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Honest People Might Be Dangerous (sebastianmarshall.com)
112 points by lionhearted on Feb 12, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments

I find most interesting how he is permanently banned and there is, in order to enforce this, obviously now a federal searchable record tied into his SSN noting him as a liability that should be avoided for all future secure employment.

This reminds me of the parallel system used by "health insurance companies". If you have some minor issue you later don't disclose on an application form, then if you do later become ill with something expensive to treat like cancer, your records are searched (held by private companies who collect this information), and your policy undergoes rescission, a form of legal annulment. A couple years ago I had some heart pains and got an EKG. It was nothing and proved to be indigestion after eating too many onions. I discussed it with the doctor and he agreed to take cash for that one and make no record of it with my name due to the risk of later being denied health care should I ever actually have heart disease for not reporting a possible preexisting condition.

Of course all this is only possible because of the work we engineers do for the powers that exist for profit and work the angles to make sure their systems don't provide health care and deny honest people the ability to work for law enforcement.

What's interesting in your case, and particularly frightening, is that any preventative care or examination is actually forbidden, which is the most counter-productive possible choice both for your health and the cost of maintaining it in the long term. It's strikingly brain-dead.

Not to intend to hijack this thread with a sideline, but I find it interesting that the author's problems were caused by the mushrooms he consumed in Amsterdam, at a time when doing so was presumably still legal in The Netherlands. In other words, he did nothing illegal at all.

I spent some time in the US as an intern at a large corporation and part of the admission procedure (on the day of arrival) was a drug test. My contract clearly stated that my employment was contingent on a negative outcome of that drug test.

I happen to be from The Netherlands, a country where as an adult I am allowed to smoke weed should I choose to (even though I don't). Apart from the legality of this, would they really have sent me back for doing something that is legal in my country?

The test would actually have detected any weed consumed up to 6 weeks in advance if I remember correctly. I got the notice perhaps 4 weeks before the test, so if I would have been a regular smoker, it would have been a quite likely outcome.

Can you really be held accountable for doing nothing wrong?

Drugs are a touchy subject in the US. I imagine nobody in Europe would do a hire/don't-hire decision based on a drug test. In fact everyone I've ever worked for here in Slovenia where weed is illegal were pretty open about their history (or not so much history) of weed use.

It's very culturally accepted in most of Europe that you smoke weed or have at least at some point in your life. If you claim to have gotten through high school and college without at least trying weed ... I don't think anyone will take you seriously. Even less so if it happens to be true.

Why are americans like this when it comes to drugs? I don't know, and I think most noncorporate types aren't like that in the US either.

As for being held accountable for doing nothing wrong ... would you hire somebody who drinks half a bottle of vodka a day? They're doing nothing wrong mind you.

> If you claim to have gotten through high school and college without at least trying weed ... I don't think anyone will take you seriously.

Interestingly, I know a lot of people in The Netherlands who have not and will never smoke weed, whereas in the USA I had the feeling that nearly everyone (especially the college crowd) was a stoner. If I were to give my non-expert experience, I would guess that about 50% of the people I met in the USA had ever smoked weed, compared to 25-30% in the NL.

> As for being held accountable for doing nothing wrong ... would you hire somebody who drinks half a bottle of vodka a day? They're doing nothing wrong mind you.

Someone who drinks half a bottle of wodka a day is doing something wrong. They are alcoholic and probably not able to function in any job, let alone a job that expects someone to behave responsibly. Wrong <> illegal.

"If I were to give my non-expert experience, I would guess that about 50% of the people I met in the USA had ever smoked weed"

It's actually roughly 85% of people in the US smoke weed at some point in their lives, as you can see here on p. 103:


(You need to adjust upwards a couple of points to account for those who don't make it to 11th grade, who are assumed to use drugs at 50% higher rates, and also to account for a couple other factors that are discussed in the methodology.)

>> It's actually roughly 85% of people in the US smoke weed at some point in their lives, as you can see here on p. 103:

Not my family, not most of my friends.

Edit: For my circle the estimate is totally wrong, beyond inaccurate. I doubt I'm in the minority.

And 85% seems really low to me. Out of the 20 people in my 10th grade honors science class I was the only student who had not smoked weed at least once. After that I have asked many people and the overwhelming majority have said they smoked pot at some point in time.

PS: 15% of the population is a lot of people, you would expect to find large clumps of people that don't smoke.

Why did you even bother to mention this? I'd think it goes without saying that there will clusters of people who don't smoke.

Your last line seems to imply that you doubt the results of the study, but that's a bit ridiculous to do based on personal anecdote.

I find it difficult to believe that it's a foregone conclusion that more than 2/3 of adults in the United States of America, my home, have involved themselves with an illegal drug.

I'm not doubting the study, I can't grasp the outcome.

Cannabis is not some terrible thing that turns people into thieves and low-lives. Plenty of the people you interact with every day (and likely have pleasant interactions with) use these substances. Perhaps some of this is location based, as I know on the west coast the general consensus is that people don't give a damn. Every single person I know has a friend or family member that smokes, often times successful and happy people, and it's not a big deal if they do or they don't. Public sentiment is changing every day and I truly believe that in the next 20-40 years cannabis prohibition will be a thing of the past just like alcohol prohibition.

One question for you - which do you think causes more health and addiction problems for people in the US ? Cannabis ? Or alcohol and prescription medications ?

People also download music, drive over the speed limit, and call in sick to work when they're perfectly healthy. The past three presidents have all admitted to trying illegal drugs. What's so surprising?

I'll assume a bottle is a fifth gallon, or 750ml. Half that is 375ml, about 12 ounces, and thus about 12 shots.

I have often enough drunken half that, 1/4 bottle a booze, three double-shot drinks over the course of an evening 4-6 hours. It's definitely not enough to be drunk at that rate or even tipsy. I function just fine. Double that I would be rather tipsy and not enjoy it. But I have known people that polish off a half and even a whole fifth in a single evening. I suppose those are the drunks. They usually function perfectly fine at work and are often top contributors.

I've never smoked pot myself but I know plenty who do and a lot of them are really fine developers, even though they get completely wasted every single evening.

The people that seem to be negatively affected in work are the amphetamine and narcotic users, both of which are often legally prescribed to them for ADHD or back pain. Those folks can get a bit edgy.

As far as flashbacks, I did know one LSD user who had them. But this guy had been very irresponsible and done several dozen hits one day which landed him in an insane asylum for over a year, after which he remembered nothing. He was definitely messed up. Casual users I know of hallucinogens have told me they've never had a flashback. I have noticed though that long term casual users tend to become more and more flaky so I would consider that a negative in a job interview, except that I don't ask such questions of people in that situation. I am skeptical of the claim the authorities made that the person in the referenced article is genuinely at risk of flashbacks because of a single incident of mushroom use years ago.

Well, you clearly have a stronger liver than I do in that case. If you really do manage to down that much wodka on a daily basis, you are considered an alcoholic. At least by most standards: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001940/

Having said that, if you manage to drink this much without anyone noticing in your professional performance, I don't see why that should be a reason to not employ you or fire you (although it is hard to say that in advance). The same goes for cannabis, which has a much less severe impact on your ability to function in society. In The Netherlands, Alcohol is actually considered to be a "hard drug", whereas cannabis is a "soft drug".

Regarding flashbacks, I did read of adverse effects of LSD years after using. I have never heard about the same applying to mushrooms (a completely different chemical).

FYI a shot is actually 1.5 ounces, so half a bottle would be about 8 shots, not 12.

Actually, a jigger is 1.5 ounces. A shot is 1 ounce.

I guess it depends on the country. In the U.S. it's 1.5 ounces.


More likely it has changed over time.


I'll admit, I'm old and my learning (through bartender's school, no less) reflects that. Most shot glasses will hold a jigger, but you don't fill it for a shot. Further down the page you linked, under "jigger," shows a tool we use(d). A "shot" was a drink, the "measure" was a jigger (1.5 oz) or a shot (1.0 oz). In programming terms, the word "shot" was overloaded.

Thanks, well no wonder my bottles don't last as long as I expect. (<- kidding)

Weird I've thought a shot was an ounce all these years.

>> If you claim to have gotten through high school and college without at least trying weed ... I don't think anyone will take you seriously. Interestingly, I know a lot of people in The Netherlands who have not and will never smoke weed, whereas in the USA I had the feeling that nearly everyone (especially the college crowd) was a stoner. If I were to give my non-expert experience, I would guess that about 50% of the people I met in the USA had ever smoked weed, compared to 25-30% in the NL.

I'd kinda second this. But I'd go so far to say that my experience in the US, a lot of the pot smoking happens in high school, and college was more of a drinking/party experience, I'd say most of my college friends never smoked weed in college. (yeah, we all tried weed in high school, but college was for drinking, chasing girls, and studying hard...) Yeah, we were all engineers.

And now in the "real world" the majority of my co-workers never smoked weed. You could say they're lying, but I'd guess because of my sample pool, it's more selection bias/demographics than anything.

It varies widely in the US depending on where you are and what kind of work you're doing. Many Silicon Valley tech companies don't give a shit, but try working for Federal contractors (many of which are required by law to drug test their employees) and you'll get a completely different experience.

Lots of people accomplished great things despite heavy, regular use of alcohol: Boris Yeltsin, Winston Churchill, Ulysses S. Grant, Christopher Hitchens, Edgar Allen Poe, Alexander the Great, Ernest Hemingway.

It's sort of weird to find Yeltsin with Alexander the Great and Ernest Hemingway.

Perhaps if you only remember the bulk of his presidency, but he shepherded the end of the Soviet Union as much as anyone.

I think you might have an overly drug-enthusiastic view of Europe.

I live in Scotland currently and went to university. I haven't done weed and neither have, as far as I know, around 50% of my friends.

It probably depends on the place, it just seems very normal where I live. Young people smoke weed, just the way it is. Even cops have stopped really caring when it's done at open-air events.

But even when you consider that perhaps "only" 50% of your peers have ever tried weed ... what does it say about an employer (or anyone) who readily dismisses half of the population like that?

As long as people can come to work and work efficiently and with a good attitude what they do on their own time is their own business. Depending on weight and tolerance, a half a bottle of vodka a day isn't that much at all to some people.

It's roughly a six-pack of beer. There are enough people who drink more than that and perform just fine.

1/2 of 0.5L 40% alc. vodka = 100gr of ethanol

~20 grams of ethanol per 330ml bottle of beer.

or ~1 750ml bottle of wine.

As he states in the blog post, it's not about this kind of activity being legal or illegal in certain countries, it is obviously about the potential (real or not) threat of a flashback from halucinogene intake.

It's comparable to donating blood. If you had Malaria once, you cannot donate blood anymore (at least in Germany). But getting Malaria is not illegal :)

Absolutely true. I did not mean to imply that the original post was about legality. It just reminded me of my own experiences and was wondering how people felt about it.

Possibly minor point: Weed is not legal in the Netherlands. It's tolerated but against the law. The law will be used against shops (and has) if you're too noisy, open too late, etc.

I hate being THAT GUY, but I can tell you with authority that the quickest way out of PLC is an Integrity Violation. The Marine Corps will work with you on youthful indiscretions like drug use. Integrity Violations? Yeah...not so much. That will get you an all expense paid ticket out of Quantico, from Reagan I think.

So...I don't know...police in California may think honesty is less than useful, but I would be careful about painting all law enforcement, military and intel agencies with too broad a brush.

The only thing one can reasonably conclude from your experience, is that there is a chance that certain California police forces could be corrupt. Which, frankly, comes as little surprise to people outside of California. Though I can understand the consternation it may cause to people in California.

What exactly is an integrety violation? Cheating on you spouse?

Yes and No. Basically it is ANY kind of lie.

Saying you didn't do drugs when you did. Etc, etc.

I assume that it's the same sort of thing as talking to a federal officer - even an accidental lie would count against you? Such as, say, getting blackout drunk in college and taking a hit off of a joint, and then passing out in your bed with no memory thereof - but the incident being clear in the memory of someone they're interviewing about you.

Great quote by an Australian immigration officer:

“You give us the papers we want. We give you the papers you want.”


“Just make the form look the way you know we want it to look, and we'll give you the resulting documents you want.”

When making jokes about bureaucracy, or constructing poorly-written fiction about bureaucracy, or - most dangerous of all - attempting to implement a bureaucracy as a computer program, there's a tendency to take the risk of deadlock too seriously. If you get the system into a state of logical contradiction, the theory goes, it will grind to a halt, or possibly explode.

But in the human world deadlocks don't happen, at least not for as long as you think. They resolve - sometimes peacefully, sometimes fitfully, but they resolve. The vast majority resolve so quickly that you barely notice they happened, because once a person has tried a particular deadlock-resolution strategy once or twice, and nothing has blown up as a result, they make a habit of that strategy and get really good at it. Eventually the strategy might even get institutionalized; it becomes part of the on-the-job training that everybody gets but that nobody ever talks about or writes down.

(And, sometimes, eventually something does blow up. But the proximate cause of that explosion won't look like a deadlock. If you investigate it, however, you may find that the root cause was a deadlock, one that got resolved in an unhappy way. So maybe it's wrong to say that the risk of deadlock is less than it appears; instead, we say that deadlocks are very risky, but the risk is not that the system will halt, but rather that it will grind forward in the wrong way.)

There are rules that are on the books that everyone pledges to follow, but that nobody actually follows. There are forms that everyone knows must be filled out a certain way, regardless of the surrounding circumstances. There are signatures that are consistently signed by underlings, but almost never by the person whose name is being signed. There are shortcuts that, if the engineers knew about them, would be cause for suspicion, but they make the job go faster, and the engineers don't know about them, perhaps because whenever they see one in progress they cover their eyes and mutter "oh, wow, I didn't see that", so let me just show you this trick very quietly, and please don't talk too loudly about it.

And obviously this can become pathological - I'm heard that, in particularly corrupt societies, bureaucrats can make a living by explicitly and openly manufacturing deadlocks which they will resolve for you for a fee, and everyone understands this and just travels around with a stack of bills - but it's also the essential lubricant that makes bureaucracy work at all. I'm not sure we have any evidence that, say, an enterprise on the scale of a corporation can work without such quintessentially human intervention.

There is actually research showing that police officers are vastly more likely to lie about their past drug use than the general public. In fact, this is one of the reasons we know that surveys of drug usage are generally accurate.

Erowid explains it here, I think in part 2 of the article:


Going into college, I had a scholarship with the Air Force ROTC program. I was honest about one specific allergy I had, and was denied my medical exam, thus I couldn't join the Air Force. I still did it for one semester, while applying for a medical waiver, and found out that several of the other cadets (especially those wanting to be pilots) had lied about particular issues. Several of those who did came from military families, who more or less knew how much you could fudge, and what you could get away with, and were open about lying about several more severe issues than mine.

Also one of my friends was rejected, because he was honest and said he smoked weed more than their arbitrary limit of 10 times in the past.

Fortunately for me, I have led a boring life and therefore I didn't find it difficult to tell the truth when I joined the Army.

On the other hand, I did have a friend who was told by his recruiter to be "honest." My friend didn't pick up on the recruiter's sarcasm so he told the entire truth about his past adventures with narcotics. He even told them that he has acid flashbacks a few times a year.

They still let my friend enlist(Hell, we were in the middle of a war), but it took him nearly all of his 4 year enlistment to get the Top Secret clearance he required to do his job. All of our supervisors acted like he was an idiot for actually telling the truth.

Ah yes, the eternal argument by anecdote.

So let's say you've shown that 'Honest People Might Be Dangerous'. How about a few anecdotes where a trivial lie led to a disaster? There, I've proven that 'Dishonest People Might Be Dangerous' too. What does this add up to? The ever-insightful 'People Might Be Dangerous' lemma. Now, given a choice between the 'Honest' and 'Not-entirely-honest' model of human, which one would you choose to work with?

Well, that's not what he's saying, did you read the article? His point is that these employment questionnaires are designed to filter out people who tell the truth about fairly common drug activities, which creates a bias towards hiring liars.

The title "Honest People Might Be Dangerous" is sarcastic and tongue in cheek. He did not argue that they are actually dangerous.

I wouldn't say it's designed to filter out honest people, it's designed to filter out people whose past drug use could be a liability. Is it really so ridiculous to assume that anybody can honestly answer no to those questions? While marijuana use is certainly common where I've lived most of my life, I'm well aware it's not as common in other places, and I know plenty of people who have never used it.

In any case, the article says nothing to imply that the author's past marijuana use was the problem. The issue was with hallucinogens and I would assume that most people can honestly say they've never taken any.

It's ridiculous to assume that such a screening will reliably exclude drug users. It's also quite plausible that the screening will increase the number of heavy drug users you hire. Consider:

1. Some people haven't ever used drugs. These people can safely answer honestly.

2. Some people have experimented with drugs in the past, but were never heavy users. These people may naively assume that your screening criteria align with modern societal norms that smoking pot in college is forgivable, but you shouldn't continue to use drugs once you move into the real world. These people will answer honestly and be excluded.

3. Some people may be current users, or former heavy users, and expect that they would not be hired if they answer honestly. Given that they are already active criminals (drug users) they may be more likely to lie.

Net result is that you exclude only 2, and your workforce is populated only by 1 and 3. I think most people, even those who created these policies, would prefer a workplace populated by groups 1 and 2.

"I think most people, even those who created these policies, would prefer a workplace populated by groups 1 and 2."

The people that created the policies... sure. Most people? Why? I have no problem with current drug users. Silicon Valley is chock full of semi-regular to regular pot smokers. And who knows how many take a few hits of ecstasy or mushrooms at their annual Burning Man or Coachella outings. You really see this as an issue? To be honest, I actively prefer to work with these people. You wouldn't have hired Carl Sagan?

As long as it's not affecting the quality of their work, why do you even care?

did you bother to read the article? we're not talking about hiring for startups. We're talking about hiring for police/emergency services. Having a selection bias against hiring honest cops sounds like a problem to me.

I read the article, and I still disagree. I shouldn't have limited myself to the startup scene. A good friend of mine is a paramedic in training in Austin, and not only has he done hallucinogens a fair amount of times, but many of his coworkers have as well. Yet I'd challenge you to find someone more reliable or dedicated. He's since stopped smoking pot, but primarily because of drug-testing, not because it affects his on-the-job performance. He'd never work high, of course.

I get the liability issue, even if I think it's dumb, but I honestly don't think occasional drug use should have any bearing on even emergency service jobs. Yes, I am ok with my potential ER surgeon smoking a spliff to relax after a long stressful day.

If we as a society were more open and accepting of this, responsible users wouldn't feel the need to lie and we wouldn't have this problem.

This is not legal advice or anything, but if anyone ever asks you whether you've broken the law or consumed drugs etc in the past, you say no, regardless whether you're telling the truth or not.

I wouldn't do this if that person were a federal agent. Lying to a federal agent is a serious felony. (Of course, you shouldn't ever say anything of substance to a federal agent without a lawyer.)

> Lying to a federal agent is a serious felony.

Not legal advice or anything but lying to protect one's own ass is a very special case of lying and gets much more protection than plain vanilla lying.

Depending on the situation you should either just decline to comment, or answer truthfully. Lying is usually bad.

I remember reading that federal agents are a special case.

You're screwed if you lie. You're screwed if you tell the truth. You're also screwed if you choose to remain silent, as that's used against you.

The only safe answer is "I cannot discuss that until I discuss it with counsel.

Tell that to Martha Stewart.

Watch the "never talk to the police" vido and be educated

Never talk to the police: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik

Do NOT lie if you are applying for a job requiring a high-level clearance!

That way, when they later run a background check, they find out that you are not just a criminal, but a lying criminal.

That will catch up to you.

The fear of hallucinogens is widespread in the blue universe. I've been told that former LSD users aren't allowed to be pilots in the U.S. because of the fear of "flasbacks"

You know there's some psychiatrist in Isreal who has diagnosed thousands of cases of "post hallucinogen perceptual disorder", probably because PHPD disqualifies a person from service in the Isreal armed forces.

HPPD isn't the same as flashbacks, it just consists of seeing things like floaters, slightly breathing walls, and fringing where there are straight lines. It probably wouldn't be safe for someone with HPPD to fly a military plane though. When treated correctly the condition normally presents few or no problems in everyday life at least after the first few months, but things like stress, sleep deprivation, and all psychoactive drugs (including caffeine) can make the symptoms much worse.

Given that one doctor diagnoses most of the cases in the world and that it happens in a country that has a draft for a self-destructive war, I've got a suspcision that HPPD is a form of malingering.

While I'm sure some or even many in Israel are faking it to get out of service, there's no doubt that it's a real condition and there are hundreds of threads on the Internet about it. It's fairly uncommon if you only do psychedelics once or twice a year, sleep properly before and after, don't mix them with other drugs, are eating healthfully, and don't expose yourself to any other major stressors. But once you start doing them 5 or 6 times a year your chances of getting it seem to be 20-30%, and only go up from there. Here are some Google links for you:





For what it's worth it's also in the DSM.

I had my moment of zen when some secret service agents came to my house to question me about a 6-month-old Slashdot comment. They looked around for guns, and finding none, needed to administer a "metal health exam". As they started asking the questions, I realized "wait. these people are not doctors. they don't give a flying fuck about my mental health. they need me to say the correct answers so they can close their case." I answered the questions correctly and they closed their case.

The moral of the story: many questions are asked to see if you know the right answer, not because they actually want to know the answer to the question.

Sorry but what in the world kind of /. comment could justify a search and interrogation?

The thread was "things you can't say on the Internet." My contribution was, "I am going to kill the president".

Turns out, I'm right.

Get ready for another visit son.

The problem was that there was no context in the /. post. Once I showed them the context it wasn't a problem.

So hopefully if the context is very close to the unmentionable remark, federal agents are not dispatched.

You have to be honest because you want to be. Because you dont want to project what you're not, and because you dont want to remember for the rest of the life the lie you said in order to be consistent.

Honesty is for yourself, and not for other people. In my opinion, it was right that you said the truth, and that you failed. You should argue that you shouldn't have failed, not that you dont need to tell the truth.

IMHO, and probably the contrarian view. But the contrarian view is of value because it makes you think. Please think of that before you downvote/upvote the comment.

Yup. The ability to deceive and manipulate is the most marketable skill on the planet. Security forces don't want folks with principles beyond doing what they're ordered to do. A cop that isn't willing to lie in court is going to win a lot fewer convictions.

The point of these questions is often to get you to lie. Oftentimes this is a felony in and of itself (for instance, in federal background investigations), which gives the organization requesting the information leverage over you (and also over any references that have falsely attested to your sobriety).

There's a bit more going on here.

Some companies give "honesty-integrity assessments" to predict whether candidates may steal from the company, sexually harass employees, etc. How do they predict whether someone would do that?

They simply ask.

People who steal gratuitously will often rationalize the behavior by convincing themselves that "everyone steals something." When they see the questions, they'll think that, if they mark that they would never steal anything, they'll be flagged as a liar. And then they're caught.

The drug questionnaire presumably acts under similar principles. The people who mark "Hallucinogens -- once in my life" tend to be the people who pop a pill every week.

It is a shame that America sets the tone for much of the world when it comes to drugs.

It's more of a United Nations thing, rather than the US.

It is most definitely is a US thing. I say this as an American.

Perhaps...however, our influence in that arena has to be the most powerful.

The point is not to admit liars. They genuinely don't want stoners in the service.

Now, you can argue till you are blue in the face that you will simply get more dishonest members, and this greatly outweighs the benefits of throwing out a few occasional users. But, ultimately speaking, these admission conditions are designed by committees, and there's always someone on the committee who doesn't want stoners at any cost.

Unlike most jobs, being a police officer requires a lot of lying, from "We have proof you did it, so confess now" to "I stopped and searched him because I saw something suspicious". Other jobs, like being a researcher on classified projects have different requirements, and admitting to a bit of drug use there won't get you in trouble.

This is an example of a rule that is intertwined within the fabric of American society - Never take the blame.

At least not in a public place or where it will go on record. Even if its your fault, you regret what happened and want to make amends. Even in that case its better to push off all blame and then go ahead and make amends.

This goes for everything from car insurance to dealing with any government body to dealing with corporate workplace issues to dealing with Americans in general.

Recently I was struck by this thought when Rex Ryan took the blame for the JETS awful season and in doing so a lot of sports writers questioned whether that was wise because it could mean that another losing season would mean the end of his tenure. A lot of writers mentioned casting the blame on others was a better action for the coach to have followed. Or even to have said nothing at all.

My take on honesty:

I'm not comfortable being incongruent (ie having a mismatch between my inner state and outer communication).

Even a relatively small amount of incongruence (ie minor sucking-up to unworthy bosses, things of that nature) causes me to become cynical and jaded.

I think this is a good thing AND a bad thing. Good thing because people know that I am less likely to be a fake-fuck and just nod along with their bullshit, bad thing because sometimes life requires some machiavellianism and/or smarminess.

Solutions for this dilemma?

PS. Sebastian Marshall is my new favorite blogger these past couple of months. I love his style. I would recommend everyone get his book: http://www.amazon.com/Ikigai-ebook/dp/B006M9T8NI (full disclosure: I want to gain some brownie-points from Mr Marshall).

Buddy of mine was getting a job where he needed to be heavily, heavily interviewed by CSIS.

Lots of polygraphs forms, etc. Detailed political interviews. Anyways, they get to this really thick form and the female CSIS interviewer says "please provide me a rough explanation of your history with illegal drugs," buddy says "Never. Not once." "Never?" "Never." One check box checked on the form the rest left unfilled.

Oh and my buddy was being truthful, but if you have to lie do it like that. "Never. Not once."

There is one great movie about this: Gattaca (1997) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/

More like Stupid People Might Be Dangerous. If you don't know to navigate a bureaucracy, don't expect to be anywhere near a position that might generate liability.

No police officer has ever smoked weed, yet they all instantly know and can identify the smell?

I doubt they disqualify ex military members because of the potential for flashbacks.

An officially sanctioned "controlled burn" of marijuana is generally a part of any officer's training, for exactly that reason. (Not kidding.)

They need to be able to explain how they can identify the smell if asked in court, even if they've smoked it before.

I've never smoked weed, yet I can pretty instantly identify the smell. I find it to be a very unpleasant smell at that.

So there's that.

I've never smoked weed, yet I can identify it instantly. I've been around people who smoked it enough to know exactly what it smells like.

The idea that psychedelics can cause flashbacks is a myth in the first place. It's completely impossible.

Half right. They don't recur indefinitely, but they can happen within the first week or two after the trip.

But that isn't at all relevant to hiring, since past psychedelic use can't cause future flashbacks as long as the person doesn't keep using those drugs. And plus the flashbacks that happen in the first week usually only happen if one smokes weed or else is sleep deprived or otherwise stressed out, it's not something that commonly happens at random. And that's being generous and assuming that flashbacks is even the right term, since it's really just your consciousness temporarily reacting differently to other neurological stimuli rather than being purely endogenous.

But that isn't at all relevant to hiring


Having had a flashback once -- 30 years ago, I hasten to add, for benefit of my future employer who has dug up this comment :-) -- I think it was endogenous.

Good old Hypocrisy, the Human Race's favourite past-time.

I'm not saying the article is hypocritical, I'm observing the greater issue here. Sad, but true.

It's good to stay away from an organization that rewards lying. You're lucky to have found this out before working there.

If you've broken the law, why should you be allowed to assume a position of trust with respect to the law?

To a first approximation, 100% of people have broken speed limits at some point. Where do you suggest we find the unicorns who have never done so?

Democracy at work. The majority of Americans support putting you in jail for smoking weed and doing mushrooms in Amsterdam. Wake the fuck up.

welcome to life

Honesty is seen as a liability in modern life. We never see it from politicians, bankers or public figures and people lie constantly about their CVs, jobs, income and so forth.

Why even bother asking if someone's ever done drugs? The chances are they will not be telling the truth anyhow, so you may as well rely on gut instinct and make the assumption everyone is lying all the time.

Sadly, today in every walk of life, its just a matter of making the "right" noises at the appropriate time to the right people. And that's not good. For anyone.

Tell the truth, shame the devil, take the consequences, one time. It often works out better than you might think.

Taking advice from Sebastian Marshall is dangerous. Seriously, are his articles being upvoted by trolls or are there actually that many morons in this community now? The kid wouldn't know the difference between a billion dollar business and a steaming bag of shit, and 30 seconds on his blog will prove I'm right. Shirtless homemade videos of yourself scribbling "business strategies" on a whiteboard and insulting every major company you've come in contact with? Classy.

I would say I pity him, but it's hard to feel sorry for someone who publicly ridicules his colleagues by repeatedly calling them all "fucking jokers" in a 10,000 word rant on his blog.

Downvote this if you're stupid enough to take advice from a tactless wannabe with the business sense of a doorknob.

> Downvote this if you're stupid enough to take advice from a tactless wannabe with the business sense of a doorknob.

I happened to have read a bunch of his articles(shirtless video, joker, pro-win). I disliked all of them. I read this one - this is just an anecdote about bureaucratic dance, with a cheesy title.

I can make my mind about something based on its objective measure, and your vile comment is totally unnecessary.

I agree 100%. Anyone who takes this guy seriously is ridiculous.

There are interesting stories on Hacker News, but I have to force myself not to get drawn into reading any of the comments. They make me lose faith in humanity.

...let the lambasting begin.

I do not believe your comment will be downvoted for the reason you suggest, but rather because your comment is an ad hominem attack.

Frankly, I kind of understand where you're coming from. I didn't like the offensive rants and videos, either, and I think the content quality has taken a dive in the past couple of months, however there are a lot of articles that do make a lot of sense and even in his videos, Sebastian has some great points.

This is by far the meanest comment I've had the displeasure of reading on Hacker News.

Downvote this if you're stupid enough

Please, including stuff lke that is pretty much just asking to be downvoted.

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