Friday, September 08, 2006

Morons, largely harmless, for the ridiculing of

Sir – My husband fathered our first son at 47, when I was 32, a second son at 49 and a daughter at 52. All were healthy babies who have now grown up and produced eight babies between them.

I question the statistics of older fathers causing autism.

Valerie Geller, Woodford Green, Essex
Research Results, upon which our valiant Valerie sees fit to trouble the Letter's Editor, also in the Torygraph :
They found that if the father was aged 15 to 29 when a child was born, the risk of autism was six in every 10,000 children. If they were aged 30 to 39, then nine in 10,000 children suffered autism, going up to 32 in 10,000 for fathers aged 40 to 49.
That's 32 children in every 10,000. So your sample of exactly 3 children is, errmmm..., statistically rather unlikely to be relevant.
P-G Prescription: A custard pie should suffice. This would appear to be your common-or-garden, largely harmless moron.


dearieme said...

Have a heart - she's an Essex girl.

ed thomas said...

Of course it is just possible that autism is a psychosomatic illness and that older men tend to be more distant from their children, leading to a more objectified relationship between them, and the inability to relate emotionally to others for which autism is renowned.

Thus the reseachers, by focussing on some supposed physiological factors induced by the aging process- presumably something floating around or not in sperm-, might be rather aggravatingly barking up the wrong tree altogether. I'd wonder who the real fools are in this instance, sooner than ridicule the lady's emotional reaction.

james higham said...

What's it matter anyway? I'm either autistic or an anti-social curmudgeon. The jury's still out on it.

[PG, as I scrolled down, I spied a particularly virulent SEVEN LETTER comment blocker. Desist forthwith with this madness or I'll come here and split infinitives at you. I'm now entering the detested letters with a grim expresssion.]

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...


Oooh - the diversity Police will be on to you for that one...


A warm welcome to Infinitives Unsplit. A sound hypothesis, give or take the fact that neither I nor the researchers make any comment on the direction of causation.

Either way, the cussedness or otherwise of the researchers does not in any detract from the marked absence of any critical faculties on the part of our letter writer.


Who says the two are mutually exclusive?


gjuctxq: The random and fruitless scratching action made by chickens in a vain attempt to uncover sustenance in a drought ridden Mexican town.

Andy Cooke said...

Dear God, don't they teach statistics anymore?

If she had an elementary knowledge of it, she could have added the clause: "As there is only a 99.04% chance of this happening if your statistics are right", before her "I question ..." clause at the end.

Then she may have seen how colossally stupid was her comment and chucked it into the bin rather than send it.