Whether those increases are because of environmental exposures or from other confounding variables is difficult to determine.
They were simply seen as easy, wealthy targets, confounding local conventions of the time.
He has shown an uncanny knack in this campaign for defying political gravity and confounding the oddsmakers.
c.1300, "make uneasy, abash," from Anglo-French confoundre, Old French confondre (12c.) "crush, ruin, disgrace, throw into disorder," from Latin confundere "to confuse," literally "to pour together, mix, mingle," from com- "together" (see com-) + fundere "to pour" (see found (v.2)).
The figurative sense of "confuse, fail to distinguish, mix up" emerged in Latin, passed into French and thence into Middle English, where it is mostly found in Scripture; the sense of "destroy utterly" is recorded in English from c.1300. Meaning "perplex" is late 14c. The Latin past participle confusus, meanwhile, became confused (q.v.).