×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Genetic Testing For Geekiness?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the clone-armies-rule dept.

861

Paul Johnson writes "MSNBC is carrying an article wondering about how to handle a possible future genetic test for autism. Raising a severely autistic child is a heartbreaking grind, and many people (and legal systems) consider termination to be a reasonable choice where the fetus carries other genetic disorders such as Downs Syndrome. But this might also prevent the birth of future geniuses too. The article flippantly uses Bill Gates as an example (Gates is widely thought to have Asperger's syndrome), although Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison are also thought to have been similarly "different". And there is some reason to believe that "geekiness" in general is actually the place where autism shades into 'normal'."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

861 comments

ah, Asperger's syndrome (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687699)

The malady every geek wants to have.

I'm different! Really!

You are a special snowflake, just like the rest of us.

best ever headline on msnbc ! (4, Funny)

maharg (182366) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687701)

Would you have allowed Bill Gates to be born?
Advances in prenatal genetic testing pose tough questions

no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687706)

no gate me happy

What about gay children? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687718)

No doubt this will be modded down, but on a similar note when the genetic test for homosexuality comes out, who wants to bet the current foes of private health care decisions will be first in line to abort their fetuses? They would have aborted Alan Turing and let the Germans win.

Re:What about gay children? (2, Insightful)

77Punker (673758) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687774)

People already kill babies because they're inconvenient; why not kill them because they're even less convenient?

Re:What about gay children? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687842)

That depends you are presupposing that being Gay is genetic and their has to date been no proof of that. I would mod you down but not because you mentioned a heated topic but because you are wrong and trying to work in a political slam at the same time.

Re:What about gay children? (1)

Epistax (544591) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687944)

Uhh you have a genetic predisposition to be gay? Isn't that like being genetically predisposed to enjoy, say, oranges over raspberries, or a genetic condition where you simply like the color aqua best? I don't think that's something you're born with.

Me? I was genetically programmed to prefer Duracell over Energizer.

Re:What about gay children? (0, Flamebait)

MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687961)

One of my favorite things to ask people:

Would you rather have a child who is:

A son, who is flamboyantly, out of the closet, limpwristed, bigger than life homosexual...

Or

A daughter, who is such a slutwhore that she puts the girls in Times square to shame.

I pick daughter.

The same is true for most inventors and scientists (5, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687724)

Parents will tend to choose the jocks with five year lifetime careers who contribute nothing to humanity instead, dooming us to a world of know-nothings and really really boring parties - I've been at a bunch of them, and let me tell you, they'll bore the paints off you ...

Genetic testing will probably cause more harm than good - we need to have it screened for medical uses only, such things as fatal diseases, not What's Hot This Week ...

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (1)

ultramk (470198) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687764)

I've been at a bunch of them, and let me tell you, they'll bore the paints off you ...

In my experience, any party that ends up with me not wearing pants is generally a good one.

m-

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687915)

we need to have it screened for medical uses only...

A result of technology is that people will do something simply because they can. It unleashes the Promethean instinct in us.

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (1)

Lingur (881943) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687768)

Exactly what I was thinking. Limit the screening to severly bad dieases and only things that would limit the lifespan or quality of life for the unborn person. What was that movie that just took DNA from the fetus and then they knew how old you would be and what you would die of, etc. ?

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687779)

Ah, a minority person who doesn't have any social skills. Have you thought that rather than working on your superior attitude that perhaps it is you with the problem and that it is you who was boring everybody else?

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (2, Interesting)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687801)

My father was a ..yes.. a for real..."Rocket Scientist" working for the Air Force back in the 60s. Back then he said the Officer's Club hated to see him and his work buddies coming and loved the pilots. Why? Because the pilots order Beer by the tanker load. Scientists order one beer and used up all the napkins writing down equations. To any jock, a group of nerds talking must be super boring, but then, that is not a measure of the conversation but rather of the jock mental faculties.
-In a related note to the parent post: How many Geeks are dyslexic?

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687937)

How many Geeks are dyslexic?

If we use Slashdot as an example, all of them. Including the ones who arn't Geeks.

Sounds like somebodys got a case of the Tuesdays (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687838)

Please. Just because you got beatup in highschool and could never get a date, doesn't mean you need to be bitter. I'd imagine most parents will take any kid that doesn't have major defects. Some will want jocks, some may even want band nerds.

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687852)

they'll bore the paints off you

Look, if I spill a bucket o' latex semi-gloss on myself, I want someone who can bore the paints off me.

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687930)

Yeah, but why use a drill when a water-soaked rag will do nicely?

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (1)

SeventyBang (858415) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687864)



Are there any [fatal] diseases in which the same gene in other people are not susceptible to that disease?

Those (African Americans) who have the sickle cell gene do not get malaria. And those of us who aren't African American are not prone to sickle cell but are more than capable of dying from malaria.

I think there are similar situations for CF (Cystic Fibrosis) as well as others I can't remember...

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (4, Insightful)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687866)

Genetic testing will probably cause more harm than good

I agree.

Next, genetic testing before an insurance company will sell you health insurance.

Science is not perfect, it never was. I remember 20 years ago the HUGE butter scare. Scientific test after test came out saying butter caused heart attacks, and to switch to margerin. A few years ago, studies came out saying that margerin is unhealthy, and butter is better? If people listen to science or their studies, they will be eatting eggs one year, avoiding them like the plauge the next year, and then drinking them raw the next.

And like the above example, it was the margerin industry that funded those early scientific studies. They wanted to increase their sales, so they labled butter unhealthy.

Now extend this one step further. Someone HATES jews, there are tons of people out there who are racist. They decide that certian genes, only found in the jewish population, lead to certain disorders. They then use this as an excuse for terminating these pregnecies.

Next... "We think your baby has an abnormally high chance for sickle cell anemia, we reccomend termenating your pregnancy".

Meanwhile... "Yes Mr. Forbes, we agree, if we lighten the shade of your babys hair, it will bring out his eyes, and we'll make sure to add the genes which increase muscle mass, and the genes that increase IQ".

Now, which one will be the more ethical and better human being? That is something science is incapable of prediciting.

Re:The same is true for most inventors and scienti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687955)

Wow, maybe if you knew how to spell "margarine", I'd be inclined to read what you have to say.

"Now extend this one step further. Someone HATES jews, there are tons of people out there who are racist. They decide that certian genes, only found in the jewish population, lead to certain disorders. They then use this as an excuse for terminating these pregnecies."

Only in a state where it's OK to meddle in other people's affair, and since that's the way the US is heading, maybe... But why would a racist have a black Jewish baby?

Bill Gates Aborted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687731)

Queue dozens of comments on the importance of aborting future Gates...and disappointment it hadn't been around earlier.

Let the State decide (5, Funny)

Pope Benedict XVI (881674) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687737)

Many people believe that "God" alone should determine how many and what sort of babies we have, but I really think that is stupid. Serious matters like this should be decided by the State.

I Agree (1)

linkinp4rk410 (838319) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687742)

Just because someone is different doesn't mean they don't deserve an equal chance. And as the article points out, many genius have had mental conditions.

I'm...autistic? (2, Funny)

BHAX (865190) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687744)

It's a 3.4 Ghz. Mobility Radeon 9800. GB of DDR400. Only 8,985 production models. Dad let's me surf porn in the basement. But not on Monday, definitely not on Monday.

Re:I'm...autistic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687899)

You've got ADD it seems. You should have paid attention when you were diagnoised... oh.

This is wrong (5, Insightful)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687747)

Raising a severely autistic child is a heartbreaking grind, and many people (and legal systems) consider termination to be a reasonable choice

So, science is so good now that we can predict with 100% accuracy if someone will be able to contribute OR OR OR live a happy life?

I know so many people with IQ's over 110, well educated, well employed, good citizens who are miserable. I also know one girl who is in a wheel chair, she has some genetic disorder, and she lights up a room with her smiles and laughs.

Re:This is wrong (3, Insightful)

Jooly Rodney (100912) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687802)

It doesn't have everything to do with whether or not the autistic person in question is going to lead a "happy" life or not, it also has to do with the time, effort, and $$$ spent on said person by the people who become legally responsible for him or her upon birth.

Re:This is wrong (-1, Flamebait)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687958)

It doesn't have everything to do with whether or not the autistic person in question is going to lead a "happy" life or not, it also has to do with the time, effort, and $$$ spent on said person by the people who become legally responsible for him or her upon birth.

This is why I hope the terrorists bring down the USA. The USA is so flawed, where everything is measured in money, not human happiness.

You are a peice of human garbage. You should have been terminated.

Re:This is wrong (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687812)

I know so many people with IQ's over 110

probably not as many as you think, or as many as they think.

As someone who sas scored over 160 on IQ tests many times, I can honestly say IQ is crap.
Motivation is the key to innovation and success.

I find it interesting that just because she is in a wheel chair you assume her IQ is less.

Re:This is wrong (5, Insightful)

01000011011101000111 (868998) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687908)

That's not surprising. The higher the IQ, the more of the crappyness of the world you actually *understand*. And the more you understand, the more miserable it makes you.

If intelligence is a defect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687748)

Then you can call me a retard any day.

Where? (4, Insightful)

Malc (1751) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687750)

"Raising a severely autistic child is a heartbreaking grind, and many people (and legal systems) consider termination to be a reasonable choice where the fetus carries other genetic disorders such as Downs Syndrome."

The parents I've meet with Downs and autistc children have commented on how rewarding it is. "Hearbreaking grind" is very judgemental and not necessarily true (although for some it might be).

Anyway, what legal systems consider termination to be a reasonable choice? Do they actually spell out different reasons for abortion?

Re:Where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687859)

I *am* a parent of an autistic child, and yes, at times it is a heartbreaking grind, not because of him, but because of all the bureaucratic hassles we go through to get him the help he needs.

Yes, he's got a lot of bumpy roads ahead of him, and we're going to get dragged over those bumps with him, but he'll be OK and so will we. I've never raised an NT kid, so I couldn't tell you whether our situation is any harder than anyone else's.

Re:Where? (5, Funny)

damsa (840364) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687865)

You can abort a fetus for any reason. Most popular reason is the prom dress won't fit right.

Re:Where? (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687940)

>The parents I've meet with Downs and autistc children have commented on how rewarding it is.

I thought I'd read that parents of autistic kids tend to never have children again?

Realtion to INTJ (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687752)

Interesting, that those mentioned (Gates, Einstein, Newton), are also classic INTJ personalities...

http://www.typelogic.com/intj.html [typelogic.com]

I am too, btw, so I can count myself among some good company... but then am I likely to have Asperger's as well? ;)

Re:Realtion to INTJ (1)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687840)

I too, am INTJ. I've also read that Asperger's is a clinical diagnosis encompassing no single factor or group of factors. how does one gauge?

weakest supporting link, ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687922)

Please tell me that you didn't write that page of self-congratulatory garbage on the supplied link. I stopped reading it before it tried to get me to buy something, but for the half page that I was gullible enough to continue, many grey cells died of disgust.

The Problems.. (2, Interesting)

sammykrupa (828537) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687753)

It is thought that Einstein had ADD. What would have happened if we gave him drugs?

Einstein: Leave me alone, i'm depressed!

Re:The Problems.. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687844)

He would have been able to put it all together in one nice formula?

Who knows what would have happened, but shying away from druges just becasue Einstein didn't take them is fool hardy.

Not I am not saying you shuld take drugs willy nilly, and without research, I am saying the Einstein anolgy is crap.

bill gates, genius? (0, Flamebait)

rayde (738949) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687754)

i didn't realize it was popularly held that Bill Gates was such a genius... i mean, a smart businessman, no doubt, but i'm not convinced he's some kinda rocket scientist. From TFA:

While I certainly do not know if Gates has Asperger's, his difficulties in social settings are nearly as legendary as his genius, so it's possible.

legendary genius?

Re:bill gates, genius? (1)

kakos (610660) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687811)

He's more intelligent than most people on /., and that is saying quite a bit. He is a brilliant strategist and businessman. You don't get to be the richest man in the world with the world's largest and most powerful software manufacturer by being average.

Re:bill gates, genius? (1)

cpn2000 (660758) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687883)

Dont confuse business acumen with intelligence. What the parent is saying is that Bill Gates may be a shrewd and remarkably successful businessman, but that does not mean he is a genius. They're 2 very different things.

Re:bill gates, genius? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687926)

He's more intelligent than most people on /., and that is saying quite a bit. He is a brilliant strategist and businessman.

But we are not businessmen, we write software! You can't compare Gates with us, he never wrote anything useful in his own life...

Re:bill gates, genius? (1)

mondoterrifico (317567) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687886)

Seems to be a north american thing where having money is tied to being smart.
I once had a conversation with someone who claimed John Travolta was super intelligent.
I asked why. The response was, that he was rich and famous and could fly his own plane.
The mind boggles.

Re:bill gates, genius? (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687911)

Perfect SAT scores, and high programming productivity in the early days. Sure, some of the employees were probably higher in raw intelligence, but I've never heard even the unhappiest ex-employees call Bill Gates stupid.

Re:bill gates, genius? (2, Funny)

arodland (127775) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687956)

Yes, it's a legend. As in, "any wonderful story coming down from the past, but not verifiable by historical record; a myth; a fable."

That said, it is a "popularly held" belief, yeah.

Please tell me ... (1)

kkovach (267551) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687756)

... that the author of this article is not comparing Newton, Einstein, and Edison to Bill Gates. :-/

- Kevin

Over the Undermen (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687763)

Stop their being born? If the "normals" can't handle us, just send us to boarding school [marveldirectory.com]. Why waste our time thinking down to their level, anyway?

Asperger's Syndrome? (1)

SeventyBang (858415) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687766)



Several scientific papers have pointed out one of the highest collective regions for Asperger's syndrome (in the US) is a certain place in San Francisco....

coincidence?

Another Scifi meets Reality (0, Offtopic)

caldroun (52920) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687769)

I can see you have a higher Midi-Chlorian count than Master Yoda, and Master Gates.

Social awkwardness != genius (5, Insightful)

the_rev_matt (239420) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687770)

What drives me crazy is all the programmers I've known who make the connection "I'm socially awkward and like computers, so I am a misunderstood genius and I'm better than everybody!"

And this goes hand in hand with every kid who can stack blocks by the age of 3 being 'gifted'. Of course, there's a whole industry dedicated to 'helping' (read: profiting off of) parents who believe their child is gifted.

bill gates' genes (1)

flacco (324089) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687775)

gates has only a single gene in his entire body that i envy - the one that gave him THIS [gizmodo.com]. O_o

Hey. (2, Funny)

captnitro (160231) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687781)

tending his private logs of baseball statistics

That is perfectly normal for a four year old, so back off!

/gonna get my gumdrops yet, I tell you

in soviet russia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687783)

Autistic embryos Screen you!

forth reich (1)

super_ogg (620337) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687784)

Screw blond hair and blue eyes, the geeks shall lead the concentration camps. Start reproducing.
ogg

Not only Gates (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687793)

IIRC, we had here on /. an article about Bram Cohen [slashdot.org] (bittorrent author) having Asperger's syndrome.

Guess the Asperger has a light and a dark side, too...

Re:Not only Gates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687927)

Ah yes, but which is light and which is dark depends upon who you ask...

Reductio Ad Gatesum (1)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687808)

Asking the question in terms of "Gates, alive or dead?" in this forum, is engaging in a variant of Reductio Ad Hitlerum [reason.com].

Clearly most of us would be happy if he didn't exist, right?

Gates eats food. I guess food is bad. He lives in a house. I guess houses (at least, houses that look like giant crappy convention center/shopping malls) are bad too.

Using Gates as the lead-in to an article is likely to lead to a flamefest.

Don't know about Einstein (2, Insightful)

woah (781250) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687813)

Newton was clearly autistic (judging by historical accounts) and so was Edison. I'm not sure about Einstein.

He didn't show any typical traits such as repetetive behaviour or social oddities. He was a loner, but that doesn't necessarily make him autistic.

Re:Don't know about Einstein (3, Funny)

damsa (840364) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687945)

Einstein couldn't talk until he was five, and also he married his cousin. I rest my case.

Possible autism gene? (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687815)

My understanding is that autism is caused by a wide variety [sunderland.ac.uk] of factors. It's unlikely a single gene will be discovered that causes it. Even then, there's a good chance that a trigger of some sort to cause it to occur (virus, environmental factor). Finally, even if a child becomes autistic, there's a range of autism from mild to severe.

Deciding whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is a complicated thing, made even more difficult when the best a genetic councilor can say that there's a chance that this gene may lead to problems, perhaps severe and perhaps not.

Still, I feel that giving more information to parents is a good thing, even if it causes a fair amount of worries in the long run.

When my wife was pregnant with our second child, her bloodwork suggested that there was a one in twenty chance that she had Down's Syndrome. Fortunately it turned out fine and we got a karyotype of her chromosomes as a souvenir.

Lacking Moral Compass (1)

under_score (65824) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687817)

I just don't think that as a society we have the moral maturity or sophistication to be even thinking about this sort of stuff. We have done a really poor job of doing ethical/moral analysis of past technologies, and I don't see any reason to think that we'll do a good job in the near future. That said, I don't think we should totally stop innovating and trying to come up with new stuff. I just think that we've got some pretty basic no-dispute moral problems (e.g. extreme poverty) that we should be worrying about... both as a society and as a scientific/technological community. People who have children who have autism obviously have a burden to bear in taking care of them... but wouldn't it be way more productive, and way more obviously moral to spend time addressing these huge social, environmental problems instead of (relatively) tiny little problems? I don't agree with everything in it, but a good book about some of this stuff is "In the Absence of the Sacred" by Jerry Mander. Check it out... and don't be afraid of moral questions.

Ignorance is bliss? (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687950)

There's always a catch whenever you're able to get more information about a possible big decision. Driving a car around is easy. Learning about all the environmental consequences of doing so makes getting behind the wheel a more difficult choice.

The catch is that people have to make decisions. They can choose not to have all the information, which makes things simpler but more likely to be the "wrong" decision.

I err on the side of giving as much information as possible to people, hoping that they'll take the time to think things through and make the best choice. Naive, probably, but that's just me.

Do we Really want normal ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687818)

Lets just look at the normal, average Joe/Jane, now lets think.. Do we want EVERYONE to be like them.. Really?

I'm all for cleaning up the gene pool a bit, it would be handy to for example help remove certain terrible horrible genetic traits, British teeth for example.. Well you know what I mean right?

Oh come on, give us some proof... (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687821)

Gates is widely thought to have Asperger's syndrome

Why? He doesn't seem that antisocial to me. He seems to be able to understand things outside the literal. He seems to be able to excel in more than one specific area (programming *and* business)...

He came from exceptionally intelligent and wealthy stock. Just because he was able to get into computers and ride the first "boom" means that he could only do so because of some syndrome?

Most people with AS are of *normal* intelligence but they have extrememly large vocabularies and excel in specific areas.

While I am certainly not a doctor of any sort I would prefer such comments at least quantified with some shred of evidence.

so sad (5, Insightful)

danheskett (178529) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687825)

consider termination to be a reasonable choice where the fetus carries other genetic disorders such as Downs Syndrome


That makes me very, very sad. My wife and I are expecting our first child, a girl, to be born in the next 4 weeks. There is a strong chance she will be born with Downs Syndrome.

Our doctors wanted to advise us about our "options". They wanted to run all kinds of tests, including amniocentesis and genetic testing, in order to be sure one way or another,so we could make an "informed" decision.

So, so sad. I just can't imagine anyone wanting to do such a thing - especially since we've seen her in full motion 3D video on two seperate occasions - smiling when we stroke her head, sucking her thumb, yawning when we wake her up after a nap - things that any baby would do.

My point of view -- not a political statement really. It's just heartbreaking. I fear for any culture that so highly values convenience, pride, and "perfectness" that it would cast aside those who we should be called to love and care for even more than the "perfect" little baby everyone hopes and prays for. And for the worst shame of all, doctors who repeatedly promote termination of even marginally defective babies and are constantly harping about options -alternatives! - to life.

I am under no illusions about how painful, difficult, and disappointing raising my daughter maybe if she turns out to have Downs, but believe me, I will love her and treat her as my daughter till I draw my last breath.

I really hope our culture doesn't continue to devolve into one that values only designer, perfect, genetically correct babies.

We opted not to have those tests (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687938)

I agree.

When we were expecting our first child we simply chose not to have those tests done.

So When Do I Hear About the Wackjobs... (1)

ultimabaka (864222) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687827)

...calling geekiness some kind of horrible disease? It'll be like those idiots who (still?) seem to believe that homosexuality is a disease. I already get beat up enough for being a geek. What happens when people start thinking it's a disease?

On the plus side, in my experience, most geeks tend to be fairly intelligent, (autism aside), and I wouldn't mind knowing ahead of time if my kid will grow up to be smarter than his dad.

Genetics and Autism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687830)

As the parent of an autistic child, I offer a big FUCK YOU to the assholes who continue to try to deflect responsibility for autism into the gene pool. I know the powers that be would like to pretend that Autism is all about genetics, but genetics does not explain the explosion of Autism recently. Attempting to backfill the history with cases of "autism" in our historical geniuses and Bill Gates is a sick attempt to deflect attention away from more likely causes, including mercury or lead poisoning from a wide variety of FDA certified safe sources (*ahem*), vaccination reactions (don't get me started on all the shit put into vaccines), or the insane chemical assault in our food supply. Or a combination of these factors. Or others.

It ain't genetics, guys. Aspergers maybe. Regular autism, however, most definitely is not.

what the hell is this? (1)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687831)

nazi germany? doesn't sound too far fetched that the next step would be only to allow blonde hair, blue eyed kids live

if you won't want the 'hearbreaking grind' raising an autistic child, don't have unprotected sex. really, it's that simple

geekiness is overrated (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687843)

social intelligence is far more important than iq, and doesn't get the press it deserves.

an average iq kid who has a high social intelligence will go on to make $40 million, and the high iq, low social intelligence asperger type we're talking about here will wind up working for him for $30K/ year.

if the point of this slashdot story is to bring attention to the preciousness of autism/ asperger's and its role in high iq people, then i respond with a big "so what".

genius doesn't matter if it can't be communicated.

a mediocre idea well-communicated is worth 10,000x more than a genius level idea that stays locked up in someone's skull.

so enough of the cult of asperger's. it's overrated. social intelligence is the real deal.

Voice from the past (1)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687849)

My cultural Anthro mentor, Dr. Jim Kelly used to say "You can measure how advanced a culture is by how it treats its deviants. Putting the Cheyenne a couple of millenia ahead of the good ole U S of A."
Mr. Spock: "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations."
No Diversity = No Adaptability = Extinction

Probably well deserved. Pain is the anvil on which life is forged. Accept it, or find an alternative.

so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687851)

There are currently no selection pressures impinging on the human population as a whole. War? Not nearly large scale enough to have a significant effect. Starvation? Not global enough to matter. Disease? Currently not a problem (HIV affects less than 5% of the global population, and is not really a significant evolutionary factor). So allowing people to have control over the genetic makeup of their children will unlikely affect the longevity of humans as a species. Should we allow it? I think only if it were to affect our potential longevity of a species; which it likely will not.

Disturbing? Yes. (1, Interesting)

Sloppyjoes7 (556803) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687861)

"many people (and legal systems) consider termination to be a reasonable choice where the fetus carries other genetic disorders such as Downs Syndrome.

Anyone else find it heartbreaking how "flippingly" people suggest murder as a way of dealing with the handicapped? If it's alright destroy them before birth, simply because we feel these people are a nuisance, how much value for life do we really have? And how much hate must one have for the mentally retarded before they'll decide to kill them?

Life is precious, and should be protected. How rewarding it is to help those in need, and care for those who need protection.

We'll be sending you the bills, asshole (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687910)

Being a bleeding heart hand wringer doesn't win you any points around here. The retarded should be used for medical testing.

Future whoevers (4, Insightful)

Council (514577) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687862)

Just want to note -- I have a lot of experience with autism and specifically Asperger's. And before it gets too involved, I want to mention this:

The argument "in doing this, you might stop the next genius from existing", whether applied to medication or abortion, is not simply the last word. It is something to take into consideration.

The parents who have to raise the child are the ones making these decisions. It's true, "he just might be the next Einstein", but it's much more likely that his parents will go through their lives not being able to speak to him, having him attack you for no reason, and not being able to see him ever live on his own.

Asperger's, a mild variety of autism, is a mixed bag. It breaks my heart to see my cousin's family torn apart by their son's inability to control himself, and he's relatively high-functioning. A test for autism would be a tremendous boon for parents facing the prospect of raising a child who will be forever locked away from them, and they from him. High-minded ideals about future genuises are not what they want to hear.

Summary: Serious autism is terrible. Only a small fraction of autistic children are able to lead productive lives. Borderline cases like [famous person here] are extremely high-functioning, if in the spectrum at all, and probably wouldn't fall under any test in the near future.

Re:Future whoevers (1)

Council (514577) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687923)

When I say "Only a small fraction of autistic children are able to lead productive lives" I was referring to the end of the spectrum down past Asperger's, low-functioning autism, which is what a test would most likely be aimed at.

Horrible Caplan Puff Piece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687870)

No science to associate autism with geekiness. And the absurd proposition that a few genes will sum up autism. Autism will be found the genes that code for the wide range of actions that sum up into intelligence. And if your argument is that there are shades of normal in autism (or at least aspergers) I bet your genetic test isn't going slice precise enough for parents.

Can you say "clueless"? (1)

InternationalCow (681980) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687893)

Because that's what you are if you think there's going to be a test for geekiness. While Asperger's syndrome is a circumscribed and very possibly monogenic entity, what we currently group under "autism spectrum" definitely is not. Geekiness, defined as possibly socially awkward or not interested in acquiring social skills because there are better things to do such as writing papers on General Relativity is not a single gene thing. It's polygenic and I seriously doubt whether, even if we find the genetic variations that go into building smart brains, there will ever be a test that determines whether someone will be smart. At most we'll be able to test for potential, and that's something else entirely. Oh, and Bill will not have Asperger syndrome. People with that disease are generally mentally retarded or have one hypertrophied talent (idiots savants). And Bill, for all his merits, is not retarded.

Gates a genius? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687901)

He bought DOS and seems to have stolen most of the best parts of Windows. The man didn't see the potential in the internet, was late to the game on search engines and music downloading. By what standard is he put in the class of these other great visionaries? His success is largely due to shady business practices, other people's work and a fair amount of luck. I personally hold the word genius to a higher standard.

Move Along... (1)

Archalien (197877) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687903)

Whatever. We can't deal with the current social issues, let alone this can of worms.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Would you have allowed Bill Gates to be born? (1)

xutopia (469129) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687904)

Einstein, Mozart, Ghandi would have been more appropriate to make me think twice.

Hi, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687913)

As someone that might generally be considered "geeky", I am slightly offended by the article's insinuation that this means I am autistic.

Just to say.

I probably would have been aborted (5, Insightful)

Vile Slime (638816) | more than 8 years ago | (#12687918)

I,

Am a decently successful human being, I run my own business, have held numerous significant jobs, have an advanced college degree.

But, I was born with a small level of Cerebral Palsy.

Just enough to make me limp and trip occasionally.

And other than constantly overhearing 4 year olds asking their parents why does that man walk that way in public I am just as "normal" as the next guy. Ok, normal might be too nice:-) But I'm trying.

When I entered pre-school I was automatically placed in the "special education" (that's what it was called then) class. Not one question was asked of my parents as to my cognitive abilities, etc. My Dad was livid to say the least.

But, what if I had been diagnosed in the womb with my CP would I even exist? Would a doctor have "convinced" my parents to abort?

The kind of testing described should be outlawed as far as I'm concerned.

We have already seen what happened in China, I believe it was, or was it India, when people started getting ultrasounds to determine if they were having a girl or a boy, then aborting the girl fetuses.

It's just a place society shouldn't go, at all.

Limitations of these tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12687939)

I'm the parent of an autistic child-which is why I have exposure to this stuff.

First thing, only 90% of the identical twins of an autistic child are also autistic. Now, this becomes less impressive when you consider almost all of these twins were raised together-and they _all_ shared the same environment before birth--and factors like stress during pregnancy, weight at birth, difficulty of pregnancy, age of mother are all predictive factors for autism(though none are especially good). The most you'll _EVER_ get from a genetic test is saying that a kid has a 95% chance of developing autism--and probably a lot less than that.

About 90% of all autistics are Type all blood type-and something like 95% are male. That means males with type A blood type are something like 45 times more likely to develop autism than the general population(one theory is autism is related to an immunological condition-and blood type has some relevance to antibodies produced). I've actually seen identical twins where only one was autistic.

Personally, I think genetic testing is premature here. There isn't yet a 100% accurate biological test for autism. The closest I've seen are the immunological tests developed by V.K. Singh at Utah State University.

I think we are probably looking here at some kind of environmental stress-that some genotypes are particularly susceptable too. Something that doesn't hurt adults and most kids at all-but really hammers some kids.

Cochran [isteve.com] has some interesting stuff about very slow moving viruses and various diseases.

Also purely genetic theories don't explain the rise in autism rates well.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...