Opinion: The Four Drunkards of the Apocalypse

Luke Haines

Luke Haines

21 July 2015

I think we're all more than a little embarrassed, truth be told.

It's 2015, Michael J. Fox is due to arrive any minute from 1985, and there's nary a hoverboard or flying car in sight. Let's not even get STARTED on the lack of giant, holographic sharks at the movies. The future, now that we're living in it, has been a bit of a letdown.

One reason for this is that scientists, if the news is to be believed, are spending most of their time down the off license.

According to the news this week, the researchers over at the University of Missouri-Columbia decided to take a break from curing cancer and splitting the atom to get some volunteers hammered and test their personalities, both before and after alcohol.

They then published their findings, in the process splitting drunks into four major categories.

According to this painstaking research involving three hundred and sixty people and an unknown number of scientists (which, coincidentally, could also have been carried out by a bloke with a notepad in any given pub) the four main types of drunk are Hemingway, Mary Poppins, The Nutty Professor and Mr. Hyde.

For those unable to recognise basic archetypes, Mary Poppins is the sweet, giggly type who is nice to everyone, the Nutty Professor is the introvert who comes out of his shell when he takes a “magic potion,” Mr. Hyde is the type of drunk who becomes lairy and aggressive, and Hemingways leave to fight the Spanish civil war.

We’ve all had quiet nights out that ended up like this, right?!
We’ve all had quiet nights out that ended up like this, right?!

Actually, the "Hemingway" type drunk, which was reportedly far and away the most common at nearly 40% of participants, refers to someone who is largely the same after drinking alcohol as before.

On the one hand, this is the kind of research that doesn't tell us anything new. Some people are dicks when they're drunk, most of us aren't, and alcohol loosens inhibitions in the shy. Great. On the other hand, it does strike a surprisingly powerful blow for the pro-booze lobby, a group comprised of everyone in the pub trade and all of their customers.

For years, the Government has attempted to kill everyone's buzz by implying that drinking leads to crime, and that anyone who drinks more than their strictly sanctioned number of daily units will either become a slovenly, white-vested spouse-batterer or the victim of some horrendous act of violence in the mean streets of Britain's drinking quarters.

In actual fact, the University of Missouri-Columbia has now proven that just under a quarter of people become more aggressive after alcohol. Years of dodgy claims in advertising have blunted the public's ability with statistics*, but to put that another way: 75% of people don't cause trouble when they drink.

Not only that, but if we include the Nutty Professor archetype in all this, drinking is actually doing a noticeable chunk of the population good.

Alcohol helps the shy to become more socially involved, makes some people giggly and altruistic, has little-to-no impact on the overall personalities of the majority of drinkers, and only causes aggression in the 25% of the population that are probably dicks to begin with.

Taken in total, this is a pretty ringing endorsement for having a few drinks - or at least a firm rebuttal of many claims made by the anti-booze crusaders.

Alcohol isn't the devil, and it's not to blame for all of society's ills. It's just a shame people have to be told such obvious things by academia instead of learning them the old fashioned way. In a bar.

*This column is read by up to seven billion people…

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