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Beer harms science

The report (or hypothesis) goes something like this…

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.

It continues…

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.

The results being…

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).”

(Source: The Telegraph)

In my opinion, this study falls into the “WTF” category, or even the “Total watse of research money” bucket. Whilst I accept that this report has probably been distilled and edited for the benefits of the newspaper’s readers, the hypothesis that nations drinking more beer produce less scientific work, or at least work of questionable quality, does not take into consideration such factors as social changes (Czech Republic got rid of communism at the start of the 90s), it does not question the number of scientists withing the country (how many have left to find better paid jobs elsewhere in Europe), or even the number of research papers being done on avian related subjects (the study of birds is surely not a top priority in this part of the world).

I can only conclude that this study hits those areas the study itself is looking at (i.e. quality) and this should be held up as another example of questionable science. It is almost self-analysing – “why is this study so bad”.

Categories: Beer, Opinion, Science
  1. 19 Feb 2008 at 10:44

    this report has probably been distilled

    Not sure if you intended using that word, but I thought it was funny. 🙂

  1. 11 Mar 2008 at 11:10

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