In This Naked Mind, Annie Grace sets out to start a new trend in society – an alcohol-free one. Subtitled, Control Alcohol: Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life, Grace uses her own experience as a starting place for examining our culture’s complicated relationship with alcohol.
Let me start by saying, I think a lot of what Annie Grace lays out in This Naked Mind is absolutely true. Our society is obsessed with alcohol to the point where non-drinkers can be scoffed at. I would know, I’m married to a non-drinker, and I’ve seen firsthand how, from time to time, people question his decision to not drink.
What is also true is its addictiveness which is often very subtle, making it all the more dangerous. And Grace comes to alcohol from a place of having had a two-bottle-a-night habit. So I 100% understand how she lands in the position that she does.
Grace goes into how successful marketing has been for the alcohol industry, and critiques some of the research about the health benefits, particularly of wine, concluding that it doesn’t actually provide an upside. She alludes to how marketing and research often work together.
Where I think she falls short in This Naked Mind is that she frequently uses logical fallacies to prove her point. While reading it, I kept having flashbacks to my college logic class and all the different types of fallacies to be aware of. Post Hoc, False Dichotomy, and Straw Man are three fallacies she relies on to make many of her points.
No one likes their first taste of alcohol – it’s an acquired taste, which means no one actually enjoys alcohol.
You either don’t drink or you’re dependent on alcohol.
Alcohol dulls your senses which means it prevents real and meaningful interactions.
While these statements can be true, they are not true all of the time. I don’t believe this book would ever hold up to peer review or any thorough scientific review. For this reason, those who don’t want to believe the truth that is present will easily find a way to dismiss all of it.
In full disclosure, I think I am an exception to the false dichotomy she attempts to establish. I’m a moderate drinker who drinks less than I used to (Grace claims that because people develop a tolerance for alcohol, they drink more as time goes on), regularly takes months off from drinking for various reasons, and still enjoys drinking. I don’t think people like me are as rare as Grace thinks, because I could make a list pretty quickly.
That said, I also know those who are more dependent on alcohol than they would ever admit. For that reason, I hope that what Annie Grace is attempting to do in helping people reconsider their drinking habits and examine their relationship with alcohol truly catches on.
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