Glyphosate, the active herbicide in Roundup, is pretty much always in the news, but it is even more so lately:
- It causes cancer. (A lawsuit against Monsanto)
- The EU says it doesn't cause cancer.
- It was added to California's Proposition list as a carcinogen. Except it isn't.
- The U.N said that it is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans.”
The EU was accused of giving in to Facebook activists on glyphosate.
There was an association between glyphosate and the decline of Monarch butterfly populations.
All of this is from the news during this past May.
So, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at an oldie, but goodie, courtesy of a staff member at MIT. MIT??? This wasn't about cancer or butterflies. It was about autism, and it is completely nuts.
Back in 2104, Stephanie Seneff, a Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, when speaking at a panel (1) discussing GMOs (she's against them, of course), made the following statement:
“At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic."
OK, anyone with even one working neuron knows that such a claim is nonsense. One-half of children having autism in eight years? Please. But you may not understand the basis of the claim, or why it is nonsense. Let's take a look. There are a few dead giveaways.
One of them is the website on which the article about Dr. Seneff's statement appeared. In about five seconds, things start to make sense.
The Alliance for Natural Health: the epitome of subtlety.
The Alliance for Natural Health, which perhaps should be renamed "The Alliance for Joe Mercola Followers and Other Assorted Screwballs," shows its true colors immediately. Anti-vaccine, anti-GMO, pro supplements. This site is Whole Foods on steroids. You can stop reading now and have a pretty good idea of the validity of Seneff's claim. But, let's keep going anyhow. ” [Seneff] noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data showing a remarkably consistent correlation. Here is her "proof."
Glyphosate use plotted against the number of autistic children. (IDEA = Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
Looks pretty impressive, no? And, we all know that correlation is the same as causation, right? Or not. Here are three of examples of other "remarkably consistent correlations." (2)
The use of glyphosate sure does track nicely with the incidence of autism. But, so do these:
Autism is also "caused" by rising college tuition. (Source: Knowing Ourselves)
A word on correlation. If you examine an enormous number of events, perfect correlations between groups of two of them will necessarily be found by sheer chance. Most of them mean nothing. Had Stephanie Seneff looked hard enough may have uncovered other "causes" of autism (3). Perhaps the number of yellow Volkswagens on the road, the daily humidity in Boise, or maybe even the number of paisley ties worn by guys named Steve. Which should you believe? None of them. In fact, one prevailing theory about the rise in autism is due to more diagnoses, not more cases. And, David Warmflash, writing for the Genetic Literacy Project, argues that autism is genetic.
Can we now dispose of the correlation argument? (4)
This all fine and good, but two sentences are all that are required to bury this idiocy:
"In addition, as we have previously reported, the number of adverse reactions from vaccines can be correlated as well with autism, though Seneff says it doesn’t correlate quite as closely as with Roundup. The same correlations between applications of glyphosate and autism show up in deaths from senility."
An anti-vaxxer from MIT? There are plenty of other details, but don't waste your time. That is Seneff's specialty.
(1) The event was sponsored by the holistic-focused Groton Wellness organization, whose specialists practice: Holistic, Certified Esthetics, Reiki, and Make-up, Biomagnetism, Vibrational Medicine, Massage Therapy & Colon Hydrotherapy, and Biodynamic Medicine. Right away, this place should go on your top 10 list of places to avoid, perhaps right between Syria and Venezuela.
(2) The correlation factor, which is known as "r," is a statistical measurement of the strength of the relationship between two variables on a scatterplot graph. A perfect correlation is when r = 1. When r = 0.7, this is considered to be a strong correlation. The value for the organic food/autism correlation (0.997) is off scale, but still meaningless.
(3) We are routinely exposed to tens of thousands of chemicals in minute amounts. Will there be a similar association between some of these and autism? Almost certainly so.
(4) Autism has also been associated with the absence of parasitic worms, finger length, and wi-fi. But not (to my knowledge) the price of a pallet of Saltines at Costco. Yet.