5 Comments
Jun 29·edited Jun 29

I am not surprised that lead exposure seemed to affect reading but not math scores in poor neighborhoods. Basic math achievement more often reflects the quality of the teacher rather than the student. In low-resource environments, the quality of math education seems to be especially bad because there are already shortages of good math teachers for a variety of reasons. I have been to public schools where math was effectively not taught at all for years at a time. In those poor education environments, smart kids tend to eventually learn to read nonetheless, while math ability seems to simply correlate with the quality (or lack) of teaching and have little to do with individual aptitude.

My experience is supported by studies of homeschooled children—their reading skills are often developed to a level that correlates with their interest and ability, while even smart homeschooled children tend to fall behind in math due to lack of quality instruction.

Expand full comment

What would the large difference in rates of criminality between men and women say about this hypothesis? Wouldn't we all be exposed to led as children at about the same rate, living in certain areas? And yet, there has always been a large discrepancy, especially in crimes of aggression. That seems to me to cast doubt on the whole idea.

Expand full comment
author

I'm not sure that's evidence either way - by analogy, if lead stunted growth, and men and women were equally exposed to it, then we wouldn't expect men and women to be the same height. That would only be true if lead were the ONLY factor affecting height (or crime), but we know men are on average taller than women (and on average more violent than women) to begin with.

Expand full comment

But this is specifically about how lead effects brain development and behavior - including the social, emotional and executive functioning skills that you and Stuart were calling “personality” in the podcast. Both men and women have frontal lobes which govern these functions, and I don’t think lead would discriminate in the damage it would do. So high levels of childhood lead exposure does not cause aggression in women and girls? It should of at least have been addressed. Do you or Stuart know if there is reliable sex-disaggregated data on this question?

Expand full comment