Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stiffening drinks

"Moderate" drinking may actually help men perform in the sack, according to a study from the Department of Credulous Research at the University of Western Australia. It's a finding that runs so counter to popular belief that it is hard even to consider taking it seriously.

The study, sponsored (I'm guessing) by Fosters, is being variously reported in Australia, the UK and, for some reason, India. It's barely made a ripple in the USA, and New Zealand media has yet to pick it up. I'm wondering if this reflects the varying states of progress in the War on Fun, as staged in each country. I recall that, in Britain, there was a lot of fuss -- many years ago now -- about drinks manufacturers "suggesting", in their marketing, that a drink might be stiff in more ways than one...

The trouble with this is that, as an issue becomes politicised, it becomes impossible to write about it without taking a political stance. And it might ally you with people, such as brewers and advertising companies, that you'd rather not be associated with. So journalists will be put off such stories, even if they are real, for fear that covering them might damage their own carefully cultivated, politically-aware image.

Not that I'm sure this story is real. The story is based, New Scientist tells us, on an "anonymous postal survey" of 1770 Western Australian men. (Other sources report a sample size of 1580. Why the discrepancy?) I'm no epidemiologist, but "postal survey" doesn't sound very authoritative -- like "phone survey", but worse. Then there's the possibility that Western Australia might have cultural, social, economic or environmental factors that make it anomalous...

All of which just goes to show how badly I'm under the thumb of conventional, Shakespearean physick. I'm looking intently for flaws in the study; loth to accept that it might actually be valid. Because that would mean I might have been wrong.

6 comments:

SMG said...

My own non-scientific studies would tend to validate these findings. Are you familiar with the term "Beer Wood"?

vet said...

I'm familiar with the term "cocktail stick", if that's similar at all.

But "beer wood"... I'm ashamed to say, I've never heard of. Thank you for introducing it to my vocabulary.

Xigent said...

This post contains precisely the kind of leading-edge, yet in-depth and penetrating, tips that one comes to expect from blogs down under.

There are, of course, legions of sophisticated statistical survey methodologies that can adjust for sampling errors, small sample sizes, self-reporting, poor posture, nagging halitosis, etc., in mail surveys.

But this one does seem a trifle slapdash. If it's a postal survey, why confine it to Western Australia? If anything, all the Buddhists out there — monks, nuns, and their lay counterparts — might skew the results toward the dryly continent.

And what are the chances that (presumably) less inhibited drinkers would be more, or less, sloppy with the truth?

Feels fishy.

But to minimize moral hazard and bias, I'm going to accept the results wholeheartedly anyway, with an open mind and ungirded loins, give them a chance, and wait for my postal questionnaire to arrive.

I shall then dutifully self-report the answers I devised while reading about the study a few minutes ago, to save everyone a little time.

Ruby Apolline said...

Gentlemen! Thank you for contributing to my vocabulary. Always appreciated.

vet said...

Xigent, as usual, I can tell merely by the size of your insight and consideration that you are a moderate drinker. Thank you, as always, for expanding my mental horizons.

Nice to see you, Ruby. Glad to have helped to contribute a little something to your day.

Eric Lester said...

Finally. A subject upon which I may comment with some authority.

I know that I am a better driver, better looking, more interesting and funny with a few of those really large cans of Foster's in my belly. It stands to reason that I am a better lover as well. Urp.

The bed spins notwithstanding, I'm sure I've been much less interesting sexually in the last 25 years of alcoholic abstinence.

Thank Bast my wife is not reading this.