From the author of the autism study I found this:
As the outgrowth of the struggle for genetic expression, genetic omni-dominance is perhaps the most crucial aspect of the Darwinian struggle for existence. For a genetic system to influence its own destiny, it must be capable of expression. The less capable of expression, the less influence it has over its own destiny. DNA patterns that are incapable of expression continue to exist only so long as they are not in competition with other genetic systems. Even in such unrealistically-benign circumstances they will gradually mutate — or drift — into nonexistence.
The struggle for expression, however, continues over time scales longer than the initial struggle for existence. Why this is so becomes clear when one considers how genes resolve their conflicts with each other that arise, not just between subspecies, but within a subspecies.
In this sense, “ecological annealing” is the processes by which the self-interested complexes of DNA in the ecosystem arrive at greater levels of stability in their co-evolutionary states. This ever-greater stability results in higher degrees of robustness against perturbations of all kinds, environmental as well as genetic. This is a principle defining characteristic of genetic dominance extended to the level of ecosystems — of genetic omni-dominance.
During the period of greatest environmental influx of more dominant genes into the environments traditionally reserved for more recessive males in the United States, autism rates have increased four-fold, from 1 in 2000 before 1970 to 1 in 500 in 2000. Furthermore, although reporting is always problematic, the increases are most apparent in peripheral geographic regions associated with more recessive traits that have experienced some of the greatest rates of change in geneflow as measured by dominant:recessive ratio — regions such as the Pacific Northwest.
What genetic change has occurred in Santa Clara more than in California, in California more than in the rest of the world, and in the rest of the world over the last decade, more than other times in history ?
Immigration and high degrees of integration among populations that have undergone very little coevolution.
And here is the most interesting part:
As discussed above, it is plausible that territorial competition between males has resulted in a variety of mechanisms for manipulating the amygdalae of rivals via extended phenotypics. The amygdala is a key structure in the processes of smell. One of the more plausible neurochemical routes for such genetic omnidominant expression would be the emission of olfactory signals. Pheromones are among the more evolutionarily sophisticated mechanisms by which such extended phenotypic manipulation might occur.
This leads one to suspect that a new mechanism has arisen with humans that largely displaces the role played by pheromones in other animals. A clue as to what this new mechanism might be can be found in the other, primary, function of the amygdala — and that is in the storage of emotive memory. In human evolution, memes — replicators that rely on human memory as their raw material — are transmitted between humans with sophistication that rivals and indeed, in many areas, easily surpasses the sophistication of pheromones. Furthermore, such enormous reliance on memes for intraspecific communication seems as unique to humans as is the vestigial nature of structures for pheromones. It is plausible, therefore, that with the development of neurochemical pathways for memes — particularly memes associated with intense emotions — humans lost many of the evolutionary pressures that maintain the pheromone-specific neurochemical pathways in other animals.
Spatial structure in populations has been shown by Oliphant (Oliphant, M. (1994). Evolving cooperation in the non-iterated prisoner’s dilemma: The importance of spatial organization. In Brooks, R. and Maes, P. (Eds.) Proceedings of the fourth artificial life workshop, pp. 349-352 MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.) to be sufficient to evolve memetic capability in kin-based societies. However, in non-kin environments, such as those predicted by the genetic omnidominance hypothesis to produce intraspecific parasitic castration, one should expect to find Saussurean communication progressively degenerating as evolutionary pressure drives the expression of increasingly sophisticated means of transmitting emotive memes that take up residence as emotive memories in the amygdala of rivals thereby reducing their reproductive competence.
I find the author’s politics noxious, but the thesis is interesting enough that it bears thought as well as response.