Volume 93, Issue 101

Friday, April 7, 2000


A big (sarcastic) thank you for letter

Feeling of discrimination excruciating

Xenophobia hurts Jewish groups

Writer on mark, editorial misguided

American inputs his two cents

Misinformed opinions enlightened

Was letter written as complaint or question?

Israeli flag instills pride

A poem on profs

We need study day

Writer on mark, editorial misguided

Re: "Alcohol consumption leads to less sex" and "What happened to logical thoughts?" March 29

To the Editor:

I would like to commend Katy de Vries for her fine summary of the research of Queen's University psychologist Tara MacDonald and others. At the same time, I'd like to chide your unnamed editorial writer for fatuous conclusions regarding the same research.

As Ms. de Vries makes clear, the research by MacDonald et al. showed that intoxicated people are more sensitive to positive and negative cues in the environment than sober individuals. For example, intoxicated people are more likely to be disposed to engage in unprotected sex when cues like happy faces are apparent, but less likely when cues such as "AIDS kills" are salient.

The editorial writer called the study ludicrous and made other unflattering remarks about researchers and science, based on observations deriving from repeated trips to local bars. Perhaps the editorial writer should consider the possibility that the cues in bars are more likely to resemble the "happy face" condition in MacDonald et al's study than the "AIDS kills" condition.

MacDonald et al never suggested the conclusion drawn by the editorial, "That's right kids – drink all you want because according to these experts, those rum and cokes benefit your logical thought processes."

MacDonald's et al's study not only increases our understanding of the effects of alcohol on information processing but also suggests a simple procedure for positively influencing people to avoid unsafe sex.

Hardly the type of study that deserves ridicule, especially in a university where excessive student drinking is not an unknown phenomenon.

Clive Seligman
Psychology Department

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Copyright The Gazette 2000