Mar
27
2008

Beer and science-what's the connection?

Science marches on: Members of B.U.G., the Beer Users Group, meet to discuss important issues of the day.
Science marches on: Members of B.U.G., the Beer Users Group, meet to discuss important issues of the day.Courtesy mrlerone

Does drinking beer impede scientific progress? Say it ain’t so! But a study published in a Czech journal indicates that the more beer a scientist drinks, the fewer papers they will publish, and the lower quality those papers will be. Given that most scientific discoveries – heck, most human endeavor in any field – is fueled by fermented barley and hops, this came as quite a surprise, and threatened to shake the scientific community to its very foundation.

Fortunately, Chris Mack, a chemical engineer in Austin, Texas, read the paper and found several flaws. First, he reminds us that correlation is not causation – just because two phenomena appear together does not prove that one caused the other. Second, he feels that the sample size in the study is small. But most of all, he notes that the weak correlation between beer drinking and poor publication comes almost entirely from a handful of scientists at the bottom of the scale. Eliminate them from the study, and the rest of the sample shows almost no correlation. As Mack states,

“[T]he entire study came down to only one conclusion: the five worst ornithologists in the Czech Republic drank a lot of beer.”

Our faith in the scientific method restored, we can all sleep easier tonight.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Gene's picture
Gene says:

We are particularly glad to see this issue resolved, given that the original report flew in the face of recent, incontrovertible evidence that drinking beer is good for you.

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:09am
bert123's picture
bert123 says:

that is stupid how are you going to say that just because a scientist drinks beer they dont produce papers? there isnt a direct relation between them. that is like saying just beacuse someone is fat then then they eat more than a skinny person.

IBI Call it what you want IBI

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:13am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I agree with your first point -- there isn't enough evidence to say that beer drinking has any effect, positive or negative, on scientific work.

But I don't follow your second point. In most cases, a fat person does eat more than a skinny person. There is a connection there.

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:52am
Amanda's picture
Amanda says:

so why cant you prove it that they don't combine at all. its understandable that scientists can write poor papers and that how would beer affect them of their writings or discoveries?

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:15am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

You may be right. But, as Chris Mack points out, there is not enough evidence in that one study to support that claim. Yes, it could be that drinking too much leads the scientist to produce poor work. It could also be that the scientist is not very good to begin with, and frustration over his job leads him to drink. Or, it could be something else -- perhaps problems at home -- that both distract him from his work and lead him to drink, without there being any connection between the two activities.

Mack also notes that the study only covered 34 scientists, all ornithologists, all in Czechoslovakia. This is not a big enough study to draw a general conclusion.

Finally, he notes that, while the five heaviest drinkers were also the five least-productive scientists, there was almost no difference between moderate drinkers, light drinkers, and tea-totallers. So, again, a direct linear relationship between beer consumption and scientific output is not supported.

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:58am
montez's picture
montez says:

like wow people make there own choices!!!

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:15am
andyshadexx's picture
andyshadexx says:

is this issue effect on other stuff too? like drinking in college? or people that alot of think does the beer effect them too?

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:18am
Candice_318's picture
Candice_318 says:

teen drinking is very bad

Candice
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posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:20am

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