Thursday, August 23, 2012

Breaking medical news

In case you missed this groundbreaking work last month, the Journal of Caffeine Research (with a name like that they should be hanging out in my office taking notes) found that:

(drum roll, please)


Shocker, isn't it? You'd think that with all the previous pioneering research in this field (Landis, J. et al. Animal House, Universal, 1978) further studies wouldn't still be needed.

Better yet is how they obfuscated the subject to make it sound more interesting: they put sex into it. This is a guaranteed way of getting your paper more attention than it deserves.

Basically, they interviewed 648 college students about "risky sexual behaviors" and found that if you're drunk you have a much higher incidence of having casual sex, or inebriated sex, or both. I suppose this could also be done using a more mundane topic such as "more likely to incorrectly sort the recyclables" but who would read that?

Since such information is hardly new, they decided to put a twist on it by studying risky sex following the consumption of energy drinks, both with and without alcohol. And, in a stunning conclusion, found that the incidence of banging near-strangers went up considerably when alcohol was involved, rather than just a plain old energy drink.

Now, on the surface this may sound like some vaguely interesting paper about regular energy drinks (such as Red Bull) vs. those mixed with alcohol (i.e. J├Ągerbombs) but let's face the facts: it basically found that alcohol consumption leads to a greater incidence of risky behavior than being sober. No shit, Sherlock.

You could do the same sort of research about coffee vs. coffee + bourbon, or milk vs. milk + schnapps. Those haven't been done yet, so if you're a grad student desperate to publish in the "Spiking Drinks Quarterly" (or just trying to meet girls) this is your big chance. Please see the definitive paper on the subject (Ramone, JJDTMR Somebody Put Something in My Drink, Sire Rec., 1985).

This research was supported (according to the article) by a government grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Sadly, I'm not making that up.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see a study of alcohol v. alcohol + caffine. Does adding caffine to inebriation make things better or worse?

Anonymous said...

NIDA's been trying to make alcohol-infused energy drinks look bad for a while now(remember the four loko hysteria?), they don't particularly care about reality.

Sara / Aryanhwy said...

I'd love to know how you could have inebriated sex without being drunk.

Mama D said...

Ridiculous. As a scientist, I can only hope that this study was done to get hard proof or specific you point out, the general conclusion would be self-evident to all but the densest blockhead. ;) I could see some value (perhaps?) to finding out exactly how much of a jump in the risky behavior alcohol causes. The Journal of Caffeine Research was not available in my grad school library, but should have been. I myself did a lot of research while under the influence of caffeine!!

Anonymous said...

Sara/Aryanhwy, I too was amazed to find out that, besides being drunk, there were other ways to have inebriated sex. When I have a spare moment, I will google it. Or perhaps just bribe the first college student I come across to let me in on the secret.

Anonymous said...

And there are people starving and homeless while they waste money on this kind of "research", how sad.

Cthulhu Sashimi said...

But when is someone going to do a controlled study on green M&Ms vs. the other colors?

Packer said...

As to the field study results we understant The Queen is not pleased.

OldSquid said...

Damn, there goes another doctoral thesis idea. I often used (Landis, J. et al. Animal House, Universal, 1978) as a citation.

Mockingbird said...

So, when I have a bourbon and coke, I'm eligible for risky sex?
Will Phenobarbital work?
How about cheap candy? Flowers?
What do I gotta take for entitlement sex?
I got urgent questions and you people are no help!

C said...

Seriously? Good doG the stupid is just too much for me.

Nurse Kitty said...

Sadly, I think that the local University in my town actually participated in doing that research. I remember them talking about the study and how the results were new and shocking

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for your blog. found it today and laughed until I almost peed myself. As a veterinarian many of the complaints you suffer are similar to our client/patient. If you have never checked it out, feel free to pop over to veterinarians behaving badly blod for a laugh.

Mad Jack said...

It's because of the amateurs involved. Anyone who is headed for the pro circuit has already done all the stupid stuff they're going to do, and survived (those that didn't survive serve as an example to the rest of us). As a seasoned professional I could only sit back in amazement and watch the incredibly stupid things the other students did while under the influence. Sometimes I'd buy a round or two just for the pure entertainment value.

Amateurs. We all start somewhere, but really, you should have some idea of your own talents and capabilities before you decide to try out for the Olympics.

Anonymous said... a graduate student in psychology, I find nothing wrong with this research. There are many things that are "common sense" that are still important to actually do research on. Why? Because sometimes these "common sense" things turn out to actually have no scientific basis whatsoever.

I'm sure the reason the study was conducted was based on the fact that alcohol being mixed with energy drinks is a new fad among the younguns, and they wanted to see if this was correlated with anything above and beyond simple alcohol use.

Yes, I'm sure to the outside world this seems like petty splitting hairs, but this is what ALL of science looks like. Most of it is just couched in such obscure terminology about things we can't begin to follow that you don't notice it.

Leslie said...

Thank you anonymous at 2:34 pm. I think back over my lifetime, and at one point, it was obvious and common sense that couples who argued a lot let off steam and would be far less likely to have physical abuse. It was also obvious that hormone replacement therapy and Vitamin E would prevent heart attacks, and that walking sped up labor. Sometimes, it's good to examine the things we absolutely know for certain.

Birch Davis said...

Really? The study wasn't if alcohol makes you stupid, but if adding caffeine makes you more stupid. Which is widely believed and taught and has legislation based on it.

Anonymous said...

But of course there is NO WHERE to cut federal spending without starving children to death and putting a plastic bag over Granny's face when she gets too sick.

This study being funded is the equivalent of giving drunk college students a pre-paid Platinum card!

Pattie, RN

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