Monday, February 18, 2008

We'll drink to that

Chris Auld, call your office:
Beer is bad for science, according to a pioneering study of the effects of alcohol on creativity in research.

....One of the most frequent social activities in the world is drinking alcohol - around two billion are thought to partake - and Dr Tomas Grim, who is a behavioural ecologist at Palacky University, Czech Republic, decided to investigate, reporting the discovery that it harms science in the prestigious ecological journal Oikos.

In Europe, most alcohol is consumed as beer, according to the World Health Organisation.

"Based on well known negative effects of alcohol consumption on cognitive performance, I predicted negative correlations between beer consumption and several measures of scientific performance," Dr Grim says.

Like his fellow ecologists, who tend to focus on a single species in a single population, to eliminate non alcohol related confounding factors, he focused on one particularly impressive country of beer swillers.

Using a survey of the publications since 1980 of avian ecologists from the Czech Republic, which has the highest per capita beer consumption rate in the world (157 litres each year, or 176 pints), he discovered "that increasing per capita beer consumption is associated with lower numbers of papers, total citations, and citations per paper (a surrogate measure of paper quality)."

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