Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cart or the horse?

In wholly un-Christmassy news: Blackwater a private security firm operating (among other places) in Iraq is being sued for excessive use of force.. not really anything too far fetched for ex-military working for foreign nationals in the private sector (what some folks would call mercenaries, but for some reason that's a term frowned upon by Blackwater themselves).
The big news is that a number of these guys are using steroids, which according to litigators and the media is causing them to use excessive deadly force.
I'm no expert. I have never taken anabolic steroids, I do know a number of people who have. Were they more aggressive, yes. Did they go to the front of the line when it's not their turn, yes. Did they tell people to "shove it" more often than polite decorum allows, significantly. Were they more prone to cutting people off in traffic, or flipping them the bird, much. Did they fly into a murderous rage and kill dozens of people without provocation.. uh no. Was their behavior much different before they started using steroids, no.
That aside, I think it is a significantly unreasonable leap to go from "more aggressive" in clinical terms to "excessive use of deadly force."
If steroids caused this level of "aggression" (to use the term very loosely) then there is at least anecdotal evidence to suggest that law enforcement in this country would have similar issues.
This sort of spurious leaps of logic also discount the problematic issue of commonality vs causality. Did the 'roids force these guys to lose control, or are they individuals with a propensity for violence and thus attracted to drugs that will allow them a greater capacity for violence? I'd be willing to bet on the latter, but the truth is no one can say for sure.
There is a huge gap in knowledge from the "athletic community" (athletes, coaches, and trainers) who have been using these drugs for decades, and the medical community who have been testing in small doseages that most of the former group can attest "won't do a goddamn thing." Until that gap is closed, and the anecdotal evidence and evidence from true scientific studies are correlated there will be no facts about steroids (particularly their effect on behavior) only opinions.

On this same subject Mark Bell of team supertraining is involved in a documentary on steroid use premiering at Sundance. Considering the source it'll probably be an honest look at life with steroids. I hope I get a chance to see it.

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