Ben Goldacre has found a so-awful-lets-hope-it’s-a-hoax article that suggests that people with Down Syndrome and people from Asia might be genetically similar, because, well, they do similar things.
Strictly speaking, of course, they’re quite right. In fact, apart from an extra 21st chromosome, most people, no matter where they come from, are genetically similar to people with Down’s.
So why are Asian people singled out in particular? Ah, because apparently, they like similar sorts of arts and crafts:
The tendencies of Down subjects to carry out recreative-reabilitative activities, such as embroidery, wicker-working ceramics, book-binding, etc., that is renowned, remind the Chinese hand-crafts, which need a notable ability, such as Chinese vases or the use of chop-sticks employed for eating by Asiatic populations.
The original grammar is left intact so you can fully appreciate the theory in all its glory.
Still not convinced? Well, there’s also the fact that both Asian people and people with Down Syndrome “adore having several dishes displayed on the table and have a propensity for food which is rich in monosodium glutamate”. Uncanny isn’t it?
The article is published in the journal Medical Hypotheses which was founded by the late Dr David Horrobin. Horrobin had a theory that schizophrenia might be linked to the metabolism of Omega-3 fatty acids, and these could be used to treat the disorder.
Initially, the idea was laughed at, although now, some limited evidence exists for its role in mental illness.
Reflecting on his experiences, Horrobin founded Medical Hypotheses, a journal where researchers could publish any ideas, no matter how far-out, to encourage creative thinking in medicine.
You could tell that Horrobin got up people’s noses, because when he died, a famously bitchy obituary was published in the British Medical Journal. So bitchy, in fact, that for the first time, an apology was printed the week after.
True to its mission, Medical Hypotheses remains the eccentric uncle of academic medicine.
The trouble with eccentric uncles though, is that sometimes they get pissed at family gatherings and embarrass themselves.
This is exactly what seems to have happened on this occasion as the article incoherently rambles about something we can’t quite make out, but we know is likely to offend if it keeps going on about it.
Luckily, one of the comments from the Bad Science post links to a much more entertaining Medical Hypotheses article:
Is there an association between the use of heeled footwear and schizophrenia?
See what you’re missing?