A Touch of Alyricism

Dedicated to the equally fascinating topics of autistic advocacy and the 'sisterly sophistries' of radical gender feminism. Other topics may occasionally crop up. Contactable at alyric@gmail.com


Polemicist since Grade 8

Monday, July 10, 2006

Unnatural Selection

I fully approve of the protest against the attempted extermination of autistics, hence this brief post. However, I really thought that AFF and the Hub were getting just a tad carried away here considering that nobody has a clue what the ‘genes for autism’ are so how then is it possible to have a prenatal test for autism that is in any way meaningful? So, to a little reading and here is one of my favourite hub bloggers, abfh (I think that should be lower case).

I look at it this way: Somebody has to yap loudly enough to draw attention to what's going on before it's too late. This is not a genteel debate in the quiet halls of academia; it is a war for the survival of our race. The eugenicists have us in their crosshairs, and their fingers are already tightening on the trigger.

I particularly liked the bit about this not being a genteel debate in the groves of academe. Indeed. A war for survival it is and the debate had better start now instead of the magic moment when a company rushes their genetic supertest to market. I really thought that it was unlikely that a society would stoop to aborting male embryos so that a female with 75% less chance of developing autism could be selected, but I was wrong. Since it appears that your child is part of your status, just like your Ferrari, then I think it can be taken as read that any manifestation of autism is unacceptable and will be prevented if at all possible. Low functioning or high functioning doesn't enter into it.

Seriously folks, there’s lots and lots of moolah to be made on the back of not just fearful folks traumatised into abortion by worst case scenarios of autism, actually, make that fictional scenarios of autism, if the Autism Speaks video is anything to go by but on the back of society itself. Yep, the autism extermination programs of CAN, DAN, Autism Speaks and practically everybody else in the autism community are going to provide a unique experiment in social Darwinism. They’re going to, and we, the society, are going to bear the brunt of any major errors in thinking that this extermination program has.

Like first up – eugenics doesn’t work because selecting for a trait like autism with hopes of improving overall genetic fitness presupposes complete genetic knowledge of what controls the manifestation of autism (what everybody is now frantically looking for) and what happens when you eliminate those genetic properties from the gene pool (what nobody is looking for or even thinking about). It also rests on the gigantic assumption, which is almost certain to be categorically wrong that the genes for autism have no value for the human race – the message that CAN, DAN, Autism Speaks et al are busily promoting right left and centre. Remember, autism is a tsunami of catastrophic proportions. Genes that are so persistent in the gene pool are there for a reason. Take a look at these two real life examples of what happens when traits are selected for without much of a clue what they’re there for, courtesy of the Greythumb blog.

Greythumb points to an article on poultry science, which outlines the group selection effects observed when trying to breed chickens for increased egg production in multiple-hen cage environments. What happened was not increased egg production, but mean chickens. He goes on to draw an appropriate parallel in a similar ‘experiment’ conducted by the Enron corporation human resource management department. Apparently in an effort to boost productivity, their stock market traders were put through repetitive performance appraisals and the lowest performing 10 – 15% were fired. Again, what happened was not increased productivity, everyone knows what happened to Enron, but a bunch of mean dishonest traders, only too willing to sell their own grandmothers for the sake of an improved bottom line.

We know practically nothing about the genetics of autism and even less about autism itself. Yet there are loads of experts ready and willing to jump on a prenatal test as soon as it becomes available. We also know through history, quite apart from the horrors of Nazism, that researchers with vested interests are only too willing to lie about their findings in pursuit of not just big bucks, but also fame. The notorious Jukes study should give this modern eugenics movement pause – but it won’t. I’m betting that it will take the actual results of excluding the myriad factors predisposing a significant risk for autism to jolt people into an awareness of what a lot of us know already – autism is just a different way of being. Without it or at least some trait of it, I’m guessing that the offspring may be perfectly amiable social beings with about enough cognitive prowess to rise to middle monkey rank in the pecking order, but no higher.

The ultimate question. Should CAN, DAN et al read more poultry science?


Blogger Low Flying Angel said...

I am pro choice. However the problem I have with prenatal testing for ASD's is where do you draw the line? Will it be intended for the people who are considered LFA or will HFA be included? Then will it head down a slippery slope to those people who may have some but not all the criteria for Autism/Asperger's?

6:05 PM  
Blogger Alyric said...

"Then will it head down a slippery slope to those people who may have some but not all the criteria for Autism/Asperger's?"

Joseph of the Autism Hub bloggers has a theory about that. If foetuses with a number of autistic genes are excluded, then over time (quite a lot of time, I would think) the preponderance of single autism predisposing alleles in the population would tend to increase the likelihood of having autistic children, not just those with a few traits. That's my understanding of it but I don't think I quite get it. Hey Joseph?

And yes, it's a slippery slope all right, but I don't think anyone's going to worry about high and low functioning - doesn't fit with the Ferrari image.

8:11 PM  

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