Carl Zimmer Quote

Reviewing the records of two million recruits, Feyrer and his colleagues also checked the natural iodine levels in their hometowns. Nationwide, the researchers found, the introduction of iodine raised the average IQ by an estimated 3.5 points. And in the parts of the country where natural iodine levels were lowest, Feyrer and his colleagues estimated that scores leaped 15 points. It may be hard to believe that such a straightforward change in people’s diets could have such a tremendous effect on intelligence. But as public health workers continue to bring iodine to more of the world, the same jumps happen. In 1990, Robert DeLong, an expert on iodine at Duke University, traveled to the Taklamakan Desert in western China. The region has extremely low levels of iodine in the soil, and the people in the region have resisted attempts to introduce iodized salt. It didn’t help that the people of the region, the Uyghurs, distrusted the government in Beijing. Rumors spread that government-issued iodized salt had contraceptives in it, as a way to wipe out the community. DeLong and his Chinese medical colleagues approached local officials with a different idea: They would put iodine in the irrigation canals. Crops would absorb it in their water, and people in the Taklamakan region would eat it in their food. The officials agreed to the plan, and when DeLong later gave children from the region IQ tests, their average score jumped 16 points.

Carl Zimmer

Reviewing the records of two million recruits, Feyrer and his colleagues also checked the natural iodine levels in their hometowns. Nationwide, the researchers found, the introduction of iodine raised the average IQ by an estimated 3.5 points. And in the parts of the country where natural iodine levels were lowest, Feyrer and his colleagues estimated that scores leaped 15 points. It may be hard to believe that such a straightforward change in people’s diets could have such a tremendous effect on intelligence. But as public health workers continue to bring iodine to more of the world, the same jumps happen. In 1990, Robert DeLong, an expert on iodine at Duke University, traveled to the Taklamakan Desert in western China. The region has extremely low levels of iodine in the soil, and the people in the region have resisted attempts to introduce iodized salt. It didn’t help that the people of the region, the Uyghurs, distrusted the government in Beijing. Rumors spread that government-issued iodized salt had contraceptives in it, as a way to wipe out the community. DeLong and his Chinese medical colleagues approached local officials with a different idea: They would put iodine in the irrigation canals. Crops would absorb it in their water, and people in the Taklamakan region would eat it in their food. The officials agreed to the plan, and when DeLong later gave children from the region IQ tests, their average score jumped 16 points.

Related Quotes

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer (born 1966) is a popular science writer, blogger, columnist, and journalist who specializes in the topics of evolution, parasites, and heredity. The author of many books, he contributes science essays to publications such as The New York Times, Discover, and National Geographic. He is a fellow at Yale University's Morse College and adjunct professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University. Zimmer also gives frequent lectures and has appeared on many radio shows, including National Public Radio's Radiolab, Fresh Air, and This American Life.Zimmer describes his journalistic beat as "life" or "what it means to be alive". He is the only science writer to have a species of tapeworm named after him (Acanthobothrium zimmeri). Zimmer's father is Dick Zimmer, a Republican politician from New Jersey, who was a member of U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1997.