HOPPED-UP, WILD-EYED CAFFEINE junkies of America: We salute you. We only wish there were more of you. In fact, if you think the above editorials are fatuous and ill-reasoned, our only request is that you brew yourself a nice cup of java and read them again. Just don't make it decaf.
Coffee, it turns out, may be an editorial writer's best friend. Many of us had heretofore assumed that when our sober, reasoned assessments of the issues of the day prompted a flood of angry letters to the editor accusing us of having Styrofoam packing pellets for brains, it was because of some failure of logic or rhetoric on our part. No longer. Now we know it's simply because our readers don't drink enough coffee.
Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have released a study showing that caffeine makes people more open toward logical argument, even when it runs counter to their previously held opinions. The researchers first questioned volunteers on their feelings about voluntary euthanasia, then gave some of the subjects regular orange juice, while others got O.J. laced with enough caffeine to fuel two cups of coffee.
Both groups were then asked to read arguments on euthanasia that contradicted their beliefs. People who drank the jolted juice understood the arguments better and were more likely to change their minds than their sleepy-headed counterparts.
There's something about caffeine that gets scientists all jittery and excited -- Vanderbilt University even has an Institute for Coffee Studies -- and all that research has turned up some surprising findings. Coffee and caffeine may lower the risk of Parkinson's disease, gallstones and diabetes. There is still the occasional bit of bad news, such as a recent study showing that those with a common genetic mutation are at heightened risk of heart disease if they drink more than one cup of coffee a day. But coffee and caffeine, once demonized as contributors to high blood pressure and cancer, are now more often seen as wonder tonics.
And if caffeine makes people more open-minded and inclined to listen to rational argument, it has our vote as the best recreational drug ever. Now, how do we get an espresso machine inside the House and Senate chambers?