Do Social Drinkers Really Earn More?

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According to a recent study, social drinkers earn more — lots more.

Drinking alone at home doesn’t count. Barhopping without drinking apparently doesn’t count either.

What’s really interesting here, though, is not that this study may lack rigor, but who wants you to know that social drinkers may earn more. Having been alerted by Paul Graham to how much of the “news” is really successful press releases, my first instinct with any story that seems odd is to read the story looking for the public relations firm behind it. And there almost always is one.

First, just read the story asking yourself who profits by that story getting published. Then look for similar stories and see if they show up.

Sure enough, the drinking study was all over the news in 2006 with same press release cited. More importantly, though, it’s essentially a recycled version of a story that ran in 2002 (including in the Wall Street Journal) and in 2003 (new research, sure, but the essential story is recycled) and reprises research from 1997 and earlier.

So why the big news in 2006?

The authors belong to a libertarian think tank and wanted to block legislation limiting campus drinking at colleges and, of course, wanted to oppose legislation to increase taxes on alcohol.

So here’s a news flash: Drive more. Earn more.

How do I know? My extensive scientific research has shown that in general, countries where people drive a lot (say in the 80th percentile or higher for miles driven per capita) have higher per capita GDP than countries where people drive very few miles (say 20th percentile or lower for miles driven per capita).

In the 15 or so years since I first wondered, “Is the suit really back?” I have found that if you read any major publication, including top shelf newspapers, you can easily recognize the Submarine, that is the PR machine lurking beneath the headlines.

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