Reading this GQ thread suddenly induced in me an oral memory of a child taunting “thirty thousand brain cells killed with every swallow”.
Until I can put this memory into context I can’t get it out of my head. I think it was a movie (although it could be TV) probably from the late 80’s, and the scenario is something like this: a gruff guy is in some way saddled with a kid (maybe they were on a stake out and its his girlfriend’s kid) the kid is really getting on his nerves and so he pulls out a hip flask for some form of relief when the kid admonishes him with the above quote. It is firmly embedded into my memory so its probably something I watched multiple times. It could be kindergarten cop but I don’t think so.
Any help here would be appreciated, otherwise I’m in for a sleepless night.
I couldn’t find that particular quote. A similar warning, “Three beers kill 10,000 brain cells," is on a number of sites but all of them refer to it merely as an urban myth with no source.
Lots of sites contain a general statement of a myth that alcohol kills brain cells and go into nuanced detail about why this is wrong. What’s interesting is that they start around 2000 and don’t grow common until mid-way through the decade. That would be odd if the quote was remembered from childhood.
More generally, I found a 1994 Atlantic article that talked about the 1970s myth that marijuana kills brain cells. And in the NCAA News for Jan. 20, 1988, an actual doctor, Arnold Washton, M.D., a “substance abuse recovery expert” was quoted by the Associated Press that “Alcohol is more toxic to the brain than cocaine. It kills brain cells. Cocaine won’t do that.”
I can see that (minus the cocaine) being shouted in every locker room of every college across the country. With elaboration and false specifics. Bang. One urban myth. From there to a TV program or movie? Sure.