Mark Blaxill has written an extraordinary piece for the Age of Autism web site entitled Latest Autism Gene Studies Find...Not Very Much. If one ignores the unconvincing and completely unnecessary smears of Paul Offit and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, what remains is a mostly cogent, well-supported argument for why the two recent publications in the journal Nature (Common genetic variants on 5p14.1 associate with autism spectrum disorders (Wang, et al., 2009) and Autism genome-wide copy number variation reveals ubiquitin and neuronal genes (Glessner, et al., 2009)) should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Mr. Blaxill's examples are on point, are well-documented, and through them he manages to debunk nearly all the hoopla surrounding the Nature articles and to place these articles in a more critical and useful light. He accomplishes all this by applying just some simple common sense.
Where in the hell did Mr. Blaxill acquire any common sense? This is the same man who most assuredly informs us that autism is caused by vaccines and other environmental toxins, and will answer our skepticism by calling us liars, morons and shills. If we hold our ground, and insist upon some tangible corroboration, he will trot out unpublished study after unpublished study, each one more fantastical than the previous, each one not a worthy enough companion for any genetics-based stretch of credulity that might be found on the pages of Nature. The same man who rightly points out that when one genetic study implicates 16p11.2 as the likely risk locus for autism, and the next study implicates 5p14.1 as the likely risk locus for autism, and the next study implicates fill-in-the-blank as the likely risk locus for autism, then perhaps all this talk about genetic risk loci for autism is not quite as promising as it first appears—this is the very same man who one day claims it is thimerosal that definitively causes autism, the next day claims it is the measles virus that definitively causes autism, the next day claims it must be aluminum that definitively causes autism...the common illogical thread apparently lost on him. Extraordinary.
If Mr. Blaxill really wishes to engage in some common sense thinking, might I suggest he begin by examining the connection linking the autism genetic studies he so thoroughly excoriates, and the autism-vaccine hypothesis he most assuredly espouses. Each approach begins with the assumption that autism is a dreadful disease, a terrible disorder, something in need of being cured, destroyed, eradicated. If Mr. Blaxill really wants to discover where all the autism woo begins—and I mean all the woo—there can be found a common starting point.