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TV causes autism?

2006-10-17 06:20:26.744529-07 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

Does television cause autism?

Our precipitation tests indicate that just under forty percent of autism diagnoses in the three states studied is the result of teleivision watching due to precipitation, while our cable tests indicate that approximately seventeen percent of the growth in autism in California and Pennsylvania during the 1970s and 1980s is due to the growth of cable television.

Stolen from /., where the commentary is beyond skeptical.

[ related topics: California Culture Technology and Culture Television Education ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-10-17 08:30:45.234129-07 by: mvandewettering

While I have not burned through more than the abstract of the paper, it appears to me that it without hypothesizing a mechanism for this to occur, the conclusions of such a statistical study can indicate correlation, but not causation. There has been a rise in diagnosed cases of autism, and there has been an increase in the number of hours that children spend watching television. Are these two factors related? I fail to see how any sort of experiment (at least, any ethical experiment) could be done that would answer this question.

I will postpone any criticism of the paper until i've had a chance to at least skim it, but I'd note that the authors do not appear to have any training in medicine or psychology. Expertise in one field does not immediately grant expertise in the other, and I'm not sure that I believe that economists as a whole have a grasp of cause and effect relationships.

If I get time later today, I'll try to read the paper.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-10-17 10:50:31.407188-07 by: Dan Lyke

I'm browsing in between compiles, and it's fairly clear so far that most of the critics on /. didn't read the first few pages.

Which is something I often find in reports of impacts on early childhood health; because people have so much vested in how they've done it, there's a tremendous resistance to questioning the assumptions which underly how they raised their children.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-10-17 11:41:49.668539-07 by: dexev

I haven't read the original or the /. comments, but Tyler Cowen has a response here:

http://www.marginalrevolution....ion/2006/10/does_television.html