Scientists trying to justify how much weight they put on over Christmas have come up with a winning hypothesis, revealing that they now think drinking alcohol can have a positive effect on people -- as long as they're not drinking alone. Or drinking petrol in an underground car park.
The research comes from a team at Oxford University, who suggest the key benefit comes from leaving the house and braving places where other people congregate. Like the pub. Then having a chat while you drink.
The paper itself (opens in new tab), which underlines the need for "modest" drinking in its headline in order for the things it suggests to count, says that the entire reason we like boozing might not be because of the lightheadedness and the sense of amazing power that comes after three pints on a sunny evening, but from the social benefits of getting mildly frazzled with others.
Best boozy buddies
The key hook is that people described as "social drinkers" end up with more friends as a result of regularly going out and refreshing the bonds over a few beers, which has clear emotional benefits for life in general.
They also found that gentle drinkers who frequent nearby pubs and don't end each night in A&E described themselves as feeling "more engaged" with the local community, which can only be a good thing when the world seems to be encouraging neighbors to fight to the death in the streets due to differing opinions on immigration.
They make quite a good case for drinking in your local rather than the cheap chain near work, as the average length of a conversation was found to be vastly longer in smaller community pubs than when compared to the larger chain establishments. Those in bigger, fuller rooms spent nearly fives times the amount of time quietly not engaging instead of joining in and reaping the social gains.
So visiting the local tonight for no more than four pints is perfectly fine even if you're supposed to be on a January detox, as long as you talk to people and don't sit there in a corner doing nothing on your phone.