Monday, October 02, 2006

Hyman Kills More Brain Cells

Mark Hyman does his part to enrich the public discourse by offering us an editorial about the social benefits of bar hopping.

Thanks a bunch, Mark.

Trumpeting findings by researchers in a study funded by the libertarian think tank Reason, Hyman announces that people who drink in public create greater social networks and end up making more money at their jobs as a result. (The study runs counter to a Harvard study that suggests “social capital” is linked with less drinking, not more.)

As a number of people have pointed out, there’s an inherent post hoc ergo prompter hoc fallacy going on here, in which it’s assumed that a correlation between public drinking and higher income is somehow causal. It could easily be that a third variable is causing both the increased drinking and the higher income (e.g., extrovert personality traits). Or, the causal relationship might be the other way around: people who make more money are more likely to hit bars and clubs.

Who knows?

More importantly, who cares?

I sympathize with the idea that tee-totaling is a somewhat overrated quality, but some of the suggestions of the study are dopey, such as that college campuses should rethink attitudes about curtailing drinking because it actually might help their students’ earning potential in the long run if they learn the wonders of “social networking” over a pint.

Yes, I’m sure Chad, Kyle, and the rest of the brethren of Tau Beta Alpha fraternity will be socially crippled if they aren’t encouraged to do body shots of Jagermeister off of tawny co-ed midriffs at Chugz ‘n’ Brewz.

Be that as it may, it’s more than a little ironic that a public figure so snugly in bed with cultural conservatives is talking up the benefits of tipping back a few. And given the very real problem of binge drinking (we just had a student die of alcohol poisoning at the university where I teach), I’d think that issues of statistical validity aside, there might be better ways to spend two minutes of public airtime.

What’s next? An editorial about how infamous whoremongers run a disproportionate number of media conglomerates?

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 3.26


At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's amazing is how often Herr Hyman uses his stations (and our public airwaves) to foist his personal complaints and oddball theories across the country.

What a distortion of notions of free speech: Much more free speech for those rich enough to buy up stations.

What a boor.

What an emblem of what's wrong these days.


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