No, Not Tonight Man. I Gotta Look Smart.

Sept. 28, 2010, 11:56 a.m.

One of the more beautiful people-watching habits at Stanford is to notice the suffusion of what people learned in class into what they talk about at parties. I’ve always had a deep appreciation for punctuating an insight about foreign policy or James Joyce with a sip of an economically strong Popov and Hawaiian Punch, but it appears that I’m the only one.

That’s right folks, the always nefarious field of psych studies strikes again, this time revealing the unnecessarily alliterative “Imbibing Idiot Bias,” and it’s been tearing its way through the media for a month now. It’s a sound study with conclusive results, but the results are quite chilling. Writ short, the study reveals that holding an alcoholic beverage makes people think you’re dumber. I’m nervous, because at Stanford, intelligence is quite possibly the most valuable social commodity. Though in order to keep our own sanity we tell ourselves that everyone around us is as smart as we are, looking dumb is perhaps the worst faux pas you can commit, and calling someone dumb is one of the worst insults you can hurl at someone.

One of the reasons so many of us chose not to drink in high school or held off here is the fear of looking stupid. Fortunately, there are enough depictions of famous and very intelligent people drinking to convince people to loosen up eventually. Ernest Hemingway, Ted Kennedy, and Winston Churchill do more to promote partying that any current marketing campaign, even the genius “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials. Now those fools at UPenn and Michigan (just yet another reason I hate that State up North) and their meddling psych study are going to undo all that.

In the wake of this discovery, all I can offer is some practical advice. If the creeping spectre of alcoholism strikes and you find yourself drinking alone on a Wednesday and someone asks what’s in your glass, lie to that person. If at any point during an evening someone makes a boisterous insight while holding a glass, do real work to consider that point’s intelligence. And most importantly, if you see your crush at a party and you just have to talk to him/her/per about this fascinating article you read in the New York Times, finish your drink first.

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