Liquor, Lies and Heavy Metals

The fate of human stupidity

some idiot

I have a theory. It’s not a particularly well thought out theory, so apologies in advance. But it’s a fun one, so I’m going to say it anyway.

Humans are the victims of self-inflicted lobotomization.

We’ve done it with alcohol. We’ve done it with toxic heavy metals. And we’re doing it with bullshit.

I’m sure that’s not a complete list, but it’s a start.

Like most so-called civilisations, let’s begin with alcohol.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a beer (or six) as much as the next stupid human, but let’s be real, we’re drowning in the stuff and we have been for a while.

Never mind the fact that it just outright murders brain cells.

From Egypt to India, China to Iran and practically everywhere in between — for the longest time we’ve been guzzling away, barely even aware of how much damage it was actually doing.

Sure there were anecdotal, religious and quasi scientific reports that maybe it wasn’t so great to drink too much of the stuff.

The Hindu Ayurvedic texts described it as medicinal in moderation and poison in excess.

The Talmud warned that “One who drinks intoxicating liquor will have ungainly children”

And there were frequent protests in societies from ancient Greece to early modern Britain decrying the link between alcohol and general idiocy.

Yet despite some cautions about drinking before conception, there was little to no awareness of the role of alcohol during actual foetal development.

It wasn’t until 1973, that foetal alcohol syndrome became an officially recognized thing.

Great job people. That’s thousands of years of drinking both ourselves — and the next generation — stupid. I’m sure that didn’t have any effect at all.

I’m sure the fact that a preference for alcohol over water (ostensibly in order to avoid disease) through most of the European middle ages had absolutely nothing to do with the absolute mess that all turned out to be.

No no. A bunch of sober rulers with absolutely no cognitive impairments, making sensible decisions to butcher, burn and terrorize people. That’s it.

Now that I think about it, the ‘dark ages’ does sound a bit like a bad bender with a bunch of maladjusted alcoholics.

No wonder we can’t work out how they built the pyramids. We basically knocked ourselves out afterwards and forgot.

Then, there’s the heavy metals. God help us.

Here’s a great idea, let’s take the worst substances on earth and practically (or literally) bathe in them.

Arsenic? Oh let’s just rub that all over our face for ‘fashion’ or something.

Mercury? Sounds like a great cure for whatever. Let’s drink the stuff.

Lead? I know, let’s burn and inhale it. It’s the only sensible course of action.

Heavy metals have been in use for as long as humans have had the wherewithal to dig for them. And our wherewithal was precisely what they then began to erode — causing cancer, cancer, more cancer, nausea, cancer, vomiting, cancer and oh yeah, eating our brains.

Some of these effects were even known to the absolute nonces who were so joyfully plastering themselves. The Greeks knew that arsenic was, for lack of a better word, bad. The Chinese knew that mercury seemed to almost invariably kill anyone who was treated with it. And the Romans seemed well aware that water pipes made of lead could be “injurious” to the population.

But you know what they did? Nothing.

Whether it was because they simply didn’t care, or because they themselves were suffering the deleterious effects of being brain dead morons, we will never know, but either way, I’m reasonably sure heavy metals had something to do with it.

Now this might all sound totally insane in retrospect, but let’s bear in mind that most of these things have only been phased out of use in the worst possible ways within the last half century and many other substances, arguably just as bad, continue to wreak havoc on our environment and ultimately ourselves.

Microplastics, for example, are literally in our blood.


So we continue to make the same mistakes. Putting horrible toxic crap absolutely everywhere and then wondering why everyone is acting like idiots.

Speaking of horrible toxic crap and idiots — the internet. But not just the internet. No no no. Bullshit is as old as time and just as prone to killing us all.

Folks have been using bonafide nonsense to justify destruction, mayhem and downright lunacy since they first put painted hand to rock.

And it’s not just the propaganda used to start and maintain wars. No, that’s too obvious.

Or the dogma used to enslave millions to a moral authority. No, that’s too grandiose.

It’s the small lies that really get you. The little bits of bullshit we tell each other about who we are, how the world works and what our place in it is, or should be.

The stories we tell our children that entrench a sense of superiority, or a fear of the unknown.

The echo chambers of fallacy we establish when all we do is repeat established wisdom to each other round and round in circles.

The internet may have massively expanded our capacity for lying to ourselves and each other but it didn’t start it. Bullshit was baked in from the beginning. It transcended space and time as soon as we learned to write it down. And now it can be replicated infinitely and travel instantly.


It’s practically its own universe now. Or at least a 5th dimension.

For valuable information and even genuinely held opinion this might be a great thing, but unfortunately crazy nonsense is just so much easier to produce.

So much easier. And often more appealing.

I mean this article is a perfect example. I’m not an expert. I don’t know what I’m talking about.

This is garbage. Why are you even reading it?

What, because it had a catchy title that reminded you of a book you saw on a shelf once?

Sure I did a cursory bit of research, but not nearly enough. Look, I’ll show you…


God, no wonder we’re all doomed.

(The author in no way wishes to disparage the seminal work ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ or its author Jared Diamond, who probably worked really really hard explaining most of human history in a few hundred pages. I’m sure it was totally spot on and didn’t oversimplify things at all.)



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The Belligerent Optimist

The Belligerent Optimist

Sociologist, Social Entrepreneur, Sci-Fi nerd.