Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Why 18?

We at Twenty-One Debunked realize that, over the past several years, we have spent so much time and energy trying to convince people why the drinking age should NOT be 21, that we left ourselves wide open for criticism from the other end of the spectrum.  To wit, some have asked, either honestly or disingenuously, why 18?  Why not 16, or 13, or abolish it altogether?  Until recently, we have been ignoring such questions, but we now feel that such questions must be fielded properly after having debated exactly those questions in youth-rights forums and elsewhere.  If we keep ignoring such questions, we could perhaps alienate many in the youth-rights movement, while also ironically and inadvertently giving ammunition to the pro-21 side.

For a good set of arguments as to why the drinking age should be lowered from 21 to 18, and not be any higher than 18, please take a look at our intro page, as this post will only deal with the other side of the question (i.e. why not less than 18?) for the most part.  We have already established that the drinking age should never be any higher than the age of majority in a free society.  So what are our arguments for not pushing for lowering it any further than 18, exactly?

First and foremost, there is the issue of pragmatism, as there is truly a snowball's chance in hell of getting the drinking age lowered any further than 18 (which is hard enough as it is).  America is truly not ready for such a massive change, as one poll found that no more than 5% of American adults support lowering it to 16 (the same poll found 30% favored 18), and the last time any state had a drinking age below 18 was in the 1930s (Ohio was briefly 16 and Colorado had no age limit for a few years).  So aiming for a drinking age of less than 18 is basically a political non-starter, and will remain so until many, many years after lowering it to 18 (which itself is no small feat).  And pursuing such a goal, at least doing so openly, would alienate a huge chunk of potential supporters.

Secondly, even if it was politically feasible to lower the drinking age to 16 or abolish it altogether, such a move could foreseeably have unintended consequences if done too quickly and too soon.  The best studies such as Miron and Tetelbaum (2009) find that the "parade of horrors" that would supposedly occur if 18-20 year olds were allowed to drink legally would most likely not occur--but unfortunately the same can't be said about abolishing the drinking age or lowering it further.  There is simply not enough evidence to reassure anyone that such problems won't happen--and if they did, even if only in the short-term, that would backfire and set our movement way, way back to where it was in the late 1980s.

Third, as the pro-21 crowd is so fond of pointing out ad nauseam, "America is not Europe".  Culturally and otherwise, that is certainly true.  America is indeed a largely Anglo-style drinking culture in many ways, as well as a car culture.  The closest comparison country would be Canada, with a drinking age of 18 or 19 depending on the province.  So that should be our model for the time being, not Europe.  And the next closest ones would be Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, all 18.  In fact, nowadays most of the world sets the drinking age, or at least the purchase age, at 18, not 16.   Note as well that several European countries are also 18, and even Spain and France have recently raised their drinking ages from 16 to 18 (despite the fact that such laws are largely unenforced).

Fourth, recent advances in neuroscience have uncovered some rather unpleasant-to-acknowledge truths about the effects of alcohol on teenage brains, as the pro-21 crowd just luuuurrrrves to point out.  Granted, such findings would apply primarily to truly heavy drinkers under 18 (and especially under 15) rather than 18-20 year olds, and not all of the evidence is 100% conclusive either, but to blithely ignore such findings regarding early to middle adolescents only gives ammunition to the pro-21 crowd.  And even if you believe that banning people under 18 from drinking for that reason is patronizing and paternalistic, you still need to see the pragmatism in acknowledging that it is not solely a civil rights issue but also a public health issue as well.

Finally, we at Twenty-One Debunked already support decriminalizing drinking for people under 18, with the penalty for the young drinkers (if any) being no more than a civil fine with no criminal record.  And we also support allowing parents to legally give alcohol to their own children (within reason) at home or other private property as well, which is already legal in many states now.  Those things, along with lowering the legal drinking age to 18, should take away most of the objections to not lowering the age further or abolishing it.  Purists in the youth-rights movement may very well disagree with us, of course, but please remember that compromise is, as the saying goes, "the art of the possible".

Keep in mind, Twenty-One Debunked is not categorically opposed to a drinking age lower than 18 at some point in the (albeit most likely very distant) future.  But we no longer consider such a goal to be worthwhile for the foreseeable future, and are thus sticking with 18 as our goal.

Let America be America again, and lower the drinking age to 18.  If you're old enough to go to war, you're old enough to go to the bar.  'Nuff said.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Just Say NO to the Tobacco to 21 Act!

If some US Senators get their way, the entire nation will join Hawaii, NYC, and several other municipalites with a smoking age of 21 for tobacco.  Not only is the effectiveness of such an idea rather dubious, but just like the vile abomination that is the 21 drinking age it is ageist/adultist and tyrannical and has no place in a free society.  The age of majority is 18 in nearly every state, and in a free society no age limit for any civil right or privilege should ever be any higher than the age of majority except for senior citizen stuff and perhaps certain specific professions (i.e. President of a nuclear superpower) in which adulthood alone may not be fully sufficient.

We are especially disappointed in Senator Elizabeth Warren, an erstwhile favorite of the True Spirit of America Party.  She is one of the leading co-sponsors of the Tobacco 21 Act.  It's too bad since we at the TSAP love just about everything else about her.  Seriously.  If you are reading this, Sen. Warren, we strongly urge you to reconsider your position on this ageist and illiberal mockery of the age of majority.

Let America be America again.  Old enough to fight and vote = old enough to drink and smoke.  'Nuff said.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Tale of Two Nations

The latest Monitoring the Future results for 2015 are in.  Among students in grades 8, 10, and 12, alcohol and tobacco use have both fallen to record lows, and the use of most other substances has either declined or shown no significant change from last year.  Cannabis has held steady as well after falling a bit last year.  "Binge" drinking (5+ drinks per occasion) has also fallen to a record low, and as we noted last year, extreme binge drinking (10+ drinks per occasion) has also been falling for several years now.

Meanwhile, things aren't quite so rosy for the American population in general.  While drunk driving deaths specifically are at a record low, alcohol-related deaths (excluding crashes, accidents, and homicides) have actually reached a 35-year high in 2014.  This increase in the death rate, which began around 2000, is likely due to two things:  the aging of the population, and a general increase in per-capita alcohol consumption since the late 1990s.  Drug overdose deaths have also doubled since 1999 as well, driven mostly by heroin and prescription opioids.

In other words, America's overall drinking (and drug) problem appears to be getting worse, but it is clearly NOT being driven primarily by young people.  Those Baby Boomers (and now Generation Xers) who complain about the problems of "kids today" might just want to look in the mirror before pointing the finger at Millennials (and now post-Millennials).  So can we finally stop with the "vicarious puritanism" already?

Have a Safe And Happy Holiday Season

It is that time of year again when the holidays are upon us, and many of us Americans (and around the world) will be celebrating with alcohol and/or other substances.  We at Twenty-One Debunked would like to remind everyone to be safe and celebrate responsibly.  There is absolutely no excuse for drunk driving at any age, period.  We cannot stress this enough.  It's very simple--if you plan to drive, don't drink, and if you plan to drink, don't drive.  It's really not rocket science, folks.  And there are numerous ways to avoid mixing the two.  Designate a sober driver, take a cab, use public transportation, crash on the couch, or even walk if you have to.  Or stay home and celebrate there.  Or don't drink--nobody's got a gun to your head.  And the same goes for other psychoactive substances as well.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Latest New Zealand Study Reeks of Junk Science

A recent study has come out that supposedly shows a long-term increase in "serious traffic crashes" among 18-19 year olds in New Zealand following the lowering of their drinking age from 20 to 18 in 1999.  Previous studies found only a short-term effect, if even any effect at all.  But upon closer inspection, there is far less here than meets the eye.

First and foremost, the maxim that correlation does not prove causation holds true for any observational study of this nature, especially with such relatively modest "effect sizes".  Secondly, the study used 20-24 year olds as the comparison group, and we at Twenty-One Debunked have repeatedly noted how doing so is problematic in light of Dee and Evans (2001), Asch and Levy (1987 and 1990), and Males (1986), who found that raising the drinking age to 21 merely redistributed (i.e. delayed) some traffic deaths from 18-20 year olds to 21-24 year olds after controlling for a host of other variables.  There is no reason to believe that the reverse couldn't happen when drinking ages are lowered.  Thirdly, the study in question did not actually show an absolute increase in traffic crashes among 18-19 year olds, only a relative "increase" relative to 20-24 year olds as both decreased dramatically but decreased faster for the latter group.  Finally, the study found no evidence of a "trickle-down" or spillover effect on 14-17 year olds despite the fact that NZ doesn't even have a hard drinking age, but rather just a purchase age of 18 with rather shoddy enforcement.  Though since 2013, the loophole that allowed furnishing to minors was partially closed among other changes, but the study does not include any data beyond 2010.

Furthermore, another recent study casts further doubt on the claim that lowering the drinking age led to any sort of "parade of horrors" that the pro-21 crowd likes to claim occurred as a cautionary tale.  Put simply, lowering the drinking age was not a disaster after all, nor would it likely be the case if done in the USA.

So consider this latest claim debunked.  Old enough to go to war = old enough to go to the bar.  'Nuff said.

Hawaii Raises Smoking Age to 21

Recently, the state of Hawaii has raised the smoking age to 21, effective January 1, 2016.  Much to our chagrin, Hawaii will become the first state to set the smoking age to 21, joining NYC and a few other localities around the nation.  And unlike NYC, this law actually penalizes the young smokers themselves.

Twenty-One Debunked has repeatedly noted how much we oppose raising the smoking age any higher than 18, for the same reasons we oppose the 21 drinking age.  Thus, we are calling for a tourist boycott of the state of Hawaii, beginning on January 1 and lasting for as long as the new law remains in effect.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Be VERY careful what you wish for, fellas!

In recent years, advances in neuroscience (of which we are still just barely scratching the surface) have led to an increasingly popular tendency to view teenagers and young adults (i.e. anyone under age 25) as having "underdeveloped brains" that somehow justify having their civil rights revoked or curtailed.  Of course, as we have noted before, that same neuroscience has shown that the human brain continues developing well into the 30s and even 40s (and possibly even beyond that), and that the development that occurs between 18-25 (and even a bit earlier) is basically on the same spectrum as the development that occurs after 25.  And that inconvenient fact is clearly ignored by The Powers That Be, for obvious reasons.  But for argument's sake, let's pretend for a moment that no significant brain development occurs after age 25 or so, shall we?

In case you haven't realized yet, this entire argument that young people under 25 should have less rights than people over 25 is really just a warmed-over version of a centuries-old and widely discredited ideology known as "biological determinism".  Similar arguments have been made in the past for black people, women, various immigrant groups, Jews, and other oppressed non-dominant groups in society.  Based on real or imaginary differences between groups, the dominant groups of the time would use such differences to justify their privilege over and oppression of the non-dominant groups. And essentially every single one of these arguments have been roundly debunked, and are really only taken seriously anymore by a few dodgy ideologues on the fringes (*cough* Charles Murray *cough*) and their brainwashed followers (*cough* Faux Noise *cough*).  That's not to say that the demographic groups in question are no longer oppressed or discriminated against (spoiler alert: they are), but today people are far less likely to openly claim "scientific" justifications for such discrimination/oppression than in the past.  Except when it comes to young people, for whom such junk science has apparently become de rigeur as of late. And the dominant group in this case, adults over 25, are certainly all-too-smug about it.  Nevermind that it too has actually been debunked by people like sociologist Mike Males among others. 

It should be obvious now that ageism/adultism is simply one more crucial component of the pyramid scheme known as the kyriarchy, which needs to end yesterday.  But what if there really was a demographic group that actually did show differences, in both physiology and behavior, that could (using the same dubious arguments) be used to justify that group's rights being curtailed?  Well, that group does exist, fellas, and I'm talking about you and me.  In other words, I'm talking about MEN in general, regardless of age.  Based on what we know from Ashley Montagu's 1953 bombshell of a book, The Natural Superiority of Women (last edition published in 1998) as well as its (sort-of) sequel Women After All by Melvin Konner, there are indeed enough brain differences to imply that, on average, males are basically the inferior gender.  Not only do our brains mature at a slower rate than for females, but we ultimately never really catch up completely.  In fact, the gender gap seems to actually widen with age.

Of course, it doesn't matter if we fellas think with our adenoids.  What really matters is how we ACT.  But here too, the evidence is rather abysmal:
  • Contrary to stereotypes, we apparently really suck at driving, or at least we are more likely to take stupid risks behind the wheel.  And auto crash and fatality statistics bear this out rather well--and not just for young people, either. 
  • Despite having a somewhat higher tolerance to alcohol than women on average (even after controlling for body weight), men are more likely to abuse alcohol and get into trouble with it.  Men are four times more likely than women to become alcoholics and four times more likely to drive drunk. 
  • Violent crime of all kinds is overwhelmingly committed by men, especially violence against women. 
  • But most crime is male-on-male, making us both dangerous AND endangered at the same time.
  • At least 99% of all school-shooters and other mass-shooters have had one thing in common, aside from guns of course.  Care to guess what that is?
  • Practically every war ever fought in history was started and waged by men.
  • For the past 7000 years or so, most positions of power were overwhelmingly held by men.  And what happened?  We paved paradise and put up a parking lot, we created a desert and called it "peace".  We have devoured and suffocated our own empire, and we will all pay a heavy price for it soon enough.
And these differences between men and women greatly dwarf the differences between young people and older adults, at least when other variables such as socioeconomic status are accounted for.  That's the pink elephant in the room that the (mostly male) purveyors of the new anti-youth biological determinism don't want to talk about.  Why?  Because men are a privileged and dominant group in our society.  That's why.  DUH!

So be careful what you wish for, fellas.  Check your privilege, and your karma as well.  Yeah, you may laugh and be smug about it now.  Snicker, snicker.  But if the futurists are correct, and I think that they most likely are, women will eventually reclaim their rightful place as the new leaders of the free world.  And when that does happen, they will remember exactly how they were treated, so it really behooves us fellas to clean up our act yesterday--both in how we treat women as well as how we treat the younger generations.  The choice is ours, so let's make the right one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What do the "Hookup Culture" and "Binge Drinking" have in common?

Turns out, they both have an awful lot in common indeed:

  • Both terms are rather nebulously-defined concepts that can mean anything you want it to mean
  • Both are fueled by the lamestream media's sensationalism, creating a "deviancy amplification spiral"
  • Both are fueled by "pluralistic ignorance", i.e. people falsely believing that everyone else is doing it more than they are and more than is actually the case
  • Both are fueled by a kind of androcentrism that persists in spite of the patriarchy's overall decline (i.e. women are expected to behave more like men rather than vice-versa, and men write the rules)
  • Both are fueled by a sort of "tyranny of the structurelessness" and the persistent belief that they are the "only game in town" on college campuses (spoiler alert: that is NOT actually true)
  • Both are fueled by our schizophrenic culture's ambivalence about both sex and alcohol
  • Both, statistically speaking, tend to go together (albeit not always, though)
  • Both are used as virtual bogeymen of sorts to advance regressive and illiberal agendas, often in the guise of "protecting" young people and especially women
  • Both are often falsely blamed on feminism, when the reality is that, among individual women, there seems to be a somewhat inverse correlation between feminist beliefs and those behaviors.
  • The existence and prevalence of both are heavy on anecdotal evidence, and very light on actual data.
  • And both defining behaviors are actually less common now than in the past, with Millennials being less likely to drink and tend to have fewer sex partners than their Baby Boomer parents.  Even Jean Twenge of all people concedes this.
But don't expect the lamestream media to tell you any of that, though.  Why let mere facts interfere with a good story that can boost their ratings?

Happy (Belated) Mother's Day!

First of all, I would like to wish a very happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there, especially those who support our movement to lower the drinking age.  And yes, there are plenty of them indeed.

Recently, I have been reflecting on the utter lack of diversity in our movement, most notably the fact that our movement is largely a sausage-fest for the most part.   And most of the women in our movement tend to be younger and tend to be non-mothers.  That is in no small part due to groups like MADD effectively monopolizing the issue and claiming to speak for all mothers, while those mothers who openly support lowering the drinking age are often viciously shamed for taking such a stance.  It is also the result of our movement unfortunately having a tendency to be at least somewhat androcentric, which then attracts more men than women, which makes it even more androcentric, and so on.  And that needs to change yesterday if we wish to make any sort of progress.  It was after all, women, and especially mothers, who were the main driving force for repealing Prohibition in 1933.  And the recent victories on cannabis legalization did not happen until more and more mothers were willing to stand up and be counted.  Witness, for example, the group known as "Moms for Marijuana".  Yes, you read that right--something that would have been unthinkable just ten years ago.  And our movement needs to do the same as well.

We at Twenty-One Debunked propose the creation of a mothers' group to act as a counterweight to MADD.   It could be called "Mothers for Responsibility", for example.  At the same time, us fellas in the movement need to remove all remaining traces of androcentrism in our movement and effectively make it  more gynocentric as well.  We need to take women's issues much more seriously.  With no apologies to MRAs, PUAs, MGTOWs, and other "manosphere" types who frankly need to be kicked off the island, so to speak.  Ditto for brocialists, manarchists, and (worst of all) macktivists--if you don't know what any of those are are, feel free to Google them.  And as readers may have noticed from our recent posts, Twenty-One Debunked (as well as the TSAP) is certainly evolving in the right direction as we speak.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Will Hawaii Raise the Smoking Age to 21?

The state of Hawaii is seriously considering joining NYC and a few other localities here and there in raising the tobacco smoking age to 21.  We at Twenty-One Debunked have already discussed in previous posts why we oppose raising the smoking age any higher than 18, just like we support lowering the drinking age to 18 and legalizing cannabis for everyone 18 and older as well.  Old enough to fight and vote = old enough to drink and smoke.  'Nuff said.

That said, if alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis were all currently legal for everyone 18 and older, and we had to pick ONE of them to ban (or raise the age limit to 21), I would nonetheless pick tobacco hands-down since it is the least useful and most harmful of the three.  It kills more people than all other drugs combined, and there are essentially no significant health benefits to cigarettes that cannot also be had by other means.  With perhaps some very rare exceptions, the risks of smoking tobacco far outweigh any possible benefits.  Unlike alcohol and cannabis, tobacco (at least in the form of traditional cigarettes) is typically not a recreational drug so much as it is an extremely addictive poison, and the only product that kills half of those who buy it.  And in terms of environmental destruction, pollution, and wasting resources, the other two substances don't even come close.