It’s alright, you can feel less guilty about your Saturday night plans now, because a Professor of Evolutionary Psychology Robin Dunbar out of very smart place Oxford University reckons alcohol is actually key to mankind’s evolutionary success.

Why does he say this? Because research he undertook last year into the functional benefits of (modest) alcohol consumption, which involved a questionnaire of pub goers, observation of people shooting the shit in pubs and a national survey (which I’m willing to bet was a much less fun form of research). Basically this was all looking at the effect of alcohol consumption on punters social experiences and wellbeing.

What they found was that sharing a bevvie or two was actually an important and powerful bonding experience. Writing for The Daily Mail, Dunbar compares our social needs to those of our distant cousins, apes.

Primate social groups, unlike most other animals, rely on bondedness to maintain social coherence.

And for humans, this is where a shared bottle of red wine plays a powerful role.

It isn’t just because alcohol causes us to lose our social inhibitions and become over-friendly with our drinking chums.

Rather, the alcohol itself triggers the brain mechanism that is intimately involved in building and maintaining friendships in monkeys, apes and humans. This mechanism is the endorphin system.

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(don’t get this drunk, nobody like this guy)

That endorphin rush release an opiate-like feeling of happiness that’s essential for real bonding and the only way humans are able to trust each other.

Of the many social activities that trigger the endorphin system in humans (they range from laughter to singing and dancing), the consumption of alcohol seems to be one of the most effective.

Sure, alcohol isn’t the only way to achieve this, but it sure is a good one. Don’t even pretend like you’ve never become absolutely best friends with someone over a ridiculous drunk-infused deep & meaningful and some stupid hour of the morning. No wonder we’ve been doing it since way back in history.

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There is an emerging view among some archaeologists that the reason humans started cultivating grains such as wheat and barley was not to make bread (as everyone had previously assumed) but to make a gruel that could be fermented.

One reason for this thinking is that primitive cereals cultivated in the Middle East during the Neolithic period, have a different gluten structure, making it more difficult to make good bread.

They do, however, make a very good gruel that ferments well. If you had to choose between a tasteless, soggy flatbread and a glass of beer, well it’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?

And why are close friendships so important to our evolutionary survival?

One of the biggest surprises of the last decade or so has been the torrent of publications showing that our happiness, health and susceptibility to disease — even our speed of recovery from surgery and how long we live — are all influenced by the number of friends we have.

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for humanity.

So then mates, go forth, drink responsibly, and bond with your fellow humans. Because science sense (in moderation, let’s not forget the moderation part) that this is actually very key to our survival. And who are we, to argue with science?