April 16, 2007

TIME TO LOWER THE DRINKING AGE, according to “a new chorus of critics.” I agree. Excerpt:

The first is that the age set by the legislation is basically arbitrary. The U.S. has the highest drinking age in the world (a title it shares with Indonesia, Mongolia, Palau). The vast majority of the rest of the world sets the minimum age at 17 or 16 or has no minimum age at all.

Supporters of the federal minimum argue that the human brain continues developing until at least the age of 21.

Alcohol expert Dr. David Hanson of the State University of New York at Potsdam argues such
assertions reek of junk science. They’re extrapolated from a study on lab mice, he explains, as well as from a small sample of actual humans already dependent on alcohol or drugs. Neither is enough to make broad proclamations about the entire population.

If the research on brain development is true, the U.S. seems to be the only country to have caught on to it.

Oddly enough, high school students in much of the rest of the developed world — where lower drinking ages and laxer enforcement reign — do considerably better than U.S. students on standardized tests.

In our podcast interview, Prof. Robert Epstein called the “teenage brain” claims “scientific fraud.” Read the whole thing.

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