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January 4, 2013
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Inwhich an Objectivist Advocates Spending $200b on a Social Problem...

:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
[link]

Short summation: There is really strong evidence that low to medium level lead poisoning is one of the leading causes of crime; lead emissions correlate with a 20-year lead on crime. The correlation holds on a national level - the same patterns are present in Australia, the UK, the US, and every other nation thus examined, to such extents that is almost a statistical anomaly how -well- it fits. It holds on a state level - the more emissions in a state, the higher the crime. It holds on a county level. It even holds, albeit much more weakly, on a neighborhood level.

It would cost ~$200b to clean up the lead in most of the country, including tearing down and replacing houses, and cleaning up lead deposits in soil throughout the country.

And I'd suggest, given the evidence, it's worth doing.

Now, if anybody has any evidence to the contrary, I would love to see it. I can't find any.
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Devious Comments

:icongussiejives:
gussiejives Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Based on Kevin Drum's article on the subject, I concur.
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:iconty-calibre:
Ty-Calibre Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
All I'm gonna say is, a 95% correlation was found between the quantity of iron ingots shipped from Pittsburgh to Chicago and the number of registered prostitutes in Buenos Aires.

[link]
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That has a very official-sounding name in statistics: "Going fishing."

The rule, in statistics, as in science, is you start with a hypothesis, and you test that specific hypothesis. If you feed a system endless amounts of data, it will find a correlation somewhere. That 95% correlation means there's a 95% chance of that correlation being valid; if you've tested for more than 20 correlations, you have around even odds of having found one.

See [link]

However, in this case the scientists have done their homework; they ran their tests, and then sought out other data sets to examine as well. Rick Nevin, one of the statisticians doing the research, has run the data on nine countries, and found strong correlations. Jessica Reyes, another statistician, ran the data on different states, comparing states on the basis of leaded gasoline phase-outs (different states followed different schedules on eliminating leaded gasoline); it tracked exceptionally well. There have been hundreds of citations and follow-ups on their work, and only one study out of all of them contradicted the findings. (And, for what it's worth, that study was funded by the largest lead fuel additive company, and engages in a lot of statistical hijinx, some of which are mentioned elsewhere in this thread.)

Moreover, studies performed have shown demonstrably higher blood levels in criminals than in the general population. The link between lead and aggressive behavior has long been known, as well as its effect on intelligence. Neurologist David Bellinger is one of hundreds of individuals who has published studies on the subject.

Unfortunately, virtually all of these studies are behind paywalls, so unless you have access to a university library I can't give them to you to examine yourself.
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:iconty-calibre:
Ty-Calibre Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
That is unfortunate.

What's the correlation like between lead phase out internationally?
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:iconty-calibre:
Ty-Calibre Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm skeptical.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Of the nine countries Nevin studied, the same; the variable tracked for 60-90% of crimes given a 23-year lead time. (That's the error bar, I believe, meaning lead was predictive of somewhere between 60-90% of the crime, which is a fancy way of saying that 10-40% of the crime rate either had nothing to do with lead or the signal was too weak to identify.)
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:iconkitsumekat:
kitsumekat Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
I would prefer to clean up the lead though.
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:iconno-doves-fly-here:
no-doves-fly-here Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
While everyone else wants to bitch and gripe over whether or not such contamination really does yield higher crime rates and lower IQ's, I am simply relieved to see conservatives looking for alternative methods of solving crime that do not involve being a police statocracy.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
If you're referring to me, I'm not really conservative. I'm middle-libertarian; I could be convinced on things like the death penalty (which I'm weakly for, at the moment, although I'd prefer a substantially stronger burden of evidence), favor a middle ground on intellectual property (down with software patents, for one!), and favor certain kinds of redistribution (I believe the government should be limited to taxing land (and land only, not the improvements placed upon it), and don't believe in the current welfare state, but do believe excess funds from aforementioned property taxation should be distributed evenly across the population). I also tend to be for certain kinds of regulation (of the "do no harm" variety, not the "in society's interests" variety), but regard these as -usually- being better served by tort law.
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:iconno-doves-fly-here:
no-doves-fly-here Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
Oh, actually I was referring to the objectivist mentioned in the title of this thread.

Issues such as capital punishment are matters of a libertarian-authoritarian scale (specifically civil libertarianism), rather than a left-right scale. However being opposed to patent restrictions may put you closer to the individualist/general market-libertarian spectrum of things, rather than the libertarian-capitalist spectrum. So perhaps center-right? To be honest what you advocate sounds strongly reminiscent of Geonomics. Regardless I would most certainly not consider you a 'middle-libertarian' based on our past discussions. Centrists on the libertarian scale are mutualists, syndicalists and the like who advocate a blend free market economies with common ownership of the means of production and co-operative living.

When you say, "of the 'do no harm' variety", I assume you mean actions which violate natural law; the right to be free from the threat of murder, rape, assault, libel and fraud?
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That was me. :-)

I don't think Mother Jones keeps many Objectivists in employ.

I think your version of "center" for libertarians is far-left by US standards, although we tend to use the word libertarian in a radically different way.

Murder, rape, and assault; libel and fraud to a lesser extent; their inclusion in that particular list is like arson, murder, and jaywalking. They're crimes against the person, to be sure, but not on the same order.
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:iconno-doves-fly-here:
no-doves-fly-here Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013
"although we tend to use the word libertarian in a radically different way"

I use the term as a measurement of both economic and civil liberty.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
"Common ownership" isn't exactly part of economic liberty. It's not necessarily opposed to it, but it's not part of it, either. I think the general libertarian position is that the proper market mechanisms are outside the domain of government mandate; the implementations of those mechanisms aren't really part of the politics, but personal choice.
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:iconthelightswentoutin99:
TheLightsWentOutIn99 Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Student Writer
This may hold true on a state level, but I'm from an area that's awash in decades of heavy metals pollution yet maintains only a modest crime rate. My frequent bouts of homicidal rage are also entirely unrelated.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Not all heavy metal poisoning behaves similarly. Mercury, for example, generally affects lung function and fertility before it affects brain function.

Lead poisoning behaves altogether differently than other heavy metal poisonings, in part because it fixates in the body; most other heavy metals can be chelated out, but lead replaces calcium, and remains in the body, causing continuing damage.
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:iconthelightswentoutin99:
TheLightsWentOutIn99 Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013  Student Writer
Still, it's not an area that has the funds for lead paint removal. My high school only had (most of) its lead paint removed early last decade, and that's a public building. Private residences don't get the same attention.
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:iconno-doves-fly-here:
no-doves-fly-here Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
"...heavy metal poisoning..."

This is the most brilliant thing you have ever said.
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:iconebolabearvomit:
EbolaBearVomit Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
So why aren't the Rust Belt and East Coast port cities awash in violent crime?
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
They were; it's been a considerable time since leaded gasoline was used, however.

Since lead was banned in gasoline, crime rates of urban, suburban, and rural areas have begun to equalize. Previously large cities had significantly higher crime rates; now they're close to equal.
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:iconebolabearvomit:
EbolaBearVomit Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
I always thought one of the reasons why my old neighborhood in Philly got 'better' was because the city knocked down about 5 blocks of abandoned buildings and increased patrols.......
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Well, that should be easy to examine: Did other neighborhoods which didn't knock down abandoned buildings and increase patrols also improve?
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:iconebolabearvomit:
EbolaBearVomit Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
No they did not.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Philadelphia crime rates overall went down ~8%. Specific neighborhood info seems really difficult to get, though. Would it be prying to ask what neighborhood it was?
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(2 Replies)
:iconcrotale:
Crotale Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
It's true that the reduction of lead in gasoline has led to fewer cases of road rage, aka, "aggressive" driving.

Please come back when you have a reputable source.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I can give you reputable sources, but I'd just be copying them from the article I linked.
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:iconcrotale:
Crotale Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
I mean, reputable articles on lead being directly linked to crime, not a bunch of loosely linked articles that do not directly correlate with one another.

Consider this. The article states gasoline lead reduction has led to reduction in crime. Bullshit. Road rage is more rampant now than ever, and is regardless of lead levels in the 1960s or today.
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:iconno-doves-fly-here:
no-doves-fly-here Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
You demand reputable sources and yet you provide none yourself.

"Road rage is more rampant now than ever"

In terms of rate or cold numbers?
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:iconcrotale:
Crotale Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
I demanded nothing. I insisted, perhaps, in order to see the OP provide something more than a single article form a heavily biased website.

There is a plenty of documentation to show that people in general are becoming more aggressive. Road rage is only one manifested
action of a broader symptom. I'm not making it out to be so bad that a person wants to stay off the road, but there has been a defined increase.

I could care less about "cold numbers". If you want researched information, get it yourself. But hey, since you asked, I'll provide more pertinent information than numbers alone. Note that according to AAA, road rage is a major concern for drivers in 2012. Back in the mid 1980s when road rage got national attention, it was confined mostly to major US cities. So yes, there is a definite increase in activity.

[link]

[link]
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:iconno-doves-fly-here:
no-doves-fly-here Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013
"I demanded nothing."

Your exact words were, "Please come back when you have a reputable source."

"There is a plenty of documentation to show that people in general are becoming more aggressive."

And yet you have not provided such documentation. The links you provided give no statistics or scientific evidence supporting your claims.

"Note that according to AAA, road rage is a major concern for drivers in 2012."

"major concern" ≠ "more rampant now than ever"

"Back in the mid 1980s when road rage got national attention, it was confined mostly to major US cities."

Again that does not necessarily imply an increase in overall road rage rates.

"So yes, there is a definite increase in activity."

An increase in "activity" (which can imply cold numbers) does not necessarily mean an increase in rate, which is what is relevant here.

"I could care less about "cold numbers".

You mean, "I could not care less", assuming you are saying that you do not care about cold numbers.

My point was that cold numbers are not necessarily relevant due to correlating population increase and distribution. The rate is what's relevant, but judging by your response it seems that you do not even know what rates and cold numbers are.

"If you want researched information, get it yourself."

Because people are obligated to provide you with an abundance of research information, but you are not obligated to do so when you make empty claims. Okay.

"I'll provide more pertinent information than numbers alone."

Wait... empty claims are more pertinent than statistical and scientific evidence? Okay.

Please come back when you have a reputable source.
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:iconcrotale:
Crotale Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013
You mean, "I could not care less", assuming you are saying that you do not care about cold numbers.

You knew what I meant and you are being an ass about it.

My point was that cold numbers are not necessarily relevant due to correlating population increase and distribution. The rate is what's relevant, but judging by your response it seems that you do not even know what rates and cold numbers are.


The MoJo article is based off the hypothetical. Sure, certain information is verified, but the overall findings on which the article is based have not. Unvalanced admitted no such data is available in the article or elswhere that he is aware of. I conducted some research out of curiosity and found no studies linking the individual studies the way the MoJo article does to base its claims.

And yet you have not provided such documentation. The links you provided give no statistics or scientific evidence supporting your claims.

Although the original "off the cuff" statement was meant to be facetious, my point still stands that no evidence exists that indicate the reduction of lead in gasoline has led to a change in the number of incidents involving some form of aggressive driving. I used the term 'road rage" because it is a socially accepted catch-all. The OP blazed right on through this, yet you seem to focused on it.

empty claims are more pertinent than statistical and scientific evidence?

The NHTSA does indeed make the claim that aggressive driving is up, if due to nothing more than an increase in drivers on the roadways. [link]

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:iconno-doves-fly-here:
no-doves-fly-here Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013
"Unvalanced admitted no such data is available in the article or elswhere that he is aware of."

He did no such thing.

"...my point still stands that no evidence exists..."

This was not your point. You made a positive claim and I have simply called you out on your hypocritical fallibleness. You are the one who has consistently assumed that I am arguing in support of Unvalanced's claim when I have done no such thing.

"The NHTSA does indeed make the claim that aggressive driving is up, if due to nothing more than an increase in drivers on the roadways."

And that has nothing to do with the rate at which aggressive driving occurs.
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(1 Reply)
:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Unvalanced admitted no such data is available in the article or elswhere that he is aware of

- I did what?
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(1 Reply)
:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You know lead doesn't leap into your brain and cause an immediate violent act? The posited mechanism requires hindering brain development.
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:iconcrotale:
Crotale Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
Attempting to quantify lead poisoning as a significant contributor to crime in general is a stretch. Could it be a factor in some minor scale? Perhaps, but the MoJo crap article makes a lot of assumptions. Hindered brain development (lack of intelligence) is not a direct indicator of increased disposition to violence.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Actually, it is. I can direct you to sources, but they tend to be behind paywalls. The only studies which have contradicted these findings control for spurious variables, such as maternal IQ. (Since IQ is significantly inheritable, this effectively deletes a substantial part of the signal.)
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:iconcrotale:
Crotale Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
I fail to see proof that lead poisoning alone is a significant factor enough to make it quantifiable as a reason for increased crime. The claim that lack of intelligence leads to tendency to commit crimes requires MUCH more proof. It's like saying that a poor person tends to want to steal. Lower intelligence alone is not a factor in who is or is not prone to leading a life of crime. There are so many other determining factors, such as lack of proper education, that lead to increased crime.
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:iconno-doves-fly-here:
no-doves-fly-here Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013
"The claim that lack of intelligence leads to tendency to commit crimes requires MUCH more proof."

Well the NYPD does not like to admit individuals with IQ's higher than 105 into its ranks and it is certainly riddled with crime.

:iconbiggrinplz:
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(1 Reply)
:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Do a search on "IQ and crime." There have been a -lot- of studies. The only ones, again, which contradict this control for spurious variables. (The most amusing spurious variable to me is income. Not parental income, a valid variable to control for, but income.)
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(1 Reply)
:iconebolabearvomit:
EbolaBearVomit Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
This sounds like liberal American hating godless hippie bullshit to me.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
We could blame Australia.
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:iconebolabearvomit:
EbolaBearVomit Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
Invade them next
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
[link]
Even Cracked has noted this. The funny thing? We've done a lot to remove lead from our environments, from gasoline to paint, there are increasingly harsher regulations to remove lead from our environments being passed to this day. I think we might be close to the point on the curve where increased effort yields fewer rewards, though. The better thing to do would be to pump that money into the agencies which actually investigate and fight lead use in the states, like the EPA and FDA.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
No; we've passed regulations to prevent lead from entering the environment. The lead that's already there is still there, and relatively little has been done about it.
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:iconshidaku:
Shidaku Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
That's not entirely true, in places where there is lead paint, as the paint ages and begins to chip away, if repainting is done, all the old paint must be removed first. The same holds true for asbestos, you cannot repair a wall that has asbestos in it, it must be replaced(at least if we're talking professional work here, what a person does privately is difficult to regulate). However companies that don't replace their buildings in such a manner, and contractors who don't follow such regulations can be severely fined, even shut down until proper work is done. In many cases when a building is so highly contaminated the entire structure must be torn down and NO repair work can be done at all.

Certainly we haven't torn down old public housing, but that presents the difficult situation of the high costs of demolition, construction AND temporary housing. Likewise, the same costs exist in what to do about older homes with lead in them. Either the cost is on the government, which is all the people, or the cost is on a single family or individual who may face severe legal penalties if they don't clean up a mess they may not even have made, much less even be aware of!

I'm down for cleaning up lead we've already got out there, but it's a logistics and cost issue that may be too high to address quickly.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
$200 billion to clean the problem up nationwide.
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:iconshidaku:
Shidaku Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
so, about 1/6th of the national budget.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
The national budget is 3.6 trillion. So 1/18th.
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:iconshidaku:
Shidaku Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
Ah, my mistake.
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:iconunvalanced:
Unvalanced Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
No problem.

It's still a huge chunk of change. But this is directly relevant to what I regard as the proper role of government. And I wouldn't even mind if somebody used it as an excuse to go after GM, who have lost all credibility as a proper element of a free market society.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
Ahh, then consider me ill-informed on this. What about removing mercury from the environment, as well, and further restricting its introduction to the water supply? It has many of the same ill-effects as lead, and travels up the food chain as well.
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