Tinfoil hat analysis: Crypto-eugenics and the autism community

I believe in science and I also believe in scientific advancement.  I have stated before that I am not a Luddite even though I sometimes take positions that might cause people to question.

I am having another Luddite moment though.

About a year ago I wrote a cautionary post to the autism community, advising them to embrace the DSM-V changes that would make diagnosis more difficult.  In summary the post was a tinfoil hat analysis of eugenics and disabilities and reflected on what we have seen happen in the T21 community.  Today I am thinking that embracing DSM-V changes  is not enough to provide appropriate cover from the crypto-eugenicists.

Well it is time to dust off the tinfoil hats because we have ongoing evidence of more shift toward a death culture that now has the autism community directly in the crosshairs.

Walker et al (2013) just published a study that essentially creates a context where autism risk can be accurately identified via looking at the creases and folds in the placenta.  Apparently, having two or more folds predicted autism at a 92% specificity rate and having four or more folds predicted autism at a 99.9% specificity rate.

The authors are excited about their findings and believe that this discovery can help with early diagnosis and early intervention.

I have no reason to doubt their direct intentions.  But I also have a deep understanding of how these things get started.  You can be certain that there are more than a few crypto-eugenicists who are spinning their wheels over this.  Please recall it was just a year ago that we were all treated to the infamous Giubilini and Minerva (2012) article calling for "after birth abortions."

The issue here is that the death culture will continue to take whacks at this issue in direct or indirect ways - it does not matter how outraged any community may get, and there was an awful lot of controversy on this last year.  The death culture will not be discouraged.

Here is another stunning example of how we slide down the slope - Kouider et al (2013) just published an interesting article that used EEG to analyze facial recognition in infants.  They used the term 'perceptual consciousness' in a rather specific way but the popular culture picks up the information and reports it in a slightly different way.  This popular aggregation site doesn't say 'perceptual consciousness' but rather that 'babies have consciousness at 5 months of age.'  

It does not take much to imagine what horrible positions can be justified when someone uses the argument that babies don't have 'consciousness' yet.

These are important issues for occupational therapists to consider because we are on the front-lines of intervention for children who have disabilities.  I encourage all OTs working in pediatrics to deeply read about these issues and to be on the alert for policies that marginalize people and limit access to appropriate care.  These policies will be the shot across the bow for worse things to come.


Giubilini, A.; Minerva, F. (2012). "After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?". Journal of Medical Ethics. doi:10.1136/medethics-2011-100411

Kouider, S., et al. (2013). A neural marker of perceptual consciousness in infants. Science, 340(6130), 376-380.

Walker, C.K., et al (2013). Trophoblast inclusions are significantly increased in the placentas of children in families at risk for autism. Biological psychiatry,  (Article in Press DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.03.006)


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