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April 06, 2003

A twinkle in your eye

DP posts on a weird study relating eye color to alcoholism rates. Similar stuff over at Neoteny.

Posted by razib at 10:25 PM

Perhaps its related to when alcohol reached various regions. For example here in the UK it is commonly assumed (I do not know whether this is true) that someone of Irish origin is far more likely to become an alcoholic than an Englishman. England being closer to the continent would have got alcohol sooner. Ireland being more northerly has (again an assumption) less pigmentation and therefore a higher proportion of light eyed people.

I wounder what the proportions of brown eyed to blue eyed Meditaranean types is.

Posted by: Emmanuel Goldstein at April 7, 2003 05:16 AM

Does that study account for white people with a significant percentage of Native American ancestry? My grandfather was 1/4 Cherokee, deep dark eyes, and an alcoholic for 30 years.

Posted by: duende at April 7, 2003 08:15 AM

It seems to me that light (blue, grey, green, I assume) eyes is a marker here for Northern Europeans. Dark eyes means everyone else (a residual class). So some historical reason may be it.

Chinese and Japanese have very different drinking patterns even though I believe their physiology is the same (turning red or purple -- once when a Japanese-American drinking buddy stayed at my place I thought he was dead in the morning).

In cultures with relatively low alcoholism (Chinese, Jewish) alcohol is used in family religious rituals. In other words, if you want to ruin something for kids, make them do it in church.

Cultures with high alcoholism, I've read, are those where alcohol is a privilege of adults. So the 21-year-old rule is really counterproductive.

Posted by: zizka at April 7, 2003 11:20 AM

Well, my parents raised me the Spanish way w/ alcohol. At 15, a little glass of wine at special family dinners. I learned to appreciate good wine enough not to be impressed by piss-like American beer and sugar-laden malt liquor.

Posted by: duende at April 8, 2003 08:08 AM

Why is American beer like having sex in a canoe? (Canadian joke).

Posted by: zizka at April 8, 2003 11:48 AM