Do Intelligent People Drink More?

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson

Here’s a recent story from Discovery News as Liz Day writes:

The next time you’re inclined to enjoy an extra glass of wine, consider that it may be a reflection of your intelligence.

That is one of the findings from data from the National Child Development Study in the United Kingdom and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the United States.

Childhood intelligence, measured before the age of 16, was categorized in five cognitive classes, ranging from “very dull,” “dull,” “normal,” “bright” and “very bright.”

The Americans were revisited seven years later. The British youths, on the other hand, were followed in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Researchers measured their drinking habits as the participants became older.

More intelligent children in both studies grew up to drink alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children. In the Brits’ case, “very bright” children grew up to consume nearly eight-tenths of a standard deviation more alcohol than their “very dull” cohorts.

Read More on Discovery News

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  • Alex

    And then the “more intelligent” become the “oh so dull” part of the nation, eating charity food and living in a dumpster, so whats the point of this post really? :D

    • http://artofworldywisdom.blogspot.com oldsicily

      Wait, what?

      • Alex

        The idea is – this post claims intelligent people drink more, and from what I see – those intelligent people turn dumb-fuck in a few years, or at least I come to see that they have much less potential than they had in earlier days :) turn in any way you like – alchohol degrades brain cells at dramatic levels, the more you drink – the more brain of yours dies. A simple, unmistakeable fact

        • GUEST

          I’ve been drinking for 15 years. I finished a Master’s degree 1 year ago and am now working on another (while working a full-time job as an application designer). I’m doing better in school 15 years after I began drinking than before I drank. Odd, that alcohol gives me less potential, yet I am doing MUCH more with my life WITH alcohol than I ever did WITHOUT it.

          • Ali

            I bet alcohol makes you a better driver too.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            I’m more inclined to believe that alcohol really only does damage in excess (as in waking up in a bathtub sort of excess). Sure its probably not a good idea to drive on a significant amount, but i would expect there are numerous mentally, and if done correctly, socially beneficial aspects of alcohol that just aren’t scientifically measured. The obvious things of “drinking a handle of jack every night, you might destroy your liver and brain” are socially expanded to the idea “a drop will kill you”.

            I’ve always seen alcohol as something that quiets the analytical mind for a moment, freeing processing time for more social processes, thus increasing receptiveness to other people’s minds and opinions (for better or worse in the case of maybe a nice bar brawl).

    • http://twitter.com/praticuschaotic John Doe

      ^”Very dull”.

  • Alex

    And then the “more intelligent” become the “oh so dull” part of the nation, eating charity food and living in a dumpster, so whats the point of this post really? :D

  • http://artofworldywisdom.blogspot.com oldsicily

    Wait, what?

  • Alex

    The idea is – this post claims intelligent people drink more, and from what I see – those intelligent people turn dumb-fuck in a few years, or at least I come to see that they have much less potential than they had in earlier days :) turn in any way you like – alchohol degrades brain cells at dramatic levels, the more you drink – the more brain of yours dies. A simple, unmistakeable fact

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Has anyone looked at the people that crowd this planet? Jesus Christ…the smart ones who drink are just exercising the restraint necessary to offset a potential heroin habit. I look out at Planet Walmart and the Palin-ettes…and a shot of smack, a pack of Camels and some Glenfiddich 12yr looks like a great fucking idea!

    • Alex

      1. You dont have to be smart to drink (actually, lot of dumb people I know drink more than anyone else because they too, in fact, suffer in this mess). 2. If youre wise enough, you will choose a safer alternative. Hold your breath for a moment – its Cannabis, all yee who agree – say Aye! :))

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Has anyone looked at the people that crowd this planet? Jesus Christ…the smart ones who drink are just exercising the restraint necessary to offset a potential heroin habit. I look out at Planet Walmart and the Palin-ettes…and a shot of smack, a pack of Camels and some Glenfiddich 12yr looks like a great fucking idea!

  • E.B. Wolf

    Is anybody actually surprised by this? When a truly intelligent person looks at the world around them and sees what the Greedheads (still the most accurate description, Doc) have made of it, is it any wonder they tend to seek numbness in one form or another?

    • http://twitter.com/praticuschaotic John Doe

      Or seek to at least temporarily lower themselves into a different understanding so that they can at least try to be “normal” for at least a brief while.

      /hungover…too much jager, not enough “bomb” last night.

  • E.B. Wolf

    Is anybody actually surprised by this? When a truly intelligent person looks at the world around them and sees what the Greedheads (still the most accurate description, Doc) have made of it, is it any wonder they tend to seek numbness in one form or another?

  • Al Cole Hall

    Hear yea! Hear yea! All thee whom wisheth to be wise, thou musteth showereth your guzzle with liquor and wine! As thy intelligence bloom in the brain its groom, the dry man will wither within little time. The Mississippi of Makers & the Nile of Newcastles will run its course so that thy wit may sprout in force. Water with vodka, fertilize with budweiser, your mind has the strength of legions of panzer. So when the teetotaler dost cometh, render him asunder with thy thunder; a shot from Jim, a shot from Jack, a shot from Jose.

    —Brought to you by the Alcohol Pushers of America—–E=IMSMARTRTHANTHEE²———————————–

  • Al Cole Hall

    Hear yea! Hear yea! All thee whom wisheth to be wise, thou musteth showereth your guzzle with liquor and wine! As thy intelligence bloom in the brain its groom, the dry man will wither within little time. The Mississippi of Makers & the Nile of Newcastles will run its course so that thy wit may sprout in force. Water with vodka, fertilize with budweiser, your mind has the strength of legions of panzer. So when the teetotaler dost cometh, render him asunder with thy thunder; a shot from Jim, a shot from Jack, a shot from Jose.

    —Brought to you by the Alcohol Pushers of America—–E=IMSMARTRTHANTHEE²———————————–

  • Rooti

    The more you learn about how this world really works, as opposed to what we are taught in school and brainwashed with on TV, the more you need to drink.

  • Rooti

    The more you learn about how this world really works, as opposed to what we are taught in school and brainwashed with on TV, the more you need to drink.

  • Alex

    1. You dont have to be smart to drink (actually, lot of dumb people I know drink more than anyone else because they too, in fact, suffer in this mess). 2. If youre wise enough, you will choose a safer alternative. Hold your breath for a moment – its Cannabis, all yee who agree – say Aye! :))

  • chinagreenelvis

    Um, this would be a reflection of how bright you were deemed to be before the age of sixteen. It measures adult drinking habits against perceived intelligence as a child according to the standards set forth in whatever methods they used to test those children.

    It says nothing substantial or objective about adult intelligence in correlation to alcohol consumption.

  • chinagreenelvis

    Um, this would be a reflection of how bright you were deemed to be before the age of sixteen. It measures adult drinking habits against perceived intelligence as a child according to the standards set forth in whatever methods they used to test those children.

    It says nothing substantial or objective about adult intelligence in correlation to alcohol consumption.

  • http://twitter.com/praticuschaotic Jon Doe

    ^”Very dull”.

  • http://twitter.com/praticuschaotic Jon Doe

    Or seek to at least temporarily lower themselves into a different understanding so that they can at least try to be “normal” for at least a brief while.

    /hungover…too much jager, not enough “bomb” last night.

  • Cultureshock

    I’d have to agree, I certainly feel that most people are less dull when they drink.

  • Cultureshock

    I’d have to agree, I certainly feel that most people are less dull when they drink.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Interesting notion.

    Sometimes I think, though, that the idea of a single type of “intelligence” may be too simplistic. It could well be that you have your “academic smarts”, in terms of being able to navigate rarified abstract concepts, “emotional intelligence”, in terms of being able to read and appropriately respond to the feelings of other individuals, and “social intelligence”, in terms of appreciating and being able to manipulate the subtler polemical contours of society as a whole.

    Maybe I’m being overly reductive, but I’m inclined to view any of those more as “raw animal cunning” rather than “true intelligence”, unless accompanied by a deep awareness of one’s own biases and modes of perception in context. I’m likely to believe that this distinction accounts for the uncanny popularity of walking shitstains like George W. Bush or Jack Welch, despite what is generously described as “mixed results” of their legacies in objective terms.

    And this is where alcohol and other drugs come into play: They undermine the ego. True self awareness requires a steady dismantling of the sterile ego structures people erect between themselves and their full perceptual capacities. If you have enough raw animal cunning, tippling a bit now and then will allow you to glimpse over the wall into new fields of possibility; if not, it’ll just come down crashing in on your head.

    Love the Thompson photo, especially. That guy was more genius than most of us can probably appreciate. Every time I re-read his shit I pick up something new.

    • Andrew

      I agree totally with your first two paragraphs. However I’ve known several alcoholics and addicts who used the drugs to blind them to their true selves and their egos were completely out of control.

      • Liam_McGonagle

        Agreed.

        There seems to be some elusive quality within a person that causes him or her to act in a consciousness expanding way where others would just full apart into utter incoherent egomaniacal bullshit under more-or-less identicle circumstances. I just think that alcohol or drugs could accelerate that decision process more quickly than many other events.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Interesting notion.

    Sometimes I think, though, that the idea of a single type of “intelligence” may be too simplistic. It could well be that you have your “academic smarts”, in terms of being able to navigate rarified abstract concepts, “emotional intelligence”, in terms of being able to read and appropriately respond to the feelings of other individuals, and “social intelligence”, in terms of appreciating and being able to manipulate the subtler polemical contours of society as a whole.

    Maybe I’m being overly reductive, but I’m inclined to view any of those more as “raw animal cunning” rather than “true intelligence”, unless accompanied by a deep awareness of one’s own biases and modes of perception in context. I’m likely to believe that this distinction accounts for the uncanny popularity of walking shitstains like George W. Bush or Jack Welch, despite what is generously described as “mixed results” of their legacies in objective terms.

    And this is where alcohol and other drugs come into play: They undermine the ego. True self awareness requires a steady dismantling of the sterile ego structures people erect between themselves and their full perceptual capacities. If you have enough raw animal cunning, tippling a bit now and then will allow you to glimpse over the wall into new fields of possibility; if not, it’ll just come down crashing in on your head.

    Love the Thompson photo, especially. That guy was more genius than most of us can probably appreciate. Every time I re-read his shit I pick up something new.

  • Andrew

    I agree totally with your first two paragraphs. However I’ve known several alcoholics and addicts who used the drugs to blind them to their true selves and their egos were completely out of control.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Agreed.

    There seems to be some elusive quality within a person that causes him or her to act in a consciousness expanding way where others would just full apart into utter incoherent egomaniacal bullshit under more-or-less identicle circumstances. I just think that alcohol or drugs could accelerate that decision process more quickly than many other events.

  • GUEST

    I’ve been drinking for 15 years. I finished a Master’s degree 1 year ago and am now working on another (while working a full-time job as an application designer). I’m doing better in school 15 years after I began drinking than before I drank. Odd, that alcohol gives me less potential, yet I am doing MUCH more with my life WITH alcohol than I ever did WITHOUT it.

  • Meow

    My nutsack hurts.

  • Meow

    My nutsack hurts.

  • Joanna

    It could also be related to income levels.

  • Joanna

    It could also be related to income levels.

  • DeepCough

    Hey, thinking makes your head hurt. Sometimes you need a drink; and a smoke; and a bump; and a hit; and snort; and so on and so forth.

  • DeepCough

    Hey, thinking makes your head hurt. Sometimes you need a drink; and a smoke; and a bump; and a hit; and snort; and so on and so forth.

  • Ali

    I bet alcohol makes you a better driver too.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    I’m more inclined to believe that alcohol really only does damage in excess (as in waking up in a bathtub sort of excess). Sure its probably not a good idea to drive on a significant amount, but i would expect there are numerous mentally, and if done correctly, socially beneficial aspects of alcohol that just aren’t scientifically measured. The obvious things of “drinking a handle of jack every night, you might destroy your liver and brain” are socially expanded to the idea “a drop will kill you”.

    I’ve always seen alcohol as something that quiets the analytical mind for a moment, freeing processing time for more social processes, thus increasing receptiveness to other people’s minds and opinions (for better or worse in the case of maybe a nice bar brawl).

  • http://thefirstchurchofmutterhals.blogspot.com/ mutterhals

    It’s hard work carting around this big brain, I need a drink sometimes.

  • http://thefirstchurchofmutterhals.blogspot.com/ mutterhals

    It’s hard work carting around this big brain, I need a drink sometimes.

  • Pingback: Do Intelligent People Drink More? | Brilliant

  • Braniff

    I didn’t know that Einstein was an earlier version of Otis (the Mayberry town drunk) HAHAHAHAHHA!!!!

  • Braniff

    I didn’t know that Einstein was an earlier version of Otis (the Mayberry town drunk) HAHAHAHAHHA!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V5A5OESE57NVDYHURPETRA4TQ4 mixy

     Eight-tenths of a standard deviation is not enough to safely say that smart people drink more than dull people. Especially since the people in this study were only judged on their intelligence when they were kids.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V5A5OESE57NVDYHURPETRA4TQ4 mixy

     Eight-tenths of a standard deviation is not enough to safely say that smart people drink more than dull people. Especially since the people in this study were only judged on their intelligence when they were kids.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V5A5OESE57NVDYHURPETRA4TQ4 mixy

     Eight-tenths of a standard deviation is not enough to safely say that smart people drink more than dull people. Especially since the people in this study were only judged on their intelligence when they were kids.