Alcohol Is Technology for Cooperation

The paradox of alcohol consumption is that it’s bad for our health and costly to society yet continues to thrive. There is no evolutionary reason for humans to have evolved to enjoy the taste of alcohol (in fact certain Asian gene pools like mine have developed allergies to it). However, alcohol provides an extremely important benefit, down regulating the pre-frontal cortex and thereby improving cooperation.

The PFC helps us focus and analyze, but it also gets in the way when we are “thinking too much”. Alcohol down regulates the PFC which improves creativity and reduces inhibition. In an important negotiation, the thing that builds trust is turning down your PFC. That’s why, since ancient times, alcohol is at the center of all gatherings and negotiations. It’s a vital technology to improve cooperation among people and, ultimately, civilization building.

Listen to Edward Slingerland, Drinking for 10,000 Years: Intoxication and Civilization.

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