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slashfrehley42
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03 Jan 2010, 8:45 pm

I studied Evolution in Biology earlier this year, and how natural selection basically covers the whole lot of it. So here's my theory:

We, people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, are different compared to "normal" people. I will call them normal, as opposed to NT.

I think that people with AS (such as myself) seem to gain large benefits from our perceived "disorder".

We tend to be (but aren't always) more intelligent, more able to concentrate, more able to complete tasks when we want to than other people. Out of the AS people I know, all of them have impressive vocabularies, remarkable memory, genius-level knowledge of one or more areas. In addition to our overpowering awesomeness, we're supremely modest!

Perhaps most importantly, we are able to learn nearly anything. Some people will argue "Oh, Aspies have no social skills" but, contrary to that, I believe that we have a DIFFERENT set of social skills when compared to normal people. Not only that, but, in my experience, we tend to be able to learn the social skills used by normal people. Sure, we may never be as adept as them at these social endeavours, but we certainly can be able to function socially in spite of what teachers and therapists and books have to say.

My theory is that we could be evolution at work. We seem to be superior (for want of a better word) to the normal ones. So, over time, natural selection will mean that we end up being the "normal" ones while they have the disorder. Not only that, but AS seems to be inherited from one's parents; my father seems to have it, and it may be that my sister does as well. These are both observations, rather than cold, hard fact.

Just a theory, but could we be the next step in human evolution? I mean, most of the pioneers in various fields (Einstein is probably the best example) that have advanced the human race considerably display symptoms of AS. And, really, who wrote better music-Mozart or Billy Ray Cyrus? That's what I thought. I'm fairly sure that an AS individual would be ideal to land on, say, Mars; he or she might be, say, a geologist, and he or she would only pick up their rocks and observe them without succumbing to distraction.

Just a theory. I don't necessarily believe it, but it seems to be valid. I'd like your thoughts on the matter.



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03 Jan 2010, 8:50 pm

You obviously didn't pay any attention in your biology class. The entire principle of natural selection is based on who produces the most viable offspring. Given that Aspies tend to have difficulty finding a mate, we certainly are not be selected for.

I won't bother with the other outlandish, self-contradictory, and outright false claims in your post. It suffices to say that Aspies most certainly do not represent the "next stage" in human evolution.


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VincentVanJones
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03 Jan 2010, 9:30 pm

I also do not think we are "the next stage". Thats a little presumptuous.

If anything we (those with ASD) are more on an anomaly. We me be growing in numbers so to speak, but that does not represent evolution.

Also in what ways are we "Superior"? You state in most cases we are more intelligent. Maybe, but most people with AS have a focused intelligence to an area (sometimes our "obsession").

Focus is also subjective to the individual. I often personally have a hard time focusing on many things.

The assumption "someone with AS could pick up a rock on mars and not get distracted" is also subjective to the person. You may not. I may. He may not. She may. Etc.

As for music: Mozart is superior to Billy, I think we all agree. But most music is not done by someone with ASD, and a decent amount of music (there is so much) really is not crap. Plus now the moment someone with ASD makes crap music it completely nullifies your argument.

If we DID end up out populating NT's, it would still be a disorder, just not a minority.

Also, it seems many people with AS CANNOT pick up social norms so easy. If we could, we would. Or I would. I don't think ASD also has arrogance as a symptom >.>



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03 Jan 2010, 10:29 pm

First of all, the only form of evolution out of the 6 supposed forms that can be scientifically proven is micro-evolution. I believe but cannot prove that autistic people have been around since near the beginning of creation. History shows that most people known to have invented or discovered many things have been peculiar. This includes Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Mozart, Emily Dickerson, Albert Einstein, and many, many others. I am not saying they are or were autistic, but I believe it is worth a try to look into this possibility.


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Callista
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03 Jan 2010, 10:48 pm

Autistic people are not the next step in evolution. As far as natural selection goes, the function of autism genes is to benefit the population as a whole, not to replace NT genetics.

Consider:
1. Autistics are less likely to reproduce than NTs. Lowered social skills ensure that.
2. Autistics are more likely to have splinter skills and extreme specialization which benefits the species as a whole.

So, for an evolutionary advantage to the human species, the best possible state is to have some autistic people in the population--but not too many. Each autistic that is produced means fewer children in the next generation, but there is also a chance of more innovation for that same next generation. The balance is at the point where the loss in children that the autistics don't have, is balanced by the survival of other children because of the new technology.

For example. Bob, the Autistic Caveman, invents fire. Because he is too nerdy for the cave-women, he has no children. However, Alice, his sister, takes advantage of the fire he invented to successfully raise five children to reproductive age. Even though Bob has no children, Alice, who shares half his genes, passes on her half of his DNA to her children. What's more, Bob's autism had a permanent effect: Not only do Alice's children benefit from the invention of fire, but so does every generation thereafter. Because even one innovation can confer a very large survival benefit to the entire society, Bob's autistic DNA sticks around, mostly recessive and occasionally expressing itself. Even though the vast majority of the autistic cave-men who result don't manage to invent the wheel, the small number who do make permanent changes are enough to keep Bob's clan successfully competing against all the other cave-people clans, and enough to make up for the small decrease in overall reproduction.

If Bob had not been autistic, Bob might have had two children, but Alice would not have been able to take advantage of fire, and so only two of her children survive to adulthood. In this case, Bob passes on his genes; but he does not give his group of cave-people any permanent advantage. Soon, Bob and his tribe of NT cave-men are assimilated or crowded out by other tribes, where autistic genes have allowed technological innovations.

This only works, though, if the majority of the cavemen are neurotypical. Taking advantage of a trait that lowers reproduction, like autism does, is only possible when that trait is not expressed in the majority of a society's members.

Study sickle-cell anemia and sickle-cell trait to observe a similar effect.


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03 Jan 2010, 11:31 pm

Orwell wrote:
Given that Aspies tend to have difficulty finding a mate, we certainly are not be selected for.


I beg to differ, as I have two children. And as a parent, I have known many many parents who have children diagnosed with Aspergers/Autism who then realized that they themselves, or their mate, also qualified for the diagnosis.

I don't think anything is there to block a person with Aspergers from procreating; except perhaps their own perception of themselves and willingness to accept what NT society tells them they're capable of.

And of course, interest. Like all people, some people with ASD may just not desire to have children. But I believe a lot of them do.

As for difficulty finding a mate; it's not that hard unless you're picky. If your goal is children, you can find someone who also has the same goal and boom, children you will have.

But if what you want is that media sold ideal of 'stability' and 'mental completeness' - if you will - before you have kids, then probably that situation will never come to you. As it won't for many people, who, in the end, say "to hell with that!" and procreate anyway.

I agree with the OP, but for different reasons. I replied to a thread in the Parent's Discussion forum stating my personal theories, so I won't repeat them here.

Finally, the universe (God, whatever you believe), much as we want it to, cannot be adjusted to fit our current scientific ideals. It's variable and vast and there's simply no way for us to understand it all. The possibilities are endless, so don't shut your mind to the possibilities on the basis of this current trend in "science".

My two cents.


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03 Jan 2010, 11:54 pm

Vivienne wrote:
Orwell wrote:
Given that Aspies tend to have difficulty finding a mate, we certainly are not be selected for.


I beg to differ, as I have two children. And as a parent, I have known many many parents who have children diagnosed with Aspergers/Autism who then realized that they themselves, or their mate, also qualified for the diagnosis.

I don't think anything is there to block a person with Aspergers from procreating; except perhaps their own perception of themselves and willingness to accept what NT society tells them they're capable of.

And of course, interest. Like all people, some people with ASD may just not desire to have children. But I believe a lot of them do.

As for difficulty finding a mate; it's not that hard unless you're picky. If your goal is children, you can find someone who also has the same goal and boom, children you will have.
Not "impossible to reproduce", obviously. Just "less likely". Which is enough to affect natural selection, even if the difference is slight.


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04 Jan 2010, 12:02 am

there could be a bigger demand for our skills in the future which would put us in a better position to compete for the ladies. meanwhile, the lady aspies keep us from extinction.



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04 Jan 2010, 12:03 am

Vivienne wrote:
Orwell wrote:
Given that Aspies tend to have difficulty finding a mate, we certainly are not be selected for.


I beg to differ, as I have two children. And as a parent, I have known many many parents who have children diagnosed with Aspergers/Autism who then realized that they themselves, or their mate, also qualified for the diagnosis.

You're using the availability heuristic. Generally speaking, autistics and Aspies are less likely on average to have children than non-autistics. Thus, autistics will be selected against.

Quote:
I don't think anything is there to block a person with Aspergers from procreating; except perhaps their own perception of themselves and willingness to accept what NT society tells them they're capable of.

Well, ability to find someone willing to reproduce with you is also a factor.

Quote:
As for difficulty finding a mate; it's not that hard unless you're picky. If your goal is children, you can find someone who also has the same goal and boom, children you will have.

Then why is there a whole industry built around helping people who have trouble finding a mate? It's a social task that is extremely difficult for normal people; socially-impaired autistics will often find it close to impossible. I have Aspie friends who have tried desperately to get involved in romantic relationships, to no avail. Then there are several others I know who are barely capable of communicating with the opposite sex.

Quote:
Finally, the universe (God, whatever you believe), much as we want it to, cannot be adjusted to fit our current scientific ideals. It's variable and vast and there's simply no way for us to understand it all. The possibilities are endless, so don't shut your mind to the possibilities on the basis of this current trend in "science".

I'll concede that. It is possible that some previously unknown mechanism is driving a change in human phenotypes. But natural selection is almost undoubtedly working against, not for, Aspies. You can't really dispute the math behind it.


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04 Jan 2010, 12:14 am

Quote:
My theory is that we could be evolution at work. We seem to be superior (for want of a better word) to the normal ones.

This is, unfortunately, a disturbingly common thought that has no basis in reality. There is probably more evidence to suggest that autism is a throwback to very old genes rather than being a so-called "next step."


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04 Jan 2010, 12:44 am

Quote:
. But natural selection is almost undoubtedly working against, not for, Aspies. You can't really dispute the math behind it.


Oh YES I can! lol

You have forgotten to factor in the fact that more and more NT's are waiting until late in life to procreate. They are so caught up in 'having it all' that the women, obsessed with pursuing careers and finding "the perfect man" are waiting until their late 30's and sometimes 40's before they attempt to have children.

Which of course, is against the natural biological way of things.

And so they turn to artificial conception, which sometimes works and sometimes not - but in the end, with even a successful round of implantation, leaves them with considerably less time to procreate than a healthy ASD female. So they end up with one, maybe two children. (Very pampered and well educated children who will then grow up with the same "standards" and wait to be 40 before trying to reproduce).

Whereas someone with AS, may 'decide' in their teens (as I did) that they want children. And once we are focused, we are focused..

So even given the social inadequacy and the time it would take to find such a willing mate, we are still ten years ahead of the NT.

And if it is of particular interest to a woman, as it was to myself, to be able to nurture, love, and raise children, there is no limit to what we won't do to assure that comes to pass.

Genetics dictate, that we would then have a higher rate of producing ASD children, whom we would understand, being ASD ourselves, and be able to 'teach', based on our own experiences. Upping that childs chances of being able to socialize (faked or not) with the opposite sex, and again, producing children.

HA. :lol:


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04 Jan 2010, 1:18 am

I think they have difficulty teaching evolution in schools, people remember survival of the fittest but that is hardly correct.

Evolution is solely dependant of having offspring. No children = no evolution.

The animals that survive and reproduce are the animals that continue the evolution of the species.

Humans as a species have evolved to be social creatures with a natural group limit somewhere around 100-200, ask an NT how many numbers he has on his phone + how many "friends" he has not listed + relatives he visits and lives with. Anyway this social structure is bound by social rules, although some are arbitrary and cultural, others are definite and common to the human species. Now as AS people have trouble with these rules they don't naturally fit in, thus are less likely to reproduce, thus less likely to be involved with human evolution. Sort of weird then that (presumably) a lot of AS people's inventiveness has benefit the group as a whole.

While the comments on women waiting till their 30s are true there are still plenty of people marrying young. This is also a cultural thing and when that culture disappears so will that habit, also this is not a part of the culture in other countries. Also remember that the stupid people that have 8 kids and live their simple lives are probably the ones to carry our species forward :(



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04 Jan 2010, 1:24 am

Vivienne wrote:
But natural selection is almost undoubtedly working against, not for, Aspies. You can't really dispute the math behind it.


As the poster said, Oh yes she can. I can dispute w/e the bloody f**k I want to dispute. To hell with logic and rational. If I want to argue then by Jesus-mofo'n-combichrist I am going to argue.

Never say: You can't argue/dispute this because I have numbers/facts backing me up. If that were really the case in the world, we would be better off (ie less crazy "global warming is a farce" nutter's and more scientists.)



I rest my case.



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04 Jan 2010, 7:20 am

Vivienne wrote:
Quote:
. But natural selection is almost undoubtedly working against, not for, Aspies. You can't really dispute the math behind it.


Oh YES I can! lol

I should have phrased that better. You can dispute it, but if you do you are objectively wrong.

Quote:
You have forgotten to factor in the fact that more and more NT's are waiting until late in life to procreate. They are so caught up in 'having it all' that the women, obsessed with pursuing careers and finding "the perfect man" are waiting until their late 30's and sometimes 40's before they attempt to have children.

OK. There are some studies showing that the chance of autism is slightly higher if the father is older (30+). Still, people on average reproduce before that.

Quote:
And so they turn to artificial conception,

No, hardly anyone does that.

Quote:
Whereas someone with AS, may 'decide' in their teens (as I did) that they want children. And once we are focused, we are focused..

And maybe someone with AS will decide in their teens that they want to learn everything there is to know about trains, distracting them from finding a mate. Also, an Aspie who pursues higher education will quite commonly enroll in some technical field (math, physics, computer science, engineering) where the high male-to-female ratio makes dating odds pretty bad for a socially awkward male.

Quote:
So even given the social inadequacy and the time it would take to find such a willing mate, we are still ten years ahead of the NT.

You may have been. I certainly am not, and I doubt most Aspies are.

Quote:
Genetics dictate, that we would then have a higher rate of producing ASD children, whom we would understand, being ASD ourselves, and be able to 'teach', based on our own experiences. Upping that childs chances of being able to socialize (faked or not) with the opposite sex, and again, producing children.

Not really, because a lower proportion of Aspies reproduce as compared to NTs. We have fewer children on average. Thus the growth rate of the Aspie population (looking strictly at inherited genetic predisposition) will always be less than that of the NT population, meaning that we would likely constitute a smaller, not a larger, proportion of each succeeding generation.


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04 Jan 2010, 8:28 am

Callista wrote:
Autistic people are not the next step in evolution. As far as natural selection goes, the function of autism genes is to benefit the population as a whole, not to replace NT genetics.

Consider:
1. Autistics are less likely to reproduce than NTs. Lowered social skills ensure that.
2. Autistics are more likely to have splinter skills and extreme specialization which benefits the species as a whole.

So, for an evolutionary advantage to the human species, the best possible state is to have some autistic people in the population--but not too many. Each autistic that is produced means fewer children in the next generation, but there is also a chance of more innovation for that same next generation. The balance is at the point where the loss in children that the autistics don't have, is balanced by the survival of other children because of the new technology.

For example. Bob, the Autistic Caveman, invents fire. Because he is too nerdy for the cave-women, he has no children. However, Alice, his sister, takes advantage of the fire he invented to successfully raise five children to reproductive age. Even though Bob has no children, Alice, who shares half his genes, passes on her half of his DNA to her children. What's more, Bob's autism had a permanent effect: Not only do Alice's children benefit from the invention of fire, but so does every generation thereafter. Because even one innovation can confer a very large survival benefit to the entire society, Bob's autistic DNA sticks around, mostly recessive and occasionally expressing itself. Even though the vast majority of the autistic cave-men who result don't manage to invent the wheel, the small number who do make permanent changes are enough to keep Bob's clan successfully competing against all the other cave-people clans, and enough to make up for the small decrease in overall reproduction.

If Bob had not been autistic, Bob might have had two children, but Alice would not have been able to take advantage of fire, and so only two of her children survive to adulthood. In this case, Bob passes on his genes; but he does not give his group of cave-people any permanent advantage. Soon, Bob and his tribe of NT cave-men are assimilated or crowded out by other tribes, where autistic genes have allowed technological innovations.

This only works, though, if the majority of the cavemen are neurotypical. Taking advantage of a trait that lowers reproduction, like autism does, is only possible when that trait is not expressed in the majority of a society's members.

Study sickle-cell anemia and sickle-cell trait to observe a similar effect.


This sounds the most plausible. I have actually read precisely this argument used many times to theorize why homosexuality remains in the genome. In those parallel arguments, the benefit that Bob gives to Alice (and thus his genetic neices and nephews) isn't technological but rather shared resources such as physical care or food.