“A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.
“In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.
“And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”
Finally there is a bit of evidence to back up what Cliff Clavin [Cheers] has been saying all along…
Beer makes men smarter. Alright, so this might not be a hard and fast rule across the board, but in a recent study from the University of Illinois in Chicago found that men with a couple of beers under their belts were actually better at solving brain-teasers than their sober counterparts.
To reach that surprising conclusion, the researchers devised a bar game in which 40 men were given three words and told to come up with a fourth that fits the pattern. For example, the word “cheese” could fit with words like “blue” or “cottage” or “Swiss.” Half the players were given two pints. The other half got nothing.
Those who imbibed solved 40% more of the problems that their sober counterparts. Also, the drinkers finished their problems in 12 seconds while it took the non-drinkers 15.5 seconds.
Jennifer Wiley, a psycologist reporting on the Federation of Associations in Behavioural and Brain Sciences site, stated that, “At 0.07 blood alcohol, people were worse at working memory tasks, but they were better at creative problem-solving tasks.”
Wiley conceded that her findings run counter to popular belief that alcohol hinders analytical thinking and muddies the mind. ”We have this assumption, that being able to focus on one part of a problem or having a lot of expertise is better for problem solving,” says Wiley. “But that’s not necessarily true. Innovation may happen when people are not so focused. Sometimes it’s good to be distracted.”
It may also help explain why raving drunks like Ernest Hemingway, John Cheever or Charles Bukowski were able to write their books. “Sometimes the really creative stuff comes out when you’re having a glass of wine over dinner, or when you’re taking a shower,” Wiley said.
DRINKING IN MODERATION TIP
Researchers also found that men are more likely to solve a problem when working in groups of three rather than two.
“In groups of two, we tend to be more polite, not to confront or ask questions,” Wiley said. “But when you respond to a question in a group of three, you’re not confronting, you’re speaking up for the whole group.”