The New York Times reports that “some scientists” dispute the link between moderate alcohol consumption and better health on a number of measures. The key is the causality question, of course:
“No study, these critics say, has ever proved a causal relationship between moderate drinking and lower risk of death — only that the two often go together. It may be that moderate drinking is just something healthy people tend to do, not something that makes people healthy.”
Unsurprisingly, the article goes on to point out that what is needed is the gold standard of research design, yet getting a bunch of abstainers loaded, even in the name of good science (and a good time!), might involve some unfortunate ethical questions. Lacking this, we’re left with the sort of research design often utilized in the social sciences: a multivariate model that in the absence of strong theoretical argumentation can only, at best, establish associations between variables, even in the presence of likely controls. I would be surprised if the studies being critiqued by “some scientists” were not of a high caliber multivariate approach that at least controls for these other canards (e.g. that moderate drinkers are somehow a priori healthier than abstainers, even though I’ve always believed it about myself). But I’d have to see these studies to be certain (which is a nice way of saying I could be full of it).
Until then, I’m left holding out hope that these are the same “some scientists” who still dispute global warming.
Born in San Jose, grew up in Seattle, received a Ph.D. in poli sci from University of Washington in 2000. I worked for three years at Universiteit Twente in Enschede, Netherlands, and have worked at the University of Plymouth for 16 academic years now in Plymouth, United Kingdom. I also currently serve as joint campaign coordinator for the Plymouth Sutton & Devonport Constituency Labour Party.