There are dangers associated with alcohol. There are physical dangers and psychological dangers. However, I actually think the real danger with alcohol is it impairs your judgement. It clearly does this. It also impairs your performance – two reasons why you shouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car after drinking.
"So you can do things – and say things, possibly – that when you weren’t drunk you’d probably think twice about and would not do if sober."
So you can do things – and say things, possibly – that when you weren’t drunk you’d probably think twice about and would not do if sober. I think the main thing alcohol is doing is acting on the part of the brain that controls judgement, the risk bit. So, yes, it might stop you from caring; it might encourage you to behave badly, but what I think is really key here is what your personality is when you’re sober – are you normally risk averse or do you like taking risks?
The other thing to consider is that generally most people if they’ve done something that has caused acute embarrassment because they’ve been drinking, they’ll learn from that. 'Ah, I did that, and I won’t do that again', But there are other people who will think 'I really enjoyed that'. So it’s to do with what each person’s motivation is. What they want from alcohol and that is going to be different for everybody.
It can be challenging to stick to New Year’s Resolutions so distilling them down into goals is a more achievable approach – especially if you write them down. Research has found you’re 42% more likely to stick to a goal if you commit it to paper. Writing out your intentions is a really good way of grounding the process and getting very clear on what you are aiming to achieve.
"Research has found you’re 42% more likely to stick to a goal if you commit it to paper."
Keep it simple and succinct and be realistic. You may feel like everything needs an overhaul – the habits, the gut, the job, the love and social life – but it’s better to make one change at a time rather than overwhelming yourself with plans that you can’t stick to. As you integrate the more positive behaviours into your life, you will feel encouraged and can set further goals as you progress.
A major weapon in the battle to kick or start a habit is identifying another person that you can be accountable to. Choose someone supportive and kind who will cheer you on rather than criticise you. You might want to pair up with someone who is trying to reach the same goal, whether that be starting swimming weekly or quitting smoking. In that case, pick someone reliable. Or at least ensure that you will continue regardless of your buddy’s levels of commitment.
Identifying what might take you off track before you get there will also strengthen your resolve. Ask: what are the situations or triggers that could potentially knock me off course? Where do you foresee yourself getting tempted to either avoid new healthy behaviours or return to self-destructive ones, for example, if you are quitting refined sugar, when do you most feel tempted to hit the biscuit tin, and what can you do instead?
"Keeping a diary is a simple way of recording your progress enabling you to see how far you’ve come already, keeping you on track and motivated."
If you’re trying to quit smoking and are aware that smoking tends to accompany alcohol, avoid booze too for a while. You can then reintroduce when on more solid ground. If you tend to gorge on snacks when you’re watching TV, switch it up, listen to music or ring a friend. If you do find yourself straying off track don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead resume the good habits as soon as possible.
One way to stop yourself straying is acknowledging how far you’ve come. Keeping a diary is a simple way of recording your progress enabling you to see how far you’ve come already, keeping you on track and motivated. Rewards are important - consciously identify how you will reward yourself for reaching a particular marker – new clothes, a massage, more vinyl - choose a treat that will acknowledge your dedication.
I don’t care what people call themselves. It’s what they believe and what they do that matters. The main thing is just to treat a woman with the same level of respect with which you would treat a man. That’s difficult, because men often don’t realise that they’re not doing it.
"Don’t be a dick. That’s basically it. Stand back and think, "Am I being a dick?" – and if you are, then stop it."
If you take the central idea that women are human beings, and we’re not there to please you or provide decoration, and our brains are just as good as yours, then street harassment or mansplaining would be less likely to happen, because those are things you’d only do to someone you don’t regard as a proper human being. It’s just about treating people with respect and decency. Don’t be a dick. That’s basically it. Stand back and think, "Am I being a dick?" – and if you are, then stop it.
Men who say they’re feminists often don’t behave in a feminist way. They can be incredibly patronising and domineering, and engage in all the sexist behaviours that feminism is trying to deal with. Sometimes it’s malicious, but often they don’t realise they’re speaking over women and telling them they’re wrong. I think it’s easy to tell when a guy’s overenthusiastic and when a guy’s just an arsehole.
I’m not really interested in male critiques of feminism. Given that we live in a world where men have social power that women don’t tend to have, a man criticising a woman for the way she tries to liberate herself from gender doesn’t make sense within feminism. Every man should read the Onion piece Man Finally Put in Charge of Struggling Feminist Movement.
There are environments where men should stand back. If it’s a group of women who want to talk freely about male violence, for example, then it’s better not to be there, because then they won’t be able to do that. Push women’s voices forward instead of speaking yourself. Men struggle to do that because they’re so used to being able to speak – but part of what feminism is trying to achieve is to give women a voice that’s respected and heard.
Finding ways to enable women to help themselves is a good tactic. One place that men can and should speak is to other men – because a feature of sexism is that men are less likely to listen to women. And you know what it’s like to live as a man, so you can communicate to a man in a way that a woman can’t.
The number one way men can be feminists? Do some fucking housework.
No. It’s a myth. Nobody gets drunk faster than anyone else. However, Japanese and Chinese people, rather than Asian people do possess a gene that means that they have more difficulty breaking down alcohol than Westerners. What happens is they get a flushing reaction, and if they continue to drink they will become unwell.
The drug Antabuse, which is sometimes used in alcohol treatment, works on the same principle. If you drink after taking this drug you will be sick and nauseous – the drug stops the body from breaking down the alcohol. The gene that Japanese and Chinese people possess has a similar effect. So when they drink they become unwell quicker. They’re not drunk, or they don’t become drunk quicker, but they become unwell quicker. So typically they become sick quicker than you or I would.
"The gene that Japanese and Chinese people possess has a similar effect. So when they drink they become unwell quicker. They’re not drunk, or they don’t become drunk quicker, but they become unwell quicker."
Some Japanese and Chinese people can carry on drinking like that, but it does make a lot of people reluctant to drink. In the sense that part of being drunk is getting ill than yes, they might appear to be intoxicated faster but that’s because they’re becoming unwell. They’re not becoming intoxicated as such, just unwell. The idea that some people get drunk quicker than others is a fallacy.
Everyone gets drunk at the same rate. There’s no significant change across races. Of course alcohol is one of the substances that the body and brain adapts to as an individual consumes more of it. This is called developing tolerance. Another way of considering this is that body resists alcohol and is one of the reasons why people who do not drink alcohol become drunk quicker than those who do. However this is not the sole explanation. The concept of expectancy and the context in which the drinking takes place are as important if not more so.
Our perception of time is influenced by a lot of different things. Time is rigorously linear in the real, external world, but your experience of time varies continuously, moment to moment, depending on what you’re doing or thinking about. If you’re really caught up in a problem, or you’re in the flow when you’re exercising, you’ll commonly suddenly realise loads of time has passed without you realising. So sometimes your cognitive process is influencing it – but yes, there’s a very <well-described change> associated with age as well. And that seems to be harder to account for in a simple way.
"It’s been argued that meditation might be able to help you reverse this and 'slow time back down'"
Certainly one of the things that varies as you get older is you just have more to think about, generally. A few years ago, I found my diary from when I was a teenager, and I just could not believe how much empty time I had. Whole days at the weekend, where I’d ring friends up or watch TV – though there wasn’t much on – and that was it. There just wasn’t much to do. And I felt a visceral reaction of jealousy, I thought “why can’t I have days like that??” And that was before I was a parent. Now I’m a parent too, there’s literally no time in the day where there’s not stuff I’m actively thinking about. Everything is filled up.
"There’s a very well-described change associated with age as well. And that seems to be harder to account for in a simple way" (Video from John Koenig's The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows)
So partly it feels different because your brain is occupied by all the different demands of adulthood, so that seems to result in this effect of time disappearing. But there must be something else, because the sense of time speeding up carries on right through to really old age, when actually you’re most likely to be doing far less again. So there’s also an idea that there’s a much more base-level thing affecting your perception of time, which is simply how fast your brain is processing information. We know a lot of brain functions look like time keepers: they’re regular, they’re rhythmic. And there’s an argument that maybe that represents some kind of base rate of cognition, and maybe that changes over time.
It’s been argued that meditation might be able to help you reverse this and “slow time back down”. The jury is still out on this, but you will certainly find some pretty prominent cognitive neuroscientists who will agree with this. One theory is that you’re somehow getting control of these clock cycles and affecting your experience of time. We don’t know if that’s true, or if it’s an emotional mechanism where, because you’re relaxing, you’re affecting anxiety processes which put demands on your brain and change your perception of time. The research is not conclusive that it really works. But it’s certainly an area that’s got a lot of interest from people.
Click here to see our answer from Marc Wittmann, Research Fellow at the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, Freiburg, Germany and author of Felt Time: The Psychology of How We Perceive Time.
This is an old tradition and I read different stories about where it comes from. Basically older Russians believed that spirits (read about "Domovoi" in Wiki) inhabited their houses and those spirits didn't want people to leave their houses and leave the spirits alone. So the tradition was to have a seat before a trip, so that the spirits thought everything was just as usual, got busy with their spirit-home-stuff and didn't notice that the people were gone.
Today I guess the reason for the tradition is as follows: before a trip you are usually in a hurry, trying to prepare everything and get everything done, so many things to do. So this have-a-sit is the last chance to sit quietly, calm down, think again if everything is ready, so that one could start the way light-hearted. Well, also light-hearted because the home-spirits are distracted with doing their things.