Monday, August 8, 2011

Susan Greenfield Causes Autism

British neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has caused a storm with her suggestion that the recent rise in the use of the internet and social media may be related to the recent rise in autism.

I point to the increase in autism and I point to internet use. That's all. Establishing a causal relationship is very hard but there are trends out there that we must think about.

This has led to fellow Oxford neuroscientist Dorothy Bishop of BishopBlog writing an Open Letter asking her to "please, please, stop talking about autism". Twitter has been enlivened by #greenfieldism's such as "I point to the rise of Rebecca Black and the Greek sovereign debt crisis, that is all."

However, in a Neuroskeptic exclusive, I can reveal that the situation is far worse than anyone feared. Greenfield is not merely spreading unwarranted speculations about the recent rise in autism diagnoses.

She caused that rise.

The graph above shows the total number of scientific citations for Susan Greenfield's papers, over time. This is as good a measure as any of the influence Greenfield has had over our culture.

The trend is obvious, the growth is dramatic, and the correlation with the modern autism epidemic is undeniable.

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