Autism and Older Fathers — Garbage on page 1

The story of the day is this study which is touted as showing that being an older father causes autism and schizophrenia; the news stories suggest men ought to store their sperm for later artificial insemination rather than having kids the usual way when older.

The details reveal that the researchers found
(1) a correlation between paternal age and extra mutations in the child
(2) a correlation between paternal age and autism or schizophrenia in the child

but no evidence is given that the excess mutations are causing the autism, although certain slippery sentences insinuate that; no factor analysis shows that excess mutations have independent explanatory power for the autism frequency after the older-father effect is accounted for.

Yet another case of correlation being claimed to be causation.

There is an obvious alternative explanation: men with social deficits, who are known to be more likely to have autistic children, also marry later than average.

Am I the only one who noticed this?

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About Polymath

Discoverable with effort
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One Response to Autism and Older Fathers — Garbage on page 1

  1. Robert says:

    You could be. Nice catch! Especially as there’s both the resource accumulation required for fitness signalling being slowed by social function deficit, and the need to consciously overcome social function deficit to attact the mate.

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