Smart people drink more

It’s an assumption I’ve always held and one that really just seems self-evident: The smarter you are, the more you drink.

No, really.

A study conducted using data from the National Child Development Study in the United Kingdom and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the United States, found that intelligent people really do drink more alcohol.

The specifics of the study, as handily summarized by someone called Ian O’Neill from Discovery News, were as follows:

By tracking the intelligence of children under the age of 16 and then revisiting them as adults, it turned out that kids who were considered “more bright” than others in their age group ended up drinking more alcohol later in life.

And, while it seems like a conclusion that one might be able to quickly to debunk by looking at any number of other possible factors, the study was fairly thorough in controlling other elements (I mean they are scientists, after all). In fact, the study included controls for all of the following factors:

  • gender
  • race
  • ethnicity
  • religion
  • marital status
  • number of children
  • parental status
  • education
  • earnings
  • depression
  • satisfaction with life
  • frequency of socialization with friends
  • number of recent sex partners
  • childhood social class
  • mother’s and father’s education
  • political attitudes
  • taking medication for stress
  • experience of stress without taking medication
  • childhood family income.

Meaning most people (seriously, google it) are willing to accept it as a legitimate fact that the smarter you are as a kid, the more often you will drink as an adult.

Not only that, but the study shows that the smarter you are as a kid, the more likely you are to drink large quantities of alcohol. Specifically, more intelligent people are more likely to engage in “binge drinking” which is defined by a bunch of pussies who claim that means consuming five or more drinks in a row.

What’s not clear from the myriad scientific essays I’ve just wasted my morning reading is why.

The closest any of these scientific-types came to offering a reason for the findings was an essay I read in The Scientific Fundamentalist that claims that smart people drink more because it’s “evolutionarily novel.” That is, the consumption of alcohol is a relatively new development for our species, thus smarter people are more likely to get into it first.

I’m no scientist, but it seems clear to me that this conclusion is, scientifically speaking, shitty as all hell. The drug bath salts is a pretty new phenomenon, as is, evolutionarily speaking, the music of One Direction. However, you don’t see a lot of smart people eating each other’s faces while waiting in line to buy the album, Take Me Home

Instead, I’ll offer my own cynical, highly unscientific (and perhaps overly autobiographical) hypotheses on why smart people drink more.

  1. They need to.  The world can occasionally be a pretty shitty place. A greater than average capacity to comprehend the general shittiness of this place might drive someone toward mood-enhancers by design.
  2. They need to. Dumb people are easily amused (see: the success of Adam Sandler, the existence of Buzz Feed). Smart people? Not so much. More intelligent folks might then prefer a nice martini or a cold beer to help them have a good time whereas dumber folks might be perfectly happy with…I don’t know, a sock?

Conclusion? You don’t drink too much, you’re a fucking genius.

Other conclusion? Perhaps these studies lend themselves to questioning the suitability for office of politicians who might seek to make the consumption and sale of alcohol more difficult…

What do you think of the results of this study? Why do smart people drink more?

3 thoughts on “Smart people drink more

  1. Being an occasional smart person myself, I would like to believe that… Wait back up, being an occasional drinker myself, I would like to believe that it is due to my intelligence rather than any moral or otherwise human failing. Drinking is caused by intelligence rather than the other way round.

    In reality, there are many reasons that humans use mind altering drugs and poisons to amuse themselves, Novelty does seem to be a good one. It does not inform why we continue to do it after umpteen times. I’m partial to the idea that it dulls the senses and allows you to stop being so analytical and critical and lets you chill. So, while I jokingly refer to alcohol and colds to making you so dopey that you feel normal, there is a bit of truth to the idea that people who are smart can use alcohol as a reason to make stupid decisions; a crutch and amusement in one

    But that is just one opinion after a few drinks. Woo hoo, it’s Tuesday.

  2. You can’t make the people around you smarter but you can make yourself stupider in order to be able to tolerate all the dumb-asses around you.

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