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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Reading: Lead and Crime

A few years ago, I began seeing a number of blogs link to an article by Kevin Drum asserting that changes in lead exposure are directly responsible for fluctuations in crime levels all over the world. It seemed like a ridiculous conspiracy theory, and I repeatedly declined to feed into such clickbait.

However, I then began to see Kevin's assertions cited by a number of writers I respect, I finally read Drum's article -- the original long-form article isn't available online now, but from his post summarizing it:

We now have a huge amount of evidence linking lead to violent crime. We have evidence not just at the national level, but also at the state level, the city level, and the international level. We have longitudinal studies that track children from birth to adulthood to find out if higher blood lead levels lead to more arrests for violent crimes. And perhaps most important, this is a theory that just makes sense. Everything we now know about the effects of lead on the brain tells us that even moderately high levels of lead exposure are associated with aggressivity, impulsivity, ADHD, and lower IQ. And right there, you've practically defined the profile of a violent young offender.

The data he's brought to the table is striking, and he's written more and more on the topic over the years.

Simply apropos of Drum publishing a new post  on violent crime and lead levels in Britain, I wanted to share his full archive on lead and crime if you want something to read on a lazy Sunday. It's worth your time.

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