Lie #2 – 10 Cups of Coffee Will Put You to Sleep

One of the oddest lies presented in Narconon educational programs is that 10 cups of coffee will put you to sleep. Here is an excerpt from the Narconon UK web site.

caffeine

And again from the Narconon Standart site from Russia.

narconon standart

So Narconon claims that the caffeine in coffee in low doses is a stimulant, in higher doses is a depressant, and in very high doses is fatal. The first and last claims are true, but the second claim is a lie. Caffeine is always a stimulant. It blocks the adenosine receptors in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that can make you sleepy. This article from Lifehacker and this from Howstuffworks explain the chemistry involved.

High levels of caffeine can be fatal. According to this article from Chemical & Engineering News, about 10 grams of caffeine would be required, which is a lot of coffee.

So where did this idea come from that 10 cups of coffee would put you to sleep? It’s a quote from Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health by L. Ron Hubbard, which is called “Book One” in Scientology.

dianetics

Drugs essentially are poisons. The degree to which they are taken determines the effect. A small amount gives a stimulant. A greater amount acts as a sedative. A larger amount acts as a poison and can kill one.

This is true of any drug. Each has a different amount. Caffeine is a drug. So coffee is an example. 100 cups of coffee would probably kill a person. Ten cups would probably put him to sleep. Two or three cups stimulate. This is a very common drug. It is not very harmful as it takes so much of it to have an effect so it is known as a stimulant.

Arsenic is known as a poison. Yet a tiny amount of arsenic is a stimulant, a good sized dose puts one to sleep and a few grains kills one.

Arsenic in very low doses can act as a stimulant, but Hubbard presents no evidence for the idea that caffeine or arsenic can put you to sleep. Despite being untrue, the quote lives on in the Scientology Handbook, Narconon’s book How to Talk To Kids About Drugs, and other web pages written by Scientologists.

The reason this lie is important is not because somebody will try to sedate themselves with 10 cups of coffee. It’s important because it shows how Narconon (and Scientology) cannot evaluate medical facts independently of the writings of L. Ron Hubbard. If he said it, they believe it to be true. This is not how a medical or educational organization should operate, it’s the way a cult operates.

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