I think the issue of alcohol and alcohol control in the Unorganized Borough is very important. It is also an issue which has had very little comprehensive analysis and evaluation by communities. It is not yet a major focus of the discussions here because no one has wanted to pursue this. I have, however, been adding references to Connotea, the On-line health environment (biocultural science and adaptation) bibliography [or see the feed in the sidebar] for others to examine.
I also run across items to post here that may be of interest. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to fully develop them as topics (as they deserve) so here is a listing from my backlog. [skip to Listing ]
IMHO [My opinion, for what it’s worth]
In all the time that I have lived in the Unorganized Borough, it seems we have policy, politics, and governance based upon “I know what’s best” that is, based upon belief and not evidence. See earlier discussions linked at
What is supposed to work in schools, similarly with alcohol control and Wall Street, seems to operate on belief rather than an examination of what is and then formulating testable ideas on what, if anything, needs doing. Belief is an important factor in “what works”. However, critical thinking and careful use of statistics, among other attributes of sciencing such as multiple working hypotheses, are important to keep us all honest. In the situation of pandemic fatal or crippling disease, wishful thinking or “denial” won’t keep us, at all.
a strong new current in American life — the culture of assertion, which increasingly pushes logical argument out of our public conversation. According to this schema, things are true because I believe they are true and you have to respect that, because it’s what I believe…. Tim Rutten, quoted here
The irresistible power of magical thinking
New research demonstrates that habits of so-called magical thinking — the belief, for instance, that wishing harm on a loathed colleague or relative might make him sick — are far more common than people acknowledge.
There’s no better example than the City of Bethel proposing alcohol sales as a means of getting the city out of its deep money troubles (oh, and alleviating problems related to alcohol consumption).
Instead, there are proven methods for thinking about issues which can set aside the self-centered emotional displays and ad hominem attacks in order to generate evidence for and against a proposed action or decision. One method is to set about disproving a “negative hypothesis”. It is easier to find cases which disprove a hypothesis. In addition, if one works hard to disprove the opposite idea to what one actually wants, it is easier not to play favorites.
I would like to see someone test this null hypothesis (come up with evidence against):
H0: Alcohol abuse is socially acceptable in Bethel and the Y-K Delta
Look for evidence such as the radio station’s playlists (how many songs about drinking, drunkenness, looking for “girls” despite our high rate of child abuse); joking; number of employees and salaries at Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corp. that deal directly (behavioral health) or indirectly (emergency room, community health aides, clerks, dentists) with alcohol abuse; number of employees, salaries, and costs associated with the correctional and judicial system; number of police and state troopers stationed and salaries and equipment; number of times “I was intoxicated” is used for mitigating circumstances; number of times people use “drinking” in the same sentence as “party”; number of times people who don’t drink allow those who are into their house; number of missions and church workers who deal directly or indirectly; number of school district employees and salaries who deal directly (counselors) and indirectly (teachers); et al.; number of grants and overhead that deal directly or indirectly; etc.
Additional Readings: (My complete list of Readings for Sciencing is also trapped in the backlog.
But I promise that will be next. http://13c4.wordpress.com/2007/08/04/readings-for-quantitative-analysis-and-interpretation/)
Platt (1964) [pdf file] Strong inference. Science, 146, 347-353.
Chamberlin, TC (1965) [pdf file] The method of multiple working hypotheses. Science, 148, 754-759.
Cohen (1990) [pdf file] Things I have learned (so far). American Psychologist, 45, 1304-1312.
Loftus, G. (1996) [pdf file] Psychology will be a much better science when we change the way we analyze data. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 5, 161-171.
Wickens, T. D. (2002) [pdf file] Elementary Signal Detection Theory. New York: Oxford University Press. [Chap 1; Chap 2 (sections 2.1-2.3); Chap. 3 (sections 3.1-3.3)]
Howell, D.C. (2002). Statistical Methods for Psychology, Chapter 18. Resampling and Nonparametric Approaches to Data (pp. 692-719).
City council introduces alcohol delivery site
by Shane Iverson
The Bethel City Council narrowly voted in favor of introducing an ordinance aimed at creating a city controlled Alcohol Delivery Site. Ordnance #05-16, titled “Bethel Alcohol Delivery Site,” calls for the City to create a single site for which all alcohol must be imported to and picked up from.
The intention of the bill is to reduce access of alcohol to residents of dry villages, as well as to Bethel residents convicted of violent felonies or other alcohol related crimes. After hearing over 2 hours of public testimony, the City Council voted 4-3 in favor of introducing the ordinance.
Voting in favor was Mayor Hugh Dyment, council members Thor Williams, Dan Leinberger and newly-elected council member Mary Kenick. Opposition votes came from council members David Trantham, Andy McGowan and Acting Vice-Mayor Tundy Rodgers.
The most common argument was that the availability of alcohol in Bethel and in outlying villages had devastating consequences and ensuring that only responsible Bethel citizens could import alcohol may be part of the solution.
Most speakers sited a belief that tighter city controls and monitoring of alcohol importation will reduce crime and other social ails. A similar delivery site in Barrow immediately reduced crime rates by 5%. The region’s high rates of domestic violence, sexual assault, deaths by homicide, suicide and accidents, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) were the most common concerns.
Though few believe bootlegging activities would be eradicated, the hope of these citizens was that potential black market dealers will find the business more difficult and less lucrative. “I have heard the bootleggers are very weary that they may be out of business,” commented Sipary in reference to the delivery site.
Members of the Alaska State Troopers and the Bethel Police Department were on hand to support the ordinance. The common sentiment was that they are over-burdened by the current level and nature of crime linked directly to alcohol abuse.
All three of the council members who voted against the motion sited the plan had not been sufficiently developed.
Mayor Dyment, who introduced the ordinance to the City Council, admitted there is more work to be done before it passes. “I can already think of three amendments to add,” he conceded, but added that by introducing the ordinance the Council can now focus on a more comprehensive plan.
Council member Williams added it is the job of the city manager to develop many of the specific details.
Exactly how the city would pay for the delivery site is unclear.
“There is no way we know if this is going to work, but we’re never going to know if we don’t try,” concluded Lt. Achee.
Alcohol and the Community: A Systems Approach to Prevention
Review Alcohol and the Community: A Systems Approach to Prevention.: By Harold Holder. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 1999
“Within the community network, certain interacting subsystems have been identified, which are natural groupings of factors that research has shown to be important in the understanding of alcohol use. These are: (1) consumption subsystem: alcohol use as part of routine community life; (2) retail sales subsystem: alcohol availability and promotion; (3) formal regulation and control subsystem: rules, administration, and enforcement; (4) social normals subsystem: community values and social influences that affect drinking; (5) legal sanctions subsystem: prohibitive uses of alcohol; (6) social, economic, and health consequences subsystem: community identification of, and organized responses to, alcohol problems.
A chapter is dedicated to each of these subsystems. Most communities will have some data which can be fed into the analysis, while other elements will be more speculative. In the end, it should be possible for the analyst to predict the outcome of changes to any or indeed all of these subsystems. The arguments advanced are compelling and should encourage those responsible for developing alcohol strategies to look at these components and either develop their own computer model or consult with those already in existence. There are several illustrations of the SimCom simulation in action. A lingering question which remains unanswered is how to establish the credibility of this approach, so that it gains acceptance as part of the routine planning process within a community. Public and political acceptance and support for any system of intervention is crucial and may be hard to achieve particularly when pet theories or Corporate interests are being challenged or threatened. Unfortunately, it may always be easier to pursue familiar pathways, however unrewarding. In Holder’s conclusions, ‘Final Thoughts from a Heretic’, he states that the field of alcohol problem prevention should abandon high risk and target group approaches. ‘We will never purposefully prevent nor substantially reduce alcohol-involved problems by simply treating heavy dependent drinkers’. Likewise identification and targeting of groups within the community, typically young people, will, he believes, result in a similar failure.
Alcohol use disorders (AUDs)
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/543758_print (free registration required)
Diagnosis of Alcohol Dependence, Hugh Myrick, MD
Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health. 2006;11(2) ©2006 Medscape
Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are a subset of substance-related disorders characterized by either recurrent, excessive drinking that impairs function and leads to negative physical, legal, or social sequelae (alcohol abuse); or by physiologic dependence — with associated tolerance and withdrawal — and continued use despite knowledge of the physiologic and social psychological ramifications of continued drinking (alcohol dependence).
AUDs — often collectively termed alcoholism
Was It Alcohol or Anti-Semitism Talking?
Doctors disagree on whether Mel Gibson’s alleged comments reflected actual beliefs.
By Thomas H. Maugh II, LA Times Staff Writer, August 1, 2006
Behavior experts were split Monday on whether the alleged anti-Semitic comments of Mel Gibson were a reflection of his beliefs or simply gibberish induced by intoxication — the alcohol talking, in other words.
Remarks such as those Gibson is alleged to have made are “not a product of alcohol,” … The content of any comments is in a person’s head, “in his opinion structure.”
Others, however, argue that gross intoxication can lead to a free association of ideas that are unrelated to an individual’s true character… “Basically, the person talks gibberish … and can behave in a very bizarre way,” …”They might not even be certain of what they are saying. They don’t understand what they are saying, and they don’t mean what they are saying,” Johnson said.
That argument has persisted in the profession for many years and is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, experts said.
…research has shown that at moderate levels (the legal limit for driving is 0.08% in California), alcohol releases what are known as prepotent responses — beliefs, thoughts and actions that an individual would normally try to suppress.
“Alcohol doesn’t produce new behaviors,” he said. “It releases things that people believe or know…. It exaggerates the personality of the individual.”… There is no shortage of expert opinions on the drinker who is highly intoxicated: Sussman cautioned that some drunks deliberately say things they don’t believe in order to be belligerent or to produce a particular response. […]
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