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Pollution (and Resulting Anxiety) Predicts Violence And Unethical Behavior

Discussion in 'Scientific Studies' started by haidut, Mar 2, 2018.

  1. haidut

    haidut Member

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    For those of you who have read the book Freakonomics, you probably remember the chapter discussing the drop in violent crime in the US during the late 80s and early 90s. The authors made the claim that neither better law enforcement, nor social programs were responsible for that drop. Rather, the removal of lead from gasoline in all 50 states was responsible for that remarkable social bonanza. Lead toxicity is well-known to cause violent/psychotic behavior as well as propensity for committing crime on a seemingly random basis.
    This study below extends that argument for air pollution being a major driver of human behavior, and adds weight to the argument of environment (and not genes) as the main factor shaping human misdeeds. China, which has the worst air pollution in major cities than any other nation on Earth, was caught falsifying crime stats in 2015. The raw data was showing that Chinese major cities had a violent crime rate 5-10 times higher than places like South Africa or known US crime hubs like Baltimore.
    Another interesting finding of the study below is that pollution leads to anxiety (fear), which was itself the main driver of crime and unethical behavior. This reminds me of Michael Moore's movie "Bowling for Columbine", where he reaches the conclusion that neither guns, nor "a few bad apples" were the main drivers behind violence in USA. It was fear (anxiety) that drove most of the people examined by the movie to commit violent crimes. No wonder anti-anxiety drugs are the most prescribed drug class in the Western world, followed closely by SSRI. Sadly, the SSRI drugs are known to drive violent behavior themselves independently of any other factor.

    http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797617735807
    "...Air pollution is a serious problem that affects billions of people globally. Although the environmental and health costs of air pollution are well known, the present research investigates its ethical costs. We propose that air pollution can increase criminal and unethical behavior by increasing anxiety. Analyses of a 9-year panel of 9,360 U.S. cities found that air pollution predicted six major categories of crime; these analyses accounted for a comprehensive set of control variables (e.g., city and year fixed effects, population, law enforcement) and survived various robustness checks (e.g., balanced panel, nonparametric bootstrapped standard errors). Three subsequent experiments involving American and Indian participants established the causal effect of psychologically experiencing a polluted (vs. clean) environment on unethical behavior. Consistent with our theoretical perspective, results revealed that anxiety mediated this effect. Air pollution not only corrupts people’s health, but also can contaminate their morality."
     
  2. Diokine

    Diokine Member

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    I have been noticing more sensitivity to car and diesel exhaust, and some perfumes and colognes. The perception of these noxious odors immediately changes my breathing patterns and sense of comfort. I really feel like one can get a very good gauge of how well you are integrating with your environment based on how it "smells."

    Living near a major traffic area has been demonstrated to cause significant health problems. The air quality in many buildings is probably much worse than many might think, and inhaled toxins represent a serious risk to health. Molds and fungi can initiate inflammatory reactions that can lead to degenerative conditions like Alzheimer's, dementia, etc.,.





    Inhalational Alzheimer's disease: an unrecognized—and treatable—epidemic

    This study was extremely interesting, several case reports of Alzheimer's type pathology related to biological markers for chronic infection from molds and fungus.
     
  3. robknob

    robknob Member

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    Super interesting post
    Somewhat hard to find stuff on Chinese crime, but I found this tidbit:
    https://thesocietypages.org/clippings/2010/06/03/actual-crime-higher-than-stats-in-china/

    It's hard to imagine the kind of pollution that people grew up with, I know whenever I am driving behind an old clunker, I can't stand the scent of the fumes, from just one car... and to think of walking down a city street back then... good lord

    Its interesting to think of these environmental toxins and decline of societies, Rome and lead pipes/leaded wine, england and aluminum added to refined flower, but maybe the US can recover if we get our heads around the science.
     
  4. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    Yep, smell is one of the most reliable senses for good/bad environment because it is processed directly by the brain. Conversely, poor sense smell is strongly indicative of poor brain function and predicts all-cause mortality quite well.
     
  5. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    The Chinese faking their crime stats was part of a CNN piece on the efforts of Obama to convince his Chinese counterparts to change their stance on pollution and climate change. I think they have an actual like from Obama saying something like "come on, we caught you faking crime stats data to avoid spooking foreign investors". I think there was an article in the NYT on that but they did not link it to pollution, it just said Chinese fake data on GDP, crime and public health as a matter of government policy.
    I think PUFA is a more dangerous "pollutant" becaus it is pervasive and actively promoted by health authorities. An environmental toxin is usually watched much more closely even if it is officially not labelled as dangerous. The regulations on BPA, and Teflon's like chemicals are much more stringent and at least set some limit while with PUFA you can eat it until you explode and your doctor will likely applaud...
     
  6. Regina

    Regina Member

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    I wonder how much the books are cooked in Japan. I question the stats on all fronts. Health, crime, happiness, etc.
     
  7. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    Well, we know the books are cooked on happiness at least. Japan has one of the highest rates of depression and suicide in the world.
     
  8. Janelle525

    Janelle525 Member

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    I think lead poisoning for children is a serious problem in the US. Yes it was outlawed but all the old houses still have lead paint. Or are being renovated and releasing all that lead dust in the environment. The old lead paint is also breaking down more as it ages. Lead is also still used in products. Particularly ceramic glazes and paints not regulated. I threw out all my dishes that I was unsure used lead paint. Jewelry is another source. The list goes on. Leaded fuel is still being used in poorer countries. Chocolate is contaminated because of the unregulated use of lead still. One of the best reasons to keep calcium and vitamin C intake high for children.
     
  9. SOMO

    SOMO Member

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    Animals under high MENTAL stress will react PHYSICALLY (usually against others.)
    Back a dog into a corner and it's more likely to bite you.

    Isn't is peculiar, then, that Japan (not just Okinawa) has a high number of centenarians?
    In general, the Japanese diet is extremely wholesome, high in iodine from seaweed, which should afford some thyroid protection to the populace.
    Have you heard about the "Suicide Forest" in Japan? I think Japan in particular has a problem with suicides because of their highly mentally-stressful society. I wonder how much worse Japan's suicide rate would be if not for their balanced diet.

    I threw out any plastic containers and tupperware and replaced it all with BPA-free ones.
    I also think people regularly forget that plastics are commonly used to store all manner of chemicals, and plastics are notorious for being INERT and non-reactive with the substances they hold inside.

    Regardless, I think plastics should be phased out in the next decade or so for more organic materials, such as fungal polysaccharide/polymers. I'm hopeful that one day I will be able to carry my lunch in a sturdy, leak-proof box that stacks nicely in my refrigerator and is made from mushroom excretions instead of petrochemicals. :)

    [media][/media]
     
  10. Amazoniac

    Amazoniac Member

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    Single use disposable petroleum plastics are crazy pollution.
    By the way, I don't know why glass straws aren't more popular, they are quite sturdy and aren't strange like the steel ones.
     
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