Global Societal Delusions and the Drinking of Wine

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Discussion by: David R Allen

I’m retired.  A group of like minded retirees meet weekly at a coffee shop overlooking one of Australia's magnificent white sand beaches.  One of us even came up for a name for the group and called it E=MC2, complete with T Shirts.  Entertainment = Men x Coffee x Conversion.  I think you get the picture of the type of guys that get together for a chat.  A bit like an episode of Grumpy Old Men.  We’ve solved most of the world’s problems in our time.

But there was one discussion and solution that was truly scary.   I asked the question, “Would horse racing exist if there wasn’t betting?”  After some discussion, we all agreed that there would be no such industry.  No Melbourne Cup or Royal Ascot.  No stud industry or race tracks occupying huge tracts of urban land.  We distilled down a principle that a society can go through a massive self-delusion to convince itself that the “Sport of Kings” is some noble activity, when in fact, it’s just a chance to gamble. 

Now this is where it gets scary.  I next asked, “Would anyone drink wine if it didn’t have any alcohol?”  We’re all wine drinkers with the whole box and dice.  Peruse the wine list. Discuss merits of this bottle versus that bottle. Matching the choice with the food.  Bouquets.  This was a drought year and brought out the flavour etc.  Anyone who drinks wine will know these conversations.

Initially the table was silent but as the discussion got going, it was obvious that we drink wine to feel the narcotic effects of the drug alcohol. Release the inhibitions and laugh out loud.  Would there be a massive worldwide industry that produced aged oak barrel grape juice if it had no alcohol?  Would people pay $40 for a bottle of Shiraz grape juice to have with their steak?  Would there be wine guides and gold stars and winery tastings and tours?  Once we realized that we drink wine because it contains alcohol, the entire surrounding social behaviour associated with wine was a total…..  Forgive my Latin but I think the term is, “we were auto-eroticists.”   We were a term that rhymes with “anchors”. 

I now don’t particular care what wine I drink.  Yeah whatever.  I drink the wine because it contains alcohol.  There isn’t any good wine or bad wine.  I have to hold my tongue when out at a restaurant now as someone holds the floor and waxes lyrical about the wine they will choose for us all to drink.  Anchor.

Here’s the serious bit.  We, as a society, are capable of creating great and intricate activities that are based on urban delusions. Worldwide delusions.  A bit like religion, which is the point of my post. Horse racing and wine drinking are but two that we’ve come up with. Consider the bed quilt!!!  How can we as a rational species be capable of such massive worldwide delusions?  We cannot see through the delusion, and actually pass it on from parent to child, just like religion.  This was jaw dropping to the E=MC2’s. 

We don’t talk about this theory to anyone.  A couple of times I started to mention it to others, but the response was to question my IQ.  They may be right.  I/We may be deluded into thinking that society can have mass delusions.  So I post this question to the RDFRS web page seeking comment.  Are we mad, or are we onto something?

(p.s. Don’t tell the wine industry if you conclude this hypothesis is true.  It would collapse overnight.)

45 COMMENTS

  1. I think you all were drinking too much wine when you suddenly realized that this might be a profound thought. Good thing you weren’t smoking marijuana. …and I’m thinking that you were drinking wine when you wrote this topic….I’m glad you had a great time with your buddies.

    It’s called grape juice. Ever hear of it? Children and all sorts of people drink grape juice. You can see rows of the stuff in grocery stores too. There’s a novel idea. I’ve purchased grape juice from wineries and it’s the best.Though I won’t pay top price for it. Some are now packaging high end juices as “antioxidants.” and selling it for a pretty penny. Yes, we drink wine because it has alcohol. It’s good to cook with too except the alcohol is no longer present. I say beer drinkers would not drink beer if it didn’t have alcohol. No one like the fake beer, but everyone likes grape juice. These facts thereby prove the superiority of wine drinkers over beer drinkers.

    Here’s a thought. No one would have sex if it didn’t feel really good. All that talk about passing on your genes is bunk. Males just want to get a big O. All that talk about certain male animals killing off the offspring of another male doesn’t have to do with any concern for the species or having their own offspring, just the opportunity to mate and get more orgasms. They tolerate the little cubs because they are THEIRS and killing them off would piss off the females and kill of their opportunity to mate on a regular basis and get more orgasms. They’ll kill off their male offspring, but keep the females because they want to bang them too.

    My guess is that you asked the moderators to post this on March 31 for April fools, but it was posted a few days too early.

  2. I don’t entirely agree. Yes there are hype trains everyone jumps on because, well, everyone jumps on, or hipster trains going in the other direction, that a few jump. Peer pressure and all that.

    As for horse racing, The people I know who like horse stuff (and I’m not particularly keen on them myself) tend to prefer other horse-related activities, like show jumping, cross-country and so on, so at least, I’d agree on that :)

    There are also genuine interest in odd things. I like a whisky once sometimes, not because it’s ‘cool’, not because I like to get blasted and speak incoherently, but because I like the taste, if you can believe it. And I don’t really like wine either, never did. Beers, from time to time, but not the cheap stuff. I have some weird tastes in music too. I don’t enjoy classical music, it just doesn’t work on me. Does that make me weird?

    You can take any sport as an example too. You will find that a lot of interest in sporting events sometimes have nothing to do with the sport itself. Most people wouldn’t give the tiniest sh*t about, say, Curling, or cycling. Yet, living in England, there was that media-generated Curling fever, and the Tour De France. All the interest wasn’t really the sport, but the medal and winning potential. When it comes back to that, it’s time to abandon the ship. Although some people do enjoy curling and competitive cycling for what it is, and that’s fine too.

    Everything isn’t always just hype, and social conditioning. Some of the interest in odd things is genuine.

    BTW, can you see yourself enjoying the same philosophical discussions with your pals on a regular bases without some form of mild (or severe) intoxication going on? If you don’t like wine, then what would then become your ‘poison’? I suggest cocktails until you find out which ones are more according to your taste :)

  3. While I’m sure for some people it is a case of delusion, it doesn’t stand that this is the case for everyone.

    I’m sure you can appreciate the different flavours of different wine’s while being fully aware that you’re only drinking it for it’s alcoholic content. If you’re going to drink alcohol, why not enjoy the taste of it while doing so?

    The same can be applied to anything else.
    Some people like gambling, but different people prefer different flavours of gambling, for some it may be horse racing, because they also happen to like horses, or they like being snobby and pretentious, whatever floats their boat.

  4. Campari has alcohol in it, but I will never voluntarily drink it ever again because I don’t like the taste (I think it tastes like cough medicine).

    Yup, most (99.99999%) of people drink for the effect it has on your brain, but some drink is better tasting. But I think you are right that most of the “wine tasting” etc… would be a lot smaller affair if we only had grape juice. Rationalizing is a long and “noble” tradition when people decide they like something for “base” reasons and want to continue it for “good” reasons.

    I drink for the buzz; I choose my drink for the taste (capped at $20 a bottle for wine, and you can get good ones for less, even here where it is taxed a LOT).

  5. Do I think most people are superstitious and quite gullible? Yes, definitely. Even the ones who call themselves rational tend to do quite irrational things and practice self-delusion and -denial on a regular basis. I think this is something many people have a very hard time accepting or even acknowledging. We like to think of ourselves as in control and rational beings. This might be the one time when religious people are actually more honest than non-believers. Religious (or should I perhaps say spiritual) people tend to be quite aware of their own irrationality. In many cases they even embrace the fact that they have no clue why they are doing certain things. I guess, they take it as evidence that they are ruled by a spiritual force or by an inner immaterial self. You can see this very clearly in almost all “primitive” religions. They all have rituals that usually have the purpose of leading the believer into a state of trance or some kind of mass hypnosis. As religions turned into political organizations these rituals were largely substituted with more modest and restrained rituals although they are still present.

    I think this is true for our modern societies as a whole, but especially intellectual people tend to have a much harder time accepting their irrational behavior. This leads to all sorts of rationalizations and intellectual excuses for doing things that are really driven by more primitive and irrational urges. This is pretty much what we call a civilization and being civilized. We camouflage our primitive urges and act as if they don’t exist. We talk about making love, while in real life we know that most people fuck. We go to fine restaurants and pay a small fortune to eat luxury dishes that you have to learn to like (sometimes made out of parts of the animal or vegetables that people used to throw away in the past). It’s like we are even trying to pretend hunger or thirst does not exist. Because when you are really hungry you don’t crave for roasted duck with raspberry glaze with a fancy chardonnay. You want a fatty king size burger with extra cheese and a gallon of some ice cold soft drink. In the same way we talk about careers and hobbies as ways of fulfilling ourselves or that we want to help others or the society as a whole. In reality though, variables like prestige and financial gain have much more to do with why we choose certain paths in life.

    I am not saying that a civilized life style is a bad thing altogether. It’s obvious that restraining ourselves is in many ways a good thing and absolutely crucial in order to get along. The problem though, is when we create societies that seem civilized but are really quite ruthless, primitive and irrational when you scratch the surface. I think variables like extreme individualism and capitalism that characterizes many of our modern societies are good examples of this. Primitive and irrational urges (like greed, hedonism, envy and hunger for power and control) camouflaged as civilized behavior. The Wall Street executive in his expensive suit stealing billions of dollars while eating a luxury dinner is perhaps the best example of this phenomenon…

  6. I’ve known a few wine buffs in my time and tend to think the term is a code for alcoholics. Other than attending a wine tasting, drinking at ten in the morning would be cause for alarm. Being the early-birds at a cellar door?…..no problems there.

    The recent film Red Obsession showed the absurd lengths wine buffs will go to in order to secure a bottle of plonk. No wine is worth the inflated prices fetched at an auction. It’s almost 100% hype.

    • In reply to #7 by Nitya:

      The recent film Red Obsession showed the absurd lengths wine buffs will go to in order to secure a bottle of plonk. No wine is worth the inflated prices fetched at an auction. It’s almost 100% hype.

      A lot of this is hyped snobbery and one up-man-ship, in making conversation for the chattering classes.

      It reminds me about a funny story of my daughter’s experience when she went to university near London, and being half Scottish as well as coming from the far north of England, some southern students thought they would “enlighten” her about the culture of food and drink (as she from the “cave-dwelling” north!).

      She was invited to a social gathering at a Japanese restaurant, where the Essex crowd ordered English food, – but she ordered Japanese food and chop-sticks to eat it with.
      When asked where she learned that, she replied, “On a student exchange visit in Japan”!
      Any discussion of wine as snob value was also probably a waste of their time, given that as a teenager, she had had a weekend job as a waitress in an Italian restaurant – chatting with the wine waiters in quiet periods.

  7. Undoubtedly there is a lot of BS talked about wine. My favourite god, Dionysus, is the Greek god of wine perhaps better known as the Roman god Bacchus. I’m sure the stuff Jesus turned out at the wedding was piss poor compared with what David and his mates drink whilst admiring the white sand and the rolling ocean !

    David might be amused of something I read somewhere, where a guy was reminiscing about a great meal he had had. “I forget ze restaurant, I forget ze girl, but ze wine was Chambertin !”

    Actually the Kiwis are doing a pretty good imitation of that right now !

  8. The comments so far run parallel with those I get in discussion. I suspect the main point of my question was the ability of society, worldwide society to adopt and believe in delusions, using wine and horse racing as examples. I enjoy my wine. I have a flutter on the Melbourne cup and buy a XLotto ticket. The delusion is not the activity, but the reasons we tell ourselves to justify our behaviour.

    “Oh the bouquet and colour of this wine. The delicate tannin finish with undertones of blackberry and a hint of smoke.”

    That to me is the delusion. How our brain creates this complicated societal delusion to justify our drinking alcohol. Since realizing this, I now just ask for a glass of wine and don’t particularly care about any further details. To participate in a discussion about the comparative merits of one wine over another, when all I want is some alcohol would to me be hypocritical.

    So my question was more about our (dis)ability as a species to created edifices like wine and gambling, but including religion. What I ponder long into the night is why we can do this. I formerly did it with wine, so I am guilty of this behaviour, but most of humanity still does it with religion, and also wine, gambling and many other false premises. Why can such an potentially intelligent animal be capable of such delusions.

    (As an aside Kat, beware the antioxidant. Research publish in the journal Science shows antioxidants can increase the risk of lung cancer in mice. The biological path to this increased risk in mice is the same mechanism used by humans.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/343/6170/477.summary)

    • In reply to #11 by Dublin-atheist:

      If heroin didn’t give the user a high and injecting a syringe full of death into his/her arm had no more affect than injecting vitamins but with all the dangers would anyone bother?

      Heroin is actually quite interesting. It’s well known that opiates like morphine when administered in hospitals rarely give patients a particular high. The effects are usually more described as a feeling of numbness. Many patients in fact experience severe nausea and other unpleasant side effects. Hence, it’s quite interesting that heroin (an opioid that is closely related to opiates) is almost exclusively described as this very intense drug that gives the user an enormous high. In fact, I recently read an article where a researcher argued that the perceived euphoric effects of heroin might be due to the brief respite that heroin provides from intense pain, depression and anxiety. In other words, a normal healthy person would perhaps not experience strong euphoria. I think there might be something to this argument. Heroin is usually a drug people start taking when they are already strongly addicted to other substances. There’s probably a good reason why heroin is not your typical party drug. I think the main reason is that heroin unlike substances like amphetamine or LSD does not really give you these mind altering experience that normal healthy people would find interesting. I mean, what healthy party goer would like to feel numb? Is not euphoria about experiencing more not less, unless you are so burdened by pain and anxiety that a brief relief from these symptoms feels like heaven. This of course would also mean that the treatment of heroin addiction should perhaps focus more on the addict’s life situation than on the addiction per se.

    • In reply to #11 by Dublin-atheist:

      If heroin didn’t give the user a high and injecting a syringe full of death into his/her arm had no more affect than injecting vitamins but with all the dangers would anyone bother?

      I didn’t quite understand this… Can you type a bit more slowly or expand.

      Another example of a worldwide societal delusion. You are inside you house. It is warm. Up out of bed. Shirt and Trousers. Outside it is winter. So off to the shop. You put on a vest, jumper, overcoat, scarf, hat and boots. What are you doing? What science are you unconsciously using in your decisions about what you wear before you go out into the cold. Thermodynamics. You are adding layers to insulate your body from the cold, and trap layers of air, which are heated by your body and retained. If while you are out walking to the shop, the sun comes out and it gets warm, you will slowly shed some of those layers. We all do this. It is common sense.

      At night, you go to bed. You reach down and pull up the quilt. Hands up those who while sleeping under a quilt have had times when you are too hot, or too cold. I am now holding up my hand. Why. Why are you too hot or too cold? If you want to adjust your temperature using clothes, you add or remove layers. A quilt is one layer, and it has only one thermal insulation factor with a small plus or minus range where you can feel comfortable. If your bedroom over night is a temperature that matches your quilt’s insulation factor, you will have a good nights sleep. If your bedroom is too hot or too cold, under your mono-layer quilt, you will feel too hot or too cold.

      So back to my theme of worldwide delusions. Why does everyone use quilts? Why have quilts replaced a bed with sheets, and two or three blankets, and if it is cold, a thick over blanket that used to be called a quilt, but that is not a modern feather or Dacron filled quilt. If you want to sleep well over night, as the temperature changes with seasons and the time of the night, your bed should have a series of layers available to you to adjust the thermal insulation factor, and thus your comfort. If you are a bit cold, you reach down and pull on another blanket. A bit hot, you throw off a layer. Just like we all do with our clothes.

      (Or you can be an environmental vandal and burn huge quantities of carbon to keep the inside or your house a constant temperature all year round.)

      This first came to me when on tour in the south of France in a B&B, in summer, with a bed that was fitted with a winter quilt. Too cold to sleep without some covering layer, but sweating like a sauna with the quilt on. I eventually got up and threw off the quilt, grabbed two bathroom towels and threw them on and had a good sleep for the rest of the night. On other occasions, I have taken the quilt out of the cover, and just used the quilt cover, like a two layer sheet.

      So, like alcohol and horse racing, is the worldwide use of quilts another example of mass irrationality among our species.

  9. I think you hit the nail on the head. It is all about getting high. The believers are getting high on the Jesus drug. As Dawkings said religion comforts people like alc does drunks. Thats why spirits are so spiritual. Human conciseness seeks for escape from ugly reality. They call it ‘transcendence’.

  10. Another urban delusion has just come to mind. For the last twenty years or so we’ve been under the impression that we’re in constant danger of dehydration unless we have a bottle of water at the ready. This would be understandable trekking through the desert, but any casual stroll of ten minutes or more requires the plastic water bottle. Our cars are equipped with a special compartment to hold our bottle lest we find ourselves out on the road ready to expire.

    I think thirst is a good indicator of the need to rehydrate. I’ve used this method all my life and I know where to top up with water when the occasion crops up.

    If I were to give it more thought I’d probably see numerous examples of the sort of everyday delusions mentioned in the post. I can see the appeal of our obsession with doonas, though I have to admit that the blanket method of temperature regulation makes more sense. I switched to quilts for all the beds in the household when I discovered their greatest attribute….I.e. making the bed takes seconds!

    • In reply to #17 by Nitya:

      Another urban delusion has just come to mind. For the last twenty years or so we’ve been under the impression that we’re in constant danger of dehydration unless we have a bottle of water at the ready. This would be understandable trekking through the desert, but any casual stroll of ten minutes or…

      I struggle not to laugh when I see people carrying a water bottle with them at all times and stopping for a draught every 30 seconds.

      Ah, ease of making the beds. A classic case of a directly marketed delusion. “A quilt makes bed making easy.” Everyone buys a quilt so they can save time making the bed. No thought about the thermal properties of a quilt. No thought about whether the quilt is actually good for getting a good nights sleep.

      A few others are SUV’s as a method of family transport in the suburbs. People buying golf sticks when the first thing they do is look at the back of the golf stick with all the “pretties” dents and stickers. Hitting a golf ball is described in Newton’s laws. The face of a golf stick is a flat surface. What’s behind the golf stick is irrelevant.

      • In reply to #18 by David R Allen:

        A few others are SUV’s as a method of family transport in the suburbs>

        They need their SUV’s to house their enormous prams! My daughter has returned to work so they can save for such a vehicle even though word has it that it’s very difficult to hoist the enormous pram into the back of the SUV. It’s a vicious circle of delusion!

        • In reply to #19 by Nitya:

          They need their SUV’s to house their enormous prams! My daughter has returned to work so they can save for such a vehicle even though word has it that it’s very difficult to hoist the enormous pram into the back of the SUV.

          Hi Nitya…. 8-)

          All that extra lifting work is the ‘Sport’ part of SUV, which is why I have a 2005 Mazda 6 GT Wagon to fill all my 4 wheeler needs, including race track lapping, rally support work, my HQ, office & bedroom at events & hauling my bike – it’s a proper ‘Sport Utility Vehicle’…. Mac.

          • In reply to #22 by CdnMacAtheist:

            In reply to #19 by Nitya:

            They need their SUV’s to house their enormous prams! My daughter has returned to work so they can save for such a vehicle even though word has it that it’s very difficult to hoist the enormous pram into the back of the SUV.

            Hi Nitya…. 8-)

            All that extra lifting work is…

            I was going to use the term 4 wheel drive, but I wasn’t sure that the term was universal. I was also going to say that one needed the strength of Our Mighty Thor to lift a pram the size of a small car, into the back of said vehicle. This is a big task for a young mother who has to juggle a baby at the same time. But, what can I say? They’re all doing it, so I guess they all share the same mindset.

          • In reply to #23 by Nitya:

            I was going to use the term 4 wheel drive, but I wasn’t sure that the term was universal. I was also going to say that one needed the strength of Our Mighty Thor to lift a pram the size of a small car, into the back of said vehicle. This is a big task for a young mother who has to juggle a baby at the same time. But, what can I say? They’re all doing it, so I guess they all share the same mindset.

            Hey Nitya, that’s the power of ‘fashion’ & ‘marketing’, which have convinced folk they need a 4 wheel drive tank to take kids to school – whereas a 2 wheel drive minivan or wagon with season-specific tyres is sufficient while being smaller, lighter, less money, more fuel efficient & handles better by being lower – - car guy rant over…. Mac.

          • In reply to #25 by CdnMacAtheist:

            In reply to #23 by Nitya:

            I was going to use the term 4 wheel drive, but I wasn’t sure that the term was universal. I was also going to say that one needed the strength of Our Mighty Thor to lift a pram the size of a small car, into the back of said vehicle. This is a big task for a young mother wh…

            Concur Mac. This is what I am talking about. You’re design needs for a family vehicle do not include All Wheel Drive, extra wasteful expensive engineering that will cost you more to fix. A high wheel base so it can roll over more frequently, more dangerous for your children. Higher fuel consumption because of extra wasted weight and less aerodynamics. A boot that is full just with my golf clubs. How to. @#$% could a family go on holidays with this limited boot space. Have you ever noticed how many of these SUV’s have one of those roof mounted storage thingee’s? Poor parking. Higher roof clearance = bigger garage = more cost. On and on.

            But, there is a world wide delusion that this is the perfect vehicle for mom, dad and the two kids, and maybe a Jack Russell. I heard an article on public radio that speculated that the design of these vehicles is driven by suburban warfare, shallow ego driven competition between neighbours, and not by the vehicle designers. As we sow, so shall we reap. (With apologies to the faithful for ripping off one of their sayings.)

          • In reply to #27 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #25 by CdnMacAtheist:
            I heard an article on public radio that speculated that the design of these vehicles is driven by suburban warfare, shallow ego driven competition between neighbours, and not by the vehicle designers.

            Hi David. I enjoy all your Posts…. 8-)

            The SUV phenomenon started with American automakers taking advantage of their massive pick-up truck business to stick fancy, ‘stylish’ full bodies on enormous separate frame 4×4 ‘tanks’ & market them to families, with huge profit margins attached.

            Along with the Minivan revolution, they killed the station wagon market in North America, then in Europe with smaller mini-tank versions of SUV’s called ‘cross-overs’ that have spawned various sub-markets, all driven by ‘accounting, marketing & stylists’ rather than ‘designers’.

            The big problems are as you say: high weight & complexity, purchase & maintenance costs, high center of gravity, fuel consumption, insurance costs, limited interior space, excessive dimensions, etc.

            Most of all is the dangerously mistaken belief that AWD, ABS, computers & ‘all-season’ tires can magically overcome the laws of physics, which is why we see so many SUV-type vehicles in stupid crashes that my 500-1000kg lighter 2WD wagon would laugh off in any conditions. These 4WD monsters can get going far better than they can steer, swerve or stop, which is the opposite of what is needed, especially for poorly-trained drivers such as in North America where transportation is deemed to be a basic right instead of an earned privilege & vehicles are seen as domestic appliances.

            Sorry about the ‘seriously & deeply involved car guy’ rant, but it is appropriate to the OP…. Mac.

          • In reply to #22 by CdnMacAtheist:

            In reply to #19 by Nitya:

            Hi Mac. I’d just like to add (in an actual answer to your comment), that you are using the SUV as intended. It sounds as if your vehicle is providing many functions in sport, haulage and accommodation! Not deluded at all. :-)

          • *In reply to #24 by Nitya:

            Hi Mac. I’d just like to add (in an actual answer to your comment), that you are using the SUV as intended. It sounds as if your vehicle is providing many functions in sport, haulage and accommodation! Not deluded at all. :-)

            Nitya, my ‘small is beautiful’ philosophy means I only own one 4 wheeler, so it has to be multi-functional, especially as a single retiree with my son up & gone. With 2WD & snow tires I have no problem working Ontario back country winter rallies, plus an old dude in a blue wagon is stealthy when ‘hauling’ at naughty speeds…. 8-)

  11. Too cold to sleep without some covering layer, but sweating like a sauna with the quilt on. I eventually got up and threw off the quilt, grabbed two bathroom towels and threw them on and had a good sleep for the rest of the night.

    You sound like a menopausal woman. Are you sure you are a man or have you deluded yourself into thinking you are? (Sorry just being goofy.)

    • In reply to #20 by QuestioningKat:

      Too cold to sleep without some covering layer, but sweating like a sauna with the quilt on. I eventually got up and threw off the quilt, grabbed two bathroom towels and threw them on and had a good sleep for the rest of the night.

      You sound like a menopausal woman. Are you sure you are a man or hav…

      Bit LOL… Maybe I am going out in sympathy with my wife who has just traveled this path. I just checked my “delusion” and it’s definitely masculine.

  12. For those old enough to remember the panic over the Ozone hole, you will recall that the world stopped using pressure pack cans for everything for quite a number of years, because the propellents were going to fry us all. We all switched to pump packs which did the job just fine. Slowly the pressure pack has come back.

    Today, I still buy a pump pack deodorant. There is now only one left on my supermarket shelf. 4 metres of deodorants and on the bottom shelf there is one brand left with an average of 3 or 4 bottles. I get down on my knees and retrieve one, plus a spare in case they stop stocking this one last brand. Are we so week as a species that we don’t have the energy in our index finger to squeeze a pump pack 3 times for each underarm. We choose an expensive aluminum gas powered device to deliver a small amount of liquid to each underarm. The over engineering. The wasted mining of bauxite. The fossil fuel wasted in manufacture and transport so we can save a micro joule of energy in our finger muscles.

    There is a principle engineers subscribe to. The minimum possible construction that efficiently achieves the task. Any more is over engineering and just increases the chances of system failures, cost more and wastes resources. Like the SUV’s. But is also applies to almost anything we do. Complicated labour saving devices in kitchens when a knife will do. Gadgets and autotackerknickels to perform some simple task. When you start looking for these, they are myriad in society. Have a look at the high tech water bottles people carrying around subscribing to the delusion about drinking water. Are people so shallow that they need a designer water bottle. Do people suffer from water bottle envy.

    • In reply to #28 by David R Allen:

      Are people so shallow that they need a designer water bottle. Do people suffer from water bottle envy.

      Hey David. To recall a phrase from some years ago: “When I blow a dollar on a bottle of water, I drink Perrier.”

      Even when I go to tracks, races or rallies, I refill my plastic or metal bottles with tap water & chastise my pals for not doing the same, mostly for environmental reasons, but also my immune system is better for inbibing local impurities, plus tap filters are available to clean the supply even more for nervous folk.

      Ontario public water is of very good quality, so I understand why folk would be more cautious with ‘foreign’ tap water while travelling…. Mac.

    • In reply to #28 by David R Allen:

      For those old enough to remember the panic over the Ozone hole, you will recall that the world stopped using pressure pack cans for everything for quite a number of years, because the propellents were going to fry us all. We all switched to pump packs which did the job just fine. Slowly the pressu…

      I visited a friend a few weeks ago. His wife said she would have made us some popcorn, but their popcorn popper was broken. I mean, if you can’t make popcorn without a popcorn machine something is seriously wrong.

      • In reply to #31 by Nunbeliever:

        In reply to #28 by David R Allen:

        For those old enough to remember the panic over the Ozone hole, you will recall that the world stopped using pressure pack cans for everything for quite a number of years, because the propellents were going to fry us all. We all switched to pump packs which did th…

        I you are passing NunBeliever, my popcorn is a family legend. Butter in a saucepan. Handful of corn. Pop till it stops. More butter and melt it through. Followed by salt and grated Parmesan cheese. Take me now Lord, it can’t get any better. No popcorn makers in my house.

  13. In lieu of clicking “like” to every single contribution comprising this excellent thread I’ve decided to simply congratulate David R Allen for this most (slurp) refreshing topic. Not a single poster alerting us to the hazards of Sharia Law either.

    To topic: The most prevalent societal delusion where I live is that ethanol isn’t actually a drug. We have tautologic “Drug and Alcohol (Agency/charity/organisation)” entities infusing our culture, to ensure our national habit of “drinking” is seen to be legitimately different. In my state most late-night police and weekend hospital emergency department work involves the consequences of one particular drug abuse, euphoniously referred to hereabouts as drinking to excess. The annual cost ($36billion http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2010/s2991780.htm) would cover the entire ADF budget, which is the price of running Australia’s army, navy and air force.

    One important consequence, seldom noticed, is this: About 30 per cent of child harm is from either a parent or guardian because the person’s been drinking. And when you extrapolate that up it’s an estimate of at least 20,000 children in a year who are affected by drinking in one of…

    Another common delusion is that providing alcohol to one’s own kids is beneficial. In Oz the average age for first taking this neuro-toxic drug is 12, and the provider is a parent. Heroin would be safer to administer to a child so young, though education would be preferable.

    Globally this societal delusion that alcohol isn’t a real drug pervades most Xian cultures. I reckon this is because the young Jewish mother Mary had taken to crime to cover her alcoholic habit. She ordered her gay child Jesus to spike the drinks at that infamous wedding in Cana, telling the guests it was miracle water. Already drunk they bought it immediately, eventually sponsoring World Series Cricket and numerous racing categories, including horses, dogs, dry river-bed sailing regattas, Formula 1 car and GP bike teams, and Marbles-in-a-Bucket, or as the Americans call it NASCAR.

    Another locally popular delusion is that the noise emitted from Formula 1 cars is more important than efficiency. Last week they raced in my town as usual but I couldn’t hear them from home, as with previous years. They’re suddenly 30% more efficient. Ah, (slurp), another drink, medicinal of course.

    • In reply to #33 by Len Walsh:

      In lieu of clicking “like” to every single contribution comprising this excellent thread I’ve decided to simply congratulate David R Allen for this most (slurp) refreshing topic. Not a single poster alerting us to the hazards of Sharia Law either.

      To topic: The most prevalent societal delusion whe…

      You are absolutely right. The delusion with alcohol extends to the censorship of the fact that it is just another drug, like heroin, cocaine, nicotine or supporting Collingwood. Well spotted.

    • In reply to #33 by Len Walsh:

      I’m disappointed to see this thread disappear from the homepage as I would be very curious to see more insights contributed by the American contingent. There must be a wealth of ideas yet to surface.

  14. @OP – Would people pay $40 for a bottle of Shiraz grape juice to have with their steak? Would there be wine guides and gold stars and winery tastings and tours?

    Some holiday resorts put a whole new aspect on enjoying wines or spirits.
    In places like the Canary Islands, drinks are dirt cheep.
    Some of the better “All Inclusive” packages, allow you to eat and drink whatever, and as much as you like (with a goodly range, if not some specific brands), from the hotel-complex’s restaurants and bars, with no further charge.

  15. One of the E=MC2 friends reminded me of another delusion. Who uses “Liquid Soap”??

    When I used to race motocross, and had to strip down my engines, my hands became covered in grease and oil. Normal soap didn’t touch this, and being a scientific type, i would grab a squirt of dish washing detergent and voila, my hands were clean. Many years later after cleaning my fat and charcoal stained BBQ. My hands became very filthy. I scrubbed them with soap but that removed next to nothing. There was a liquid soap dispenser available so I tried a squirt of that. Instantly my hands were perfectly clean…. WT…

    My aging brain clicks and connects with my motocross days. The liquid soap was as powerful as dish washing detergent. To confirm, I covered both hands with BBQ residue. I cleaned one with dish washing detergent, the other with liquid soap. Both were squeaky clean. Luckily in Australia, the contents of stuff like this must be listed by percentage on the bottle. I Googled all of the ingredients and they were mostly detergents with some perfume and stuff that purports to be good for skin.

    Soap is a simple compound. Hydrolyzed fats. A mild surfactant. Detergents on the other hand are complex chemicals and are much stronger surfactants than soap.

    If anyone is still awake, the point of this diatribe is to ask, should we be using powerful perfumed dish washing detergent every time we wash our hands, or use it as a shower wash. We have evolved to secrete just the right amount of fats and oils to kept our skin just right. Every time we use a detergent, we strip our hand of millions of years of evolved science. This can’t be good for our skin.

    So I would rate this as another global delusion. Using a marketed product without testing the claims with a rational mind.

  16. Some add-ons to this:

    How can anyone pay $2 for a liter of water at the same time as they are paying $1.58 (Australian prices) for a liter of petrol, without noticing at least an irony. In a modern industrial country, with doubtless a few exceptions in remote or weird areas, there is nothing wrong with drinking out of the tap.

    Why do bathroom drawers across the nation rattle with the sound of bottles and bottles of useless vitamins. Vegemite covers pretty much the full spectrum, and a normal diet covers the rest.

    How come people think that running on pavement is good for them? Speak to a nurse who has worked in knee replacement surgery for enlightenment.

    Why do people with no money vote for those dedicated to increase the wealth of those already in possession of more than they can ever spend?

    More when I think of it.

    • In reply to #38 by Sheepdog:

      Some add-ons to this:

      How can anyone pay $2 for a liter of water at the same time as they are paying $1.58 (Australian prices) for a liter of petrol, without noticing at least an irony. In a modern industrial country, with doubtless a few exceptions in remote or weird areas, there is nothing wrong…

      Four from four Sheepdog. 100%

      They’re everywhere once you set your Vulcan Mind Probe to “Scan Everything”. But we silently walk to the cliff, just like the religious sheeple. Why. This isn’t hard.

      • In reply to #40 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #38 by Sheepdog:

        Answers – “In-crowd” psychology of the “pack-animal” manipulated by advertising to exploit the suggestible!

        How true! They create a ‘need’ and pretty soon we can’t live without it.

        I need to use conditioner after I use shampoo ( aka detergent) to tame my wayward hair. Who knows why my husband, son and son-in-law use this product as each of them has hair approx 1cm in length.

      • In reply to #40 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #38 by Sheepdog:

        Answers – “In-crowd” psychology of the “pack-animal” manipulated by advertising to exploit the suggestible!

        I like that. An excellent summary.

        Nitya. Tell your male associations to liberate themselves from the yoke of conditioner. I haven’t used conditioner for years, ever since the early seventies when we were all long haired louts. They will save money. They will save the world with this first step to release themselves from Alan4Discussions Theorem. (It might one day be as famous as Ockham’s Razor.)

  17. On wine, I have watched how the descriptions used to extoll the virtues of a particular bottle of fourpenny dark have changed over the years.

    In the ’70′s it might be “A precocious little red, but I think you’ll find its impertinence amusing,” using a behavioural gambit.

    Then it became mildly sexual, all about “Robust bodies, that were well finished,” and were “Rich and satisfying,” and advice as to making sure it was properly “corked.” It sort of made you think of having dinner with Sophia Loren.

    Now we hear about overtones of oak, and blackberries and Wombat poo. More flavors apparently than can be found in one of those ridiculous American salad bars.

    I did ask a phone salesman from an online wine store that I deal with after he waffled on about vanilla and berries and oak trees, “Are you trying to sell me wine, or ice cream? Do you have anything that tastes like wine?”

    Finally, on chemists shops (drugstores in the US of A and Canada,) apart from the very occasional prescription, I have no reason at all to darken their doors.

  18. Glad we can still gain access to these topics as another striking example of irrational thinking in the modern human has just entered my consciousness. Most seem to be of the opinion that hair ( on the head in particular) grows from the tips and not the roots close to the scalp. Hairdressers add to this common delusion by telling us that they can thicken the hair by cutting the tips, ( a bit like pruning a tree, I suppose). Irrational comments made in regard to hair growth, products, condition etc seem to be the most prevalent. I enjoy the experience of going to the hair-dresser so I’m not about to take them on and break that magical spell of irrationality by being too pedantic, but I say a lot in private.

  19. First of all, I think this article might be of your interest:
    http://priceonomics.com/is-wine-bullshit/

    It summarizes several scientific tests on how much truth there is to the wine hype.

    Here is an excerpt:

    A 2008 paper in The Journal of Wine Economics, for example, found that
    when consumers are unaware of a wine’s price, they “on average enjoy
    more expensive wines slightly less [than cheap ones].” Experts do not
    fare much better. The study could not conclude that experts preferred
    more expensive wine: “In sum, we find a non-negative relationship
    between price and overall rating for experts. Due to the poor
    statistical significance of the price coefficient for experts, it
    remains an open question whether this coefficient is in fact positive.”

    In my opinion the “global societal dellusion” is just a justification for yet another stupid attempt at sophistication by the new money and the middle classes. We finally got out of the darkness and misery of the working class and established ourselves in the realm of the 35-40 hour week, managed to save a bit and discovered the new universe of free time. This free time could have been the key to a modicum of human progress, but we turned it into the source of all evil, fully surrendered to the fear of boredom. And alcohol is just the perfect solution, together with consumerism and 24/7 entertainment anesthetics.

    As for the whole hype of wine “culture” (such a big word for such an irrelevant matter), another phenomenon might have a role in it. It is known that hierarchies of power are established inside groups of mammals, usually through the use of physical force. In the big mixed bag of the middle class, we need some mechanism to establish hierarchy in a non-violent way. In human society, money and information are good proxies for power. If you are middle class, the money difference might not be enough to establish a clear difference between you and your neighbour, so it actually boils down to what you DO with your time and your money, and therefore what you KNOW. Let’s assume you are a nice neighbour and you don’t want to stir up conflict with your friends and family, so you usually stay away from certain topics of conversation like politics, religion, ethics, and any other of any actual relevance to society. You still need to talk about something, and at some point you’ll feel the need to show that you know something about something that others don’t. In this way you fight for your place in your small group of friends, acquaintances, family and other animals. So you need a topic of conversation that: 1. is simple enough for everyone to understand. 2. it is easy-access/cheap knowledge, that is, you can get it fast and with little effort. 3. it is or (appears to be) complex enough so it can get you through dinner. 4. It is completely neutral/ irrelevant so no conflict will arise (unless you count amongst your friends some fellows in need of serious help).
    Many topics tick all these boxes. Talking about the weather, for instance, but it is so obvious that it is now considered poor form. Gardening or baseball statistics are up there too. Wine has the added quality that it depresses your nervous system if you drink it while talking about it. That makes the deep irrelevance of the conversation much much more bearable…..

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