Drunk Book Summary By Edward Slingerland

*This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn an affiliate commission without it ever affecting the price you pay.

Drunk (2021) is a book that dives into the origins of why humans consume alcohol, and whether or not it's an appropriate tool for modern age.

Written by leading researcher on the science of addiction, author Adrienne Race, it takes an in-depth look into evolutionary advantages of getting drunk and how inebriation helped our primitive ancestors.

Delving into topics such as cultural contributions, collective creativity, and other relevant matters, Drunk offers readers an intriguing exploration of this often controversial topic from all angles.

It's the perfect choice for anyone interested in delving into the science behind why we get drunk and where modern society stands today on the subject.

Drunk Book

Book Name: Drunk (How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization)

Author(s): Edward Slingerland

Rating: 4.5/5

Reading Time: 33 Minutes

Categories: History

Author Bio

Edward Slingerland is an esteemed scholar, philosopher and sinologist whose work has been featured in many publications.

He currently teaches at the University of British Columbia and has written several books, including the acclaimed "Trying Not To Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity".

His book titled "Drunk" explores how ancient Chinese philosophy may inform modern psychological studies on control, focus and self-regulation.

Slingerland dives into his extensive research with a clear focus on providing readers with insight and information about this multifaceted topic.

Why We Keep Drinking: The Science Of Getting Drunk And Why We Can’T Stop

Science Of Getting Drunk

Humans have a tendency to get drunk, and this is something that has been happening since the dawn of time.

But why do we seek intoxication? In this text we’ll explore why our brains evolved to crave inebriation and how it can help us bond with others or even cope with traumatic situations.

It all stems from our “prefrontal cortex” – the area of the brain responsible for cognitive functions such as problem solving and decision making.

When we drink, it disrupts our cognition, allowing us to set aside differences and socialise with others more comfortably.

At times, drinking can also serve as an escape from difficult or traumatic times.

The discovery of alcohol is thought to have predated agriculture by possibly thousands of years, giving some insight into its long-standing popularity in societies across the globe.

In recent years, countries like Italy and Spain have seen lower rates of alcoholism due to cultural factors, potentially demonstrating that understanding why individuals turn to alcohol can lead to less destructive behaviours.

Hijacks, Hangovers, And Our Fondness For Intoxication: Understanding Human Behavior

Have you ever wondered why we get drunk? Is it because our bodies crave it or is there something evolutionary behind the human taste for alcohol?

Scientists have been debating this question for years and have generally agreed that our fondness for intoxication is most likely an evolutionary accident, a behavior that provided no real benefit to the species but yet has managed to remain anyway.

The two main theories behind why humans engage in drinking are ‘hijacks’ and ‘hangovers’.

A hijack refers to a behavior which reaps rewards originally meant for another similar behavior.

An example of this would be masturbation, where orgasm was originally designed as a reward 3for engaging in sex, but humans eventually found a way to use it without actually having to engage in any species-perpetuating activities.

On the other hand, hangovers refer to behaviors which might have served an adaptive purpose at one point in time but no longer serves any purpose today.

One example of this is eating food high in sugar and fat – like junk food.

The pleasure found from eating unhealthy snacks used to motivate hunter-gatherers to go out find sustenance, whereas now people can overindulge even with healthy food around them due to their hangover from when such behaviour benefited them thousands of years ago.

So when it comes down to why humans drink alcohol, is it a hijack or hangover phenomenon? That remains open for debate among researchers on human behaviour.

Why We Get Drunk: Examining The Reasons Behind Our Alcohol Consumption

Have you ever wondered why humans get drunk, even though there are so many negative effects associated with it? Well, according to Edward Slingerland in his book “Drunk”, the answer is not an accident – there is a deeper reason and purpose for it.

Slingerland disputes the hijack theory, which claims that alcohol hijacks our brain’s natural pleasure system and we just mistakenly end up getting drunk.

He explains that drinking can be extremely harmful, yet it has been an age-old activity, something that natural selection couldn’t have completely eliminated.

He also answers the popular hangover theory – known as the “drunken monkey” hypothesis.

It says that our ancestors sought out ethanol-filled overripe fruit as a source of calories – however, this theory doesn’t hold because primates have been observed avoiding overripe fruit and humans prefer their fruit unalcoholic.

Slingerland argues then that getting drunk is not something accidental or wrong-footed and mere consequences of old evolutionary powers.

Instead, there must be something more to it and worth exploring further that he touches on in his book.

How Alcohol Helps Us Capitalize On Our Unique Ability To Cooperate And Create Cultures


Humans are unique amongst animals in that they occupy an extreme ecological niche.

This means that they have to be creative, communal, and highly cultural in order to survive in their environment.

To meet these demands, humans developed several cultural technologies such as fire and agriculture which allowed them to be better adapted to their situation.

As a result of this adaptation process, humans became dependent on global culture for achieving success.

However, simply developing these technologies didn’t necessarily mean that humans could immediately access the full benefits of their ecological niche.

Humans still needed a way to bridge the gap between individual selfishness and true collective unity.

As it turns out, this is where alcohol comes into play.

By introducing alcohol into an environment, we can tap into our more generous, emotional side by temporarily disinhibiting our behaviors and allowing us to connect with others on a deeper level than ever before.

Simply put: when we get drunk, it’s because our extreme ecological niche imposes unique demands on us that require us to access a higher level of connection – something only achievable through consumption of alcohol.

Trust And Collaborate Easily When The Prefrontal Cortex Is Temporarily Disengaged

When it comes to building relationships and forging meaningful connections with people, nothing beats the ability to access our community-oriented side.

Our rational thinking can often prevent us from engaging in this type of collaboration and creativity – something that is essential for humans to thrive.

That’s why sometimes it makes sense to suspend the prefrontal cortex, or PFC – the part of our brain that focuses on long-term tasks, information processing, and abstract reasoning – in order to embrace creative solutions, strengthening communal trust and fostering a vibrant culture.

One of best ways to temporarily disable the PFC is through the consumption of alcoholic beverages such as wine.

Just think about how cultures throughout history have used alcohol as a social lubricant, allowing them to open up and form stronger bonds.

This phenomenon can be seen in Fijian village councils where meetings cannot start until everyone has consumed kava – an intoxicating beverage – together.

By drinking alcohol we can take away some of our inhibitions and tap into our emotions more easily, leading to better understanding between individuals and ultimately leading to greater trust.

Get Drunk To Unlock Your Creativity And Embrace Cultural Innovation

Getting drunk isn’t always done to just have fun.

There’s a physiological reason why we may want to consume alcohol in certain situations, and that’s because it helps us access our creative side.

Alcohol is the preferred substance for inhibiting the part of our brain responsible for fear-processing and thinking in abstract consequences (also known as the Prefrontal Cortex or PFC).

When the PFC gets disabled, our emotional side is accessible, allowing us to access deeper creativity.

Plus, alcohol promotes extroversion and group cooperation by initially instilling a mild euphoria which then wanes into other emotions as blood alcohol levels peak and start to descend.

While other intoxicants like cannabis create different effects, alcohol has become the undisputed king due to its easy-to-consume nature and solubility when it comes to breaking down substances within your body.

Also, unlike some chemicals, alcohol can be stored well if not consumed immediately.

Thanks to its efficacy in temporarily disabling the PFC – something children usually have yet to develop – adults can now access childlike qualities that promote imagination and out-of-the-box thinking that ultimately help us develop cultural innovations.

This helps keep our species growing, evolving, and innovating – all thanks to being able to reach an altered state through drinking alcohol!

Beer Before Bread: How Alcohol Might Have Fueled The Demise Of Hunter-Gatherer Life And Brought Us Civilization


Drinking alcohol has been an integral part of human society for thousands of years, but the motivations may surprise you.

Studies have shown that consuming alcohol helps reduce stress and efficiently adds a bonding element to social gatherings.

This kind of enhanced social solidarity is widely credited for helping early humans build civilization!

Going back several millennia ago, some clever hunter-gatherers began to experiment with planting seeds from wild grains and legumes.

This eventually led to the emergence of early agricultural communities with surplus yields.

They realized that when they left grain mashed up in water, something wonderful happened – it transformed into beer!

Drinking this concoction provided mild, enjoyable psychoactive effects which made it popular among parties and other large scaled gatherings from 10 to 8 millennia BCE.

This powerful social effect gave rise to what we now know as the standard story: after mastering farming techniques, humans found beer and settled down into agricultural lifestyles.

However, in recent decades, many scientists have suggested that it was actually our desire to get drunk that drove us out of our hunter-gatherer way of life first – not the other way around.

These findings suggest that drinking alcohol serves a dual purpose: it relieves stress in social situations while also aiding in strengthening bonds between humans since their earliest times – thus setting the stage for future civilizations to emerge!

Alcohol Has Had A Complicated And Evolving Role Throughout Human History

The impact of alcohol consumption on our species has been both beneficial and detrimental.

Our ancestors stumbled upon the pleasurable effects of intoxication thousands of years ago, and it likely helped us become more creative, communal, and cultural – enabling us to occupy our ecological niche.

In fact, our drinking habits could have even helped fuel the transition to agriculture.

However, alcohol can also inflict harm if consumed irresponsibly or in high amounts – as is unfortunately too often the case for many members of our population today – particularly in countries with “Northern drinking cultures”, such as Russia and Finland.

Even those living in the US aren’t immune to this issue: the culture of extreme individualism and easy access to booze is a breeding ground for problematic drinking habits – which makes young people especially prone to abusing it.

Given that alcohol isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, it’s important that we approach its use mindfully – while being informed by scientific evidence rather than moralistic judgement.

This means recognizing when drinking may have its advantages but also being conscious of when it should be replaced by more safe alternatives (like microdosing psychedelics).

Or simply learning how to party responsibly by limiting doses or holding events during breakfast hours.

Ultimately, understanding how to make responsible choices about alcohol can help ensure we continue thriving as a successful species of ape!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.