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Breaking News From the Washington Post:
"College Drinking Games Lead to Higher Blood Alcohol Levels." I'm glad a lot of research money went into that one.
AF:
Reminds me of this study.
1.7.2008 7:04pm
Constitutional Crisis (mail):

The team observed ... college parties over the course of three semesters. The parties all took place in private residences close to an urban public university in southern California. The team noted party environment, surveyed attendees and collected blood-alcohol concentrations.
Nothing like "Hi, ummm, would you take a breathalyzer?" as a pickup line.
1.7.2008 7:05pm
James Lindgren (mail):
The latest drinking game is to watch a Presidential debate and down a glass every time someone mentions "CHANGE."

THAT leads to intoxication (and cements the ruin of a perfectly good word).
1.7.2008 7:10pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The researchers found that playing drinking games, having a personal history of binge drinking, attending a party with many other intoxicated people, and attending a themed event all predicted higher blood alcohol levels. The researchers expressed surprise over the finding that women at themed events drank more heavily than their male peers.
I would think that the reason that men might drink less is that if the women are drinking a lot, some of the guys may be staying a bit more sober in case they have a chance at getting lucky.

I esp. liked the fact that they were able to show that people who had a history of binge drinking, drank more heavily at parties, where they were presumably binge drinking.
1.7.2008 7:12pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I liked AF's link:
"Our research shows that the inhibition-lowering properties of recreational drugs and alcohol cause those who use them to behave with less restraint, making sex among young people more likely to occur," Eckersley continued. "Gee, I bet you never would've guessed that."
1.7.2008 7:16pm
andy (mail) (www):
The title is not the only gem...

"[E]nvironment and party activities also affect drinking behavior."

Astute observation.

"The team plans to expand its research to other environments, including bars."

My guess is that -- gasp -- that people in bars drink more than if they weren't in a bar.
1.7.2008 7:25pm
ys:
Seems the legal blog crowd is not aware of the world of science too much (or maybe they are just not from Cambridge, MA). It's obvious that this study has been carried out to make a strong claim for this year's IgNobel Prize.
1.7.2008 7:40pm
GD (mail):
"while themed parties encourage college women to drink more heavily than men"

My crystal ball indicates "themed parties" will be all the rage in 2008!
1.7.2008 7:59pm
Simon Spero (www):
Did anyone bother to read the paper before commenting?

They did a field survey instead of relying on retrospective recall, and they found a some significant differences-

"Factors such as the presence of hard alcohol and illicit drugs, the availability of food, rowdy behavior, and loud music were not significantly associated with BrAC, contrasting the results obtained in earlier studies." [1]


[1] John D. Clapp, Jong Won Min, Audrey M. Shillington, Mark B. Reed, Julie Ketchie Croff (2008)
Person and Environment Predictors of Blood Alcohol Concentrations: A Multi-Level Study of College Parties
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 32 (1), 100–107.
doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2007.00547.x
1.7.2008 8:13pm
good times:
In other news, marijuana use has been shown to increase cheeto consumption and purchases of "The Big Lebowski" DVDs.

Seriously though, if students conducted this research and got credit for the paper they are pretty sharp. Conducting research at parties sounds a hell of a lot better than being in a library.
1.7.2008 8:19pm
hattio1:
I loved this quote

Most studies use survey methods that require people to recall their drinking behavior -- days, weeks or months prior -- and such recall is not always accurate,"


You're kidding, you mean drinking till you black out inhibits your ability to recall??? How could it?
1.7.2008 8:26pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Try playing one of the drinking games with apple cider or prune juice. They can get _very_ competitive.
1.7.2008 9:05pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
The latest drinking game is to watch a Presidential debate and down a glass every time someone mentions "CHANGE."

Problem is that ethanol in those doses can be lethal. It should only be engaged in if someone is designated to turn off the TV when the first contestant hits two liters.
1.7.2008 10:06pm
Oren:
The latest drinking game is to watch a Presidential debate and down a glass every time someone mentions "CHANGE."
I thought they key word was "HONOR".
1.7.2008 10:37pm
theobromophile (www):

The researchers expressed surprise over the finding that women at themed events drank more heavily than their male peers.

Yes, women at "Grey's Anatomy" parties out-drink their male peers. Wow.

To be serious, it probably has something to do with the type of drinks available at themed parties. A fair number of women dislike beer, and a fair number of men won't be caught dead with a fruity, blended, parasol-topped monstrosity in their hands.
1.7.2008 10:40pm
therut:
This has nothing to do with the above but I can not wait any longer. When is someone going to comment and give their opinion on the DC brief handed in Friday in the Heller Case. I want to know your opinions.
1.7.2008 10:41pm
John Neff:
It appears to me that research on alcohol abuse in the United States is inferior (to the point of being embarrassing) to that done in the UK and Australia and I wonder if that is because research on alcohol abuse has been politicized in the US.

We use an absurd definition of binge drinking (the time interval is unspecified) and the frequency of binges as a proxy for blood alcohol content (BAC) and they use the frequency of intoxication as a BAC proxy. By using frequency of intoxication as a proxy they are able to obtain credible and reproducible results about adverse consequences of high risk drinking. Our definition of binge drinking the BAC proxy is elastic and covers too wide a range.
1.7.2008 10:47pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
While we're talking about unnecessary studies whose purpose seems to be the financial support of the researchers (nice work if you can get it), try this one:

The Massachusetts legislature has "approved a bill establishing a task force to examine hygienic procedures relating to the use of band instruments in schools by students and teachers. The task force would examine policies to prevent the spread of contagious diseases such as tuberculosis."

1) Is this really a problem?

2) Wouldn't a quick note from the Department of Education to school music departments suggesting that they use common sense hygienic precautions when multiple people use the same wind instruments be more than sufficient - and cost a few hundred bucks for postage instead of probably tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for this big, unnecessary study?
1.7.2008 11:33pm
WJR:
Here's a good complement:

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4086600&page=1
1.8.2008 1:23am
Aultimer:

Yes, women at "Grey's Anatomy" parties out-drink their male peers. Wow.

To be serious, it probably has something to do with the type of drinks available at themed parties. A fair number of women dislike beer, and a fair number of men won't be caught dead with a fruity, blended, parasol-topped monstrosity in their hands.


The study actually defines "themed" parties as those where costumes are involved. Add to that the current trend that EVERY costume event has either a heavily sexualized theme or a more neutral theme with very skimpy versions of the required attire (togas don't cover what they used to, and a PJ party is more likely to involve a negligee than flannels) and the result IS noteworthy. If you haven't been around colleges in a while, you'd be stunned to see an ordinary halloween party, trust me.

So women attend these parties in uncomfortably revealing attire, and drink until they're disinhibited enough to be comfortable. Who says college men aren't learning anything.
1.8.2008 9:55am
Zubon (mail) (www):
Someone needs to be Devil's Advocate, so I will speak in support of silly-seeming research.

There is a legitimate question to be answered here, which is whether people who participate in drinking games drink more or just differently. Was Bob going to have ten beers anyway, or would he have stopped at five in the absence of beer pong? This is a useful piece of information for people who are working in alcohol abuse prevention. If it turns out that people do not drink more during drinking games or during happy hour, then they can direct their efforts elsewhere.

Would you have been willing to say, with 95% certainty, that people playing drinking games drink more than the average person at the party? It might have turned out that the "game" aspects slowed down drinking, compared to the folks who had nothing to distract them. The results are not surprising, but they were not certain, and estimating the size of the effect could be useful.

Remember that much "obvious" research is only obvious in retrospect, and people would have classified it as "obvious" even if the results came out the other way. Do opposites attract or do birds of a feather flock together? Are you never to old to learn, or can you not teach an old dog new tricks? Is he who hesitates lost or should you look before you leap? And so on for every case where contradictory outcomes are both "common sense." Yes, we can make fun of them for researching something obvious, but you then need to give up the conflicting obvious idea.


Okay, that's about as far as I am willing to defend it. I may be back later if I can think of some snark that no one else has contributed.
1.8.2008 10:09am
WHOI Jacket:
I knew I picked the wrong field with Environmental Chemistry......
1.8.2008 10:11am
NickM (mail) (www):
The fact that women, on average, weigh about 3/4 of what men do might have a little to do with women having a higher BAC at the end of the night.

Nick
1.8.2008 10:59am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
It appears to me that research on alcohol abuse in the United States is inferior (to the point of being embarrassing) to that done in the UK and Australia and I wonder if that is because research on alcohol abuse has been politicized in the US.

I'd guess it's because alcohol abuse in the United States is inferior (to the point of being embarrassing) to that done in the UK and Australia. Really, by world standards we're a bunch of lightweights.
1.8.2008 11:56am
hattio1:
Zubon says;

Would you have been willing to say, with 95% certainty, that people playing drinking games drink more than the average person at the party? It might have turned out that the "game" aspects slowed down drinking, compared to the folks who had nothing to distract them.

Have you played drinking games? There is no way a drinking game can cause you to slow down unless you are consistently the "winner," and most of them are too luck based for that to happen. Let's face it, the point of college drinking games is to get fucked up quick. And, lo and behold, those who play drinking games get more fucked up quicker. Shocking.
1.8.2008 1:07pm
Aultimer:

hattio1:
Let's face it, the point of college drinking games is to get fucked up quick. And, lo and behold, those who play drinking games get more fucked up quicker.


Zubon's point was that it's a legitimate inquiry to ask things like whether the players ended the night having had more to drink, or just having had the same amount to drink, but over a shorter time. You leapt to the conclusion, but had the benefit of hindsight, as Zubon mentioned.

The study also showed that students drink less in bars than at private parties. You might leap to the conclusion that the increased cost of buying drinks at a bar vs. "free beer" at a kegger is the cause, but you'd need more data about whether the private parties were BYO, or charged a fee at the door, to know which buzz is actually cheaper.
1.8.2008 4:13pm
Matty G:
Anyone who went to college recently (I gradauted in '99) will probably agree with the following:

1) Most drinking games aren't played at costume parties. Costume parties tend to be large-scale frat-style blowouts, with wall to wall people packing the house/apartment/etc. Drinking games are much more likely to be played in smaller, more calm, settings, or as part of a "pre-game" before heading out to the larger events.

2) The most popular drinking games these days --- Beirut (or "beer pong") and flip-cup --- have odd structures. In Beirut, the losers of individual games drink the majority of the beer, but the winners "control" the table, so better players end up drinking more over a period of time. Flip-cup doesn't particular promote a large amount of drinking; the game revolves more around the flipping than the drinking.

3) People who play the most popular drinking games are not the people who get the most drunk. People who want to get ridiculously drunk don't waste their time throwing ping-pong balls at cups of beer. In fact, they are less likely to even be drinking beer.

4)Drinking games are disproportionately liked by guys, for any of the known reasons: guys like beer more, guys are more competitive, etc.

I highly doubt the study thought through the research design implication of any of these points before conducting their study.
1.8.2008 5:01pm