Secretary's National Conference on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, San Diego, November 1988.
Stanton Debates James Milam
Loran Archer, deputy director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, arranged a debate about the disease theory of alcoholism at the NIAAA's national conference between Stanton and James Milam, author of the Under the Influence. Influence was at the time the bible for disease-theory advocates, claiming as it did that alcoholism was a completely biological phenomenon, and cultural differences were due to inheritance of genes for processing acetaldehyde (a chemical produced in the break-down of alcohol by the body).
The reactions of the speakers and audiences are not included, but the three principal ones were: Stanton's first response following Milam's talk was, "I'm sorry Herb Fingarette couldn't make it, because then your speech would have had some basis in reality - just kidding, Jim"; Stanton pointed out that two groups notable for flushing (due to reduced capacity to digest acetaldehyde) were Japanese and Native Americans, the first group with the lowest alcoholism rate in America, the second the highest; and Riley Regan (whom Stanton mentioned as the head of alcoholism services in his home state, New Jersey) rose with the first comment from the audience: "I am embarrassed and ashamed that we have sunk so low as to allow Stanton Peele to speak at our conference."
Milam had previously written of me: "Stanton Peele is a liar. He's in total denial of science and has been completely shut out of the scientific community."