I just made me run for the Verizon FIOS hook-up in my garage...then I realized I don't own a sledgehammer, and who knows what that thing is actually hooked to and whether its destruction would lead to some kind of space-time alteration.
Anyway, here's a snippet of the article that just caused my minor embolism:
TV Really Might Cause Autism
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. The researchers studied autism incidence in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. They found that as cable television became common in California and Pennsylvania beginning around 1980, childhood autism rose more in the counties that had cable than in the counties that did not. They further found that in all the Western states, the more time toddlers spent in front of the television, the more likely they were to exhibit symptoms of autism disorders.
The Cornell study represents a potential bombshell in the autism debate. "We are not saying we have found the cause of autism, we're saying we have found a critical piece of evidence," Cornell researcher Michael Waldman told me. Because autism rates are increasing broadly across the country and across income and ethnic groups, it seems logical that the trigger is something to which children are broadly exposed. Vaccines were a leading suspect, but numerous studies have failed to show any definitive link between autism and vaccines, while the autism rise has continued since worrisome compounds in vaccines were banned. What if the malefactor is not a chemical? Studies suggest that American children now watch about four hours of television daily. Before 1980—the first kids-oriented channel, Nickelodeon, dates to 1979—the figure is believed to have been much lower.
Yet another example of the media latching on to a Big Bad Scary Thing and blowing a single study out of proportion? Or is TV really the root of all things bad?
Maybe I should consider becoming Amish. The simple life has always appealed to me, and I'm sure I could eventually get used to making my own butter. This article ends with one more item to add to my pro-Amish list:
"Autism is rare in Amish society, and the standing assumption has been that this is because most Amish refuse to vaccinate children. The Amish also do not watch television."
(Note: Read some of the comments, too, at the end of the Slate posting... interesting input.)