PDA

View Full Version : The Assortative Mating Theory (Simon Baron-Cohen)


ToddStark
April 14th, 2005, 10:49 PM
Excellent article on EDGE (http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge158.html). With responses by Hauser, Pinker, Spelke, and others.

See the link for the full article. I include just Brockman's intro ...

Introduction

Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology and Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University. In this Edge feature, he presents his new Assortative Mating Theory which connects his two fields of research: the characteristics of autism in terms of understanding what's going on in the brain and the causes of the condition; and understanding the differences between males and females.

"My new theory is that it's not just a genetic condition," he says, "but it might be the result of two particular types of parents, who are both contributing genes. This might be controversially received. This is because there are a number of different theories out there — one of which is an environmental theory, such as autism being caused by vaccine damage — the MMR vaccine (the measles, mumps, and rubella combination vaccine). Another environmental theory is that autism is due to toxic levels of mercury building up in the child's brain. But the genetic theory has a lot of evidence, and what we are now testing is that if two "systemizers" have a child, this will increase the risk of the child having autism. That's it in a nutshell.

Baron-Cohen realizes that his theory might raise anxieties. "Just because it's potentially controversial," he says, "doesn't mean that we shouldn't investigate it. And there are ways that you can investigate it empirically."

He also expects controversy. Given the continuing public discussing in the US about innate sex differences, he will, no doubt, be challenged when he says "It was interesting for me to discover that there's been a sleight of hand, mostly in the States, such that the word 'sex' has been replaced by the word 'gender'. Baron-Cohen believes that it's time "to distinguish politics and science, and just look at the evidence". Others will feel differently.

James Brody
April 18th, 2005, 10:24 AM
Todd,

Thanks for this!
Baron-Cohen adds to the Harvard study on genetic contribution to marriage choices. The factor?

PSYCHOPATHOLOGY!

Implications are enormous for increasing variation between offspring across generations. Also in regard to large public schools and Internet chat rooms where you can find more people who share your craziness, no matter what the craziness.

There may be wisdom in arranged marriages...

Jim

Maes, H. H., Neale, M. C., Kendler, K. S., Hewitt, J. K., Silberg, J. L. Foley, D. L., Meyer, J. M., Rutter, M., Simonoff, E., Pickles A., & Eaves, L. (1998) Assortative mating for major psychiatric diagnoses in two population-based samples. Psychological Medicine, 28(6), 1389-1401.