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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Latest Rat Study Repeats Same Old Mistakes

A recent rat study has been done that appears to justify the 21 drinking age at first glance.  But here's why it really doesn't:

1)  First of all, the study was done on rats, and rats are NOT people.
2)  There is no rat equivalent for 18-24 year old humans, as the "adolescence" in all rats essentially overlaps with infancy and does NOT overlap with adulthood.
3)  The human brain actually continues to develop well into the 30s and 40s, so 21 is an arbitrary age limit.
4)  Human brain development before 18, and especially before 15 or so, is qualitatively different and occurs on a much more fundamental level than that which occurs afterwards.

That's not to say that excessive drinking isn't harmful.  It is, at any age in fact, and especially so before 18.  But there is really no conclusive scientific evidence that drinking at 18 is any more harmful than at 21.

Besides, if the results of the numerous rat studies of the past actually did translate to humans in like fashion, then Canada, Australia, and Europe would all be nations of brain-damaged alcoholic felons!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Kids Are (Mostly) Alright

The results of the annual Monitoring the Future survey of middle and high school students for 2014 were primarily good news overall.  Alcohol and tobacco use both dropped to record 40-year lows, and cannabis use saw the first decrease in years after steadily increasing since 2007.  Other drugs, both illicit and prescription, saw either decreases or no significant change in 2014, and most of those remained well below their most recent peaks.  Dangerous quasi-legal synthetic "designer drugs", such as "K2" (synthetic cannabis) and "bath salts", have plummeted to the lowest levels since they have first been measured.  And there was no substance that saw any significant increases in 2014.

One thing that makes such results remarkable is that 2014 was the first year that cannabis was fully legalized in Colorado and Washington, with a few more states on the way as well.  And there is currently zero evidence that any of the prohibitionists' fears have actually materialized.  Another remarkable observation is the fact that "extreme binge drinking" (i.e. 10+ drinks in the same occasion at least once in the past two weeks) among high school seniors has finally dropped to the lowest level since it was first recorded in 2005.  For example, from 2005-2011, it remained flat at 11%, and from 2011-2014 it had dropped by more than a third to 7%.  And lest you erroneously think that the longstanding 21 drinking age (or tougher enforcement thereof) is somehow the cause of that drop, significant decreases in teen drinking have also occurred in other countries where the drinking age is still 18.

But don't expect to hear such good news from the fearmongering mainstream media, of course.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Let's Make a Deal

Recently, there has been a bit of a push to ban fraternities in various colleges and universities in the hopes of reducing the serious problem of rape among college students, which is often fueled by alcohol.   This debate on whether or not to ban frats is not a new one, but was recently reopened following several scandals on the way several colleges currently (mis)handle the issue of campus sexual assault.  Some people think it is a great idea, while others feel that doing so would be throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water.

So where does Twenty-One Debunked stand on this particular issue?  Well, we should first and foremost note that the only thing that actually causes rape is the rapists themselves, period.   While alcohol (among other substances) can indeed fuel it and is often used as a weapon to incapacitate victims, rape would simply not happen without rapists.  And the onus should always fall on men not to rape in the first place, instead of falling on women not to get raped.  That said, many fraternities are notorious for being a virtual microcosm of rape culture, which consists of the various attitudes and behaviors that support rape in one way or another.  And while removing such groups from the equation would not eliminate rape entirely, it would certainly make a non-trivial dent in the problem, given that frat brothers are statistically about three times more likely to commit rape compared to college men who are non-members.  Interestingly, Greek organizations are mainly an American thing, since most other countries either don't have them at all, or in the case of Canada, they exist in far less prominence than they do over here.  Gee, I wonder why?

Thus, Twenty-One Debunked would basically be fine with banning frats to one degree or another, with the following caveats attached to the deal.  First, the drinking age needs to be lowered to 18 yesterday, and not only would that result in many frats having a "going out of business" party (since their speakeasy-like services will no longer be needed) or at least a reduction in their relative power and prominence, it would also result in at least somewhat safer drinking practices since alcohol would no longer be forced underground anymore.  Second, to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we should allow frats to continue existing if they become fully coed, including their leaders.  It's almost 2015 now, and it's about time!  And if any frats want to remain all-male, they should be able to do so if and only if they exist entirely off-campus and receive absolutely no recognition, endorsement, or privileges from the college, including use of campus facilities.  Do these things and the connection between fraternities and rape would simply wither on the vine rather quickly.

Of course, it should go without saying that the problem of sexual violence is by no means just a frat problem, and broader-based strategies for tackling it also need to be implemented yesterday as well.  We absolutely need to change the culture on this issue (an excellent campaign can be found here), as well as hold the perpetrators (and their accomplices/enablers) accountable regardless of what connections they have or what socioeconomic status they belong to.  And for the record, Twenty-One Debunked fully supports California's new "Yes Means Yes" law for colleges and universities.  Anything less would be uncivilized.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Think Globally, Act Locally

We clearly face an uphill battle to lower the legal drinking age to 18, no doubt about that.  So what can we do in the meantime, besides pressure the government to lower the drinking age?  There is one thing that local communities can do, and that is to effectively "nullify" the 21 drinking age by refusing to enforce it.  A good way to do this would be the following:

  1. The local government should pass its own law declaring its own drinking age to be 18, state laws to the contrary notwithstanding.
  2. Repeal all local social host laws (if any) that pertain to 18-20 year olds.
  3. Declare the possession and consumption of alcohol by 18-20 year olds, and casual furnishing of alcohol to them, to be the lowest law-enforcement priority (LLEP), as long as no other laws are broken at the same time.
  4. Issue "protection passes" to anyone aged 18-20 who lives, works or attends school in that municipality, and make selling alcohol to such people the LLEP as well.  Such passes would effectively enable their holders (and only their holders) to buy alcohol and enter bars in the town.
The "protection pass" idea would help keep outsiders from driving into town to go to the bar, getting drunk, and driving home, since outsiders would lack such passes.  Temporary passes could be given for tourists staying in local hotels, that would last only for the duration of their stay.  Holders of such passes who get busted for DUI, drunk violence, drunk vandalism, or disorderly conduct would lose their passes immediately.

If enough local governments decide to do this, it would only be a matter of time before the drinking age is lowered.  Just look at Denver and Seattle, for example, who made cannabis possession the LLEP long before their respective states decided to fully legalize it.  And as they say, the rest is history.