WHAT ALCOHOL DOES....

WHAT ALCOHOL DOES. Trying to settle the great Mel Gibson debate, The New York Times spoke with addiction specialists and alcohol experts to see whether Gibson's anti-Semitic spray could've been the tequila doing voice-over. The answer? Not likely. Contrary to certain recent press releases, alcohol does not, in fact, invent new parts of your brain or replace old opinions with shinier, fresher ones. Instead, its primary effect is to suppress activity in the prefrontal cortex, the portion of your brain which acts as superego, considering whether your acts are appropriate to the moment and cultural context. The prefontal cortex, though, checks out after a couple drinks, and so you begin drunk-dialing the folks you wanted to talk to but wouldn't let yourself, or admitting your undying love to your buddies, or finally letting that ugly core of anti-Semitism burst forth. But none of those feelings, impulses, or opinions are newly generated -- the prefontal cortex had simply blocked their escape into the world. So, in conclusion: Mel Gibson? Raging anti-Semite.

--Ezra Klein

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