Running from those cops butt-ass naked. Asking the middle-aged bus driver out for "cheeseburgers and fuck." Winning that dance-off against the most fabulous gay man you’ve ever met, then showing up at your ex's house with a bucket of magnum condoms and some sub sandwiches.

These are all things you can thank — or in some cases, blame — alcohol for.

Or … can you?

As it turns out, alcohol may be the largest placebo-effect experiment ever orchestrated. As a society, we believe the ethanol in alcohol weakens our brain’s neuronal transmissions enough to lower our inhibitions and raise our human capabilities for debauchery, allowing us to behave wildly and outside of the status quo. We also believe, rightly, that it lowers our reaction times and impairs our ability to drive. That, it does.

But, here’s the kicker: while ethanol is certainly capable of altering our cognitive processes, it does not do so to the point of altering our physical or social behavior … at least to the extent we think it does. So, that naked cop escaping, date-asking, dance-off-winning fiend is not your drunk alter-ego fueled by the power of alcohol: it’s just you behaving how you assume you are supposed to behave while drinking.

At least that’s the anthropological standpoint.

While ethanol does inhibit communication between the neurons in our brains, thus impairing electric signals and ideas, anthropologist Kate Fox says that humans vastly over-estimate the physical implications of this.

According to her research, “When people think they are drinking alcohol, they behave according to their cultural beliefs about the behavioral effects of alcohol.”

In other words, alcohol doesn’t make you say stupid things, you say stupid things because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do when you're drunk.

Fox explains that in double-blind experiments, when “we are given what we think are alcoholic drinks — but are in fact non-alcoholic ‘placebos’ — we shed our inhibitions … Quite specifically, those who most strongly believe that alcohol causes aggression are the most likely to become aggressive when they think that they have consumed alcohol.”

It's quite the chicken-and-the-egg predicament, isn’t it? Does alcohol bring out the fun in us, or just make us believe it's okay to have fun, and we  then bring out that fun in ourselves? Should we blame Captain Morgan or ourselves for what we do when we're faded?

To answer that question, let’s look to a couple subcultures that render similar outcomes of binge-drinking, but without a drop of alcohol’s magical psychoactive ingredient ethanol.

DAYBREAKER is a well-known organization that hosts sunrise morning dance parties. It encourages wellness, camaraderie, self-expression, mindfulness and mischief, all without the use of alcohol. DAYBREAKER has also launched evening dance parties under the term DUSK for people who refuse to get up early but still want to party sober.

According to DAYBREAKER’s website, these no-drinking, no-drugs dance parties are all about “exploring our fears, being spontaneous, saying F-YEAH!” That mantra sounds a lot like a toast someone would declare prior to downing tequila shots, not before a sober dance fest, but the intentions of both things are the same: to let loose. The only difference? One involves an adrenaline-fueled wake-up with some killer jams, and the other involves a hangover in which you throw up out of both ends.

DAYBREAKER founder Radha Agrawal claims that “Traditional nightlife tends to be focused on substances over dancing … Opportunities to experience euphoria and love tend to be rare [and] substance-infused.” However, Agrawal feels you can transcend the commonplace and enter the euphoric without the need for any substances whatsoever, and DAYBREAKER’S wild success as a stone-cold-sober morning of debauchery supports that claim. Clearly, people are still capable of partying and acting drunk as shit when they're sober as a Catholic granny.

Outside of DAYBREAKER, wild sober behavior also flourishes elsewhere, and in some surprisingly unexpected places.

… Like church.

At the Pentecostal Holiness Church, you can find pure-blooded people behaving in ways you might think is only possible after downing a fifth of Jack. Pentecostal Holiness is a branch of Pentecostalism that believes in being “moved by the Spirit,” or that the Holy Spirit can literally possess someone during worship. Through group prayer, the laying of hands, and lively worship music, Pentecostal Holiness services churn out some pretty crazy sights, all pf which occur under the influence of the “Spirit.”

It’s no wonder alcohol spirits are called such …

I actually attended a service at the Highway of Holiness church in Hamilton, OH back in college. I was there researching my senior thesis, and I witnessed things that I’ve only ever seen take place at a Señor Frog’s: a 96-year-old man leapt on top of the first pew, and ran from pew to pew all the way to the back before sprinting back up the aisle and doing a cartwheel. A 30-year-old man began dancing wildly, despite dancing being prohibited by the Holiness church. A 72-year-old woman began speaking in a foreign language: tongues. The only thing that was missing was a DJ named Pauly Something.

Both DAYBREAKER and Pentecostal Holiness are onto something here: you can reach a state of euphoria, frenzy, boldness, and even fun, all without touching a drop of alcohol. Therefore, the conclusion could be drawn that those crazy things you did while buzzed were not the alcohol’s doing at all, but borne entirely of your own design, a choice influenced by our cultural understanding of how one behaves when drunk.

It can also be argued that the wild dancing is not brought on by the adrenaline coursing through the veins at DAYBREAKER, and the fits of hysteria are not brought on by the Holy Ghost, but instead are controlled entirely by the subject and the subject’s social understanding of what happens when at a dance party or filled with the Holy Ghost. Perhaps we are always in control of our actions, and we just tend to believe that outside forces play a role, when really the only thing influencing our decisions is ourselves, our anthropological grasp of social norms, and our desire to get turnt.

So after all that money you spent on alcohol, all those mornings bent over a toilet, all those McDonald’s breakfasts meant to suck up the sugar, it turns out you had the fun in you all along, and didn’t need that silly alcohol in the first place.

Kind of a trippy mind-fuck, isn’t it?