Lead and Violent Crime

Malor wrote:

I don't understand why anyone would fight this conclusion. We know lead is neurotoxic.

Lead in high doses makes people go insane. We know this. Why is it so weird to think that childhood exposure makes people a little bit crazy? Not enough to need a padded cell, but enough to need bars.

Interestingly enough, when I was living in Taiwan in the 1990's, Taiwan was one of only a handful of industrialized countries that hadn't outlawed leaded gasoline.

I wonder what the violent crime rate is there and how that correlates with lead. I wouldn't trust their government statistics though. That place is about as corrupt as corrupt gets.

Wasn't this thread in Everything Else? Doesn't really seem like P&C material.

According to Sierra Club, Honduras had the highest levels of lead in their gasoline of all countries in 1996 when they finally banned leaded gas.

http://www.sierraclub.org/planet/199...

Until Honduras eliminated leaded gas, there was no country in the world with a higher concentration of lead per gallon of gasoline. In some parts of the capital, lead levels in the atmosphere exceeded international standards by 500 percent and lead concentrations in blood were rising, especially among children.

According to Wikipedia, in 2010 Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world.

So, if the lead = crime thing is accurate, we should start to see sharp declines in property crime there in about four more years, and murder rates should drop two or three years after that.

Princeton Neuroscientist Sam Wang, who also had the best model calling the US Elections (better than Nate Silver), has a blog post about this topic.

http://election.princeton.edu/2013/0...

He talks with Kevin Drum here

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtual...

I am listening to it now.

This is not just correlation-causation hypothesis. It also has a mechanical process how lead gets into the brain and does not get out.

Paleocon wrote:
Malor wrote:

I don't understand why anyone would fight this conclusion. We know lead is neurotoxic.

Lead in high doses makes people go insane. We know this. Why is it so weird to think that childhood exposure makes people a little bit crazy? Not enough to need a padded cell, but enough to need bars.

Interestingly enough, when I was living in Taiwan in the 1990's, Taiwan was one of only a handful of industrialized countries that hadn't outlawed leaded gasoline.

I wonder what the violent crime rate is there and how that correlates with lead. I wouldn't trust their government statistics though. That place is about as corrupt as corrupt gets.

Homicide Rates of selected countries...

USA - 5.0
Canada - 1.8

Honduras - 82 Highest in the World
Chile - 3.7 - Lowest in Latin America

Taiwan - 3.6

South Korea - 2.6
Japan - 0.5
Hong Kong - 0.5
Singapore 0.5
Malaysia - 2.3
Thailand - 5.3

UK - 1.2
Spain - 0.9
Finland - 2.3 - Highest in Western Europe

Tawain's rate does seem elevated.

There was a response article from Reason. It points out that diagnosis of ADHD is rising, Global IQ is declining. These are two factors figuring heavily into the Chicago School of criminal thought-you might have read it as retardation in some papers though (depending on the era).

KingGorilla wrote:

There was a response article from Reason. It points out that diagnosis of ADHD is rising, Global IQ is declining. These are two factors figuring heavily into the Chicago School of criminal thought-you might have read it as retardation in some papers though (depending on the era).

That was a terrible response article.

Simply linking to a single study about the prevalence of ADHD diagnoses doesn't disprove the theory. I can link to a study that says ADHD is over-diagnosed, negating the point the author of the Reason article was trying to make: that because ADHD diagnoses are up, the theory about lead in gasoline is wrong. Hell, I could cast doubt on that by simply pointing out that more kids are getting diagnosed with ADHD today than 10 years ago because doctors and parents are more aware of it (and drug companies have some pills they need to push).

The point that IQ's have consistently risen since the 1930s also doesn't disprove the theory since there are many other factors that scientists say are behind the increase in IQ scores, such as better nutrition, more stimulating environments, and lower rates of infectious diseases. These factors could have far outstripped the negative effects of leaded gas.

More fundamentally, though, the author presents no data to back up his position that the reduction of crime should be placed at the feet of more policing, more incarceration, the end of the crack epidemic, and concealed carry.

For more policing, the author overlooked a key fact in Mother Jones article: crime in NYC began dropping four years before Bratton took over the NYPD and began his campaign of "broken window" policing. That and there's effectively no research that there's even such as thing as the "broken window" effect outside of a single experiment conducted in 1969 where a car was left parked in the Bronx and another in Palo Alto, CA.

As for incarceration rates, research has shown they aren't linked to crime rates at all. This is the same for concealed carry: there's no proven crime-reduction effect of more people carrying firearms.

In short, the author provided no actual evidence or research to support his pet theories and presented terribly simplistic arguments to disprove multiple research studies that could be shot down with a 30-second Google search.

goman wrote:
Paleocon wrote:
Malor wrote:

I don't understand why anyone would fight this conclusion. We know lead is neurotoxic.

Lead in high doses makes people go insane. We know this. Why is it so weird to think that childhood exposure makes people a little bit crazy? Not enough to need a padded cell, but enough to need bars.

Interestingly enough, when I was living in Taiwan in the 1990's, Taiwan was one of only a handful of industrialized countries that hadn't outlawed leaded gasoline.

I wonder what the violent crime rate is there and how that correlates with lead. I wouldn't trust their government statistics though. That place is about as corrupt as corrupt gets.

Homicide Rates of selected countries...

USA - 5.0
Canada - 1.8

Honduras - 82 Highest in the World
Chile - 3.7 - Lowest in Latin America

Taiwan - 3.6

South Korea - 2.6
Japan - 0.5
Hong Kong - 0.5
Singapore 0.5
Malaysia - 2.3
Thailand - 5.3

UK - 1.2
Spain - 0.9
Finland - 2.3 - Highest in Western Europe

Tawain's rate does seem elevated.

As far as Finland goes, 82% of homicides involved alcohol with 39% of the perpetrators described as alcoholics. Alcohol is a depressant and anger is a symptom of depression.

I am curious about the nature of the statistics. Do they all gather and classify the same way? I am particularly interested in how they regard suicide . In the US they are counted into criminal homicide stats. I understand they are often not in other countries.

Paleocon wrote:

I am curious about the nature of the statistics. Do they all gather and classify the same way? I am particularly interested in how they regard suicide . In the US they are counted into criminal homicide stats. I understand they are often not in other countries.

Suicides aren't counted in the FBI's homicide stats.

FBI[/url]]
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another. The classification of this offense is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body. The UCR Program does not include the following situations in this offense classification: deaths caused by negligence, suicide, or accident; justifiable homicides; and attempts to murder or assaults to murder, which are scored as aggravated assaults.

Paleocon wrote:

I am curious about the nature of the statistics. Do they all gather and classify the same way? I am particularly interested in how they regard suicide . In the US they are counted into criminal homicide stats. I understand they are often not in other countries.

The stats I quoted are from the UN's global study of homicide...

https://www.unodc.org/documents/data...

They get their info from various sources.

The following mechanisms were used to collect
the data included in the UNODC Homicide statistics dataset:
Criminal justice data
Data regularly collected by UNODC through the
United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and
Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (UNCTS), comprise statistics on a number of conventional crimes, which are collected from all countries
from police, prosecution, court and prison authorities. In this study, police-recorded data on intentional homicides from the UN-CTS are used,
including—where available—complementary data
on homicides by firearms, data on homicides by
sex of victims and perpetrators and homicides in
the most populous city of each country.
Data collected through publicly available sources
and produced by national government sources
(police, national statistical office, ministry of interior, ministry of justice, etc.) were used to complete data series for those countries for which
UN-CTS data were not available and for those
variables not included in the UN-CTS, such as
subnational data and data on homicide by type
(organised crime, intimate partner/family-related,
etc.).
Data collected and compiled by other international and regional agencies were also reviewed
and used, where appropriate, including from
Interpol, Eurostat, the Organisation of American
States and UNICEF

And I agree with you OG, and getting back to Mother Jones and the lead explanation. None of this is taken into account. ADD, ADHD diagnosis has been rising the past 50 years. It was once one of the major theories behind rises in crime in the 80's and 90's. The lead study places that rise and declining Iq on lead. And then from the other side of the mouth any modern rise must have an independent explanation, without justification. And certainly no explanation as to why the rise in the 80's and 90's is predominantly from lead in fuel.

What is the rationale behind stating the decline in IQ, and the rise in ADD/ADHD for those born in the late 60's to the 80's is from lead. But for those born in the 90's forward is explained by over-diagnosis, and faulty methods?

KG, why would you fight this so hard? We know lead is neurotoxic.

KingGorilla wrote:

And I agree with you OG, and getting back to Mother Jones and the lead explanation. None of this is taken into account. ADD, ADHD diagnosis has been rising the past 50 years. It was once one of the major theories behind rises in crime in the 80's and 90's. The lead study places that rise and declining Iq on lead. And then from the other side of the mouth any modern rise must have an independent explanation, without justification. And certainly no explanation as to why the rise in the 80's and 90's is predominantly from lead in fuel.

What is the rationale behind stating the decline in IQ, and the rise in ADD/ADHD for those born in the late 60's to the 80's is from lead. But for those born in the 90's forward is explained by over-diagnosis, and faulty methods?

Where are you getting the whole declining IQ thing from, KG? Lead decreases IQ, yes, but there wasn't ever a whole sale dumbing down of America because of lead.

Hell, the Reason article linked to an IQ study that covered the years 1932 to 2002. It showed a steady and consistent increase in IQ over that time period for which the author basically said "neener, neener, how can you claim lead decreased IQs when this study shows that they've consistently increased every decade?" The answer is very likely that things like better nutrition, a decrease in infectious diseases, and a more stimulating environment overcame the IQ lowering effect of lead.

As for ADHD, it technically didn't exist until 1980 when it was added to the APA's big book of psychiatric disorders. And getting in that book took some 30+ years of research into behavioral disorders that were called various things at the time, like Hyperkinetic Impulse Disorder or Minimal Brain Dysfunction Syndrome. What we do know is that there was some disorder seen among children prior to 1980.

I'm really not going to be surprised that the number of children diagnosed with ADHD exploded after 1980 because that was the first time it was an official disorder. And since then psychiatrists have gotten better and better at diagnosing it.

So it's not really an unexplained explosion of the disorder, it's simply that it's being reported now when it really wasn't (or it was reported under multiple names) during 50s, 60s, and 70s. That's how you get loads of diagnoses for ADHD even after lead had been removed from gasoline.

And, on top of all that, it's not even known what actually causes ADHD. Yes, there are some studies that show that childhood exposure to lead leads to ADHD-like symptoms, but ADHD also has a huge genetic component and has been linked to things like low birth weight, food additives, smoking, or even the mom getting ill during pregnancy. So all of that means that there can be more and more diagnoses of ADHD even after lead has been removed from gasoline.

Paleocon wrote:

I am curious about the nature of the statistics. Do they all gather and classify the same way? I am particularly interested in how they regard suicide . In the US they are counted into criminal homicide stats. I understand they are often not in other countries.

Official Statistics of Finland, pdf page 14[/url]]Finland's accident mortality is the highest among EU countries after Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Particularly fatal accidents at home and leisure are in Finland higher relative to the population size than elsewhere in Western Europe. However, there are often problemsinvolved in comparing national statistics, which are due to differences in classification practices and establishment of causes of death. Not all countries record fatal accidents as accurately as Finland, which may appear as lower mortality rates for those countries.

I have it somewhere in the back of my head that Finland record some fatal accidents as suicides thereby increasing their intentional homicides rates. The above paragraph is the closest I can find for now that seems to hint that I might have a nub of the truth.

Reason has failed us as a source of credible reporting many times. We need to remember that it's not impartial, but instead offers articles that support one particular perspective.

The lead lobby, in this case.

I long since suspected that KG is in the pocket of the global lead industry!

Malor wrote:

KG, why would you fight this so hard? We know lead is neurotoxic.

Well, as a counterpoint, we don't know with certainty that this relationship to violent crime is causative.

The study is a good start. I find the idea very intriguing, and it bears continued historical analysis, such as with Honduras over the next decade in particular (taking into account other societal and potential environmental impacting factors).

Farscry wrote:

Well, as a counterpoint, we don't know with certainty that this relationship to violent crime is causative.

The study is a good start. I find the idea very intriguing, and it bears continued historical analysis, such as with Honduras over the next decade in particular (taking into account other societal and potential environmental impacting factors).

True, but the science behind it is much, much stronger than, say, the broken windows theory of crime or the more incarceration/more guns = less crime theories. Seriously, we've dumped hundreds of billions of dollars into more cops/more jails for decades without any additional supporting data short of a gut check of "yeah, that seems right." That shouldn't be how public policy--especially expensive public policy--decisions get made.

No argument from me on any of those points, OG.

Axon wrote:

Alcohol is a depressant and anger is a symptom of depression.

Small point, but a depressant is *not* an agent that causes depression.

wikipedia wrote:

A depressant, or central depressant, is a drug or endogenous compound that lowers or depresses arousal levels and reduces excitability

That is to say, a depressant depresses the body's responses. Which is distinct from depression, a mood disorder.

To further muddy the waters, depression can be a common side effect of alcoholism.

So your assertion, while using faulty logic, arrived at the correct destination anyway. You could have said, "alcohol causes alcoholism, which can lead to depression, which can lead to anger." (Which leads to the Dark Side)

Boing Boing offers this analysis on the sources and data in the Mother Jones article. It's a really interesting read.

http://hisscienceistootight.blogspot...

I might also point out that calling alcohol a depressant is a bit oversimplified as well. Ethanol can act as a Stimulant or depressant, based on a variety of factors.

Seth wrote:

I might also point out that calling alcohol a depressant is a bit oversimplified as well. Ethanol can act as a Stimulant or depressant, based on a variety of factors.

Yup - confusion of terms.

Ethanol is a central nervous system depressant. CNS depressants cause decreased rate of breathing, decreased heart rate, and loss of consciousness possibly leading to coma or death. It's why combining booze and sleeping pills can be lethal, because both are CNS depressants, and the effects are cumulative.

CNS depressants have no direct impact on emotional and or mood states, such as "depression".

Malor wrote:

KG, why would you fight this so hard? We know lead is neurotoxic.

From what I've read, he's not fighting the idea that lead is a factor, but the idea that lead is the factor.

Er. Did anyone ever claim that? I'm pretty sure we'd all agree that claims of the form "Y can only ever be caused by X" can almost always be rejected without further examination.

Hypatian wrote:

Er. Did anyone ever claim that? I'm pretty sure we'd all agree that claims of the form "Y can only ever be caused by X" can almost always be rejected without further examination.

One of the articles claimed "Gasoline lead may explain as much as 90 percent of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century."

Which article, what data led to that conclusion, and what data do you have to counter that conclusion?