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  1. #1

    Leaded/unleaded gas responsible for violent crime rates

    I scoffed when I first heard about it, but then I read the article.

    http://www.motherjones.com/environme...-link-gasoline

    It's a bit of a long read, but fascinating and potentially very, very important.

    Assuming that the studies it refers to are legit, then it is very compelling evidence that the dramatic rise in violent crime rates in the 60's, 70's and 80's and then the dramatic DROP in those same violent crime rates in the 90's and onwards is due to the increase in cars after WWII and all the leaded gasoline, and then the removal of lead from gasoline. It also means that America could potentially save hundreds of billions of dollars and reduce violent crime rate even further.

    I know the first thing people will think: correlation, not causation. But apparently the correlation between removing lead from gasoline and violent crimes works city by city, state-by-state, and even nation-by-nation. These places removed lead from gas at different times, and of course they all had varying other factors, but removing the lead from gas still held up in the correlation with future drops in crime rates of a little over 20 years (the time it takes for a child to grow up and become a violent adult). In New Orleans they were even able to correlate lead levels in soils to violent crime rates to individual neighborhoods, and they matched up. Not only that, but every other theory (baby boom and it's echo, abortion and birth control availability, new policing methods, etc) does not correlate with the data showing the drop in violent crimes. Removing lead from gasoline goes correlate.

    Not only that, but research shows that even small amounts of lead in the body leads to behaviors that we pretty much typify with more violent young people.

    Hopefully more research will be done to follow up on this theory, because if true the USA and other countries could potentially reduce violent crimes, incarceration rates and costs, and help out their urban areas. It also makes you wonder about our problems with infertility, ADHD, autism, obesity, etc and whether or not there could be a simple answer based on certain kinds of environmental pollution.

  2. #2
    ehhhhhhhh, mother jones article. It's kind of interesting I guess, but the source raises the skeptical alarm to condition delta.
    "More booze, more bullshit, more buttfuckin'" "Sure, the 3 B's"
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by TradewindNQ View Post
    ehhhhhhhh, mother jones article. It's kind of interesting I guess, but the source raises the skeptical alarm to condition delta.
    Single sources shouldn't ever be fully trusted, but the article does refer to numerous studies so it is at least open to investigation and confirmation.

    Oh, and Mother Jones is politically lefty and focuses on more progressive causes like the environment, human rights, etc, but they are also recognized for some pretty good journalism and have won numerous awards.

  4. #4
    Immortal Masark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptwonline View Post
    It also means that America could potentially save hundreds of billions of dollars and reduce violent crime rate even further.
    How? Leaded gas is banned practically everywhere already. Only aviation gas still has lead in it, and that's already being phased out and is expected to be gone entirely in 10 years.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Masark View Post
    How? Leaded gas is banned practically everywhere already. Only aviation gas still has lead in it, and that's already being phased out and is expected to be gone entirely in 10 years.
    Because the lead doesn't go away. It stays in the soil and during the warmer, dryer weather it gets kicked up into the air and we breathe it in, or it can contaminate food and water, or our pets track it in and we ingest it, etc.

    The inner cities where population and auto emissions (with lead) were the most intensive they also have the highest levels in lead remaining in the soil, and they also have the highest violent crime rates. If the soil is cleaned up then it may be possible to reduce the violent crime rates further, since even trace amounts of lead in the body can lead to serious neurological and behavioral issues. However, the benefits of clean-up and further reducing lead pollution levels further is still unknown and that's why I say more research needs to be done, but there is potential there.

  6. #6
    Sounds like bs. Didn't read it all but seems to be nothing but cum hoc ergo propter hoc.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by semaphore View Post
    Sounds like bs. Didn't read it all but seems to be nothing but cum hoc ergo propter hoc.
    So you're dismissing it before actually seeing the evidence? Weren't you just calling for more evidence to be presented for something in a different thread?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ptwonline View Post
    So you're dismissing it before actually seeing the evidence? Weren't you just calling for more evidence to be presented for something in a different thread?
    No, I'm dismissing (well not really, being sceptical) it because like I already said, the evidence basically amounts to cum hoc ergo propter hoc.

    I don't know what other thread you're talking about but this hypothesis needs a heck of a lot more evidence presented before it should be taken seriously.
    Last edited by semaphore; 2013-01-04 at 07:17 PM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by semaphore View Post
    No, I'm dismissing (well not really, being sceptical) it because like I already said, the evidence basically amounts to cum hoc ergo propter hoc.
    That's because you haven't looked at the evidence presented. It makes a strong argument against your cum hoc ergo propter hoc dismissal.

    And your call for evidence was in the expanding universe thread.

  10. #10
    Elemental Lord Gheld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptwonline View Post
    Because the lead doesn't go away. It stays in the soil and during the warmer, dryer weather it gets kicked up into the air and we breathe it in, or it can contaminate food and water, or our pets track it in and we ingest it, etc.

    The inner cities where population and auto emissions (with lead) were the most intensive they also have the highest levels in lead remaining in the soil, and they also have the highest violent crime rates. If the soil is cleaned up then it may be possible to reduce the violent crime rates further, since even trace amounts of lead in the body can lead to serious neurological and behavioral issues. However, the benefits of clean-up and further reducing lead pollution levels further is still unknown and that's why I say more research needs to be done, but there is potential there.
    Your theory fails to address certain obvious facts; Food is grown rurally, where lead exposure in the soil is lower (according to you) and people in urban areas drink treated water, so the amount of lead ingested in urban areas would be lower.

    Also lead is one of the most dense common elements. The wind would hardly "kick it up"

    This whole theory is terribad.

    Drug addiction and the bloated underground industry around it has already, by study after study been pegged as one of the largest contributors to violence.

    These industries have grown to the point that ending prohibition all together would do very little to stop it all either. So people make up stupid crap like this study to ignore the elephant on the room.

    The war on drugs is a failure. You take one kingpin down and another just takes their place. The only solution is to target addicts. Rehab or jail.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ptwonline View Post
    That's because you haven't looked at the evidence presented. It makes a strong argument against your cum hoc ergo propter hoc dismissal.
    And what might that argument be because I sure don't see anything strong in there. The article pretty much just keeps talking about correlation.


    And your call for evidence was in the expanding universe thread.
    And like the crackpot in that thread, this one needs more evidence.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by semaphore View Post
    And what might that argument be because I sure don't see anything strong in there. The article pretty much just keeps talking about correlation.
    Two points:

    1. There is a known causal link between lead and neurological disorders, including leading to behaviors commonly associated with violent criminals
    2. The correlation is not just one case, or a couple of cases. It's EVERY case. Every city. Every state. Every country. They all banned lead from gasoline at different times and at different rates, and the violent crime drop correlates after about the same number of years later.


    And what good is providing evidence if you will just dismiss it without looking at it all? It's at a point where it probably doesn't even matter now because you're emotionally invested against it.

    ---------- Post added 2013-01-04 at 08:01 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Gheld View Post
    Your theory fails to address certain obvious facts; Food is grown rurally, where lead exposure in the soil is lower (according to you) and people in urban areas drink treated water, so the amount of lead ingested in urban areas would be lower.

    Also lead is one of the most dense common elements. The wind would hardly "kick it up"

    This whole theory is terribad.

    Drug addiction and the bloated underground industry around it has already, by study after study been pegged as one of the largest contributors to violence.

    These industries have grown to the point that ending prohibition all together would do very little to stop it all either. So people make up stupid crap like this study to ignore the elephant on the room.

    The war on drugs is a failure. You take one kingpin down and another just takes their place. The only solution is to target addicts. Rehab or jail.
    It's not one study. It's several studies from around the world.

    And you're dismissing the whole thing based on your lack of understanding. Yes, lead is heavy. But we're talking about specific MOLECULES. Yes, it's easy for a molecule of something to get kicked into the air if it is in some dry dirt.

    Things like drug addiction does have some effect in local areas when it comes to violent crimes rates, as do other factors like gang violence. But other countries have not had the same drug addiction and violent crime association that the US has, and yet they too saw dramatic decreases in violent crimes about 20 years after removing lead from gasoline. And violent crimes are now at 50 year lows. Do you see anything specific in US culture that would account for such drops in violent crimes? ALso consider that virtually all cities--large and small--now have about the same violent crime rates. It used to be that the big cities had much higher rates. The theory about lead accounts for that because of the greater density in automobile use and thus lead in the environment. Does your drug additction theory account for this?

    Experts predicted the drop in violent crime to stop in the 90's and a big influx of new crime to occur because of the echo of the baby boom. basically, you had a big surge of young men and so you would expect violent crimes to rise because young men commit most violent crimes. What happened? Violent crimes continued to plummet.

    So am I saying that this is absolute proof? of course not. You'll note that in my OP I made a big discliamer near the start saying that IF these are legit studies, and that I also called for more studies.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ptwonline View Post
    1. There is a known causal link between lead and neurological disorders, including leading to behaviors commonly associated with violent criminals
    Wrong direction. You'd have to establish that violent criminals have higher levels of lead than the general population. Since you're arguing that the crime rate is due to lead - not that lead can make people crazy. We already know the latter.


    2. The correlation is not just one case, or a couple of cases. It's EVERY case. Every city. Every state. Every country. They all banned lead from gasoline at different times and at different rates, and the violent crime drop correlates after about the same number of years later.
    Cum hoc ergo propter hoc. The margin is sufficiently wide, and the developments sufficiently similar, that inferring causation to the level of confidence you are exhibiting is fallacious.


    And what good is providing evidence if you will just dismiss it without looking at it all? It's at a point where it probably doesn't even matter now because you're emotionally invested against it.
    The only thing I did was point out that cum hoc ergo propter hoc is NOT logically valid. You're the one who seems so emotionally invested that you can't take any criticism of the frankly flimsy evidence.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by semaphore View Post
    Wrong direction. You'd have to establish that violent criminals have higher levels of lead than the general population. Since you're arguing that the crime rate is due to lead - not that lead can make people crazy. We already know the latter.



    Cum hoc ergo propter hoc. The margin is sufficiently wide, and the developments sufficiently similar, that inferring causation to the level of confidence you are exhibiting is fallacious.



    The only thing I did was point out that cum hoc ergo propter hoc is NOT logically valid. You're the one who seems so emotionally invested that you can't take any criticism of the frankly flimsy evidence.
    The "flimsy evidence" that you won't even look at and yet come to a conclusion anyway?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by ptwonline View Post
    The "flimsy evidence" that you won't even look at and yet come to a conclusion anyway?
    So instead of addressing the points I'm making, you bash me by pretending that I "wont' even look at" the evidence. I guess that's one way of ignoring the weakness of your apparently highly emotionally invested position.

  16. #16
    Moderator Kasierith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptwonline View Post
    The "flimsy evidence" that you won't even look at and yet come to a conclusion anyway?
    I looked through the article, and from everything I see it's like the argument that cats are attracted to traffic lights.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by semaphore View Post
    So instead of addressing the points I'm making, you bash me by pretending that I "wont' even look at" the evidence. I guess that's one way of ignoring the weakness of your apparently highly emotionally invested position.
    It's because your specific concern is addressed in the article, which you already claimed that you did not read all of and came up with a conclusion anyway.

    BTW, I don't know if they actually tested lead levels in the bodies of criminals, but I am not sure that is specifically helpful anyway. There is not a 1:1 causal relationship between lead levels and it's effect (that's true of most things). It's a population difference. If you expose a population to lead, then as a whole you will see more neurological problems and a drop in overall IQ even though not every single person may exhibit those symptoms.

    You should read through some of the studies linked. There's a lot of analysis done, inlcuding regression analysis. it looks at several different violent crime measurements and compares several nations, and also includes factors like lead paint exposure in those various nations.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by ptwonline View Post
    It's because your specific concern is addressed in the article,
    No, they handwaved it away by saying "yeah it's correlations but look! even more correlations!" It's thoroughly unconvincing.

    which you already claimed that you did not read all of and came up with a conclusion anyway.
    Yes, the article linked multiple studies and I did not read them all from beginning to end. But I don't have to in order to get a grasp of the arguments being used, courtesy of these things called abstracts. And again, it is still cum hoc ergo propter hoc.


    BTW, I don't know if they actually tested lead levels in the bodies of criminals, but I am not sure that is specifically helpful anyway.
    I don't know why you'd say that. The hypothesis is that exposure to lead causes conditions that lead to crimes, and therefore crime rates go up. Then the hypothesis should be testable by checking the criminals for exposure to lead and compare that to the general population. Unless we're contending that lead causes crime rate to go up because people who are exposed to lead makes non-exposed people commit crimes.


    There is not a 1:1 causal relationship between lead levels and it's effect (that's true of most things).
    Yeah, no. Does not matter. If there is any causation, then you will expect to be able to detect it via statistics once you examined a large enough sample size.

  19. #19
    Sorry had to actually get some work done!

    Actually, there was a study that linked lead levels in children and their crime rates as adults. Higher lead levels, higher crime.

    http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/...l.pmed.0050101

    The reason why I said that lead levels may not specifally lead to higher rates of crimes in individuals is because there are so many other factors also involved when it comes to INDIVIDUALS. But in POPULATIONS you can see the effect.

  20. #20
    look pal,i really like it when people care about the enviroment and i simply cannot view some "global warming is a myth type" as a person worthy of conversing with but, gasoline type affects crime rate,what about super unleaded or hybrid cars,do they affect it too?
    The constructive troll!

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