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.)