Leaded gasoline and the 20th-century crime wave

Scientists are amassing evidence that suggests exposure to tetraethyl lead — the additive once used in almost all the gasoline sold in the United States — could account for the dramatic increase in crime that happened in this country between the 1960s and 1980s. As leaded gasoline was phased out, they say, children were exposed to less lead, leading to the decline in crime that began to really kick in in the 1990s.

This is the same curve of crime statistics that economist Steven Levitt, of Freakonomics fame, attributed to the legalization of abortion. Levitt's theory was that, after Roe v. Wade, there were fewer unwanted babies born into dire circumstances and, thus, fewer people to grow up on the path to criminal behavior. Levitt matched the rise in abortion rates to the decrease in crime, but frankly, there are a lot of things that you can correlate to the decrease in crime.

What makes the lead theory interesting is that correlations match not just at the national level, but at regional, and even neighborhood levels. Increases in lead relate to increases in crime — usually a couple of decades later. Likewise decreases in lead relate to later decreases in crime. What's more the same correlations exist in countries all over the world. Meanwhile, we know that lead has big impacts on growing bodies — it affects brain function, it's linked to hyperactivity, difficulty managing aggression, and lowered IQ.

Correlation isn't causation. But in this case they definitely seem to be winking suggestively at one another. Kevin Drum has an excellent piece on this at Mother Jones, working through a decade worth of research by multiple scientists that supports this disturbing conclusion. It really is possible that we, as a society, damaged a generation of children and caused a crime wave (not to mention the ongoing damage to kids that live in high-lead neighborhoods today).

Via Michael Mechanic


  1. Levitt matched the rise in abortion rates to the decrease in crime, but frankly, there are a lot of things that you can correlate to the decrease in crime.

    My school of thought has found an inverse relationship between the number of violent crimes and the volume of the largest available Big Gulp, so watch your collective ass, New York City.

    Hee hee hee.

  2. I have had two major problems with epilepsy. The first in 1985 and the second in 2009. Both came after periods when I was doing a lot of soldering for electronics. I still solder now but I only do it outside where ventilation is very good.

    And yes, its just correlation, but I am sure there is a lot of data to be collected around lead exposure.

    edit: lead exposure was much greater in the past due to its use in plumbing. I wonder how that compares with this issue about leaded fuel.

  3. If you watch the show Dark Matters: Twisted but True then the answer is yes we did cause this

  4. I think demographics has a better chance of explaining the crime wave jump and drop. Crimes are generally committed by younger people rather than older ones. Due to the Boom there was a large increase in adolescents in the 60’s followed by their subsequent aging out of the crime game by the late 80’s. BTW, that same generation’s creation of the environmental movement spelled the end of lead in gasoline.

  5. I read an article that said the use of lead pipe for water delivery was a large factor in the downfall of the Roman Empire.

    1. Romans did get lead poisoning, but it wasn’t so much from the lead pipes.  The water they ran was so hard that the pipes were quickly lined with calcium deposits that kept the lead from leaching as much, and the alkalinity helped prevent leaching of lead.  But they used lead in cookware, and added “lead sugar” to their wine to preserve it (and because it apparently tastes nice).  But the downfall of the Western Empire was tied to a lot of factors, including an endless series of crises (natural disasters, plagues, invasions, then more disasters, more plagues, more invasions) with a leadership that wasn’t up to managing them.  But Rome didn’t fall.  Western Rome fell, but Rome had moved it’s capital to Constantinople and stood until the 1400s.  In the West we call the Roman empire Byzantium, but they referred to themselves as Romans, and carried the imperial linage tracing back to Augustus.

      1. It isn’t something you want to test yourself; but boiling down vinegar, or wine that has headed sufficiently far in that direction, in lead cookware will yield a lovely lot of lead acetate. They call the stuff ‘sugar of lead’ for a reason.

        Do not try this at home.

      2. If I could “like” your comment multiple times I would do it. 

        I’m not sure what else to write ’cause I’m at a loss…I can say right now though, over the lump in my throat…I see that there are others who know something about the timeline of the Roman Empire, and that the long troubled, and often sickly Western Roman Empire was not even the half of it.  

        The thousand year history of the Roman Empire after the Old Rome finally went to seed is to me more interesting and perhaps…more important to the development of so-called Western Civilization during the period called C.E. or A.D. 

    2. In Chicago, solid lead piping was legally required into the mid-1960’s to connect the main water lines to each individual house/building.  The only way to take it out now is to dig up the basement floor and everything outside to the street: trees, flowers, grass, concrete, paving stones, whatever.  And of course you don’t have water until it’s completed.  Needless to say, this is not the option people go for when they buy an existing place.

      Home owners who know about this and can afford it will either put in a whole house filter, a kitchen sink filter, or use some sort of bottled water to avoid drinking city water straight from the tap. Chicago’s murder rate is rising while everyone else’s is dropping.  Guess I found another potential correlation!

      1.  Chicago is one of the classical smuggling and drug running border cities to base criminal headquarters out from.

        It also is where the Manhattan Project was worked on for the majority of its early conception… until they realised testing it in the middle of Chicago might not be a good idea.

        With the war on drugs having taken a different turn, now that Weed is becoming legal and Meth being phased out by Bath Salts. There is still cause for reason to smuggle stuff along the old drug routes… but I’d wonder how many Murderers are generally okay with going into retirement now that they have less employment opportunities.

        Oh… and I’m not saying the war on drugs has been won… I’m more saying it has gotten more dangerous (Weed grows anywhere, Meth can be made in any garage, Bath Salts is a rather ingenious addition to the arms, with Heroin being the only drug not really advanced further in this race).

        It makes sense that Chicago’s murder rate would increase with this other knowledge of the drug war in place.

    3. That’s never been suggested, but never established. Factually, they were over-reaching militarily and financially and the upper crust devolved into partying rather than governing. Sound familiar? ….BTW. Roman women used a face powder made of chalk and white lead to make their skin paler.

  6. Thank you, Maggie! I first heard this idea floated several years ago (possibly here), but I haven’t heard anything since then. The argument is very compelling, and I’m glad that folks are continuing to look at it.

  7. Meanwhile, we know that lead has big impacts on growing bodies — it affects brain function, it’s linked to hyperactivity, difficulty managing aggression, and lowered IQ

    I know there’s a lot of studies that claim that criminals tend to have low IQ — but this is from measuring the prison population — isn’t that just saying that criminals who get caught tend to have low IQ?

    1. Nope. You’re saying imprisoned people, on average, have lower IQ. The prison population also includes people who aren’t criminals who were falsely convicted.

      And anyway, the statement you quoted is saying that people exposed to lead have lowered IQ, which is true independent of whether criminals do or don’t have lowered IQ.

      1. Yes, but that’s only relevant to the hypothesis that lead poisoning caused the crime wave if it can be shown that criminals have low IQ on average — not just criminals who get caught. The argument that prisons also contain innocent, although still, on average, slow, people doesn’t really address the issue.

        1. It is PLAUSIBLE that certain kinds of criminal activity are going to be more prevalent in a population where more people have weak problem solving skills, “difficulty managing aggression” and bad impulse control.

          Is it necessary to prove this hypothesis to a certainty in order to demonstrate that poisoning your population with lead is a really bad idea? I wouldn’t say so.

          I don’t think it takes away from the need to look at the other contributing factors (such as shitty education and  knee-jerk anti-socialist resistance to all attempts to improve the social contract between the state and the poor)

    2.  I would suggest that the reason people score lower on IQ tests in prison is because it is a rather caustic place for people to be getting an IQ test.

      I’d score well… but then prison reminds me of childhood. That should explain why I am so fucked up as an adult.

      Prison however contains all sorts of living conditions that are not quite intuitive to scoring high. Dietary, sociological economics (particularly in the barter of people’s belts) and a few other items that might not be entirely conductive to the person located there’s mental health.

    3.  There are a number of studies that show that prisoners have a high level of lead poisoning.

  8. How will this work with other sources of lead that will eventually (hopefully) be phased out, like coal-fired plants?  Will we see even more of a dramatic decrease in crime?  What about other industrial contaminants?  If we clean up our environment so we emit little to no pollution, will that have an effect on other unfavorable social conditions like crime?  

  9. For some reason I remembered this post: http://boingboing.net/2013/01/01/correlation-between-autism-dia.html

    1.  Did you read the article? What the organics/autism graph lacks is an explanation of why the two might be connected, as well as the corroborating correlations in neighborhoods, states, and countries.

  10. Thomas Midgley Jr., the guy who put lead in gasoline was also responsible for the CFCs in aerosol cans. What a guy!

    He met a strange end too: 
    “In 1940, at the age of 51, Midgley contracted poliomyelitis, which left him severely disabled. This led him to devise an elaborate system of strings and pulleys to help others lift him from bed. This system was the eventual cause of his death when he was entangled in the ropes of this device and died of strangulation at the age of 55.”

    1. CFC:s in aerosol cans were a realy good idea at the time since the stuff is nontoxic and inert. Unfortunately it is inert enough to get to the ozone layer where it decomposes into components that catalyzes ozone decay.

      Lead in gasoline were not an unfortunate mistake since it were known that the stuff is toxic. I have not found any reasonable excuse for that shitty decision.

      Our eras comparable mistake might be the hormone like substances used in everyday plastics.

      1. Or pesticides initially designed as chemical weapons, or extreme genetic modification in our foods, or raising livestock on hormones, meat, and antibiotics. Or driving.

  11. Very interesting stuff, but it’s a little odd to me how the proponents of these theories discuss the crime boom and subsequent drop (which, actually, was almost exclusive to the big cities) as though it’s some big unexplained mystery, when it isn’t, at all. Sociologists, demographers, economists, and crime experts are generally in pretty clear agreement that white flight and the movement of middle class families to the suburbs, racial isolation, economic stagnation and lack of opportunity in cities, and the drug explosion all led to big cities becoming poverty-stricken, dangerous places. 

    In other words, this is not something that social experts are sitting around scratching their heads about, waiting for scientists to come up with a chemical explanation for it all. Sure, it’s complex, and issues like lead poisoning and abortion rates could be a part of the mix as well, but it just isn’t this unsolved mystery that has been waiting for a ‘Eureka’ moment to crack the case, which is the way it’s described every time someone comes along with a new theory.

    1. And crime has gone down because… we have reversed all of those causes? No one lives in racial isolation anymore, there are no drugs, there is now plenty of opportunity in the inner cities? Social experts are indeed scratching their heads about the decrease in crime.

      1. Yes, your sarcasm aside, actually that’s pretty much right – with the exception of the racial bit, which hasn’t improved much. The cities that have become safer are the ones that have experienced gentrification – that is, the return of people with money, resources and political clout to urban neighborhoods, as they’ve again come to be seen as desirable places to live thanks to cultural trends and the decline of social and racial stigmas. With these new residents, who have money to spend locally, come economic opportunity, jobs and revenue for city governments, which can then fund police departments and renewal programs. You could go deeper into the details of anti-drug programs, but that’s the basic idea – really, no one is confused about this.

      2.  … uh… just because we have a definition of the problem, does not mean a solution is easy to come onto.

        There is less racial isolation… it still exists.

        There are still plenty of drugs… drug culture has however decidedly shifted in its nature.

        There is still a lack of opportunity in the inner cities… but there is less lacking of opportunities.

        Also with our move to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and not putting people in prison as much, that has also reduced crime. As well, prison has the wonderful nickname of “Criminal College”… except, it is much more affective than getting an Arts Degree, as it gives you a career somewhere that is not McDonalds.

        However… it is a work in progress. Rome wasn’t built in a day… and Rome’s crime rate is not going to be solved by playing the fiddle and burning the whole place down.

    2. People don’t act like its a mystery because everyone has certain culprits that they’re predisposed to blame. Right wingers blame lax policing, drugs and the loss of traditional values (and more quietly – racial minorities). Left wingers blame rampant consumerism, economic inequality and ingrained prejudice. Its rare to meet people who can put their politics aside and comprehend the extent of their ignorance, so its rare to meet people who realise just how many mysteries surround them.

      1. Sure – people overemphasize certain social factors depending on their prejudices. But generally, reasonable people agree that things like this are caused by big, important socioeconomic problems that are right in front of us, and require real, messy work to solve. Pinning it all on an airborne poison seems like a silly copout by comparison.

        1. ‘Reasonable people’ regularly adjust their theories when new facts come to light. Just how common are these creatures, anyway?

          1. Maybe not that common. As I said initially though, I’m willing to accept that new discoveries could factor into the picture. It’s the premise that this theory is fully explaining something that up to this point was a complete mystery that I have a problem with. It’s wildly misleading, if not dangerous – if it was all just the lead thing, then I guess we can pack up and forget about all these urban renewal programs and policies we’ve got that have been attempting to solve deeper social problems, right? No need!

          2. Not necessarily. The crime could have been much worse without them. And urban renewal shouldn’t simply be for the sake of crime prevention – that’s a pretty lousy motive I think (although one that makes the programs palatable to the burghers in the suburbs). Alleviating suffering, giving the poor hope, and helping the cities and those within them reach their full potential: these arguments for the programs will still remain. 

            The problem with founding good schemes on a lousy theory is that after a while the founding assumptions of most policies get aggressively questioned, and that leaves them vulnerable to severe backlashes.

      1. Me? The Mother Jones article? Yeah, I read it. It bugged me, because the author mentions every little micro-trend, correlated statistic, and half-baked theory that has been put forward, while failing to mention the huge, obvious, macro social movements that are are pretty freaking clearly the cause of all this, at least according the people I view as experts (the sociology, anthropology, and history professors I learned from, social scientists in general, etc.).

        (Anyway, there isn’t actually a blurb from the article posted here, unless I’m missing something.)

        Why? Have a point?

        1. Not really. I was honestly wondering if you’d read it, and trying not to sound too snarky or dickish asking. I think I failed though: sorry.

          And you’re right, ‘blurb’ is the wrong word. I should have said ‘precis’ or something.

          No, it was more that I liked the article, but I’m aware that I have a bias towards articles like this, that present some counter-intuitive explanation that seems to give me an inside knowledge that the current experts don’t have (especially if their own institutional or careerist biases are presented as the reason for that).

          Given my bias, counterarguments by people who’ve actually read the article and know things I don’t are a useful corrective. But I couldn’t tell if you were one of those people or one of the ones who throws out their pet explanation without having read the material in question (like M seems to, up the top of the comments above).

          But you’ve read it, so I’ll read you more carefully, and take your arguments more seriously.

          Part of the the appeal of the lead theory for me, in this case, is it’d seem to work across national boundaries in a way that, say, white flight doesn’t (to pick one of the factors you mentioned). I’ve never heard white flight advanced as even part of an explanation for crime rates here in Australia, for example; our urban geography is different from America’s. Explanations that rely even partially on white flight seem US-centric, to me.

  12. Good.  I read that stupid Freakonomics book thinking the whole time “aren’t statisticians supposed to be careful about mistaking correlation and causation?”  Levitt seemed awfully cocksure about his theories on the basis of some pretty weak evidence to me.

    1.  True, however causation usually does imply correlation, which means that if you want to find causes you’re usually well advised to start looking where you find correlations. After all, if there’s absolutely no correlation between A and B then what do you think the chances are of A causing B or vice versa?

      1. Well duh.  My point was how quickly and with how little justification Levitt concluded causation where he had only demonstrated correlation.

        1. I think Levitt actually has a pretty convincing case.  There are time lags in the correlations at the state level because different states legalized abortion at different times, and even in other countries when they legalized abortion.  My understanding is that Levitt’s basic conclusion that legalized abortion decreased crime rates is not even considered controversial any more because most crimes are committed by people between 18-25 years of age, and legalized abortion created a large dip in that demographic 18-25 years later.  The controversial part is Levitt’s assertion that embryos that were aborted were more likely to have become criminals, which is a separate issue where the evidence is a lot weaker.

          1. Stephen Pinker on the Freakonomics theory: “Among women who are accidentally pregnant and unprepared to raise a child, the ones who terminate their pregnancies are likely to be forward-thinking, realistic, and disciplined, whereas the ones who carry the child to term are more likely to be fatalistic, disorganized, or immaturely focused on the thought of a cute baby…. Young pregnant women who get abortions are more likely to get better grades, are less likely to be on welfare, and more likely to finish school…The availability of abortion may have led to a generation that is more prone to crime because it weeded out just the children who…were most likely to exercise maturity and self-control.”

          2. There’s another side to this, though.  Unwanted fetuses don’t get great prenatal care.  They spend 9 months in a stressed environment.  Once they’re born, they don’t get held or talked to as much as wanted babies.  They’re neglected and hit more.  They’re more likely to grow up in a dysfunctional if not outright dangerous environment (home and neighborhood).  They’re more likely to encounter non-biological males in the home, who are statistically more likely to harm and even kill them (than their own bio-kin). They’re less likely to go to an excellent school, or get meaningful help navigating the educational process.  Etc. etc. etc.

            Life is often hell for unwanted fetuses who are forced to be born.  In fact — even for those who are immediately relinquished for adoption after birth — there’s a higher rate for mental health issues, violence (including self-violence), and suicide.

            A lot of suffering was alleviated by Roe v. Wade….not just for strangers who might have ended up being crime victims down the road.

  13. In Bill Bryson’s book “A Short History of Nearly Everything’ he says “But because lead is forever, those of us alive today have about 625 times more lead in our blood than people did a century ago.” Bryson says that lead in the atmosphere doesn’t just go away. That means that kids from the ’90’s were not exposed to less lead, they were only not exposed to increasing levels of lead. But, hey who am I to argue with scientists?

    1. Not to mention the fact that aircraft fuels still used today(albeit the fuel is being used less and less frequently) have fourteen times the lead of automotive fuel of the 70s.

      1. From what I see, no and no to both of you.  From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avgas#100.2F130 :

        Under a federal court order to set a new standard by 15 October 2008, the EPA cut the acceptable limits for atmospheric lead to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter from the previous standard of 1.5 µg/m3. This was the first change to the standard since 1978 and represents an order of magnitude reduction over previous levels.

        Note that’s levels, not emissions.

        piston-powered aircraft produce “one-tenth of 1 percent” of national lead emissions and that they are 0.55% of all transportation emissions.

        By May 2012 the US Federal Aviation Administration had put together a
        plan in conjunction with industry to replace leaded avgas with an unleaded alternative within 11 years. Due to progress already made on Swift fuel and G100UL the replacement time may be shorter than that 2023 estimate.

      2. re: aircraft fuels “have fourteen times the lead”..

        I don’t know what your source is, but as far as I know that’s not true of any fuel in common use. The only leaded fuel available at most airports is 100LL (“low lead”), and it has, on average, a somewhat lower lead content than leaded auto gas did. That’s not to say it’s a good thing, mind you.

        The automotive gas of the 60’s and 70’s had an industry average of 2.4 grams Tetraethyl Lead per gallon, with a maximum of 4 grams per gallon http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/perspect/lead.html The commonly used aviation fuel 100LL has a maximum of about 2.2 grams per gallon, and the actual amount is lower. http://www.eaa.org/autofuel/avgas/avgas_specs.asp

    2.  Well there he is wrong, lead does go away.  The reason is fairly simple, lead sulfate and phosphate are damn near insoluble and thus not particularly bio-available.  Plants in general don’t take up lead from the soil But whatever what we do know is that lead levels have been dropping in kids, dramatically since the phase out of leaded paint and gasoline.

      And for the coorolation isn’t causation nihilastic crowd, it’s well known that children exposed to lead have a dose dependent reduction in IQ, poor impulse control, and higher rates for criminally,  So not only is there correlation, but there is a clear well understood mechanism as well.

      The elephant is on the room is voters and the horrible derangement in our political institutions. If leaded gasoline and paint was enough to cause a 4X increase in crime in the baby boom generation, what did it do to their ability to engage in politics? Or of our political leaders themselves?

  14. Just on a hunch, I looked for a graph of the popularity of the name “Ethyl” on one of those baby-name sites.  Same shape as the leaded gas curve, although shifted to the left a bit. Discuss.

  15.  Fair enough, but that doesn’t explain why crime rates has dropped after the switch to unleaded fuel. If traffic goes up, and lead usage goes down, wouldn’t lead be the better candidate of the two to explain the decline of crime?

  16. 53 Million dead since Roe Vs Wade and the US Still has the largest Prison Population by many times over. If this articles logic is accurate we need to increase the rates of abortion a lot more to cut down on all this crime all over.
    Or maybe just stop making everything illegal.

  17. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Children living in close proximity to freeways have always exhibited greater numbers of autism, obesity, asthma and other developmental problems.

    1.  I think it is more, children with autism, obesity, asthma and other developmental problems who live next to freeways are more likely to live.

      Autism, Obesity and Asthma do wonderful things to keep children living near freeways from ending up dead.

  18. That doesn’t make any sense. More cars and more roads is related to an expansion of suburbia, not  “cramped living conditions.” How do you argue more roads leads to more people in cities? Cities already have all the roads they need.

    Cheap gas and the love of cars and roads has lead to the flight from cities into suburbia, which has its own set of problems, but that’s not what the article is talking about.

  19. This article is kind of ridiculous. There were several issues presented  in the comments.

    On the notions of Criminals Being Inherently Less Intelligent, the population census, the general culture of the youth, effectiveness of propaganda, the activations of flouride programs, child abuse awareness and what is illegal.

    One being the notion that Criminals are Inherently Less Intelligent. That is a terrible thing to think, because everybody is a criminal. We all do things that are illegal, or at the very best rude. Just all of us think, “well, it is only wrong when other people do it.”… which is why we don’t know we do this stuff. It is a psychological mechanism that allows us to function without guilt from doing somethings that we need to do, but have been told is wrong.

    It is not really the stupid ones that get caught either.

    Let me ask you a question: how many of you have been to prison?

    I have, and it reminds me of my childhood. Prison s a psychologically damaging place just to be located in. You are being watched at all times. Dietary items are hit or miss at best. You tend to gain weight by eating what is affectionately known as bricks or shingles (two peanut butter sandwiches and one peanut butter sandwich). Also in there, you lack your usual recreational substances, which will cause issues in performance. If you spend enough time doing stuff on weed, alcohol, crack, meth, down or any of the wonderful substances people “party on” once they leave, it affects your ability to handle perception. Yes, being sober can actually make you score lower on an IQ test, if it is an odd or strange enough state of being for your person. Issues with IQ tests in prison, is it is an environment where scoring well is going to be made much harder to actually pull off.

    Two, the population consensus. Is this crime rate being listed as per populous… or is it just how many dead bodies show up in the water?

    Three, the general culture of youth in Generation Y is quite a bit different. They actually buy the lies the government tells them. Or… they buy the lies some other group sells them. Sure, some can think on their own… but considering their main idea of expression is what expensive brand of clothing they are wearing. Or if they are dressing for the Goth or Punk uniforms in tact… you don’t get any of them really just fucking with the system, because it seems wrong… or they have to have a system to fuck with the system. Maybe I haven’t met the right kids… but it seems we don’t have as many budding or aspiring anarchists. As a result, the crime rate is going to be lower.

    Four, these days propaganda is insanely effective. I try showing teenagers stuff from before the Berlin Wall fell… and they have issues seeing any reason to question it. The general response to Duck and Cover is that the government wouldn’t put out a notice that was incorrect or completely crazy. No idea what it is… but… it is rare to find children questioning stuff.

    Growing up, the biggest complaint from old people was that children didn’t know to not question things… today, as a soon to be old person… my complaint is that kids don’t ask if something is not as entirely cromulent as it seems. Not only that… if something they know or were told was not entirely cromulent.

    Five, further more… I’d suggest looking into how effective flouride programs have gotten. Flouride is in everything. Bottled water, tap water and well, there was that “Swish program” growing up. In amongst films on stranger danger (in case you were wondering my generation/age). If we could put up charts tracking crime rates, and the general successful out reach of flouride programs, that might be hilarious.

    Six, perhaps another element of lowering crime is the ability to recognise child abuse. Go back a few decades and well, don’t talk about Uncle Too Touchy. It will only get you in trouble… and nobody will help you, you bad kid. Or that beating I gave you is completely normal. The other kids don’t get beatings because they can behave. Also the cops and hospital staff today are more equipped to handle, Munchhausen Syndrome cases these days. So, with this stuff, it might also indicate a lowered crime rate.

    Finally Seven: stuff isn’t as illegal as it was. Remember when it was illegal to be black? That does sound terrible… because it indeed was quite terrible. Also Sodomy. Good ol’ man on man loving is no longer illegal. What, the lack of illegal buttsechs is probably a good accounting for the drop in crime. Which started getting legal in the early 1990s. Weed has also been legalised in two states… and the police in Canada really don’t enforce drug laws around Weed. With less things illegal… there is less stuff to charge people with. Hell, being Black in a white spot of town is completely legal… also Black people have gotten enough acceptance they are now less prone, than before, to getting charges just made because they are black. This role has now been given to the First Nations.

  20.  Also, after my last long post… I’d like to point out that yeah… in the 1980s and 1990s sodomy was made legal in much of the world.

    We all know that man on man Buttsechz is good enough to go to jail over, so when it was made legal, crime would have drastically dropped too as well.

    On a related note… various Pride groups tend to hate me… because I say things like that… a lot.

  21. I’m pretty sure I read this thesis detailed on damninteresting.com about five years ago. It make the case quite convincingly. Leaded gasoline is potentially one of the great tragedies, the great crimes in human history. Just to save like $.02 a gallon or something…

  22. Whereas Freakonomics also brought in the case of Romania to support their hypothesis and acknowledged that there was no way to ever prove or disprove it.  This would be easy. 

    Tetraethyllead was not banned everywhere at the same time.  It would be easy to track crime statistics from around the world and demonstrate if the correlation is similar.

  23. I guess it was the “due to their cramped living conditions,” which you seemed to be saying was the result of more cars and roads.

  24. I’ve often wondered about the flip side of this, how many Einsteins or Ramanujans don’t exist because of leaded fuel?  What great ideas have never sprung into existence because some some poor kid in the 1970s lived too close to a freeway.   About 10 years ago I thought it might be worth a study, and could be pretty straight forward to model, but in the end couldn’t be bothered… which may be quite meta.

Comments are closed.