Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Booze Is Tricky, We Are Stupid

"To put it very simply, the experiments show that when people think they are drinking alcohol, they behave according to their cultural beliefs about the behavioural effects of alcohol."
—This BBC article about the placebo effects of alcohol also doubles as the interesting argument that alcohol-label warnings are themselves self-fulfilling "prophecies" for what they intend to discourage — i.e., that the warning "three beers can lead to anti-social, aggressive and violent behaviour" is essentially backward permission for people to act nuts after three beers, because it's expected. The author argues that creating an identical warning about coffee (that three cups of coffee "can lead to anti-social, aggressive and violent behaviour") would similarly bring on mad coffee binges after which young people would "rampage around town centres being anti-social, getting into fights and having unprotected sex in random one-night stands." Hm. Well, do they make anything with coffee and Campari? Diana?! [Via]

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this reminds me of the part in AD when Maebe and George Michael drink fake wine and get to second base.


@lizkimballet This reminds me of the time my friend proved the same hypothesis for a junior year science project with O'Douls and a bunch of his brother's college friends.


@lizkimballet Or that episode of Freaks and Geeks?!


Or the Freaks & Geeks episode! Aaah, science, proving what sitcoms have known for years.


@emilylouise @annepersand

I immediately thought of Freaks and Geeks when I read this. So good.

fondue with cheddar

@BScottie Me too! That was such a great episode (and series)! Bill drinking from the real keg in the bedroom was PRICELESS.

I totally forgot that fake wine was involved in that episode of Arrested Development.

The Lady of Shalott

If binging on coffee made me rampage around town having unprotected one-night stands, my number would be WAY higher than it is right now. Like, possible in the 100,000 range.

Let's be honest: I don't need coffee OR booze to be anti-social, get into fights, and have sex. But they help with all of those things. (Ba-dum-cha!)


@The Lady of Shalott It that pronounced like "shallow?" omg tjk I agree with you, but I'm reeeeal high on coffee right now and am feeling anti-social.


I believe it, because the reverse is also true--I am ALL GOOD after a bottle of wine.


So it really is just like that episode of Ready or Not wherein the girls couldn't get real beer so they served non-alcoholic beer at their "first serious party"?


@elizabeast Or Clone High. TV has known this for ages!


@Lucienne That'll teach me not to respond without reading all the comments. I basically said the same thing in response to liz and melis above.

Mad Dog

@elizabeast God, I loved Ready or Not. Taught me everything I needed to know about bras and getting my period.


@NatashaMcG People try to be all "Flash Forward!" and I'm like, clearly Ready or Not was superior in ways that you can't even understand.

But Flash Forward was awesome.


@elizabeast my one celebrity connection is that I know, but am not like, friends with or anything, the guy who played monkey ears. We interned at the same place one summer.

Katie Heaney

Anyone who's seen episode 2 of Freaks and Geeks could've told you that!


At my school, classes threw parties for their sister class, as they were referred to. All kinds of different things.

One year a band was hired, and the refreshments included the non-alcoholic stuff that comes in a champagne bottle but isn't. Cider, or grape juice.

And everyone got drunk. It was completely raucous. Dancing on chairs. Shrieking, laughing, disrobing. Even the band noticed. It was so out of hand that a bunch of teachers went on a mission to determine whether there was actual alcohol being consumed under the guise of the fake stuff. We were not that smart. But we did know we weren't drinking champagne. Even at the time, I realized how ridiculous it was, and it didn't calm me down at all.

I'm thinking that should make me, and everyone I went to school with, a really cheap date. Sadly not


Kate Fox, the author, is a former director of MCM Research, a market research company with a long list of drinks-industry clients. Doesn't mean her argument is invalid, but there's a significant conflict of interest issue here.


@wallsdonotfall There was this. CAUTION: Malcolm Gladwell

Judith Slutler

@josiah I lol'ed at your GLADWELL ALERT


So we all learned about this from TV, apparently.


This is EXACTLY why I tell everyone that smoking pot makes you very somber and is a natural appetite suppressant.


This reminds me of an article I read...in the...New Yorker? Oh great I think this is going to be one of those stories that sucks because I can't remember any of the relevant details BUT ANYWAY, some anthropologists went to another country to study the country's very unique, kind of ritualistic relationship to alcohol, and at some point realized that the main booze they drank there was so high in alcohol that it was like drinking ethanol...and should have been deadly/at least dangerous, but no one drinking it was even acting drunk, not even the anthropologists who were unused to this kind of drinking. WHAT WAS UP WITH THAT? I wish I remembered more about it.

fondue with cheddar

@eustaceia That sounds really interesting. I wish you remembered more about it, too!


@jen325 I DID! This is the New Yorker article, but you can't read most of it without a subscription, whic I don't have otherwise I would try to summarize it :(
But other than that the author of the study was Dwight Heath and the article was called "Drinking Patterns of the Bolivian Camba" and google scholar has a bunch of articles ABOUT it but not the actual one.

fondue with cheddar

@eustaceia Oh, yay! I'll check that out when I'm not supposed to be working. Thanks!


Did anyone say that anti-social was mistyped because we all know alcohol makes us ultra-social? I think and drink about booze too much. mmm Gin and Campari.

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