Further Reading

Ken Blum, discoverer of the "gene for alcoholism," is a fraud!

I thought I saw your criticism of Blum on your website or it was on drctalk. I couldn't find it on your site. Please put it on your site.


Dear Scott,

Ken Blum is a University of Texas pharmacologist who in 1990, along with former NIAAA director Ernest Noble, claimed to discover an allele that genetically determined alcoholism for approximately three-quarters of alcoholics. The claim was preposterous on its face; even those (like Enoch Gordis) who strongly support genetic determination of alcoholism looked askance at the Blum-Noble claim.

Kenneth Blum

Once, at a conference I attended with Ken, I hawked copies of a newsletter I did entitled, "Ken Blum is a Fraud." Do you know the guy actually markets a vitamin/enzyme mixture that he says cures cocaine and other drug addictions, alcoholism, and obesity (it obviously doesn't cure hair loss, if you look at the rug he wears). Since (at least previously) vitamin mixtures were not subject to FDA approval, Ken could make any claims he wished for his elixir.

If you're wondering whether Ken will sue me for this, do recall that Ken is the only person in the alcoholism/addiction field who has ever threatened to sue me, which he did based on a negative review I wrote of his ridiculous book, "Alcohol and The Addictive Brain". In it, Ken claims he will cure obesity, alcoholism, and sexual compulsion (among other things) within another ten years! The book is written in the breathless style of "The Double Helix," as though he were on the threshold of winning the Noble Prize.

In general, Ken is an example of how, if you label things genetic, you are guaranteed some kind of audience, no matter how ludicrous your claims. His is the kind of bad science that flares up, then disappears in a few year without a trace.