conduct a clinical research study.

The problems don't end there, however. The release makes clear that the study is based entirely on the hypothesis that autism is the product of heavy metal toxicity. This hypothesis is an outgrowth of the failed efforts to link autism rises to the use of mercury preservatives in vaccines. To the best of my knowledge, it has no experimental support, but it has led to a lucrative business for those who promise "cures" for autism through treatments that supposedly remove heavy metals from patients' blood via chelation. Notably, Mariea runs a clinic that offers these treatments, and would thus benefit from any aura of credibility chelation achieves.

So, we're several steps removed from credible science by the time we get to the actual central premise of the publication: that WiFi signals interfered with a heavy metal detoxification scheme performed in Mariea's clinic. It's impossible to judge this claim without a copy of the paper, and it may be difficult to evaluate even then, depending on the journal's standards for reporting experimental details. But, given the absence of any clear connection between heavy metals and autism, it doesn't actually matter—the paper is founded on unsubstantiated premises.

The key message here has nothing to do with either autism or WiFi radiation. Instead, the message is that sensational-sounding reports like this shouldn't be given any credibility without performing any Internet searchers on any of the principles involved. It's a message some of those who have simply relayed the press release would have done well to have heeded.

Last edited by antoniogaud; 11-25-2007 at 06:28 PM..
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Old 11-25-2007, 09:47 AM   #2
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How does this have anything to do with gaming?
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Old 11-25-2007, 09:49 AM   #3
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Thank you for this. It's been all over the place lately and I was really wondering whether or not it could be true.

Spread the truth, true believers!
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:09 AM   #4
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How does this have anything to do with gaming?
DS and PSP use Wi-Fi...
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:13 AM   #5
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As does Wii. You can also purchase it for 360 and PS3.
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:19 AM   #6
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Of course this is a bunch of crap. Autism is mostly a genetic disease! There is the rare occasion where some chemicals can cause defects at birth, but they are usually genetic defects (ie Mutation).
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:33 AM   #7
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How does this have anything to do with gaming?
Welcome to Evil Avatar:

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Old 11-25-2007, 10:45 AM   #8
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Thanks for the info. as a father of 3 ages 2-7 years i know way too much about all the snake oil causes of autism. I have 2 sons and 1 daughter. Both of my boys are autistic and I am constantly questioned by others about what I think caused their autism. My answer? I have no idea. To one of the earlier posts that suggests a stictly hereditary cause well there was never a trace of autism anywhere in my family . The closest i got to autism in my life was watching the movie Rain Man. Now I've become an expert on the subject due to my sons conditions.
Is it caused by the Mercury in the Vaccines that kids get? still too many conficting reports. Did i eat too many Microwaved Hotdogs? Am i related to my wife as the cruel Jerks like to imply.Is it caused by Flouride in the water? I don't know. But thanks for telling it like it is and a great change of pace posting.
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:14 AM   #9
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How does this have anything to do with gaming?
Please shut the fuck up you ignorant asshole.

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Thanks for the info. as a father of 3 ages 2-7 years i know way too much about all the snake oil causes of autism. I have 2 sons and 1 daughter. Both of my boys are autistic and I am constantly questioned by others about what I think caused their autism. My answer? I have no idea. To one of the earlier posts that suggests a stictly hereditary cause well there was never a trace of autism anywhere in my family . The closest i got to autism in my life was watching the movie Rain Man. Now I've become an expert on the subject due to my sons conditions.
Is it caused by the Mercury in the Vaccines that kids get? still too many conficting reports. Did i eat too many Microwaved Hotdogs? Am i related to my wife as the cruel Jerks like to imply.Is it caused by Flouride in the water? I don't know. But thanks for telling it like it is and a great change of pace posting.
I understand your pain. For the last 12 years I had lived with my brother, Elijah, who is autistic. He's a genius trapped in his own body, due to having communication impairment, which goes both ways (His ability to speak his feelings and understand others.) Otherwise he is extremely high functioning, with a genius+ level IQ.

Now, my family has a lot of the disorders related to autism (ADHD, bipolar, tourette's, seizure disorders). All of these are in the same general nervous system disorder family. So it was probably partially genetic. But my brother also had a seizure a few hours after getting a vaccine: one of the vaccines later found to have Mercury in it.

It will be a while before autism's cause is truly pinpointed (if ever, as I believe it's multiple causes), but the fact remains: cases of autism have skyrocketed in the last 50 years, and grows increasingly higher.

Last edited by Disgustipated; 11-25-2007 at 11:36 AM..
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:32 AM   #10
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Please shut the fuck up you ignorant asshole.
Um, to paraphrase my reaction, where the fuck did that come from?
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:36 AM   #11
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Um, to paraphrase my reaction, where the fuck did that come from?
Oops... I meant to click on DeadlyDonkey's post.

I just woke up, forgive me.
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:43 AM   #12
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Hmmm a post about autism and now I notice a Chelation supplement advert on the page . what a strange coincedence. or is it?
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:54 AM   #13
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Hmmm a post about autism and now I notice a Chelation supplement advert on the page . what a strange coincedence. or is it?
It's google ads. It associates the words from the article into possible advertising.
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:19 PM   #14
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It's google ads. It associates the words from the article into possible advertising.
Ok thx for info . Still learning .
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:36 PM   #15
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Oops... I meant to click on DeadlyDonkey's post.

I just woke up, forgive me.
Ha, don't worry. I figured it couldn't have been directed at the same poster you identified with later.
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:49 PM   #16
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But my brother also had a seizure a few hours after getting a vaccine: one of the vaccines later found to have Mercury in it.
As the OP should make clear, there are no causes for autism other than genetic.

--which is a bunch of bullshit.--

From the OP's own quote:

Quote:
None of this actually impeaches the research itself
So I guess the research is a bunch of shit and snake oil!!!

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Originally Posted by antoniogaud
To the best of my knowledge, it has no experimental support
I could take this to uncomfortable places regarding the apparent limits of your knowledge, but I'll just leave instead with the happy knowledge that some on the boards here believe scientific research into diseases should apparently not involve examination of multiple possible sources/causes, but instead should focus purely on genetic correlations. There's several ways to describe people who don't believe in broad approaches to scientific research and open avenues of examination...none of them flattering.

The environment has nothing to do with it. Simple! Cause confirmed! Blame your damn parents...there's NOTHING else to bother researching.

BTW: A "quick debunking" of anything related to something as difficult as autism is hard to take seriously and is quite idiotic. You deserve a Nobel Prize for solving one of the riddles of the 21st century. Autism; it's your parents.

Last edited by Johan; 11-25-2007 at 02:05 PM..
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Old 11-25-2007, 02:05 PM   #17
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Why aren't the last 3 paragraphs inside the quote? They're from the original article. It currently looks like antoniogaud added them as his own analysis.
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Old 11-25-2007, 02:39 PM   #18
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Johan...I really didn't get the impression from the OP that autism is a 100% genetic disease, just that heavy metals don't seem to be a cause.

Also, the point was to quickly debunk this particular study, and based on what was said in the OP (questionable journal, questionable researches, can't get a copy of the paper, etc), the concerns raised certainly seem valid. I am all for taking many different approaches to scientific research and looking for multiple causes of scientific phenomena (ESPECIALLY things as complicated as medical disorders), but if researchers aren't going to go through the right channels to properly present their findings, I don't see why they should be taken seriously.
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Old 11-25-2007, 03:52 PM   #19
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I have little knowledge and no opinion about autism or the causes of it. However, it's a bit much claiming to have 'debunked' something and then come clean to not having read the paper. He admits the lack of credentials don't invalidate the research, and then about ten words later implies it would probably be in a proper journal if it were true. Bah. Ok, it's pedantic, but it annoys me.
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Old 11-25-2007, 06:11 PM   #20
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You should always be sceptical of something with the words "Australasian College" in it. All too often (but not always, mind) it means it's a front for an American organisation. And it might just be me, but American organisations pretending to be Australasian ones to Americans always makes me a little suspicious.
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