The government finally published its Asian Century white paper this weekend. It sure sounds impressive. With the kind of timing this government has, a giant meteor will strike the Asian continent and destroy it sometime next week.
In the meantime, let's ask a really important question: do intelligent people drink more beer? A recent study of children's brains in the UK and the US found that adults who began drinking as children were more intelligent that their more sober peers. The study classified children's intelligence in five categories: very dull, dull, normal, bright, very bright. According to the study:
'More intelligent children in both studies grew up to drink alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children. In the Brits' case, 'very bright' children grew up to consume nearly eight-tenths of a standard deviation more alcohol than their 'very dull' cohorts.'
Well isn't that interesting? Don't tell anyone in the Australian government this, by the way. It will infuriate them that adults could actually benefit or even enjoy booze. Nanny doesn't approve of drinking.
But what does it really mean if smart kids drink more as adults? Does it mean they have better paying jobs and can afford to drink expensive alcohol? Do smarter people tend to make more money and have more leisure time to develop a wine nose? What's going on here?
The best approach to these tricky questions, we find, is to ask how any given behaviour promotes survival. In nature, hardly any physical traits or behaviours exist which don't help a species procreate or feed itself. Anything that doesn't serve these two purposes is superfluous and extravagant.
Human behaviours are less easy to judge by this standard because we've created such a large margin for error when it comes to passing on our DNA. That is, with the division of labour, credit, and cheap energy, individual human beings don't have to spend all their time hunting and gathering to fend of starvation.
With a surplus of energy, we can afford (metabolically speaking) to have bigger brains. Our brains — our ability to think — are our single greatest evolutionary advantage when it comes to surviving. This thought occurred to us in South Africa, surrounded by lions, wildebeests, rhinos, and other much more powerful animals adapted to survive and fit for purpose in their ecosystem.
So to put it another way, how does having a drink help you survive? Be careful who you ask that question to. You'll get a lot of different answers. And to be fair, when drinking kills brain cells and causes destructive personal behaviour, it certainly does not promote survival.
But let's assume you are a smart little nipper as a kid and you don't drink yourself into a stupor before recess and the playground. Let's assume that as a responsible adult you're capable of distinguishing between a few drinks and a good time from an addiction that you can't control. If you can drink responsibly, how does that correlate with more intelligence or better living?
The answer is obvious!
Unless you're getting plastered in your armchair at home watching the Discovery Channel — destroying and feeding the brain at the same time — drinking is almost always a social event. You drink with friends. And what do you do when you're drinking with friends? You talk!
If drinking promotes socialisation and socialisation promotes cooperation and cooperation promotes survival, then drinking promotes survival. That's easy enough isn't it?
To test our theory, we're going to spend the rest of the day finishing our new monthly report and then celebrate with a beer at Barney Allen's afterward. We'll let you how it goes. In the meantime, bottoms up, Einstein!
for The Daily Reckoning Australia
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About the Author
Dan Denning is the author of 2005's best-selling The Bull Hunter (John Wiley & Sons). He began his financial publishing career in 1997 and has covered financial markets form Baltimore, Paris, London and, beginning in 2005 Melbourne. He’s the editor of The Daily Reckoning Australia and the Publisher of Port Phillip Publishing.