I've previously blogged about my non-addiction to alcohol, and inability to taste its greatness. It has long perplexed me how people can get so hyped up about how this or that beer or wine has this or that subtlety in its taste that makes it so enjoyable and the best drink you could ever possibly have. And, at the same time, I have accepted, with open arms, the claim that certain people like alcohol because of its psychoactive effects, like "relaxation" and drunkenness.
I've long held the theory that people only make these claims about the super-awesome taste of alcoholic beverages as a pretense for their desire to get drunk (or relaxed, etc.), and I've been roundly ridiculed for it. However, unlike socially-mandated beliefs that people readily admit are garbage in private, people actually claim, in private, to enjoy the taste of their favorite alcoholic drinks and, amazingly, retain that belief to arbitrarily deep levels of "belief in belief" recursion. They see no sense in which they are faking.
But now, I have cracked the code. I know how to get people to recognize their own self-deception about the supposed greatness of the taste of their favorite wine or beer. It goes like this: if you genuinely enjoy the taste of your favorite alcoholic drink, then you should still want to drink it more than any cheapo kiddie drink, even if all it has is the taste -- that is, if it no longer had the psychoactive effects.
So, I did a quick sample among the co-workers of mine who have claimed to, like, seriously, I promise, be wine or beer connoisseurs and are perplexed at how there could be no alcoholic beverages that I like the taste of. I asked them the following question:
Assume that alcoholic drinks had no psychoactive effects whatsoever: that they don't make you relax, or open up, or get drunk, anything like that. And assume no drink has any impact on your body either, including health (such as making you fat). That is, assume all that there is to a drink is its taste. Then, comparing on taste only, would you rather have your favorite alcoholic drink, or a milkshake?
Every single one of them preferred the milkshake -- even the one beating down the door to get me to start liking wine. And I strongly suspect (and would like to test) that this holds across the general population as well.
The upshot is that I'm right: that the whole practice of rating and having a taste for alcholic drinks is one big sham, and people have extraordinary abilities to deceive themselves on the issue -- they are completely oblivious to the lie they are telling, well beyond the obliviousness they can show on any other issue.
So what would make people put on such an act? Simple: they need a rationale to convince legislatures not to ban alcoholic drinks, as they ban every single other mind-altering substance. They need to show how it's a "tradition", how it's "cultured", how it's a fundamental part of our society, how oh oh oh, I just gotta have my glass of wine with dinner, it's just so mature of me. And the crazy thing is, from my perspective, they don't even need these rationales. As I see it, your decision to drink alcohol is between you and your god (or Dionysus, as the case may be). Even if the most extreme claims about the dangers of drugs are correct, that would at best justify restricting their use to highly monitored "padded room" equivalents in which such consumption can take place, not outright banning.
And to top it all of, I bet the response I'm going to get to this post is a big, "Duh. Now shut up about it."
So, I find myself asking this question yet again: is the world crazy, or just me?