Common factors (improving regulations) could cause the lead reductions and the crime reductions.
And then there are coincidentally similar trends (like the IE vs Murder example).
I haven't read this paper carefully, but the stuff about lead exposure and crime that I did read carefully a year or two ago didn't pass my sniff test. The models for calculating the probability of coincidence were simplistic and left no room for unaccounted-for common causes.
"But as Wolf shows, the correlation between lead exposure and crime bears out even when adjusting for demographic and social factors, when looking at the phenomenon at the state, city and even neighborhood level, and in various countries. It holds up even in locations where the relationship between lead exposure and crime doesn’t follow the clear “inverted U” curve of the data from the U.S. In the end, the lead exposure theory for the rise and fall of violent crime in the U.S. seems entirely plausible, in fact probable. "
The standard p-value for "probable" in peer-reviewed publications is 5%. That means one in twenty of these "probable" publishable theories are wrong. And that's assuming the model for all the ways this could be wrong is complete. Crime rate changes in a changing society are simply too complicated for that to be the case. So the probability that this result is bunk is probably higher than 5%.
Still not buying it...
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