Intelligent People Drink More Alcohol

No, really! A recent study published in Psychology Today states that:

 “Consistent with the prediction of the Hypothesis, more intelligent children, both in the United Kingdom and the United States, grow up to consume alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children.”

Check out this fancy graph that shows the association between childhood intelligence (measured in junior high and high school), and adult alcohol consumption seven years later:

Finally! A legitimate scientific reason for alcoholism–it’s because I’m smart! I’ll drink to that.

This is a guest post by Lauren Lane. She is part of the team putting together the Skepticon convention next week. If you’d like to make a donation to support the largest free skeptic conference in the nation located Springfield, Missouri, you can do so here. We appreciate your support!

About Lauren Lane

Lauren Lane is the co-founder of Skepticon, the Midwest's largest skeptic student-run conference and remains a lead organizer today. She has not one, but TWO fancy art degrees and is not afraid to use them.

  • Dwayne_Windham

    So should I start putting together a subchapter of Mensa called MENSAA that combines people of high IQ with those looking to live sober and stop drinking alcohol? 

    • Revyloution

      As a Spanish speaker,  I always got a laugh out of Mensa.

      In Espanol,  someone who is foolish or stupid is menso.  Unless they are female, where you change the ‘o’ to ‘a’.
      Yup, mensa,  to be a foolish or stupid woman.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      You really going to go with AA and their 12 step program, where you surrender your life to Jesus and beg Him to lift you out of your rock bottom miserable existence so you can glorify Him and sing His praises?

      Go with the FSM program. That would be the smart thing to do and  that way at least, there’ll be marinara sauce. Less praying, too.

  • Richard Wade

    Take a series of intelligence tests over a period of hours as</em you drink, and see if the results fall into an interesting pattern. 

    I guess I'm the moron of my family since I don't drink, but that's because I saw that for generations all the males died of alcoholism before they were 62. I guess they were geniuses.

    I'm 62.

  • Stefan

    Ooops…that article is over 2 years old…I know, it’s really posted as a joke…but I thought some people might take it too seriously.  This response from another Psych Today blog author kind of trashes it: 

  • Gburgatheist

    As my wife says, “the reason intelligent people drink more, is so we can cope better with the unintelligent”

    • Edmond

      This makes sense.  Coping with our bitch of a world would seem to be more difficult when one has a greater and more nuanced capacity for perceiving the details of global (and personal) problems.  More intelligent people would hold more complicated jobs, and might carry a greater sense of responsibility.

      Ignorance really is bliss.

    • Shayne B

      I agree. I cannot deal with people on a daily basis in actually consumption of a beverage that’s smarter than them because it simply does not talk back.

  • Richard Wade

    comment glitch

  • sijd

    “The Hypothesis would therefore predict that more intelligent individuals may be more likely to prefer drinking modern alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, and distilled spirits) than less intelligent individuals, because the substance and the method of consumption are both evolutionarily novel”

    Seriously ? This is evolutionary psychology at its best ..

    • Mike Weber

      Personally I subscribe to the Cliff Clavin theory that drinking actually makes you smarter :)
      “A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

      • Coyotenose

         I watched every episode of Cheers. How in the GOD did I miss such an amazing quote!

  • Richard Wade

    Take an ongoing series of intelligence tests over a period of hours as you drink, and see if the results fall into an interesting pattern.

    I suppose that I’m the family moron since I don’t drink, but that might be because 31 years ago I saw that every male in my family for generations had died of alcoholism before they were 62. They might have been geniuses, but it was hard to tell.

    I’m 62.

  • Silo Mowbray

    Well hell, I guess I’m a freaking GENIUS.

  • Ernest Valdemar

    Well, speaking as a a skeptic alcoholic with a high IQ and a low MMPI score, this fits right in with the Depressive Realism hypothesis.

  • Jonathan Roth

    I was just listening to Billy West (voice of Fry, Zoidberg, Ren and Stimpy) talking about how drugs served as a way to shut the brain up; to STOP thinking when you wanted to… say… sleep. 

    • wmdkitty

      *passes the bong*

      Works for me, man.

      • AxeGrrl

        *hugging my vaporizer*

        ditto :)

    • The Captian

      They also work as a way to think about  problem differently.

  • mikespeir

    Oh, right!  I’ve never had a drop in my life and….

    Okay, maybe I should start.

  • Tim

    Maybe smarter people earn higher wages and can afford to drink more (and better) alcohol?

  • Sindigo
  • Ida Know

    I’m a freak who can’t stand the taste of anything alcoholic.  So I guess that means I shouldn’t even be able to walk upright, much less use a computer.

    • ReadsInTrees

      I’m a freak who, at age 27, has yet to consume an alcoholic drink of any kind. My thinking is that if it SMELLS gross, and kissing people who’ve been drinking tastes gross, and if alcohol in cooking also tastes gross….I’m probably not going to want to drink it. If it’s an acquired taste…why bother acquiring it? My only worry is that all of the women on my mom’s side have had high cholesterol, and the ONLY thing (including medication, diet, and exercize) that worked for my mom was to have a drink every evening. Blech. If this is my fate, then I suppose I’ll have to start drinking. Maybe something fruity like hard lemonade.

      • Richard Wade

        I think you’re wise to pay attention to your body’s initial reaction to the stuff. Alcohol is the liquid waste product of yeast. You know what the word for the liquid waste product of animals is, so that kind of puts the whole thing into perspective.

        Methods of controlling cholesterol are progressing, and I think you’ll be able to find ways to control your level without having to drink fungus piss.

      • chicago dyke, Blonde

        if you think alcohol in fine cooking doesn’t taste good, you’re not doing it right. there are some dishes, very tasty dishes, in which something like cooking sherry or bourbon are required. red wine based meat sauces are heavenly. go to a french restaurant; you’ll change your mind, and you won’t really taste the alcohol. 

        • ReadsInTrees

           It’s the wine taste itself that I don’t like. I just don’t care for the flavor any time I’ve eaten anything cooked with wine or liquor.

          • wmdkitty

            Hmm. Fair enough.

  • Lurker111

    The one positive thing that alcohol does is allow us to bear the company of idiots.  It’s sad but true.

  • Gringa

    What does that say about mormons?

  • smrnda

    I think it might be the money. I can afford to drink, therefore, I do.

    Perhaps I fit the profile of the ‘intelligent drinker’ exactly in that I’m highly educated, have a job that requires lots of specialized training and I’m a total snob when it comes to booze. I also actually like the taste of what I drink.

    From my own time in psychology research, alcohol consumption among the ‘less intelligent’ (however they measured that) may be understated. People who think of themselves as smart are less likely to feel ashamed of drinking, whereas people who have been less educated might be aware that drinking is considered ‘bad’ and they might under-report their own consumption. Ask a guy with just a high school education in a rural state how often he drinks, and he might feel compelled to provide a lower answer.

  • Antinomian

    I always liked Oscar Wilde’s comment; “Work is the curse of the drinking class”.

  • DUI evaluation

    This is really interesting. I just hope you have included details so that we will know the rationale behind this finding. Anyway, I do think that alcohol addiction can hit anyone. So, while you still have the mind to turn it down, say no to alcohol consumption. Thank you for this post.

  • Statistician

    Errr… People forget that the very dull and dull class are people that are not able to take care of themselves (very dull, IQ < 75) or that need assistance (and special work positions) to take part in society (dull, IQ < 90). Obviously those people drink less: The first group can't get it in the center that takes care of them, the second group is strongly advised not to do so, often due to combination with medication. Which leaves us with the realization that there's little reason to believe intelligent people drink more, especially because the most intelligent people seem to drink slightly less than the intelligent people.

    The authors were far too creative with statistics, and these things are actually never published in peer reviewed journals. Hence: a big hoax. Good idea though, it gives less intelligent people a good excuse to drink more :D