Monday, August 30, 2010

Woozzy Thinking Without Booze

Time Magazine reports that a recent "study" ( Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research ) has come to the surprising conclusion that "heavy drinkers" outlive "non-drinkers". This was true even after factoring in all possible "socio-economic variables" such as income, exercise, social networks etc. Moderate drinkers lived longest since one to three glasses of red wine "is thought to improve heart health, circulation and sociability, which can be important because people who are isolated don't have as many family members and friends who can notice and help treat health problems."

Someone ought to do a study on Fuzzy Thinking in Clinical Research. There is a difference between that kind of "circulation" which has to do with blood pressure and heart rates and the kind of "circulation" we call "mixing with people".

If a quantum of alcohol can be shown to increase blood circulation and hence oxygenation of bodily organs and if this same consumption of alcohol has no other countervailing adverse effects then it could be said that alcohol in defined quantities has a positive physicological effect which contributes to general health and longevity.

But to say that alcohol "loosens one up" which in turn makes one more gregarious which in turn makes it more likely to have more friends which in turn means increases the likelihood of being with someone who can quickly call an ambulance when you start croaking, is to confuse a concatenation of incidental effects with a cause.

It is truly astonishing to see supposedly well-trained researchers and "scientists" thinking in such a hazy, boozy way.

This is only a little less astonishing than watching them research this issue at all, since looking for a cause for longevity is really quite pointless given the near infinite number of variables that can affect how long any of us live.

Even if it is supposed that improved circulation (blood) improves physical fitness, the improvement in fitness is not directly due "to" alcohol but to circulation which can be increased by other means as well. The same can be said about psychological factors such as relaxation and happiness, either of which can be induced by alcohol or by other means.

One is left with: a little bit of everything in moderation conduces to health and happiness. Duh.