Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Is this true?

The BBC's Newsnight had a lighthearted piece on "Stella Artois" last night.

I stopped drinking Stella several years ago as it would reliably leave me with the most terrible headaches the next morning. They felt different to the muzziness one might ordinarily suffer from after drinking too much and I didn't like it.

However, that wasn't really the point of this posting...

One of the interviewees in the piece was an anthropologist and she made a remarkable claim. She suggested that, when offered a drink that somebody thinks contains alcohol, they will subsequently act as if it did, even if it didn't. That doesn't sound credible.  Is it?

10 comments:

kyb said...

Definitely, to a degree.

What most people think of as drunk is a combination of acting as society and themselves expect them to act as well as the chemical effect. Except for laboratory conditions you can't easily separate the two.

It's part of the correlation/causation thing that defines humans. (alcohol correlates with a particular feeling, but it doesn't necessarily cause it).

It's all brain states anyway, and you can get into some pretty intoxicated brain states without the use of any intoxicants.

Richard Brown said...

@kyb - thanks.

There *has* to be a way to capitalise on this.

Imagine how much money one could save - and many adverse health effects could be avoided - if it were possible to leverage this phenomenon.

I guess the problem is that the magic only works if you *believe* the drink is alcoholic...

Matt Brubeck said...

I've actually seen videos of psychology studies where this effect was demonstrated: people eating and talking, getting louder and more animated while drinking non-alcholic beer (as long as they were in a group that thought the beer was alcoholic).

Rob said...

How about the reverse? I mean, if I think that beer is non-alcoholic...

Richard Brown said...

@matt - wow... how strange.

@rob - now, *that* is a good thought... I could enjoy a bottle of the nice Rioja on my rack without guilt every night

kyb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kyb said...

The selling of quack medicines and placebos is a prestigious occupation with a long and glorious tradition.

You might want to buy shares in alternative medicine or food supplement brands.

Also, I find this clip relevant, but that may be only because I actually have one of those toothbrushes.

Richard Brown said...

Love the clip :-)

Rachel Wilson said...

I saw an item on TV some years ago where a young girl was taught self-hypnosis to make herself feel and act drunk and how to reverse it whenever she liked. She had some words to say to herself to make herself progressively more "drunk" and then another word to sober up. It appeared to work...

I tried to find a reference online but it was probably too long ago. But I did find this (i like the comment about backstreet mesmer-houses)
http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Hypnotherapy_20Drug_20Usage

Richard Brown said...

"I saw an item on TV some years ago where a young girl was taught self-hypnosis to make herself feel and act drunk and how to reverse it whenever she liked. She had some words to say to herself to make herself progressively more "drunk" and then another word to sober up. It appeared to work..."

Excellent :-) Why isn't this stuff known more widely, I wonder?