Drinking in films and on TV makes people drink more – or not…

I’m sorry, but there’s only one way to describe what I’m about to tell you – utter bollocks!

Research, carried out in Holland and Canada, purports to show that watching people drinking alcohol in films and in TV adverts (what about TV shows, then?), makes viewers drink more. What’s more they’re claiming there’s a direct correlation between portrayals of alcohol on television and in films, and levels of consumption in the real world.

Wow! And that research spanned two countries, so it must have involved, ooh, thousands of people, right?  Er, wrong – between them they managed to scare up a pathetic 80 test subjects; males between 18 and 29.

A mere 80 – and do you know that means for the test results? At best it indicates that a hell of a lot more research is needed, and at worst it is absolutely bloody meaningless. Because such a small test population is too meagre to yield statistically significant results.And come on, look at the age range – what guy, at that age, needs any sodding incentive to drink too much? Damn, it’s almost compulsory.

Why do researchers do this? They know it’s not going to mean anything before they start, or at least as soon as they see how few people they have to play with. Are they protecting their grants, perhaps? Or do some of them, at least, believe that such piss-poor research actually means something? If they genuinely do, then it’s pretty scary.

Who funded this act of futility, I wonder? And why? You almost never get to know the answer to that, but it’s very often someone with a vested interest in the results. However, I can’t conceive that anyone would want to admit to funding such a waste of time and effort as this.

The big problem is, though, that the news media will print this crap exactly as is, with no comment and no criticism – when their science correspondents almost certainly know it’s cobblers. Still, journalists aren’t exactly famous for letting the truth get in the way of a good scare story. Not at the Daily Mail, anyway, where I expect to see it trumpeted tomorrow. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

6 thoughts on “Drinking in films and on TV makes people drink more – or not…

  1. I used to have a friend who worked in a Govt funded Alcohol Advisory unit. He was very pleased with some research he was doing into whether bartenders served people when they were drunk.

    For free I would have told him the answer to this (having many times been served when I was under the influence). But no…he hired a market research firm to do this for him (at god knows what price) to discover what anyone (for the priceof a drink) can do, any Friday night at any popular drinking spot.

    Now this was nearly 20 years ago & I now no longer drink so maybe its different. The researcher is now in Canada

    • I still drink and I can tell you with certainty that bar staff still serve people who are absolutely plastered. Having experienced pub life from both sides of the bar, there’s a pretty much universal rule of thumb – if the customer is well-behaved and bothering nobody, and can still speak coherently, then they’ll be served without any problem, no matter how drunk they are. Seems fair enough. There’s the problem of psycho assholes, but they tend to be psycho assholes drunk or sober, all drink does is magnify the problem, and they’re not hard to spot.

      That friend of yours – it wasn’t him that pulled the recommended alcohol units numbers from a bag of bingo balls, was it? That’s got to be the biggest lie ever foisted upon the British public (well, after Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, anyway).

      Raising the drinking age is probably a good idea, though. 45 seems about right…

  2. not sure whether he was involved with the recommended
    units…..it has just been revised downwards….on the news last night

    they also said you can’t save up all your units and have them on one night…something I used to be known to do

    basically I knew this was not a very good idea (based on the results which were not always attractive)… but recall a friend suggesting that working out the average for the week was ok…..

    and no this was a different friend…he was also a psychologist but specialised in sex rather than alcohol and also worked for the government…

    having had ME for over 20 years don’t have these sort of friends anymore but I digress…

    the drinking age is largely irrelevant it seems..judging by the drinking habits of 14 year old girls

    I think I was 17 when I started and the age was then 21….

    Stopped at 36 when my ME symptoms stopped me working

    It was one of my better decisions………


    • Hi Sandie,

      Just realised you’re in Australia – doh!

      Yeah, I know I shouldn’t drink with ME, but what the hell – if I didn’t go to the pub I wouldn’t go anywhere (because there’s no walking involved with the pub).

      One reason I want to see the introduction of ID cards here is that it would reduce under-age drinking – no proof of age, no booze. It wouldn’t eliminate it – they’d still shoplift, as they do now, or steal booze from home, but it would make a massive dent in it.


  3. Hi Ron

    Yep I am in the land downunder where it is currently a beautiful sunny day….autumn here is my very best time of year.
    I think they use license with photo as ID here but there seems to be any number of people ready to supply under age drinkers. Often parents!

    I spent time in UK and understand the culture of the local pub and the role it has in the community, so I understand the attraction for you.

    When I stopped work I flew around the world (dumb idea) and came back sicker than ever. But it did get me away from my normal environment and thats how I came to stop drinking. Its really hard to do when you mix with the same

    DOesn’t bother me now if people drink but of course there are not that many people around these days.

    Keeping the sugar and yeast down in my diet is a high priority for me but we are all different.

    Can’t say watching people drink on TV ever made much of a difference. Maybe those commercials with the romantic dinners on tropic islands with a glass of champagne the centre of the frame. This is called euphoric recall LOL!


    • Hi Sandie,

      “… but of course there are not that many people around these days. ”

      Tell me about it! The curse of ME…

      The only thing watching people on TV drink makes me think is thank god they’re not in my local!

      I like autumn, too, for some reason – spring has always made me melancholy, while autumn is exactly the opposite. I missed the last two with ill-timed relapses (I’ve been trying to get to the woods with my camera) – fingers crossed for this year. I’m hoping to get an electric bike later this year, which should make a huge difference to my mobility.

      And now I have to go and sort out the idiot upstairs – something in his bathroom is leaking into my bedroom!


Comments are closed.