Play nice, g*dd*mm*t!

The rules for commenting on the RBC are clear and not very complex:
1. No insults directed at posters or other commenters.
2. No naughty words that get us banned by nanny programs. Use asterisks.
3. (Special rule for drug-policy posts) No generic ranting.

In the past week I have had to delete four comments and ban one commenter. The banned commenter accused me, falsely, of changing my opinions for money.  Two of the deleted comments were insults directed at commenter Brett Bellmore; one was directed at Matt Kahn; and one was a generic anti-prohibition rant. Other comments have been zapped by other posters.

I don’t do this with any pleasure; becoming a censor was never among my ambitions. But I value the active and intelligent discussion that characterizes (non-drug) posts here, and a certain amount of curation seems to be necessary to maintain that discussion.

Really, folks:  Having demonstrated the factual inaccuracy, logical fallacy, or moral enormity of a statement, it’s not necessary to add that the person making it is a liar, a fool, or a scoundrel. And it’s generally more constructive to look for an interpretation of a claim that makes it plausible rather than jumping to an interpretation that makes it transparently false or monstrous.

Footnote Brett, you could help out by reducing the fraction of your comments containing claims demonstrably contrary to fact, and by moderating the hostility of your tone.

Alcohol as a panacea

No, there’s no real proof that moderate alcohol use is good for health. Maybe moderation is good for health.

Everyone “knows” that two glasses of red wine a day are good for your health. But, as Will Rogers said, it’s not what you don’t know that hurts you: it’s what you know that ain’t so. A paper by Hans Olav Fekjær and commentaries by Jurgen Rehm and Sven Andréasson, all in the latest issue of Addiction, review the evidence.

Yes, moderate drinkers have better health, on many dimensions, than non-drinkers and heavy drinkers. That’s the problem: too many dimensions, with too little biological mechanism. The logical thought is that people who drink in moderation probably have, on average, better health habits in other respects than those who don’t drink at all, since by definition they’ve avoided taking their alcohol use to excess while the abstainers either haven’t run that risk or have found that they can’t drink just a little. It’s also the case that, in Western cultures, drinking is normal while non-drinking is somewhat deviant. The fact that in India, where drinking isn’t a social norm, drinking isn’t associated with better cardiovascular health seems to me to seriously weaken the case for a causal connection in other societies.

Why the “Moderate drinking is good for what ails ya” theory has found such ready acceptance, while a comparable finding about moderate cannabis use and academic performance was ignored, is left as an exercise for the reader.