The White Man’s Lead Burden

One of the more ridiculous claims floating around the Cult of Modern Liberalism is the claim that lead makes black people stupid and violent. Kevin Drum has been peddling the idea on lunatic websites for years. The claim is that lead poisoning makes people stupid and violent, particularly when exposed as children. Poor people are most likely to live where lead content is high, thus explaining why they have higher crime rates and lower IQ’s, if IQ was a real thing, which it is not.

The theory resonates with the Cult because it has an almost mystical quality to it, much in the same way climate change has an unsaid supernatural element. Gaia is vexed about your lawnmower so she is causing floods in Texas. It can’t be proved, but it can’t be disproved either. In the case of lead, it also solves the problem as to why black crime rates are off the charts. Racist whites have packed blacks into lead saturated ghettos.

The theory suffers from a number of problems. No one can explain why this effect is race specific, without dragging in a bunch of things that could be better explanations for the data than lead. Then there is the failure to replicate any of the studies purporting to show a link of any sort. Even taking Drum’s assertions at face value, lead is responsible for at most 20% of the increase in crime.

Think of it this way. If the ghetto in question has a murder rate of ten per month prior to the invention of crack by the CIA and a murder rate of 20 after crack, only two of those murders are due to lead. The other eight are, presumably, due to crack. But, that also means those two lead murders needed another element, in this case crack. In other words, lead alone is not a cause.

That does not stop the Cult from trotting out science! to make the case for environmental factors explaining away what everyone knows, but no one is allowed to say. America’s newspaper of record has a story on a new study that purports to prove that air pollution makes poor minority people stupid.

The city’s air is polluting children’s brains.

Big Apple kids exposed to high levels of airborne filth and economic hardship have lower IQs that will haunt them into adulthood, according to an exhaustive, first-of-its-kind study by Columbia University.

Or maybe their parents being low-IQ people end up living in crappy areas that have high levels of airborne filth and economic hardship.The one thing no one ever mentions is that the poor are clean freaks. The reason is they tend to be dirty.

“The findings are a concern because, as has been shown with lead [poisoning], even a modest decrease in IQ can impact lifetime earnings,” warns the report published in the medical journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology.

Researchers reached the alarming conclusion by tracking the development of 276 minority children from Harlem, Washington Heights and the South Bronx for seven years — starting while their moms were pregnant.

The kids who were exposed to the most pollutants and came from the poorest families scored 6.6 points lower on the overall IQ test than others in the group.

The average score on an IQ test is 100.

What does not appear to be in the study is the IQ of the parents. Tracking down the fathers would be impossible, but testing the IQ of the mothers would not be hard. But, that would lead to uncomfortable subjects so better to leave that alone.

In addition, the kids scored 8 points lower for “working memory,” which is what people use to plan and carry out behavior, and 5.7 points lower for “perceptual reasoning,” which allows people to visualize solutions to non-verbal problems.

Following their births, researchers examined blood from each baby’s umbilical cord for biological markers that reveal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), toxic chemicals created by the burning of gas, diesel, heating oil and other products.

This is why these results are never replicated. Within the underclass, the slightly brighter lights will perform better in life’s little tasks like not inhaling diesel fumes. You can control for that by making sure the cohort of mothers represents a representative range of IQ’s, but that could lead to trouble so lets not go down that road.

The moms also carried air monitors in backpacks during their third trimesters, and were later interviewed repeatedly about their ability to adequately feed, clothe and house their kids. The groundbreaking study stemmed from ongoing research that has shown how prenatal exposure to PAH is tied to a host of childhood ills, including developmental delays, reduced verbal skills and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The latest study concluded that the effects of PAH were exacerbated by poverty, calling it the latest evidence of how “socioeconomic disadvantage can increase the adverse effects of toxic physical ‘stressors’ like air pollutants.”

“This report adds to the growing literature on the vulnerability of the developing fetus and young child to the toxic effects of environmental pollutants,” the study says.

One of the fascinating aspects of modern times is the two tracks on which social science is discussed. The one track, the dominant track, is all about environment. Any discussion of heritability is ruled out of bounds. Even the most slapdash study that “proves” the environmental model of human behavior is waved around by the press. Those minority kids are victims of the white man’s pollutants!

Then there is the other track where real science is conducted. The massive amount of genetic data coming out is reshaping anthropology, biology and history. Every day something new comes out changing our understanding of nature and human history. But, little of it reaches the mainstream. If you want to know about this stuff you have to read hate thinkers on obscure websites.

At some point, the fantasy version of human relations will have to be brought back into line with reality. Whether it happens by force or by choice is unknown to me. I suspect the way to bet is the former. The new religion is based on the belief that man is a blank slate and people tend not to give up their religious convictions without a fight.

5 thoughts on “The White Man’s Lead Burden

  1. Funny thing, Mr. Z. You indicated that lead is the main cause for a 20% increase in crime. Lead is also the main cause for a decrease in crime. In this case, it doesn’t care about race, some criminals die of lead poisoning, one bullet at a time.

  2. “…some backwoods part of the state still fighting the War of Northern Aggression.”
    Sir: please be more specific as we are all still fighting the War of Northern Aggression.

  3. Lead pipes weren’t the problem in Rome. Elemental lead is not very soluble in water and does not get absorbed well into the body. The Romans were getting lead poisoning because they were pouring vinegar onto lead plates, scraping off the resultant white powder (lead acetate), and using it as mankind’s first artificial sweetner.

    The rising lead levels in the 60’s and 70’s were mostly due to the tons of tetra-ethyl lead fuel additive being pumped out the tailpipes of our cars and sucked into our lungs. Like lead acetate, tetra-ethyl lead is easily absorbed into the body. There were some incidents of kids eating paint chips (which also used an organic lead compound) but since lead paint was used extensively in the U.S. before 1978, it wasn’t just getting ingested by poor kids. That was just The Narrative, the Early Days.

    Last time I had cause to check (1995), lead blood levels in the U.S. had fallen by 90% from their early 70’s highs. That was mostly due to the ban on leaded fuel. Period. During that same time frame, we also went from moon landings to Michael Jackson and Friends, so I’m not seeing the causation.

    If general air pollution causes kids to be dumb and violent, then the pre-catalytic converter Southern California of my youth should have been something akin to Dawn of the Living Dead with packs of flesh eating teen zombies roaming the malls, skate parks, and miniature golf courses. Also, there should there should have been a clear rising gradient of violent crazy from the coast to the I-5 corridor to the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys. Amazingly La Canada, Encino, Pasadena, and San Dimas in the valleys cranked out hordes of smart kids and even some CIF Southern Section championship sports teams (I shudder thinking of practices in stage two smog alerts). Inglewood and Long Beach on the coast, not so much.

    I stopped taking Drum seriously about fifteen years ago when he was flogging some Courier-type piece of crazy as the Texas Republican Party platform. I think that it took me about ten minutes to find the real state party platform and establish that the document he was pushing was a county platform from some backwoods part of the state still fighting the War of Northern Aggression. Instead of being thanked for my research, I was attacked for being a troll and agent provocateur. I have few illusions about the Cult.

  4. When I was a yoof, most homes in the UK had lead pipes. I presume then drinking water would have meant intolerable levels of crime everywhere. Plus lead was in paint so pausing for liquid refreshment while decorating your home was really asking for trouble.

    Oddly, despite all this lead around murder and mayhem was not that noticeable in places I lived.

    Anyway, the warning is clear: Watch out for the underclass chewing painted wood.

  5. Lead poisoning was called Saturnism in Antiquity, at least the crack epidemic could have been blamed on the CIA.

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