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Scientists' Success Or Failure Correlated With Beer

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the malt-does-more-than-milton-can dept.

Education 349

mernil sends in an article from the NYTimes that casts a glance at a study done in the Czech Republic (natch) on what divides the successful scientists from the duffers. "Ever since there have been scientists, there have been those who are wildly successful, publishing one well-received paper after another, and those who are not. And since nearly the same time, there have been scholars arguing over what makes the difference. What is it that turns one scientist into more of a Darwin and another into more of a dud? After years of argument over the roles of factors like genius, sex, and dumb luck, a new study shows that something entirely unexpected and considerably sudsier may be at play in determining the success or failure of scientists — beer."

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teh goggles... (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793252)

Scientists' Success Or Failure Correlated With Beer

Oddly enough, that finding carries over to Hookers, as well.

Re:teh goggles... (5, Funny)

space_in_your_face (836916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793334)

But it doesn't exactly apply to programmers [xkcd.com] ...

Re:teh goggles... (5, Funny)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793522)

I like people who think. I think I'll have another beer.

Re:teh goggles... (4, Funny)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793682)

Not so odd, since both science and prostitution are primarily about pleasing elderly men with deep pockets :-)

what is cause and effect? (5, Insightful)

tommeke100 (755660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793254)

Could it be that they drink more because they are unsuccessfull instead of the inverse?

because the correlation just means 3 things:

1) they are unrelated
2) more drinking => bad scientist
3) bad scientist => more drinking

Re:what is cause and effect? (1)

0x000000 (841725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793262)

So really is a self fulfilling prophecy?

An infinite loop if you would?

Re:what is cause and effect? (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793534)

I've heard great sex is also a positive correlation.

Just ask Einstein's wife.

Yup, infinite loop all right... (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793562)

The guy who wrote the paper admits at the end of the article to occasionally "enjoying drinking 12 beers in a night".

I guess that means that his results are dismissable. But then that means his beer drinking should not affect how we look at his results. Which means that his results...

Re:what is cause and effect? (1)

onion_joe (625886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793788)

gave up moderating, but I had to expound: "A man drinks because he finds himself a failure. By drinking he makes it so." wish I could remember the author.

Re:what is cause and effect? (5, Insightful)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793330)

Or maybe it's just that the kind of person who likes to have fun and drink with buddies every now and then is less likely to be an obsessive workaholic, and therefore at least slightly less likely to get a lot of brilliant work done. That's probably too simplistic an assumption, but if this negative correllation between beer consumption and scientific output does exist, I'd wager it boils down to some factor or factors that makes a person more likely to work on their projects and less likely to drink.

Re:what is cause and effect? (5, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793370)

I'll drink to that.

Re:what is cause and effect? (5, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793674)

It doesn't even have to be that simplistic. When I'm working on projects I tend to drink less even if I have the same opportunities to drink beer. Productivity decreases with alcohol, even on personal projects. If you mix into that the fact that for most people drinking is a social thing, there is even less productivity. Serious science takes concentration and attention to detail. Now, lets try to get a correlation to good music and drugs/beer? Aerosmith anyone?

I think they picked two things that don't go well together and blamed the lack of one for the existence of the other. I've seen some evidence that shows good artists are all depressed whackjobs. Of course theoretical physicists have had some social issues too. There are correlations to other things, but we don't quite understand what they are. I think the human brain/body has a lot to do with the chemicals floating around inside it, and definitely when you remove the chemicals they stop working but exactly how they all interact is still a bit more mysterious than saying beer has a direct effect on good science.

Re:what is cause and effect? (4, Interesting)

popmaker (570147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793738)

Oh, yes oh, yes oh, yes!

Also: How many scientists have not been pushed into obsession because lack of companionship? You know Newton never married and never had a girlfriend. He didn't have too many friends either I think. So could not some of his work have been created by a man that had nothing else to do? By someone who is desperately fighting the loneliness that comes creeping up anytime he closes the book?

I have written some of my best things (granted, I'm still just studying for a BS) on a saturday or a friday night. You simply have so much more uninterrupted time to get very heavily into something you are working on. The downside is, of course, loneliness.

Re:what is cause and effect? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793354)

But in no way does this explain the teetotaling creation science type scientists.

Re:what is cause and effect? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793758)

But in no way does this explain the teetotaling creation science type scientists.

Some of those people are clearly leaders in their field, it's just that their chosen field has a lot more to do with creation than science.

Re:what is cause and effect? (5, Funny)

adpsimpson (956630) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793454)

Repeat after me:

Coroloshn...

Corrorro...

Corrorashnisnotcausashn.

There. I sssayed it.

:)

Re:what is cause and effect? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793536)

Oh hai. I'm in ur study stealin ur cawz n fect.

Exactly (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793520)

Studies that make these kinds of leaps are generally BS. It could be that the scientists who don't drink AT ALL are the type AA driven types who don't socialize much at all. Or it could be that the ones who like to go drink are lazy. Or it could be some unknown effect of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The point you make is spot on; the researches need to take a better look at possible causation and not jump to conclusions.

Re:Exactly (1)

popmaker (570147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793762)

Seeing as the FSM created the universe drunk, he would probably have more empathy with those who drink alot. Which would mean that all the best scientists in history would have been alcoholics.

Goatse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793550)

Goatse [twofo.co.uk]

You nerd faggots love it.

Re:what is cause and effect? (1)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793646)

You may also suspect that in environments where productivity is not to highly valued, such as a place with less reputation to maintain, too much resources, or just sloppy culture, there will be more socializing and less work.

(We tend to see this here in Norway I think, with a generation of "oil-drugged" young people and a society where everything works out alright no matter what)

I'm not sure if the article meant that all top scientists abstain from drinking beer though. That would be even more interesting. "Say it ain't so!" ;)

Re:what is cause and effect? (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793678)

You forgot the most important

4) common cause is the root of both.

Altered states (1)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793258)

If there was any truth to this idea it would lie in the promotion of creativity via altered states.

RTFA, it's the opposite (4, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793560)

Actually, the summary is kinda misleading in that it doesn't say that they actually discovered an _inverse_ correlation. The _less_ beer you drink, the more likely you are to have your work published in some peer reviewed journal.

So basically what it says is: altered states won't actually make you more creative. Or at least not alcohol and not in science.

So basically put down the bong, lay off the booze, and get some honest sober work done, if you're in science. Maybe being drunk and/or stoned off your arse works for arts, I wouldn't know, you may stick to that myth for now. But if you want to discover the next particle, apparently nothing beats having the neurons working normally, without other crap interfering with your synapses and clouding your judgment.

Can't say it's that surprising, really. I can even imagine how if you're, say a painter, you could get the colourful vision for your next painting while you're on acid. But science is less about crazy ideas and more about maths, evaluating those ideas based on critical cause->effect thinking, and the like. And it's getting more abstract by the year. And I can tell you first hand, that at least being drunk (no idea about other altered states) doesn't really help you with maths and logic. _Maybe_ being too drunk to draw a straight line helps when painting some modern art stuff, but not with science.

Re:RTFA, it's the opposite (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793632)

So basically put down the bong, lay off the booze, and get some honest sober work done, if you're in science

And get off slashdot and get back to work? :-)

Re:RTFA, it's the opposite (3, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793734)

What I find interesting is that the article makes it seem like this is some ridiculous myth and there is no justification to believe it.

Personally I would not be surprised to see that it is alcohol consumption rather than beer that is the problem. Alcohol is a poison that some individuals consume readily and it would not surprise me a bit to discover that it has long term affects on the body and mind. I suspect it has more to do with the brain than science specifically but the effect may be subtle and show itself more readily in a hard thinking field like science.

As for other drugs, I wouldn't make the wild leap to assume that anything that causes euphoria is bad for you. Last time I looked it was still completely preposterous that many medications list euphoria as a NEGATIVE side effect.

There are all kinds of things that it is coming to light are probably good for our brains in small doses. Nicotine, Caffeine, Cannabis, and even MSG all have negative effects at high doses and positive effects at low doses. Amusingly, MSG in high doses (which isn't much for msg) mass murders brain cells and yet we use buckets of it in our food, where Cannabis has no known permanent effects on the brain and we throw people in prison for possessing it. The difference? Euphoria of course.

More fun; Better results! (1, Interesting)

LinuxDon (925232) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793260)

I guess that people having more fun in their life have better results!
I hope that this article doesn't result in more alcoholics though..

Re:More fun; Better results! (5, Funny)

LinuxDon (925232) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793286)

I really ought to read TFA more often. The reserve turns out to be true, didn't see that one coming..

Re:More fun; Better results! (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793296)

The reserve turns out to be true

Enjoying a little beer tonight, are we?

Beer, is there anything it can't hurt? (3, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793264)

The study says that beer consumption is inversely proportional to academic success. The more beer you drink, the less likely you are to produce high-quality, well-regarded papers.

It's been long known that beer is the drink of the underclasses. Wine, of course, being the preferred drink of the upper classes. And hard liquor a habit of the dregs of society. Is it any wonder, then, that people who consume beer, being from the lower classes, would be unable to create and innovate at the level that wine drinkers do? No, it only stands to reason that, as Murray 1996 shows, that intelligence is intricately tied to success. Therefore, the lower average intelligence of beer drinkers would necessarily be unable to compete with the higher average intelligence of wine drinkers.

In other words, beer consumption is a symptom, not the cause of the lower quality academic product.

Re:Beer, is there anything it can't hurt? (3, Funny)

kyknos.org (643709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793316)

In Czech republic, beer is not a drink of lower classes at all. It is a national drink consumed by almost everyone, people from all classes, from the poor to the country's president. However, wine is popular in the southeast part of the country (Moravia), because it is a traditional wine region. May be, Moravians are mor intelligent than people from the other parts of the country? :) I do not know. But certainly they have more beautiful girls there :) May be more sex means better science :D

Re:Beer, is there anything it can't hurt? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793332)

This probably doesn't prove anything, but if you consider the usefulness of slaves being their brawn rather than their brainpower, then Slavs [etymonline.com] are a bit suspect.

Their beautiful girls notwithstanding.

Re:Beer, is there anything it can't hurt? (1)

kyknos.org (643709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793500)

Well, despite the unfortunate deportation of the German speaking population from Czechoslovakia after the WWII, Czechs are not a good example of Slavic people. When I look at our family grave, despite I am not being able to speak German at all, few generations back, I see only German/Austrian names. I would say that Germanic genes are as important as Slavic genes in the Czech population (we have been under Austrian rule for centuries, while Czechs ruled over some Germanic territories before that). According to genetic studies, there is also significant amount of Celtic genes. Genetically, Czechs are not Slavs but European hodge-podge mongrels :)

Re:Beer, is there anything it can't hurt? (2, Informative)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793376)

That plus the Czechs actually have very nice beer as well. Give me a proper Buvar Budweiser any day of the week, especially over that American junk that stole its name.

Re:Beer, is there anything it can't hurt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793686)

Check your facts, jerkass.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budweiser/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:Beer, is there anything it can't hurt? (4, Interesting)

SimonGhent (57578) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793398)

It's been long known that beer is the drink of the underclasses. Wine, of course, being the preferred drink of the upper classes.


Not completely true.

Beer is the drink of Northern Europe, wine is the drink of Southern Europe. The UK and Europe as a whole tend to aspire to Southern Europe; the Mediterranean diet and reverence for the classical world. This has created the image of wine = good and rich, beer = bad and poor.

Re:Beer, is there anything it can't hurt? (1)

popmaker (570147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793790)

Oh, yes, so WINE is a drink for the smart and therefore scientists drink wine? Those guys probably have more REFINED taste-buds than the rest of us. Pfft. It's a long time I read something as snob as this post. Come on.

I like microwave pizza. Does that make me stupid?

Suppression of science (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793266)

If ever any scientific breakthrough have deserved to kept secret for the good of mankind, this is it.

My personal favorite (1)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793276)

Arrogant Bastard Ale.
Goes well with academic elitism.

Re:My personal favorite (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793400)

Yes, or how about a Double Bastard. I picked up a much loved Arrogant Bastard pint glass when I visited the Stone brewery.

Re:My personal favorite (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793424)

Fat Bastard [clickwinegroup.com] wine is my preference.

Living proof (3, Funny)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793278)

I've never published any peer reviewed papers, and I drink plenty of beer, so it must be true [burp].

Re:Living proof (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793690)

I've never published any peer reviewed papers, and I drink plenty of beer, so it must be true [burp].


I've bet you've had a few peer reviewed results, it's just that one of the other side effects of drinking "plenty of beer" is memory loss.

That said, I'm curious as to what quantity exactly qualifies as "plenty" beer? Now there is a topic for ongoing research.

No surprise here really.. (3, Interesting)

sw155kn1f3 (600118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793282)

One day I read that to 100% restore high-level brain functions, one needs 2 weeks of sobriety. The one who has couple of beers/wine etc each week or two is simply working on suboptimal level if brain is the main tool. It's ok for other workers and maybe CEOs, but not for scientists, where you need as much advantage as you can.

Re:No surprise here really.. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793368)

why would that be, the alcohol has long let your system.

Re:No surprise here really.. (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793430)

It has long term effects on brain chemistry. That being said, I'd like to see a citation for this effect.

Re:No surprise here really.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793598)

2 weeks of sobriety or two weeks without a drink? I haven't been a whole week without a drink for ten years.

Re:No surprise here really.. (3, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793600)

Because if you keep perturbing a self-tuning biological system in one direction, it will start compensating in the other direction. That's how physiological addiction happens.

E.g., smoking a cigarette makes you feel better, among other things, because it blocks MAO-B. So basically your normal "reward" pathways in the brain get unbalanced by blocking the part which pulls your mood back down to the baseline. But _very_ soon the brain chemistry starts to compensate by producing more MAO-B. Oops. Now you feel shitty without a cigarette, and eventually you need them even to get you back to the baseline.

Alcohol works much the same, and is a pretty addictive thing.

Now drinking a couple of beers a day won't give you Delirium Tremens [wikipedia.org] when you're sober. But that's just a matter of nuances. Your brain chemistry hasn't deviated _that_ far from the baseline, but it has deviated a little anyway, if it regularly has to compensate for alcohol intoxication. So, yes, you won't be as impaired as someone who's gotten to the delirium tremens point, but you'll be a little impaired anyway.

Re:No surprise here really.. (1)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793708)

Except that if your brain actually fully compensates, there would be no negative effects.

Anyway, it is wrong to just look at the effect of alcohol on your ability to think; the smartest people are not necessarily the ones that successfully reproduce. Modest alcohol consumption seems to have positive effects even today, and until a century ago, alcoholic beverages were pretty much the only ones that were safe to drink.

Smoking also seems to have a complex mix of risks and benefits, both to the individual and society. I'm glad smoking is banned in public places, but I think anybody who wants to smoke should be allowed to do so and have to live with the consequences.

It actually works that way, yes (3, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793780)

Except that if your brain actually fully compensates, there would be no negative effects.


It actually works that way, to a point, yes. If you drink lots and regularly, you build up "alcohol tolerance". I.e., small quantities of alcohol which would make someone else tipsy, just get you back to the baseline. It compensated all right.

The problem is that that compensated state remains so even when you're sober. That's how eventually DT happens. The brain chemistry is "compensated" to work right with a lot of alcohol in the system. Without that alcohol, however, you're fucked up and can even die.

It's, if you will, like compensating for pushing a wardrobe to the right. Hard. So you compensate by slanting it to the left. When that force is applied, congrats, the components cancel out and the wardrobe stays like that. But when that force isn't applied any more, now it falls over to the the left.

That's in a nutshell how you die of DT. It's not the alcohol that kills you, it's the lack of alcohol. At that point your brain has changed so much to keep working when marinated in alcohol, that eventually it became unable to function without it.

That incidentally, also has the following implication for the post-alcohol-impairment I was talking about. It's easy to think "bah, I'm resistant to alcohol. Why, I only even start feeling a little warm after the fourth pint." Congrats, if you're at that point, your brain's equilibrium is now already waay off center. You _will_ have decreased brain power even when alcohol has left your system. In fact, _because_ all alcohol has left your system.

Anyway, it is wrong to just look at the effect of alcohol on your ability to think; the smartest people are not necessarily the ones that successfully reproduce. Modest alcohol consumption seems to have positive effects even today, and until a century ago, alcoholic beverages were pretty much the only ones that were safe to drink.


I couldn't care less, actually. Equally, a couple of century ago, mercury was the only known treatment for syphilis. It doesn't mean we should keep doing that. Nowadays we have better ways to deal with that.

Similarly, nowadays we know how to filter and disinfect water. So whatever need for alcohol might have existed, doesn't exist any more.

Smoking also seems to have a complex mix of risks and benefits, both to the individual and society. I'm glad smoking is banned in public places, but I think anybody who wants to smoke should be allowed to do so and have to live with the consequences.


I'm not proposing to ban either alcohol or tobacco. If you want to nuke your brain, be my guest. I wouldn't even stop you from hanging yourself or playing russian roulette. If you want to, by all means, go ahead.

I'm _only_ saying "don't be surprised if it affects your IQ", really. But if you can live with that, go ahead and drink yourself silly, for all I care :)

Re:No surprise here really.. (1)

DKlineburg (1074921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793494)

I agree with you, I fail to see how this is surprising anyone? Doesn't everyone know that beer makes you, well stupid? I'm not saying everyone who drinks beer is stupid, but it does lower your IQ. I just fail to see how this is a surprise that if you take a substance known to make you stupid, you are stupid.

Re:No surprise here really.. (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793664)

This is gratifying news. It has been about 2 weeks since I last had a drink.

That I am now at my mental peak is certainly cause for celebration! Cheers everyone!

...

Oh... bum. Oh well, I mite as wel go browse around digg.com now.

It's a negative correlation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793292)

The summary should mention that it's a *negative* correlation. I.e., increased beer intake is negatively correlated with success in the field. Successful scientists "just say no". ;)

WWHS (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793298)

What Would Homer Say:

Beer: The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.

---Homer---

As a scientist, allow me to say... (1)

kyriosdelis (1100427) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793328)

...D'oh!

Paper beers (5, Interesting)

hweimer (709734) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793338)

In many research groups it is common to go out and have a few beers once a paper has been accepted. So this should lead to a positive correlation between beer consumption and research output. However, it is likely that among Czechs these paper beers do not have a large effect on their overall consumption (they drink even more beer than Germans).

Re:Paper beers (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793362)

However, it is likely that among Czechs these paper beers do not have a large effect on their overall consumption (they drink even more beer than Germans).

Time for a pop quiz.

How much beer do Germans really drink?

Re:Paper beers (1)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793438)

31 gallons a year [wikipedia.org] . Americans drink 21, the Czech drink 42. HTH. HAND.

Re:Paper beers (1)

TheDugong (701481) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793684)

Australia at 4th place is right next to Austria at 5th place. That sure is gonna confuse some!

Re:Paper beers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793786)

that's wrong. we here in europe drink beer in litres (Germans: 115.8/year + person), you insensitive clod!

Pfft. (3, Funny)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793342)

In order to find out if beer is good or bad for scientists, I have to read the article?

Re:Pfft. (4, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793388)

It is bad.

Groan (2, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793344)

"It's rather devastating to be told we should drink less beer in order to increase our scientific performance," Dr. Symonds said.

Ok, this is perhaps the most widely disseminated scientific concept among the laity, so to see an "evolutionary biologist" cock it up so readily is pretty disheartening.

All together now: correlation does not imply causation!

Re:Groan (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793670)

It's true that correlation doesn't imply causation. But correlation is CORRELATED with causation.

It's probably due to Depression... (1)

Sterrance (1257342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793348)

If I were a scientist studying worthless things like whether beer makes a great scientist, I'd determine that all those years in college were for nothing and I'm making no contribution to society. I'd eventually go and get some beer in order to cope, beer is of course a Depressant. Thus the beer gets me more depressed, I get more depressed, and I accomplish nothing. Vicous cycle, maybe they should do something important.

Re:It's probably due to Depression... (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793374)

I believe the scientist who published this study admits to sometimes putting down a dozen beers in a sitting.

Re:It's probably due to Depression... (1)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793552)

If I were a scientist

Indeed, it looks as if you are not a scientist. A good scientist doesn't judge the importance of knowledge, only the quality of the work behind it and hence the validity of the conclusions one may draw from it. I'd be curious to know exactly what you do for a living so that I may judge whether your efforts are worthless.

WWFD? (5, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793356)

What Would Feynman Do?

Re:WWFD? (1)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793440)

Mod up to 11, please - I thought exactly the same when reading the article.

Feynman was exceedingly fond of beer and generally having a good time - maybe it's because the study was based on ornithologists rather than physicists that this negative correlation was found :P

Re:WWFD? (1)

kyz (225372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793688)

That's exactly what I thought as well.

Are hitting on women in bars, playing the bongos and searching for Tuva all indicators for scientific success?

What about having motor neurone disease or ditching your wife and marrying your nurse?

ignobel. (2, Funny)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793364)

ahh. good to see that next years Ig-Nobels are already hotting up.

Yay for statistics (5, Interesting)

thorsen (9515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793372)

Women in Denmark have larger breasts than women in Canada. There are more moose in Canada than in Denmark. So more moose means smaller breasts.

Statistics are like miniskirts; they show a lot but hide the most important facts.

Funny (1)

are_all_nicks_used (1258642) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793442)

but is that statement statistically correct?

Re:Yay for statistics (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793510)

I find your ideas fascinating, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter! Any pictures? My sister got bitten by a moose once.

*burrrp* (1)

blunte (183182) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793514)

Now waitttthere jussh a minit...

YOu tellin me I can find da mooos with biggish breshsh in Demark or Cansas?

AN what does minishirtsh haves to do with it?

Re:Yay for statistics (1)

insula (750233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793574)

Drinking malt liquor increases your probability of being killed in a drive by shooting.

Re:Yay for statistics (3, Insightful)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793578)

Your (admittedly intentionally stupid) example has THREE factors, not only two. Leaving the location out of the conclusion is stupid. If you can find a stupid correlation that doesn't involve two groups separated by location you might have a better point.

The article's inverse correlation between beer and success is inside a single country, and seems to be among scientists of only one science. Extending the conclusion to apply to the world and all kinds of science is admittedly a stretch, but not as bad as your example.

Re:Yay for statistics (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793694)

Ok, people that have a Parakeet are more likely to get lung cancer than people that own a large dog. So the size of the pet is correlated with getting lung cancer.

Of course there is this minor issue with larger pets needing more living space, and people owning large pets more commonly live outside a city.

Re:Yay for statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793680)

Yay for Denmark!!

Interesting (1)

are_all_nicks_used (1258642) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793380)

that TFA didn't explain the direction of the correlation. A little story: When I was quite young, my father and I used to hang quite a bit and he'd have a beer of two. Then, in his relaxed state, he would muse with me about all manner of things related to time and relativity, like "How do you measure time, if you are floating in a spacesuit in interstellar abyss..." Now, this may be an exception, but I am posting here at Slashdot as arguably a direct result of my father's drinking. Of course, I am not a scientist, so this probably isn't really related. My thoughts, nonetheless.

NOT TRUE (1)

StupidPeopleTrick (1006681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793392)

I had a prof in University that had a full division of mathematics named after his work. He would describe a math proof by how many cans of beer he drank before finishing the proof. (no kidding).

- SPT

Re:NOT TRUE (1)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793432)

1) If you can find one example where the rule does not apply, it doesn't disprove statistical correlation. I could say - "I know the guy A who never drinks and does poorly in science." but that wouldn't mean a lot, would it?

2) Perhaps your prof would do much better at proving things, if he was sober.

Re:NOT TRUE (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793462)

I had a prof in University that...would describe a math proof by how many cans of beer he drank before finishing the proof.

That must have sucked for exams.

4) Describe the key lemmas used to establish the proof as specified in question 3. Derive the proof in the space provided.

One can of beer is equivalent to approximately one quarter lemma, therefore there were 17 lemmas used in the proof. I am unable to derive the proof in the space below due to insufficient beer.

Re:NOT TRUE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793756)

"I have a truly marvelous proof of this proposition which my liver is too weak to metabolize."
~Fermat?

Beer makes it harder to do science!? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793426)

Really? Perhaps that is why I wasn't able to do error calculations at 2 in the morning whilst off my head on 8 pints of wifebeater. I've also heard it can affect your driving skills.

I'm so glad people are getting paid to do this research.

I expected the opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793478)

Moderate alcohol consumption is good for cognative function. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/150/6/580.pdf [oxfordjournals.org]

Social drinkers are also more likely to be gregarious than their non-drinking cow-irkers. That makes them much more likely to be promoted.

There has to be something else at work here.

Tell that to Niels Bohr (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793484)

He had a house with a faucet that gave fresh beer - just next door to the Carlsberg brewery.

Re:Tell that to Niels Bohr (2, Funny)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793502)

Yeah, and his model of the atom is incomplete. I blame the booze.

Re:Tell that to Niels Bohr (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793526)

That's OK, I'll take the beer and the Nobel Prize FTW.

they missed the most important fact of all (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793506)

How much beer did these researchers drink?

Knowing that would let us judge (by their own criterion) whether this paper is useful, or garbage.

But,just to be on the safe side I think I'll switch to whisky

The ballmer peak (1)

Muppski (918156) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793538)

Maybe it fits here http://xkcd.com/323/ [xkcd.com]

Many problems with that study (5, Interesting)

PineGreen (446635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793542)

As a professional scientist who travelled a lot between universities in Europe, USA and Japan, I can say the following:

a) Correlation does not imply causation. Some regions are generally poorer, meaning their universities get less money, they attract less good scientists, etc. And these regions also have higher alcohol consumption. And so observation that alcohol consumption anti-correlates with scientific achievements doesn't necessarily imply that drinking makes you bad scientist.

b) I just moved from UK to USA and the amount of alcohol people drink in UK is completely unheard of in USA. Basically, we used to have three British pints 4 times a week. Properly drunk. In USA I can convince my colleagues to have one beer (over two hours!!) once a week. And yet, UK is THE most scientifically successful country per dollar spent.

c) My feeling is actually the opposite: alcohol acts as a social lubricant and many personal frictions can get dissolved that way. After two pints, the guy who you hate so much for having more papers than you, suddenly seems an ok chap. People are more likely to speak about their work, share opinions on papers, don't be secretive about future projects, etc. This effect must have bigger positive impact than negative effects of drinking.

I think it's too extreme (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793564)

Microsoft did a study in the late 80's.

The programming skill of people peaks [xkcd.com] when those peoples' BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) stays in between certain thresholds.

Now programming is a science... so I think the BAC of the scientists should be studied in more detail!

Obligatory XKCD link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22793630)

The Ballmer Peak: http://xkcd.com/323/ [xkcd.com]

Conflict of interest. (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793704)

This is a definite conflict of interest. Czech Republic has the highest world consumption per capita of beer at 156 liters per person. Compared to Germany at 119, UK at 99 and the whimpy US drinking our watered down p*ss at 82 liters per person.

[blank] Success Or Failure Correlated With Beer (1)

BadboyGeek (1144389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793720)

Well, no screaming eagle shit! You mean to tell me that there might be a correlation between success and beer consumption? Who the hell would have ever considered that possibility? Oh, wait, perhaps thats why the majority of prominent professions require a drug AND *alcohol* test prior to employment.

What does alcohol do? It's a sedative, it slows the brain down. Consumption of alcohol in any quantity is going to have an effect, whether immediately noticeable or not.

You could easily relabel this one "[fill in the blank] Success Or Failure Correlated With Beer" and it would be accurate for a wide number of professions.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc (1)

totallyarb (889799) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793730)

In other news, pirates stop global warming [venganza.org] .

But if it's for science, I'll have another beer. :)

XCD has this covered: The Ballmer Peak (1)

jagb (457281) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793774)

This is NOT new.It is known as the Ballmer Peak! check out: http://xkcd.com/323/ [xkcd.com]

Optimal level (2, Funny)

zoeblade (600058) | more than 6 years ago | (#22793782)

But what about the Ballmer Peak [xkcd.com] ?

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