News and Views

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Pride of Tolerance

December 14th, 2009 · 5 Comments

I do have opinions about tolerating people’s differences, but that’s not what this post is about.

I’m talking about building up a tolerance to substances or environmental factors. For example, some people can tolerate much spicier food than others, or drink more alcohol without feeling drunk, or drink lots of strong coffee.

It’s not surprising that people vary in these characteristics, but it is interesting that many are proud of tbeir own tolerance. For example, we’ve all heard some guy smugly talking about “drinking somone under the table”. What they are saying is, “I drink so much, so often, that alcohol doesn’t affect me much anymore”. That sounds like something to be ashamed of, not proud.

Or pouring lots of Tabasco on your food. Nothing wrong with spicing up your food, but I think as you develop tolerance to the spice you lose appreciation for the underlying flavors. I’m proud that it only takes a little spice to satisfactorally enhance my food.

Coffee is another example. Interestingly, brain activity scans show that without coffee, habitual coffee drinkers’ brains show much less activity than “normal” people’s brains. With coffee, their brains look like a normal brain does without coffee. So being able to tolerate strong coffee basically means that you need it to be normal.

Of course, there are some things it is certainly worthwhile developing tolerance for. If you live in a cold or hot climate, it’s useful to develop tolerance to cold or heat. But intentionally building up a tolerance with no personal benefit and potential harm doesn’t make sense.

Tags: Opinion

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Don // Dec 19, 2009 at 8:00 am

    I have no tolerance for posts like these!!

    Just kidding… 😉

  • 2 Daryl // Dec 19, 2009 at 10:57 am

    And I bet you’re proud of it, too!

  • 3 Dale // Dec 19, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Yeah… well what if someone kidnapped you and made you drink strong coffee and liquor all day. I bet you’d think twice then, huh?

  • 4 Daryl // Dec 19, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    If I drank strong coffee and liquor all day I might think twice but they would be very groggy thoughts.

  • 5 Don // Dec 20, 2009 at 11:36 am

    How much coffee do you have to drink to be called a “habitual coffee drinker”? I typically have one cup a day at work and a large cup at home on the weekends. Yes the one I have at home is really, really strong but the ones at work are normal strength.