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Monday, June 27, 2011


I enjoy, but can take or leave alcohol. In my immediate family this seems to be sex-linked, since my sister is also free of addictions, but all my brothers struggle with booze, tobacco and other substances.

I am not proud of my freedom from alcohol and tobacco, but God, am I grateful! I am also grateful to be free of the urge to tell other people they could ditch their bad habits if only they cared enough. That specific circular argument helps no one, while sounding superficially plausible enough to add a very sticky self-hating guilt to all the other problems addicted people have.

I am glad every time I read more research on the biochemical underpinnings of addictions and other mental and behavioural ailments. We are making progress.

But I bet such research would go ten times as fast if we could get rid of the prigs whose failings don't happen to fall among the ones that law and current social fashions proscribe.



The commenter who said addiction is caused by lack of willpower and moral failure probably has a few of his own issues. Resentment of his own alcoholic father/mother?


yes, grateful rather than proud seems right.

Luck is not a virtue. I think that is right enough. But some of our weaknesses are genetically linked: propensities for developing certain diseases; abilities to think and reason in abstractions;simple logic and its power to make rudimentary engineers out of the least mathematically inclined among us. Whether genetics is a matter of luck may be arguable. Or not. I think N. N. Taleb hit upon something with his Black Swan hypothesis. What it was that he hit upon, I am not yet certain.

Amendment: the final two examples in my assessment of luck and genetics were not intended to be considered as weaknesses. My apologies. It has been a long day...

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