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Combatting the Bullshit

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Stopped by a bar after work today and the subject of Absinthe came up.

 

Both of the other participants, only one of which had actually tasted Absinthe, seemed convinced of its hallucinogenic properties.

 

Attempted to say, uh, no, it's just liquor. A very nice and quite potent liquor. Still, just liquor, all the same.

 

They would have none of it.

 

Apparently, I hadn't drunk enough to truly experience it. Grrr.

 

It's true, I have never drunk enough Absinthe to pass out.

 

However, coming from one person who had only ever had a small taste and one person who had never had it in their life, I decided it might be best if I just shut up before I started being too boring. The subject dried up, and other things came up.

 

What is it about the myth of Absinthe that makes it so pervasive?

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Start right here. Explain how poets are frequently guilty of hyperbole and if you are to believe what they say of absinthe, you must also believe what they said of wine:

 

Bacchus we thank who gave us wine

Which warms the blood within our veins;

That nectar is itself divine.

The man who drinks not, yet attains

By godly grace to human rank

Would be an angel if he drank.

 

Do they really think wine will turn them into angels? As likely as seeing Green Fairies, I'd say. ;)

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I kinda like the natural selection approach: since many of these folks are overly susceptible to hyperbole and deceptive marketing, try diverting their attention with the lore on strychnine. Sure to solve the problem.

 

Darwin award winners-to-be...

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It's some psychological thing, since it's an interesting fact that they might be able to impress someone with they internalize it and turn it into their fact. When you challenge this fact, you are challenging them, and since people often need themselves to be right, you must be wrong.

Or something like that.

 

If that's the case the best way is to possibly change their mind is to turn your evil 'attack' away from them. Find out where they heard it. They aren't wrong, movie x was just using older information, newer studies show it doesn't make you trip.

Of course the soft way isn't always fun.

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It's already legal but they removed the wormwood that gave it the kick.

:)

 

Not the wormwood, the pork chops, damnit.

 

Have you been letting Dr. Obstinate brainwash you? ;)

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It's some psychological thing, since it's an interesting fact that they might be able to impress someone with they internalize it and turn it into their fact. When you challenge this fact, you are challenging them, and since people often need themselves to be right, you must be wrong.

Or something like that.

 

If that's the case the best way is to possibly change their mind is to turn your evil 'attack' away from them. Find out where they heard it. They aren't wrong, movie x was just using older information, newer studies show it doesn't make you trip.

Of course the soft way isn't always fun.

I think you nailed it. Try to spin it so that they realize that you're giving them a new interesting fact: absinthe as a drug is and always was total BS.
So, um, absinthe is finally legal now.

 

When are we going to legalize laudanum? ;)

They'll never legalize laudanu, the original strong Czech style.

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...similarly I had a discussion last week with a "spirits writer" for a local magazine, and he assured me that absinthe was hallucinogenic, because after all, he had drugs in college, and the one time he drank absinthe he had a similar experience. Nothing I could say would convince him otherwise.

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It's funny, by assuring them that you know from personal experience that Absinthe does not make you hallucinate you only seem to confirm, in their minds, that you just have obviously never had "real" absinthe.

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...similarly I had a discussion last week with a "spirits writer" for a local magazine, and he assured me that absinthe was hallucinogenic, because after all, he had drugs in college, and the one time he drank absinthe he had a similar experience. Nothing I could say would convince him otherwise.

 

<rant>He must of got ripped off in college! He was probably one of those guys who was always buying bags of oregano ("This is primo @#$%, man! I am so totally wasted!"). Anyone who has ever taken a major hallucinogen (er, even several times), could not possibly think absinthe causes the same reaction. I would be interested in his doors of perception if he had absinthe one night (as much as he wanted) and a juicy juice with some blotter in it the next night. THEN we will see what he thinks! I mean this really chaps my hide... (or harshes my buzz). Some of us (you know who you are) at one time or another have really earned our hallucinogenic wings, and to have some wuss claim absinthe does the same thing, just gets to me. </rant>

 

Oh, but kids, drugs are a dead end street. Just say no!

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It's funny, by assuring them that you know from personal experience that Absinthe does not make you hallucinate you only seem to confirm, in their minds, that you just have obviously never had "real" absinthe.

 

Exactly.

 

I might add also, that the people who have heard of Lucid, say it isn't the "real" stuff.

 

I need to work on my spiel, though.

 

It really is funny how often Absinthe has come up lately. I usually don't bring up spirits in conversations, as I figure the ins and outs of Batavia Arrack or the historically accurate recipe for an Aviation, are going to be pretty boring for most people. But, nearly every time I've been to a party or bar lately, someone has brought up Absinthe. OK, one of those bars was "Absinthe Bar and Brasserie". Still...

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If I may throw in my .02 here, I think that the whole "I've had real absinthe and it makes you hallucinate" phenomenon is nothing more than the good old placebo effect. The mind is a powerful organ capable of amazing things, including making you believe that you are experiencing the effects of a drug, whether hallucinogenic or prescribed to treat some malady, when in fact you have been given an inert substance. In studies of some of the newer antidepressants, the placebo effect can be as high as 30%, meaning that 30% of subjects given a sugar pill swear that they were given an actual drug that makes them feel significant better emotionally. Compare this to a 35-40% treatment effect and you start to see how powerful the effects of expectation can be.

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And don't forget drug users who have banged all nature of narcotics into their skulls before, during, and after drinking absinthe, absinth, or steepsinthe, and are certain that their experiences are due to the concoction they drank.

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What the hell, I'll never run for office anyway. I did my fair share when I was younger: pot, acid, shrooms, opium. It's not like I have no basis for comparison.

I think that the whole "I've had real absinthe and it makes you hallucinate" phenomenon is nothing more than the good old placebo effect.
I'm thinking cognitive dissonance often plays a part as well. Some of these people spent a lot of money on nasty-tasting green vodka.

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I have had the same problem with folks that are convinced in their beliefs of these sort of myths(almost urban legends). And it's Not just confined to absinthe. For example, people believe that poppy seeds are harmless and cannot produce opium here in the states for some reason. No one believes me when I tell them that the only form of edible poppy seed comes from Papaver Somniferum, the opium poppy. And yes, any old kind of poppy seed found in the market will grow opium poppies. The better ones are found in the small ethnic groceries, though. Don't ask how I know that.

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I have had the same problem with folks that are convinced in their beliefs of these sort of myths(almost urban legends). And it's Not just confined to absinthe. For example, people believe that poppy seeds are harmless and cannot produce opium here in the states for some reason. No one believes me when I tell them that the only form of edible poppy seed comes from Papaver Somniferum, the opium poppy. And yes, any old kind of poppy seed found in the market will grow opium poppies. The better ones are found in the small ethnic groceries, though. Don't ask how I know that.

 

I also know that it you would have to eat a 12 gallon garbage bag of poppy seeds for it to show up in a urine exam as heroin.

 

Don't ask how i know that.

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They'll never legalize laudanu, the original strong Czech style.

It was never banned here.

And the recipe is original.

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I think that the whole "I've had real absinthe and it makes you hallucinate" phenomenon is nothing more than the good old placebo effect.
I'm thinking cognitive dissonance often plays a part as well. Some of these people spent a lot of money on nasty-tasting green vodka.

 

Woah. Jump back, Leon Festinger. I feel the need to dig out my old social psychology course articles and do a more thorough analysis of all of the components that feed into the belief that some nasty tasting expensive liquid that you thought/hoped would get you high actually does. Unfortunately I am too intoxicated right now and I think that stuff is somewhere in my parents' basement. Maybe tomorrow I'll have something more of substance to contribute. For now, kudos to Hiram for bringing up cognitive dissonance theory. :thumbup:

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