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Is "Dry January" Just a Neo-Prohibitionist Trick?

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Photo by Tom Cleary / Unsplash

It Might Feel Good, but Does Dry January Really Help Much?

It reminds me that I've observed lately that Andrew Huberman has gone near-teetotaller lately in his rhetoric. Awhile back, he warned that, if a person averages just one drink a day (seven in a week), he's courting accelerated cognitive decline (and other health issues). He said the safe maximum might be six per week. As the episode continued, he drove the safe number lower: five per week, maybe as low as four. Then a few weeks ago, he said more than two drinks per week is a problem.

I'm not saying he's wrong, not at all. I respect Huberman, and maybe alcohol in any amount is terrible for your health, but at this point, he's running up against tradition. If history has been showing us anything, it shows us that science consistently loses to tradition in the long run analysis.

You can think of Tradition (capital "T") as the secular version of the Magisterium. The Magisterium stimulates innovative theological thinking because it sets up barriers. If your thought crosses the barriers, you took an intellectual misstep somewhere. It's helpful and allows robust intellectual play (like children playing on a high plateau surrounded by bumpers that prevent them from falling off, analogized GKC; remove the barriers, and the children huddle scared in the middle).

Tradition does a similar thing. It sets up parameters. If your ideas (or, in Huberman's case, his science) go beyond them, it should alert you that you may have taken a misstep. Tradition's bumpers aren't as strong as the Magisterium--they're vaguer and lack authoritative interpreters--but they're helpful if respected.

"Most men drink, and thus, for all practical purposes, at least, demonstrate that they feel the need of it. The temperance evangelist is thus up against the hard fact that he is asking men to give up something they want and think they need. He can offer them nothing in exchange for it, save vague and dubious promises of health." H.L. Mencken
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