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Big fat rebuttals

— A mailbag rebuttal:

Re:  Snopes take on vegemite ban
Not sure if this confirms or denies the vegemite report, but thought it interesting.

Will adds:  I'd say "denies" or for the purposes of this post, "rebuts."

Speaking of down under, apparently in Australia, musicians get the Dixie Chicks treatment for supporting the war, not the other way around.  Beccy Cole sings a rebuttal.

"Stay the course" rebuttal ad.

Michael J. Fox's rebuttal to Rush Limbaugh (not much really, just jokes that he's lucky his pills are working well today).

Speaking of Michael J. Fox rebuttals, this is the ad meant to counter his ad.  More celebrities, but somehow less impact.

Rebuttal to celebrities who claim to support green values:  "What about that jet?"

Penn and Teller rebut conspiracy theories ***NOTE:  This is their Showtime show with the unprintable name and it's full of four letter exclamations.  UPDATE:  Oops, I think the lawyers got this one.  Here is the 9/11 segment of it, and here is the moon landing segment of it.

The other day Ze Frank took a serious swipe at the RocketBoom folks and how their numbers are reported (he also mocks videoblogging).  The RocketBoom rebuttal is a pretty straightforward yes, our numbers are correct and we can and have proved it.  The RocketBoom rebuttal is worth paying attention to if you're frustrated with not enough people recognizing your genius in the form of traffic.  It's one thing to build it and wait for people to come, but it's quite another to work at using the system's properties to spread your site around.  P.S. The whole debate aside, Ze Frank is funny as heck and quality viewing.

With the clever headline of Web 2.0lier than thou, Nick Carr rebuts Lessig's "true sharing vs. fake sharing" argument.  "He wants to redefine "Web 2.0" in order to promote a particular ideology, the ideology of digital communalism in which private property becomes common property and the individual interest is subsumed into the public interest - in which we become the web and the web becomes us."  I don't agree that it's a redefinition, but it's hard to argue with the cold water realism he splashes on the whole thing.

Rebutting that autism story in the mailbag...

In relation to your story...  "Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3."

Actually the correlation that Cornell is using is a bit bogus. the current theory has to do with mercury levels in small children.  See here ... or here... or here... I could keep going but you get the picture.

I never understood why Mercury was needed in childhood vaccines but that one fact coupled with the fact that studies are showing that mercury levels have been increasing are enough to show a correlation between an increase in the level of autistic children... The TV study seems seriously doubtful considering kids have had TV's as babysitters since the 60's and the autistic trend has been fairly recent... IMHO

And one a little less reserved from the always informative jbm...

As the parent of an autistic-spectrum child, and as a scientist (B.Sci Computer Sci., minor Physics), and as someone married to a scientist (Ph.D., chemistry), I can promise you that the Cornell study you cited is of no practical worth whatsoever.  (We know science.  That ain't science.)

1) "The Cornell study is by Waldman, a professor in the school's Johnson Graduate School of Management, Sean Nicholson, an associate professor in the school's department of policy analysis, and research assistant Nodir Adilov."

Note: none of them is a psychologist.  None of them is really qualified to do the study.

2) Autism is a spectrum disorder, not a single malady.  While the incidence of the disorder appeared to rise during the period of the study, it's important to note that the incidence of reporting also increased, as the disorder was better understood and more correctly diagnosed.  Some ADD/HD diagnosed today is actually misdiagnosed autistic spectrum disorder.

3) Correlation is not causation!  People don't seem to understand that anymore.  If correlation is, in fact, causation, then standing in the garage may, one day, turn you into a car.  Or a lawnmower.  Your choice.

4) In fact, all they may have shown is that children with autistic tendencies like to watch TV on rainy days.  No kidding.  Wow.  What a revelation!

5) There is a far higher correlation between the overall intelligence of the parents and occurrence of ASD than with this.  And in that correlation, you can at least see that genetic predisposition may exist toward ASD, adding that missing causal factor; not only that, there was a report last week that parents who both possess the MET gene and pass it on to the offspring nearly double the chance of the child developing ASD.

My wife and I were both outraged at the simplistic nature of the study, and worse, the moronic nature of the attempts to explain the causal relationship.  "Maybe it's dust!"  "Maybe parents of autistic children like to move where it rains!"  "Maybe parents of autistic children like cable!"

Hey, maybe it's pixies, fairies, and leprechauns!  That's about as scientific a hypothesis as these guys put out.