The 5 Most Ridiculous Drinking Myths You Probably Believe

Considering that booze is one of the pillars of human civilization, it's kind of shocking how little we know about it. For instance, we pointed out a while back that some popular misconceptions about alcohol persist despite being goddamned fatal.

So, before you get too drunk to read this, let's knock down a few more common ones, like ...

#5. Beer Gives You a Beer Gut

The Myth:

It's every beer drinker's unavoidable fate: the beer gut. The proof is all around us -- we all have at least one friend or family member who perennially looks like they're pregnant, regardless of their actual state of fertility or, for that matter, gender. And you, too, will get that nice round gut by middle age if you partake regularly.

"Every inch was worth it. Probably. I can't remember."

Your only choice in the matter is whether you suck it in whenever people approach or flaunt it like the wacky uncle who slaps his belly and boasts that "it all turns to penis after midnight."

The Reality:

The beer gut doesn't exist. Or rather, that massive mound you insist on calling your "one-pack" has nothing to do with actual beer consumption. Says who? Says science.

"Maybe we shouldn't have gotten liquored up before this test."

You see, some researchers got curious about this whole beer belly thing a while back, but presumably their stingy bosses wouldn't sign off on a never-ending supply of oat soda "for science." So they rounded up a 2,000-strong bunch of Czechs, a people who apparently wean their toddlers off of the bottle by offering them a nice stout. And what they found was at once surprising and freaking awesome: Beer appears to have absolutely nothing to do with the so-called beer gut.

In fact, research shows that the amount of beer you drink and the size of your belly have no correlation whatsoever. Hell, if you keep your beer intake under even a modicum of control, chances are it doesn't even do that much to your general weight gain.

So try an all-beer diet -- the worst that can happen is scurvy.

Now obviously beer has calories, so a huge intake will contribute to weight gain (especially since you tend to take very little exercise when you're constantly bombed). But even then, it's nothing more than what, say, a strict bacon sandwich diet would do to you -- any excess calories can lead to weight gain. And that weight may or may not settle right on your belly, depending on whether you're genetically predisposed to it.

That's right: There's a beer belly gene. People get fat in different ways, and abdominal obesity is just one of the many interesting fat-storing shapes that the human body can sculpt itself into if said human body doesn't take care of itself. So if you have the gene, you'll wind up having a pot belly eventually, regardless of your actual alcohol consumption. Unless, that is, you maintain a strict diet and exercise regimen for your entire life, but who the hell does that?

"Sixty more crunches and I can drink half a light beer!"

But if that's the case, then where did this fictional correlation between big bellies and beer drinking come from? One possible culprit is cirrhosis, a liver disease of chronic alcoholics that involves the swelling of the abdomen into that familiar beach ball shape. We guess somebody decided that calling it a "beer gut" instead of "organ failure" was less of a buzzkill at family reunions.

#4. Absinthe Is a Badass Hallucinogen


The Myth:

Absinthe is an intense hallucinogenic liquor once favored by artists such as Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Degas and Vincent Van Gogh. Concocted from wormwood and fever dreams, it's closer to doing drugs than doing most actual drugs. That's why it's been banned in so many countries, obviously.

Above: How people think absinthe works.

The Reality:

Nope. It's a myth. Always was.

The potentially toxic/hallucinogenic thujone that supposedly causes the psychoactive effects of absinthe only shows up in ridiculously small trace amounts. The whole reputation of absinthe is based on a very simple fact: It was a strong, no-frills-attached, cheap-as-muck liquor, and thus favored by big drinkers who couldn't afford fancy wines and beers because of the sheer amount of their intake.

"Please pour the next one into a bucket."

Because absinthe drinkers were the type who tended to drink a lot, their alcoholism symptoms were blamed on the "drug" effects of absinthe. The fact that many of these historical big drinkers went on to become famous artists didn't actually hurt its reputation, either: What are you going to do when you're a famous artist or writer and are asked about your tendency to ritualistically consume horrible under-the-counter ethanol products? Are you going to admit that you're crippled by alcoholism, or whip up a magical story of a mystical fairy drink that alters your consciousness and shows you, like, all the mysteries of the universe?

Absinthe has made somewhat of a comeback lately, and wouldn't you know -- it's still hyped as the druggy-sounding "green fairy." Of course, the stuff isn't any more dangerous than it ever was. Its purveyors are just ripping a forged page from the annals of history and feeding us the same bullshit our forefathers swallowed up, in hopes that its reputation will make you buy more of their swill.

"Absinthe! The only proper drink for the square-monocled gentleman."

#3. American Beer Is Weaker Than Others

The Myth:

American beer pretty much amounts to what you pee out after you've drunk some actual beer. That's right, the American lagers (Bud, Miller Lite, you know the ones) that Americans tend to prefer are way, way weaker than their foreign counterparts.

"Your puny beer isn't even worth invading the Sudetenland over."

It's one of those alcohol "myths" that are immediately verifiable with sheer, hard facts: Go on, grab a bottle of American beer and compare its alcohol percentage to, say, a Molson. You'll find that the Canadian brew is far more potent than its Stars 'n' Stripes cousin.

Molson: Because foreign beer can taste like urine, too.

The Reality:

The myth behind American beer being weak as piss stems from the fact that most countries measure beer alcohol percentage by volume. The U.S., continuing our proud tradition of shunning the rest of the world's measuring systems (just like that metric system bullshit), has traditionally measured alcohol exclusively by weight instead.

"Wait, is that talking about me or the bottle?"

Sadly, as reputations go, this proved to be American beer's undoing: When measuring alcohol by weight, each and every American beer ended up displaying a smaller alcohol percentage on the label than its foreign counterparts.

And despite the fact that U.S. breweries are now shying away from the traditional "alcohol by weight" system and embracing the "Screw this, we'll do what everyone else is doing" system, they're still fighting an uphill battle against the ingrained idea that American beer is weaker than the real beer the rest of the world brews.

You can try this with Miller Light, but everyone will just call you an alcoholic.

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