Thursday, March 5, 2009

Guinea Pigs

This is an article that was published just today about a research study on alcohol.

Now, before I even finished reading the title, “TV drinking affects viewer consumption: study”, I was already feeling sick to my stomach. I have this little pet peeve. It manifests itself when I read an article or hear about some research study that either links one obvious thing to another or I simply feel is a complete waste of time and money. And I think that’s the reason; the money. These researchers are usually associated with a University and get their money from one of two sources; government grants and tuition. Now even though this study wasn’t done in the US, the principal is the same. We, the people, pay for this sh*t, either through taxes or the outrageous sum of money we fork out for higher education these days.

With that out of the way, I wanted to dig a little deeper into this wonderful study. First of all, the notion that what we see on TV or on screen is imitatable doesn’t exactly require a study. From the very first cigarette or beer ad on TV, they have been trying to suck us in with the idea that “if you smoke our cigarette or drink one of our beers, you’re going to get laid. Oh, and you’ll have a good time and have lots of friends.” It really doesn’t require a team of so called experts to figure that one out.

Now why is this study a complete waste of time? Well, let’s see….FREE BOOZE.
The study involved 80 male university students, aged 18 to 29, who were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Participants watched films and commercials in a comfortable "home cinema" set up in a laboratory, with access to a fridge containing alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Hmm, if you take 80 male college students and stick them in a confined space with a fridge full of free booze, I wonder what they’re going to do. Drink soda pop and play grab ass? Probably not.
“Engels said the sight may act as an "alcohol cue" that creates a craving for booze in people who already drink.”

Does that PhD. make you feel smarter? If I’m watching a movie and someone pours a rum and coke, I’m going to think about rum and coke. Why? Because it’s in the guy’s hand and that is what my eyes are telling my brain to process at that moment. If he was eating a slice of pizza, I’d probably starting thinking about a nice greasy slice of Vincent’s.
For the first time, researchers have shown that watching characters knock back a beer or quaff another alcoholic beverage in films, TV shows or advertisements can have an immediate effect on how much viewers imbibe themselves.

That’s bull. My friends and I have been studying the affects for the past ten years, and haven’t come to consensus yet. It might be because we keep losing our notes. Either I vomited on them, McPaddy set them on fire, or B. James needed something to clean the blood off his forehead. I really think they could have saved a bunch if money if they had ditched the study and just watched “Beerfest” instead. Seriously, instead of spending $50,000 on the study, all they had to do was chip in 5 bucks each and get a case or two of beer; Maybe a bag of pretzels.

I guess the biggest problem with this study is that they didn’t follow the Scientific Method we all learned in 7th grade.

They only ran the study once; they never isolated their key variables, and didn’t take into account all the criteria. Every one of those 80 college boys knew they were being part of an experiment where they got to watch a movie and drink as much free booze as they wanted. That means the test subjects were self aware. How do the researchers not know that maybe a couple of the guys in Group-A decide to screw with their study and drink as much as possible in that hour? Both of the movies viewed were about sex, or more specifically, the lack there of. Maybe Group-C drank more because they weren’t getting any and need something to drown their sorrow in. Their results are entirely based on speculation and conjecture from only one test. But that doesn’t matter, because they got the correct answer. How do I know? Because I just do; me any everyone else in the world with at least half a brain.

I understand that there is no way to ever stop the frivolous wasting of our money on these kinds of studies. So the next time these researchers decide to waste a bunch of money studying the affects of alcohol consumption under different variables, there is only one question I have to ask.

Where do I sign up?


  1. Wow! Fantastic post, Richard!

  2. NO offense of course to those on the booze blog team who do academic studies for a living ;)

    I truely believe that if it weren't for the tirely efforts of many of these individuals, our society would not be were it is today. I refer only to the BS studies that a 5th grade could tell you the answer too. These studies usually use poor science and statistical obfuscation to further someones career or to push political or social beliefs.