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"A feeble body weakens the mind."

Swiss philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau said those words over 200 years ago. But for Dr. Roger D. Masters, a Research Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, that idea is still relevant today.

Masters studies the effects heavy metals can have on human brain chemistry and behavior, and the findings are astounding. "Many violent criminals have high levels of lead or manganese in their blood," he told The Suit. Since this can explain why some communities have high rates of violent crime, Masters focused on factors linked to high blood lead. Publications with chemist Mike Coplan revealed that children's blood lead levels are higher in areas where either fluorosilicic acid or sodium silicofluoride is added to public water supplies—and these communities also have poor educational results, more substance abuse, and more violent crime. Since silicofluorides are toxic chemicals that have never been tested for safety and have never been shown to reduce tooth decay as intended, Masters and Coplan think it's time we used scientific research to guide public policies. "Since each violent crime costs taxpayers an estimated $30,000 a year," he added, "ending use of silicofluorides could cut billions from government deficits at no cost to taxpayers."

Masters is also a well-known expert on Rousseau. He has studied and taught classes on the philosopher's discourses as well as co-editing modern translations of his writings, which emphasized the importance of understanding "human nature." While Rousseau's thought was instrumental in shaping the French Revolution and initiating modern educational practice, Masters concludes his insights remain pertinent today.

Masters began his teaching career at Yale, but after six years he decided to move to Dartmouth as a tenured professor. "I preferred Dartmouth in good part for the excellence of its undergraduate education," he said. Aside from a two-year stint as cultural attaché at the American Embassy in Paris, he has remained at Dartmouth since 1967. He also consults for the U.S. Department of Defense regarding the intersection of biology and politics, and serves on the executive council of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences.
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