Minnesota Somali Autism

map1When I was a kid, my sisters and I would place a marble in the middle of the dining room linoleum floor and watch it begin rolling toward the hallway. Quickly, it would pick up speed, pass through the dining room door and then start lolling back and forth (north and south), and it careened more or less westward across the house. The history of the nearly 100-year old structure, since torn down, was represented in the pathway of the marble.

Tracing the path of societal ideas is compromised by an interpretation protocol that traces only the productions, not the origins, of the mind. We don’t think of biology or genetics as informing a discussion of the evolution of ideas. Exploring the connection between physical and mental when seeking an understanding of culture is not an intuitive choice. It has a lot to do with our not consciously knowing how we evolve biologically and societally. We are left watching the marble, guessing at what might have influenced its path.

No single variable influences our evolution more powerfully than changes in the rate and timing of maturation. Neoteny, or the prolongation of infant features into the adult of descendants by the slowing down of maturation, is the single most influential factor in our divergence from chimpanzee-like progenitors. Variations in a mother’s testosterone levels while her child is in the womb adjust maturation rates, modifying the personality, physical features, strengths and interests of her child. For example, high testosterone levels in combination with other factors can lead to autism. An extremely powerful determinant of testosterone levels is the degree and duration of exposure to light.

Daily testosterone levels are influenced by diurnal light variations. In Africa and the Middle East, equatorial light patterns throughout the year are relatively constant and do not impact daily testosterone levels to variations of more than 30%. Those variations stay within a constant yearly range.

Africans made slaves and carried to America were forced to labor in the American South, a South subject to very different light cycles than their society of origin. With early 20th century migration to Northern cities, additional latitudinal differences came into play. Light varied seasonally and testosterone levels fluctuated wildly relative to the latitude of origin.

The Jewish Diaspora drew Semitic peoples away from regions near the middle of the earth to Europe, where light varies more radically, seasonally, the farther North one goes.

The pineal gland interprets summer as daytime and winter as nighttime, based upon a multimillion-year equatorial calibration in Africa. Africans in America, as well as Semitics in Europe and now in America, find themselves exposed to radically different light levels from their societies of origin. The result is fundamental change in maturation rates in both the directions of neoteny and acceleration because mothers’ testosterone levels are moving either up or down, depending on the season. Also influenced by the season would be when the mother’s parents were born, because they would be subject to the same light impact. Over generations, if relations are born in the same season, you can get multigenerational exaggerations of the pineal-influencing testosterone effects.

In African and Jewish cultures, you get far wider variations of personality, physical features, strengths and interests than you would get in a culture not impacted in this way. I hypothesize you’d also get more cases of conditions characterized by maturational delay (autism, Asperger’s, stuttering, OCD) and maturational acceleration (aggression disorders). Jews have had a huge influence on American culture in the arts and sciences. Blacks have had a huge influence on American culture in the arts and athletics. I would suggest this influence is directly related to both cultures having origins in or near Africa, near the equator, and having moved or been forced to move away. I predict that comparisons of African Americans and equatorial Africans living in their society of origin, and American Jews compared with multigenerational Israeli Jews, will exhibit notable differences in exhibition of conditions characterized by maturational delay.

Recently it was discovered that Somalis relocating to Minnesota are having children with autism a far higher percentage of the time than is normal. It has also been discovered that Somalis moving to Scandinavia have increased rates of autism. The change in light is an explanation. This being the case, the birthdays of these children exhibiting autism should be congregating in certain times of the year.

Tracing a moving marble through the hallways of our minds is not as easy as noting the effect of a single variable. Still, the history of culture involves a lot more than the tracing of ideas. It also requires following the bouncing ball as it travels from continent to continent, guiding us to note the influence of light. How we evolve socially and biologically is integrally tied to the ideas we have, our creative proclivities and our inhibiting conditions. Noting light’s influence on this process, we might say that no small amount of who and what we are comes from above.

Proceed to author’s FREE book download on this subject (The book is called Evolution, Autism and Social Change). 10 minute introductory video here.

on 10/29/09 in featured, Society | 51 Comments | Read More

Comments (51)


  1. erd says:

    would you answer a question on this

  2. Mark Stairwalt says:

    I’m afraid Andrew Lehman isn’t available to respond, but please ask in any case. This post continues to see traffic; at the very least we can start a conversation.

  3. erd says:

    would mexicans be affected by that as well

  4. edr says:

    I was just wondering.

    When would Andrew be available.

  5. edr says:

    I ask this question because in Andrews neoteny website he posted something similar about latinos from central america and south america.

  6. Mark Stairwalt says:

    An (uneducated) guess is that it would affect Mexicans only to a reduced extent, for two reasons.

    One, the ancestors of indigenous Mexicans would have spent several thousand years migrating through the northern hemisphere, all along the Pacific coast where light does vary more radically with the seasons. Two, to the extent Spanish genes have mixed with those of native Central Americans, you might need to consider that Spain is roughly the same distance from the equator as Chicago.

    It’s not clear to me on the other hand how to judge the importance of those two things — it may be that the Spanish influence isn’t all that great, and that a few thousand years is enough to reset the situation to one essentially the same as in Somalia.

    This really is a question for Andrew, who is recovering from what was essentially a stroke, and struggling (though he remains capable of comprehending your question perfectly well) to regain his facility with writing and speaking.

    That said, if you’d like to post a link to the post from Neoteny, I’d be happy to take a look at it — and others here might like to see it as well.

  7. edr says:


    this the article i read its called Latino Repercussions

  8. edr says:

    I hope Andrew feels better.

  9. edr says:

    The reason why ask about mexicans is because in the
    article it only mentions central americans and south americans and not mexicans.

    Or did he include or meant mexico as being part of central america

  10. Mark Stairwalt says:

    edr, I would say yes, when Andrew used the phrase “Latino immigrants from South and Central America” I believe he meant this to include Mexicans.

    And now having read the article you provided (thank you), it’s clear to me that the points I brought up above are not all that relevant.

    So, the answer is yes all around — the effects Andrew describes would affect Mexicans who migrate away from the equator.

  11. edr says:

    Thanks for answering the question.

    I was also wondering how much up would people need to go
    to be affected by that.

  12. edr says:

    For instance a someone who is from 24 degrees latitude move up to 29 degrees latitude.

    Would that some one be affected by change in latitude and I suppose in light. For example 29 minus 24 equals 5.
    Is 5 degrees difference in latitude affect the mother in terms of light.

  13. Mark Stairwalt says:

    Well, Somalia being at 10°N, and Minneapolis at 44°N, there’s a difference there of 34°. Since 5° is about 15% of 34°, we might say it would affect the mother only 15% as much … but I don’t think enough work has been done to really be sure. And since there are a lot of other factors involved, it’s hard to say which ones might be involved in any particular case.

    I think all Andrew is doing here is proposing yet another factor to add to the list of possibilities — it’s not as if he’s trying to explain all autism, or even that of any particular family solely in terms of rapid migration away from the equator. There are likely to be many contributing factors ….

  14. edr says:

    Are this the other factors
    smoking, drinking, diet, stress, exercise

  15. Mark Stairwalt says:

    Are those some other factors contributing to autism? No, not at all. Those would certainly be factors affecting general health, but not autism. The factors that contribute to autism are still pretty much a mystery, though Andrew thinks levels of certain hormones play a part — both in the individual parents, and also in the womb.

  16. edr says:

    smoking, drinking, diet, stress, exercise
    dont they cause testosterone in mothers womb to increase

    which in result lower testosterone baby and autism.

  17. edr says:

    I remember reading something like that on Andrews website. And that high testosterone mothers give birth to low testosterone boys and high t girls.

  18. Mark Stairwalt says:

    Yes, yes — good catch — though they are contributing factors only to the level of testosterone as a contributing factor, which in turn — and this is the point I was making — is only one of presumably several other factors. It all depends on what level one focuses on. Within the level on which you are focusing however, it sounds as if you are right.

    A mother who moves 30 or 40 degrees away from the equator might well counteract the effects of the resulting light shift by living healthily and with low stress, while a mother who stays in place near the equator while living unhealthily with high stress might well increase the chance of autism in her children more than if she had migrated. Until we have studies indicating one way or the other however, it all remains hypothesis and speculation.

    And again, we don’t know what all else may be playing into the equation. It does though sound to me as if you have grasped the hypothesis Andrew is proposing.

  19. edr says:

    I am wondering about what you posted on this.

    the extent Spanish genes have mixed with those of native Central Americans, you might need to consider that Spain is roughly the same distance from the equator as Chicago.

    I have seen genetic studies of mexicans done in united states and from mexico.And some show that they are about 62 european and 32 native american and others showin to be 65 euro and 35 native.
    And another one that was from mexico from 3 states bordering states that test were 78.5 europen and 21.5 native american.

    So I was wondering would they be affected by the light.

    I know that there other factors that contribute to autism that are unknown.But speaking latitude wise if they move up 5 or more degrees up in latitude like the question i ask.

    Would that some one be affected by change in latitude and I suppose in light. For example 29 minus 24 equals 5.
    Is 5 degrees difference in latitude affect the mother in terms of light.

    Since the studies show they are more european.And then you posted this.

    and now having read the article you provided (thank you), it’s clear to me that the points I brought up above are not all that relevant.

    So, the answer is yes all around — the effects Andrew describes would affect Mexicans who migrate away from the equator.

    So I am kind of confuse. Im sorry for the long question and all the writing.

  20. Mark Stairwalt says:

    From reading Andrew’s Latino Repercussions post, I get the idea that bloodlines matter much less than current location. So, even though the percentage of Spanish blood in Latinos is 60-some percent, apparently that doesn’t matter as much as I thought it might. However, my (again uninformed) guess is that a 5° move would have only a minimal effect on hormonal levels. Again though, the sort of question you’re asking is one for which we need actual studies to be done before we have solid answers — no one yet really knows the answer to the question you’re asking.

  21. edr says:

    So your trying to say is that the stuff on Andrews website is or are theories and the stuff on this website is to? Thats what your trying to say?

  22. edr says:

    What meant to ask is, are they theories on autism?

  23. edr says:

    So it doesnt matter if they are this much european?

    Hum Biol. 1991 Jun;63(3):309-27.
    Genetic structure of the populations migrating from San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas to Nuevo León in Mexico.

    Cerda-Flores RM, Kshatriya GK, Barton SA, Leal-Garza CH, Garza-Chapa R, Schull WJ, Chakraborty R.

    Subjefatura de Investigacion Cientifica, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Nuevo León, Mexico.

    The Mexicans residing in the Monterrey metropolitan area in Nuevo León, Mexico, were grouped by generation and birthplace [Monterrey Metropolitan Area (MMA), San Luis Potosi (SLP), and Zacatecas (ZAC)] of the four grandparents to determine the extent of genetic variation within this population and the genetic differences, if any, between the natives living in the MMA and the immigrant populations from SLP and ZAC. Nine genetic marker systems were analyzed. The genetic distance analysis indicates that SLP and ZAC are similar to the MMA, irrespective of birthplace and generation. Gene diversity analysis (GST) suggests that more than 96% of the total gene diversity (HT) can be attributed to individual variation within the population. The genetic admixture analysis suggests that the Mexicans of the MMA, SLP, and ZAC, stratified by birthplace and generation, have received a predominantly Spanish contribution (78.5%), followed by a Mexican Indian contribution (21.5%). Similarly, admixture analysis, conducted on the population of Nuevo León and stratified by generation, indicates a substantial contribution from the MMA (64.6%), followed by ZAC (22.1%) and SLP (13.3%). Finally, we demonstrate that there is no nonrandom association of alleles among the genetic marker systems (i.e., no evidence of gametic disequilibrium) despite the Mestizo origin of this population.

    PMID: 2055589 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    Publication Types, MeSH Terms, Substances, Grant Support
    LinkOut - more resources

  24. edr says:

    Would they still be affected by migrating north or more up? I m so sorry for repeating the question.But I felt like I needed to post that so you could tell me.I felt like I needed proof for that.I know you might get irritated and sorry.

  25. edr says:

    Could you please answer this questions? Would a mother thats for example is 95,90,85,or 80 european be affected by moving north or away from the equator? And how much european does a mother have to be that she would not be affected by moving away from the equator?OR does it really not matter how much european they are? I am talking about latinos.

  26. edr says:

    I did not mean to repeat the same thing.Could you please tell me your opinion or what you think.

  27. Mark Stairwalt says:

    “So your trying to say is that the stuff on Andrews website is or are theories and the stuff on this website is to?”


    “OR does it really not matter how much european they are?”

    I don’t think so, no.

  28. edr says:

    I was wondering if black male and white female have a baby girl and the girl grows up and has a baby, would light affect on her baby?
    I am asking this question because the mom would be white and from a non equatorial region. Or would it not matter since dad would be black and baby girl would be mixed.

  29. edr says:

    I meant to say the daughter having the baby would be part black.

  30. Mark Stairwalt says:

    As I now understand Andrew’s work, the answer is no, the background of the parents does not matter.

  31. edr says:

    If a male Mayan native american and Hopi female native american have a baby girl and is born in Phoenix Arizona and she has a baby boy or girl would she be affected by light.

    Would it be different if the mother was Mayan and the father was Hopi and was born in Phoenix Arizona.

    Since it would be Mayan mother moving away from the equator and not the Hopi mother who is native to Arizona or has origins in there.

  32. edr says:

    Could you please answer my question?

  33. edr says:

    I meant to say questions.

  34. edr says:

    I am sorry,but what I am trying to ask is for example if a mother that is from is from a non equatorial region region but the father is is and they have baby girl and she grows up and has baby some were for instance at higher latitude
    than her fathers latitude origin. Would she be affected by light?Kind of like the the Maya and Hopi indian example I posted.

  35. Mark Stairwalt says:

    edr, we may as well discuss how many angels can stand on the point of a needle. What do you think the answer is?

  36. edr says:

    I think answer is yes.

  37. edr says:

    Is what I think correct?

  38. Mark Stairwalt says:

    edr, I am presiding over a website, not over final judgments as to what is correct and incorrect. But I suspect you are right.

    Remember though, if we are outside on a sunny day and I light a match, and then I ask you if the lighted match makes the sky brighter, the answer is also “yes.”

    This still does not mean that the lighted match has made the sky significantly brighter. And a single tiny cloud could darken the sky more than the tiny flame could ever brighten it — but still the answer about whether the lighted match brightens the sky would be “yes.”

    May I ask why it matters to you what the answer to your question is?

  39. edr says:

    I want to better understand how the websites theories work. And I also want to know like would something work if would been done like this or different possibilities of how something or theories work

  40. edr says:

    I meant to say is the different possibilities of how a certain theory would work.

  41. edr says:

    I know that the stuff on this website are theories and that it is not exactly as is says.But based on Andrews theory would some one with 2 percent african ancestry be affected by the light?Because I read that some white americans have 2 to 20 percent african ancestry.

  42. Mark Stairwalt says:

    edr, the answer to ALL your questions having to do with ancestry is that ancestry makes no difference. It only ever came up because I suggested — in error — that it did make a difference. It does not. This was a very good example of why I should not be answering questions about Andrew Lehman’s work.

    You seem to be perseverating here, and given that the subject of your interest is the result of my error and not the work of Andrew Lehman at all, I am now treating this conversation as closed.

  43. edr says:

    I am sorry.Would you answer other questions if they are not about ancestry or ethnicity?I kind of wanted to ask you something different.

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