Weaponized Flavor

By Spencer Ackerman

This is from the April issue of Wired and may not be available online:

Most Dangerous Object in the Office This Month: Pure Cap Hot Sauce

Threat level: Red. Pure Cap is just soy oil and capsaicin, the pain-inducing chemical in peppers. This weapons-grade condiment is 3 percent capsaicin (most pepper spray is around 5 percent). When our copy editors need a pick-me-up, or just relief from dangling modifiers, we pipette a few microliters into their coffee.

Pure Cap also represents an escalation of the hot-sauce-borne challenge to one’s masculinity. I leave it to the more scientifically literate to determined whether a three percent-vs-five percent concentration represents a qualitative difference in weaponization. Yet I do want to see whether it amounts to a flavor or an effect  — that is, does Pure Cap taste like anything, or does it yield something analogous to the biological irritant impact on our tongues that we associate with hot sauce? For the Thomas Nagel acolytes, one could ask if there’s a relevant distinction, thereby moving us from philosophy of mind to philosophy of tongue. (Might there be tongue-states/mind-states to puzzle through?)

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