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Monthly Archives: February 2013

A periodical take on philosophical dilemmas

When people talk about the ‘war on drugs’ they commonly refer to the campaign of prohibition and foreign financial and military intervention, by the United States Government, arguably starting in the late 1960’s under President Nixon and continuing to the present day. Here I will instead use this term to refer to the prohibition of some recreational drugs throughout not only the UK and US, but the majority of the world. I emphasise the word ‘some’, for it is fundamentally important to remember that governments have only chosen to control a select list of drugs for recreational use; and not every substance that has the ability to effect the mind has been classified. Therefore, it is not so much a ‘war on drugs’ per se, but a prohibition of those drugs that governments deem it is unacceptable – for one reason or another – for the consenting individual to consume…

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The War [on drugs] Failed

“I think psychedelics play a major part in what we do, but having said that, I feel that if somebody’s going to experiment with those things they really need to educate themselves about them. People just taking the chemicals and diving in without having any kind of preparation about what they’re about to experience tend to have no frame of reference, so they’re missing everything flying by and all these new perspectives. It’s just a waste. They reach a little bit of spiritual enlightenment, but they end up going, ‘Well, now I need that drug to get back there again.’ The trick is to use the drugs once to get there, and maybe spend the next ten years trying to get back there without the drug.”
-Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of Tool

Of all the drugs I’ll discuss, none of the them are as misunderstood as lysergic acid diethylamide…

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Cognitive Liberty UK

Drug laws attempt to control what you can do with your mind and what experiences you are allowed access to. Drug laws are, quite literally, attempts at mind control.

Cognitive libery is much more than freedom of thought. To believe in cognitive liberty is to believe that the individual is absolute sovereign over their own consciousness. It is an extension of the concepts of freedom of thought and self-ownership. It is a reaction against the prevailing assumption that other people have the right to tell you what you can do with your mind and body in situations that carry only a personal-risk.

Terence McKenna writes:

“We’re playing with half a deck as long as we tolerate that the cardinals of government and science should dictate where human curiosity can legitimately send its attention and where it can not. It’s a preposterous situation. It is essentially a civil rights issue…

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Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 – Impact Assessment

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/45969

Responsible department: Home Office

Drug related harms and the costs to society remain high in Britain, with a growing consensus that the current enforcement led approach is not working. In recent months the independent UK Drugs Policy Commission has highlighted the fact that Government is spending around £3 billion a year on a policy that is often self-defeating; and the Home Affairs Select Committee has concluded Government action is needed “now, more than ever” to consider all the alternatives to our failing drug laws and learn from countries that have adopted a more evidence based approach. We are concerned that, in this age of austerity, nobody is checking whether Britain’s current approach is value for money – or money wasted. We therefore call on the Government to commission an authoritative and independent cost-benefit analysis and impact assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 within the next 12 months, in order to provide the evidence for Parliament to pursue a more effective drugs policy in the future.

Psychedelic Press UK

Originally published in Italy in 2000 under the title ‘Animali che si Drogano’, this English Translation of Giorgio Samorini’s ‘Animals and Psychedelics: The Natural World and the Instinct to Alter Consciousness’ was published by Park Street Press in 2002. The author is an ethnobotonist, ethnomycologist and the editor-in-chief of the scientific journal ‘Eleusis, Plants and Psychoactive Compounds’.

In the introduction the author tells us that the connection between animals and inebriation is a hugely under-researched field. Samorini cites Ronald K. Siegal’s Intoxication: Life in Pursuit of Artificial Paradise (1989) as being an important precursor because Siegal observed and researched the connection in both the laboratory and the field. According to Samorini: “[W]hat I am try to draw attention to here—natural and intentional behaviour interpretable as drug use in the animal world—is something that is, even now, underestimated, for the most part accorded little value or at the least interpreted…

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Psychedelic Philosophical Research

 Psychedelic substances help to expand your perceived views on reality. When you are experiencing the effects of these chemicals your reality becomes something very different. You don’t perceive the world the way you always do. Your point of view changes to something that feels above being a normal human, this is because it is something different than one has ever felt.

During this feeling and altered state of reality one believes that they are experiencing something beyond themselves, because it is something completely different than someone could ever describe in words. It literally is, not metaphorically. No one could successfully describe the exact feeling and state of being someone is experiencing LSD or DMT in words. They feel that they have achieved some sort of higher state of consciousness. Which is true, being it an indescribable experience above something normally experienced by a human.

The same chemical reactions and brain…

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It doesn’t take a Home Office funded research team to learn that an ever increasingly well-informed public is starting to spot the biases and interests behind FRANK:
Image

Although it takes no stretch of investigative journalism to discover that FRANK is funded by the government (via the Department of Health and The Home Office). Those unsuspecting marks, lured to the ‘Talk to Frank website’ by its multi-million pound advertising campaigns, would have no idea about it’s government connections from the website itself.

Nowhere on the website is it made clear that the charade is funded by the Home Office. Those visiting the site may wrongly assume that it is somehow independent, objective and fair.

This article hopes to highlight the intentional misrepresentations of psychedelics on the part of the organisation FRANK. In particular, this article analyses the misrepresentation of LSD to those who visit the FRANK website looking for objective information.

A Home Office report states that:
In March 2010

• 86% of 11 –18 year olds were aware of the FRANK service;
• of those, 80% trusted FRANK to give them reliable information about drugs;
and
• around 40% of young people would contact the FRANK website compared to 22% who would contact their friends for information about drugs.

The service offers “excellent value for money”, costing tax-payers a nominal £1-1.5 million per year.

Drugs education will always be a conflicted matter. On the one hand, educators and officials want to see a decrease in drug use; on the other hand, there’s the truth.

Now, nowhere on the FRANK website did we find any lies. As with so many things, it is just as important to spot what has >not been said< as to see what a given text makes explicit.

What's wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?

So here’s the first thing an individual research LSD would see. It starts off with a cursory mention about positive effects: positive effects that are down-played and misrepresented. What the FRANK website isn’t so frank about is the widespread personality, emotional, and spiritual transformations that research shows are fairly likely to occur. It dedicates ONE SENTENCE to the positives, within which it refers to them with a metaphysically loaded (and dismissive) term “hallucinations”.

The rest of this neutral and unbiased introduction is dedicated to the negatives, it is dedicated to fear-mongering.

Note that FRANK doesn’t provide much in the way of numbers: it doesn’t say what percentage of experiences are good or bad, it uses words like “depressed” to insinuate mental health issues, whilst being a little sparse on any evidence.

Now let’s look at ‘The Risks’ section, note: there isn’t a section for benefits, clinical uses, or any research indicating that LSD can make a positive contribution to one’s life.

More propagandaNow, we think it’s a great credit to FRANK that midst it’s highly biased representation of LSD, it does state “There’s no evidence to suggest LSD does any long-term damage to the body or directly causes long-term psychological damage.”

It is also honest about LSD being non-addictive, and that impurities with LSD are rare. This does raise the question, why such matters have their own sub-headings?

Here’s the sneaky bit though. The ‘experience reports’. Now, there doesn’t seem to be a mechanism which allows for people who have used LSD to submit their own reports, that’s a little strange isn’t it?

One would think that, when designing a website which provides unbiased information, which offers “first hand accounts” of drug experiences, that it might be an idea to provide a function that allows drug users to submit their accounts? If LSD is so bad, why not just let people who have used it write their feedback? The truth about LSD can go no further than the experiences of those involved with it.

FRANK has a page here: http://www.talktofrank.com/story/add

Which allows users to submit their accounts. As we are about to see, there is sufficient evidence to indicate a very heavy bias in their selection process. I invite any qualified readers to try and submit a positive LSD experience to the FRANK website and see how far it gets!

Let’s just compare the headings for FRANK’s LSD reports to those contained on Erowid.

Erowid is, in fact, the website that FRANK ought to be: it offers truly unbiased information, and allows drug users to upload their uncensored experiences of ANY drugs, and ANY combinations. Erowid does not censor “negative” experience-reports, nor does it censor “positive” ones:

erowid screenshot lsdIn fact: it has over 1000 reports (on LSD alone), categorised in various useful ways. It has amassed a huge collection of experience-reports which are the result of hundreds of different drugs, in myriad combinations, being described by thousands of individuals.

FRANK offers only five experience reports, most of which feature LSD being abused, misused, and mixed with other drugs, perhaps you can identify the selection bias?

LSD FRANK Bullshit experience reportsThe implication of these reports, for a reader who is looking for some cursory information about the effects of LSD, is that the experience will be nightmarish, will “destroy your family” and “cost you good friends” and probably land you in a psychiatric unit.

Now let’s not be naïve here: as Erowid’s comprehensive collection of trip reports indicate, bad trips happen, train-wrecks and disasters occur, and LSD can become an unhelpful habit for some individuals. What Erowid shows, however, is that:

1) LSD is far more likely to produce positive experiences than negative.
2) That the nature of those positive experiences is often described as profound by it’s users.

If FRANK wants to be frank about LSD, it needs to be a little more FRANK about what motivates people to use it, how MOST people find the LSD experience. If it wants to avoid the inherent biases of subjective reports, perhaps it could refer to more scientific information. If it wants to provide a truly neutral resource, it ought to avoid generalisations and selection biases.

Perhaps most important of all, FRANK ought to be honest and explicit about it’s connections to the government. It is a political website pretending (by omission) to be non-political. It is a service built to serve the interests of the state, pretending to serve the interests of the individual: the harmony of those interests is a matter of great controversy.

TLDR: Don’t talk to FRANK, talk to erowid.

erowid logo sign image information knowledge awareness

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