The thing about alcohol is that it’s everybody’s favourite drug addiction and if you’re not part of the ‘gang’ then quite frankly, you can f*ck off! We’re living in a world where it’s easier to drink alcohol than not. So if you want to give up for good you need to be able to see this for what it is…. The Alcohol Global Conformity Experiment.

Let me tell you a story…

The Harley Street Lazy Arse Clinic

When I was in my early twenties I got a job at a Harley Street laser eye clinic in London. Sounds posh doesn’t it. Like a decent, reliable, honest clinic where you would happily hand over the health of your eyes to people with lasers. Well you would have been mistaken.

I answered the phone, opened the mail, did the filing and occasionally recruited fake patients… What’s that now? Yes. I recruited fake patients. You see, the eye clinic really wasn’t up to much. It didn’t pay its surgeons on time, provided no training for its newly qualified nurses and treated complaining patients with disdain. Not surprisingly, business was bad. One day the boss came into the office with a bright idea.

“We need happy customers!” He announced victoriously.

“No shit” I replied.

“So, order some!”

He was a very rich and very ignorant man who lacked regard for other humans. He was asking me to hire actors to sit in the waiting room and look relaxed, confident and happy about their decision to hand over their eyes to people with lasers, thereby reassuring the real patients that they had come to a safe and popular place.

Obviously, I point-blank refused, stating that I would never fool anyone into handing over money under false pretences. My moral code would not allow such a thing. I quit there and then, and I never went back.

Although, I didn’t say any of those things because I was young, I needed the job, and, in any case, I planned to leave within weeks. Plus, it was so outrageous I actually wanted to see what would happen and so do you, so don’t judge me!

The Scam

I put the advert up and sure enough each day a steady stream of students came and sat in the waiting room, acting like patients. When we had a critical mass of about ten actors, I went in and called one of them for a fake appointment at which point they smiled, followed me out of the waiting room and into the office where they sat in a chair next to me and read a magazine from a massive pile of celebrity gossip rags we had gathered for the purpose. When the time came for the real patient to be called I went through the same routine but obviously they would go to the clinic, completely unaware of the scam.

It worked. Many times over. The real patients went into their appointments feeling safe. They felt that they were not alone because they saw other people eagerly awaiting their turn to be treated and then returning with smiles and both their eyes. It appeared to be a reputable, reliable, trustworthy place.

You’ll be relieved to know that nobody was harmed during my time at the eye clinic. The surgeons all quit, and I heard the clinic closed down a year or so after I left. My own decision to quit came when I was asked to stand in for an absent surgeon. I mean, I can bluff as good as anyone, but this felt next level. It was only to do an eye exam but still, it was time to leave.

I hadn’t thought about the lazy arse clinic (that’s what I came to call it) for many years until I saw the following experiment mentioned in an article.

Just One More Conformity Experiment For The Road

You must see why I am describing conformity experiments on a website about alcohol. Of course, you do because you’re a drinker and big drinkers are so often the sharpest people at a party. Oh, the irony!

In 1951 Solomon Asch, a Polish-American social psychologist conducted an experiment that would form the basis of social experiments for the coming several decades.

Asch got one subject (the person who was not in on the rules of the experiment) and three or four actors in a room. He showed them all two cards. Card A had a line on it. Card B had three lines on it. One of the lines on card B was exactly the same length as the line on card A and it was very obvious which it was.

The actors, on Asch’s instruction, mostly gave the wrong answers. They would all agree that the same shorter line was in fact the longest. The subject was then left to decide whether they would stick to their guns and pick the correct line, or go with the answer they KNEW to be wrong, just so they weren’t the odd one out.

Where Would You Fit Into The Results?

Asch discovered that a staggering 75% of subjects knowingly reported the wrong answer at some point during the experiment in order to conform with the group. In other words, even though they knew it was wrong, they went along with what everyone else was saying.

Would you never knowingly give an incorrect answer? Sure, you think that. We would all like to be that person, but time and again social conformity experiments have proved that very few people are comfortable with being the odd one out. When confronted with a majority who are all in agreement with one another, leaving you the only dissenting voice, you are statistically more likely to change your opinion and go with the majority. We really, REALLY, don’t like being the odd one out!

And All That Without Peer Pressure!

We are part of a social conformity exercise where we all play the subject and at the same time we all play the actors. We are both the protagonists and the antagonists in someone else’s storyline. We are the innocent subjects in an experiment being carried out by alcohol producers and advertisers and we in turn influence new subjects who enter the waiting room.

Think about your friends who drink. Do they have an opinion on other people’s drinking? If you showed up to a social gathering and declined to drink would anyone in the group express an opinion? Of course, they would. They might say something like,

“But you’ll just have one, won’t you?”

“It’s not the same without a drink.”

“You’re not drinking? How boring!”

“Are you ill?”

When I think back to my drinking days I was terrible to people who didn’t drink. A non-drinker would be left to fend for themselves at a party while I dutifully topped up all the glasses of beer and wine. Non-drinkers were invisible to me and if anyone asked for a cup of tea I would protest.

“Really!? Tea? Would you like some knitting too?”

Your Voice Of Calm Is In There If You Listen Closely

Back when I was drinking every or most nights, a little voice inside me was constantly nagging me to go easy. A part of me knew full well that I was running into trouble but then I took a look about and I saw other people doing it too.

I saw other people happily drinking, happily leaving the waiting room, happily choosing the wrong line and it gave me the license I needed to keep on going. Even though I knew that it was unhealthy, and I had definitely formed a habit, all the evidence around me pointed to ‘overindulgence’ as being normal, as being simply ‘indulgence’.

You may believe you are exercising your freedom of choice by drinking whenever you damn well want but if you are just responding to the lies told to you by advertising agencies and drinks retailers then isn’t that more like obedience or worse, servitude?

Are you ignoring a small voice of calm inside you and instead paying attention to the pro-drinking voice of society and the media? Is it making you feel free or does it make you feel trapped? Freedom is choosing your own destiny, not conforming to someone else’s agenda.

Know this – drinking regularly is not good for you and should not be seen as normal. Alcohol is poison.

©LIZ HORSMAN 2020

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