May 15, 2012 | Graham

More drunks vote left-wing and believe in global warming

There’s a lot of stupid research around (and I use the word “stupid” advisedly). There’s so much of it, that I think to the “tech boom” and the “housing boom” we could add the “academic study boom”. And like the other two it appears to be the result of too much money chasing too few goods.

The stupidest I’ve seen for some time is this one which claims to show that more intelligent people drink more alcohol than less intelligent people. They claim to control for social class and income amongst other things and advance the thesis that:

Drinking alcohol is evolutionarily novel, so the Hypothesis would predict that more intelligent people drink more alcohol than less intelligent people.

So people who do things that our ancestors more than 10,000 years ago (the time horizon they use as the benchmark for what is “evolutionarily novel”) didn’t do are more intelligent than the rest of us? Putting aside the issue that the evidence for use of psychotropic drugs goes back beyond that time horizon, does that mean that smokers are more intelligent than the rest, or people who drive cars and fly in aeroplanes?

You can have a bit of fun putting stupid research results together. For example there have been other research projects recently claiming that higher IQ individuals are more likely to vote left-wing than the average, or that “climate change denial” is a mental disorder.

All of which seems to suggest, controlling for social class and income, that heavier drinkers are more likely to vote Labor and believe in climate change. Which is just as likely to be true as the studies, but not likely to be true at all.


Posted by Graham at 7:19 am | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Science


  1. Love generalisations and statistics – they can be very misleading. Just because some people who are willing to participate in a survey belong to more than one social sub group doesn’t suggest a trend. Perhaps they should find out how many watch ABC news, SBS news or one of the commercial stations also belong to the left wing or those who believe in global warming. Having said that, the correlation between being a drinker and voting left wing is obvious – both are about being disillusioned with society and the Establishment. Ditto for link between being a drinker and believing in global warming. Now the problem and the logical fallacy in the heading is link between global warming and being left wing.

    Comment by fnc — May 15, 2012 @ 10:08 am

  2. This makes alot of sense to me. To vote left-wing and believe in global warming you’d pretty much have to be drunk.


    Comment by klem — May 16, 2012 @ 4:32 am

  3. There probably is an association between drinking and social class and overall levels of information.

    But left vs right wing is an old and no more very useful distinction.

    What leftie could support the cronies in the union movement? And what right wing person could agree to the way Australia is ignoring the need to invest in its future economy?

    But does the reverse hold about smoking?

    Doesn’t the scientific community carry any weight with you deniers? You are the disillusioned ones.

    I hope you are still in denial 10 years from now, but maybe you will have started drinking to cope with the cognitive dissonance.

    Comment by Ronda Jambe — May 16, 2012 @ 7:48 am

  4. Ah, glorious statistics! Questions in surveys are always worded to give a predetermined outcome – not to actually get to the truth. Any ridiculous link can be made!

    But seriously, there are so many articles out there both supporting and negating the anthropological theory of climate change, all purporting to be supported by scientific studies. Who knows what to think?

    A friend of mine, a self-declared Left Winger and climate change supporter, refuses to read any article not supporting her belief system, or even emanating from the Rupert Murdoch stable of newspapers! I at least listen to, and read, articles arguing very different points of view on both politics and climate change theory. Yet, people like me are accused of being “deniers” – a horrible, insulting term given its usual association with the word ‘Holocaust’!

    I simply don’t believe the case for anthropological climate change has yet been proved. After all, the climate constantly changes, and always has, for a wide range of reasons. But perhaps, by the time it is ‘proved’ it will be too late to take action, or at least the action required will be too drastic to undertake. That’s the risk of inaction.

    Nevertheless, I believe a world-wide effort to reduce the wanton destruction of the world’s forests and rain forests (the Earth’s lungs) would be a good place to start. And a move towards renewable energy, and away from oil and coal, makes sense. But please, without destroying our economy! I also favour nuclear energy – modern reactors, although very expensive, cannot be compared with the ageing Fukushima-type reactors currently being phased out in many countries.

    So please, do not attack people like myself with that pejorative term “denier”. Perhaps we just read a wider range of literature? Perhaps we have been through earlier world-wide scares like the 1970s ‘oil crisis’ and remember how the scientists back then were utterly convinced that the world would completely run out of oil in the very near future (it hasn’t). Age and experience makes us less enthusiastic about ‘scare tactics’ that smack of religious fervour.

    Comments like those from Ronda Jambe are belittling and certainly don’t help the ‘climate change’ cause.

    Comment by Kay Kelly — May 18, 2012 @ 6:39 am

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