Counterpoint: Gregg Easterbrook Reponds

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This article is awfully casual about accusing others of "irresponsibility." It is common for ideas in research to begin with incomplete statistical observations that inspire National Science Foundation- or Institutes of Medicine-sanctioned studies to prove or disprove the underlying larger claim. The sort of research TIME takes two Cornell University professors to task for not having already conducted at their own expense would require millions of dollars for a very complex multi-year home-monitoring study with hundreds of families in the study group allowing two-way recording devices throughout their homes and hundreds more in the control group.

A correlation found during initial research is exactly the sort of event that triggers funding for such major studies. TIME declaring that a statistician who finds a clue should not publish unless he can offer definitive proof is like saying an astronomer who discovers a star should not reveal its location unless he can prove the origin of the universe. And suppose this theory of autism turns out to be true. Should those with suspicions remain silent, offering no caution to parents of young children?

At any rate, since TIME sees fit to accuse others of irresponsibility, it would have been nice if TIME's article had disclosed that its corporate parent has a financial interest in denouncing this research. TIME is owned by the same company that owns Time Warner Cable, a leading cable television carrier, and owns Cartoon Network, which is marketed to young children.