The latest piece of binge drinking research would be funny it if had been written by a comedian. The fact that it is apparently serious is profoundly depressing.
The BBC today reports that a culture of binge drinking is ‘well-established’ in north-west England. Liverpool’s John Moore university discovered this by going out around town centres on Friday and Saturday nights and interviewing people who they thought looked drunk.
They were horrified to discover that these people were indeed drunk, and that they intended to carry on drinking.
This is, apparently, newsworthy.
Among the shock insights uncovered by this crack team of researchers are:
- “drinking at home before a night out and drinking later into the night may be associated with higher levels of drunkenness in city centres”
- “drinkers who planned to stay out due to extended opening hours were the ones intending to drink the most”
So far, so many bears defecating in forests. But the bit I find astonishing, given that this report is coming from a supposedly reputable academic institution which presumably applies a certain amount of rigour to its research methodology, is “one in 10 (15% of men and 4% of women) believing their total alcohol intake would be more than 40 units before going to sleep”.
This gave Sky its headline for its coverage of the story, and prompted Alcohol Concern chief Don Shenker to comment “That some people are drinking over these amounts in a single evening is cause for real concern.”
So let’s get this straight: you went up to a bunch of pissed people on a Saturday night, interrupted their evening to ask them questions about their drinking, and when they told you they intended to drink the equivalent of 20 pints of beer, four and a half bottles of wine or 27 gin and tonics… you believed them?!
Did you also believe them when the lads told you they all had 12 inch knobs and had shagged all the most attractive girls in town?
Either Don Shenker and John Moore University are simpletons who have no understanding whatsoever of how people behave when they’ve been drinking, or they’ve knowingly bought in to a study which any serious researcher would laugh out of the room for its deeply flawed methodology, and cynically presented it as fact when they know it can only be taken at best with a huge pinch of salt.
And as the final link with reality is severed, what picture does the BBC choose to illustrate these supposed 40-units-a-night drinkers?
Go on, have a guess.
Twenty pints of real ale please. We’re all going out to get bollocksed out of our minds on J W Lees Bitter.