In a now notorious bungle, back in 1986 the CIA judged that real per capita income in East Germany was higher than in West Germany. In 1986. 1986. As Pat Moynihan mordantly noted, "Any taxi driver in Berlin could tell you that was utter nonsense." The trouble, of course, is that the CIA didnt employ any taxi drivers in Berlin. Instead, they hired Harvard, Yale, and Princeton graduates who thought the idea that socialist economy in eastern Europe could produce a higher standard of living than West Germany was perfectly plausible. And in recent years the CIA thinks. . . well, no need to go there.
This week Nature magazine offers another example of science laboring to prove what anyone with some shoe leather to burn will notice in one evening of bar-hopping: Nicotene Sobers Up Drunk Rats. As the old saying goes, you have to read it, not to believe it. A sample from the lead:
A new study helps to explain why smokers tend to have boozier nights out than non-smokers. The work, done in rats, shows that a heavy dose of nicotene can cut blood alcohol levels in half. If cigarettes lower intoxication in people, it could mean that smokers need to drink more than non-smokers to get the same buzz.