Hello, Hangover Victims

Here’s some interesting profiling. Razib Khan at Discovery took a look at some data in a study on drinkers, and found this relationship between the percentage who drink and their score on a vocabulary test.

As Dr Johnson said, “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man”.

30 replies
  1. 1
    John Cole says:

    That explains Hitchens.

  2. 2

    Well, yes.

    It usually works better if the intoxicated one doesn’t try to write anything [or make any important decisions].

    I have read some things, though, that made me wonder . . .

  3. 3
    LGRooney says:

    Reminds me of a professor years ago who implored me to be a writer rather than study literature.

    Prof: You come live in my basement. I pay for everything. I bring you drink. I bring you cigarettes. You just write.

    Me: I don’t drink or smoke.

    Prof: You’re a real writer. You’ll learn!

    Although I never pursued that passion professionally, if he were still alive he would be very proud of what I have ‘learned’ through the years.

  4. 4
    SGEW says:

    Quick! Someone concoct a theory about genetic connections between the Irish, alcohol, and a predisposition towards literature! It can be called the James Joyce Bell Curve.

  5. 5
    pk says:

    Why is it that every time I come to this site I get an annoying voice offering me a walmart gift card? Is this happening to anyone else, or something is up with my computer?

  6. 6
    beltane says:

    That article says I live in the drinkingest part of the country, which was a bit of a surprise. I see a lot of moderate social drinking, but not a lot of drunkenness.

    Fundamentalist religion is its own type of intoxicant, one that goes with overly sweet soft drinks and general stupidity. It looks like there was a reason the ancients considered wine to be an important attribute of civilization.

  7. 7
    Monkeyfister says:


    That quote would be from Dr. Thompson. Hunter S. Thompson.


  8. 8
    The Endless Sheriff says:

    Ummm…one factor not considered: price. Those who have visited/lived in South Korea can attest to the effect of soju, a cheap-ass liquor that costs about $1.40: one bottle produces a mighty pleasant buzz; 2 bottles will have you dancing on the tables and/or making babies in the back seat; three bottles and you will happily lay your head on a barbeque grill and not notice till you wake up in the morning.

    At the same time, in the same restaurant, at the next table, will be people who quite happily spend $100 for a dinky bottle of whiskey to share.

    Any study that ignores price + ‘results’ is not a serious study.

  9. 9
    mellowjohn says:

    sorry, mr. cole,
    i don’t think christopher hitchens has ever had a hangover. to get one, you have to stop drinking for a while.

  10. 10

    @SGEW: I like that, the James Joyce Bell Curve!

    How do you fall out of the main belly of the curve? Drink too little? Write too much?

    Or actually write something good, as opposed to James Joyce? [Yes, I know I’m picky. And James Joyce didn’t like me either!]

  11. 11
    Gregory says:


    That quote would be from Dr. Thompson. Hunter S. Thompson.

    But Dr. Thompson attributed it to Dr. Johnson.

  12. 12
    Remember November says:

    because one word for post-party- puking isn’t enough…

  13. 13
    wrb says:

    Hot damn!

    @Linda Featheringill:

    I like that, the James Joyce Bell Curve!

    If only he’d looked into the relationship to natural insight into physica he might have given us a unified theory of Flann O’Brian

    The Mollycule Theory (scroll down past the introductory review)

  14. 14
    Remember November says:

    @The Endless Sheriff:

    Soju is the devil’s brew. Never ever go to a Korean bbq in K-Town w/
    1. Ad people ( notorious lushes)
    2. Korean ad people.

  15. 15
    Mark says:

    Sorry, I’m no mathologist, but I’ve read a lot of graphs in my time. I can’t make heads or tails out of that. What are the axes? Is the y-axis percentage of drinkers or score? Is the x-axis number of drinks per day, or what?

  16. 16
    SGEW says:

    The James Joyce Slowly Tolling Bell Curve:

    How sad and how beautiful! He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music. The bell! The bell!


  17. 17
    Poopyman says:

    Coupla things:

    Anyone who’s spent time in Irish pubs knows that good conversation requires you to be fast and facile with words, as the conversation tends to be rapid-fire. And pubs are part of the everyday culture. So there’s my take at the correlation. What shall we say about the Russians?

    Now, is there someplace online I can get my wordsum score? I’d like to see how far it’s fallen in the decades since I was in school and reading a lot more than I do today.

  18. 18
    Marmot says:

    I’m with ya — without the axes labeled, all I can gather is that it’s a somewhat proportional relationship.

  19. 19
    Morbo says:

    @Marmot: I gather from google that Wordsum is a 0-10 scale, so that’s the x-axis. Thus, among people who score 0 on the Wordsum, 42 percent drink. Among people who score 10, 86 percent drink, etc.

  20. 20
    fucen tarmal says:

    now can we do the same thing for weed?

  21. 21
    Gunner says:

    Other than the fact that there are no uncertainties on the data and there are no labels on the axes, that’s rock-solid proof of a correlation between something and something else. Maybe it will be more convincing to me after a couple of drinks.

  22. 22
    Michael G says:

    “I drink to bring myself down to the level of the common man–but remember, the common man drinks, so I must drink twice as much!”

  23. 23
    feebog says:

    I don’t think the graph is really telling the entire story. Reading the article it was clear that the South, and especially the deep South, has the largest number of teetotalers. Another thing the deep South has is the crappiest education systems. Crappy education = low wordsum score.

  24. 24
    Randy P says:

    I’m having trouble believing this. If I read this chart correctly, it says that 60% of illiterate people never drink. Not even beer. I’d like to know more about the sampling, about what the percentages measure, and about the x-axis.

  25. 25
    LGRooney says:

    @feebog: How about low alcohol consumption = crappy education?

  26. 26
    EthylEster says:


    Sorry, I’m no mathologist, but I’ve read a lot of graphs in my time. I can’t make heads or tails out of that. What are the axes? Is the y-axis percentage of drinkers or score? Is the x-axis number of drinks per day, or what?

    thank you, mark, for expressing my POV.

    but notice how many commenters here don’t seem to need to understand the graph to be able to comment on it.

    this place is really starting to bum me out.

    mistermix, please do better.

  27. 27
    wrb says:


    but notice how many commenters here don’t seem to need to understand the graph to be able to comment on it.

    It puzzled me at first but it becomes obvious when you go to the source, because he plots a bunch of different things and he’s consistent.

    The 0-100 axis is always percentage of a population. The other the other thing being measured.

    So on this one 85% of the people with a wordsum score of 10 drink.

  28. 28
    Joel says:

    I do tend to write a lot more when I’m just past the tipping point.

    My biggest problem is that I also tend to hit “send,” and then in the morning I get the double joy of a hangover plus damage control.

    (Google Goggles doesn’t help. I’ve tried. I’m just too good at math, even while drunk. It’s a curse, a curse I say!)

  29. 29
    anothervoice says:

    For those who don’t know I’ve known of Razib Khan for sometime and he’s aligned in thought with like of Steve Sailer. He’s not a scientist, but he knows enough science to be dangerous. The whole purpose of his site gnxp.com was to find proof the genetics define intelligence, i.e. the bell curve bs. Just look at the last line of his post:

    It’s just a fact that stupid people tend to die earlier, because they often make life decisions in keeping with their nature.

    He writes so much, on so many sites, and in scientific language people think he is a credible individual. He is most assuredly not.

  30. 30
    DPirate says:

    I can explain this phenomenon quite simply. People who drink are more social than those who do not, possessing greater social awareness of their fellows, which allows them to access the group-mind of the questioner, who already knows the answers. How’s that?

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