Friday, 2 March 2012

Good news about good drinking

Since drinking is in the news again, courtesy of Jesse Ryder drinking enough to attract the Herald’s sub-editors, perhaps (I thought) I could help redress the balance a little bit from the usual headlines suggesting “drinking is bad” “drinking is dangerous” “drinking should be banned.”

So here’s two recent pieces of research on this important topic that never made the Herald, indicating drinking can be good. I offer them to you as a public service.First, alcohol encourages creativity; or, as Science News reports, “a boozy glow may trigger problem-solving sights”:

A moderate alcoholic high loosens a person’s focus of attention, making it easier to find connections among remotely related ideas, [psychology graduate student Andrew Jarosz of the University of Illinois at Chicago and his colleagues] propose online January 28 in Consciousness and Cognition

The reason suggested is simple enough: drinking alcohol “lowers the ability to control one’s thoughts,” allowing the drinker to jump outside his canalised ways of thinking about a problem and finding instead new and more inventive ways to think about it.  Sounds like a more fun way to solve a problem than sitting in a room “brainstorming” about it.

    Jarosz and University of Illinois psychologist Jennifer Wiley, a study coauthor, suspect their finding applies to musical and artistic inspiration. “A composer or artist fixated on previous work may indeed find creative benefits from intoxication,” they say.

Composers, artists and writers through the ages from Aristophanes to Mozart to Hemingway would undoubtedly agree with them—as would anyone who’s ever jotted down a great idea produced while wetting their throat in the pub.

One word of warning about this, however. People don't think as clearly when their bladders are full.

Second, in further news that will astonish those who write the Herald’s headlines, "People who consume alcohol earn significantly more at their jobs than non-drinkers..."

The study published in the Journal of Labor Research concluded drinkers earn 10 to 14 percent more than teetotalers, and that men who drink socially bring home an additional seven percent in pay.
    "Social drinking builds social capital," said Edward Stringham, an economics professor at San Jose State University and co-author of the study with fellow researcher Bethany Peters.
    "Social drinkers are out networking, building relationships, and adding contacts to their BlackBerries that result in bigger paychecks" …
    The researchers found some differences in the economic effects of drinking among men and women. They concluded that men who drink earn 10 percent more than abstainers and women drinkers earn 14 percent more than non-drinkers.

Good news all round really.

But it must be countered with another word of warning: apparently drinking could also make you carry a Blackberry. Perhaps because you’ve been blinded by endorphins.

So it’s not all good.

[Hat tip Geek Press]

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