Today’s infographic is an odd one, entitled The Man With the Golden Liver. It’s a serious (as far as I can tell) review of the fourteen James Bond books written by Ian Fleming, examining how much alcohol the fictional character James Bond drank. The result of their work (reading novels, mostly) was published in BMJ, the British Medical Journal, under the title Were James Bond’s drinks shaken because of alcohol induced tremor? Here’s what they found:
Results After exclusion of days when Bond was unable to drink, his weekly alcohol consumption was 92 units a week, over four times the recommended amount. His maximum daily consumption was 49.8 units. He had only 12.5 alcohol free days out of 87.5 days on which he was able to drink.
Conclusions James Bond’s level of alcohol intake puts him at high risk of multiple alcohol related diseases and an early death. The level of functioning as displayed in the books is inconsistent with the physical, mental, and indeed sexual functioning expected from someone drinking this much alcohol. We advise an immediate referral for further assessment and treatment, a reduction in alcohol consumption to safe levels, and suspect that the famous catchphrase “shaken, not stirred” could be because of alcohol induced tremor affecting his hands.
So they undertook the examination of the drinking habits of a fictional character and concluded he was a high risk drinker, worrying what consequences might befall him. I’d laugh my head off if the goal didn’t appear to be to warn others not to follow his example and drink too much. Has their been a problem with copycats pretending to be British superspies and binge drinking in the process? And that’s been since 1953, when the first book was published. So it’s been sixty years. You think we’d have seen this epidemic by now. If anything, based on the fact that no one reads books anymore, this has to be a waning problem, if indeed it as ever one to begin with.
To be fair, a number of years ago I did something similar, looking through the Fleming novels for instances when 007 drank beer, which I detailed in a post called James Bond’s Beer. But my goal was entertainment, not science, and I had no aspirations to warm people about unhealthy behavior in a character who wasn’t real. The “scientists” who undertook this “study” even have the cojones to say that “the author Ian Fleming died aged 56 of heart disease after a life notable for alcohol and tobacco excess,” suggesting a connection between the author and his fictional creation. Fleming himself always said that he’d based 007 on a Serbian field agent, Dušan Popov, although there are plenty of other contenders.
Another ridiculous caution is their finding that based on their analysis of Bond’s consumption he would have frequently drove a car with a BAC of 0.08 or above, which they note is above the legal limit in the UK. Except that the last Bond work that Fleming wrote was published in 1966. That’s one full year before the UK passed the Road Safety Act, imposing a BAC percentage. So if we’re continuing this absurd line of reasoning, it doesn’t even work by their own standards. At any rate, it’s an interesting infographic, I could just do without the proselytizing.