Surely many autistic people could not survive at rugged frontiers. Profound autism appears to be, if anything, maladaptive. Doesn't this contradict the Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism?

Profound autism is the variety likely to be noticed first. This can bias a view of autism in general. The autism revealed by the theory is likely to be so ordinary in many forms that it is hardly noticed. Consider for example traits described by words like shy, aloof, introverted, "nerd", loner, awkward, and eccentric. The Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism anticipates an autism spectrum extending all the way to exceptional extremes. It thus expects exceptional cases, especially near what it terms the autism horizon. The theory shows that even exceptional cases do not lie far from the rest of humanity, and may arise from the combining of traits that are common.

Social ability, while transparent to those who have it in good measure, is very complex, with an underlying mechanism that can be damaged. Doubtless some autism is the result of such damage and may be maladaptive. The exceptions expected by the theory can include maladaptive forms. However, the theory underscores that lack of social ability is not in itself evidence of brain damage, and can easily be adaptive. Before one concludes that some form of autism is maladaptive it is worth recalling the boy who survived for days in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, where most similarly lost perish, because he lacked food prejudice and ate bugs.

There is more to some autism than the theory can explain. The theory shows only one important part of autism's origins: It does not show all the parts. Profound, seemingly maladaptive autism merits careful and caring attention, and it is consistent with the Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism. The theory suggests looking for the roots of profound autism not only in damage to genes and brains, but also in combinations of commonly occurring traits.

It is possible to make up thousands of Just So stories about adaptation. What makes the Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism different from any of these?

Yes, it is easy to make up Just So stories about evolutionary adaptations. An imaginative person can invent "adaptive reasons" for almost any trait. For example, one can find in noses an adaptation to party masks and in elbows an adaptation to dinner tables. What makes the present theory different from these is the stark unavoidability of the fact that every population always has a surface. An ancient person may or may not have had party masks or a dinner table, but the person's population (and all ancestor populations) always had a surface. This is not a matter of fancy, but of fact. It is like an x-ray into all past history. For the reason of its unrelenting certainty, the fact of population surfaces is strongly expected to leave a genetic imprint. Few Just So stories can claim this degree of certainty in their premises, and it is this concrete certainty that sets the Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism apart from them.


According to this theory shouldn't there be a high incidence of autism among Inuit people in the Arctic?

It is possible but not necessary that the incidence of autism be high among present-day Arctic peoples. Recall that in the simulator a dot's color depends not just on where it is, but on its entire evolutionary history. These histories must be considered in the case of human autism evolution as well. Where tenure in sparse regions has been relatively brief, the expected impact on autistic traits is not as great. DNA analysis is beginning to make study of human population histories easier.


The Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism predicts gender-related behavioral differences on average. Doesn't this make it a sexist theory?

In a sense autism itself is a sexist condition: The greater incidence of autism among males is a fact.

If a theory proposing that the genders are not identical on average is a sexist theory, then the Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism is a sexist theory. By this measure the theory that men are taller, deeper-voiced and physically stronger on average than women is a sexist theory. However, if sexism requires that one gender be globally superior to another, then the Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism is emphatically not a sexist theory: Average difference does not imply global superiority. The same considerations apply to the expected link between autism and latitude of ancestral homeland.

Any attempt to use the Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism to demonstrate the global superiority of a group is a misuse of the theory.


Isn't the Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism just more Godless Darwinism?

The Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism does not derive from or depend on Darwin's theory of evolution.

There is pride of understanding, and there is pride of ignorance. Good science and good religion steer clear of both. The inferences of the Sparseness-Adaptation Theory of Autism are strong but general: Speaking in religious terms, they do not shackle God.

Anyone who imagines a science to be omniscient or omnipotent should try to predict the course of a natural event like a football game: A knowledge of the rules and the odds does not give much power of prediction in detail. Conversely, to say there are no regularities in nature is to overlook the fact that natural forms themselves -- water, rocks and Man -- are regularities. In religious language, the regularities explored by the sciences are part of creation.

It is possible to explore a potential regularity like the influence of population surfaces on the history of autism without being pompous about it.