Marijuana aficionados often claim that weed makes them more creative. And dedicated alcohol use has long been associated with creative types like writers, painters and musicians. But what does Science herself have to say about all this? Jules Suzdaltsev digs through the historical hard data in today's DNews report.
We'll start with the booze. Legendary British prime minister Winston Churchill was a genuinely serious advocate of using alcohol to spur creativity. He once famously said that he would never have finished his six-volume memoirs without drinking: "Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than it has taken out of me."
In 2004, a landmark genetic study found that about 15 percent of Caucasians carry a genetic variant that changes they way they respond to alcohol. Nicknamed the Churchill gene, it appears to trigger feelings of elation and creativity that are fundamentally different than the reactions of others. The study suggested that, while the Churchill gene may trigger short-term bursts of enhanced creativity, that's largely due to alcohol's notorious ability to lower inhibitions - which effects everyone, Churchill gene or not.
There is some evidence to suggest that a small amount of alcohol can promote creative thinking. A 2012 study found that subjects with a blood-alcohol ratio of .075 performed better in word association tests designed to measure creative problem solving.
RELATED: Does Marijuana Make You A Loser? Not Necessarily
Now then, as to ganja: A 2014 study in the Netherlands set out to specifically investigate the effects of cannabis on creativity. The study assessed the ability to brainstorm, think flexibly, and come up with new solutions to problems. Participants were given two objects - a shoe and a pen, say - and asked to come up with new uses for them.
Interestingly, there was almost no effect on creativity when participants inhaled a low dose of cannabis. At high doses, creativity actually plummeted dramatically. Another study suggested that the placebo effect with marijuana is actually quite significant. Those who thought they'd eaten a marijuana-laced biscuit scored higher on creativity tests than those who'd eaten no biscuit at all.
In conclusion, there's no scientific evidence that suggest booze or pot makes people significantly more creative. You might get a bump from small amounts of alcohol, but that's just your inhibitions heading south. Weed doesn't do anything for you creatively, according to science. Although, to be fair, the career discography of Snoop Dogg argues otherwise.
-- Glenn McDonald
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NCBI: Cannabis and creativity: highly potent cannabis impairs divergent thinking in regular cannabis users
ScienceDirect: Uncorking the muse: Alcohol facilitates creative problem solving
PRI: Do alcohol and pot really make you more creative? It depends