Jim Manzi on the Difficulty of Establishing Causality

by Reihan Salam

Though Jim Manzi is semi-retired as a blogger, he’s written a terrific post on the connection between lead and crime. Prompted by a well-regarded recent Mother Jones article on the subject by the left-of-center blogger Kevin Drum, Jim teases apart some of the assumptions embedded in the work of Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, a public health scholar who Drum draws on to make the case for a substantial investment in lead abatement. And I think Jim concludes on the right note: Drum, and by extension Reyes, make a strong case, but there is still uncertainty around the connection that needs to be taken into account as we weigh making an investment of X dollars vs. competing uses of those funds. My strong bias is to favor greater investment in lead abatement, so I’m grateful to Jim for his contribution.