Healthy Family | Home Safety | Health and Wealth | Relationship Issues | Career Advice | Growing Family
Get the SixWise e-Newsletter FREE!
Google Web
Free Newsletter Subscription
Get the Web's Most trusted & Informative Health, Wealth, Safety & More Newsletter -- FREE!


Share Email to a Friend Print This

How True IS the Phrase 'In Vino Veritas' ('In Wine There Is Truth')?

There is an old Latin phrase that suggests people are more likely to say what they're really thinking when they're under the influence of alcohol: "In Vino Veritas," or "In Wine There is Truth."

Clearly, alcohol does cause us to lose our inhibitions, either in a pleasant, getting to know your neighbor better kind of way, or in an unpleasant, dancing on the bar kind of way. Mel Gibson would certainly fall into the latter category, and it's the anti-Semitic comments he made while inebriated that have prompted many to wonder: Does alcohol really act as a truth serum?

Alcohol can make you say things you shouldn't, but most experts say not things you don't mean.

Is Alcohol the Ultimate Lie Detector?

The general consensus from experts is that while alcohol may loosen a person's lips to the point where they'll say something they regret, it cannot conjure up thoughts that weren't already there, somewhere.

"We don't think thoroughly about what we are saying when we are intoxicated," said Dr. Alberto Goldwaser, a forensic psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at NYU medical school. "But that doesn't mean we don't believe what we are saying. At that moment, we really believe it."

And our convictions carry through, even after the drinks' effects wear off.

"We still mean it the next day," Goldwaser says. "The next day, we say, 'I never meant to say it.' Not, 'I never meant it.' "

Alcohol dampens brain function in all areas of the brain, a University of Chicago study found.

One could make an argument that alcohol can, perhaps, artificially intensify feelings, making a person feel overly emotional and lash out about an issue that normally would not affect them.

"What we can say is that alcohol has an effect on inhibitions and that, normally, people will repress certain comments because they are not socially acceptable, but alcohol can take away that inhibition," says Harriet de Wit, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago who directs the university's Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory.

She conducted a study that found consuming alcohol "basically dampened brain function in all areas of the brain."

So while alcohol can lead a person to say things that are on their mind, but that they normally would keep to themselves, it may not be the ultimate judge of the truth.

" ... I wouldn't want to give the impression that everything a person says when they are inebriated is exactly what they would think in a rational state of mind," said Dr. Mark Levy, a forensic psychiatrist and a professor at University of California, San Francisco.

A Better Measure: "Bekoso, Bekiso, Bekaso"?

Perhaps a more telling measure of a person's character can be found not from his drunken rants, but rather from the Hebrew phrase "bekoso, bekiso, bekaso." It says that you can get to know a person's real character by these three simple measures:

  • Bekoso: By their cup, or how he or she acts when drunk

  • Bekiso: By their pocket, or how he or she manages money

  • Bekaso: By their temper, or how he or she acts when angry

So if alcohol isn't a clear measure of truth, then what is? It seems we all have our own ideas:

  • "Truth is not merely what we're thinking, but also why, to whom, and under what circumstances we say it," said former Czech president Vaclav Havel.

  • "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth," said Sherlock Holmes' author Arthur Conan Doyle.

  • "The truth is rarely pure, and never simple," said poet and playwright Oscar Wilde.

Recommended Reading

The Top Seven Signs That Someone is Lying to You

Alcohol Consumption -- How Much is Too Much and Too Little?


Chicago Tribune August 4, 2006

The Seattle Times August 13, 2006

Chicago Tribune August 24, 2006

To get more information about this and other highly important topics, sign up for your free subscription to our weekly "Be Safe, Live Long & Prosper" e-newsletter.

With every issue of the free newsletter, you’ll get access to the insights, products, services, and more that can truly improve your well-being, peace of mind, and therefore your life!

Share Email to a Friend Print This