Lead and Crime: A Response to Jim Manzi

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A couple of days ago Jim Manzi posted a long and technical critique of my hypothesis that gasoline lead is strongly linked to the rise and fall of violent crime that we’ve experienced over the past half century. (Detailed in “Criminal Element” in our current issue.) It’s the kind of critique that probably ought to be addressed by an expert, but unfortunately there don’t seem to be any in my living room at the moment. Just me. So I’m going to respond myself, and hopefully others may respond in their own way later on.

A quick note: I spoke to Manzi while I was preparing my article on the lead-crime hypothesis, and I’ve also read Uncontrolled, his excellent book about the inherent problems with econometric analysis (review here). So I’m not surprised that he has some pushback. Nonetheless, I think he pushes back too much.

The rest of this is likely to get long and a little wonky, and it doesn’t contain any fascinating new factlets about lead that I left out of my magazine piece. For that reason, I’m going to put it below the fold. However, if you make it all the way to the end, there’s an irony to our disagreement that you might find amusing. Click the link for more.

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Lead and Crime: A Response to Jim Manzi

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