Posts Tagged ‘Autism’

A Keynesian Theory of Mind

This is an interesting article but yet I have to disagree with at least part of the premise--that impairment of the "theory of mind" is very specific/sensitive measure for Autism. I also have serious doubts about Asperger’s being on a continuum with Classical Autism — I think these two conditions are quite distinct.  I haven’t reviewed the literature in a long time, so please let me know if you know studies disproving my admittedly subjective opinion. – Ilene 

A Keynesian Theory of Mind

Courtesy of Tim at The Psy-Fi Blog

The Mental Cell of Autism

Autism is one the crueller tricks that nature plays on human beings, leaving sufferers isolated, incapable of making social connections and effectively trapped within their own heads. Although the causes aren’t fully understood some of the consequences are, and chief among these is the inability of sufferers to take on the perspective of others. This failure to develop a so-called theory of mind means they simply can’t understand the needs and motivations of other people.

According to John Maynard Keynes a proper theory of mind is just what an investor needs to keep one step ahead of the crowd, although others feel that Keynes’ approach to investing is tantamount to chasing returns all the way to poverty. It raises the question, though, as to how much a person’s genetic makeup determines the type of investor they are. Are effective value investors really just socially inept wallflowers or simply extremely focused individuals?

A Theory of Mind

It’s become clear that autism isn’t a straightforward condition. Although extreme autism is utterly disabling and sufferers can’t live a normal life or even look after themselves there is a spectrum along which we’re all spread out. Improved diagnosis methods have shown that many people have mild forms of the problem, usually referenced as Asperger’s syndrome. Such people prefer to be solitary and are generally fairly rubbish socially. [I would say "different," without hints of negativity. - Ilene]

To explain this the concept of “theory of mind” has been developed by Simon Baron-Cohen who describes it as:

“… being able to infer the full range of mental states (beliefs, desires, intentions, imaginations, emotions, etc) that cause action. In brief, having a theory of mind is to be able to reflect on the contents of one’s own and other’s minds”.

In short, it’s the ability to…
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EPA Study: Autism Boom Began in 1988, Environmental Factors Are Assumed

EPA Study: Autism Boom Began in 1988, Environmental Factors Are Assumed

Courtesy of David Kirby at The Huffington Post 

If it seems like most of the people you know with autism are 22 or younger, that’s because most people diagnosed with autism were born after 1987. A recent US EPA study has found a distinct "changepoint" year – or spike – in autism in California and elsewhere and concludes that it would be "prudent to assume that at least some portion of this increase is real and results from environmental factors."

"In the Danish, California, and worldwide data sets, we found that an increase in autism disorder cumulative incidence began about (the birth cohort years) 1988-1989," wrote the authors Michael E. Mc Donald and John F. Paul, of the EPA’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory.

"Although the debate about the nature of increasing autism continues," they added, "the potential for this increase to be real and involve exogenous (external) environmental stressors exists."

But it was the distinct timing in the increase of autism – the birth of an epidemic, as many believe – that was most notable, and which "may help in screening for potential candidate environmental stressors."

"The calculated year was determined to be significant," the EPA scientists said. The rate of increase before 1988 "was significantly different" than the rate after that year (the "postchangepoint," in epidemiology parlance). In California, the rate spiked from 5.7-per-10,000 before the changepoint, to 20.8-per 10,000 in its wake, and the worldwide dataset showed a similar jump (from 6.0 to 24.2). In Denmark, the rise was even more dramatic, though total incidence was only a fraction of that in the US: from 0.6 to 6.6.

(A study in Japan from 1988-1996 showed continuously increasing autism rates, but no calculable changepoint year – please see the full report for a discussion on study limitations).

So why would rates more than triple in California kids born before and after 1988? Is…
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The Autism – Environment Link

The Autism – Environment Link

Courtesy of STEVEN HIGGS writing at Autism and the Indiana Environment Blog‘ and CounterPunch

One of the nation’s leading voices on children’s environmental health has called for focused and expanded research into the cause-effect relation between industrial chemicals and autism.

"Long and tragic experience that began with studies of lead and methylmercury has documented that toxic chemicals can damage the developing human brain to produce a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders," Dr. Philip Landrigan from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine wrote in a Jan. 16, 2010, article in the medical journal Current Opinion in Pediatrics.

Today’s children, he noted, "are at risk of exposure to 3,000 synthetic chemicals produced in quantities of more than 1 million pounds per year, termed high-production-volume (HPV) chemicals. HPV chemicals are found in a wide array of consumer goods, cosmetics, medications, motor fuels and building materials."

Eight of those 3,000 have been "implicated" in the development of "neurodevelopmental disabilities," Landrigan wrote. And a recent review of the world’s literature identified roughly 200 industrial chemicals that have been documented to be neurotoxic in adult humans.

"These are primarily industrial chemicals — metals, solvents and pesticides — and nearly half are HPV materials," Landrigan wrote in the paper titled What causes autism? Exploring the environmental contribution. "This search also produced a second list of approximately 1,000 chemicals that have not been examined in humans but that are neurotoxic in experimental models."

The short list of eight identified as human developmental neurotoxicants — lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic, manganese, organophosphate insecticides, DDT and ethyl alcohol — "may be only the currently visible tip of a potentially much larger problem," he wrote.


Landrigan is the long-time head of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai in New York City. The Harvard-educated pediatrician and professor specializes in the study of industrial toxins and their impacts on human health. His work in the field dates to the 1970s.…
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Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs

Interesting list on medical breakthoughs – with my comments in red. – Ilene

TIME’s Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs

By Alice Park at TIME

stem cell created mouse - TIME And the top ten are:

  1. New Mammography Guidelines
  2. AIDS Vaccine
  3. Funding Ban Lifted on Stem-Cell Research
  4. H1N1 Vaccine
  5. Stem-Cell-Created Mice
  6. Prostate-Cancer Screening
  7. New Research on Autism
  8. New Drug for Osteoporosis
  9. New Alzheimer’s Genes
  10. Brown Fat in Adults 

New Mammography Guidelines

It usually takes a Washington scandal to put the discussion of women’s breasts on political agendas, but in November it was a routine update of breast-cancer-screening guidelines by a government panel of medical advisers that stirred up a furor. Based on new calculations weighing the risks and benefits of routine screening, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s new recommendations advised women to begin routine mammograms at age 50 instead of 40 and to switch from yearly to biennial screenings; it also advised women to eliminate breast self-exams altogether… 

That might be a bit of a relief to those of us who have been less than perfect in following the previous requirements, these new ones may be easier and less guilt-generating.  And we all know stress is unhealthy.  

AIDS Vaccine

In a field that has seen more failure than success, experts received the news of an effective new AIDS vaccine with a fair share of skepticism…

31% effective – but that’s about as good as it gets so far.  

Funding Ban Lifted on Stem-Cell Research

It was eight years in coming — which felt like eons to some researchers — but on March 9, President Obama rescinded his predecessor’s Executive Order prohibiting the use of federal money to fund research on stem cells. A congressional law still prevents scientists from using government funds to create new lines of embryonic stem cells,..

The less politics is involved with science the better, maybe now we can move on? 

H1N1 Vaccine

…In many places around the country, there was not enough vaccine even to cover members of priority groups targeted by the government, including young children, pregnant women, health care workers, parents of infants younger than 6 months and those with underlying conditions such as asthma or diabetes. And yet according to the latest polls, 55% of Americans said they would not get the new vaccine — which was created and tested in record time after H1N1 first appeared last

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Why Genes Aren’t Destiny

Your genes may not be your destiny, but when your grandmother over-ate that one long summer, that was a killer… Fascinating article on epigenetics. – Ilene

Why Genes Aren’t Destiny

TIME photoBy John Cloud, courtesy of TIME

The remote, snow-swept expanses of northern Sweden are an unlikely place to begin a story about cutting-edge genetic science. The kingdom’s northernmost county, Norrbotten, is nearly free of human life; an average of just six people live in each square mile. And yet this tiny population can reveal a lot about how genes work in our everyday lives.

Norrbotten is so isolated that in the 19th century, if the harvest was bad, people starved. The starving years were all the crueler for their unpredictability. For instance, 1800, 1812, 1821, 1836 and 1856 were years of total crop failure and extreme suffering. But in 1801, 1822, 1828, 1844 and 1863, the land spilled forth such abundance that the same people who had gone hungry in previous winters were able to gorge themselves for months.

In the 1980s, Dr. Lars Olov Bygren, a preventive-health specialist who is now at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, began to wonder what long-term effects the feast and famine years might have had on children growing up in Norrbotten in the 19th century — and not just on them but on their kids and grandkids as well. So he drew a random sample of 99 individuals born in the Overkalix parish of Norrbotten in 1905 and used historical records to trace their parents and grandparents back to birth. By analyzing meticulous agricultural records, Bygren and two colleagues determined how much food had been available to the parents and grandparents when they were young.

Around the time he started collecting the data, Bygren had become fascinated with research showing that conditions in the womb could affect your health not only when you were a fetus but well into adulthood. In 1986, for example, the Lancet published the first of two groundbreaking papers showing that if a pregnant woman ate poorly, her child would be at significantly higher than average risk for cardiovascular disease as an adult. Bygren wondered whether that effect could start even before pregnancy: Could parents’ experiences early in their lives somehow change the traits they passed to their offspring?

It was a heretical idea. After all, we have had a long-standing deal with biology:…
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Autism: Kids put at risk

For anyone who knows children with autism, you might find this fascinating.


I’ve seen some of this first-hand in my own search of information on autism. Some of the various treatments are worrisome on several levels. (Others are just expensive.) The results from plentiful arrays of lab tests are questionable, but used to show "chemical imbalances," which then are said to require treatment. I would question whether the results are accurate, but even more to the point, whether there is any need to "treat" these questionable lab results. Assuming some of the measures are accurate, the studies haven’t been done to assess what the results mean. The information provided is correlational information, which is not cause and effect, and certainly does not translate further to prescribing safe, effective therapies — the gap is unbelievably enormous, but routinely crossed over with hope, and a long list of supplements to buy.

After questionable lab test results are used to give diagnoses and recommend untested, unproven treatment regimens, another cause for concern is that the "treatments" are similarly untested.  So for example, even if a biochemical measure of a chemical in the blood was accurate (a generous assumption), there have been no double blind studies to show that the particular measure is in fact a problem, let alone a reason to engage in the proposed "treatment." There are no credible studies to show the treatment is effective. It could actually be harmful. The "studies" cited seem to be long lists of case reports, correlations found by blood tests (with no proven meaning), coupled with semi-scientific, semi-logical theories. The semi-scientific aspect of the process gives parents a false sense of understanding what they’re being told, because it may make sense. They don’t have the background to know what they don’t and can’t know.

In medical science, a logical theory and a viable treatment option are not even close. Case reports and theories are NOT adequate scientific studies.  They can be wrong, twisted, manipulated, made-up, self-serving reports used to promote untested treatments by appealing to the parents’ hopes, preying on desperation, and promising to empower them to help their children. Sadly, this is how I would characterize many alternative biomedical treatments for autism at this time. – Ilene

Autism: Kids put at risk

By Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan, LA Times
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Vaccine War: Autism, Flu and Science

Vaccines: where does science end and profit motive begin? Maia Szalavitz argues, and I agree, that these are scientific questions and we need to conduct scientific research – not rely on preconceived views—to answer the questions. – Ilene

Vaccine War: Autism, Flu and Science

vaccines, autism, flu, mercuryBy Maia Szalavitz, Courtesy of TIME

Just in time for the national roll-out of the new H1N1 flu vaccine, Wired Magazine and the Atlantic have weighed in on the ongoing vaccine war: Wired has a profile of Paul Offit, a vaccine researcher and pediatrician who has consistently spoken out in favor of vaccination and pointed to the lack of evidence linking vaccines and autism; the Atlantic checks in with a piece questioning the science suggesting that flu vaccines and antiviral drugs prevent people from dying.

Both articles have elicited heated debate all over the Web: Amy Wallace, who wrote Wired’s piece, excerpted below, has received vitriolic criticism and attacks from vaccine opponents, setting records for page views.

Describing death threats and attacks on Offit, Wallace writes:

So what has this award-winning 58-year-old scientist done to elicit such venom? He boldly states — in speeches, in journal articles, and in his 2008 book Autism’s False Prophets — that vaccines do not cause autism or autoimmune disease or any of the other chronic conditions that have been blamed on them. He supports this assertion with meticulous evidence. And he calls to account those who promote bogus treatments for autism — treatments that he says not only don’t work but often cause harm.

While the Wired article has been attacked by advocates, the Atlantic’s article has been slammed by several blogs written by scientists. The authors, Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer, reply to their critics here (scroll down). The scientists take issue with their argument that the scientific evidence does not support the use of the flu vaccine and antiviral medications like Tamiflu, detailed below

Brownlee and Lenzer ask:

… what if everything we think we know about fighting influenza is wrong? What if flu vaccines do not protect people from dying—particularly the elderly, who account for 90 percent of deaths from seasonal flu? And what if the expensive antiviral drugs that the government has stockpiled over the past few years also have little, if any, power to reduce

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New Study: Hepatitis B Vaccine Triples the Risk of Autism in Infant Boys

Weekend off-topic reading.  I found this fascinating. - Ilene  

New Study: Hepatitis B Vaccine Triples the Risk of Autism in Infant Boys

Courtesy of David Kirby writing at the Huffington Post

"The science is largely complete. Ten epidemiological studies have shown MMR vaccine doesn’t cause autism; six have shown thimerosal doesn’t cause autism."-- Dr. Paul Offit, "Autism’s False Prophets"

"16 studies have shown no causal association between vaccines and autism, and these studies carry weight in the scientific industry."-- Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC Today Show Medical Editor

Conventional wisdom holds that the autism-vaccine question has been "asked and answered," and that at least 16 large, well-constructed epidemiological studies have thoroughly addressed and debunked any hypothesis that childhood vaccination is in any way associated with an increased risk for autism spectrum disorders.

But there are several critical flaws in such an oversimplified generalization, and they are rarely given close examination by public health experts or members of the media.

To begin with, it is unscientific and perilously misleading for anyone to assert that "vaccines and autism" have been studied and that no link has been found. That’s because the 16 or so studies constantly cited by critics of the hypothesis have examined just one vaccine and one vaccine ingredient.

And, the population studies themselves have had critical design flaws and limitations.

The current US childhood immunization schedule calls for 28 injections with 11 different vaccines against 15 different diseases by two years of age. Of those 11 vaccines, only the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) shot has been studied in association with autism, (although a CDC study of an MMR-plus-chickenpox vaccine did show that the risk for febrile seizures in infants was doubled.) Meanwhile, those 11 vaccines contain scores of ingredients, only one of which, thimerosal, has ever been tested in association with autism.

It is illogical to exonerate all vaccines, all vaccine ingredients, and the total US vaccine program as a whole, based solely on a handful of epidemiological studies of just one vaccine and one vaccine ingredient. It is akin to claiming that every form of animal protein is beneficial to people, when all you have studied is fish.

Now, a new study has shown that giving Hepatitis B vaccine to newborn baby boys may triple the risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder.

An abstract of the study was published in the September, 2009…
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Phil's Favorites

Will #deletefacebook become a thing?


Will #deletefacebook become a thing?

Courtesy of 

It’s always hard to tell whether or not people will follow through with these sorts of memes…

This is the cover of the new Bloomberg Business magazine:

And here is the accompanying story from Paul Ford.

This tweet is getting a lo...

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Zero Hedge

What Happens Next In The Global Trade War: A Q&A With Goldman Sachs

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Today, according to Politico, the White House will unveil its plan to hit China with tariffs and other trade restrictions, one day ahead of schedule as President Trump is slated to outline the results of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer's investigation into allegations that China violates U.S. intellectual property rights by forcing American companies to transfer valuable technology to Beijing.

Lighthizer’s office has determined that the US loses at least $30BN a year to China’s alleged forced technology transfers, and the administration is weighing a package of tariffs equivalent to that amount of Chinese imports; according to Reuters it could be as high ...

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Insider Scoop

20 Stocks Moving In Wednesday's Pre-Market Session

Courtesy of Benzinga.


  • Proteostasis Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: PTI) shares rose 12.4 percent to $5.80 in pre-market trading after the company reported withdrawal of equity offering due to market conditions.
  • China Auto Logistics Inc. (NASDAQ: CALI) shares rose 10.8 percent to $4.40 in pre-market trading after surging 15.41 percent on Tuesday.
  • Fennec Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: FENC) rose 8.9 percent to $10.38 in pre-market trading a... more from Insider

Digital Currencies

Why accountants of the future will need to speak blockchain and cryptocurrency if they want your money


Why accountants of the future will need to speak blockchain and cryptocurrency if they want your money


Courtesy of Anwar Halari, The Open University

If you haven’t already heard of Bitcoin, you either haven’t been paying attention or you’re a time traveller who just touched down in 2018. Because by now, most of us will have heard of Bitcoin and some of us have even jumped on the bandwagon, investing in cryptocurrencies.

But despite its popularity, many people still don’t understand the technology that underlines it: blockchain. In...

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Chart School

Bears Take Control

Courtesy of Declan.

More decisive action from bears today as markets lose support.  The S&P undercut the rising trendline and 20-day plus 50-day MAs in a move which looks like it could develop into a test of the February spike low and the 200-day MA again; support at 2,695 is looking critical here. Aggressive traders could look to buy at these levels but confidence in this holding would not be high.

The Dow also saw its 'bear flag' / consolidation triangle resolve to the downside. The two positives were the relatively light volume and the ...

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Peter Thiel: Need To Rethink Tariffs In Light Of Trade Deficit With China; SF Sucks, Bitcoin Rocks

By VW Staff. Originally published at ValueWalk.

PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel in a wide-ranging interview on President Trump’s trade tariffs, China’s economy, technology regulations and his outlook for bitcoin.


Check out our H2 hedge fund letters here.

Peter Thiel: Need To Rethink Tariffs In Light Of Trade Deficit With China

Peter Thiel On Leaving Silicon Valley For Los Angeles

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel argues Silicon Valley is is a ‘totalitarian place’ where people are not allowed to have dissenting views.


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Members' Corner

Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 Election: What you need to know (updated)


"If you want to fundamentally reshape society, you first have to break it." ~ Christopher Wylie

[Interview: Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' – video]

"You’ve probably heard by now that Cambridge Analytica, which is backed by the borderline-psychotic Mercer family and was formerly chaired by Steve Bannon, had a decisive role in manipulating voters on a one-by-one basis – using their own personal data to push them toward voting ...

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How your brain is wired to just say 'yes' to opioids

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


How your brain is wired to just say ‘yes’ to opioids

A Philadelphia man, who struggles with opioid addiction, in 2017. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Courtesy of Paul R. Sanberg, University of South Florida and Samantha Portis, University of South Florida


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Mapping The Market

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

Via Jean-Luc

How propagandist beat science – they did it for the tobacco industry and now it's in favor of the energy companies:

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

The original tobacco strategy involved several lines of attack. One of these was to fund research that supported the industry and then publish only the results that fit the required narrative. “For instance, in 1954 the TIRC distributed a pamphlet entitled ‘A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy’ to nearly 200,000 doctors, journalists, and policy-makers, in which they emphasized favorable research and questioned results supporting the contrary view,” say Weatherall and co, who call this approach biased production.

A second approach promoted independent research that happened to support ...

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Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...

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NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!


We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

Join our webinar, free, it's open to all. 

Just click here at 1 pm est and join in!

[For more information on NewsWare, click here. For a list of prices: NewsWar...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Brazil; Waterfall in prices starting? Impact U.S.?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the Brazil ETF (EWZ) over the last decade. The rally over the past year has it facing a critical level, from a Power of the Pattern perspective.


EWZ is facing dual resistance at (1), while in a 9-year down trend of lower highs and lower lows. The counter trend rally over the past 17-months has it testing key falling resistance. Did the counter trend reflation rally just end at dual resistance???

If EWZ b...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.

To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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