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Rising–falling mercury pollution causing the rising–falling IQ of the Lynn–Flynn effect, as predicted by the antiinnatia theory of autism and IQ

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A fundamental principle of the antiinnatia theory of autism and IQ is that the same factors (genetic and environmental) which in extreme high levels cause autism, in more modal levels cause increased IQ. And the factors which generally cause raised IQ, in extreme levels cause autism. The antiinnatia theory further proposed that molecules randomly part-time binding to DNA and thereby reducing gene-expression would cause autism (and in less high levels cause raised IQ). Studies have found that mercury binds dose-dependently to DNA thereby reducing gene-expression, and thus the theory predicts that mercury pollution would cause raised IQ (such as the Flynn effect). This appears contrary to the standard assumption that mercury pollution causes decrements of IQ. In this study, data from the Upper Fremont glacier finds considerable overall correspondence between changes of mercury pollution and changes of IQ. In respect of both mercury and IQ there was roughly-speaking 100 years of increase followed by 15 years of decrease in at least five countries. But mercury pollution is likely to be causing serious harms other than decrements of population averages of IQ.
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Author’s preprint of: Personality and Individual Differences 82 (2015) 46-51.
Received 27 December 2014; Received revised 26 February 2015; Accepted 28 February 2015; © 2015 Elsevier Ltd, All rights resvd
Rising-falling mercury pollution causing the rising-falling IQ
of the Lynn-Flynn Effect, as predicted by the antiinnatia theory
of autism and IQ
Robin P Clarke, Autism Causes Centre, Birmingham UK, rpclarke[at]autismcauses.info
Abstract: A fundamental principle of the antiinnatia
theory of autism and IQ is that the same factors
(genetic and environmental) which in extreme high
levels cause autism, in more modal levels cause
increased IQ. And the factors which generally
cause raised IQ, in extreme levels cause autism.
The antiinnatia theory further proposed that
molecules randomly part-time binding to DNA and
thereby reducing gene-expression would cause
autism (and in less high levels cause raised IQ).
Studies have found that mercury binds dose-
dependently to DNA thereby reducing gene-
expression, and thus the theory predicts that
mercury pollution would cause raised IQ (such as
the Flynn effect). This appears contrary to the
standard assumption that mercury pollution causes
decrements of IQ. In this study, data from the
Upper Fremont glacier finds considerable overall
correspondence between changes of mercury
pollution and changes of IQ. In respect of both
mercury and IQ there was roughly-speaking 100
years of increase followed by 15 years of decrease
in at least five countries. But mercury pollution is
likely to be causing serious harms other than
decrements of population averages of IQ.
Introduction
In this journal there was 22 years ago published
“A theory of general impairment of gene-
expression manifesting as autism” (Clarke, 1993)
(hereinafter referred to as the antiinnatia theory).
Since that time, no faults of the reasoning or
evidence of that theory have been published. A
most fundamental principle of the theory was that
the same factors (genetic and environmental) which
in extreme high levels cause autism, in more modal
levels cause increased IQ. And the same factors
which generally cause raised IQ, in extreme levels
cause autism. The antiinnatia theory further
proposed that molecules randomly part-time
binding to DNA and thereby reducing gene-
expression would thereby cause autism (and in less
high levels cause raised IQ). Mercury is now
known to do exactly that binding and reducing at
levels far below those producing other toxic effects
(Ariza et al., 1994; Goyer, 1991; Rodgers et al.
2001; Walter & Luck, 1977). It follows that the
theory predicts that mercury (at below toxic levels)
would cause raised IQ. Furthermore, much
evidence (not reviewed here) now exists
confirming well beyond reasonable doubt that
mercury (albeit not from vaccines) has been
majorly involved in recent causation of autism.
And this obviously adds to the momentum behind
the prediction that mercury would also cause
increased IQ.
The Flynn effect (or Lynn-Flynn effect) is the
observation of secular increases of IQ over a period
of about a century (in many studies). Raven (2000)
found that the effect dates back linearly to at least
the 1870s.
There has been a reversal of the Flynn effect in
recent decades in Norway (Sundet et al., 2004),
Denmark (Teasdale & Owen, 2008), Netherlands
(Woodley & Meisenberg. 2013), Finland (Dutton &
Lynn, 2013), and the UK (Flynn, 2009a); Shayer &
Ginsburg, 2009). Other countries, mainly the
“developing” ones, have continued to show a rise
or at most a levelling off. In respect of the
reversals, the turning-point IQ peak was, in terms
of year of birth, about 1980 in Denmark, 1978 in
Finland, and 1976 in Norway.
There continues to be substantial diversity of
views of what has caused the Flynn effect and its
reversal, but no-one appears to have considered the
possibility that it could have been caused by
mercury pollution increasing due to
industrialisation and then reducing due to
environmental controls. Indeed the conventional
wisdom has been resolute in a notion that mercury
pollution has been causing very serious decrements
of IQ rather than any increases.
The present study examines the data of changes
of mercury and IQ in order to test the hypothesis
that there is a positive association between the two,
which if found would tend to confirm the
prediction from the antiinnatia theory.
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Methods
The most direct data of the variations of
atmospheric mercury has come from ice-cores
extracted from the Upper Fremont Glacier
(Schuster et al., 2002a). Estimates of historical
mercury have also been obtained from bog cores
and lake sediments. These latter have been subject
to difficulties of interpretation as discussed by
Biester et al. (2007), but they generally reflect the
same picture of a mixture of globe-wide and more
local influences on the deposition at the location of
measurement.
The ice-core researchers involved state that “the
increase in mercury input during the last 100 years
of record is followed by a rapid decrease within the
last 15-20 years” (USGS, 2002). You can see a
graph of the Fremont mercury data on the relevant
Wikipedia pages, and can download their actual
measurements from Schuster et al. (2002b). I have
used that data to produce Figure 1 here (in which
there are two separate ice-core series overlapping
in the 1940s).
1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
Mt St Helens 1980
Krakatoa 1883
Year
Total mercury (ng/L)
Figure 1. Mercury data from Fremont Glacier, with two
volcano spikes not yet removed There are two separate
ice-core series which overlap in the 1940s.
It features two spikes which correspond to two
major volcanic eruptions. Those volcano events
happened far away from most of humankind,
whereas the industrial activity would have
happened much closer to population centres
(thereby potentially being breathed in more and
thereby impacting on average IQs more). The
Krakatoa eruption was 14,000 km from Fremont
(and Earth’s semi-circumference is 20,000 km),
which gives an indication of how widely some
atmospheric mercury can travel.
So I produce Figure 2 by removing the two
volcano spikes.
1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
0
5
10
15
20
25
100 years of mercury increase?
15 years of
mer cur y
decrease?
Year
Total mercury (ng/L)
Figure 2. Mercury data from Fremont Glacier, with two
volcano spikes removed
Also IQ is a ratio variable so I convert the
mercury scale to logarithmic to properly match
with it, as in Figure 3.
1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
2
4
8
16
32
100 years of mercury increase?
15 years of
mercu ry
decrease?
Year
Total mercury (ng/L)
Figure 3. Mercury data from Fremont Glacier, with two
volcano spikes removed, and converted to log scale on
the y axis.
Certain facts about Figure 3 suggest that there
are almost certainly some large errors in these
measurements, perhaps from disturbance of the
ground by animals. Firstly, at the overlap in the
1940s there is an obvious mismatch with the first
four of the later series conspicuously below the last
three of the earlier series. Secondly there is an
improbably marked jump up from 1930.0 to
1930.4. It is unlikely that all these readings can be
taken at face value as even remotely accurate
measurements of the historical atmospheric levels.
Much more likely is that the levels have somehow
been heavily under-estimated in some of these
datums.
Figure 4 shows a suggestion of how the real
levels of mercury might have increased nearly
(log-)linearly, as per the dashed line added there
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connecting the peaks (which could be the least
corrupted measurements).
1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
2
4
8
16
32
Year
Total mercury (ng/L)
Dotted line along peaks
indicates the true levels?
Errors to downside
under-estimating the mercury?
Figure 4 Suggested differences between conceivably
misleading measurements and conceivably actual
historical mercury levels.
So, in line with this suggestion, I produce Figure
5 by removing the six most suspect datums from
the linked series.
1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
2
4
8
16
32
100 years of mercury increase?
15 years of
mer cu r y
decrease?
Very inaccurate datums?
Year
Total mercury (ng/L)
Figure 5. Mercury data from Fremont Glacier, with two
volcano spikes removed, converted to log scale on the y
axis, and with six most suspect datums removed from
the series
Furthermore, a person’s brain development
would be affected by the mercury absorbed not just
on one day but instead over a period probably of
years, and also pre-absorption by the mother during
and before pregnancy. To reflect this, I interpolate
the data to regular year intervals and apply a simple
moving average with four-years window, to obtain
a final rough graphical impression of the varying
mercury impact.
All these figures appear to show what is
presumably the mercury increasing with increasing
industrialisation, and then decreasing again from
about 1980 presumably due to the various technical
measures (such as mercury-free batteries) taken to
reduce mercury pollution.
And for comparison I have produced Figure 7 to
give a rough picture of the IQ increasing and then
decreasing as per the generality of various studies.
Please note that this is in terms of year of birth
rather than year of testing (generally at age 18-20).
Results
The results are shown in Figures 6 and 7.
1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
2
4
8
16
32
100 years of mercury increase?
15 years of
mer cur y
decrease?
Year
Total mercury (ng/L)
Figure 6. Mercury data from Fremont Glacier, with two
volcano spikes removed, converted to log scale on the y
axis, six most suspect datums removed from the series,
and smoothed by four-year moving average.
1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
15 years of
IQ decrease
100 years of IQ increase
Year of birth
< lower IQ higher >
Figure 7. Rough general illustration of the Flynn effect
and its reversal.
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Discussion and conclusions
There appears to be considerable resemblance
between these latter two figures, fespecially if we
make allowance for the fact that Figure 7 is only a
crude two-line representation of the general trends
of the Flynn effect and that Figure 6 has not been
corrected for further potential errors. And maybe
the correct moving average should be more like 20
years, giving a much straighter line. There is
certainly not the contrary trending which would be
expected from the canonical notion that mercury
pollution has been causing decreases of population
average IQ.
Furthermore the author was expecting that
recent air pollution in China, from mercury-
emitting coal-burning, would be causing IQ
increases in China; and now in seeming support of
this in recent years there has occurred a report that
children in Shanghai had surprisingly much higher
maths scores than the equivalent children in the
UK.
Also notable is a temporary reversal of the
Flynn effect in respect of children born in the UK
in the late 1960s (Flynn 2009a). This closely
coincided with a major reduction of mercury
inhalation in the UK due to the Clean Air Acts and
the demolition of many thousands of coal-heated
slum terraces which were replaced by tower blocks
with no coal heating.
From this data it appears that the canonical
assumption that population-wide decrements of IQ
have been caused by mercury pollution has been
resolutely disconfirmed. And the contrary
prediction from the antiinnatia theory is to a
reasonable degree confirmed. Various other
predictions of the antiinnatia theory have
meanwhile been confirmed elsewhere, including
correlation of body symmetry with IQ; lower
irrationality in autism; rat-like pre-human ancestors
(Purgatorius) for 160 million years; and dose-
dependent binding to DNA causing autism.
If there had been merely a speculation that
“maybe mercury causes raised IQ”, then these
graphical resemblances might have only so much
significance. That the relationship was already
inferred from a theory which had no prior
connection to the Flynn effect, and that hypothesis
was entertained in the face of a major consensus
assuming the exact opposite, arguably lends much
more weight of significance to the observation.
The assumption that mercury pollution reduces
IQ has previously had a reasonable evidential basis
in studies of the effects of mothers eating mercury-
containing meat from whales, sharks, and other fish
(Axelrad et al., 2007; Grandjean et al., 1997;
Crump et al., 1998; Kjellstrom et al., 1989;
Davidson et al., 1998; Myers et al., 2003;
Grandjean & Landrigan, 2014). There is not
necessarily any evidential conflict here. It can be
understood that substantial bolus intakes of
methylmercury at mealtimes of a pregnant mother
could lead to acute toxic overload of the developing
fetus at a critical period of its development. This
would be a separate causality from that of the
chronic DNA-binding antiinnatia causality
affecting whole populations at a less abnormal
level.
We should not here conclude that increased
mercury pollution is not harmful, or even that this
artificially-increased IQ is desirable. At the centre
of the antiinnatia theory is the concept that
increased antiinnatia not only increasedly
suppresses the disadvantageous IQ-impairing
innatons but also suppresses various advantageous
innatons. This would be even more the case in
respect of the antiinnatia effect of mercury, which
is a simple element, as opposed to the effect of the
complex of antiinnatia genes which have been
evolved and selected over millennia for their
advantageousness. And humans have evolved in an
environment with a mercury level much lower than
that which is now being imposed on us all and
hence most likely now non-optimal for many.
And this could explain why modern people seem
not to be so much more competent than their
ancestors (who might otherwise seemingly have
had to be “idiotic”). The recently-reduced innatons
could include innate senses of sound judgement,
common sense, wisdom, relationship skills,
parenting skills, judgement of how best to
practically manage the tackling of problems lacking
neat logical “IQ-type” solutions, and so on, and
also the IQ-aiding innatons discussed further on.
Many people would doubt that our current times
are notable for the greatest-ever wisdom, artistic
excellence, civil harmony, or family harmony. On
the contrary, many people prefer the art,
architecture, music, and literature of earlier times.
And divorce has greatly increased along with the
increasing IQ and with public notices telling people
how they should (already know how to) behave.
People born at the height of the Flynn effect could
be analogised as like computers with the fastest
processors but deficient in (“innate”) hardware
graphics acceleration or multimedia hardware
extensions – excellent for abstract processing but
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not better for most real-world practical use. Hence
they score better in the abstract tests but not any
better in real-life results.
The notion that people a hundred years ago
would have been seemingly insufficiently
“intelligent” for competent functioning in a
developed society appears to be founded on a
fallacy. All manner of “stupid” animals have
successfully avoided extinction for millions of
years despite the hardships they suffer of not
having housing, heating, or convenient shopping
provided for them. Everyday living for the most
part only rarely requires much complex original
problem-solving, and can be very satisfactorily
coped with by (a) following rules learned from
one’s community’s traditional culture, and (b)
innately-inherited sensible judgement and habits.
And I suggest there is good reason to surmise that a
great enhancement of abstract thinking has led to
the great achievements of mind-bogglingly
complex modern hardware and software, but
whether it has been accompanied by any increase
of the more important sensible judgement is
debatable. And even when faced with a challenge
requiring new understanding, people of the 1870s
would have been much more patient and found
more time for careful thinking than tends to be the
norm in our hyperactive soundbite contemporary
societies.
There exist some very different views about the
reality underlying the Flynn effect, not least those
according to which social-cultural environmental
factors are considered to have been the cause
(Dickens & Flynn, 2001; Flynn, 2009b).
Ultimately readers will have to judge for
themselves which is the most persuasive
conceptualisation. But there appears to be much
questionableness as to soundness of notions that
cultures and environments have become far less
“concrete”, and far more visually- and verbally-
enriched, abstract, technological, hypothetical and
categorical. The notion that modern life presents
more visual-analytical and categorical challenges
seems arguably improbable, as I shall now explain.
That position makes much of the things which
have been added to modern life, and yet overlooks
the substantial amount of complex traditional
culture which has been lost and indeed completely
forgotten about except by a few museum-keepers.
People of two or three generations ago had
extensive knowledge of very visual and categorical
wildlife such as plants, trees, insects, and birds,
which is all but completely lost to modern
“educated” generations. Few recent graduates have
more than slight understanding of the complexities
of how to cultivate the land in even the crudest of
ways. It involves a considerable amount of visual
analysis and classification of the weeds and plants
and insects and soils you are working with for
hours each day, none of which are presented in
conveniently neat cartoon-like stereotypes. Our
ancestors had to deal with life-threateningly real
hypotheticals such as should I go out in the rain
today to plant those potatoes (and where), what if
frost kills all our beans, what would my one and
only local community think if I were to say this
rather than that to Mrs B’s ugly daughter at the
church tomorrow, and so on. On the contrary, life
has been drastically de-skilled in many ways. You
just press some forgiving buttons to type rather
than master an artform of stylish handwriting with
unforgiving ink. You just press a button to produce
hours of entertainment rather than learn to master
violin or singing. And so on and on.
A reviewer for this journal has pointed out that
the gains of the Flynn effect vary greatly between
different tests and also between different subtests
(so seemingly cannot all go up and down equally in
parallel with the mercury intake). This appears to
be based on a fallacious assumption that “IQ”
points one one test or subtest are inherently
“equivalent” to those on another test or subtest.
But the IQ points are defined as 1/15 of the
standard deviation for that particular test. And if,
as is likely, there is much wider variance on a test
of (say) vocabulary than of Raven’s matrices, then
“equal” gains on vocabulary will present as much
lower in terms of “IQ” points.
Furthermore, any such test discrepancies could
be understood in terms of the antiinnatia theory’s
origins as a theory of both IQ and autism. Autism
is characterised by peculiarly unbalanced
intellectual abilities. One autistic may be strong
with words but hopeless with numbers. Another
may be the opposite. Furthermore there is the
remarkable fact that while most autistics have low
IQ, nevertheless some combine their “autistic
disabilities” with very high IQ.
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The antiinnatia theory explained these
observations with the concept of IQ-aiding
innatons, that is innate programmings evolved to
aid with for instance language, maths, geometry,
memorising, and probably other aspects of
information processing. Over the normal
population range, antiinnatia’s main effect would
be to reduce the expression of the IQ-impairing
innatons, thus causing increased IQ. But
(especially at higher levels) it would also tend to
suppress the IQ-aiding innatons, and thereby would
result the lowering of intellectual functioning in the
more severely affected autistic individuals.
In accordance with that model, two studies have
meanwhile reported that autistic persons have
higher fluid / g-factor intelligence than superficially
appears to be the case (Dawson et al., 2007;
Hayashi et al., 2008).
Turning this conception towards the Flynn
effect, we can envisage that the mercury pollution,
being a very crude homogenous antiinnatia factor
unlike the advantageously-evolved complex of
antiinnatia genes, would have greater tendency to
impair the IQ-aiding innatons. Thus those tests and
subtests which are more dependent on those IQ-
aiding innatons would be less benefitted by the
mercury pollution and thus less benefitted by the
Flynn effect which is (in this view) the same thing.
So we would expect that a pure, unapplied, form of
abstract problem-solving would be the functioning
most benefitting from the Flynn effect, and that has
long been asserted to be indeed the case.
There have been observations that the Flynn
effect does not fully correspond with the general
factor g. It is here suggested that the variably-
inherited collection of antiinnatia genes is what
underlies g, while the somewhat different
antiinnatia effect of the atmospheric mercury could
be labelled the f-factor (in honour of Dr Flynn).
Both would have effect mainly by suppressing the
IQ-impairing innatons, but also with capability of
impairing the IQ-aiding innatons as well, more in
the case of the crude elemental f-factor than the
naturally-selected g factor.
The journal’s reviewer also raised the matter
that the Flynn effect has not reversed in some
countries. This can be understood in terms of the
distribution of mercury pollution, which has some
global-wide spread but also much localisation.
Certain East Asian and developing countries have
had seriously increasing air pollution in contrast to
the legislated decreases in more developed
countries, and so it is hardly surprising that they
have had rising IQs rather than falling. Increasing
use of coal for electricity generation in the southern
US may likewise have been causing the Flynn
effect t continue upwards there. According to Smith
(2013), “Emissions of mercury from coal-fired
power plants have actually increased in the last
decade in the state of Texas.”
In any case, this present paper seeks only to set
out the general concept of mercury pollution
causing the Flynn effect, rather than attempt an
extended analysis of the many details such as these.
The available data of historical mercury is far from
being precision engineering.
Antiinnatia factors are predicted to have
generally advantageous effects on the body of the
individual (below toxic levels), so the increase of
mercury pollution could also have been the cause
of concurrent increases of longevity and height and
symmetry in the same countries. If there are
correlations across time and space of the changes of
these variables these would add support to this
extension of the theory.
This antiinnatia-mercury theory of the Flynn
effect further implies that the effect would also
apply to non-humans. There appears to be some
support for that notion in terms of reports of new
techniques being invented by primates and birds
(Walker, 2009a, 2009b, 2010).
It remains the case that heavily-mercurised
foods such as whale-meat and fish from polluted
inland waters should continue to be considered
harmful to health, and that global mercury pollution
is overall very harmful. It is the impression of this
author that mercury pollution has caused far more
harm to society than the incorrectly-assumed
decrement of IQ would ever have constituted.
In his book Flynn (2009b) writes: “I believe
that my efforts to resolve the historical paradoxes
we will discuss should be judged by whether
someone has a more satisfactory resolution to
offer.” I suggest that here there is indeed that more
satisfactory resolution. Meanwhile in honour of his
contributions to the subject I suggest calling the
pollution factor the f-factor (Flynn factor) to go
alongside the existing (genetic) g-factor (though
they seem likely substantially correlated together in
their effects from both being antiinnatia factors).
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Appendix: The g-, f-, and m- principal factors of
intelligence?
There has been some debate as to whether the
Flynn effect is primarily a change in the g-factor, or
instead a change of some other sort. I here suggest
that the matter may be better-understood in terms
of an analogy.
Consider the following notional weed-filled
field. The west side of the field is dry, and
consequently few things grow there, in contrast to
the humid east side. The north end is chalky
whereas the south end is acid. Consequently the
density of growth of grass and heather is as
illustrated (in nominal units) in figure 8.
If you study a cross-section from east to west,
you will find a 100% positive correlation (r = 1.0)
between heather and grass, because the dryness
impedes both of these. By contrast grass is the
dominant growth on England’s chalk downs
whereas heather thrives best in more acid soil. So
if you study a cross-section from north to south,
you will find the exact opposite correlation, r =
minus 1.0. And that is even though it is exactly the
same plants in exactly the same field.
north
south
west east
2 heather
20 grass
20 heather
2 grass
20 heather
200 grass
200 heather
20 grass
Figure 8. A notional weed-filled field.
The standard g-factor is found from looking at
correlations in a single time and place – a cross-
section at a particular date comparing individuals.
By contrast, with the Flynn effect one is looking at
the cross-section along the time dimension and
with all the genetic and other variance of the
individuals lumped together and averaged out.
The g-factor can be understood to be the
manifestation of individual differences in the
inherited amount of the complex of antiinnatia
genes. That would be why it is highly heritable.
The f-factor observed in the Flynn effect can be
understood to be the antiinnatia factor that is
mercury pollution, which likewise raises IQ scores
but does so somewhat differently, and less
helpfully, because it is one crude element rather
than a complex of genes carefully evolved over
millennia of natural selection for being
advantageous to the organisms having them. But
they are still both antiinnatia factors, so can be
expected to be confusingly correlated in their
manifestations even when they might not be in their
origins.
We could further consider a cross-section in a
third orientation, along the lifetimes of individuals,
with genes and location and decade of birth held
constant. We might then find a further principal
factor, the m-factor (m for maturity), which would
perhaps reflect the accumulation of crystallised
intelligence skills and knowledge over time.
I have presented IQ here as seemingly entirely
determined by genetics and chemistry. But quite
likely the last place you will find the effects of
social/learning environment is in problem-solving
IQ. Rather consider that from years of practice I
have become very skilled at writing but I still have
an “IQ” of zero in terms of speaking Korean or
using a smartphone in any language.
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... ten Tusscher et al. (2014) also contend that dioxin exposure may be associated with reaction speed decline. More recently, Clarke (2015) has proposed the antiinnatia theory, which holds that mercury exposure has increased the prevalence of autism, via interference with normal patterns of gene expression, and has promoted the Flynn effect as a byproduct. Another proponent of neurotoxin-based explanations of intelligence change is Barbara Demeneix, whose 2014 book Losing Our Minds posits that thyroid hormone disruption provides a bridge linking the effects of neurotoxins with declining cognitive functioning, via such disruption's effects on patterns of gene expression in development. ...
... Conversely, Silverman (2010) suggests that lead and other industrial byproducts might be increasing over time and that this might be slowing simple reaction speed. Clarke (2015) suggests that increasing exposure to mercury actually boosts intelligence, whereas Demeneix (2014) maintains the opposite. Very little effort has been made to test any of the predictions of variants of this model using secular trend data. ...
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This is the first part of a combined theory of autism and general intelligence (IQ). It is argued that general impairment of gene-expression, produced by a diversity of environmental and genetic causes, is in moderation advantageous in suppressing genetic idiosyncracies. But in excess it will produce a condition involving abnormalities of appearance and behaviour, with a particular relationship to high parental social class and IQ and with particular sex distributions. Characteristics and findings relating to schizophrenia, manic-depressive illness, or neuroses indicate that they cannot reasonably be considered manifestations of excessive general impairment of gene-expression. By contrast, characteristics and findings relating to autism accord very well with this conception. The suggestion is that autism involves primary abnormalities in diverse parts of the brain and in diverse psychological functions. By this means are explained not only the diverse behavioural abnormalities but also such peculiarities as the physical characteristics and the differential distributions of autistic subcategories with respect to social class and sex. Random binding to DNA may be a substantial agent of general impairment of gene-expression.