Drug War propaganda has infiltrated our lives to such an extreme that we no longer notice ridiculous logical fallacies applied to everyday situations.
Today I picked up a copy of AustinFit Magazine and leafed through it while my wife was shopping. In the Diet section they ask:
Is there a Caffeine Catch?
We all have those moments when we find ourselves in need. Whether seeking a pick-me-up, a buzz, warmth or companionship, turning to caffeine is a habit many of us have embraced. Are we getting off scot-free, or is this stimulant actually bringing us down?
OK. Looks interesting. It’s an article that attempts to address whether or not caffeine is addictive.
The long line at Starbucks seems to support this theory; coffee drinkers themselves even perpetuate the idea that the magical ingredient in that morning cup of Jo exerts some kind of mind control.
I’m one of those coffee drinkers. Just this morning I was standing in line at the elevator at the Travis County Courthouse, joking with a fellow defense attorney that I would whine about the heat outside, but perhaps I forfeited the right to complain because I was holding a cup of hot coffee in my hand. I’ve wondered myself, in those situations, whether caffeine is addictive. The article continues:
Scientists say otherwise, however. The World Health Organization as well as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders both scoff at the notion that caffeine should be grouped in the same category as illicit drugs, pointing out the modern tendency to overuse the word “addiction.”
Here’s where the rabbit trail begins. Illicit drugs aren’t all addictive (think marijuana), and some of the most lethal drugs are addictive and legal (think, most obviously, tobacco and alcohol).
A mug of coffee cuts through the morning fog and gives us something to chat over before trudging off to our cubicles, but the habit is more social and psychological than it is physical. Cutting caffeine out of your diet may throw you a little off kilter, but it won’t inspire you to lie, cheat or steal.
Marijuana use doesn’t ‘inspire’ lying cheating or stealing either, but see how easy it is for the writer to automatically assume we should categorize all illegal controlled substances as ‘bad’, while ignoring legal drugs that actually are ‘bad’ for us?
Talk about jumping to unreasonable conclusions. Or perhaps it’s just begging the question. But I find this line of ‘thought’ annoying for its lack of intellectual rigor.
There’s no relationship between the drugs we criminalize and addiction; and there’s certainly no logical argument that addiction can be defined by what the legislature decides to send folks to jail or prison for.