3 years ago
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Blinded by Coffee?
Are you drinking a cup of coffee right now? Stop! Immediately! Or else you'l go blind....I mean....what? An article published by J.M. Holaday (a man/scholar of the past) in 1888 in the North American Review claimed that drinking too much coffee was sure to lead to blindness. Though this was Holaday's sole publication, which can tell us something about his scientific ability, we can't help but wonder: what? survives him. The piece appeared in the North American Review in September 1888. He makes many bold statements in his essay: "I am satisfied that defective vision and blindness will pretty soon be a prominent characteristic among the American people … I make this assertion without having seen any statistics whatever on the subject of blindness. I found out long ago that a cup of coffee leaves a night-shade on the brain which continues longer than an eclipse of the sun." You can't argue with "no statistics" and a "night-shade" that lasts "longer than an eclipse of the sun." I don't know what Holaday thought that would prove, but I'm not convinced. Still, that's not his only condemnation of coffee! Rather than proving his point, Holaday goes on a little rant about the poor effects of coffee: " If [one] began life with puny physiques, however, coffee will make them slim and ghostly, and their eyes and features flat. Coffee will seem to improve those persons only who have a surplus of constitutional vigor....The best thing that can be said of coffee is, that it has a tendency, like opium, to make lawless persons tame … Coffee eats into the digestive membranes, forcing their glands to pour forth their reserve of juices..." He goes on, to list just what other parts of the body suffer from drinking coffee, and never gives any real evidence besides his rants and feelings. If you'd like to read the full argument, you can find the article here: https://archive.org/details/jstor-25101605
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