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Drunk or Sober? Harder to Tell Than You Think

A new literature review, summarized in the BPS Research Digest, concludes that “the vast majority of studies find that lay people, police officers and bartenders are in fact hopeless at distinguishing a drunk person from a sober one, at least at moderate levels of intoxication.” Even when given “more structured means of detecting drunkenness,” doctors did a poor job of assessing sobriety. Many of the signposts people use (red eyes, slurred speech etc.) are unreliable, or only reliable at very high levels of intoxication. “A variety of professions that might be expected to show substantial skill assessing intoxication do not,” concludes Steve Rubenzer, the study’s author. [%comments]