How scandalous is the lead scandal?

Hans Eysenck book review in New Scientist, 14 April 1983:

Lead versus health, Edited by M.Rutter and R.Russell-Jones, Wiley, pp 379, £18.50
The lead scandal, By Des Wilson, Heinemann Educational, pp182, £12.50, pbk £3.95

Both these books deal with the question of whether low-level exposure to lead has important effects on behaviour and intelligence, and both come to a rather positive conclusion. Apart from these similarities they could not be more different.

Des Wilson is not a scientist but an activist; he is indeed, as is said in the book, “one of Britain’s most experienced and best-known campaigners on social issues”. The Lead Scandal is manifestly a propaganda effort, as the title suggests, and his presentation of the evidence is rather one-sided, as well as being emotional and full of accusations of scientists and politicians with whom he disagrees.

It is a very effective package, paperbacked with a threatening kind of picture on the cover: it has a subtitle (“The fight to save children from damage by lead in petrol”) which begs the question, and although it contains nothing but the truth, it certainly does not contain the whole truth.

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