Alcohol does not cause promiscuity and violence; your friends do

Or so anthropologist Kate Fox claims in this BBC article. The evidence appears persuasive – in some cultures, when people get drunk they behave in ways that they would never do sober. In others, even very drunk people do not lose their inhibitions. Therefore, she argues, we should not blame the alcohol per se, but in fact blame the way in which our peers react to it. It’s a fascinating theory, which ties in with the work of Christakis and Fowler, among others, on the influence that our peers have on our behaviour.

Maybe one way to tackle antisocial drinking might be to use SNA to identify the influencers for alcohol-related behaviour, and educate/incentivise them to change their behaviour. Another might be to export antisocial drinkers to cultures where such behaviour is not approved of. Now that would be an interesting, if controversial project.