Way before anti-vaccine there was anti-caffine.

I am currently reading ‘This is your mind on plants’ by Michael Pollan. A fascinating series of 3 essays on the complicated intricacies of opium, caffeine and mescaline.

Walking us throught the history of coffee, Michael recounts the social unrest in seventeenth-century England resulting from the amount of time men were spending in local coffeehouses. An increasingly popular pastime as the countries addiction to caffeine exploded.

Without the power of social media to spread their views large groups of women united via a far more analogue medium, the simple pamphlet.

An example is cited of a pamphlet titled “The Women’s Petition Against Coffee” published in 1674, where its authors were warning that coffee was robbing men of their sexual energies.

The subtitle of this pamphlet?

“Humble Petition and Address of Several Thousands of Buxome Good Women, Languishing in Extremity of Want.”

Oh, the mental picture this paints.

Nailing their priorities to the mast and not wanting to have any sort of anti-caffine uprising interfering with their coffeehouse gatherings the men of the time countered with their own pamphlet:

“Harmless and healing liquor…makes the erection more Vigorous, the Ejaculation more full, [and] adds a spiritualescency to the Sperme”

Yup, back in the day, they really knew how to spread misinformation, strategically influence and leverage the important things in life.

In the interests of full disclosure I will admit to carrying all the collective cognitive biases of a male who is addicted to multiple daily coffee hits…
I sit firmly in the pro-coffeehouse lobby.

Although in the spirit of keeping an open mind, I will remain totally open to persuasion from the other side. Pamphlet or otherwise.

Viva la spiritualescency!

Ian Miller

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