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Section B.2 - The Reason for the Increasing Incidence of Autism

Something that seems apparent is that the incidence of autism is increasing very quickly. While improved diagnosis has certainly caused the number of diagnosed cases to grow, this alone, in my opinion and that of most of the researchers I have studied who study this point, cannot account for the epidemic of autism cases that are flooding the system. Something has changed in the last thirty to fifty years to cause a significant and increasing percentage of the people, particularly male, in our society to develop a behavior set that is antithetical to participation in a society like ours.

A. An Understanding of Proximate Causation

Scientists have proved that the causation of autism is based in a mix of environment and genetics. This means that neither environment nor genetics individually can explain why autism occurs in many or even most cases. However, as a matter of logic, changes in the incidence of autism, just like changes in the incidence of other more easily explainable diseases like Type II diabetes, must largely stem from changes in the environment. This is because genes change in populations at an extremely slow rate. Genetic mutations take many, many generations to propagate themselves across diverse and geographically dispersed populations. Only the environment can change fast enough over the course of a single human lifetime to induce significant biological changes in the millions of people who are afflicted by autism. This means that the increasing incidence of autism must be directly caused by and largely proportional to changes in our environment. There is no other logical conclusion. The often ignored, but most important questions in the quest to understand autism is: what are the environmental changes that have occurred in recent human history that have unleashed the modern autism epidemic? 

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