Simple biology is a ludicrously heavy lever on human behavior.
Seemingly small biological factors can have huge social consequences.
For example not having clean water and getting parasites can mean a lower IQ for children and hindered development.
"Many scientists, both critics and supporters, have expressed concern that the experimental methods we have used have not adequately established that causation exists between IQ and infectious disease, and that its direction is the one we predict. The use of longitudinal studies could answer all of these questions. Such studies would track children from as early an age as possible, documenting the intensity, duration, timing, and types of infections they acquire, and track their cognitive development through the use of culturally-appropriate IQ tests."
In fact I'd think that so many other potential causative factors, such as lack of education, freetime, skilled employment etc. are likely to be correlated with incidence of infectious disease, that it's hard to draw any strong conclusions without a more detailed study.
(also: maybe crack use is a result of a violent environment, thus the causality chain could be lead -> violence -> crack - assuming there is any causality between any of these)
The reason why the crack epidemic reasoning makes more sense as a causitive agent is because violent crime didn't simply go down in the '90s as leaded gasoline was phased out. Rather, crime increased dramatically in the '80s and early '90s before peaking and falling. That doesn't match either the profile of lead exposure nor the population of the folks who typically commit violent crimes (sub 30 year old males). In fact, there was a peak of violent crime among 14-24 year olds as a percentage of that population group that matches the onset of the crack epidemic perfectly but does not match lead exposure or socio-economic status well at all.
Here's a good graph that highlights just that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_Stat...
The figures there back up the premise that there was a wave of new and exceptional violence caused by young gang bangers fighting in the streets over the crack business.
See Figures 7 and 8 in this paper. http://pic.plover.com/Nevin/Nevin2007.pdf
The joys of living in California. I wonder if this will happen in East Palo Alto too.
One thing, though; when it's illegal, police find it a convenient way to bust a known baddie and get them off the streets. Take that away and they lose a valuable tool.
Since 2008, other than smartphones, what has really changed in tech?
Burner phones being cheap and capable of texting?
Around 2010 all of that changed. Everyone in my neighborhood in Harlem started to have smartphones. And with the rise of smartphones in poor urban neighborhoods came the rise of these same people using social media in record numbers.
You just made my point.
Flip and feature phones were used in poor urban communities. Those were more than capable of texting, and using text to set up a drug meet.
This thread started with some one asking whether Tech had played a role in the decline of street gangs.
I am making the case that outside of the smartphone, and faster wireless networks, nothing fundamentally changed between 2008 and now.
So, did the rise in smartphones lead to the decline of street gangs?
Causation vs Correlation.
The web existed in 1995, but it wasn't until the late '90s that it started becoming heavily used by the majority of the public at large.
As was MySpace.
Most who buy drugs in the inner city do not have access to bitcoin and/or Silk Road, and even if they did they would scoff at the inflated prices compared to the price on the streets.
When a handful of guys in Guadalajara have a piece of every drug transaction in Southern California it's all going to look pretty peaceful unless you cross them.
Having distractions alone is not sufficient. As a previous poster noted, connectivity and digital technology can actually lower the barrier in certain aspects.
So they switched from a zero-sum game to a positive-sum game?