A Pepper Grinder Post


I really like coffee.  I buy big bags of coffee beans, keep them in the freezer until I use them, and then grind them fresh just before I brew the coffee.  I use a re-usable filter, in part because it lets more of the flavor of the coffee get through.

coffee beansTo be sure, there are people who are crazier about coffee than me.  I only drink 2-3 cups a day and I don’t buy my coffee beans “green” and roast them myself.  Still, I would say that if a 1 represents someone who hates coffee (like one of my sisters-in-law) and a 10 represents a coffee nut, I am probably at a 7 or 8.

So, it was with great pleasure that I read an article on the BBC website recently that compared the healthfulness of coffee vs. fruit smoothies ().  Unlike some studies which supposedly show that coffee is bad for you, this fascinating and insightful article pointed to long-running studies that showed that not only was regular coffee consumption NOT associated with an increase in death rate, moderate coffee consumption (2-5 cups a day) actually led to a slightly lower death rate than amongst non-coffee drinkers.  Perhaps most surprising was the finding in the “World Journal of Biological Chemistry” that people who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day were half as likely to commit suicide as those who either drank decaf or drank less than 2 cups a day of coffee.

coffee grinderWow!  I knew there was a good reason for me to drink coffee.

A few weeks after reading this article, I started listening to a series of lectures about decision making by Professor Michael A. Roberto (part of The Great Courses series done by The Teaching Company).  I will admit that I am not someone who is very interested in business.  Even though, as an IT guy, I work with business people, my eyes tend to glaze over when people start talking about harnessing synergies to maximize R.O.I. or something like that.  I just want them to tell me what they want the new software to do, so that I can go off and do my geeky thing and leave them to their business jargon.

coffee makerIn spite of this bias, I have found this lecture series (which is often looking at decision making from a business perspective) quite interesting.  One of the themes that Professor Roberto emphasizes is various pitfalls to good decision making.  One of those pitfalls is our tendency to want to hear and focus on information that confirms what we already believe.  He mentions a study where a mixture of pro and anti-death-penalty people were given a collection of articles to read which were evenly divided between ones that supported the death penalty and ones that argued against it.  After the participants in the study had read the articles, those in favor of the death penalty and those against it were both more convinced in their opinion than before.  We tend to hear what we want to hear.

coffee cupWhich brings us back to me and the coffee article.  Would I have liked the article so much if it had been telling me that people who drank no coffee were healthier than even moderate caffeine addicts?
It is one thing to let our biases lead us to drink more or less coffee.  It is quite another to let them influence the way we see the Bible.  If we read the Bible through the smudged lenses of our assumptions, we are likely to only see what confirms the things we already think.  We run the risk of hearing our own voice when we could be hearing God’s.