Not all research is created equal

Written By: - Date published: 12:59 pm, January 17th, 2016 - 191 comments
Categories: accountability, business, capitalism, science - Tags: , , ,

There’s a lot of nonsense written about research, most of it by those with an ideological objection to some set of facts, or a financial interest in denying them. Slater’s Whaleoil blog – which carries paid-for attacks on science (and lashes out blindly at “troughers”) – is one of the most obvious offenders in NZ.

Research, the scientific method, is the best tool we have for understanding the world. It isn’t a set of facts or dogma, it’s a process for evaluating hypotheses. Honest disagreement and changes in consensus are not evidence of flaws in the process, they are the process, it is “self repairing”.

Sadly however, there is material out there that dresses itself in the garb of research, but isn’t. It is paid for propaganda masquerading as science. A recent example has been in the news here in NZ:

Lion’s research suggesting booze has little relation to violence slammed by academics

Academics have slammed a report that weakens the link between alcohol and violence.

The report was funded by booze company Lion and took just seven weeks of research, suggesting alcohol has little to do with violent behaviour. “It’s a report that’s completely flawed and it shouldn’t be informing policy on alcohol,” Nicki Jackson from the University of Auckland said.

Dr Anne Fox, the author of the report, said in a statement “violent people were more likely to act violently in certain situations. But alcohol does not create violence in non-violent people”.

Violence is part of our society yes – as are the inhibitions that hold violence in check. This report’s lie by omission is that alcohol weakens those inhibitions.

An anonymous editorial in The Herald yesterday managed to get straight to the heart of the issue:

Academic research into public health problems has an uncanny way of confirming the concerns of its funder.

Similar examples on a global scale include the “research” purporting to show no harm from smoking tobacco, and of course the climate change denial industry. It’s tragic but it’s true, in evaluating supposed research we need to apply the almost universally useful maxim – “follow the money”.


Another footnote – my last post generated such a predictably facile misrepresentation by the right wing blogs (Slater / George) that I can’t wait to see what I’m going to be accused of this time!

191 comments on “Not all research is created equal”

  1. David 1

    “Similar examples on a global scale include the “research” purporting to show no harm from smoking tobacco, and of course the climate change denial industry. It’s tragic but it’s true, in evaluating supposed research we need to apply the almost universally useful maxim – “follow the money”.”

    Does this apply to both sides of the argument, or just the one that you disagree with?

    • r0b 1.1

      If there is an “argument” then both sides. Obviously.

      Take climate change for example. The overwhelming majority of research is publicly funded. The deniers (a tiny minority) are frequently funded by oil companies or their puppets. Which side do you think is lying?

      • David 1.1.1

        But that public funding is not independent. If the publicly funded research comes back with a finding that there is no issue and everything is alright, the funding stops. The incentive is inbuilt on both sides.

        • r0b 1.1.1.1

          Begging your pardon but you have no idea what you’re talking about. That’s a conspiracy theory – an argument for never believing publicly funded science. And most science is publicly / government funded.

          Scientists don’t get funded for supporting “a position” on “an issue”, they get funded for doing good work. Public funding for research is almost always contested – lots of applicants for few dollars. Funding doesn’t (generally) stop, it moves around, goes somewhere else. You can’t fake “an issue” for funding because other scientists will call you on it.

          The near unanimity of publicly funded science on the evidence for climate change, for example, is not evidence of a massive conspiracy among scientists. It is evidence of the clarity and importance of the evidence. (If you don’t believe me, and don’t believe scientists, then just take a look around at what the world is saying.)

          • David 1.1.1.1.1

            “Begging your pardon but you have no idea what you’re talking about. That’s a conspiracy theory – an argument for never believing publicly funded science. And most science is publicly / government funded.”

            It’s no more a conspiracy theory. Incentives matter. That doesn’t mean you ‘never believe publicly funded science’ any more than a company funding a study means you should never believe it.

            “It is evidence of the clarity and importance of the evidence. (If you don’t believe me, and don’t believe scientists, then just take a look around at what the world is saying.)”

            Correct. You don’t write stuff off just because of who funded it, you need to look at the value of the evidence they present. Just because something is publicly funded does not make it virtuous.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Say “it doesn’t make it virtuous”, that’ll help obscure the fact that public funding is subject to public scrutiny, not to mention the aforementioned competition for it.

              Such a vague and apparently well-meaning weasel smear. Low character or witless gullibility?

            • Macro 1.1.1.1.1.2

              David – perhaps you should read this
              It is quite clear that exxon-mobile have known for years that combustion of huge amounts of oil over the years has resulted in AGW. This has been the consensus of not only 100% of their scientists – but thousands of other scientists world wide, yet exxon-mobile have poured $31m US into “think-tanks” such as the “Heartland Institute” whose prime purpose in life is to feed useful idiots – such as yourself” with misinformation solely to avoid the universal public acknowledgement that the product they were selling was injurious to the health of the planet and ultimately to humans.

            • Puddleglum 1.1.1.1.1.3

              As a general ‘agenda’, publicly funded science requires valid and reliable research to be carried out on an issue.

              There are two ways in which I think you could argue that publicly funded research is ‘biased’ to particular interests but even given those two ways, the outputs still need to go through the scrutiny of other researchers through both peer review and, more importantly, research responses.

              The two ways bias can occur in publicly funded research are: (1) The selection of topics for research funding (e.g., this government has set aside funding amounts for so-called ‘National Science Challenges’ which were determined following criteria established by government; (2) The extent to which publicly funded research is tied to the interests of industry sectors (e.g., there has been a concerted push by this government for research bids for publicly funded research to show ‘stakeholder engagement’ and responsiveness to the needs of stakeholders so that the Crown can be assured of its ‘return on investment’ in publicly funded research – typically that return is overwhelmingly in relation to economic objectives; e.g., the latest MBIE ‘open round’).

              Science in general has always ‘served interests’. It’s no coincidence, for example, that at the dawn of modern science the focus was on determining the ‘laws of motion’, ‘mechanics’ and astronomy. The funders of those early scientists were, of course, very interested in such things as predicting the trajectories of cannon-balls, ensuring fortifications were solid and navigating to new lands using the stars.

              Science is a social construction, in large part, and so reflects dominant interests in a society. In the ideal, ‘public good science’ has been an attempt in democracies to broaden the interests that science serves.

              Now, I agree that publicly funded research can indeed be biased in these ways as it restricts the likely topics and questions that will receive funding. Nevertheless, the findings and outputs (publications, etc.) must also be ‘good science’ in the traditional sense of standing up to scrutiny over their methods, conceptualisation and interpretation of findings.

              It could be argued that a government ‘agenda setting’ in this way is biased – but I guess that’s democracy/politics for you.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.2

          Begging your pardon but you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          R0b is so polite. Misplaced charity, if you ask me 😈

        • Paul 1.1.1.3

          You are talking utter nonsense.
          A veil for being a climate denier, I sense.

          • acrophobic 1.1.1.3.1

            Is the expression ‘climate denier’ some kind of mindless perjorative? After all no-one would deny there is a climate. No-one would deny the climate changes. The causes? Ah now there’s a debate.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.3.1.1

              The causes? Deliberate and systematic lying funded by fossil fuel companies is a biggie.

              Witless Tory sponges with no personal responsibility. That’s another.

              • acrophobic

                There’s been plenty of ‘deliberate and systematic lying’ by the alarmists OAB. This is a gigantic trough, and the pigs are well fed.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Cite the journal and author, and the title of the paper you mean. Or shut the fuck up, you lying piece of trash.

                  • acrophobic

                    I’ll give as long a list as you like of ‘deliberate and systematic lying’ by the alarmists OAB. Here’s just a fraction to get you going.

                    http://www.c3headlines.com/science-censorshipdeceit/
                    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/surface-temperature-corroborated-by-satellites-met-office-2013/

                    http://www.westernjournalism.com/expanding-arctic-ice-stymies-al-gores-predictions/
                    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/3310137/Al-Gores-nine-Inconvenient-Untruths.html

                    Actually I might need my own blog to list Al Gores lies.

                    If you keep asking such stupid questions, you’re going to have to do a lot of reading.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Journals. Authors. Titles of papers. Not the drivel you sucked up like a dupe.

                    • acrophobic

                      Why? I didn’t mention journals, papers etc. You did. I mentioned ‘alarmists’.

                      Now read and learn, OAB. Read and learn.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      So random people who aren’t scientists said some things you can’t actually recall and you wet your pants. And this is your great objection? They’re sure to listen to you 😆

                      Al Gore? He’s irrelevant.

                      On Earth, we pay attention to the credible arguments and data – like the trend in the atmospheric carbon isotope ratio, for example. Or Physics.

                      They are quite clear about the causes. Remember the “causes” – your weasel attempt to spread doubt started with you drivelling about them.

                    • acrophobic

                      “So random people who aren’t scientists said some things you can’t actually recall and you wet your pants. ”

                      Did you read the cites? These are real people making real claims. And they are alarmists.

                      “Al Gore? He’s irrelevant.”

                      Oh really? No, I don’t think so. He is to a significant extent the ‘public face’ of climate change alarmism.

                      “On Earth, we pay attention to the credible arguments and data – like the trend in the atmospheric carbon isotope ratio, for example. Or Physics.”

                      Yep, we do. And there are many scientists who do not accept the alarmist point of view.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      And there are the views of the national academies of science, NASA, the Pentagon, Nature, NOAA and the overwhelming majority of Climatologists, not to mention many many other disciplines which are recording the ongoing effects, which are occurring well within the bounds of predictions going as far back as 1896.

                      Now stop wasting my time with your childish gobshite, you vile shithead.

                • Anno1701

                  “This is a gigantic trough, and the pigs are well fed.”

                  such a tired meme…

            • Halfcrown 1.1.1.3.1.2

              7th Jan Acrophobic @ 1.1.3.1 wrote

              “The causes? Ah now there’s a debate.”

              Acrophobic
              I would not say I was a climate change denier, I was more your climate change skeptic. Geology a pet subject I like to read about, shows that the world’s climate is one of the last things that is stable and there has been many a global warming over the aeons. As a skeptic I would say the latest warming is the result of us coming out of the mini ice age. A time when Frost Fairs were a common thing on the River Thames in the 1700’s & early 1800’s, as the Thames would freeze more or less solid. Mind you they don’t mention the fact that the Thames was full of rubbish and the piers of the bridges slowed the flow of water assisting the freezing.

              Last year for my e reader I bought Ben Millers book “It’s Not Rocket Science”. Ben Miller is a British comedian who has a Ph.D. In the book there is a long discussion about climate change and how the changes in the climate of the earth has been recorded in rocks and ice samples. Ben Miller discusses various causes that could be factors towards climate change, also I would not call Ben Miller a lefty, far from it, or a Doomsayer and I suspect the title of the chapter was done with tongue in cheek, also he was not flying any political coloured flag so to speak, but his last sentence on the subject sums it all up as far as I am concerned.

              I won’t quote the whole chapter as it is too long for here, but I will quote this from Ben Miller’s book “It’s Not Rocket Science”

              Chapter 7 The End Of The World Is Nigh

              “The conclusion: the present levels of carbon dioxide in the air are the highest they have been for hundreds of millions of years, because of the burning of fossil fuels.”

              So my conclusion is : The right can deny we are contributing towards climate change along with the oil companies as much as they like, but we ARE contributing towards climate change. THAT is a fact, through the increase in carbon emissions. THAT is also a fact. We are in for some very rough times. The world has now got to get our collective heads out of the sand and start thinking how we can ALL resolve this serious issue.
              There is NOW the urgent need to cut the political crap, stop the obscene greed and start working towards this end. Otherwise, there may not be future generations around to spout right/left bullshit all day long on forums.

              • acrophobic

                The left (and ‘big-green) can make these hysterical claims all they like, but nothing trumps good science.

                • Halfcrown

                  “The left (and ‘big-green) can make these hysterical claims all they like, but nothing trumps good science.”

                  Hey smart arse, are you saying anybody who sees through the bullshit of your cosy narrow minded fuck you Jack I’m all right, right wing world, and pass the crap you write, they are making “hysterical claims.” And what is good science to you? Shit financed by the Koch Bros that does not rattle the blinds of your cosy right wing make belief fucking world.
                  Read the article in your last response. Interesting, The author David Simpson Owner of Mulshoe Engineering, and what do they do? Oil & Gas Engineering Consultantcy Not a unbiased opinion really is it

              • lprent

                Pretty much correct. CO2 levels (and those of every other gas) have moved all over the place over past 4.5 billion years and affected climate throughout that period. That is clear in the geological record, just as continental drift has twirled the continents around like the surface scum that the SiAl is. My first degree was in earth sciences back in the late 70s. Anthropomorphic induced climate change went from being a pretty good theory without enough evidence then to being a certainty from supporting evidence now.

                The issue isn’t that and never has been. Earth will abide and cure itself over a few thousand years (a blink of an eye in geological timescales). The issue for humans is that the last ten thousand years has been remarkably climatically stable. We invented our primary technologies, especially agricultural food production, within that time period and then built a massive civilization and population based on top of it.

                If we start having the kinds of expected drastic climate shifts and it’s associated extreme weather, then many (if not all) of the foodbowls that feed our current population will have drastic falls in food production. I’d expect that a likely 4C or more increase in average global temperatures over the next 85 years will probably topple our civilizations rather messily. Certainly it is likely to cause a pretty radical shift on what civilization is based on.

                What is irritating is just how stupid the idiot deniers are about dealing with questions of risk.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Earth will abide and cure itself over a few thousand years (a blink of an eye in geological timescales).

                  IIRC, it took 10 million years after the Permian Mass Extinction for biodiversity to ramp up again and the mass extinction that we’ve now initiated is looking almost as bad as that one.

                • acrophobic

                  What ‘deniers’ are you referring to? You seem only to be referring to climate change and it’s impacts, not it’s causes. If you want to discuss what we should do to mitigate the impacts of climate change, then great. Because climate change is real, and while we can and must act to adapt, there is little if anything we can do to stop it.

                  • RedLogix

                    Well now that they’ve so comprehensively revealed as the lying pack of charlatans they always were …. the deniers are busy flipping from ‘climate change is a fraud’ to ‘climate change is real and there’s nothing we can do about it’

                    Are you sure you wanted to be dumped into the same mental spittoon where I’ve located these types?

                    • acrophobic

                      “…the deniers are busy flipping from ‘climate change is a fraud’ to ‘climate change is real and there’s nothing we can do about it’”

                      Really? Who said ‘climate change is a fraud’?

                      “Are you sure you wanted to be dumped into the same mental spittoon where I’ve located these types?”

                      Which ‘types’? There are nutters on both sides of this debate, and plenty are alarmists.

                      Also, is the rapid degeneration into personal abuse a stage one tactic of alarmists?

                    • RedLogix

                      Really? Who said ‘climate change is a fraud’?

                      I dunno … google gives about 32 million hits on that search term.

                      Up until about the late 80’s climate change was not a politically contentious issue. Even Margaret Thatcher (who started out as a research chemist before becoming a barrister) understood that it was a real issue.

                      But at the about same time Exxon Mobile had commissioned it’s own internal and largely secret research confirming the science as well. At that point they realised their product was a danger to humanity and much of life on the planet … and they determined to fund a sophisticated disinformation campaign to undermine and delay any action that might damage their shareholder’s profits. They used exactly the same techniques, in some cases the same people, used by the tobacco companies a few decades earlier.

                      One side is backed by a massive amount of solid science from tens of thousands of researchers, working for hundreds of institutions in dozens of countries around the world. I know some of these people personally, how they work and why they reach their conclusions. It is part of my lived experience.

                      The other side is now proven to be nothing more than a fabrication. A fabrication intended to protect fossil fuel company profits. This is a demonstrated, documented fact.

                      There is no ‘middle ground’ between truth and a lie. So again I ask you … which group do you want to be associated with?

                    • Macro

                      Try Sen Inhofe
                      This dope has been banging on spreading misinformation fed by the Heartland Ins and other right wing “think” tanks for years. He and a few other brain dead Republican senators are ultimately responsible for the fact that the governments cannot reach a more workable solution on Climate Change – because the USA the one Nation that has caused 50% of the elevated CO2 levels cannot come to the party. If ever there was a man who should rot in hell……
                      By the way – the funding by the right wing pricks for the spreading of misinformation on AGW is enormous.

                      Between 2005 and 2008, the Kochs alone spent nearly $25m on organizations fighting climate reform. One study by a Drexel University professor found 140 conservative foundations had spent $558m over seven years for the same purpose.

                    • acrophobic

                      “I dunno … google gives about 32 million hits on that search term.”

                      No, you made the the claim, so I’m asking you to give an example.

                      There is a lot of dishonesty amongst alarmists, who conflate the arguments between the reality and the cause. There are many scientists who are of the view that man is not a major contributor to climate change. I don’t know a single one who denies it is happening.

                    • acrophobic

                      “Try Sen Inhofe”

                      Can you provide a single cite to show that Inhofe said ‘climate change is a fraud’, or denied that climate change is happening?

                      To repeat, I’m calling you out on the language here, because the language of climate skeptics is being distorted by alarmists.

                      BTW, someone isn’t a dope simply because they disagree with you. Your opinion is solely based on the mistaken and deluded notion that mankind can actually effect the climate in any meaningful way.

                    • lprent []

                      Your opinion is solely based on the mistaken and deluded notion that mankind can actually effect the climate in any meaningful way.

                      Don’t be a fool. In this case RL is an engineer. For that matter my core training was a BSc in Earth Sciences. We tend to gain our ‘opinions’ about climate change from the basic maths, physics, and behaviors of matter from our core education. Plus a lot of reading of papers and articles over the last 3 or 4 decades.

                      That isn’t opinion. It is a trained view on the probabilities in a area we know something about. One of our opinions is more like how we tend to view someone like you, essentially due to the paucity of intelligence and understanding that you so often display.

                      As far as I can tell, you get your opinions by tasting the flavor of your finger after fingering your arse. Certainly you don’t appear to have any idea of the processes the drive climate or the evidential science that has been building around what was just a good theory when I first left uni in 1981. Instead you blather on about things that I learnt in secondary school and link to crappy blog posts that usually betray their misunderstanding of the processes of science in their first few paragraphs.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      There are many scientists who are of the view that man is not a major contributor to climate change.

                      …and all they have to do to be taken seriously is to convince the vast overwhelming majority, and come up with an alternative explanation for all the evidence.

                      You, on the other hand, are merely plagiarising witless denier zombie drivel authored by someone else.

                    • acrophobic

                      “…and all they have to do to be taken seriously is to convince the vast overwhelming majority, and come up with an alternative explanation for all the evidence.”

                      Which vast, overwhelming majority would that be?

                      “Much has been made in the press about the report that “97% of climate scientists agree” that “Global warming is a real threat, and that mankind’s activities are the cause—the science is settled”.

                      One of the sources frequently cited for the consensus is Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Naomi Oreskes from Harvard. Professor Oreskes examined the abstracts from 928 articles (no disclosure as to how the 928 articles were selected from a body of peer-reviewed literature in the thousands) and found that 75% supported the view that human activities are “responsible for most of the observed warming over the previous 50 years.” An interpretation of an author’s opinion on a broad topic from a paper outline seems to be a stretch.

                      An article published by Doran and Zimmerman in Eos: Transactions of the American Geophysical Union in 2007 reported the results of a two-question online survey of selected scientists that claimed “97% of climate scientists agree.” The questions were:

                      Have global mean temperatures risen since the pre-1800’s?
                      Do humans significantly influence the global temperature?
                      It is difficult, even for a skeptic, to answer those questions in the negative. It is a strong skeptic position that climate changes, climate has always changed, climate will always change. It is also difficult to say that the biomass of 7 billion people would not have some impact on a heat sink.

                      The Doran and Zimmerman survey was sent to 3,146 scientists who were identified by having had a paper published which mentioned climate change. Of this subset, only 79 responded. So this evidence of a consensus actually had 77 people respond positively to inane and general questions.

                      In 2013, a paper by Cook et al. published in Environmental Research Letters claimed that their review of the abstracts of peer-reviewed papers from 1991 to 2011 found 97 percent of those that stated a position explicitly or implicitly suggesting that human activity is responsible for some warming. The Cook paper was reviewed by Legates, et al. in Science and Education who found that “just 0.03 percent endorsement … that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic.” They found “only 41 papers – 0.03 percent of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0 percent of the 4,014 abstracts expressing an opinion … had been found to endorse the quantitative hypothesis.”

                      Many of the authors of abstracts that were included in Cook, et al. analysis have since come forward to refute that their position was properly categorized.”

                      http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/8241/One-Engineers-Perspective-on-Global-Warming.aspx

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Vast majority, Choke on it. Literally.

                    • acrophobic

                      And I assume you have interviewed them all?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Do you? You’re a flaccid plagiarist: your assumptions are a subject of ridicule and contempt, and this one is completely shit like all the others.

                      It’s pretty simple when it comes down to it: start with the Physics.

                      L(1-α) = εσT^4

                      Where L = solar luminosity
                      α = albedo
                      ε = emissivity
                      σ = Stefan-Boltzmann constant and
                      T = surface temperature in degrees Kelvin.

                    • acrophobic

                      So you haven’t?

                    • acrophobic

                      Ah, physics.

                      Steven E. Koonin, theoretical physicist and director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University.

                      Denis Rancourt, former professor of physics at University of Ottawa, research scientist in condensed matter physics, and in environmental and soil science.

                      Ivar Giaever, Norwegian–American physicist and Nobel laureate in physics (1973).

                      David Douglass, solid-state physicist, professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester.

                      Nir Shaviv, professor of physics focusing on astrophysics and climate science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

                      Henrik Svensmark, physicist, Danish National Space Center.

                      Sherwood B. Idso, former research physicist, USDA Water Conservation Laboratory, and adjunct professor, Arizona State University.

                      All question the AGW alarmism. I’ll leave you to argue with them.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      When they convince the academies of science, and Nature, and NASA, they’ll be worth the effort.

                      Looks like they’ve got their work cut out for them. Perhaps they had better concentrate on ignorant dupes like you.

      • acrophobic 1.1.2

        “UN IPCC ‘an organisation that is funded by ‘Big Green’, comprised of governments desperate to appear politically correct, vested interests from academia and business, and environmental activist groups… anything the IPCC says must be regarded as equally compromised’”

        http://www.climatedepot.com/2013/09/29/analysis-un-ipcc-an-organisation-that-is-funded-by-big-green-comprised-of-governments-desperate-to-appear-politically-correct-vested-interests-from-academia-and-business-and-environmental-ac/

        • Paul 1.1.2.1

          Look up Marc Morano – you’ll find he was bought by the corporates years ago. He is their hired gun.What’s your excuse?
          Are you paid like him to deny climate change?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Morano

          • acrophobic 1.1.2.1.1

            I now who Morano is. I also know that character assassination is a common ploy of those with no other way to debate.

            • Paul 1.1.2.1.1.1

              Wikipedia – character assassination.
              You are a joke.
              I don’t debate with climate deniers.
              Or flat earthers etc….

              • acrophobic

                And yet you continue to post….

                • locus

                  ….. i would hazard a guess that he enjoys peeling back the layers of bias, propaganda, manipulation of facts and wilful omissions in something purporting to be research

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.2.1.1.2

              …character assassination is a common ploy of those with no other way to debate.

              …trough…pigs…

              Oops.

  2. tinfoilhat 2

    I read your last piece Anthony and agree with it wholeheartedly until i got to

    “Take climate change as another example, no responsible media should be publishing denier nonsense these days.

    Now you (the responsible media) might say that you’re offering a range of opinions. But when some opinions are clearly and provably nonsense that excuse is just an abdication of responsibility. It’s laziness, clickbait, and harmful.”

    I disagree completely with what looks like a plea to curtail free speech and variance of opinion.

    I believe we should have a range of opinion published in our media on these and other issues such as economic systems, immunisation, fluoridation etc etc you name it. Without having both sides of the debate available to view how on earth can anyone see which is the more sensible and backed by fact.

    Although i do note you retreated to a more considered academic position in your final paragraph.

    “I guess I’m asking for context and sanity checking in the media. Fact-based narrative instead of isolated and inconsistent snippets. Harder work, but much better for everyone.”

    • r0b 2.1

      I disagree completely with what looks like a plea to curtail free speech and variance of opinion.

      It wasn’t a call for an external agency to apply censorship, it was a call for those with a big megaphone to use it responsibly. “I guess I’m asking for context and sanity checking in the media”. Is that really so crazy?

      Sorry not about now until late tonight…

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2

      Without having both sides of the debate available to view how on earth can anyone see which is the more sensible and backed by fact.

      When Mr. Christopher Monckton goes off on one of his Gish gallops, sure, it’s obvious that he is a charlatan and a fool. Can the same be said for Curry, McKitrick or Soon? How is a non-academic observer to differentiate?

      What responsibility, if any, do you think the editor of a journal of record has for spotting “merchants of doubt”? “Exxon propagandists take bribes, mislead Congress”.

      Another example: I’ve lost count of the number of headlines that would have been accurate had they said “Prime Minister caught lying again” – instead, they follow the form “Key says…”

      This is the question of “false balance”. Do you believe it’s a “thing”?

  3. One Two 3

    Helen Petousis-harris, concurs

  4. red-blooded 4

    I commented on the last post, saying that I thought a ranges of points of view should be heard in the media. I do agree with Anthony about “those with a big megaphone” having a responsibility to use it responsibly, though. It looks to me like some media have done so, in this case (RNZ certainly highlighted the issue of funding and had other researchers and academics commenting), but many just process these announcements and think that saying where the funding came from is enough. They imply room for doubt but don’t explore it.

    It is worrying how many opinion pieces by ACTers are being published. Who is there on the left (apart from Chris Trotter, who still gets trotted out with this label even though he almost always disses the left) who’s ready to take up the mantle of being a go-to person and writing opinion pieces? It’s really noticeable on the political commentary shows, for example, that the right wing commentators are pretty steady and many are very experienced. We need more people on the left ready to step forward, and we on the left need to cut them some slack (they often get a lot of criticism – and thinking about it I guess I’ve just role modelled that with my comment about Chris Trotter…).

    • Paul 4.1

      The corporate media prefers to invite pseudo-left wingers like Pagani who spout the National lite Neo-liberal mantra. All they can produce is just a slight adaptation of the ghastly ideologies of Ayn Rand.

  5. Thanks god for the standard, when the bullshit gets to much from the MSM, I can safely come here and get the real truth and perspective, mostly.

    and get shit off my chest a bit 🙂

  6. This report’s lie by omission is that alcohol weakens those inhibitions.

    What lie by omission? First, saying that alcohol lowers inhibitions is a very different thing from saying that alcohol causes violence. Second, Fox’s statement “violent people were more likely to act violently in certain situations” assumes the situation “inhibitions lowered by alcohol.” What exactly is the complaint about Fox’s research, other than that you don’t like the resulting recommendations?

    • Gabby 7.1

      Did she do anything to compare violent sober people with violent drunk people? And nonviolent ditto?

    • Incognito 7.2

      But Fox in her Report absolutely denies both effects of alcohol on the human brain!? For example:

      Alcohol does not cause disinhibition, but is a symbol that gives people licence to behave in an uninhibited way.

      [p# 13; her italics]

      The understanding that drunken comportment is culturally, not chemically, determined should be a core element in alcohol education and messages.

      [p# 16; my italics]

      • Magisterium 7.2.1

        The subject of both sentences is the effect of alcohol on behaviour, not on the brain.

        • Incognito 7.2.1.1

          Yes, I know, since Dr Fox wrote these.

          The point is that her report is full of inconsistencies and fallacies, IMO. For example, again:

          This demonstrates two important things: one, that our behaviour when drunk is, to a large extent, culturally, not chemically determined, and two, that our behaviour is far more under our own control than we would like to believe. The brain state that enables the relaxation of inhibitions and ‘freeing’ of behavioural expression is a voluntary and reversible condition. Alcohol may help us to get into this desirable brain state, but it does not prevent us from coming out again.

          [p# 13]

          So, we don’t fully understand what goes on in or under our thick skulls, what the stimulatory and inhibitory effects are of alcohol on various centres of the brain. So, it doesn’t matter that these neuro-biological effects of alcohol can be measured directly and indirectly. Without knowing all the ins & outs (literally) the observable manifestation is (the) behaviour – behaviour is the manifestation of brain biochemistry and physiology. But Dr Fox sweeps that all under the carpet and argues that even when we’re pissed as a skunk and in the middle of a violent alcohol-induced and -fuelled rage we “can come out again”!? By counting to Ten? By assuming the Lotus Position? By singing a soothing Lullaby? Please, give me a break.

          Alcohol is a powerful drug, a poison that directly affects the brain, big time. The result sometimes, but not always, is violence. Yes, societal, cultural, socio-psychological (mental), and genetic factors, to name a few, all contribute to the outcome (i.e. behaviour) but without the chemical effect on the brain in the first place Fox would never have written her report because it is just a symbol, a placebo effect.

          • Magisterium 7.2.1.1.1

            And yet people in drunken-violence cultures become violent even when they’ve been given a placebo drink containing no alcohol. People in drunken-violence cultures (yes, like NZ) display violence when they only THINK they’ve consumed alcohol… even if they haven’t.

            Even if the powerful drug that directly big-time affects the brain is completely absent.

            • Macro 7.2.1.1.1.1

              And what sort of a Claytons argument is that?
              You remember Claytons? “The drink you have when your not having a drink”
              Wonder why it’s no longer around – maybe because it didn’t have the sort after effect?

            • Incognito 7.2.1.1.1.2

              People can get violent without even thinking about alcohol. So what?

              The placebo effect is very real, and so are the effects of trance, meditation, self- and hetero-hypnosis, etc.

              Dr Fox likes to refer to rituals and symbols and she writes ” Once you understand the ritual form, you can largely predict the behaviour”. [p# 16]

              So, let’s take a real-life example, not an analogy that involves cars for a change, which is in an operating theatre in a hospital. A patient needs to be sedated to undergo surgery and the anaesthetist administers the anaesthetic to sedate the patient and once the required level of sedation has been established and verified the surgery can commence.

              Now, would you say that the anaesthetic causes the sedation? I think you would.

              Now, let’s take this one step further. Another patient but this time the ritual is slightly different: the patient undergoes Hypnosurgery. The sedation is effective and the surgery proceeds as with the patient in the first example.

              Hang on! The only logical conclusion that you and experienced Anthropologist Dr Fox can draw from this is that the anaesthetic in the first patient example did not cause the sedation and that it was all (!) due to the ritual of the theatre, the theatre staff, the surgeon, and the social-cultural conditioning of the patient, etc. In fact, Dr Fox would argue that ”Once you understand the ritual form, you can largely predict the behaviour” 😉

              Please allow me a question: what do you think goes on people’s brains when they think, when they believe, when they are convinced that they have consumed alcohol (not knowing it was a placebo)?

    • Personally, I think the implied distinction between ’causes’ and ‘disinhibitors’ is itself an unworkable distinction.

      All factors involved are, in a sense, merely ‘inhibitors’ or ‘disinhibitors’ (or, alternatively, all factors are causes).

      Also, I think Fox’s argument hinges on a false categorisation between ‘violent’ and ‘non-violent’ people. That’s fine in common sense terms (e.g., to identify who might be a problem to deal with in social interactions) but it ignores the fact (yes, fact) that we are all potentially violent (or non-violent).

      Further, prolonged use of alcohol ‘teaches’ us that we can act in more aggressive ways by virtue of the fact that it is a disinhibitor. That is, behaviourally and culturally we come to learn that the verbal and physical ‘looseness’ that comes with alcohol intake is one way of getting through life. So Fox’s point about it being ‘cultural’ (if incognito’s comment about Fox’s position is correct) is interwoven with the chemical properties of alcohol.

      All in all I think the argument that alcohol is ‘not to blame’ for violence is very much like guns ‘are not to blame’. In that view, the only legitimate target of ‘blame’ is the person themselves. All causes begin and end within.

      That might pander to received ‘common sense’ but it is not a useful explanation by any stretch.

      • Magisterium 7.3.1

        Further, prolonged use of alcohol ‘teaches’ us that we can act in more aggressive ways

        Actually decades of cross-cultural research show that the lessons of “how to act while drinking” are learned very quickly and very early.

        The overwhelming conclusion drawn by hundreds of different peer-reviewed papers is: the most influential factor in determining how you act while drunk is how drunken people acted around you when you first experienced alcohol in a social situation.

        If your first experience of social drinking was after being let in underage to the rugby clubrooms on a Saturday night after the seniors won the big game, you will learn certain lessons. If your first experience of social drinking was chatting with Mum and Dad over a bottle of wine with dinner, you will learn different lessons.

        • Puddleglum 7.3.1.1

          I agree that social and cultural factors heavily influence our behavioural responses to alcohol consumption – and thought that’s what the part of my comment you highlighted was saying/implying.

          In ‘our’ culture (and there are variant subcultures of course) we can ‘get away’ with being more loud-mouthed, assertive/aggressive in a social setting just because we have had – and been seen to have – some alcohol to drink.

          In very many settings in New Zealand (such as the ‘rugby club’ scenario you mention) what we ‘learn’ when we consume alcohol is that all sorts of disinhibited behaviours are ‘ok’ – including more assertive/aggressive interactions’. We aren’t formally ‘taught’ how to act but, nevertheless, consuming alcohol in our culture ‘teaches’ us we can be disinhibited relative to our sober behaviour. And that social permission fits with the motor looseness and imprecision that alcohol generates (e.g., exaggerated and poorly controlled movements of limbs).

          As for ‘first experiences’ (i.e., the very first time alcohol was consumed), I’d be surprised if they set in concrete future adult responses to alcohol and its social expression – given what is generally known about behavioural and physiological changes during the lifespan – but I’d be very interested in links to the ‘decades of research’ on that point if you know of some.

          I would have thought that prolonged exposure to different ‘cultural’ settings later in life (post-‘first experience’) might have a behavioural effect (e.g., the change from a largely beer drinking setting to one orientated to wine or spirit drinking?).

      • Incognito 7.3.2

        So Fox’s point about it being ‘cultural’ (if incognito’s comment about Fox’s position is correct) is interwoven with the chemical properties of alcohol.

        Nobody knows – I certainly don’t and I am more likely wrong than right – but this seems to be one of intriguing and fascinating directions in which current brain research is heading. The brain is much more plastic than we have realised thus far and to a point Dr Fox may be right that ‘brain control’ without external chemicals is indeed a realistic option. It is also quite scary …

  7. Macro 8

    First, saying that alcohol lowers inhibitions is a very different thing from saying that alcohol causes violence.

    Tell that to the Police, Ambulance staff, and staff in Hospital Emergency rooms around the country. You might also try telling that to all the battered women, beaten by intoxicated partners.
    It’s not the greatest leap of reason, to move from
    “Intoxication lowers inhibitions” to
    “Intoxication increases the propensity for those with a violent disposition to behave violently”.
    Had Fox actually said that, then the report would not have been published, because it would have admitted that alcohol was a prime factor in many instances of violent behaviour. But No! we have the weasel words
    “violent people were more likely to act violently in certain situations”
    The lie is in the deliberate omission that alcohol is involved.

    • Tell that to the Police, Ambulance staff, and staff in Hospital Emergency rooms around the country. You might also try telling that to all the battered women, beaten by intoxicated partners.

      I hardly need to – Fox is already doing it. The fact that a person who likes beating other people is more likely to do it when they’re drunk tells us only that there are some people who shouldn’t drink, just like there are some people who should never get behind the steering wheel of a motor vehicle. Alcohol doesn’t “cause” violent types to assault people any more than motor vehicles “cause” boy racers to drive badly.

      Had Fox actually said that, then the report would not have been published, because it would have admitted that alcohol was a prime factor in many instances of violent behaviour.

      Her point is that the person’s culture and personality bestowing them with a predisposition to violence is the prime factor, so she’s hardly likely to declare alcohol the prime factor. Alcohol is incidental, contributing no more than a lowering of inhibitions. It’s true that in some people, the lowering of inhibitions is a very bad idea because their true selves are malicious and violent, but the bottom line is that the problem isn’t the recreational drug, it’s the loathsome creature using it. Policy that directs itself to the drug rather than the loathsome creature is a waste of effort.

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        Years ago I was hitching out of Auckland on a Saturday morning, off on a another trip to the Southern Alps, when of all damned things a grey Police paddy wagon pulls up. For a moment I thought I was busted for trying to hitch on the motorway … but he’s totally cool and in I hop.

        About ten minutes later he slides back the the little window into the rear compartment, and asks me to check if it’s all ok back there. Much to my surprise I’ve got 20 fellow passengers all looking pretty gloomy.

        “Taking the overflow from Auckland down to Otahuhu court to process” he says. And pauses. “All of them on the piss last night and did something stupid” he goes on with a note of sorrow.

        And his next words have lodged firmly in my memory. “You know sonny you’ll be too young to remember, but years back the breweries all went on strike long enough that most of the pubs ran out of beer. And us cops were reduced to helping little old ladies get cats out of trees

        • Psycho Milt 8.1.1.1

          Our willingness to attribute drunken misbehaviour to alcohol rather than the perpetrators is one reason we get so much of it. There’s nothing about intoxication that changes your perception of right and wrong – most of us can’t get drunk enough for us to see a person alone and in difficulty and think “Great, I can rob/rape/beat them,” because there is nothing about alcohol that can make us form that view. The only thing that allows a person to see another alone and in difficulty and thing “Great, I can rob/rape/beat them” is being the kind of person who robs, rapes or beats people. Blaming the alcohol for it offers the perpetrator an opportunity to pretend it wasn’t him who did those things, it was the alcohol. That’s bullshit. If society, particularly law enforcement and the justice system, refused to accept that alcohol causes violence, we’d most likely see less of it.

          • RedLogix 8.1.1.1.1

            I can see your point. Alcohol is after all a very simple molecule, so why does it have such a profound effect on us?

            The best explanation that I quite like is that if you examine the purely physiological effects of alcohol on the body, lowering of heart rate, dilation of blood vessels, etc … they are all perfect antidotes for the physiological effects of acute fear.

            I would suggest that all humans live to some degree in a state of chronic fear, and the body is unable to distinguish between acute traumatic event fear, and the constant, low-level social anxieties we all live with. In order to function in our daily lives our emotional brain is very good at masking the pain and discomfort being triggered in our bodies caused by this fear response.

            Then when you pour in alcohol suddenly all the discomfort and pain our body has been immersed in … is temporarily cancelled out. If you ask most drinkers why they drink, the answer is usually some variation along the lines, “It makes me feel better”. And indeed I think that is exactly what does happen, suddenly the chronic symptoms of fear and anxiety we have been living with, but unaware of, are gone! And boy does that feel good.

            What happens next is less clear. It must depend on a mix of genetic disposition, socialisation and expectation. Without that sense of fear of consequences which normally inhibits and moderates our social behaviour, suddenly we are prone to acting out underlying desires and impulses we normally control. I think most people can only determine an emotion, by the sensation it creates in their body. By anti-doting the sensations of fear, and it’s lessor cousin anxiety, not only does alcohol make us feel better it prevents us from recognising the warning signals our body would normally trigger when we are about to do something very stupid. Like get into a brawl.

            Personally I tend to be either an amorous or happy drunk, so I consider myself fortunate. But many people are not so lucky. Their underlying and unresolved impulses are far more dangerous. In that sense I agree with you that alcohol is not the root cause of violence, but equally any cop or emergency dept staffer will tell you that in practical terms it is a strong enabler.

            • locus 8.1.1.1.1.1

              i have seen people who are not by nature violent, and would never hurt a fly sober, endup getting violent when drunk…

              for some, possibly many people, drinking too much alcohol causes drunkenness, and this results in objectionable behaviour, loss or rationality, and sometimes outspoken intolerance

              … often these behaviours are precursors to violence

          • Puddleglum 8.1.1.1.2

            The only thing that allows a person to see another alone and in difficulty and thing “Great, I can rob/rape/beat them” is being the kind of person who robs, rapes or beats people. Blaming the alcohol for it offers the perpetrator an opportunity to pretend it wasn’t him who did those things, it was the alcohol.

            All of the research on ‘alcohol expectancy’ (which I presume is what Fox is leaning heavily upon) that shows people become disinhibited in the presence of cues or stimuli related to alcohol (e.g., here and here) emphasises that the source of the ‘meanings’ of alcohol are the dominant norms of a society. People imbibe those norms along with their experiences of alcohol consumption.

            Stopping those norms being imbibed would actually require the transformation of some pretty fundamental features of society.

            There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You don’t get massive changes in social behaviours without massive changes in society (which will affect all of us and implicate all of us).

            Hoping it can all be ‘fixed’ solely by clamping down on errant individuals – while leaving our own lives unchanged – is a lost cause and magical thinking.

            Alcohol may not, in and of itself, be ‘the problem’. But nor is some sub-set of individuals.

            One way to look at it is to see that ‘our culture’ just isn’t the kind of culture into which it is wise to pour large amounts of alcohol. Our culture (our shared culture) just isn’t up to that task.

            And changing cultures involves structural change, not just ‘attitudinal’ change.

    • Magisterium 8.2

      “There is overwhelming historical and cross-cultural evidence that people learn not only how to drink but how to be affected by drink through a process of socialisation…Numerous experiments conducted under strictly controlled conditions (double-blind, with placebos) on a wide range of subjects and in different cultures have demonstrated that both mood and actions are affected far more by what people think they have drunk than by what they have actually drunk…In simple terms, this means that people who expect drinking to result in violence become aggressive; those who expect it to make them feel sexy become amorous; those who view it as disinhibiting are demonstrative. If behaviour reflects expectations, then a society gets the drunks it deserves.”

      Heath, D.B. (1998). Cultural variations among drinking patterns. In M.Grant and J.Litvak (eds.), Drinking Patterns and their Consequences. Washington: Taylor & Francis.

      • RedLogix 8.2.1

        That’s an interesting perspective Magi.

        There is an old Navy saying that you never truly know a man until you’ve seen him blind smashed. There being four basic types; the violent drunk, the sad drunk, the amorous drunk and the happy one.

        I’ve always been inclined to attribute these differences to a genetic personality trait. Stupid as it seems to say, it never occurred to me that it could be the result of socialisation.

        • Magisterium 8.2.1.1

          This subject is one in which I have a fair bit of experience.

          There is a big divide between people studying alcohol from a health perspective and people studying alcohol from a behavioural perspective. The former tend to have as a baseline the position that alcohol is a poison and poisons are bad for your health so we should research alcohol’s health impacts; the latter tend to have as a baseline the position that drinking alcohol is something that people do and what people do is interesting so we should research the things that people do with and without alcohol.

          Thus we have Doctor of Anthropology Anne Fox publishing a paper that says “alcohol doesn’t cause violence, violent people cause violence” so Miss Nicki Jackson, Auckland Uni PhD student in the Dept of Health and Medical Science calls the report “completely flawed”. These two people speak different languages, and I wonder why the Herald contacted a person working academically in the field of health and medicine to comment on a report in the field of human behaviour.

          In the world of human behaviour and how alcohol affects it, the defining work of academic scholarship is MacAndrew, C. and Edgerton, R. (2003) “Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation”. Aldine, Chicago. If you haven’t read it and you’re not familiar with its conclusions then you really shouldn’t be making claims on how alcohol affects people’s behaviour. Because some very clever people have done decades of research involving people and cultures all over the world and they know more about this shit than you, and their findings have been critiqued and dissected and reproduced by other very clever people. And if you don’t know what conclusions all that research produced then you really shouldn’t go around claiming that alcohol causes violence, because you’re like someone claiming vaccines cause autism because everyone knows that because you saw it on Facebook.

          Just about all anthropological research arrives at the same conclusion (I say most because I haven’t read every single paper in the world, and who knows one might disagree, but I have yet to find it): the way alcohol affects human behaviour is entirely cultural. People who get drunk don’t become violent as a matter of course; rather, people who get drunk act the way they have learned to act when drunk, or they act the way they think they can get away with while drunk, and in some cultures that means violence.

          Basically, anyone who’s done any research on drunken behaviour will be completely unsurprised by Dr Fox’s research paper because, well, it just confirms everything that every other anthropological study on the topic says. They all reach the same conclusion: alcohol doesn’t cause violence.

          Public health professionals all cringe when such papers are published because, like I said at the start, they’re coming from a position of ALCOHOL BAD and anything that says drinking alcohol can be a completely pleasant and uncontroversial experience for all involved is tantamount to heresy in that academic field.

          • Incognito 8.2.1.1.1

            I agree that the Fox Report is not “completely flawed” and has some merit; Ms Jackson’s choice of words was wrong in that sense.

            BTW, are you suggesting that the word of Doctor of Anthropology Anne Fox carries more weight than that of Miss Nicki Jackson, Auckland Uni PhD student in the Dept of Health and Medical Science? Miss Jackson did co-author with Prof. Kypros Kypri a peer-reviewed scientific article in the top journal Addiction. The Fox Report did not undergo that level of academic scrutiny and review, and it shows.

            • Magisterium 8.2.1.1.1.1

              BTW, are you suggesting that the word of Doctor of Anthropology Anne Fox carries more weight than that of Miss Nicki Jackson, Auckland Uni PhD student in the Dept of Health and Medical Science?

              Miss Jackson levels some pretty harsh criticism at Dr Fox’s methodology. For a PhD student to start talking trash about the professional diligence of a 20-year veteran of the field is noteworthy.

              I’m not the only person confused by Jackson’s criticism.

              http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/drinking-culture.html

              • Incognito

                See, you did it again: you singled out Miss Jackson, as if she is the weakest link …

                Even in the link that you provided Jackson and Kypri are mentioned together (twice), which is the correct way since they co-authored the peer-reviewed paper in Addiction. No specious comments are made about Miss Jackson’s relative academic inexperience or lower status.

                BTW, 20 years in a field of science does not make you a “veteran of the field”, whatever this is supposed to mean or imply, just a mid-career scientist.

                • Magisterium

                  Miss Jackson is the only critic mentioned in the post at the top of this page or in the article to which it links.

                  “It’s a report that’s completely flawed and it shouldn’t be informing policy on alcohol,” Nicki Jackson from the University of Auckland said.

                  “[The] biggest concern is that this report is being used by the alcohol industry, it’s getting into government circles to try and change the debate around alcohol harm reduction.”

                  “It’s just another attempt by the alcohol industry to try and create confusion and get in the way of good positive change in alcohol related harm,” Ms Jackson said.

                  • Incognito

                    I see, you prefer to quote from quotes of an interview published in the NZH rather than referring to a peer-reviewed paper in a relevant and reputable scientific journal to settle the science. Yes, makes a lot of sense now.

          • RedLogix 8.2.1.1.2

            Thanks for the Mac Andrew paper reference, I will read it if I can find a non-paywalled linky.

            As you can see from my comment above at 8.1.1.1.1 …. my take on it, derived largely from a lifetime of observation is that alcohol is not a root cause of violence, but that in some people it definitely unleashes it.

            Therefore I’ve always concluded there are other deeper factors at work. As I said I always assumed they were personal, but the idea that they are related to wider socialisation is something I’d never considered before.

            Cheers

          • Psycho Milt 8.2.1.1.3

            [public health academics] tend to have as a baseline the position that alcohol is a poison and poisons are bad for your health so we should research alcohol’s health impacts…

            I’d go further – they have as a baseline the position that that alcohol is bad for your health so reducing alcohol consumption is good in and of itself, so in turn policy proposals should be aimed at reducing the availability and consumption of alcohol. That approach is clear throughout Kypri and Jackson’s critique of Fox in Addiction – for example, at one point they use anti-smoking measures as a model for alcohol policy, as though alcohol were a health hazard in tobacco’s league, and at another they frown on the concept of teaching teenagers how to drink properly on the basis that it might encourage teenagers to drink alcohol.

            Lion isn’t the only group with an agenda when it comes to research on this issue, so if we’re going to reject agenda-based research, let’s reject all of it,

            • Magisterium 8.2.1.1.3.1

              Eric Crampton finds Jackson and Kypri’s rejection of Fox’s conclusions kinda weird, but it’s perfectly understandable when you realise they have to reject the conclusions because ALCOHOL BAD.

              http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2016/01/drinking-culture.html

            • Magisterium 8.2.1.1.3.2

              I’d go further – they have as a baseline the position that that alcohol is bad for your health so reducing alcohol consumption is good in and of itself, so in turn policy proposals should be aimed at reducing the availability and consumption of alcohol. I’d go further – they have as a baseline the position that that alcohol is bad for your health so reducing alcohol consumption is good in and of itself, so in turn policy proposals should be aimed at reducing the availability and consumption of alcohol.

              A perfect case study from across the Tasman this week.

              Research confirms that Australians are drinking less alcohol than at any time since the 1960s, and that beer (canary in the coalmine for violent behaviour) has gone from three quarters of the alcohol consumed to less than half. People who identify as occasional drinkers have decreased their consumption by quite a lot, and people who identify as heavy drinkers have decreased their consumption by a smaller amount.

              So here’s what happened in response to these very positive results.

              The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) (“an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to stop the harm caused by alcohol”) decried the fact that heavy– no, sorry, “problem” drinkers — now consume a greater proportion of the alcohol than previously.

              BRO DO YOU EVEN STATISTICS?

              But wait, it gets better.

              The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education has called for a boycott on public health researchers working with the alcohol industry

              “It’s getting harder to come up with an ALCOHOL BAD wowser interpretation of these increasingly positive research results. Accordingly we call for a ban on research. But we can still do it of course.”

              http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/one-in-five-australians-consume-three-quarters-of-alcohol-report-finds-20160119-gm9ah6.html

      • McFlock 8.2.2

        Yes, and some people turn into dicks at the thought of carrying a gun.
        That’s why we heavily restrict which people have access to guns, and what type of guns they have access to.

  8. Gristle 9

    7 weeks to undertake research and write a report is pretty good going. My guess is there was no research but reinterpretation of other people’s research. I doubt the report went through the normal peer reviewing by suitable qualified people.

    this sounds like the “tobacco research” where the industry purposely created dubious research and skilfully placed it in the media to create the impression that the science was not settled and no regulation was required. This same approach has occurred with lead in petrol, car safety, CFCs, global warming. The media is being played. It is a fundamental failing of the media not to have developed skills and methods to handle scientific debate and the role of self interested corporates and their supporting institutions and funded science.

    To often the media think that balanced reporting means one from A and one from A’ rather than saying with global warming that 97% of scientist in climatology and associated fields actually do agree and that does not mean that equal airtime/space should be given to the 3%.

    • The 7 weeks involved a team of researchers looking specifically at the Aus/NZ environment. There’d already been an extensive literature review, not to mention the 20 years she’d spent researching alcohol use in non-Aus/NZ situations. Writing the report took a further year.

      • Gristle 9.1.1

        Of course one of the tests of research is to see how often it is referenced by leading researchers in the field. Unfortunately this process takes years. My guess is that it will be listed in the also rans rather than heading for the podium.

    • Magisterium 9.2

      this sounds like the “tobacco research” where the industry purposely created dubious research and skilfully placed it in the media to create the impression that the science was not settled and no regulation was required

      No, it pretty much just confirms what every other anthropological study of the subject has concluded. It’s an entirely uncontroversial paper containing no real surprises.

    • Incognito 9.3

      There is nothing in the Fox Report to indicate that it has undergone anything like a peer-review. There are many assertions that are not backed up with literature citations but simply rely on her personal beliefs and experience and are subjectively worded. For example:

      ”Elsewhere in this paper I acknowledge that alcohol has a very real physiological effect, but based on decades of research in the field, I am convinced that these physiological effects in no way determine a behavioural response.” [p# 15]

      ”As an anthropologist who has spent thousands of hours observing drunken behaviour, I can confidently assert that it is as predictable as any other ritually governed human behaviour.” [p# 16]

      • Magisterium 9.3.1

        This is a pretty good metasummary of the current understanding of drunken behaviour, drawing on the conclusions of hundreds of peer-reviewed papers:

        http://www.sirc.org/publik/drinking3.html

        TLDR? Everyone concludes the same thing as Dr Fox.

        • Incognito 9.3.1.1

          Looks interesting, thank you; will read later if you don’t mind. I do note, in passing, that the Foreword is dated 1998.

          Who’s “Everyone”? Am I supposed to take this literally, in which case it is clearly incorrect?

  9. Magisterium 10

    This report’s lie by omission is that alcohol weakens those inhibitions

    It doesn’t. That’s just plain empirically untrue, in the same way that “vaccines cause autism” is untrue.

    • Macro 10.1

      People who get drunk don’t become violent as a matter of course; rather, people who get drunk act the way they have learned to act when drunk, or they act the way they think they can get away with while drunk, and in some cultures that means violence.

      v’s

      This report’s lie by omission is that alcohol weakens those inhibitions

      It doesn’t. That’s just plain empirically untrue, in the same way that “vaccines cause autism” is untrue.

      Can you please explain to a mere logician how these two statements are not contradictory.

      • Magisterium 10.1.1

        Alcohol does not “weaken inhibitions”. If you have learned through the lessons of your culture that the way you are supposed to act when drunk is stoic silence, then you will be a stoic silent drunk even if you were loud and gregarious before drinking.

        If you act as if you have had your inhibitions weakened after drinking alcohol, that’s because your culture has taught you to do that. And you’ll act that way even if you’ve had a placebo that contains no alcohol.

        • Richardrawshark 10.1.1.1

          So when the words “Dutch courage” is applied to someone who’s had a few and his loss of inhibitions allows him to overcome his fear and ask a lady out, alcohol had nothing to do with it.

          Hmm talk shit much Magesterium?

          I seen a billion examples of quiet people getting a few down them and turning nasty, my father was one of them, few beers, the nastiest piece of shit you ever met.

          • Magisterium 10.1.1.1.1

            So when the words “Dutch courage” is applied to someone who’s had a few and his loss of inhibitions allows him to overcome his fear and ask a lady out, alcohol had nothing to do with it.

            The simple fact that there’s a nickname for the practice means it’s cultural. Double-blind studies show that in a culture where the notion of “Dutch courage” exists the fellow would overcome his fear and ask the lady out after a few even when the drinks secretly contained no alcohol.

            • Richardrawshark 10.1.1.1.1.1

              That’s simple placebo psychology, but doesn’t make the statement I made wrong.

              It depends on how it was conducted and the integrity of the scientific studies processes, and you damn well know that. Yet you offer no link or evidence of this study for me to analyse!

              For you to try to tell me alcohol does not change my normal sober behavior is absolute BS of the highest order. In 50 years I never ONCE heard someone say what your saying and that’s from all walks of life.

              Fuck this argueing with idiots. /ignored

              • Magisterium

                Yet you offer no link or evidence

                These four should suffice, although once again MacAndrew and Edgerton’s “Drunken Comportment” is the defining work in the field.

                Cox, W.M. (ed.) (1990). Why People Drink: Parameters on alcohol as a reinforcer. New York: Gardner Press.

                Crawford, A. (1984). Alcohol and expectancy – II: Perceived sex differences in the role of alcohol as a source of aggression. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 19(1): 71-75.

                Gustafson, R. (1986b). Alcohol, frustration and aggression: An experiment using the balanced placebo design. Psychological Reports, 59: 207-218.

                Marlatt, G.A. and Rohsenow, D.J. (1980). Cognitive processes in alcohol use: expectancy and the balanced placebo design. In K. Mello (ed.), Advances in Substance Abuse: Behavioral and Biological Research. Greenwich: JAI Press.

                • I see some of the points your making, A group of yobs local bad boys go out get drunk start looking for a fight. Yep seen plenty of that.

                  But I cannot deny I have seen the quiet loner go ape after a few bevvies too.

                  If by what you have been saying lower down your incinuating it’s the social interactions that cause the issues I’d agree but it’s not the b all and end all of it IMHO.

                  Now case studies are somewhat hard to do. when you simply think of the genetic make up of humans unless tests can be done on twins I don’t see how any accurate outcome can be made.

                  But to tell me it’s a short mans syndrome caused by my father was quite upsetting, you don’t know me that well Sir.

    • McFlock 10.2

      No, the autism thing was a complete fabrication with no basis in fact.

      Whether it’s “weakening inhibitions”, “impulse control”, “causes violence” or whatever (catalyst for violence, maybe?), it’s all just semantic dancing on the head of a pin to explain the large-scale and consistent observations that alcohol consumption is disproportionately associated with violence and injury in a variety of cultures and settings. There is a clear association, unlike with autism and vaccines.

      • Magisterium 10.2.1

        No, the autism thing was a complete fabrication with no basis in fact.

        Some children displayed symptoms of autism after vaccination, post hoc ergo propter hoc the vaccination caused the autism.

        Some people displayed violent behaviour after drinking, post hoc ergo propter hoc the alcohol caused the violent behaviour.

        alcohol consumption is disproportionately associated with violence and injury in a variety of cultures and settings. There is a clear association

        No, there isn’t. There just plain isn’t.

        There are:

        – societies in which drunkenness does not result in any ‘disinhibited’ behaviour at all

        – societies in which the type of behaviour associated with drunkenness has undergone radical changes over time

        – societies in which drunken behaviour varies dramatically according to the circumstances in which alcohol is consumed

        – societies in which apparently ‘disinhibited’ drunken behaviour remains within well-defined, culturally sanctioned limits.

        Seriously, the “alcohol as biochemical disinhibitor” theory went out the window in the sixties.

        • McFlock 10.2.1.1

          Bollocks.
          The autism thing is based on a fraudulent researcher conning parents on a case by case basis.

          As for your “no there isn’t”, you missed the bit in your SIRC link:

          Most of the problems commonly ‘linked’ with drinking – crime, violence, disorder, accidents, spousal abuse, disease, etc. – are correlated with excessive (abnormal) drinking rather than with moderate (normal) drinking.

          Yes, it’s “how” we’re drinking. But to minimise the association with drinking is to minimise an obvious tool to adjust “how” we’re drining – alcohol regulation.

          • Magisterium 10.2.1.1.1

            But there are no universal definitions of “normal” and “excessive”. Normal drinking in (for example) France and Spain is excessive drinking in (for example) Ireland and Iceland. And Ireland and Iceland report higher rates of alcohol-related social and psychiatric problems than France and Spain, even though they have lower per-capita alcohol consumption than France and Spain.

        • Incognito 10.2.1.2

          Seriously, the “alcohol as biochemical disinhibitor” theory went out the window in the sixties.

          Seriously, you’re stuck in a time warp! Please check out the review in Nature Reviews Neuroscience that I linked to in comment 10.3.

          The closing sentences of that paper:

          Although animal experiments provide a mostly coherent picture of the neurobiological correlates of alcohol-related aggression, more research in humans is warranted, especially considering the societal impact of alcohol-induced aggression. Such studies in humans need to take into account that, beyond the effects of acute and chronic alcohol intake suggested by animal experiments, cognitive variables such as implicit and explicit expectations regarding the effects of alcohol and previous experiences of violent encounters can modify alcohol-associated aggression.

          A much more ‘nuanced’ view of the state of the field than the passive-aggressive stand by Dr Fox and many (all?) of her anthropologists colleagues.

    • Incognito 10.3

      Yes, it does. You can read all about it in this excellent (and recent!) review in Nature Reviews Neuroscience entitled Cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms of alcohol-related aggression (it can be downloaded for free through ResearchGate).

      PS this happens to be ref# 18 in the paper by Jackson & Kypri in Addiction.

  10. Macro 11

    I think that that is splitting a very, very, fine hair!

    Do you also discuss how many angels dance on the head of a pin?

    So if NZ’s culture is to act violently when intoxicated – then giving a NZer with a violent disposition alcohol, has nothing to do with them subsequently acting violently?

  11. Smilin 12

    “Lion’s research suggesting booze has little relation to violence slammed by academics”
    the biggest lie told since someone got hit over the head with a beer bottle and said
    “sorry Ims drunk its a akserdent”in front of their kids as the victim is screaming wondering what is going to happen next
    gezz someone incarcerate these people before I get violent at their have we got stupid written there as well

  12. Observer (Tokoroa) 13

    To: Psycho Milt

    How do you analyse the following sort of behaviour?

    A non violent alcohol drinker, learning from Dr Anne Fox that alcohol is not responsible for anything violent, drinks merrily on a particular evening.

    She then proceeds to drive home from her drinking den and drives in a very erratic and dangerous manner. According to you and Dr Fox, the alcohol cannot be to blame.

    Therefore by your very own logic, the only thing that is responsible for her erratic and exceedingly dangerous driving is her brain and disposition.

    The alcohol has according to you, no part in her unfortunate killing of oncoming innocent people. The stupid Coroner finds, contrary to you, that she was drunk and unable to drive with care and attention.

    The Police who attended the carnage breathalysed her, because they stupidly felt that her blood alcochol level was dangerously too high and had played the major part in her killings. The alcohol you say, had no function in the wastage of innocent lives. The relatives of the dead wrongly said they regarded the death as violence.

    As you analyse this all too common event, would you also advise Dr Anne Fox to get rid of all police breathalysing practices; and sack all Coroners?

    There is no violent harm whatever in alcohol Psycho Milt? Amazing. yeah right !

    • BM 13.1

      This person knows that alcohol will impair her judgment and drastically slow her reaction time.

      She chooses to do so and then drive her car, why is that ?

      Maybe she think she’s bullet proof or has no regard for other peoples lives or she has no respect for the law.

      These traits are probably part of who this woman is, I don’t think they’d suddenly appear because she drunk alcohol.

      • Draco T Bastard 13.1.1

        These traits are probably part of who this woman is,

        No, alcohol has impaired her judgement.

        • Paul 13.1.1.1

          Can’t believe there are so many people who believe the alcohol industry’s lies.

        • BM 13.1.1.2

          Bull shit.

          If you’re going to get on the piss, you know you don’t take your car.
          By doing so she’s giving a big fuck you to every one.

          • Draco T Bastard 13.1.1.2.1

            Or the person took the car fully intending to either not drink or not to drive after drinking but the alcohol impaired judgement led the person to believe that they were good to drive.

          • Richardrawshark 13.1.1.2.2

            If you admited it, you would have to do something about it, all the courts and revenue from fines will disappear, poor Magisterium will have no jobs neither will the courts or police to a great extent(not total)

            Your going to get people drunk as you can, to way over their tolerance because deep down you want the crime, you want it because without it, little old Bill’s coffers would be looking pretty sad.

            It helps you portray the lower socio economic demographic stereotype to your fan base, keeping you in power.

            What you fail to do is realize just how wonderful life could be without the excessive alcohol use we kiwi’s have.

            I lived in Sunderland in the UK for ten years. I’ve seen alcohol driven fights far worse than what goes on here. It’s something you have to see to believe. Why because I loved a good scrap when I was pissed and had no fear, made me feel powerful. I was a pretty canny scrapper back in my day with a skin full, plenty booze can’t feel a thing.

            So happy to have given it up and detest it with a passion, because I know it. lived it, done it.

            So please refrain from talking shite about stuff you have no idea about to protect the alcohol industry, as their agenda is plain and obvious for all to see.

            • BM 13.1.1.2.2.1

              Why because I loved a good scrap when I was pissed and had no fear, made me feel powerful. I was a pretty canny scrapper back in my day with a skin full, plenty booze can’t feel a thing.

              There you go, you were a violent guy who liked to fight, the piss just gave you the confidence to do it.

              Obviously lots of anger and frustration in your life and it all came out when you were drinking.

              Wise move, giving up alcohol.

              • Nah mate, hated fighting was scared shitless of it. Alcohol removed that fear. Over time I got good at it, it’s the culture there. Hard to explain to you. You’ll just have t trust me on that.

                I am a small guy who’s normal demeanor is shy and quiet. Alcohol changed my brain and taught me how to defend myself and changed me forever. I cannot turn back what damage has been done.

                I have been clean since 1998. Still get fired up easily now. That was just not me prior to then. It really wasn’t and I want the old me back.

                • Magisterium

                  Alcohol changed my brain

                  No – watching your father become violent after drinking changed your brain.

                  • Ok, you know me best, how was I so stupid to argue with your point of view and experience of my life and experiences you arrogant fucking piece of shit.

                    Soooo what should I have for diner tonight.

                    Perhaps the term “alcohol use changed my brain”, should have been my wording because you have to be real careful to explain simple things to argumentative wankers like you. And looking up when like a child you just reply No to everything explains a lot about YOUR attitude to debating alcohol. COCKHEAD

                    • Magisterium

                      Soooo what should I have for diner tonight.

                      Short man with a temper and bad childhood role models, I’d suggest anything except alcohol. We wouldn’t want you to think you had been disinhibited.

                      [lprent: Read the policy about our views on people trying to ignite flamewars. ]

                    • Wonders if magisterium would pursue the same argument lines if he was conducting it in a face to face situation. Your arrogance towards me and acting as though you know me better and can judge why I did things amazes me. I bet your real feisty behind a Keyboard. I bet the smile beams on your face when you write here, Is there perhaps an agenda your afraid to disclose, do you work for National party, Slater, or others with a vested interest in the alcohol industry or will you not be able to disclose that?

                      Even the local piss heads know it’s(alcohol drunk to excess) bad for them and makes them do daft things? But at that time of their lives it’s part of the culture to go boozing and they feel they need the social interactions.

                      You on the other hand never agree with any point. Select snippets of peoples writing and make a conclusion you know will incite anger.

                      [deleted]

                      [lprent: The point is that this is not a face to face, it is a internet forum. Read the policy about what is permissible and what is not. There is no difference to me between people using ‘real names’ and pseudonyms. Using threats of violence however, is both illegal and something that we don’t tolerate on this site. You’ll need to learn to control your temper here. I see I haven’t had to point this out to you before. Banned 2 weeks. ]

              • A wiser move would be you fkn off so we can talk to real people with intelligent arguments, not a paid shit stirrer of that fat fuck slater.

        • Magisterium 13.1.1.3

          No, she has learned her formative drinking lessons in a culture that has taught her drunken driving is acceptable.

    • She then proceeds to drive home from her drinking den and drives in a very erratic and dangerous manner. According to you and Dr Fox, the alcohol cannot be to blame.

      Er, yes, that’s right. The responsibility for her driving drunk lies with her, not the alcohol. You’ll find that legislation, the Police, coroners and the courts all agree with me on this point, so I strongly advise not driving drunk and trying to blame the alcohol if you get caught.

      • McFlock 13.2.1

        Indeed. And the responsibility for her being intoxicated at the end of the night also lies with the person who sold or supplied her with alcohol that evening, according to the sale of liquor act.

        And guns don’t kill people, people kill people – but we still found gun control to be an effective way of reducing firearm-related harm.

      • Psycho Milt 13.2.2

        On reflection, the above is true but doesn’t really explain why you’re wrong. At issue is the claim that alcohol causes violence. In the context of your analogy, consider the idea that alcohol causes drunk driving, ie that there is something about being drunk that makes you decide to get in your car and go for a drive – obviously it doesn’t do that, but that’s the level of causality we’re talking about if we want to claim alcohol “causes” violence.

        All we do have in terms of alcohol “causing” violence is that epidemiological studies show alcohol is correlated with higher instances of violence. Correlation isn’t causation, so the question of what causes it is open. You can’t just repeat “alcohol is associated with increased violence” as if you’ve explained something, because you haven’t. There are various theories re the causality, of which Fox’s is one. I find it a very plausible one, because levels of drinking and levels of violence vary wildly across cultures and among individuals, so it’s obvious culture and personality are at least very strong influences. Public health types disagree, but public health types have an agenda of trying to minimise alcohol consumption, so I regard their research as suspect. You, of course, are free to come to different conclusions.

        • McFlock 13.2.2.1

          that there is something about being drunk that makes you decide to get in your car and go for a drive – obviously it doesn’t do that

          What, you’ve never had a really “good idea” while pissed and then realised the next day how stupid it was? Good for you. I’ve not been so lucky (well, actually I’ve been exceptionally lucky, because I’m still here). Drink driving might be one of those “good ideas”, similarly frying a feed when you get home from the pub, or verbal sparring with a stranger who turns out to be unpredictable. Being less drunk can plausibly reduce the incidence of those “good ideas”.

          Correlation might not equal causation, but there’s a reason we have the phrase “smoking gun”.

          • Psycho Milt 13.2.2.1.1

            Meh. When I was a kid I drove drunk without giving a shit, and so did my friends. These days, my kids wouldn’t dream of driving drunk, no matter how drunk they are, and neither would most of their friends. Alcohol hasn’t changed any in the intervening period, but social attitudes to drunk driving sure have.

            Being less drunk can plausibly reduce the incidence of those “good ideas”.

            Sure. And playing less sport can plausibly reduce the incidence of sporting injuries, and driving less can plausibly reduce the incidence of traffic accidents, and so on through a long list of activities. That doesn’t mean the government has an obligation to make ever-greater efforts to control and restrict those activities.

            • McFlock 13.2.2.1.1.1

              Actually, it does mean exactly that. The heavy regulations around boxing and sportfighting, for example. Demanding proof of specific abilities from drivers before letting them drive unrestricted, being another example. The entire road coad being another example, from speed limits to left-lane driving.

              Government regulates all sorts of things so that the good of those activities is not outweighed by the harm. Alcohol is no different.

              • No-one’s suggesting alcohol should be unregulated.

                • McFlock

                  Fair call, it was a bit of a slip.

                  But when the harm becomes evident, those activities are subjected to greater efforts to control and restrict those activities. For example, people looking to make NZ’s “adventure tourism” safer after a few tourist deaths, or the hype around tourist drivers or “freedom camping”.

                  It’s a normal part of policy development: associated harm is identified, so the activities are subjected to increasing regulation.

        • Richardrawshark 13.2.2.2

          Alcohol causes violence in people inclined to act that way under the influence of it. True

          Can we predict the effects alcohol will have on everyone before they drink? No

          I concur who you drink with, and the atmosphere there, plays a big part and in cases is the cause. But it’s a bold move to say it’s all about that.

          Ever walked past a drunk on a park bench alone with his bottle and he’s abusing everyone walking by. Parks look pretty tranquil to me. An example off the top of my head.

          I’d like it back on prohibition but that’s just a opinion and I won’t force others who have good times and enjoy a tipple and control themselves. What I would like though is better ways of distributing it. Better over the bar policing of people who sell alcohol to people way to drunk to start with and the cessation of the taxes on it causing people to pre load before hitting the city nightlife. Because after a few, judgements really drop, and bad attitudes drive around still. IE this waiting for the taxi I can’t get through ahh fk it lets go, mentality. Because perhaps they preloaded too much. No one policed there intake and the fridge didn’t have a bar tender to say yeah mate you’ve had enough.

          • BM 13.2.2.2.1

            Richard, pubs are nothing like they were 25 years ago.
            Anyone who look even the remotest bit intoxicated get’s turfed out, it’s so strict it’s a waste of time even going to the pub.

            • McFlock 13.2.2.2.1.1

              what utter bullshit. I’ve been drinking in dunners, wellington and auckland in the past few years. It’s better than it used to be, but “look even the remotest bit intoxicated” is utter crap.

              Maybe that’s the excuse security keep using to tell you to piss off?

  13. Observer (Tokoroa) 14

    Thanks To: Draco T Bastard

    ” ..alcohol has impaired her judgement”

    Alcohol unlike plain clean water, does impair judgement. Any person who knows anything about alcohol at all will tell you that.

    It is precisely the potency of the brewers and distillers art, that they quickly impair your normally wise and careful habits.

    The whole industry and art of booze is to obtain the impairment of judgment. It is not about slaking thirst. Honest brewers know that. They do not hide behind slick highly selective researchers. Whether they are Dr Anne or Dr Jekyll.

    Drivers who have the tiniest amount of blood alcohol should be removed from their vehicle. And pay a multi thousand dollar fine when they collect their vehicle after its two year impoundment.

    Innocent people should not be slaughtered or crippled for the pleasure of Brewers.

  14. Observer (Tokoroa) 15

    Hi PYSCHO MILT

    With your usual precision can you please state and compare the properties and affects of plain clear water and alcohol?

    Give particular attention to the effects on health,behaviour, judgement and catastrophe.

    Also state whether the properties of each are part and parcel of the product itself.

    For example; can you by drinking water avoid the affects of water? Can you by drinking alcohol avoid the affects of alcohol?

    Will you write to all the Police Departments on the planet telling them that they cannot blame alcohol for its inbuilt properties? Therefore all policing of alcohol must be stopped.

    People who drink water nurture their body. But of course, in your view it is not the water that does it; It is the mind and behaviour which nurtures the body.

    How silly can wet get Psycho?

  15. For example; can you by drinking water avoid the affects of water? Can you by drinking alcohol avoid the affects of alcohol?

    I get the feeling you really don’t understand what’s being discussed here. The extent to which the behavioural effects of alcohol intoxication are attributable to physiological factors or to cultural/personal factors is the very thing the researchers are disputing, but you seem to be taking as a given that it’s physiological factors and arguing from there. The fact that alcohol has physiological effects doesn’t necessarily mean those physiological effects are causal for drunken violence. Anne Fox has written a very good paper on the subject – why not read it?

    Will you write to all the Police Departments on the planet telling them that they cannot blame alcohol for its inbuilt properties?

    I don’t need to write to them, as they’re already aware that it’s the human they need to arrest for violent crimes, not the alcohol.

  16. Observer (Tokoroa) 17

    To Psycho Milt

    How unfortunate for You and Dr Anne that when a drunk is arrested the alcohol is too. The alcohol should be released Milt?

    Quite simply, by getting the drunk out of the way, the alcohol is out of the way. Good work by the Police.

    It is very helpful particularly when a confident drunk drives his vehicle home from the booze den.

    I asked you to list them, but you don’t know the affects of alcohol. You seem to know everything about Dr Anne. And sweet all about the effect of poisons, including alcohol.

    All the same, thanks for engaging your esoteric self in debate. Next time you might consider returning to reality. Perhaps.

    • The alcohol should be released Milt?

      One way or another, it always is.

      Next time you might consider returning to reality.

      Now, that’s rich. Whatever it is you’re on, I’ll give it a miss.

  17. reason 18

    Was it Hunter S Thompson who said ” you can turn your back on a man ….. but never turn your back on a drug” …….

    Alcohol is a strong psycho active drug ……

    Alcohol psychosis is very common …………… So common you’d have to be living under a lion breweries sponsored rock not to have encountered it.

    The “drug crazed nutter” that New Zealanders have to deal with is 99 times out of 100 is an angry irrational drunk…….

    How many of us know people who are alright when drinking until they have that one to may ???? ………… Thats when ‘the change’ takes place…….. It’s almost like a possession takes place………… The normal ‘person’ we know is gone and a raving lunatic has replaced them. …..Anger, paranoia total irrationality, violence.

    If you’ve never seen this personally Just watch police 10/7 or ‘drunk-watch’ as I like to call it ……………..

    These violent full blown psychotic episodes are the direct result of the drug Alcohol ….. and when the intoxication is gone so is the psychosis.

    As this thread is about dodgy research, I guess I’d sum up by saying it would take a special kind of psychosis to deny Alcohols direct link to violence and crime….. or plain old liquor company sponsored dishonesty.

    I’d rather trust health professionals and the police with their experiences dealing with Alcohol abuse ……….. Fox is a lion brown fraud

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHI-4NWB8n0 from a police officer.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VQAjxKP1bA from a emergency room doctor

    p.s i get the feeling psycho milt really loves his piss …………. and BMs firmly with the piss pushers as that’s where the national party is aligned.

  18. p.s i get the feeling psycho milt really loves his piss …

    I get the feeling you honestly think that’s in some way relevant.

    • RedLogix 19.1

      You, Magisterium and BM have spent a whole thread arguing on the head of a pin, that alcohol is not the root cause of violence. And you know what … you are quite right.

      But until you can propose an effective way to address and regulate drunken violence without recourse to regulating alcohol, your argument is mute. Yes the root cause lies within the person and their socialisation; but unquestionably alcohol is a strong enabler of it.

      So you have a choice … make laws that tell drunk people not to get violent, or make laws that try to minimise how drunk they get in the first place. Or you could do both!

      Neither approach is perfect, but which do you imagine is going to be more effective in the real world?

      Because to extend the gun control parallel used above; which do you think would be more effective … laws that prohibit six year olds from using loaded guns to kill their sister, or laws that prevent them from getting a hold of the gun in the first place. Because that is what drunks are like … six year olds loaded with all the violence of a grown male’s body.

      • Puddleglum 19.1.1

        Good points RedLogix – unsurprisingly.

        I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. Some people (and I have no idea whether or not Magisterium, Psycho Milt or BM fall into this category) seem to take umbrage at the regulation of something that may give some people a modicum of ‘pleasure’ or some other benefit.

        I’ve seen this reasoning before where the argument is made that, for example, if 1,000 people find driving at speeds around 150 kmh on the open road a ‘buzz’ then that has to be ‘weighed in the balance’ against the few people who may be injured or killed in car accidents that are correlated with high speed (dare I say ’caused’?).

        It takes the utilitarian ‘greatest good’ argument to an extreme. Taxing or regulating alcohol is not a problem for me if there’s even just correlational evidence that such taxation or regulation goes along with lower violence in society.

        ‘Pleasure’ is not some ‘unit’ of value against which we can measure experience, no matter what Bentham might have dreamt in his reveries about policy based on scientific quantification.

        1,000 little bits of pleasure do not counter 1 ‘big bit’ of displeasure or ‘pain’. There is no sensible reckoning between the two upon which policy could be determined.

        • Magisterium 19.1.1.1

          Some people (and I have no idea whether or not Magisterium, Psycho Milt or BM fall into this category) seem to take umbrage at the regulation of something that may give some people a modicum of ‘pleasure’ or some other benefit.

          Speaking only for myself, I take no umbrage at such regulation. On the contrary, in my opinion New Zealand has consistently shown itself to be too immature in its attitude to alcohol consumption for alcohol to be unregulated, hedonistic calculus be damned.

          I take umbrage at anti-alcohol wowsers claiming that alcohol makes you violent because everyone knows that because it was on Facebook and I saw this drunk guy get in a fight one time. I take umbrage at their stupidity. They’re no different from antivaxers and climate-change deniers going “LALALA STUPID SCIENCE CAN’T HEAR YOU LALALALALALA”. The science is in, it’s done, bad drunken behaviour is a reflection of culture in which it happens. The End.

          And NZ’s drunken behaviour reflects very badly on NZ’s culture. But it’s ok because the science has also shown us how to fix it: we need to get NZ to grow up. We need to teach people how to drink and not be fuckwits, not take alcohol away. That just makes alcohol a dangerous special thing.

          It’s the countries where alcohol is NOT special that have the least problems with drunken behaviour. The countries where it’s uncontroversial to have a drink before work, where it’s no big deal to teach an 8-yr-old the difference between the taste of grenache and the taste of cabernet, where people talk and laugh and love while drinking alcohol in positive environments, those are the countries that don’t have emergency wards and women’s refuges overflowing with the victims of drunken violence.

          Newsflash: that ain’t NZ.

          • greywarshark 19.1.1.1.1

            Magisterium
            That last para sounds a little too partial and inclined towards utopian.

            People learning to discipline themselves, plan and run their own lives would be a good start to controlling excess drinking. Making it the norm to put the drinks money in a cap enough for just two rounds, and then everyone has to buy their own would be a good start. This business of everyone shouting a round, and drink faster because the next lot of booze is coming up, you can’t leave because you haven’t bought your round, and beer games to ensure that everyone conforms till the required level of denseness, these are the working methods of alcohol pushers, that keep our stats trending up.

            • Magisterium 19.1.1.1.1.1

              controlling excess drinking

              Excess drinking isn’t the problem. As previously commented, countries with relatively high alcohol consumption but positive drinking culture (e.g. France, Spain) have fewer alcohol-related problems than countries with relatively low alcohol consumption but negative drinking culture (e.g. Ireland, Iceland).

              “Drinks money in a cap”
              “Shouting a round”
              “Beer games”
              “You can’t leave”

              Culture.

      • Psycho Milt 19.1.2

        RedLogix

        But until you can propose an effective way to address and regulate drunken violence without recourse to regulating alcohol, your argument is mute.

        As mentioned above, no-one’s suggesting alcohol should be unregulated.

        So you have a choice … make laws that tell drunk people not to get violent, or make laws that try to minimise how drunk they get in the first place. Or you could do both!

        We already do both, in the sense that we have laws against violence, and we have laws regulating alcohol.

        Neither approach is perfect, but which do you imagine is going to be more effective in the real world?

        Continue doing both, but require anyone in an official role (eg, Police, courts) to stop letting people pretend alcohol made them do things, and bring in alcohol education that isn’t based on the recommendations of “Just say no to drugs” wowsers. In other words, instead of writing off valid research because public-health types don’t like it, use whatever research has merit in coming up with policy.

        Puddleglum:
        I’m not sure what the fuss is all about.

        Here’s what the fuss is about. The OP declares Fox’s research to be “material … that dresses itself in the garb of research, but isn’t. It is paid for propaganda masquerading as [social] science.” This without making any argument beyond the fact that her research was funded by Lion and anti-alcohol activists don’t like her findings. That’s a pretty bold claim and I dispute it. The resulting discussion includes some mud-wrestling with people who don’t like alcohol, but you can skip past that.

        • RedLogix 19.1.2.1

          Governments have essentially just three types of tools to change behaviour; regulate it, tax it, or educate it. Alcohol abuse is nicely amenable to all three.

          Taxing the hell out of it works well up to the point where bootlegging becomes an issue.

          I’m entirely sympathetic to the idea of much better public education. Although I doubt the booze barons are quite so keen as you or I.

          I doubt also we could effectively regulate against violence more than we do already. Not only the victims of drunken violence pay a high price, but so do the perpetrators if convicted. A year or more in prison is a really crappy price to pay for a boozy Saturday night.

          Yet the mere fact that violence continues at such unacceptable levels strongly suggests might also consider regulating more effectively against easy access to so much booze.

          The resulting discussion includes some mud-wrestling with people who don’t like alcohol,

          Well most of us are altogether too familiar with the ugly consequences of abusing it. Even the overt violence is only the half of it. Habitual drinkers are just awful people to live with, untrustworthy, unreliable and under-achievers. Even when they do keep their fists to themselves, they’re usually nothing much more than a heart-break to the ones who want desperately to love them.

        • Puddleglum 19.1.2.2

          I haven’t read the report by Fox but, according to the TVNZ link, Sara Tucker from Lion believes that the report is clear that “we need to look at a culture not just at alcohol”.

          The ‘not just’ is encouraging but I also think there’s merit in Ms Jackson’s claim that “It’s just another attempt by the alcohol industry to try and create confusion and get in the way of good positive change in alcohol related harm.”

          Particular researchers have well-known research ‘voices’. If I were a Lion PR manager I would certainly look to an academic like Dr Fox to provide a report. She has already shown in her free, academic work that she believes that ‘culture’ is a prime determinant of harm when it comes to alcohol. In many ways, the disciplinary (anthropological) focus encourages that view since that is what the discipline is all about.

          That’s fine, but it is partial – inevitably. (Interestingly, alcohol consumption is related to some cognitive benefits at light to moderate levels and deficits – some extreme – at heavier levels of drinking. So ‘the research’ on cognitive effects could be played both ways in public debates over alcohol policies depending on which academic happened to be writing a report, I imagine.).

          Pointing out that Lion funded the report is important in highlighting the ways in which the report is likely to be selective and, hence, used rhetorically and politically. And I mean no slight on Dr Fox in pointing that out. Research, as she may well accept, is itself socially constructed – what else could it be?

          That doesn’t make it ‘bad’ or ‘flawed’ but it should make us very wary and reflective about what we hear being called ‘the research’ on some issue.

          The Business Round Table used to regularly invite researchers (often economists) from overseas to produce reports on issues of the day. Remarkably, those reports toed a consistent, pro-market, pro-neoliberal line in relation to analysis and recommendations.

          That didn’t make those reports ‘not research’ or the academics and researchers ‘not researchers’ but it did demonstrate that supposedly independent reports on ‘the research’ can be remarkably and consistently compatible with a funder’s interests by virtue of careful selection of authors of such reports.

          It’s a bit like asking Don Brash to look at ‘closing the income gap’ with Australia – you kind of know what the report will say before the process has even begun.

          I refer back to an earlier comment I made towards the start of the entire set of comments on this post: Science – and research – has always been used to promote interests.

          The important thing is to be able to identify whose interests are being served.

          I’d argue that some interests need serving more than others. Principally, those who have little power and/or who suffer the most would be my pick for whose interests need serving in relation to most issues.

          • Psycho Milt 19.1.2.2.1

            I don’t disagree. However, public-health academics also have agendas. And as Fox pointed out, Kypri is a member of an anti-alcohol group. With these researchers, we also know what the report will say before they write it. Fox’s research may have been funded by Lion, but I distrust that a lot less than I distrust researchers who are pushing a particular agenda, especially when that agenda involves having the government try and make me do things the researchers think will be better for me than what I’d choose to do myself.

        • Drowsy M. Kram 19.1.2.3

          “stop letting people pretend alcohol made them do things”

          So alcohol in a brain doesn’t affect behaviour?!!! This is magical thinking. Ethanol (CH3CH2OH) has many physiological effects, including some that are severe and permanent: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

          Big pharma offers many ‘quality drugs’ designed to alter physiology and/or behaviour. Why contend that ethanol is (magically) devoid of behavioural effects? Maybe the breweries and vineyards are ripping off consumers!
          What do we want? AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE THAT AFFECTS BEHAVIOUR.
          When do we want it? WHENEVER WE FEEL LIKE IT!

          Judgement impaired much?

          • Psycho Milt 19.1.2.3.1

            “Alcohol affects behaviour” != “Alcohol made me commit a crime.”

            Likewise, “Culture affects behaviour” != “Culture made me commit a crime.”

            The extent of the effects is the very thing in dispute. I’m not going to summarise Fox’s paper for you or re-hash the above comments thread.

    • reason 19.2

      I was just stating the obvious ………….

      It’s relevance is there for all to see ….. How many posts defending Alcohol and its association with violence and crime in this thread from you???????????

      Usually if your going to bullshit about drugs it pays to do so with ones that people have no personal experience with ……. then they might believe your fairy stories .

      It’s Tui bill board stuff ………. ‘Alcohol does not increase violence’ …. yeah right

      Speaking of bill boards, I wonder if the money Lion Brewries paid Fox is included in the $200 million spent on marketing/pushing Alcohol in NZ each year…… That s some serious ‘drug pushing’

      “We spend about $85 million per week on alcohol, that’s why they don’t want you to understand its a drug”. ……… Sgt Alastair Lawn

      “Although alcohol can lead to addiction, disease, overdose and death, it is sold without a health warning label or a recommended dose. It is sold to pregnant women with no warning that it may lead to fetal deformity and to teenagers with no warning that they are especially vulnerable. ” ….

      • Psycho Milt 19.2.1

        It’s a common human error to assume your personal experience and gut instinct trumps systematic research. (One reason why Kiwiblog comments threads are full of men who can tell us all about feminazis.)

        • reason 19.2.1.1

          Research ??????????????

          The authors simultaneously assessed the relationship between alcohol outlets per capita in the Manukau area and police “events” or motor vehicle accidents.

          The study covered 522sq km, with a population of 330,000 and 447 alcohol outlets – 129 off-licences, 130 clubs and bars and 188 restaurants and cafes.

          The authors found that areas with additional off-licence outlets were associated with 85.4 more police events and 10.3 more vehicle accidents a year. Those with a higher number of clubs and bars were associated with 34.7 more police events and 0.5 more vehicle accidents a year.

          “Off-licence density is significantly positively associated with violent offences, sexual offences, drug and alcohol offences, property abuses, antisocial behaviour, dishonesty offences, traffic offences and motor vehicle accidents, and significantly negatively associated with family violence.
          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10853010

          —————————————————————-

          New Zealand
          • 31% of all crime in New Zealand can be attributable to alcohol (2007-08).[12]

          • At least one third of recorded violence offences committed in 2007-2008 occurred where the offender had consumed alcohol prior to committing the offence.[13]

          • Alcohol-related crime is estimated to cost New Zealand NZ$716.5m a year with NZ$200.1m alone spend on policing.[14]

          • On average, 33% of all recorded offences are committed on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. However, when the number of offences where it is not known if an offender was affected by alcohol is accounted for, the overall most probable percentage is expected to be 46% of all offences.[15]

          • Approximately half (49.5%) of all homicides recorded between 1999-2008 involved either a suspect or victim being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident. 207 (42.3%) involved at least one suspect and 175 (36%) involved at least one victim under the influence of alcohol at the time of incident.[16]

          • In 2005-06, net healthcare costs related to alcohol use only was $343m. The largest component of this number was inpatient hospital costs of $121.0 million, or around a third.[17] .

          • BERL estimated the social costs of the harmful use of alcohol in 2005-2006 (expressed in 2008 dollar terms) to be $5.3 billion, of which 76 per cent ($3.7 billion) were tangible costs.[18]

          • Approximately one third of alleged offenders apprehended were recorded to have consumed alcohol prior to offending.[20]

          • New Zealand reports on alcohol, crime and anti-social behaviour highlight that each year thousands of New Zealanders are harmed by other people’s drinking and many more are made to feel unsafe.[21]

          • Data obtained in 2007 by Alco-Link showed just under half (49.8%) of arrests for violence-related offences involved an offender affected by alcohol as did 78% of arrests for disorder offences.[22]

          I would say the Lion Brown lady Fox is exactly like one of the ‘researchers’ who worked for the tobacco companies …..

          And your gut instinct that Alcohol does not create violence is based on your personal experience of not getting violent yourself when you are drunk…….

          The easiest way to lower violent and sexual crime rates in New Zealand would be to lower the rate of Alcohol Abuse …………… that’s an obvious fact …… no gut instinct required 🙂

          National refuse to do this …………… And built a big expensive Serco prison instead.

          They are the most pro-drug government we have ever had ……. as long as the drug is booze.

          Twice using parliament urgency powers they have made it easier to sell booze.

          They delayed lowering the drink driving Alcohol limit as long as they possibly could …… causing extra death and injury in NZ.

          • Magisterium 19.2.1.1.1

            Post hoc ergo propter hoc, alcohol then bad things therefore alcohol caused the bad things. Just like vaccination then bad things therefore vaccination caused the bad things.

          • Psycho Milt 19.2.1.1.2

            You don’t seem to understand what research is. From your list of associations, it sounds like violent offenders are fond of a drink – maybe somone needs to do some research to find out whether that’s the case or not?

  19. Tautoko Mangō Mata 20

    Think tanks – how are they influenced by their funders?
    Here is data related to the TTIP but you will see some familiar names among the funders..

    Several questions we weren’t able to ask in this project but would like to see answered include:

    How prevalent is the revolving door phenomenon in the think-tank world?
    What other publications exhibit potential traces of influence by sponsors?
    What role do think tanks play in debates about other policy issues, such as energy and defense?

    https://decorrespondent.nl/3874/How-we-looked-into-think-tanks-and-TTIP-and-feel-free-to-use-our-data/853522027644-4f371269

  20. Observer (Tokoroa) 21

    To: Drowsy S Kram

    The reason why it is impossible to expect rational thought from people such as Psycho Milt and BM is because their rational mechanisms have failed over the course of time. It is frustrating trying to get sense out of them.

    You are absolutely correct with your words:
    “So alcohol in a brain doesn’t affect behaviour?!!! This is magical thinking. Ethanol (CH3CH2OH) has many physiological effects, including some that are severe and permanent: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder”

    Now I asked plainly and simply for Dr Anne and her brewery fan Pysco Milt to list the properties of clean plain water and the properties of Alcohol as brewed and distilled.

    Milt ran a mile from that task. Pretending that alcohol does not influence behaviour or chemically cause fatal trauma.

    In fact, the two of them are trying to insist that behaviour is the chemical which causes the properties of alcohol. And likewise, that behaviour is the cause of goodness in H20.

    How absolutely bizarre.

    I suppose we should be kindly towards such people as Fox and Milt and BM. But the cost of their outright denial of addiction and poison on society is astronomical. Neither do they seem at all to care.

    What? them care about a Foetus? “Yeah Right”

    • Magisterium 21.1

      Many anthropologists and historians suggest that alcohol may literally be responsible for human civilisation. Growing grain, fermenting it, and making beer is a process that can’t be done on the move. If you’ve worked out how to make beer, you need to stop being a hunter gatherer and settle in one place if you want to do it.

      We stopped being nomads and started being farmers and city-dwellers because nomads can’t make beer.

      • lprent 21.1.2

        Plus it was a whole lot easier to eat stored food rather than having to go out and find it every day. Chicken and egg argument.

        Having stored grains and honey and other substances allowed for the time and the ingredients to manufacture alcohol. Plus the time to imbue it.

        But generally humans seem remarkably unenthusiastic about starving, and especially the children starving. Even more so than their love of boozing

        • BM 21.1.2.1

          On the topic of historical booze drinking and eating habits I really recommend the the super sizers series on eating and drinking through the ages,

          Just had a look on you tube and they all seem to be there, if you haven’t seen them, well worth a look.

        • Magisterium 21.1.2.2

          The types of grain found in many of the most ancient archeological sites are of types quite unsuited for bread-making without extremely tiresome (and energy-inefficient) de-husking and preparation. However they’re really good for brewing, like barley.

          Remember though that beer and bread in Neolithic times were different from what we think of today. The earliest beer was probably a thick mildly alcoholic soup containing ungerminated grains and small amounts of natural sugars. It would have been extremely nutritious and a more efficient source of energy than unprocessed cereal grains. The first human culture to develop Neolithic beer would have had a distinct competitive advantage over its neighbours who hadn’t.

          Trivia: the oldest recipe of any sort ever discovered is for Sumerian beer, approx 3200BC.

          Katz, S.H and Voigt, M.M. (1986). Bread and Beer. Expedition, 28: 23-34.

          Katz, S.H. and Maytag, F. (1991). Brewing an ancient beer. Archaeology, 44 (4): 24-33.

          Mandelbaum, D.G. (1965). Alcohol and culture. Current Anthropology, 6 (3): 281-293.

          • Incognito 21.1.2.2.1

            You seem to like trivia so for you edification here’s an interesting link that connects a mutation in the enzyme that breaks down alcohol to rice cultivation and fermentation in regions near Eastern China between 12,000 and 6,000 years ago. I will resist another dig at Dr Fox and her report.

  21. Rosemary McDonald 22

    Just throwing this….https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/exclusive-taxpayer-funded-study-by-euthanasia-supporters-fatally-flawed-q16367 in here.

    “Opponents are angry, claiming the study asking doctors and nurses for their views on euthanasia is biased and flawed.
    The study is being led by two Auckland researchers, Dr Phillipa Malpas and Dr Pam Oliver, who told participants “we are independent”.
    But they didn’t reveal they’re members of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society which is pushing for a law change to let doctors help patients die.”

    Thing is, some gummint bureaucrat will pull shoddy, biased research such as this out of their arse and use it to bolster their argument for constructing equally shoddy legislation.

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