Comstock's magazine 0818 - August 2018 - Page 65

given coffee, the other not. Both groups were asked to read and discuss a news article on current events. Afterward, the students evaluated the sessions for indi- vidual and group performance and rated the quality of the discussion. The coffee drinkers scored themselves and their groups higher. The Unnavas also had independent judges lis- ten to the conversations and rank each comment as “relevant” or “not relevant” to the topic at hand. “The coffee drinkers were more focused,” Vasu says, “and we duplicated this a few times, and the results were checked across different groups.” So was this a function of the psychological ritual, or the caffeine itself? The duo conducted another round of experi- ments, this time pitting regular coffee against decaf coffee. The caffeinated groups scored higher across the board. “What it means is that in this overworked economy, it seems that caffeine contributes to group performance by increasing alertness,” Unnava says. (I concur.) This is not one of those articles. On day 10, I wake up without a headache and I’m no longer irritable, yet I still don’t feel like myself. I still feel low-energy. I still long for that first cup. Perhaps I need to go two weeks, a month or even a year to fully detox. Or perhaps I just prefer caffeinated me to decaffeinated me. If that’s the case, is that so wrong? I’m oddly encouraged by what I did learn, and I don’t regret the experiment. Now I know that my noncaffeinated self is not more relaxed and he does not sleep better. I no longer worry that coffee has turned me into an anxious, sleep-deprived stress ball. I’ve confirmed that I work bet- ter — both individually and in a group — with that mug in my hand. I’ll continue to drink coffee, and now I’ll do it without any guilt. At least my teeth are white (or a bit whiter) — for now. Within a year, they’ll be stained with coffee. n DAY 10 - OLD HABITS DIE HARD Jeff Wilser is the author of The Book of Joe: The Life, Wit (and Sometimes Accidental) Wisdom of Joe Biden. On Twitter @Jeff Wilser. These types of “stunt articles” tend to share a common arc: The writer is skeptical, does the experiment anyway, and is surprised that he feels super and is actually better off, leading to an epiphany and a change in habits. August 2018 | 65