Monday, 18 October 2010

Alcohol and Domestic Abuse

Further to the report by Alcohol Concern. The report says as follows:
There is no evidence that alcohol plays a direct causal role in domestic abuse, but evidence suggests a strong association between alcohol misuse and violence in the home.
No source is given for this evidence. The only thing it might be is the statement:
Statistics also suggest that alcohol plays a part in around a quarter of known cases of child abuse.
This may be true but it is not true to suggest that alcohol can be used as a predictor of abuse. The same research paper they use to claim that "2.6 million children in the UK are living with parents who are drinking hazardously" also states that only 1.2% of children have witnessed (not necessarily been a victim of) violence in their home as a result of alcohol.

Looking through the list of "Key Statistics" it becomes clear what the approach taken has been. Every statistic linking alcohol to some undesirable outcome is of the form "X% of cases with the undesirable outcome also have the involvement of alcohol".

This is a classic fallacy but one clearly used in this report.

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