Apparent madness, dramatically lower than usual IQ, behavioral and learning disorders, violent anti-social behavior, kidney problems – am I describing the average Islamic terrorist (Bin Laden comes to mind) or a victim of lead poisoning? Turns out the two could have more in common than expected. I ran across an interesting news item that talks about a weird practice among some Arab cultures in which mothers intentionally apply lead-based makeup called “Kohl” to their children’s eyes. It seems the kohl may be having the effect of giving them lead poisoning and frequently the unfortunate developmental problems listed above. What’s even more interesting is that some Arab soldiers (including the Taliban fighters) traditionally use Kohl (I guess to cut down the Sun’s glare?). The article says bin Laden appears to be wearing Kohl in some photos that have been taken of him (and he’s also known to have kidney problems).
It’s probably not the whole explanation for all the crazy behavior over there but sure goes a long way towards explaining how some people in the middle east can get sucked into goofy cult-like religions and try to blow themselves up while others seem perfectly normal.