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 ...
Beer Gives You a Beer Gut
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 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.
Absinthe Is a Badass Hallucinogen
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.
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."
American Beer Is Weaker Than Others
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 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.
Drinking a "Nightcap" Helps You Sleep
Ah, the nightcap. The quiet, dignified drink before bed, sipped in a smoking jacket while relaxing next to a fireplace, if old magazine ads are to be believed. Regardless of how you spent your day, a nice relaxing drink before bed will ease you right into dreamland ...
The fact that he's smoking a cigar certainly doesn't hurt the whole "relaxation" bit.
... and then you'll wake right up a few hours later, feeling like shit. Yes, if you think a nightcap is going to help you to get a good full night's sleep, you're in for a surprise. As in, "It's three freaking a.m. and you're wide freaking awake! Surprise!"
For the first few hours, your body will be busy metabolizing the alcohol, so you can look forward to a deep sleep for the first half of the night while your body is otherwise occupied. However, once it's finished doing that, your body's going to turn its attention back to you. And man, is it going to be pissed.
"That corporeal dickbag can really hold a grudge."
So during those wee hours, you can look forward to nightmares, snoring, headaches, digestive problems, night sweats and, because Lady Irony doesn't want to miss out on all the fun, insomnia. Oh, and in case you're male and figure you may as well work in some sex (because, you know, you're awake), you're also likely to be experiencing a nice case of the whiskey dick.
Still, at least you've got it better than those who suffer from sleep apnea. Their condition is only worsened by a nightcap because the alcohol relaxes their already shitty throat muscles to the point that they can stop breathing for up to eternity. Yes, that's our way of saying that nightcaps can potentially kill people. But at least you'll know you spent your last waking hours on earth looking suave as hell.
And that's what people remember.
There's No Cure for a Hangover
Every college kid swears by some bullshit hangover cure he got from his older brother, and none of them work. That's not just hard experience talking, but also the conclusion of the British Medical Journal. Back in 2005, they released the results of a massive survey into the effectiveness of various "cures" and categorically stated that, no matter how much you might swear by slathering yourself in tomato juice and wrapping your head in plastic wrap, nothing works.
Actually, no, that's not quite correct, because they did suggest a surefire way to avoid hangover symptoms: abstinence or moderation. Ahahaha! Shit! Sorry, what were we saying again?
It turns out that there is a cure, and a wondrous one at that: the bacon sandwich. And no, as far as we're aware this isn't some marketing team-up between the world's breweries and pork farmers -- there's totally legit science involved.
Sandwich science is obviously the best kind of science.
Those findings were the result of British-led research that came just a few years after the British-led research that said there was no such thing as a hangover cure, leading us to assume that the Brits, being the world's most hungover people, are simply desperate for a cure.
It turns out that the hangover-slaying superpowers of the bacon sandwich are a happy accident of its two constituent ingredients, bacon and bread. The bread is loaded with carbohydrates, while the bacon is full of protein that the body breaks down into amino acids, an important player in your body's overall level of feelgoodness. And while we've shown you before that drinking doesn't kill your brain cells, booze does cause you to lose neurotransmitters, i.e., those chemicals in your brain that allow you to do things like think and breathe and control your innate desire to dance the sexiest version of the robot possible. But the amino-rich wonder-food that is bacon tops those right back up, helping to clear up that feeling that gremlins came in the middle of the night and replaced your brain with a pincushion.
"Time to go perform some surgeries and then get my drink on again."
So add it all up and it means that, so long as you remember to stock up on bacon and bread beforehand, you can feel free to get tanked without fearing the repercussions. Assuming you trust yourself to fry splattering, greasy food while your head feels like John Bonham's bass drum during a never-ending drum solo, that is. So maybe go with that precooked bacon -- you know, the kind you just pop in the microwave? We're sure it's just as effective, despite the fact that it tastes like it's flavored with the tears of baby pigs.
For more myths you believe like a damned fool, check out 5 Ridiculous Sex Myths From History (You Probably Believe) and 5 Ridiculous Animal Myths That You Probably Believe.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 4 Goofiest Curses from the Bible.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover the truth about hairy palms.
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