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[–][deleted] 110 points111 points  (10 children)

It also closely follows a linear trend with my increasing age in each year.... Clearly there are multiple factors at work here.

[–]randominternetdude 47 points48 points  (4 children)

It must be a government cover up.

[–]RoflCopter4 17 points18 points  (3 children)

Fool! Our gub'mint are just the puppets of the REAL government.


[–]fuzzylogic22 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Stop sounding so foolish, you Illuminati gatekeeper employed to make us real truth-tellers look bad!

[–]DiscordianStooge 7 points8 points  (1 child)

Shhhh! Stop saying that, they'll hear you!

[–]Pandarr 22 points23 points  (0 children)

You must die so autism can go away. And organic food I guess.

[–]jasonp55[S] 17 points18 points  (0 children)


[–]CowFu 7 points8 points  (0 children)

So you're the problem. Case solved

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You aging fool, you gave me autism!

[–]dhighway61 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You have a very strange age curve.

[–]ApertureMusic 279 points280 points  (35 children)

But food sales seem to lag autism rates.

Does autism cause organic food sales?

[–]PandaK00sh 103 points104 points  (0 children)


[–]aspankdmonkey 40 points41 points  (8 children)

So... hipsters are autistic?

[–]well_golly 36 points37 points  (6 children)

So close to 'artistic' ... so teasingly close.

[–]cybelechild 17 points18 points  (4 children)

probably it is 'artistic', pronounced with a speech deffect. Because speaking without one is so mainstream

[–]vanostran 6 points7 points  (3 children)

Hey, it sounds right after four tallboy PBRs.

[–]original186 10 points11 points  (2 children)

I wish they made Organic PBR.

[–]TennysonXII 8 points9 points  (1 child)

They do, you've just never heard of it.

[–]original186 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks man! Now I'll be able to go back to my friends and say I heard of it first, even though I've never had it.

[–]alexander_karas -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

They had a developmental disorder before it was cool.

[–]jasonp55[S] 15 points16 points  (5 children)

Actually, there's not enough data here to really decide which is lagging. In fact, it doesn't matter because the two variables are clearly unrelated.

[–]DoorsofPerceptron 30 points31 points  (4 children)

I think they're related.

Both diagnosing autism and buying organic food indicate movement to a society rich enough to concern itself with secondary health issues.

No one believes that autism or eating inorganic food will kill you, but diagnosing autism and developing coping strategies or eating organic food, are seen as good ways to improve people's lifestyle.

Not only have you found a real correlation in American history, but I think if you checked countries all around the world, the percentage of food sold labelled as organic should strongly correlation with the proportion of the population diagnosed as autistic.

Basically, autism testing and organic food are proxies that measure how rich people are.

[–]jasonp55[S] 19 points20 points  (3 children)

You're probably right in your assessment that the two variables are distantly related.

The point is that it's illogical to assume there's a direct, causal relationship between them in either direction.

[–]Cebus 9 points10 points  (2 children)

Variables can be closely related without being causally linked to each other. In many cases where debate has raged over whether A caused B or B caused A, the answer turned out to be that C caused both of them.

[–]nermid 11 points12 points  (1 child)

Startlingly often, C turns out to be "wealth or lack thereof."

[–]jasonp55[S] 6 points7 points  (5 children)

Or there's an increased dose effect. Moar organic food causes even moar autism!

[–]alexander_karas 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Those auties are picky eaters.

[–][deleted] 54 points55 points  (3 children)

Also, cancer causes cell phones. Just tossing it out there.

[–]darkbeanie 16 points17 points  (2 children)

What a wonderful thought -- iPhones and Galaxy S III's reproducing themselves perpetually and uncontrollably... Free phones for everyone!

In fact, I think I'm going to accept that idea as true because of how personally comforting I find it.

[–][deleted] 9 points10 points  (0 children)

If you didn't catch it, I was alluding to this

[–]cbleslie 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Gosh, that would be great.

[–]mrpotatoes 85 points86 points  (8 children)

I can't wait for this graph to somehow find itself in an email titled


[–][deleted]  (6 children)


    [–]mrpotatoes 4 points5 points  (3 children)

    Yeah, I get it through email and as a message on Facebook. Family members are disgruntled with me because I un-follow all FB message chains and put them into spam folders so I rarely go to family events because I missed the evite. It's just noise but most of them don't get it.

    [–][deleted]  (2 children)


      [–]Xelnastoss 2 points3 points  (1 child)

      umm why? its a easy way to invite they still have to think to invite you....

      [–]headless_bourgeoisie 3 points4 points  (0 children)

      Old people still do.

      [–]Chazboski 0 points1 point  (0 children)

      I receive at least 3 a week from my dad. I really don't have the hear to tell him to stop.

      [–]thenaterator 2 points3 points  (0 children)

      It's gonna happen. Saving this post, for sure.

      [–]avsa 37 points38 points  (6 children)

      Lack of pirates cause global warming!!

      [–]CthulhuCompanionCube 18 points19 points  (3 children)

      I'd like to see how the number of pirates correlates with autism rates as well. I'm sure we can find a pattern there.

      [–]jasonp55[S] 41 points42 points  (2 children)

      You get a correlation, and you get a correlation! EVERYBODY GETS A CORRELATION!

      [–]hayshed 12 points13 points  (0 children)

      Look under your seat! It's a CORRELATION!

      [–]BrahBrahBrah 0 points1 point  (0 children)

      Here, have a "correlation"

      [–]RedAero 3 points4 points  (0 children)

      In other words, pirates are cool.

      [–]betterthanastick 0 points1 point  (0 children)

      There must be almost no global warming along the coast of Somalia.

      [–]BowlingisnotNam 20 points21 points  (0 children)

      I for one have personally bought millions of Autism, and never once suffered from a case of Organic Food.

      [–]catjuggler 8 points9 points  (17 children)

      Off topic, but I'm glad to see someone else uses GraphPad Prism. I thought I was the only one. Everything looks so much nicer than in Excel.

      [–]jasonp55[S] 6 points7 points  (16 children)

      It's kinda janky at first, but yeah it's better than Excel (at graphing). I still use Excel/Google Spreadsheets for data acquisition though.

      [–]BillyBuckets 3 points4 points  (15 children)

      The price is prohibitive to most, but yes it blows excel graphs away. I like it for quick/dirty graphing. For publications, I use spss and illustrator.

      [–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (2 children)

      There's nothing hotter than dirty graphing.

      [–]BillyBuckets 2 points3 points  (1 child)

      New favorite pickup line.

      [–]jasonp55[S] 2 points3 points  (11 children)

      Woah, gettin fancy here!

      Now we just need a SAS hipster to show up...

      [–]BillyBuckets 4 points5 points  (3 children)

      I payed for college by doing scientific graphics for a journal. Prism just can't do complex graphs well enough. You have to design each graph independently, then fit them all together as a layout using simplistic alignment tools. What takes a day in prism takes 15 minutes with any good syntax-based graphing program and a little cleanup in Illustrator.

      Hipster? Nah. Professional :)

      [–]ejlilley 4 points5 points  (2 children)

      LaTeX, tikz & pgfplots. (seriously, look at the beautifulnessitude: )

      [–]BillyBuckets 1 point2 points  (0 children)

      I'm just now learning LaTeX for my next NIH update. Thanks for the tip!

      [–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (3 children)

      SAS hipster checking in. I heard my services were required?

      [–]jasonp55[S] 2 points3 points  (2 children)

      YES! But wait, were you using SAS before it was cool?

      [–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

      I learned to use an underground copy - located in a basement computer lab at my alma mater.

      [–]jxj24 4 points5 points  (0 children)

      Hand-carved from wood.


      [–]bluskale 1 point2 points  (1 child)

      I've been using ggplot2 (through R stats) for the past year or so... does that count?

      You can do some pretty nice things with it. Eg, check out the author's examples for scatter plots.

      [–]jasonp55[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

      Alas, no. A true SAS hipster knows it and makes everyone else feel like shit for not using it. Your response wasn't aloof/disdainful enough.

      Incidentally, cool graphs.

      [–]anon-1 0 points1 point  (0 children)

      oooh, I use R. You've probably never heard of it.

      [–][deleted] 19 points20 points  (2 children)

      Please, OP, email this to the Skeptics Guide. They'd love it.

      [–]KaleHavoc 2 points3 points  (0 children)

      Brian Dunning of Skeptoid has already tweeted it. I suspect he may be lurking in this subreddit.

      [–]yudlejoza 9 points10 points  (15 children)

      Question (I'm a skeptic noob?): I know correlation doesn't imply causation but does correlation imply any association, even if indirect? This correlation looks too strong!

      Population growth I guess! right?

      anything else

      [–]jasonp55[S] 25 points26 points  (0 children)

      It does imply association, but only if there's a reasonable underlying hypothesis.

      For example, if I find a strong correlation between the dose of a drug and the effect of a drug, that makes sense.

      In my case, my chart is bunk because I don't have any reasonable hypothesis to explain my results. All I did was data mine until I found an interesting pattern. My chart is extremely misleading, but that's the point: pseudo-scientists do this all the time.

      [–][deleted]  (4 children)


        [–]SquareIsTopOfCool 2 points3 points  (3 children)

        Lemons imported to the US from Mexico vs. Highway fatality rates

        I lost it right there. Clearly the lemons are causing highway accidents!

        [–]Commentbot_Gamma 0 points1 point  (2 children)

        The lemons are preventing the

        [–]Jisaw 0 points1 point  (1 child)

        Lemon juice leaking from additional trucks is melting road ice, obviously.

        [–]Commentbot_Gamma 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        That deadly Texas Road Ice, the silent imaginary killer

        [–]hugies 5 points6 points  (2 children)

        It depends, you really need to think a bit further than correlation and think about whether it makes any sense for there to be a causal link.

        On the face of it, this relationship being causal is stupid. There is no reason that organic food would be significantly different from normal food, let alone cause something as drastic as autism.

        Same as the no. of pirates being correlated to global warming, there is no mechanism that would explain it, it's just an example that data sets can trend together when you are measuring enough things.

        We can use our knowledge of reality to say whether relationships are sensible, it might not be perfect but it's fine in the absence of evidence of causality.

        [–]Ffamran 1 point2 points  (1 child)

        Perhaps autism causes more consumption of organic food.

        [–]codepoet 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        Well, you do have to have something wrong with you to pay that much more for the same thing, but I like to think most autistics are smarter than that.

        [–]RaindropBebop 2 points3 points  (2 children)

        Well, specifically with Autism, I believe we're looking at a higher rate of diagnosis, not so much a higher rate of prevalence. Prior, individuals might not be diagnosed with having Autism, and instead would be labelled as mentally retarded, mentally handicapped, or some other generic form of mental disability.

        Correlations can imply association, but you have to be careful because they might be associated via some third (or fourth, or fifth, etc.) variable that's acting as a conduit or the impetus for the two correlated variables.

        [–]alexander_karas 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        Or children are being misdiagnosed because of the hysteria over every child having autism.

        [–]onsos 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        From what I have read, there is both an increase in the prevalence of autism, and an expansion of what is diagnosed as autism.

        [–]onsos 1 point2 points  (2 children)

        If there is a link, it would go something like this:

        Let us imagine a general health fad, consonant with modern living. It includes increasingly minute concerns amongst an educated middle-class population.

        These people are more likely to worry about the rates of toxicity in what most people regard as good food (and the presence of mysterious micro-nutrients), and they are more likely to call for a medical diagnoses of conditions that different populations would call behaviour problems.

        [–]xoxota99 0 points1 point  (1 child)

        Still not causation, but a (hilariously plausible) causal link. Interesting...

        [–]onsos 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        I don't have any evidence, so I can't vouch for it as a theory. It is a hypothesis which seeks to explain the causal link between these two events--that is, it does account for causation--or it would do, if it had evidence to support it.

        [–]Shotgun_Mosquito 3 points4 points  (0 children)

        wait . I thought it had to do something with pirates

        [–]Ninjabackwards 2 points3 points  (0 children)

        This gave me a pretty good laugh. Thank you.

        [–]cutratestuntman 1 point2 points  (0 children)

        I don't think I've ever tossed out this many upvotes, ever.

        [–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

        Can't wait to see this show up on my Facebook feed.

        [–]Smallpaul 1 point2 points  (0 children)

        According to 2 minutes of Googling, it seems that GraphPad is a company and the software you were using is probably called "Prism"?

        [–]Sir_Fancy_Pants 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        has any study been done on the diagnosis criteria of autism, i.e in all studies i have seen trying to show some correlation it is assumed the capability of being able to diagnose autism remains constant which i would imagine certainly isn't the case.

        I would even go so far to say that the more "autistically aware" we are the more likely a subjective diagnosis is more likely to result in autism.

        I.e human judgement even of trained professionals is not immune to bias and expectation of results, If you believe autism is on the rise, you are more likely to diagnose autism than perhaps consider other diagnoses.

        [–]NIU_1087 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        I always had a feeling additives and preservatives kept us mentally sharp and socially capable. Now I know.

        [–]nohandll 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        What happens when you graph for Sales $/1000 people versus individuals diagnosed/arbitrary number of general population? I'm not saying this would be the best graph, but, it would be a better graph.

        [–]herenseti 0 points1 point  (0 children)

        So...Growth in population causes both those things, as well as awareness.

        [–][deleted] -1 points0 points  (3 children)

        This is just two things that are raising, they're not even raising at similiar rates because the scales have just been put so they look the same, if you change the scale on the right to steps of 200,000 then they no longer match up.

        [–]jasonp55[S] 16 points17 points  (1 child)

        You're right that graphs can lie by manipulating scales. In this case, however, that's not why my graph is misleading. I don't make rookie mistakes like that. :)

        Pay attention to the r value. It's 0.9971. That's very good. It means that the correlation is nearly perfect. In fact, they are raising at similar rates, the scales don't matter. The graph itself is perfectly sound.

        My graph's conclusion, on the other hand, is crap because there's no logical reason to assume that organic foods would cause an increase in autism.

        [–]Sir_Fancy_Pants 5 points6 points  (0 children)

        I shall attempt to (just for the giggles), speculate a logical reason to assume organic foods cause an increase in autism.

        Organic foods, have a greater risk of exposure to certain bacteria/ill health, due to the natural fertiliser used (different nitrates etc), as a result during critical foetus development in a pregnant women, her exposure to this bacteria/food poisoning at this critical stage is increased, resulting in a greater likelihood (although still small) of developing an autistic baby.

        While these mechanisms (causes) are no way known science (as far as i am aware), there is a more credible link with differing farming techniques of nutrients, than say number of umbrellas you own.

        (i am not obviously supporting your graph as being true, just that peoples assumptions of nutrition/intake exposure and health are less illogical than other examples)

        [–]codepoet 5 points6 points  (0 children)

        Yes, Melvin. That's the joke, Melvin.

        [–]cgeezy22 -1 points0 points  (1 child)

        This just in: All food is organic.

        [–]Brando2600 1 point2 points  (0 children)

        Context makes your comment irrelevant.