Pumped full of lead

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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 07 Jan 2013, 10:47

JasonL wrote:
JD wrote:
JasonL wrote:My only real objection is the completely unscientific sense that it's too pat of an answer. It feels like lead would have other effects that would have been picked up somewhere.
Baby Boomers. Think about it. Their horrible taste in music and clothing, their self-importance, the Clinton presidency - it's all there.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Ayn_Randian » 07 Jan 2013, 10:55

Ohhhh good more puns!

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thoreau
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by thoreau » 07 Jan 2013, 11:25

Thread drift is fine and can be part of what makes this place awesome. But the puns just piss me off. For once, I agree with Randian.
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 07 Jan 2013, 11:26

thoreau wrote:Thread drift is fine and can be part of what makes this place awesome. But the puns just piss me off. For once, I agree with Randian.
They piss you off? Urine titled to your opinion.

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Eric the .5b
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Eric the .5b » 07 Jan 2013, 15:55

Checking up on Drum's later posts, he's backing away from the 90% claims of the people he's actually citing, in favor of saying that it's more like 50% or something. The scientific basis on which he throws out that number?

*chirping crickets*

Hmm.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Stevo Darkly » 08 Jan 2013, 02:42

D.A. Ridgely wrote:
thoreau wrote:Thread drift is fine and can be part of what makes this place awesome. But the puns just piss me off. For once, I agree with Randian.
They piss you off? Urine titled to your opinion.
Wait a minute. Thoreau doesn't like the puns? For real?

You gotta be kidney.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 08 Jan 2013, 10:53

Stevo Darkly wrote:
D.A. Ridgely wrote:
thoreau wrote:Thread drift is fine and can be part of what makes this place awesome. But the puns just piss me off. For once, I agree with Randian.
They piss you off? Urine titled to your opinion.
Wait a minute. Thoreau doesn't like the puns? For real?

You gotta be kidney.
Maybe he does sometimes and doesn't sometimes; maybe he's just fecal about it.

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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Jadagul » 15 Jan 2013, 04:35

For anyone interested in more: Manzi critiques the article, and Drum defends it and provides more corroborating evidence"

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com ... e-ctd.html

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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Sandy » 15 Jan 2013, 12:02

Jadagul wrote:For anyone interested in more: Manzi critiques the article, and Drum defends it and provides more corroborating evidence"

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com ... e-ctd.html
Does he show that environmental lead exposure greatly expanded and declined over the same time period (possibly with a 10-year delay or some such)? There was an awful lot of environmental lead exposure before the 50s and 60s, which is the strongest hole in that argument to my mind.

ETA: Except for the other hole, which is cross-national comparisons of lead exposure and a lack of correlations in other countries (e.g., Poland, which only recently gave up leaded gasoline, for example).
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Jadagul » 15 Jan 2013, 13:49

Sandy wrote:
Jadagul wrote:For anyone interested in more: Manzi critiques the article, and Drum defends it and provides more corroborating evidence"

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com ... e-ctd.html
Does he show that environmental lead exposure greatly expanded and declined over the same time period (possibly with a 10-year delay or some such)? There was an awful lot of environmental lead exposure before the 50s and 60s, which is the strongest hole in that argument to my mind.

ETA: Except for the other hole, which is cross-national comparisons of lead exposure and a lack of correlations in other countries (e.g., Poland, which only recently gave up leaded gasoline, for example).
I'm a bit confused. Those are two of the things he said in the original article and brought up again in the followup. There are similar correlations in several other countries. And it's closer to a 20-year delay, but yes, environmental lead exposure expanded and declined in a way that closely tracks the crime wave with like a 20 year delay. And it's the same delay from country to country and from state to state and from city to city.

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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by thoreau » 15 Jan 2013, 13:53

What's sad about the 20 year delay, assuming the chain of causation is real, is that it implies that fates are to a large extent determined at a very early age and in a fairly small window, maybe even before kindergarten.

Given that the data works out among different states and different countries, and explains variations between neighborhoods, and that there's a pretty well-supported mechanism (lead is known to have neurological and behavioral effects) I consider the hypothesized chain of causation pretty damn convincing. Not being a social scientist, I'm not prepared to call it the final word and say that there's no need to ever consider an alternative hypothesis so let's start making policy. But I'd say that I'd be willing to make token, friendly wagers that additional evidence will support this hypothesis.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Mo » 15 Jan 2013, 14:05

I thought this was an interesting chart too. The age distribution of the prison population is shifting to the right as the left side of the distribution is now made of with people from the post-leaded gas era. Like thoreau, not sure I'm calling this the end all be all, but there's quite a bit of smoke.

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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Shem » 15 Jan 2013, 14:36

thoreau wrote:What's sad about the 20 year delay, assuming the chain of causation is real, is that it implies that fates are to a large extent determined at a very early age and in a fairly small window, maybe even before kindergarten.
Which fits with current developmental psychology theories about the formation of personality and when nurture and your surroundings have their greatest effect (overwhelmingly before about 6 years old, which is why people with good early childhood care and shitty later childhood/adolescences tend to do better than the reverse).
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Eric the .5b » 15 Jan 2013, 18:10

thoreau wrote:What's sad about the 20 year delay, assuming the chain of causation is real, is that it implies that fates are to a large extent determined at a very early age and in a fairly small window, maybe even before kindergarten.
Even if it's true, and even if it's true to the crazy extent claimed by the actual researchers (and stepped away from by Drum), it wouldn't imply any determination, but instead a serious influence.

If it were a determination, this country would have been a Mad Max wasteland populated by lead-addled mutants long before 1990.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by thoreau » 15 Jan 2013, 21:24

Eric the .5b wrote:
thoreau wrote:What's sad about the 20 year delay, assuming the chain of causation is real, is that it implies that fates are to a large extent determined at a very early age and in a fairly small window, maybe even before kindergarten.
Even if it's true, and even if it's true to the crazy extent claimed by the actual researchers (and stepped away from by Drum), it wouldn't imply any determination, but instead a serious influence.

If it were a determination, this country would have been a Mad Max wasteland populated by lead-addled mutants long before 1990.
I don't read him as saying that lead exposure always leads to crime, just that lead exposure creates problems that make a person more susceptible to a life of crime. I assume that if we exposed two groups to lead, but then gave one of those groups a lot of support and advantages and a positive environment, and not the other group, we'd see some crime in both groups but less crime in the more-advantaged group.

Anyway, I guess my one reason for remaining skeptical of this hypothesis is that it boils down to a difference in the brains of Kids These Days. I'd like to see some evidence for that outside of the crime statistics. If the Kids These Days really are different in regard to impulse control or other factors associated with crime, there should be some effects in other places. Mo pointed to teen pregnancy trends as apparently being similar. If teen pregnancy data shows a similarly robust trend on many scales and in many places, in a manner similar to crime, I'd take that as pretty strong confirmation. If there were some other measure, that would also be nice.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by thoreau » 15 Jan 2013, 21:33

Kevin Drum makes a valid point about why it might be hard to find effects of smarter Kids These Days in some contexts other than crime:

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2 ... tion-rates
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Eric the .5b » 15 Jan 2013, 21:47

thoreau wrote:
Eric the .5b wrote:
thoreau wrote:What's sad about the 20 year delay, assuming the chain of causation is real, is that it implies that fates are to a large extent determined at a very early age and in a fairly small window, maybe even before kindergarten.
Even if it's true, and even if it's true to the crazy extent claimed by the actual researchers (and stepped away from by Drum), it wouldn't imply any determination, but instead a serious influence.

If it were a determination, this country would have been a Mad Max wasteland populated by lead-addled mutants long before 1990.
I don't read him as saying
I'm talking about your word "determined".

And for that matter, I'm increasingly impressed how Drum's description of lead's effect varies from article to article. At first, it's a huge, slam-dunk effect that you can't miss. Then it's not so big an effect - that'd be silly! - and then it's a remarkably subtle effect that's easy to miss. By this time next week, I almost expect him to say that people are taking this lead thing a bit too seriously.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by JasonL » 15 Jan 2013, 21:57

The whole thing doesn't smell quite right to me. Every BS too easy story I've ever heard looks like that. I could be by this point hopelessly biased against simple answers to hard questions.

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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Mo » 15 Jan 2013, 21:57

Eric the .5b wrote:I'm talking about your word "determined".

And for that matter, I'm increasingly impressed how Drum's description of lead's effect varies from article to article. At first, it's a huge, slam-dunk effect that you can't miss. Then it's not so big an effect - that'd be silly! - and then it's a remarkably subtle effect that's easy to miss. By this time next week, I almost expect him to say that people are taking this lead thing a bit too seriously.
I think that's a big mischaracterization of Drum's statements. He think it's a slam dunk there's a reasonably sized effect, just not the 98% explanation one of his sources claimed. He also claimed that the effect matters most at the margin, which will show up more for rare occurrences (like violent crime) than for more common occurrences (like not graduating high school). Since a small population of people commit crimes, something that would make a small proportion of the rest of the population commit more crimes will have a big effect on the population of people that commit crimes because it's so small.

Let's look at it from a medical POV. Let's say exposure to Coke Zero causes lung cancer in 1% of women. This would cause the rate of lung cancer to skyrocket because there's so few lung cancer cases. However, let's say that exposure to Coke Zero causes migraines in 1% of women, it would be hard to notice in the population because so many women already suffer from them, it would be hard to suss out the effect of this from noise.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by thoreau » 15 Jan 2013, 22:30

I agree that there are statistical reasons why better Kids These Days might not show up in a lot of data. Still, I'm always more comfortable with a hypothesis if there are multiple, distinct lines of evidence for it. The crime data looks pretty strong. What little I've seen about teen pregnancy is suggestive, and it may very well be that a more in-depth look would show an even stronger trend. If something else lined up that way, it would be even better.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Eric the .5b » 15 Jan 2013, 23:42

Mo wrote:
Eric the .5b wrote:I'm talking about your word "determined".

And for that matter, I'm increasingly impressed how Drum's description of lead's effect varies from article to article. At first, it's a huge, slam-dunk effect that you can't miss. Then it's not so big an effect - that'd be silly! - and then it's a remarkably subtle effect that's easy to miss. By this time next week, I almost expect him to say that people are taking this lead thing a bit too seriously.
I think that's a big mischaracterization of Drum's statements. He think it's a slam dunk there's a reasonably sized effect, just not the 98% explanation one of his sources claimed.
You mean the 90% explanation for the rise and fall in crime that his primary source claims. The one whose evidence totally blew his mind and convinced him.

But yes, he pulled his downgrade to 50% out of his own ass, so that he could step back from saying all those other effects didn't matter much.
Mo wrote:He also claimed that the effect matters most at the margin, which will show up more for rare occurrences (like violent crime) than for more common occurrences (like not graduating high school). Since a small population of people commit crimes, something that would make a small proportion of the rest of the population commit more crimes will have a big effect on the population of people that commit crimes because it's so small.
Yes. He goes from, Gee, we all lost a few points of IQ, but some people had it worse to Oh, there's no evidence to support anything I said about IQ scores? Uh, most people didn't lose any IQ points, then. Just the people who became criminals. At least some of them. Unless I come across something that looks like it vaguely echoes the trend, and then that's totally evidence.

The actual research may actually withstand other scientists looking at it. I'm hearing noises out of paywalled sources about other researchers who think a 20% effect might actually be attributable. Or it could be flawed or even fraudulent. I'm willing to wait for actual follow-ups to be done by people other than the literal handful of folks making the big claim.

In Drum's hands, however, it's a hypothesis that somehow fits any data trend, evidence, or complete lack of evidence. He isn't a scientist, he's a rationalizing layman trying to defend an article of his.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by thoreau » 30 May 2013, 14:00

This post makes the interesting point that the US is not a huge outlier in regard to child poverty but is a huge outlier in regard to fatherless homes:

http://www.joannejacobs.com/2013/05/is- ... parenting/

I wonder if this might explain some portion (not to be confused with all) of the phenomena we're seeing attributed to lead.
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by Mo » 30 May 2013, 14:05

thoreau wrote:I wonder if this might explain some portion (not to be confused with all) of the phenomena we're seeing attributed to lead.
Are you saying fatherless homes reduce crime? Otherwise, fatherless homes have been going in the opposite direction of crime.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by thoreau » 30 May 2013, 14:15

Mo wrote:
thoreau wrote:I wonder if this might explain some portion (not to be confused with all) of the phenomena we're seeing attributed to lead.
Are you saying fatherless homes reduce crime? Otherwise, fatherless homes have been going in the opposite direction of crime.
Yeah, I was kind of brain-farting. I was thinking about the common observation that the US is more violent than most other Western countries, but nobody blames that on lead AFAIK.

So, yeah, brain-fart.
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Re: Pumped full of lead

Post by JasonL » 30 May 2013, 14:17

Dropped the minus sign! I would like to blame environmental lead for all the frakking times I did that while studying the fiziks.

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