[ExI] Death follows European contact (Mirco Romanato)

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Apr 22 17:58:11 UTC 2014

BillK <pharos at gmail.com> , 21/4/2014 10:46 AM:
The BBC has an article up showing that in recent years removing lead 
from petrol leads 20 years later to a big reduction in violent crime. 
Prison and social policies make no difference - it's a medical 
Effect size? Causality testing? The theory is nice, but one needs to check for how much is explained by the lead hypothesis.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935107000503?np=ygives some data, and it definitely looks like something is going on - but lead is just a small (<20% of variance) part of the decline. What evidence does Gesch have to claim it explains 90%?https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412012000566?np=yhas a claim that *sounds* as strong (but the 90% is the model as a whole), but inside the model lead is still just one factor.
No doubt neurotoxicity is a relevant problem and might contribute to violence (and indirectly, via lower IQs, to a more shortsighted society). But one should not start to assume it is the major explanation for a complex social activity like violence just because it would be neat, exculpate a lot of people and a model claims it is the explanation. Extraordinary claims (the social stuff does not matter for this social outcome) require extraordinary evidence. 

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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