Ancient people imbibed for the same reason we do

Image: AP

Archaeologists recently discovered an extraordinary site in present-day Israel: an enormous Byzantine wine production facility that is 1,500 years old. …

How Neolithic, alcohol-fueled raves gave rise to civilization

We have traditionally been told that the discovery of alcohol was an accidental by-product of agriculture. Once early farmers were systematically producing crops, they’d often end up with surpluses. These could be stored for the off-season, or as insurance against a future bad harvest. At some point, though, people noticed…

The surprising history and science of intoxication

Bacchanal (1625–1626) by Nicholas Poussin, Prado Museum (from Lluís Ribes Mateu, Flickr)

Why do humans like to get drunk? Scientists have written off our affinity for intoxication as an evolutionary mistake, a trick that humans have developed for gaming our biological reward system into releasing little shots of pleasure for no good reason. This, however, is not a satisfying explanation. …

What a drunken twitter rant tells us about alcohol, spontaneity and authenticity


This single-word tweet was the beginning of an extended, drunken rant by the author Susan Orlean that delighted and captivated the twitter-verse last summer.

Some choice excerpts:

Humans evolved to strike deals over drinks

Photo: Marcela Palma/Flickr

In 1889, Jules Verne predicted that the “phonotelephote” — essentially a dedicated videoconferencing device that he imagined would become commonplace by the year 2889 (!) — would make business travel obsolete. We didn’t have to wait a thousand years. Videoconferencing became a real technology in 1968 with AT&T’s “Picturephone.” …

The evolutionary argument for happy hour

Photo by Caro Sheridan

Did you find yourself drinking too much during Covid shutdown? You’re not alone. Well, metaphorically at least. From mid-March to mid-May 2020, during the initial phase of the pandemic, alcohol sales around the world skyrocketed, increasing anywhere from 40% to 60% over pre-pandemic levels, with distilled liquor sales increasing more…

Edward Slingerland

Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Philosophy at UBC, author of Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization (June 2021)

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