Nobody likes to have their most precious beliefs debunked. Your belief system is such an integral part of the personality you develop that in many cases it can become an obstacle to personal growth based on accumulation of facts. When facts get in the way of a solid belief grounded in misinformation, outdated knowledge, half-truths and outright deception, the extent of the impact upon your future growth is potentially boundless. Just ask anyone who refuses to accept global warming.
Even more threatening is the debunking of a belief system that dictates action. It’s one thing to stare blankly in the face of polar regions the size of a U.S. state melting at a rate faster than any known before. After all, part of the lackluster response to the dangers posed by global warming is that those dangers don’t seem to impact most people with any sense of immediacy. It’s something else to come face to face with facts contradicting beliefs that impact you perhaps on a daily basis.
Take the consumption of alcohol, for instance. Maybe it’s the beer talking, but an awful lot of Americans are basing their approach to drinking liquor on the basis of facts shakier than those offered as evidence against global warming. Some of these beliefs about drinking alcohol have been filtered through the dirty T-shirt of conventional wisdom to the point of achieving the status of ingrained alcohol.
Wordplay. Get it? “Ingrained alcohol.”
If every person in America had a nickel for every movie with a scene in which a drunk person quickly and successfully sobers up courtesy of a cup of black coffee, everyone would be eating nickel soup for lunch for a month. I don’t know if Hollywood invented this myth or just cemented it visually into the collective consciousness, but even if most people don’t try to sober up by drinking a cup of black coffee, they probably think they could.
The problem is they couldn’t. The scientific facts debunking the very possibility of coffee–black or otherwise–having the power to quickly sober you up after massive consumption of alcohol or even helping to sober you up at all are way too complicated for me to adequately explain. Which is why I refer you to this comprehensive article found on PsychologyToday.com that should fulfill to every skeptic’s desire the explanation behind its title “Why Black Coffee Can’t Sober You Up .”
The myth of black coffee having the power to sober up a person who has had too much to drink may grounded in a misconception of factual certainty. The idea could be that the caffeine’s stimulant power somehow has the ability create a zero-sum game with alcohol’s depressant qualities. Others might be tempted to believe that the hotter the coffee, the better it will be at bringing back the sober; scalding heat on the tongue is capable of doing some wondrous things about your perceptual abilities. While the caffeine theory and even the scalding heat theory seem just scientific enough to be good explanations, the truth is they are not.
The truth about black coffee having the power to speed up the process of becoming sober after drinking too much gets worse. In fact, the truth is a great big slap in the face of potentially every single aspect of your belief system relative to alcohol consumption. The process of sobering up is a biological one based on the metabolizing of the alcohol and its removal from the system. That particular link is to a highly scientific explanation of the process. This link offers much of what you need to know about the factors that can impact the rate of metabolizing alcohol. The good news is that many things can impact that process. The bad news is that a lot of the stuff you think impacts the rate does not.
A very dangerous website with the worlds Health and Guidance in their name actually have a page that lists the things you can do to sober up, including–you guessed it–drinking coffee. As well as dancing, vomiting, drinking water and, most egregiously of all, baldly stating as fact that caffeine not only increase the metabolic absorption of alcohol, but also–I am NOT making this up–cancels out the depressant effects of alcohol if you consume enough.
Umm…no. The fact that this site includes both the words Health and Guidance in their domain name and features them prominently on their page is one of the most useful illustrations I have ever found for making sure that you don’t automatically accept everything found even on a so-called health expertise site as fact. If you think that drinking a bunch of Red Bulls along with your alcohol is going to cause that zero-sum game that makes you neither drunk nor hyper, you probably also believe that caffeine has some kind of effect on the process of enzymatic metabolism that flushes alcohol from your system more quickly than it would otherwise.
In fact, drinking beverages loaded with caffeine is only going to hasten the natural dehydration that occurs as a result of drinking too heavily. Add Red Bull to the mix–or any heavily caffeinated beverage–and the effects of dehydration are going to make things worse, not better.
Nobody likes to have their long-held beliefs debunked, especially when it might mean having to be less impulsive and curtails your ideas of a good time. But you know what’s even better than getting drunk?