Professor Buzzkill

Via my friend Bill Campbell, a website devoted to debunking historical myths. A good one:

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Drink Up Buzzkillers

Prohibition and Heavy Drinking

It’s another great image that has set Professor on his quest. A city street crammed with revelers, staggering from speakeasy to speakeasy, policemen on the beat looking the other way, and flappers dancing to the crazed jazz of the 1920s. During Prohibition, so the story goes, the rate of drinking among the American population went up, despite the demon liquor being outlawed.

After the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages was banned in a fit of morality and temperance in 1920. The myth that is so repeatedly told is that Americans actually began to drink more, partly to say “up yours” to what they saw as Federal over-reach. In order for this story to have been true, people who had consumed alcohol before the ban would have had to continue drinking (and probably drink more), and, in all likelihood many people who had abstained from alcohol would have had to start drinking.

It’s not true, though, folks. Scholars disagree over the numbers and statistics (and even over which statistics to use – rates of cirrhosis of the liver, rates of alcohol poisoning, arrest rates for drunkenness, and others), but they all agree that alcohol consumption declined during prohibition and that many alcohol-related illnesses decreased too.

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Read the whole thing, and some of the others.