Underage At 23: Scientific Evidence For Raising The Drinking Age?
I don’t want to spout off about the scientific basis for neoprohibitionism, as I’m not a doctor and don’t presume to have a clue about such things. However, I think it is worth noting that Dr Aric Sigman, who has suggested that the legal drinking age should be raised to 24 due to the effect on brain development, has some form.
Dr Sigman has previously published a number of tabloid headline-grabbing reports including that watching television causes autism and triggers the early onset of puberty in girls; and that social networking causes cancer. Those shock headlines have doubtless helped the sales of his previous books, just as this story will help his just-published Alcohol Nation: How to Protect Our Children from Today’s Drinking Culture fly off the shelves and out of the warehouses.
Helpfully however, we have people like Ben Goldacre to point out that Dr Sigman may have cherry-picked evidence to suit his conclusions, in the context of the social networking story at least.
So I’m not prejudging whether Dr Sigman is correct in this instance, and whether there would or wouldn’t be overall health benefits of increasing the drinking age to 24, taking into account the difficulty of enforcement; driving more young people to drink in potentially unsafe environments; and all the other social factors involved. However, I would say that I’d rather hear it from someone who has historically been less keen to win column inches in the Daily Mail and flog pseudoscientific potboilers.
Not, of course, that scientific evidence of some level of overall harm or benefit means you should immediately legislate. But you know this already; you’re all grown-ups.