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America's Real Criminal Element: Lead

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the is-not-causation dept.

Crime 627

2muchcoffeeman writes "The cause of the great increase in violent crime that started in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s may have been isolated: lead. This leads directly to the reason for the sharp decline in violent crime since then: lead abatement programs and especially the ban of tetraethyl lead as an anti-knock agent in gasoline starting in 1996. There are three reasons why this makes sense. First, the statistics correlate almost perfectly. Second, it holds true worldwide with no exceptions. Every country studied has shown this same strong correlation between leaded gasoline and violent crime rates. Third, the chemistry and neuroscience of lead gives us good reason to believe the connection. Decades of research has shown that lead poisoning causes significant and probably irreversible damage to the brain. Not only does lead degrade cognitive abilities and lower intelligence, it also degrades a person's ability to make decisions by damaging areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility. Another thing that stands out: if you overlay a map showing areas with higher incidence of violent crime with one showing lead contamination, there's a strikingly high correlation."

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False Lead (5, Funny)

James McGuigan (852772) | about 2 years ago | (#42509281)

False Lead

Re:False Lead (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 years ago | (#42509759)

False Lead

Also known as Plumbum Pirates....

LOL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509295)

Fucking nigger beasts.

Roman Empire (5, Informative)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 2 years ago | (#42509309)

And didn't help lead to the downfall of Rome as well? I believe they had a lot of lead in their wine containers.

Re:Roman Empire (5, Informative)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 2 years ago | (#42509511)

Lead(II) Acetate [wikipedia.org] was actually used as a sweetening agent. They also had lots of lead water mains too. The Romans were highly advanced for the time, but the massive quantities of lead the average Roman was exposed to certainly didn't help matters.

Re:Roman Empire (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509717)

Or, were they so much more advanced than the rest of the world because they drank so much lead?

Re:Roman Empire (5, Informative)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 2 years ago | (#42509887)

The Romans were advanced. They had indoor plumbing, flush toilets (of a sort) and aquaducts that could transport water for hundreds of miles (most stretches of the aquaducts were enclosed in water mains similar to what we have today) The Romans were capable of performing complicated surgery/repair (much like the new-world cultures) and Roman public baths and enclosed sewage systems helped to maintain public health in crowded urban areas. When the legions were not fighting, they could build nearly any type of infrastructure. Roman roads and bridges have lasted for over 2000 years and are still usable today. That is very impressive considering that the parts of Europe not colonized by the Greeks or Romans were still in the tribal stage of civilization at the time.

Re:Roman Empire (2)

linear a (584575) | about 2 years ago | (#42509903)

Clearly, there is an optimum. They increase their lead content along with Rome for centuries, but they they got too much and it ruined them. Also explains why somebody who as been shot once (and survived) is much more cautious and thoughtful when facing the same circumstances later.

Re:Roman Empire (4, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#42509565)

And didn't help lead to the downfall of Rome as well? I believe they had a lot of lead in their wine containers.

That is one of the theories, yes.

Re:Roman Empire (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42509681)

And didn't help lead to the downfall of Rome as well? I believe they had a lot of lead in their wine containers.

They had a lot of lead in their plumbing. (Which is a nice pun for the classically educated. ;-))

Re:Roman Empire (4, Informative)

Dynedain (141758) | about 2 years ago | (#42509857)

It's not a pun. That's the Latin origin of the word.

Freakonomics? (4, Funny)

lysdexia (897) | about 2 years ago | (#42509321)

And here I thought it was Roe v. Wade. http://www.freakonomics.com/2005/05/15/abortion-and-crime-who-should-you-believe/ [freakonomics.com]

Re:Freakonomics? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509427)

And here I thought it was Roe v. Wade.

http://www.freakonomics.com/2005/05/15/abortion-and-crime-who-should-you-believe/ [freakonomics.com]

It's funny, they actually touched on Roe v. Wade in the article, perhaps you should read it. Did your lysdexia kick in or something?

Re:Freakonomics? (3, Interesting)

operagost (62405) | about 2 years ago | (#42509683)

And here I thought it was gun control. Now, if only we could ban those terrible long, pointy kitchen knives [bbc.co.uk] , no one will ever harm anyone again!

so... (5, Funny)

Nkwe (604125) | about 2 years ago | (#42509353)

If you don't fill someone full of lead, they don't fill someone else full of lead?

Heard this before (-1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about 2 years ago | (#42509359)

I've heard this before and I'm not surprised

lead concentration = poverty (0, Troll)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42509361)

its not lead its the upbringing of people out of poverty

over the last 40 some years the poverty rate has fallen, lots of products are cheap now. 30 years ago if poor people were bored they would go rob or kill someone. They called it Wilding in NYC like when the central park jogger was raped and beaten. these days poor people have x-boxes and you just play call of duty to pass the time

poor people have so much stuff compared to 40-50 years ago there is almost no reason to rob and kill any more

Re:lead concentration = poverty (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509479)

its not lead its the upbringing of people out of poverty

Except that the rise in the standard of living of the poor does not match the decline in crime.

Re:lead concentration = poverty (4, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#42509485)

Yup. If the study were true, China would be one of the most violent countries on Earth. Rich people can afford better products, ie, products with less led in them. Rich people have other, non-violent, ways of stealing large sums of money. I personally believe that the arrival of the internet, cheap entertainment be it games or porn, and easy access to information, has kept people busy at night. And porn and possibly less stressful masturbation has helped release a lot of pent up sexual energy.

Re:lead concentration = poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509633)

There is a 20 year delay, so wait 10 or so more years to find out if China is violent.

Re:lead concentration = poverty (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42509853)

Lead paint is not a major source of lead. The only reason it was so newsworthy is that it was more likely to hit rich kids with more immediate and identifiable results. So long as Chinese children are not likely to chew on their lead-paint toys, then they will get no more lead than someone in a no-lead country. And the toys used locally in China do not match those exported, so stories of toys exported with lead doesn't mean that a child in China is surrounded by it.

And your wording of the issue is insane. It's not like they have toys on the shelf separated out "leaded" and "unleaded".

I haven't read the article yet, but I'd imagine there is a delay in crime based on development time. You don't show someone a lead pipe and then they go out and hit someone with it. But you put unsafe levels of lead in an expectant mother, and raise the child with extra lead, and then crime will increase when he's 15+.

Re:lead concentration = poverty (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509525)

So did the number of poor people suddenly rise in the 1980s and 1990s and fall back in the 2000s?

Re:lead concentration = poverty (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42509595)

Not to mention the spectacular semi-permanent decline in the economy since 2007 has not resulted in a permanent spectacular increase in crime.

Re:lead concentration = poverty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509549)

It is an interesting correlation (as is your idea). However, think we will want a way to test that? Short of re-exposing people to lead again to find out there is no 'nice' way. Anything else is speculation or theory. If you can not test it, it is nothing but a nice theory.

Re:lead concentration = poverty (3, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#42509917)

The neurological effects of lead are known and reproducible. Translating individual effects to society effects is an exercise in statistics because you can not create isolated control groups in society without adding extraneous and often unmeasurable effects.

There is almost no such thing as an absolute scientific proof in sociology. The best you can do is lower the error bars of your statistical model of highly correlated qualities.

Re:lead concentration = poverty (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509623)

They called it Wilding in NYC like when the central park jogger was raped and beaten

... as if that was a real thing:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Park_Jogger_case#Convictions_vacated

Re:lead concentration = poverty (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509665)

That's dumb. Poor people from the early 80's might not have had X-boxes, but they did have video games (Atari, Intellivision and Odyssey systems spring to mind, not to mention arcade games which were just taking off). Plus (and this applies even if you go back before the 80's) there was still TV, books, magazines, radio, and so on. Sorry, but 20th-century crime rates can't be blamed on a lack of entertainment options for the poor. At least not by anyone who 1)is being honest and 2)knows what the fuck they're talking about.

Re:lead concentration = poverty (1)

MouseR (3264) | about 2 years ago | (#42509691)

With the notable exceptions that the poor now use violent crimes to obtain said x-boxes.

Re:lead concentration = poverty (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#42509731)

poor people didn't have any stuff 40-50 years ago and don't have stuff now. Poverty isn't the people with low incomes living in trailer parks and low income housing, They are the people pushing shopping carts on the streets with children in tow. Although neither of these groups has as much stuff as you imply and both spend time hungry with no food.

Re:lead concentration = poverty (5, Insightful)

zeidrich (2793777) | about 2 years ago | (#42509755)

Nobody in a right state of mind is going to rob or kill a random someone just because they're bored.

However, lead poisoning causes brain damage, which can lead to psychosis. And the study shows correlation between violent crime rates and lead concentration.

If it were just a matter of being bored, I would fear for the world. That would imply that we're all rapists and murderers, and that unless we're significantly distracted by our 'stuff' we're prone to rape and murder out of sheer boredom. That's not really the case though. For the most part, people don't rape and murder eachother, except under pretty significant mental distress or disorder.

A study like this is useful because it might bring up other ways of investigating criminal trends. Could there be something environmental that causes mental health issues in a population? Drug/alcohol abuse? Lack of health care opportunities? Birth defects caused by some environmental source? Toxins from some environmental source?

Dismissing it as "people just have more x-boxes so they probably don't get bored and kill people" is pretty pointless. Does poverty factor into it? Maybe. But can we tell if poverty instigates the crime, or if the mental degradation caused by something like lead poisoning (or drug/alcohol abuse, or mental deficiency from birth) both instigates the crime and makes the person have a more difficult time caring for themselves leading to a life of poverty?

That's not even to say that bringing people out of poverty doesn't help the situation. It has a mental effect (reducing stress by making available necessities). But why weren't those people in Central Park just happy to play chess? It's not just that they had nothing better to do, it's more likely that they had a problem that went ignored.

That settles it then (5, Funny)

Andrio (2580551) | about 2 years ago | (#42509367)

I'm throwing this damned mechanical pencil away.

Re:That settles it then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509513)

Pencils use graphite, not lead.

Re:That settles it then (1)

jrmcc (703725) | about 2 years ago | (#42509621)

WHOOSH...

Re:That settles it then (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42509699)

Thank you Captain Obvious.

It never ceases to amaze me the degree to which some ACs are impervious to humor.

how old is this "news" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509385)

more aptly named "olds"

Another possibility (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509395)

Violent crime and ice cream sales both increase during the summer months. Therefore, ice cream causes violent crime.

Re:Another possibility (2)

bioneuralnet (1473843) | about 2 years ago | (#42509455)

I only consume unleaded ice cream. Am I still susceptible?

Re:Another possibility (5, Funny)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#42509611)

I only consume unleaded ice cream. Am I still susceptible?

Depends if it's fluoridated or not. There's a reason I only drink rain water and grain alcohol, you know.

Re:Another possibility (4, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42509467)

You know, except for the whole fact that we know lead sequestering directly affects mental function in ways that cause the individual to become more violent.

Re:Another possibility (-1, Troll)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42509647)

You know, except for the whole fact that we know lead sequestering directly affects mental function in ways that cause the individual to become more violent.

You're matching symptoms, like the autism anti-vaxers. Hitting your head with a hammer causes headache. Consuming mass quantities of beer causes headache. Conclusion, beer is obviously made out of hammers, after all they both cause the same symptoms therefore must be the same scientific effect.

Re:Another possibility (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509837)

Not at all.

There's somewhat more rigor involved than your empty analogies.

Re:Another possibility (2)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#42509861)

Except that the connection between lead and violent behavior isn't just a statistical correlation, but someone that we actually know how and why it works. It's called science: look into it.

Re:Another possibility (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509535)

Naw, violent crime causes ice cream.

Re:Another possibility (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#42509819)

Clearly this indicates that greater criminal activity leads to prior use of more lead.

Heavy stuff (2)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about 2 years ago | (#42509425)

That might also explain why bait fishers are more aggressive than fly fishers .
Because the bait fishers constantly balance their tags with lead, by biting the split lead beads on to the nylon wire, thus depositing small amounts of lead on the front teeth each time.
I always used spinners.

Re:Heavy stuff (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 2 years ago | (#42509885)

Can't afford pliers?

so whats next ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509429)

People convicted of a violent crime suing the fuel companies for damages ?

Maybe...Maybe Not. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509441)

From "Lead Poisoning Causes Crime?" [reason.com]

Blindingly obvious? As far as I know there are no national data series (other than crime statistics) related to societal levels of agressivity and impulsivity, but there are data on national trends in average IQs and ADHD. And those data cut against the lead/crime hypothesis. Take ADHD trends; even as blood lead levels [cdc.gov] have been dropping the diagnosed rate of ADHD has been rising steeply [sciencedaily.com] , up 66 percent in just the past 10 years. And despite the rise in ADHD, crime rates are still falling.

In addition, even as exposure to tetra-ethyl lead rose, average American IQ scores have been increasing at the rate of about 3 points per decade for nearly a century, up about 22 points since 1932 [iapsych.com] [PDF]. This increase is the well-known Flynn Effect [smithsonianmag.com] , named after the New Zealand researcher, James Flynn, who first identified the steady rise in average IQ scores. Note that average IQ scores have been increasing ever since tetra-ethyl lead was first added to gasoline in the mid-1920s.

Correlation, Causation, blah blah (-1, Flamebait)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | about 2 years ago | (#42509459)

I dislike it when people draw a causal link for this type of data. There is a simple correlation that has a ton of possible causes.

It's worth pointing out that lead abatement starts due to a period of public awareness of health issues, which occurs at a specific point of media saturation and wealth in society that things like painted interiors and automobiles are drawing mass-market attention, and issues such as infections, starvation, war, government corruption, etc, are less apparent.

It seems entirely plausible to believe that these two things are co-equal with each some other related or unrelated cause.

Drawing a causal link in this type of complex circumstance is usually and perhaps almost always inappropriate without significantly more evidence.

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (1, Insightful)

pezpunk (205653) | about 2 years ago | (#42509637)

all of this, yes.

furthermore, it is patently absurd to expect to find a single, simple chemical cause for the myriad complex and varied set of behaviors which fall under the umbrella of "violent crime".

it's the kind of childishly simplistic worldview that i'd expect of a libertarian, not Mother Jones.

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (5, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42509921)

You're kidding? Is this the first time you've read Mother Jones?

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509679)

Just because correlation is not causation is no reason why you can't make a living out of finding random correlations.

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509693)

Except it isn't just simple time correlation. There is also spatial correlation (areas with different lead contamination, different countries) and for individuals there is causal link between lead poisoning these behavioural problems.

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (-1, Flamebait)

Kittenman (971447) | about 2 years ago | (#42509705)

Totally agree, and you beat me to it. You might also say that it's related to the rise of colour TV or maybe the space race. (What else happened in the 60s? Platform shoes, flared trousers, Nixon, Harold Wilson, the pill.... the Beatles ... take your pick...)

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509765)

You didn't even bother to read the full summary let alone the actual article did you?

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (5, Informative)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#42509769)

Except we do know very well that lead exposure at a young age DOES result in poor impulse control, lower IQ, and a greater tendency towards violence.

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (2)

mspohr (589790) | about 2 years ago | (#42509773)

This is not just correlation.
Among the many studies that have been done they have shown a biochemical mechanism for brain damage and impaired brain function from lead ingestion. These are classic instrumental variable studies, not simple correlation.

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (5, Informative)

clawhound (811481) | about 2 years ago | (#42509793)

Did you read the actual article? He address those topics precisely. He waited to publish this article until he had a stack of corroborating studies using different methodologies. One study is nothing. Many different studies of many different places, and each one maps well? That's a whole heaping mound of coincidence.

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (5, Funny)

Ultra64 (318705) | about 2 years ago | (#42509845)

http://xkcd.com/552/ [xkcd.com]

Correlation doesn't imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing 'look over there'.

Re:Correlation, Causation, blah blah (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509895)

Did you read the linked article in full? They have more than a simple correlation. They have multiple correlations cross-culturally, and at every level of analysis examined, national, state and neighborhood. It's also backed up by the neurobiological research about the effects of even small quantities of lead on the brain.

Yes, it is correct to be skeptical of claims of causation from correlational data. That's what additional research is for to check for other possible causes is for. That additional research has all supported the claim of causation, to a far higher degree than any other claimed cause.

Skepticism simply for the sake of skepticism is not a virtue. If you demand a high standard of proof, it behooves you to be ready to accept the claims of those who actually manage to meet that standard of proof.

Another chance for criminals to blame someone else (-1, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 years ago | (#42509483)

Now criminals and social workers can add this to their pathetic excuse list which includes upbringing , enviroment , education , right-on-isms, basically anything except their own half witted feckless personalities.

I grew up in london in the 1970s which had millions of cars running on leaded vehicles. Yet strangely I didn't go out mugging old ladies or robbing banks or rioting.

Re:Another chance for criminals to blame someone e (4, Funny)

awkScooby (741257) | about 2 years ago | (#42509721)

You'll find slackers in most every group of people...

Re:Another chance for criminals to blame someone e (1)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about 2 years ago | (#42509827)

All that lead in your brain you just don't remember any of it, ya danged violent offender.

Re:Another chance for criminals to blame someone e (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509925)

RTFA:

Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum wrote that obviously the millions of children who were exposed to high levels of lead didn't all become criminals, but he notes that those on the margin may have been "pushed over the edge from being merely slow or disruptive to becoming part of a nationwide epidemic of violent crime."

Correlation != Causation (-1)

n0ano (148272) | about 2 years ago | (#42509489)

Sigh. Refer to the subject line.

--
"Censeo Toto nos in Kansa esse decisse." - D. Gale.

Curious (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509495)

Admittedly inspired by an XKCD comic, are they sure the violent crime/lead contamination map isn't just a slightly variant on a population density map? The more people, the more cars, the more lead contamination potential, etc.

Re:Curious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509911)

Read the article. The violent crime 'heat map' only works as a population 'heat map' when leaded gasoline is in effect. Afterward the resulting lead contamination has faded, the correlation between population levels and violent crime rates *stop*.

So Africa (-1, Troll)

Snirt (1908938) | about 2 years ago | (#42509507)

is still suffering from lead poisoning? Talking of the genocides and the rampant insecurity in most parts of Africa.

Re:So Africa (-1, Flamebait)

Viol8 (599362) | about 2 years ago | (#42509559)

"Talking of the genocides and the rampant insecurity in most parts of Africa."

Hmm , lets see what Africa and somewhere like the Bronx or south central LA has in common... now what could it be...

Re:So Africa (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 2 years ago | (#42509791)

They might actually be. There is a whole list of countries that you cannot import a vehicle from, unless the catalytic converter has been replaced or put back on, as they use leaded gasoline that would have poisoned that converter.

Re:So Africa (2)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#42509859)

Yes [smartplanet.com]

Seems like a stretch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509509)

An alternative theory I would propose is that as crime rates fall, people begin to worry about other more mundane things like lead exposure and begin to regulate it more.

Re:Seems like a stretch (2)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 2 years ago | (#42509777)

Your theory is a very good one. Not that I think it's likely to be correct, but it's good in that it's easily testable.

Which happened first? Banning leaded gasoline, or the drop in crime? People aren't going to ban leaded gasoline in anticipation of crime rates dropping and having a more secure, better standard of living tomorrow, the vast majority of arrests happen within hours or days of the crime, and every last one has a report. Dates of where leaded gasoline was used are also well-documented.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "Jeez, these guys are scientists, why wouldn't they think of something so simple as checking the dates?" And if you are, congratulations. Now you're starting to think. The tricky part is realizing, and really internalizing the lesson, that you never get to stop.

Correlation/Causation... (0)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#42509553)

Another thing that stands out: if you overlay a map showing areas with higher incidence of violent crime with one showing lead contamination, there's a strikingly high correlation."

There's probably a strong correlation with a lot of things, like population density. I bet if you look around where I live, you'll find very little lead, very few violent crimes, and very few people.

Obviously, cows reduce violent crime.

Re:Correlation/Causation... (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#42509689)

Obviously, cows reduce violent crime.

There's evidence to the contrary [wikipedia.org] .

Seriously, I think the fall in crime is linked to a rise in apathy. The younger generation are passive media consumers, not actively doing much, crime or otherwise.

Re:Correlation/Causation... (2)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about 2 years ago | (#42509709)

Obviously, cows reduce violent crime.

The cow moo does sound awfully like a Buddhist monk chanting for inner peace. Perhaps there is a soothing effect?

Re:Correlation/Causation... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509897)

Except that doesn't cover all of it. The (original) article also mentioned that during the "white flight" era of violent crimes in cities, it was assumed that high population density would necessarily imply higher rates of violence (per person). But since phasing out leaded gasoline, violent crime per capita is roughly the same in cities of different densities: and as a result we are seeing the re-gentrification of urban areas.

But yeah, it is fun commenting on things without reading articles.

Lead does not cause kill people, only people kill (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509563)

Not only does lead degrade cognitive abilities and lower intelligence, it also degrades a person's ability to make decisions by damaging areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility.

I always thought it was Fox News. More specifically Glen Beck. As a scientist I have found a strong correlation between people who watch Fox News and "cognitive abilities and lower intelligence" as well I have found that Fox News tends to "degrade a person's ability to make decisions by damaging areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility."

Perhaps we should look at the real reasons for violence instead of blaming a harmless inactive substance. After all, lead does not kill people, only people kill people.

So people are mean in places with lower octane gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509577)

Sounds like they just want their octane back!

All that missing horsepower must be to blame!

I'm getting rid of all those lead soldiers ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509591)

They're a family heirloom - but they made me a criminal. IT WASN'T ME BUT THE TOY SOLDIERS THE WHOLE TIME !

Gasoline? (2)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#42509601)

The root of all evil on earth, it would seem? However, kind of interesting that the drop in crime is also correlated with the rise of the Sony PlayStation and XBox? Maybe instead of going out and getting drunk and trashing stuff, young men are staying home and getting less drunk and playing Modern Warfare.

New NRA slogan (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#42509603)

Guns don't kill people
Bullets kill people

and of course bullets are made of lead

In other news. (0)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about 2 years ago | (#42509625)

The U.S. Prison population has filed a class-action lawsuit against God/Gaia/Allah/Buddha/Odin/every other "world creator" for creating lead and causing them to commit violent crimes. Each prisoner is seeking repayment in the form of $50,000 per year of incarceration, plus lawyer fees.

Re:In other news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509863)

Suit dismissed due to inability to produce evidence of service.

Some real lead haters out there. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509627)

What a crock of sh*t! I grew up around lead, lead pipes in the house, lead paint, lead-acid batteries, etc. I haven't tried to kill anyone, and last I knew, I had a very high IQ (well, at least in HS, many, many years ago anyway), so this study is BS! We need lead in every day life. We need lead in solder, batteries, electronics, weights, etc. Lead is a very important metal, we can not do without it.

I am so sick of these environmentalist freaks, so sick.

Re:Some real lead haters out there. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509725)

I haven't tried to kill anyone, and last I knew, I had a very high IQ (well, at least in HS, many, many years ago anyway), so this study is BS!

You say a study is "BS" because your own anecdotal experience doesn't agree with it? Buddy, your IQ was never as high as you thought.

Re:Some real lead haters out there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509797)

you're sick, but it's the lead

Maybe it's the lead poisoning (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#42509667)

It might just be the lead poisoning talking, but I sure seem to hear a bunch of voices all talking at once when I open the medicaldaily.com link.

Maybe... (3, Informative)

judoguy (534886) | about 2 years ago | (#42509701)

I hope this study isn't like the 6 city CDC study purporting to show that gun carry license liberalization didn't reduce gun crime. The CDC cherry picked 6 cities for different six month periods in order to "prove" that guns possessed by legal carriers didn't help.

Contrast that "study" to John Lott’s study that looked at every single city in every single county for all 50 states for an over 20 year contiguous time frame. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_Guns,_Less_Crime [wikipedia.org]

uhhh (0)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about 2 years ago | (#42509707)

wut???

Wait, I thought it was abortion (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509739)

nt

Somewhere..... (1)

oldmeddler (1614805) | about 2 years ago | (#42509743)

...some village is missing an nidiot.

I didn't know pump fuel still had lead in 1996 (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 2 years ago | (#42509747)

and especially the ban of tetraethyl lead as an anti-knock agent in gasoline starting in 1996

I didn't know that I could legally be running leaded fuel in 1996. /snarky

Not Causation! (1, Redundant)

photon317 (208409) | about 2 years ago | (#42509771)

The correlations mentioned have *many* likely tertiary connections that lead to conclusions other than the stated hypothesis. The removal of lead contamination and/or leaded gasoline from an area is probably highly likely to coincide with other general improvements to local conditions. Living standards probably went up at the same time: education levels, income levels, stress reduction, etc. The un-leading of the area was just one normal facet of improving overall living conditions, and it's likely the net of all of the improvements that reduces violent crime rate.

As with any statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509775)

Correlation is not causation. Does there appear to be a relationship? Yes.
Can we test this ethically in a lab to determine true cause and effect? Probably not.
Do I have any theories/data to refute the current one? No.

Not so fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509787)

I looks like a lot of responders did not read the article. The evidence it presents is very persuasive; and while not everyone who reads and understands it will agree, they wouldn't be so dismissive -- unless of course they themselves suffer from lead poisoning.

Alternative theory (-1, Troll)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42509817)

Alternative theory: Hydrocarbon contamination causes brain damage. Duh. Different hydrocarbons cause different levels of damage. Duh.
WHY WAS LEAD ADDED TO GASOLINE? Talk to a competent chemist. Basically straight chain hydrocarbons are great liquid fuels other than the low octane pre-detonation thing, which can be fixed with a dose of TEL (which also is a great exhaust valve lube, as a side effect). So leaded gasolines were ridiculously straight chain... non-leaded has to be much higher quality fuel to get a decent octane number without the lead. Obviously different hydrocarbons are going to cause different brain damage levels. So I'd not be surprised to learn that inhaling tons of non-catalytic converter straight chain hydrocarbons Fs up the brain a lot worse than basically clean air coming our of catalytic converter cars powered by non-straight chain hydrocarbons. After all, whats likely to F someone up, 99.9% whats dumped into the environment that being the hydrocarbon, or the 0.1% additive of lead?

I would theorize that stuffing gasoline full of ethanol across various regions of the country would poison brains in a different way. Most seem to agree that modern psychiatric medicine causes most school shootings, but I'd theorize that maybe sniffing strange exhaust because of strange gasoline might have some effect. Possibly the rise in shootings is a direct result of ethanol in gasoline. Certainly long term ethanol consumption has never done a human brain any good, so breathing ethanol exhaust and leaks etc 24x7 probably does no good.

not proof? (-1, Redundant)

axehind (518047) | about 2 years ago | (#42509841)

Correlation does not imply causation

Evidence supports it (2)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 2 years ago | (#42509847)

Most victims of violent crime have been found to have large amounts of lead inside them.

Weak evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42509849)

I wish people had a better sense of graphs such they understood it means very little when the shapes of different data sets appear to be similar. This kind of "evidence" shouldn't even make it to a prestigious publication like /..

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