Sociologists and psychologists know how to get attention - make a crazy claim based on correlations in population data or surveys of college students, use terms like factor analysis and p-value and statistical significance, and it will get into a journal. Since mainstream media love weak observational studies over science, it will be in the New York Times post-haste.

So we have been treated to "just so" science-y claims like:

- Women evolved to shop
- Spiritual people are brain damaged
- Conservatives are motivated by fear and cognitively unable to think with complexity
- Liberals are faking it and get more conservative when they drink.

If that last one is true, it makes complete sense that America has actually lurched to the right while electing a guy who claims to be on the left. At the Democratic National Convention in 2012, the elites cheered when the president bragged about using American military might to wreck a country no threat to anyone outside its own borders, and there was open rebellion when older un-American hippies in the party tried to take 'God' out of their platform.

Duquesne scholars Pavel Yakovlev and Walter Guessford can do the same thing, and they can quote psychologists and sociologists as references to do it. It's a delightful confluence, and it provides some weekend science, courtesy of a new paper which finds that liberals get drunk a lot more. If, as the study above found, they are also more likely to stop pretending to be all tolerant and diverse and super-smart and instead become Republicans when they get hammered, it explains their 'you are with us or with the terrorists' neo-con social authoritarian approach to everything these days.

According to this analysis, Democrats put the party in Party. It can be a keystone of their 'get out the vote' efforts when trying to mobilize science academia this fall: "We accept more evolution than Republicans - and more alcoholics."

Yakovlev and Guessford analyzed almost 60 years of longitudinal data and found that the more liberal a state becomes, the more its consumption of hard alcohol and beer rises. It's the weekend so I am not even going to question that methodology.  They cite Satoshi Kanazawa, the psychologist famous for determining that we evolved to find black women less attractive, so it must be valid.

Link: The Week

It's not just in America that the left loves the hooch. John Aziz at The Week notes similar studies which found that diehard Communists in Russia drank a lot more than their anti-Communist fellows. 

Obviously, social psychologists can easily find a way to make this a positive; they have often claimed that liberals are 'more open to new experiences' and alcoholism would qualify as 'new'.

And they may not be afraid of the health impact because they have the Affordable Care Act. No matter what they do to themselves, companies can't charge them more money for health care, so it can be open season on their livers.

Why would conservatives drink less? If ideology affects behavior, it may be that the morality and individualism of the right keeps them in check. The authors argue that greater reliance on government to control behavior makes any behavior not controlled by the government exculpatory to people on the left - the "moral hazard" hypothesis.

But why would wine consumption drop while beer and hard liquor rose? I'll tackle that in my next Weekend Science article.

Citation: Pavel A. Yakovlev and Walter P. Guessford, 'Alcohol Consumption and Political Ideology: What’s Party Got to Do with It?', Journal of Wine Economics, Volume 8, Number 3, 2013, Pages 335–354, doi:10.1017/jwe.2013.23