FREAK Shots: Is Beer Bad for Science?

The more beer scientists drink, the less likely they are to have a paper published or cited, according to a new study by Thomas Grim, an ornithologist at Palacky University, Czech Republic.

Grim surveyed the behavior of Czech scientists and found a correlation between amount of beer consumed and papers published.

But the Czech Republic may just be an strange exception, points out a New York Times article; it beats Ireland as having the highest per capita rate of beer consumption in the world.

Or maybe, suggests ornithologist Mike Webster: “Those with poor publication records are drowning their sorrows.”

It probably doesn’t matter if you’re drinking Pabst or Vielle Bon Secours — the study didn’t mention the price of the beer making a difference.

Another study in Denmark (which ranks eighth on the beer consumption list) showed a correlation between high I.Q. and wine drinkers — and low I.Q. and beer drinkers.

Maybe Freakonomics is better read at a wine bar than a pub.


overcharged mind

Oh men! I will drink only wine until i finish my article!

I am going to trust such a important and esential investigation. No more beer!!!

science minded

Problem with the more or the less- what if you don't drink beer? I tried it only once 40 years ago). Or what if you only drink beer (there is no more or less) ( I must admit to knowing someone with a scientific bent who may fit this category)?

Where does that leave us?


I would bet that in a country such as Spain, in which wine (plonk at least) is cheaper than beer, the higher IQ correlates with the beer drinkers.


I am curious as to what Freakonomics reader is drinking their beer through a straw (in the photo). Obviously not a beer drinker.


Is someone drinking their beer with a straw?

Belfast Brendy

What a Grim study for beer drinkers.


Pfft. Utter drivel. The research group I'm in, our Professor (as does most of the group) takes in about 4 pints an evening, around 70-90 publications a year for 10 years. Welcome to 'the Oxford way'! :D


I agree with Janya. Does the quality of the paper vary between beer and wine.

I'm primarily a beer drinker (rarely wine) and I produce pretty good papers. Or is this a classist study?


For me, the correlation has the opposite sign with causality running both from beer to papers and from papers to beer: I always celebrate revise-resubmit invitations with a beer, and my best paper ideas came about while drinking beer. Of course, I cannot observe the counterfactual--would I publish even more/less if I drank less/more beer?

Glenn B.

It's true! Since I started drinking beer, I haven't had a single scientific paper published.


Keep in mind that they Czechs make the best beer in the world. If I lived in the Czech Republic, I would rather drink their delicious brews that write scientific papers too!


@12 & 13:
I wonder if the consumption of high-end or imported beers more closely matches the results of wine or regular beer.

Most imports really are not that much more expensive than regular beer, so they might prove a decent control group.


dah... flip a coin, get your result: the study seemed to be poised to reach one of two opposite conclusions about beer and paper publication.

Interesting Man

I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.

Stevie Hair

This study has raised some interesting questions. In the interests of advancing human knowledge I shall have to go out and get hammered tonight and see if this results in the failure to publish. :o)


Looks like a beershake to me. That would necessitate a straw.

Mike T

How much beer was Grim drinking?

Matt Weber

I thought the effect might have been driven by age (younger scientists drink more beer; older, more established ones drink the hard stuff), but Grim controlled for that. But Patrick's observation of the negative correlation between scientific productivity and social activity in general is right on...


What we must look at is the QUALITY of the resultant published papers. Are they cited at a higher rate? Are they published in journals with higher impact factors? And if so, how does this correlate with the quality of the beer consumed? Of course we would have to normalize the citation and publication rate to the academic field in question.


We're not number one anymore? Better fix that *grabs 6-pack*