Thrilled to announce that I will be discussing Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization, with author Edward Slingerland, at a Victorian pub in Central London on 16 August. Sign up via for details 🍻


Really enjoying this book so far. Hope you can join us in London, but we'll also be doing an online event in September, so stay tuned 😊

Getting smashed is basically a cultural universal. The idea that it's an evolutionary error cannot be correct.

I've long thought that it must be adaptive at the group level, even if it's bad for the individual. digs into exactly what it's good for 🍻

Tolstoy on the other hand not so keen on substances. He got sober in his 30s I think, this is from "Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves," on the connection (or lack thereof) between achievement and alcohol. Love his dig at Kant 😅

Intoxication helps with with lots of human challenges: "enhancing creativity, alleviating stress, building trust, and pulling off the miracle of getting fiercely tribal primates to cooperate with strangers." Slingerland argues that intoxication allows civilization.

A tantalizing glimpse into the alcohol as muse trope. Reminds me of Olivia Laing's Trip to Echo Spring...

Looking forward to a toast tomorrow at the in-person chat with! We'll discuss the history of intoxicant a London pub! 🍺

If you can't make it, there will be an online event on 17th September, which has just been listed 🍷


I'm recording a live session in which I discuss DRUNK, which I finished last night.

Alcohol, argues, has benefits in terms of bonding, dosability, predictability, storability, when compared to other intoxicants. But distillation is new, and the potency of spirits may tip the scale against its consumption, when compared to traditional beer/wine

Importance of alcohol for armies. This is a point Tolstoy makes too, that hand-to-hand combat basically requires intoxication

Alc, alcohol, psychedelics, drugs 

@bryankam It seems to me that most cultures have *some* kinda intoxicant but that it's not always alcohol, and alcohol seems to be one of the worse ones. That is, alcohol can become a "drug of despair" but not all traditional intoxicants are either attractive to the despairing, or reinforce despair - see for e.g. peyote, which seems to be at worst neutral, possibly curative towards depression.
So I'm tentatively ok with the basic idea that intoxicants can be valuable towards cultural cohesion, provided that they are accompanied by well-adapted social customs and norms, but I'm not willing to cut alcohol too much slack on that account alone. It's a fairly shit intoxicant, as they go.

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