Thursday, November 25, 2004

Alcohol and Bad Behaviors

Always curious to figure out irrational behavior, I sometimes look at medical blogs. Doctors are into the same thing because they have to wrestle with self-destructive patient behaviors, whether they occur from ignorance or some deeper impulse.

Intoxicated people have much greater control over their behavior than generally recognized. For example, in those societies in which people don't believe that alcohol causes disinhibition, intoxication never leads to unacceptable behavior. Link.

It goes further than actually being drunk. It seems that just thinking you are drunk can get similar results. Check this out...

Research in the US has found that when males are falsely led to believe that they have been drinking alcohol, they tend to become more aggressive. And when men and women falsely believe that they have been drinking alcohol, they experience greater sexual arousal when watching erotica.

So it isn't simply a case of "the alcohol made me do it." Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario asked volunteers to press a button when prompted by a computer screen. They were also instructed not to press it if a red light also appeared. Those who were given alcohol were more likely to press the button in spite of the red light, just as a drunk is more likely to punch someone even if told to stop.

No surprise here. But here is the kicker:

However, when drinkers were offered a small reward, they performed as well as sober volunteers. The researchers conclude that people who have been drinking can control their behavior if they want to.

People around the world can control their behavior when drunk. The Lepcha people of the Himalayas tend to become sexually promiscuous when intoxicated...that behavior is acceptable when drunk. But violation of the incest taboo(which extends very far and is highly complex) leads to punishment by certain death. No matter how drunk they become and how promiscuous they behave, they never violate that complex taboo. It's simple......they don't want to be executed and suffer a painful death so they control their behavior no matter how drunk they become.

So the doctor concludes that [b]ecause alcohol doesn't cause bad behavior it isn't a legitimate excuse for such behavior.In short, bad behavior isn't the fault of the alcohol but of the person.

Looks right to me.

The link came from another Doctor's site who wondered, reflecting on the brawl that erupted at the basketball game in Detroit, why the need to show such aggression toward professional athletes? Psychologically-speaking, I wonder if high salaries and free-agent mobility leave fans feeling emotionally estranged from their once beloved athletes. Or, is a tossed beer the fandom equivalent of a wide receiver's end-zone dance, both seeking notoriety?

His suggestion is so sensible as to be self evident.

Doesn't matter to me whether you blame the physical effects of alcohol or its sociological effects: stop serving alcohol at these games, and you'll stop having fan-player brawls, too.

The chances of that happening is about as good as a snowball know the rest.

When I see irrational collective social behavior, like unrestricted drinking at sports events, there is no doubt in my mind that our collective political behavior is no better, simply because the so-called "majority" agrees.

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