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Drugs and the Meaning of Life (2011) (samharris.org)
304 points by rosser 1427 days ago | hide | past | web | 261 comments | favorite



I recommend David Nutt's Drugs Without the Hot Air [1] on the subject. Nutt, a British psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist, headed up the U.K.'s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (a British DEA/FDA hybrid). He was canned when he suggested that alcohol may be more damaging than many controlled substances.

Amongst the goodies from the book are this chart [2], which plots dependence risk against toxicologists' ratings of physical harm for various psychoactive substances. Nutt memorably compared the "20 drugs considered in the ISCD’s 2010 report, ranked by overall harm" with their legal Class and "found a correlation of 0.04 – which means that there was effectively no relationship at all."

Also: "Francis Crick, who discovered the double helix structure of DNA with James Watson, and Kary Mullis, who invented the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), had both taken [LSD], and attributed some of their understanding and insights to it."

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Drugs-Without-Hot-David-Nutt/dp/190686... Drugs Without the Hot Air: Minimising the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs by David Nutt

[2] http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9c/Rational_...


>which means that there was effectively no relationship at all.

This is in large part because Nutt's research is entirely fraudulent. C.f. my previous analysis here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4044431


"The full methodology isn't actually published anywhere."

I believe it is: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-67.... Is a panel of experts providing views on an objective criteria the most satisfying solution? No. But they are open about the method, the scoring system, and data used to set assumptions. Plus, it beats "experts" legislating based on subjective, opaque critera.

"The rankings are creating by combining a lot of different factors that don't have anything to do with each other, e.g. by combining harm to the user with harm to society"

Nutt et all advocate considering the harm done to society by drugs, versus individuals, since it is at the society-wide level that we regulate. In any case, the data are provided to allow for one to pry apart the local and global harms. Here is a chart allowing you to, visually, do just that: http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2010/11/drugs_caus....

"The harms for drugs are measured as they are typically used, rather than correcting for things like differences in demographic and route of administration."

In his book, he spends a good deal of time addressing routes of administration, pointing out that "the health impacts of a drug can vary enormously depending on how it’s consumed". He is similarly expansive on the role of "setting" and culture in vulnerability and harm potential.

"The harms of the drugs caused by prohibition are not accounted for."

I thought he went quite extensively into the War on Drugs and how it wasn't "obviously the wrong thing to try in the 1970s, but today it is clearly doing more harm than good", that the "'drugs problem' needs radical rethinking as a public-health crisis rather than a moral crusade." He also uses the example of Portugal to show how legalisation can reduce indirect drug harms.

"They're not accounting for the benefits of drug use, only the harms."

Nutt is presently at the forefront of the British effort to de-regulate drugs. Further, harm reduction should first focus on clarifying risks.


> I believe it is

So do you feel like, after reading that, that you could replicate the study and get the same results? Because having read that I understand that the scores came from a committee, and are supposedly an an interval scale, but beyond that I have zero clue as to how they came up with the scores that they did. Also, as far as I can tell this is just a new analysis of his old data, and the methodology for that is still equally (or more) lacking.

> the data are provided to allow for one to pry apart the local and global harms

Yeah, but the local and global harms are both wrong, and combined they are even more wrong. You can break it down all you want, but it's still wrong at every single level. (E.g. do you really believe that, say, alcohol causes 2.5x as much harm to users than butane? And is it even meaningful to make that comparison in the first place?)

> In his book, he spends a good deal of time addressing routes of administration, pointing out that "the health impacts of a drug can vary enormously depending on how it’s consumed".

Then doesn't this only show that he knows his own study is invalid?

> I thought he went quite extensively into the War on Drugs

I was only talking about the validity of the study, not the book.


The methodology effectively reflected the divide between experts' and policy makers' views on the relative harms of various substances. Given the nuances involved and our limited understanding I agree with the decision to use a committee of experts versus a more precise mathematical specification.

Not only do I think it is meaningful to compare the harm done by drugs as they are actually used, it is necessary. Nutt's research is from society's perspective - that's why it spends more time on how people actually use drugs than how much harm would be done if they used them appropriately. It is not meant to guide responsible drug use, but instead, inform pragmatic harm-minimising policy. From that perspective, the inclusion of the endogenous prohibition effects on harm is a feature of his methodology, not a drawback.

Saying a study is "invalid" is a harsher critique than saying there are additional factors that need to be taken into account before coming up with policy conclusions. As an analogy, Newtonian gravity is not "invalid" - it is just a cruder model than one including Einsteinian time dilation. Nutt's 2007 paper is crude compared with his later work. Not "fraudulent" nor "invalidated".


"Not only do I think it is meaningful to compare the harm done by drugs as they are actually used, it is necessary. Nutt's research is from society's perspective - that's why it spends more time on how people actually use drugs than how much harm would be done if they used them appropriately."

The problem is that how drugs are used is almost entirely dependent on the public policy surrounding them. E.g. when coffee was an illegal drug, you had many people abusing it similar to what we think of as a stereotypical heroin addict today. So how can you set future public policy based on the societal harms of a drug without taking into account current public policy, when those harms are mostly determined by current public policy? Especially since the study (and his marketing of it) portrays these rankings as being objective and scientific.

And even if you were to think of it as a measure of societal harm caused by individual drugs, it doesn't even make any sense for that. E.g. there are no objective measures of the number of users, the amount of harm caused per user, the amount of harm each user causes to society, etc. It's only the opinions of a bunch of random people about these things. How is this supposed to be more accurate than getting actual data?


"The problem is that how drugs are used is almost entirely dependent on the public policy surrounding them"

Policy seeks to move from where we are forward. Nutt advocates "forward" be measured in minimising aggregate, actual harm. The logic is that since we do not know precisely how biology, psychology, sociology, economics, and policy interact we can start by observing the entire system and seeing where problems are bubbling up.

"It's only the opinions of a bunch of random people about these things. How is this supposed to be more accurate than getting actual data?"

Experts who have looked at the data are coming to a different consensus than our policy makers. That is powerful. I don't know how to integrate data including bioavailability, legal availability, neurotoxicity, safety ratio, etc. But having toxicologists' opinions juxtaposed with policy makers' signals that I should start looking deeper.

Characterising the 2010 paper as "the opinions of a bunch of random people" is disingenuous - a panel of experts weights factors including safety ratio and probability of physical dependence in producing their conclusion. We should not fault the use of estimates with appropriate error margins in lieu of perfect data.


when coffee was an illegal drug, you had many people abusing it similar to what we think of as a stereotypical heroin addict today

Highly questionable. Coffee was made illegal in the Ottoman empire because people in coffee shops were suspected of sedition, not because they were having caffeine ODs and dying. Comparing it to heroin is just silly, and I say that as a supporter of legalization.


"Coffee was made illegal in the Ottoman empire because people in coffee shops were suspected of sedition, not because they were having caffeine ODs and dying. Comparing it to heroin is just silly, and I say that as a supporter of legalization."

I think you're right about why coffee was illegal. Regardless, when coffee was illegal my understanding is that every Thursdays there was an event where they drank as much coffee as they could, to the point where there was actually a very real chance of ODing, in order to enter a mystical state. I can't find a real source right now, but here is an unsourced reference at least:

http://www1.lavazza.com/corporate/en/coffeculture/legends/ar...


...when coffee was an illegal drug, you had many people abusing it similar to what we think of as a stereotypical heroin addict today...

Did you mean tobacco?


No I meant coffee. But tobacco was the similar. Back when it was banned by the pope people were using it for entheogenic purposes. Essentially they would be completely fucked up for 2-3 days, also to the point where they were very near death.


Whoah, libel alert! Worth looking into this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_defamation_law


Fraud you say?

Perhaps you should inform Imperial College, one of the UK's most prestigious science and engineering institutes, where he currently holds a chair in neuropsychopharmacology.


If you follow Alex3917's link, you'll see he argues that Nutt is intellectually dishonest. That's of course different than being regular dishonest (i.e. fraudulent).


I think if that was really the case then IC would still want to know, I wasn't kidding about them being one of the most prestigious institutions in the UK.


Indeed, having been offered an academic job at Imperial, I'm partial to thinking of it as a place of high prestige.

The thing about intellectual dishonesty is that it's not provable, and in fact usually isn't even noticed by people who agree with the conclusion. If you read the link, you'll see that these allegations are hardly the kind that would lead a university to remove a professor.


We don't need to follow the link. This comment said the research was "entirely fraudulent". Amusing that his actual argument said something rather different.


Poor choice of words, but I don't think that's enough to justify ignoring his criticism.


> "found a correlation of 0.04 – which means that there was effectively no relationship at all."

This is scary:

Independence => 0 correlation

but

~(0 correlation => independence)

Please get your basic statistic straight.


"effectively no relationship" and "statistically independent" are not necessarily equivalent claims. Assuming Nutt used a rank correlation statistic (Pearson correlation is not well-suited to ordinal data) then zero correlation most likely implies no linear relationship between ranks. That's not equivalent to independence, but I think it's accurate to characterize it as "effectively no relationship" in the context of a discussion about drug laws. OTOH, a scatterplot would be more diagnostic than a statistic here.


[deleted]


The Crick anecdote is not to encourage people to try LSD so they can gain a connection to Francis Crick. Instead, it prompts a sense of dissonance between popular mentalities towards the substance and a luminary's position on it. Nutt's over-arching point is that society should pivot away from prohibition to harm reduction, which rests on people being informed about the realistic risks surrounding various substances.


LSD probably did not assist Francis Crick in discovering the double helix. Although LSD was available in 1953, it wasn't widely known or used until the 60s, and there's no evidence Crick would have had access to it (see the excerpt from Matt Ridley's book at http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/6835/was-francis...). This story seems to have originated with a Mail article published after Crick's death (http://www.miqel.com/entheogens/francis_crick_dna_lsd.html), and AFAIK has never been verified. While other evidence suggests that Crick experimented with LSD later in his life, he probably did not discover the double helix under its influence.

OTOH, Kary Mullis explicitly attributes PCR to his LSD use. I'd ordinarily believe the primary source over uninformed speculation, but Mullis is also an AIDS and climate change denialist who claims he once spoke to a glowing green raccoon, so he is probably not the most reliable source either.


[deleted]


No, it's how strongly people object to your dismissal of a couple of great scientists expressing an appreciation of LSD as somehow false, and your assertions that you obviously know better than them.

A dismissal, I might add, with absolutely no argument behind it, simply an arrogant statement.


[deleted]


No, it wouldn't bother people so much if you made an argument instead of handing out judgement. You come across as extremely arrogant and you don't make arguments, you make statements.


It's not reserved for trolls. There's also room there for people who complain about being downvoted.


[deleted]


By pandering, do you mean actually form an argument instead of expecting people to accepted the Truth you've revealed?


The difference is that simonster actually presented facts, while your post was just "nu-uh".


What about Steve Jobs's similar statement that taking LSD was "one of the two or three most important things [he did] in [his] life."

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2009/07/09/dr-lsd-to-steve-jobs-...


Well, you could extend your argument to state that one of the most important things in Van Gogh's life was to sever his own ear and hand it to a prostitute. Therefore, those who wish to become good painters ought to sever their ear. The fallacy in your argument is simply: "person x has done y, which led them to achievement z. therefore, if you do y, you will also achieve z, because person x had done so." I don't think this is a good way of refuting the parent comment, as disingenuous as it is.


Unless you can produce evidence that Van Gogh attributed his artistic skill to cutting off his ear, that doesn't follow. You've compared two dissimilar things.

I'm not inclined to give full credence to what someone attributes their own success to, either. I'm not taking a position either way, just observing that your argument is unfounded.


Also - unless you can produce evidence that having artistic skill of Van Gogh is intrinsically valuable.


Is there evidence to support the claim that Van Gogh believed cutting his ear off was important to his life and work? If not, then this is a very different example to that of Jobs' claim and is an equally poor way of refuting a position.


There's no evidence to that. From my personal experience (yes, anecdotal etc) with dozens of LSD taking friends over the course of many many years, they all end up attributing huge importance to their acid trips, and all the insights gained from them. The problem is this is the same with the brilliant friend, and with the do nothing, sit on my couch all day friend. For example: one of my friends, after taking acid, was so euphoric because, as he told me, he now understood so much. 'Like what?", I asked, and the only things he could tell me he understood was stuff like "i know why this lamppost is here", and "I know why there's a sign over that bakery", and other crap like that. And no, there wasn't anything deeper than that. I prodded.


So you are willing to discredit everyone's claim to the importance of their trips based on examples of people who falsely claim that their's was important?

I don't think anyone here is arguing the position that LSD will have a profound impact on anyone who takes it, just that it can give people a different way of looking at the world and sometimes that leads to novel and important insights.

Replace "LSD trip" with "university degree" in your example. Sure, there are many people who take a physics course and feel as though they have had profound insights but actually haven't. However, you can't use those examples to argue that everyone who claims their physics course has inspired their life and work is lying.


No, when I said "There's no evidence to that" I was referring to wether Van Gogh cutting his ear off was important to his life and work. I didn't discredit everyone's claim to the importance of nothing, just the claims of my closer friends, and I even acknowledged it as anecdotal evidence. Now, when you want to replace 'LSD' with 'physics course', then I'll disagree with you. If someone completed a university physics course, then yeah, they probably actually gained some important insight/knowledge as to how things are. If I ask a physicist why the sun is shining he probably won't answer me that it is "just the effective energy of the whole cosmos"(true quote -- again, lots os my friends took acid). Plus, saying that LSD sometimes leads to novel and important insights is just as anecdotal. Where are all the scientists and Nobel winners that attribute their discoveries to their acid trips? I've heard one or two, mostly just the DNA thing.


As someone with direct experience of the stuff a number of times (all a long time ago now) let me just say.... spot on.

I think the psychedelic experience at most produces an unwarranted sense of the profound. You may feel like revelations have occurred, but really they were nothing. Like those dreams when you figure it all out but when you wake up it's gone, or it was something about wearing your trousers backwards to solve the problem of disharmony in the middle east.

That's not to say I don't think there are a whole load of positives in there, but deeper understanding of the universe and yourself? Meh, I say, meh.


Anything that causes a connection or association of ideas that wouldn't have otherwise been formed holds the potential to facilitate a deeper understanding of ones' self or the universe.

Even in my limited experimentation with drugs, I feel as though I've experienced thought outside the realm of regularity.


That's what the trip produces, a feeling of deep insight of everything. Maybe it trips some "Eureka" area in the brain.

It's not only LSD that does it either, other drugs do it, as do some activities. People with a lot of practice in meditation seem to develop the same feeling, from the way they describe it.


Depends on every person, you cannot generalise, especially if you do not have such experience. LSD unlocked me a door in my head and I know I'll never be the same as before, I think my brain somehow changed physically. I lost lot of fears and could analyse myself as being part of nature. I was 19, now I'm 33 but I still enjoy remembering that moments; I took it 4 times. BTW I'm not a hippie but SW engineer :-)


Plato's Cave.


Go on… actually make your case…


[deleted]


Are you honestly arguing against doing something because intellectuals that inspire you advocate it? That's a fantastic reason to seek out a new experience.


Go on… actually make your case…


So you can't decide you want to have a go because intellectuals that inspire you had good things to say about it?

That's not a valid choice in your opinion?


If one person out of a every thousand who tries it becomes a super-genius and the others end up drooling morons, then it's probably not a good bet. Anecdotes of selected inspirational people shouldn't be a major basis of your decision to tinker with your nogin.

It is something in favour of it, I don't think it's productive to pretend otherwise. But good decisions don't result purely from paying attention to what's in favour of a decision. If you want to know whether something's going to potentially mess your life up, the best way I've heard of is to honestly set out to prove that it is going to mess your life up before you actually do it - and if you fail to prove it then you've exercised due diligence.

If you have someone saying they had a really good time and on the other hand you have a bunch of drug users who are completely messed up, then you might want to exercise a bit of caution - you know?


That's hyperbolic. If 100 people took LSD, some would be negatively affected, some would have life-changing experiences, and most would just experience some profundity and hallucinations. I think even for them it would be life-changing, but not on the order of, say, being in an auto accident, or running a marathon, or raising a child.

People call these things "trips", and I'd say that's about right. (I haven't taken LSD, but have taken psylocibin which is milder.) An extended trip, vagabonding without a goal, going new places and meeting new people, without "pushing" to make things happen, is similar to a "psychedelic" experience. It is profound.

I wouldn't recommend using LSD. I'd recommend using a milder drug like psylocibin, or maybe mescaline extracted from a farmed San Pedro cactus. (Don't go after the peyote - it's going to go extinct.)

Also, I would suggest waiting until you're in your early 20s to 30s, and if possible, not using any alcohol or other drugs prior to it; I think it makes it harder to notice the dosage as its taking effect.

It's been around 20 years since I've last had a trip, but it affected me a lot and made me a less judgmental person. I did eat some around 10 years ago, but it was a tiny amount and had only a mild effect; but having curtailed drinking, it was a much better experience.

I do not know where to get these drugs now, nor am I interested in obtaining any.

Also, if you want a profound experience without chemicals, travel if you can afford it. Do some work with people who have difficulties in life. Work a physical job that leaves you exhausted. Teach something to someone who cannot learn a subject you find easy. If you put yourself in a situation where you're not only helping others, but allowing others to help you, you will have profound experiences often.


I'm not saying it shohld be the only factor! You should always know what you're getting into.

I also don't think LSD turns anyone into a super genius...

I was just reacting to a now deleted comment that said you should do it because you want to, not because your intellectual heroes thought it was great. Is it wrong to want to because people you respect say nice things about it? (While remembering to evaluate if it's really a good idea for you, of course.)


Oh, sorry ^^;

I don't see anything wrong with wanting to try something because your heroes thought it was great. Though, I can see that just because your heroes thought it was great doesn't necessarily mean that you'll want to. Maybe that was more what Mr Deleted meant? More along the lines of don't just get swept up in the actions of strong personalities.


Can't stress this enough, I went years researching and getting rid of my demons before engulfing in these experiences.

Of course, jumping the gun can be something very very amazing.

But sometimes, little preperation would not hurt.


That's a bit of a sweeping statement, how can you be so sure?


Well, that is certainly a bare assertion. Why claim it did not?


This statement implies that you know better than Crick and Watson what contributed to their discovery. That's absurd.


The same path you're following has destroyed uncountable lives. Just go ahead and watch this film [0]. May the truth set you free.

[0] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1276962/?ref_=sr_1


I find it odd that the author of the article assumes his daughter is going to try drugs one day. Personally, I never have, and never plan to (23 years old). In fact, there's plenty of people I know who don't even drink -- not because of any moral or legal reason, but simply because they aren't interested in it. To clarify, I don't care what things other people try (I encourage everyone to make their own decisions), but it strikes me as odd that he just assumes she's going to go ahead and try all sorts of things.

I get the impression that people who have tried drugs before are incredulous that there exist people who are simply apathetic about the whole experience.


I might be one of those people who strikes you as "incredulous" and, to be fair, I'm sure there are people who are actually "apathetic about the whole experience".

I personally have met a fair number of people who claim to have the same or similar beliefs about this as you. But every single one who I've had a friendly conversation with about it has turned out to not be apathetic or even close. It has always been some combination of fear of loss of control, some desire to stay "pure" or an ideological commitment to the fact that these things are "bad" because they got told so as children.

I ask whenever I can, and I ask in the most friendly, non-judgmental way possible because in my experience the average reaction to someone saying what you said is much more aggressive and confrontational than merely "incredulous". But I ask because I'm honestly very curious about this. It seems so odd to categorically state that there are some perfectly safe experiences you are positive that you will never try. Are there other experiences you feel the same way about? ("I never have, and never plan to try eating Greek food, it's because of apathy" for example)

If in the future you are in an accident or require chemotherapy or something that involves you being exposed to drugs that have an effect that you enjoy and find fulfilling/useful/pleasurable and you could experience that again, with negligible risk of any adverse effects would you do so?


It's odd. I pride myself on being open to new experiences, and making my own judgements rather than relying on the law. But I seem to have an instinctive aversion to drug-taking (and it's not as simple as legality - I visited Amsterdam recently but to my own surprise found I didn't want to try the cannabis).

Part of it is, I think, that I know I have addictive tendencies and don't want to give them any chances. I drink alcohol strictly on social occasions only - but when I do, I drink more than I should. Sometimes I catch myself going to parties less because I'll enjoy the company than as an excuse to drink. Heck, it's hard enough keeping my coffee intake under control.

Part of it is simple snobbery. The most surprising thing about Amsterdam's "coffee shops", to me, was how divey they all looked; boarded-up windows, overflowing rubbish bins, alongside tanning parlours and tattoo/piercing shops. Nowhere seemed sophisticated, intellectual. (Oddly enough, this was in complete contrast to the brothels). My mental image of drug users (with the possible exception of cocaine, and there are other reasons to avoid that) is of a class and culture that I don't want to associate myself with - and the few users I know personally align closely with this stereotype.

But I don't think either of those fully captures my rationale, and I'd be interested to hear more thoughts on the subject. I do though think the point needs to be made that many people don't feel the need to try drugs, and while their reasons against may be incoherent or poorly thought out, it's not that they have particularly strong feelings against drugs so much as that trying them just doesn't seem that important.


You may like the other post I wrote about this elsewhere on this page.

Basically, the reason I don't try drugs (I hope the sense I am using that word can be inferred), is because of my chemical engineering and research background. Every chemical (e.g. anything) you ingest has a certain effect on your body. I feel that with some drugs (marijuana, cocaine, etc.), there is a higher probability of a long-term negative effect. Is this actually the case? I don't know. But I know that science is at no position right now to answer the question as we only know with certainty the effects and mechanisms of the most basic chemical reactions. All of the subtle interactions with something as complex as the human body are nearly impossible to ascertain. What study could one possibly devise that would rule out so many confounding factors?

So, for something like marijuana, there may in fact be no long term effects. But when it's easy (at least for me) to not try it, I just don't see there being any benefit for myself. Others, obviously, see the risk/reward ratio as being more favorable.

Does that fit the use of the word "apathetic"? I think so. Maybe you think another word is more suitable. I am as apathetic to drug use as I am about skydiving, or tightrope walking, or running in a lightning storm. I'm simply indifferent to these activities because I don't see any reward they would provide me.


>Every chemical (e.g. anything) you ingest has a certain effect on your body. I feel that with some drugs (marijuana, cocaine, etc.), there is a higher probability of a long-term negative effect.

This is not apathy, this is being cautious or heedful to the possible damage to your body. I am quite sure there is enough evidence that trying psilocybin or marijuana ONCE is not going to damage your body in the long term. So considering that, if you dont go ahead and try even once, there has to be some element of fear in there.

Its a wonderfully complex organ sitting in my head and I dont want to die before experiencing(atleast once) what all "realities" it can offer.


> I am quite sure there is enough evidence that trying psilocybin or marijuana ONCE is not going to damage your body in the long term

So... where is this evidence? Maybe that's the case (no one can say for sure yet), but it's not something I want to risk, even if the risk is low. That's fine that you want to experience all that reality offers, but I am simply disinterested in that particular experience. I'm sure there's many experiences you care little in being a part of even though many people find it enjoyable. (For instance, I like going on long runs by myself. And there's certainly a risk of getting hit by a car. Most people would like nothing to do with such an event.)


That's quite a high evidence bar to set. Most of the food you eat doesn't meet those criteria.

I think a large amount of the incredulity in responses is a combination of being surprised someone would be disinterested in a entire class of relatively safe experiences (I share that feeling) combined with an understanding that your risk analysis is off.


> being surprised someone would be disinterested in a entire class of relatively safe experiences (I share that feeling) combined with an understanding that your risk analysis is off.

Why is my risk analysis off? I'm not really sure how with a topic that doesn't have a hard scientific backing, your risk assessment gets more "priority" over mine. You can't weigh different people's probabilities (guesses) with your own probabilities and assume them to be any more correct. We'd have all kinds of nonsensical disagreements if that was the case.


I'm comparing your risk assessment to the general consensus opinion among scientists in related fields, since my risk assessment, as someone in a completely different field, carries no weight at all.


I've had multiple opportunities to get high (MJ + others) and chose not to. I don't care to alter my mental state that far. I don't drink much alcohol (& don't usually care for what it does for my mind). When I had laughing gas at the dentist, it turned my head into mush for a bit under a day afterwards. I just moved to WA, one of the "approximately legal MJ" states and I had a hard think about this. I don't really want to toke up.

Too much coffee doesn't do good stuff either.

I'm told there's a medically used drug? electrical tool? that is used in certain high-pain situations where it literally wipes your memory of high-spike pain (It erases the last few seconds or something). I don't want that either. I'd rather take the pain...

Generally, these things do things to my mind that I really don't like. I can only presume (based upon a decent amount of reading on the matter) LSD & other 'hardcore' hallucinogens will do similar things, but more in depth.


So you have never had a cup of coffee or tea? I'm not aware of any adult I personally know who hasn't partaken of some substance that alters perception in some way. Though no doubt such individuals exist, such a state of absolute abstinence is not something I'd think of imposing on my children.

Take into account the actual effects and remove social stigma and legal ramifications, and the substances I'd be ok with for my children would be different than current norms.

Also, I've known quite a few people who have never had a drink, smoked pot, etc., and I respect their desires. Bit even they drank coffee or tea, or used other substances that alter mood or perception.


> So you have never had a cup of coffee or tea?

No, actually. Both smell gross to me; I don't plan on trying either.

... but I do like Monsters.

I see what your point is, but the paragraph I am referring to in the article specifically mentions marijuana. He uses the more conventional use of the word "drug" in that paragraph, and so I am simply continuing that usage than the more general form he was using in the rest of the article. Surely so many HN readers aren't getting caught up on these semantic distinctions throughout the article?


I don't feel these semantic distinctions are as distinct as all that. And they're not the same for everyone. I had a coworker who reported distinct euphoria from over-the-counter Motrin.

So, semantics aside... I have two daughters myself. Personally I'm fine with them using mood/perception altering substances in a responsible manner. Or not, according to their druthers.

The thing is, some substances have effects that go beyond the timeframe of any possible pharmacological effect. To have the experience of seeing things "fresh" as if through the eyes of a child is to know, experientially, that such a thing is possible as an adult. Truly knowing it's possible, one might occasionally make the effort to just look and experience, with fewer filters than is typical. This is a real and beneficial ability. Drugs are not the only way to get there, but they are one way.


He uses the more conventional use of the word "drug" in that paragraph

Uhm, he specifically mentions tea, coffee and alcohol, right in the third phrase of that paragraph.


He's right. Your "I don't take drugs" is just arbitrary goalpost-moving. Knock that off.


> Knock that off.

Seriously? Your profile suggests you're friendlier than your comments do.

What is the point of this comment? I already clarified what I meant to say plenty of times. I don't know what "goalpost-moving" is. I'm sure you know I was referring specifically to marijuana... since I said as much.


If you've had a beer, or a cup of coffee, you've tried mind altering drugs.

That was part of the point of the article.


While true, it's quite a stretch to equate powerful hallucinogens with coffee (alcohol is another matter).

I mean, man, LSD is no joke, that will take you places that an ocean of coffee won't help you reach. Of course, ideally we don't reach for anything.


Equate? Sure, they aren't equal. For instance I'd much rather be a passenger in a car with a driver who's had a regular, cup of coffee-sized dose of caffeine than with someone that's even had a little bit of LSD.

OTOH LSD seems to be non- or low- addictive but coffee will get you hooked and give you withdrawals.

They're all mind altering drugs. Each thing is different. Some find value in them that others don't.


> OTOH LSD seems to be non- or low- addictive

LSD is not physically addictive whatsoever.


Drug altering minds have trouble with coherence.


You're argument is like saying "you'll go over the speed limit some day, therefore you will be a criminal".

A book can alter your mind more than any drugs. So what's your point?


>A book can alter your mind more than any drugs. So what's your point?

You might be surprised...


>> "you'll go over the speed limit some day, therefore you will be a criminal".

No, it's nothing like that.

It's more like someone who claims never to have programmed a computer, right after saying they've written shell scripts and python applications and what they mean is they haven't written any Ruby or Java yet.

>> A book can alter your mind more than any drugs. So what's your point?

That saying "I find it odd that the author of the article assumes his daughter is going to try drugs one day. Personally, I never have" is silly when he has actually taken drugs, particularly some of the ones that are referenced in the very section of the essay he's talking about.


>A book can alter your mind more than any drugs.

, he argued from ignorance.


> That was part of the point of the article.

Yes, it was. But that wasn't the point of the paragraph I was referring to. Shall I cite it?


Yet you still say "I never have" while using the term "drugs", when clearly you have used some drugs.

Just because you've never used recreational, illegal drugs does not mean you've never used drugs. This artificial separation that people make is a major part of the reason we can't have a sensible discussion on the topic.

Beyond this, it's not unreasonable to assume that someone with an inquisitive mind will want to try things. Hell, nearly everyone tries tea and coffee. Nearly everyone tries drink, and nearly everyone tries weed these days. MDMA is having a mass resurgence amongst people in their 30s and 40s at the moment.

Maybe not all people will, but many will, and I get the impression he doesn't want his daughter limited by taboos and social mores but well informed and able to make her own rational choices. And as someone who obviously feels psychedelics to be an important life experience (personally I think they're overrated) he may even encourage his daughter to try them safely, and I don't see a problem with that.


I really think you should re-read that paragraph - using "drugs" to include caffeine, nicotine and alcohol is exactly the point. I'll cite it.

The first sentences: I have a daughter who will one day take drugs. Of course, I will do everything in my power to see that she chooses her drugs wisely, but a life without drugs is neither foreseeable, nor, I think, desirable.

The first example of how taking drugs might be desirable, in the very next sentence: "Someday, I hope she enjoys a morning cup of tea or coffee as much as I do."

He continues with other example of his position on various drugs she might take: alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, psychedelics, narcotics. In the paragraph, "drugs" encompasses all of them.

The point is that the only line between what people call "drugs" and other mind-altering substances that people don't call "drugs" is a largely arbitrary legal one.

So I'm curious about your stance - being "simply apathetic about the whole experience". What experience exactly are you apathetic about? You said you know people who "don't even drink", so I assume you aren't one of them and do drink. You like Monster. So what's the distinguishing factor that only "drugs" offer that you are apathetic towards?


This is such a dumb argument. People say "drug" isn't a meaningful classification because it mixes different categories of substances, and in the next sentence they're equating coffee with LSD, apparently to defend the use of the latter.


I honestly don't perceive many mental effects from caffeine at all, besides jitters if I have too much, so I much prefer to use alcohol as the example.

The majority of people have felt the effects of alcohol, and most of those have been properly drunk at some point - so they know what it's like to take something which profoundly and very noticeably affects their consciousness.

If a drinker says "I just don't understand the appeal in taking drugs", the implication is that there's some property common to illegal drugs that alcohol doesn't share. There's not; the only characteristic common to all illegal drugs is that they alter consciousness, and they absolutely share that characteristic with legal substances like alcohol, caffeine, etc.

The argument is not meant to equate LSD with caffeine; just to demonstrate that taking illegal drugs is not some categorically different thing to taking legal drugs. Once you break down that distinction, what's left to argue about is the pros and cons of each individual substance, which is IMO a Good Thing.


I think you missed the point. "Drug" isn't a meaningful classification. Which is highlighted by the fact that coffee, cigarettes and alcohol are all drugs, thins most people have tried and can at least understand as 3 completely different entities in effect on mind and health.


Who's equating or defending anything?

I just think that saying "I've never done drugs" while at the same time admitting drinking alcohol is kinda silly.


It may be silly, but I bet 99% will understand that he meant the illegal stuff.


>> I find it odd that the author of the article assumes his daughter is going to try drugs one day. Personally, I never have...

Some of the 'drugs' the guy talks about in the section about his daughter are caffeinated drinks and alcohol.

I also happen to think that these false distinctions (marijuana is a drug, alcohol isn't, oxycodone is different because it's a doctor-drug) do the debate a lot of harm.

I'm not saying you're wrong, mind.


Why are things illegal? In the most purely naive idea, it is because government is supposed to prevent us from damaging ourselves. Tobacco and liquor are damaging things, they are literally poisons. Caffeine is also damaging.

I would be personally be much more inclined to believing the scientists whose entire career is the study of these illegal substances rather than the politicians who have to continue pushing the old ideals of "this is the line and we do not move the line because that would be an immoral attack on the fabric of society". Do you know why cannabis is known as marijuana? The reason is the old guard felt that cannabis was not foreign enough and changed it to something a wee bit more scary.

If you can put out a well reasoned argument against legalization then fine. If you will fall back to the standard catch all of 'its illegal!' then we have nothing discuss for you cannot present a reasonable argument.


I never said it should or shouldn't be illegal. I'm saying that if you use the word "drugs" the way it was used in the parent, then 99% of everyone will understand it as being referred to illegal drugs.

edit: spelling error


Right, but the article and the rest of us are saying that that is arbitrary and unhelpful and we really ought to stop it if we're ever going to have an adult conversation about all this.


"It may be silly, but I bet 99% will understand that he meant the illegal stuff."

Thanks to decades of propaganda...


I don't find it odd. I'd assume it's the same attitude plenty of parents have towards sex/parties. Assuming their child will be doing that even though it's not a given doesn't seem outrageous to me and seems like a fair analogy.


> it strikes me as odd that he just assumes she's going to go ahead and try all sorts of things.

Given how pragmatic Sam is about drug-taking, it would be fair to assume that his daughter will grow up with similar views and consider experimenting. My dad's experiences with/thoughts on psychedelic drugs were what paved the way for me to experiment. And because of my family's attitude towards mind-altering substances, I was able to experiment safely which was an encouraging factor.


Yeah I think you're missing the point, that everyone takes drugs in some form and he'd like to guide her into doing so intelligently.

He doesn't assume she's going to try all sorts of things at all. At least I didn't read that into anything he said.

I'm 29, and I've never tried alcohol or drugs aside from caffeine, and I have not had the same feelings of incredulity from anyone.

Also, I'd bet that our apathy comes from our never having experienced drugs, rather than some innate apathy to the idea.


Did you also read the part where it said "If she doesn't, I'm afraid she'll miss out on one of the most important rites of passage."

Psychedelics are a tool to be used for self discovery, not some seedy thing only losers use. Maybe you are the one who is blinded by preconceptions here, not him.


You should re-read the essay.

You may think you've never used drugs but you have, you just don't understand the meaning of the word.

I'd try and think of "drugs" less like substances and more like vices. If you've ever used a vice to help yourself emotionally or physically you've taken drugs.


No, I clearly understood what he meant by "drug". In fact another comment I made on here elaborates on that usage.

But he specifically mentioned alcohol and marijuana, to which I was referring.


You may say you've never done any 'drugs'. But you've certainly gone through changes of consciousness. That's the author's point.


It is really annoying that drugs proponents ignore the obvious negative effects of drugs. Pretending that LSD is harmless is utter utter bulshit. There are so many cases of serious mental problems including permanent insanity caused by psychadelics. And of course there are also the thousands of people that are not exactly insane but have their brains pretty much fried and are just not very good for anything useful anymore. I get to meet a lot of those in LA.

To mention one of the more recent fruits of psychedelics -- the guy that shot that US congresswoman in the head fried his brain on mushrooms.

Yeah the drug war is horrible but people that promote dangerous drugs and lie about their safety are almost as bad. A convenient lie is a very dangerous thing. Because if people want to believe something they are much more likely to believe it. So I bet this disgusting essay will cause a bunch of kids to try LSD and a percentage of them will be completely fucked because of it.

There are a few writers that have tried drugs and are completely honest about them, but they are very few. It is very hard for a drug user to be honest about drugs. I would recommend Philip K Dick. If anyone wants to try hard drugs, please read "A scanner darkly", and then read a Philip K Dick biography to see that he knew what he was talking about.


>> There are so many cases of serious mental problems including permanent insanity caused by psychadelics. And of course there are also the thousands of people that are not exactly insane but have their brains pretty much fried and are just not very good for anything useful anymore. I get to meet a lot of those in LA.

Do you have numbers and studies on this? Was it just LSD or have they been chronic multi-drug users for multiple years?

Because your statements directly conflict with the state of the art of current research.

>> There are a few writers that have tried drugs and are completely honest about them, but they are very few. It is very hard for a drug user to be honest about drugs. I would recommend Philip K Dick. If anyone wants to try hard drugs, please read "A scanner darkly", and then read a Philip K Dick biography to see that he knew what he was talking about.

PKD and his friends were indeed into all sorts of things, and got into all sorts of trouble.

His main complaint seems to have been that nobody told them what was safe and what was not, and that through innocent experimentation all sorts of bad things happened.

Hysterical disinformation, which is all we've had from government for around 30 years now, does nothing to help this. Nothing.


During an undergrad research project in a hospital, I had access to a medical library and found a few articles on persistent visual tracers following LSD use. I can't find them now, but I turned this up in the British Journal of Psychiatry

"A chronic impairment of colour vision in users of LSD." http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/140/5/518.short


A small number of users do experience HPPD, yes, but I'm not convinced there are thousands of shambling, brain-fried zombies from this and this alone.


> "There are so many cases of serious mental problems including permanent insanity caused by psychadelics."

> "And of course there are also the thousands of people that are not exactly insane but have their brains pretty much fried and are just not very good for anything useful anymore."

> "To mention one of the more recent fruits of psychedelics -- the guy that shot that US congresswoman in the head fried his brain on mushrooms."

Don't make outlandish claims if you're not going to bother to cite your sources. Also, even if what your claiming regarding the Arizona shooter is true, I have a mustache, does that mean I'm going to commit genocide?


"Pretending that LSD is harmless is utter utter bulshit."

You obviously didn't read the full essay if that is what you came away with. The book you cite is about amphetamines. Throwing Amphetamines and Psychedelics into the general "drugs" category really betrays your complete lack of any knowledge on this subject.

Finally I agree that pro-drug advocates will certainly be biased but you are on the other end of the spectrum. You seem to claim author's aren't truthful about their experiences with drugs unless it's negative?


Dick's experiences were mostly with amphetamines, not psychedelics. Most don't include LSD and psilocybin as "hard drugs," either, and all of the credible drug advocates I've seen have always clearly stated that one should carefully research and consider before taking any drug into one's body, and advise against those with predispositions to mental illness or who feel that they are not ready for such experiences or capable of properly preparing for them ("set and setting"). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rational_scale_to_assess_t...)


There have been very, very few documented ill-effects of LSD use. Like, an astronomically small number given the range of use. Those people you describe in LA are most likely suffering from the effects of other drugs, namely alcohol.


What you think you know about psychedelic drugs is not true. If you judge what drug proponents say against what you think that you know, of course you'll find what they say dishonest. What many of them say is on a far firmer scientific footing than what you're saying.

LSD does not cause people to be schizophrenic; schizophrenia shows itself during the most likely years for people to be experimenting with drugs.

edit: and to add to what kinghajj mentioned about Philip K. Dick; Dick was on amphetamines, and amphetamines have a very established history of actually making you long-term crazy.


> LSD does not cause people to be schizophrenic; schizophrenia shows itself during the most likely years for people to be experimenting with drugs.

This is very misleading at best. LSD use causes direct symptoms of psychosis, including symptoms of schizophrenia, schizoaffective, and schizophreniform disorders.

The effects of LSD resemble schizophrenia so closely, in fact, that it has led to studies on rats using LSD as a hypothetical model to represent schizophrenia. In other words, we give rats LSD and see what chemicals reduce the effects to find treatments for schizophrenia.

A very incomplete list of sources:

Aghajanian, G. K., & Marek, G. J. (2000). Serotonin model of schizophrenia: emerging role of glutamate mechanisms. Brain Research Reviews, 31(2), 302-312.

Crow, T. J. (1980). Molecular pathology of schizophrenia: more than one disease process?. British medical journal, 280(6207), 66.

Schneier, F. R., & Siris, S. G. (1987). A review of psychoactive substance use and abuse in schizophrenia: patterns of drug choice. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 175(11), 641-652.


> The effects of LSD resemble schizophrenia so closely, in fact, that it has led to studies on rats using LSD as a hypothetical model to represent schizophrenia. In other words, we give rats LSD and see what chemicals reduce the effects to find treatments for schizophrenia.

And that was the research which led to the rejection of LSD as a model for schizophrenia, and there is still no evidence tying LSD to schizophrenia as all the correlations are heavily contaminated by polydrug use.

It's messy, but https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LSD_and_schizophrenia is a better overview of the topic...


I don't think we know enough about schizophrenia or LSD to say they are the same thing.

Most of the lsd-eaters I've talked with have talked about a visual effect called "tracers", but the handful of schizophrenics I've talked to don't talk about tracers, but they do talk about hallucinatory voices, depression, paranoia and confusion.

That said, I think that your current brain chemistry definitely affects your drug experience. If you have mental health issues, stay away from hallucinogens.

Like I said in another post, I have used psilocybin. The effects I had were not typical of what most other people described. I had a whole other set of "special effects" I experienced, consistently. After talking with many people, I found that a few other people shared virtually the same hallucinatory effects, and they seemed to have ADHD or some kind of OCD or were very tech-geeky. (And, I haven't been diagnosed, but I bite my nails and have a mild hoarding problem. That's a sign of possible OCD.)

So, I don't seek out this type of drug anymore.


I think it's simply misleading to quote studies comparing the effects of acute LSD intoxication to the symptoms that can be seen in psychotic people as evidence that LSD in some way causes schizophrenia.

Drunken people share symptoms with schizophrenics too, as well as people who have gone without sleep.


This is not just a matter of resembling psychosis.

Haloperidol and olanzapine, two common prescriptions for schizophrenia, have been demonstrated to reduce the effects of LSD.

There is a connection between the psychoactive properties of LSD and the neurological etiology of schizophrenia, though the connection needs to be studied further.

Yes, research should not be taken as gospel, but it is foolish to think that there is no reason at all for alarm.

Another more recent source: Marona-Lewicka, D., Nichols, C. D., & Nichols, D. E. (2011). An animal model of schizophrenia based on chronic {LSD} administration: Old idea, new results. Neuropharmacology, 61(3), 503 – 512. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.02.006


LSD is primarily a 5HT2 agonist which leads to a decrease in dopamine pathways. This decrease in dopamine leads to taking it mimicing the "negative" symptoms of schizophrenia. this effect has been used in animal models to support various dopamine theories for us to learn more about schizophrenia, such as one of the current theories advocating for an increase in dopamine in mesolimbic brain pathway and decrease of dopamine in mesocortical pathways.

So the drug is useful for inducing the symptoms, however once the drug is gone so are the symptoms. Schizophrenics have problems at some cellular level, be it receptor, transcription, translation, protein modification, etc that leads to their symptoms and the end effects that are similar to LSD. LSD causes the final step in the pathway, not the initial ones.

Likewise for your drugs, you named two dopamine blockers (one selective for D_2 and one not). these treat schizophrenia in the sense that they minimise symptoms since they are working at the final step in what is wrong with the patients. They are not "cures" because they don't address the initial issue, which we hopefully will discover.


> Haloperidol and olanzapine, two common prescriptions for schizophrenia, have been demonstrated to reduce the effects of LSD.

That is such a bullshit statement. A wide array of pharmaceuticals reduce the effects of LSD as well as other drugs for that matter.


Number 1 rule: If you're having a bad LSD trip head straight for the liquor; that'll kill your trip good and fast. What's your point?

Dont mean to be rude, but I'm calling out your schizophrenia association as wild-eyed bullshit, too.


I think you've misunderstood my comment. The angle bracket part was me quoting the parent comment. I'm telling him that it's bullshit to try and draw some sort of conclusion between LSD and schizophrenia simply because schizophrenia medication dampers the effects of LSD because all sorts of medications damper the effects of LSD. I probably should have used quotes, my bad. I'm just so used to using the angle bracket to signify a quotation.


Hah, no, I was agreeing with you! I hit reply under the wrong thread.


Try taking LSD and then tell me if some aspect of the experience could not be described as schizophrenic. Seriously comparing the state of being drunk with that of one tripping their (rational) mind off is liking comparing apples and moons.


A non-schizophrenic describing their subjective experience on LSD as schizophrenic can be nothing but projection.


IMO, the mood-swings and irrational, dangerous behavior that Alcohol tends to induce seem to me to be far more schizophrenic than the states brought on by LSD.


I think it's pretty inaccurate to say this article ignores the negative effects of drugs or pretends that LSD is harmless. Quoting verbatim:

This is not to say that everyone should take psychedelics. As I will make clear below, these drugs pose certain dangers. Undoubtedly, there are people who cannot afford to give the anchor of sanity even the slightest tug.

and

Even if drugs like LSD are biologically safe, the potential for extremely unpleasant and destabilizing experiences presents its own risks. I believe I was positively affected for weeks and months by my good trips, and negatively affected by the bad ones. Given these roulette-like odds, one can only recommend these experiences with caution.

and

But as the peaks are high, the valleys are deep. My “bad trips” were, without question, the most harrowing hours I have ever suffered—and they make the notion of hell, as a metaphor if not a destination, seem perfectly apt.

It's pretty even-handed, overall.


> So I bet this disgusting essay will cause a bunch of kids to try LSD and a percentage of them will be completely fucked because of it.

Even assuming that's true - which it probably is even just based on the fact that some people already have fragile mental states - a certain percentage of people who go motorcycling get creamed by bad drivers. Life is risk. What the percentage is matters.

Without number it's just hand-waving - and the longer the hand-waving goes on the less dangerous it seems because scary correlates are being given adequate time to show up.


Those who are affected by LSD in that way will probably also be more susceptible to drug induced HPPD or Schizophernia from other controlled and non-controlled substances. It has to do with the structure of the brain. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/178/4/337.full Basically they are born with less ability to distinguish reality from fiction. A good indication for this would be the well known ink spot test.

Responsible self-admission of controlled substances would always advocate starting at the dose that might cause an adverse allergic reaction of some sort, and move up from there.

I've seen a Scanner Darkly, and I've tried hard drugs. In my experience and knowledge of stimulating drugs like amphetamines and esp. cocaine. The chance of psychosis from these line of drugs and the potential of abuse are of an order of magnitude worse, while we blindly prescribe our ADD and ADHD suffering kids to methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine salts (Adderall). I would advice you to look them up.

The abuse potential for these kind of drugs are huge with ADD/ADHD patients since their disorder pretty much means they require more dopamine stimulation to be able to complete tasks, and these drugs are very much addictive in nature because of their actions on the dopamine system. Stimulating this area in the brain is way more "rewarding" than for example serotonergic drugs like LSD.

I understand that a lot of street drugs are adulterated or chemically inferior to the medical grade stuff, but it is still hypocritical and dangerous to make a Black/White area of what is supposedly not bad for you (i.e. prescriptions, OTC or legal substances ) and bad for you (controlled substances).

I understand that these drugs are prescribed under doctors supervision, but the reality learns that this is usually not a game stopper for abusers. Also they are being given to patients for a number of disorders without adequate research backing their perceived safety profile. Long-term effects on kids and teenagers who have been on these medications are not known at all.


opponents & proponents are almost by definitions biased or dishonest.

Have you ever heard an anti-drug campaigner make the argument that LSD can have a valuable impact on creativity and perspective but overall the risks outweigh those benefits?

Oh and from this article:

"This is not to say that everyone should take psychedelics. As I will make clear below, these drugs pose certain dangers. Undoubtedly, there are people who cannot afford to give the anchor of sanity even the slightest tug. It has been many years since I have taken psychedelics, in fact, and my abstinence is born of a healthy respect for the risks involved"


You are literally spouting bullshit out of your ass. Insanity? Are you fucking kidding me?

Blow it out your ass pops, you're making shit up.

This kind of flatout lying is even worse than people who pretend drugs have no risks. Making risks up to scare people into agreeing with you is no better.


http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2010/11/drugs_caus...

LSD is indeed harmful but not as harmful as you might think.


I'll second that. Having done my share of psychedelics, rest assured, you will meet the devil, and he will laugh while he plays you like the puppet that you are. Just ask Adam and Eve.


Your post, while I'm sure it has many literary merits, does not bring much to the conversation. Factual accounts of your experiences might though.


What for? So some guy sitting at computer in his underwear can pass judgement with his mouse? No thanks.


Reply A:

What you describe will happen no matter what, so it would likely be more interesting for everyone involved if your posts were not just talking for talk's sake :)

Reply B:

Why are you posting at all then?


Ok then, here's one.

One time after dropping some acid, I was lying on the couch and above my head was a rather large asparagus fern hanging over my head. While staring at this plant and pondering the deeper meaning of life, it suddenly began to twitch. The branches were bouncing up and down an inch or two.

From that point on, and for many years later, whenever I looked at that plant from anywhere in the room, the branches would begin dancing around.

I would make visitors look at the plant while I stood across the room looking out the window, and while they watched, I would turn and look at the fern. It did it everytime without failing once. I have at least 100 witnesses.

Now that's one of the nicer stories. But what I would say to anyone considering experimentation, you'll be sorry if you do. Philip K. Dick speaks of spending a 1000 years at the Mountain of Shame. I can so relate.


I can totally relate to this as well. I've been places with dimethyltryptamine that I can't even begin to describe. Hellish eternities that seemed to last thousands of years, domains lorded over by beings which, with great fun, make you suddenly appear to loose limbs, cast you out into space, control your thoughts, alien abduction, etc.

Its pretty unspeakable and frightening, but at the same time fascinating and mysterious. The weights on the scales are nigh.


>It is really annoying that drugs proponents ignore the obvious negative effects of drugs.

No they don't. Even if there are negative effects, which by the way are nowhere near as bad as the negative effects of overeating shit and sitting on your fatass ass all day which 90% of the Western generation does on a daily basis, who gives a fuck? They're fun and the benefits (especially the benefits of psychedelics and empathogen) outweigh the risks if you do them safely and in moderation.

Now anti-drug people cannot see this no matter what evidence you present them because they've been indoctrinated by a system that imprisons people for smoking weed.


Reading other comments here: don't get hung up on his opening gambit: "Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness.". That's just an introductory point.

I recommend reading the whole article, which is a beautiful balance of science and spirit, while being totally upfront and honest about the risks involved, even to the spiritually 'serious'.

As for me - psychedelics changed everything, but I stayed the same (or maybe everything stayed the same, but sad parts of me continue to be stripped away).

They continue to burn what is not real, as long as the heart is directed squarely at Truth and the mind is kept sharp and open. The trend is towards greater compassion, deeper love and surrender, coming more fully into the wholeness of being!


>"Some are illegal; some are stigmatized; some are dangerous—though, perversely, these sets only partially intersect"

I'd say stigmatization and legalization tend to correlate well, but sadly neither law nor cultural attitude have much to do with actual danger.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2010/11/drugs_caus...

LSD remains a Schedule 1 drug, even though it's about as dangerous as caffeine.

>"...if I knew my daughter would eventually develop a fondness for methamphetamine or crack cocaine, I might never sleep again. But if she does not try a psychedelic like psilocybin or LSD at least once in her adult life, I will worry that she may have missed one of the most important rites of passage a human being can experience."

I couldn't agree more; reading the statement above made me want to stand up and cheer.


Exactly.

The only thing that bothers me about stigmatization and legalization is the 40+ year old crowd that feel marijuana should not be legal.


I wouldn't blame it all on middle-aged folks. In my experience, plenty of young people think that all hell would break loose if drugs were legalized or decriminalized.


Even the author of this article doesn't make the claim that LSD is "as dangerous as caffeine".


"Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness. We form friendships so that we can feel certain emotions, like love, and avoid others, like loneliness. We eat specific foods to enjoy their fleeting presence on our tongues."

We study and work for the purpose of altering the bits representing our bank account balances. Is that equivalent to hacking the bank and altering the bits directly?

We make friendships "to feel emotions like love". To what degree is it sane to misrepresent yourself and otherwise deceive people to make them your "friends"?

There's a contest for the shortest program printing itself to the screen. Is opening the file with the source code and copying the code to the screen really as good an entry as any other?

Any sane person and even most varieties of the insane person realize that the signal you're receiving is a means to infer that something is happening out there, not an end in itself.

This is not to say that there should or should not be a War on Drugs (which, since I'm not an American citizen, is really none of my business.)


Your comparisons are all extremely unfair in the same way: they involve unjust disregard for the well-being of others. There are victims in each of your analogies.

There are no victims if I safely use a mind-altering drug like LSD. Responsible drug use has more in common with using a neat programming trick to accomplish a personal goal than it does with hacking.

Still, I come across this comparison often: like people think it's "cheating" to use drugs. Nonsense. If there's a tool I can use to safely accomplish a worthwhile goal, why not use it? It might be "unnatural" or "cheating" to use a sharp stick to fight off a predator, but I doubt you have qualms with such physical tools.

Is it cheating to put a roof over your head to avoid the elements? You live in unnatural conditions surrounded by synthetic solutions to accomplish your goals. You're using some sort of electronic device now. I fail to see the distinction between synthetic physical tools and synthetic chemical tools, but I do see your argument is full of holes.


His analogies are apt. His point is that in all those cases the signal itself is meaningless and inconsequential to the end.

The victim, in his examples, is the achievement of the end goal, which becomes a casualty of focusing only on the signal.

It probably applies to stimulant drugs more than it does to drugs like LSD. But like the original essay suggests, there's probably an evolutionary reason why we don't constantly experience life like we do on LSD, because we'd be excited and fascinated by everything.

If the goal of life is to increase our experiences... then the only way to maximize that in the long term is to survive. If you tweak the algorithm to give experience/pleasure without any work (drugs), then you'll no longer have an incentive to work to increase survivability. If you tweak it to give no increase in experience and happiness, and focus only on survivability, you'll have no incentive to survive (no reason to live, because we've defined the goal of life to increase experience and happiness). So the most optimal solution, as nature has converged at, is somewhere in the middle, where we get experience and pleasure but only when we work for it by prolonging survivability. Introducing drugs into this method will shifts the balance to the less optimal side of the reward-effort continuum.

The potential victim is yourself and your progeny, and you're actually shooting yourself in the foot in terms of maximizing experiences/happiness as a species by introducing drugs.


Evolutionary reasons keep us surviving at any cost - in this discussion the cost is the sacrifice of appreciation of the beauty of everything, etc. Indeed you might die to predators more if you were distracted by how pretty that tree trunk is, but that reasoning no longer applies since we are not part of the food chain. You seem to be using what evolution "settled on" as support for your argument - that is a very wrong thing to do.


No, not at any cost. I talked about that in my original post.

>> If you tweak it to give no increase in experience and happiness, and focus only on survivability, you'll have no incentive to survive (no reason to live, because we've defined the goal of life to increase experience and happiness).

I explain that "surviving at any cost" is not an optimal solution either, because we as humans would no longer have an incentive to survive.

The fact is our happiness and willingness to keep going is as much a factor of evolution as our physical survivability... so it's NOT wrong to base it on what evolution "settled on."

Perhaps we may not die from predators, but there are other things. Here's a thought experiment:

Consider an impending asteroid heading for Earth. Which nations or peoples do you think will have the highest chance of surviving? The technologically backwards but harmonious communists, the technologically advanced capitalists, the crack addicts, or the non-crack addicts?

You'll probably conclude that technology matters, not spending every waking moment appreciating the beauty in trees matter, and not feeling high all the time for no reason also matters. We need proper reward-response pathways in order to maximize our survival. Introducing artificially stimulating drugs disrupts it. It sends a false signal, which, according to Paul Graham, can be one of the most crippling things if we don't think it's bad. http://www.paulgraham.com/selfindulgence.html

"The most dangerous way to lose time is not to spend it having fun, but to spend it doing fake work."

Getting the dopamine reward from a stimulant drug is like doing fake work, because you're being rewarded like if you actually did the work. Keep in mind, I'm talking about simulants, so LSD doesn't apply here, but there is probably a reason we weren't born fascinated with trees and every little thing.


Which is the better existence? A civilization that survives in happiness and harmony for 5000 years, or one that survives in highly productive, regimented dullness for 20000 years?

It's not at all obvious, at least to me. But evolution will pick the latter every time. For evolution it's optimal for us to be just miserable enough to not give up, and have just enough happiness as a dangled carrot to keep us going. What evolution wants is not aligned with what we want. E.g. anyone using birth control is deliberately shifting the "happiness/survival balance" away from the one that evolution decided was optimal. But very few would argue that birth control is detrimental to our civilization.


Productivity is a function of happiness. If our lives were really a "regimented dullness," we'd have little motivation to achieve more and greater things.

So a regimented dullness is not optimal. Pure happiness for no work is not optimal. Evolution has chosen the perfect solution: happiness is dependent on productivity. This means the happier we are, the longer we will survive. And keep in mind, objectively, happiness is just the release of dopamine, so to the universe happiness is not a thing, but survival is.

If you disrupt that, then the function is disrupted. Happiness (aka, dope), can be obtained without working. Happiness is no longer dependent on productivity and advancement, and we could die off, depending on the whims of the universe. In exchange we'd get all the "happiness" we want, however short lived. We'd become irrelevant though, since we die off.


>So a regimented dullness is not optimal. Pure happiness for no work is not optimal. Evolution has chosen the perfect solution: happiness is dependent on productivity. This means the happier we are, the longer we will survive. And keep in mind, objectively, happiness is just the release of dopamine, so to the universe happiness is not a thing, but survival is.

You're begging the question. Why do you think survival is what we should optimize for? If you were a genetically engineered assassin species who gained happiness only from killing, would you say killing is what we should optimize for? If not, why treat evolution any differently from our hypothetical genetic engineer?

>Happiness is no longer dependent on productivity and advancement, and we could die off, depending on the whims of the universe. In exchange we'd get all the "happiness" we want, however short lived. We'd become irrelevant though, since we die off.

Again - why should we care about being "relevant"?


> Introducing drugs into this method will shifts the balance to the less optimal side of the reward-effort continuum.

There is absolutely no basis of support for that in your argument.

I think you can reasonably make the argument that using drugs shifts the balance in one direction, but to say that it ends up over-the-line rather than to a potentially more optimal location on that continuum is begging the question.


Go ahead and try the experiment. Lock two people in two rooms and give one a choice of food or cocaine every day and the other just food. What do you think will happen? It's pretty clear the one with cocaine will be slightly less nourished than the one without cocaine.

The cocaine doesn't offer any benefit except a surge of dopamine. Maybe you could argue the guy has ADHD, and the cocaine helps him function normally, but given two normal people my hypothesis is probably correct.


I'm sorry but locking two people in a room really has nothing to do with the way the vast majority of people live their lives. You are again assuming the initial point and working backwards from that belief. It seems pretty clear this is a matter of faith for you, so not much point in continuing to debate it.


My initial point was reasoned. You've yet to counter any of the reasoning I've made.

You have, however, resorted to what is basically name calling ("matter of faith for me"). Please leave my motivations off the table and focus on my reasoning. If you want to stop debating, go ahead, but that doesn't mean that no conversation is possible. If it stops, it's because you don't want to continue discussing it.


You keep assuming the initial point as a given, that is pretty much the definition of faith - belief that can't be or isn't proven.


Your victims really aren't victims in the sense the original examples had victims. I hope you can see the difference between a human victim and some vague concept. Or between another person and yourself, for that matter.

The rest of your argument is that "drugs" - which you lump together as one, despite having just read an essay about that very thing - decrease incentive to work. You say this as if your hasty logic is a good substitute for fact.

There are drugs that do short-term or long-term harm to one's self, drugs that decrease motivation to work, and drugs that do nothing of the sort. Without data to back your position up on any drug, though, we're relying solely on our subjective perceptions. It sounds like you've already formed an opinion, but I'd urge you to do so on the foundation of fact going forward.


From a purely natural perspective, the "goal" of life is to reproduce as much as possible.


If you define that as the goal, my argument still stands and it's still advantageous to not introduce artificial stimulants into the procedure.


I guarantee that you, in particular, will do a lot more reproducing if you acquire a bag of cocaine, Poindexter.


A self-printing program that opens its source code file is an example where there's no disregard for anyone's well-being, and where a programming trick is used; the trick, however, misses the point of writing a self-printing program - that point being the use of a different kind of trick.

My point was not to say that drug use is immoral because you cheat, just that our goals generally aren't to observe a signal but rather to achieve something of which the signal is a symptom. Perhaps printing out the wrong account balance on your home printer and happily staring at that, without hacking into the bank, would have been a better example.


You seem to be making the case that taking drugs is in some sense "cheating" your way to a psychological experience, and therefore somewhat immoral or superficial. That's a valid perspective, but consider this: do you consider drinking coffee to be cheating? Do you consider the ingestion of caffeine to reduce fatigue and aid in cognitive performance as a bad thing?

There's certainly a difference between being more alert and having a psychedelic experience, but they're both a manipulation of the mind via psychoactive substances.


Indeed the debate doesn't end there. Is doing meditation cheating? sports?


> Any sane person and even most varieties of the insane person realize that the signal you're receiving is a means to infer that something is happening out there, not an end in itself.

You don't actually know what is happening out there cause you can't experience out there directly, only through you senses which are always deceiving to some degree.

People love watching movies/reading books/having a drink just to receive a signal not to infer what is happening there. Otherwise they will watch just news, but no fiction would exist.


The same complaint he makes about "drugs" can also be applied to terms like "legalization" and "regulation" and "prohibition". People react to the terms without coming to a common understanding of what the terms mean, and the conversation doesn't evolve.

For instance, one person can be anti-legalization, and another pro-legalization, and have an argument without realizing that they are both against prison sentences for non-violent crimes against the self. Also, for one person legalization might mean that every substance is openly available, whereas for another it might mean openly available in a highly regulated form, whereas for another it might mean that you have to have a license to ingest, or even an approach like Portugal's where you can still be apprehended(!) and made to appear before a panel even though it's without risk of a prison sentence.

I also think there's a lack of respect for our own proven cognitive biases, and our interconnected societies. I know several medical social workers that have first-hand experience with the negative impact that drug users have on our communities even if the users are technically only ingesting products into their own bodies, aren't dealing, and aren't negatively impacting immediate family members. People might think they are making responsible independent choices when they put some of these substances into their bodies, but that doesn't mean they're always correct - and the burden of these choices can then be put on the shoulders of larger society.


I agree, there can be a lot of negative externalities from drug use.

At the same time, there can be positive externalities. Everyone knows what these are.

I would like to see more nuanced drug policy. Let's try to discourage the kind of drug use that leads to negative externalities, without discouraging the kind of drug use that can lead to positive ones. For example, treatment instead of imprisonment. If we take a lot of the resources that we spend on imprisoning drug users and spend it on treatment and honest drug use education, I think we'd see a lot more progress.

Of course, it's hard to come up with campaign slogans or appeal to emotions by making cogent, nuanced arguments. So I have little faith anyone will actually do this anytime soon.


>> Of course, it's hard to come up with campaign slogans or appeal to emotions by making cogent, nuanced arguments.

Just say "it depends".


On the subject of biases - do you think perhaps that the selection of people that your medical social worker friends see might, maybe, represent the problem end of the spectrum of users? Rather than a representative cross section?

I don't have any doubt some substances are much worse than others for this, meth and crack spring to mind, but the personal experiences of social workers are IMHO useful to see what can happen when things go wrong, not useful to assess how likely that is.


Yeah, I'm making more a "there exists" argument rather than saying that they're representative of all drug users. However, it's common enough that the impact on society is non-negligible, IMO.

It of course invites the question of "how much of that negative impact means that some form of regulation is worthwhile?" I think that's an interesting discussion to have, the ones that admit the problem and try and quantify it. I'm not sure that many people are able to have the conversation outside of policy wonks, though.


I've no idea what the appropriate amount of regulation is.

One of the interesting things that David Nutt said in his book was that perhaps, if we didn't have the puritan attitude, we could research substances that gave people the effects they want without as much harm. What if we had an alcohol alternative that was non addictive and could be switched off at the end of the night with an antidote? Or a recreational stimulant that didn't cause heart strain?

If we approached the question of drugs from a libertine but harm-reducing viewpoint, I wonder what we could achieve.

Also of course, who would get hooked on meth if they had a choice of cheaper, safer, legal alternatives? Some still would but I bet it would be less.


I'm kind of amazed nobody has mentioned MAPS yet (http://www.maps.org).

Psychedelics are a tool like any other. There is no such thing as "safe" use, which is why organizations like MAPS, DanceSafe, Erowid, etc all encourage the phrase "drug harm reduction." I have personally witnessed LSD destroy someone's life, and yet I have witnessed the same with alcohol (and am happy we have AA) and tobacco (cancer). The key, as with anything, is moderation and education.

That said, there has been a long trend of disinformation in the US, that has permeated all over the world. As a starting point, if people want to learn more about the crusade against cannabis (marijuana), check out Hank Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_J._Anslinger). For a more recent example, take a look at Rep Jared Polis questioning DEA Administrator Leonhart about why some drugs are illegal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFgrB2Wmh5s.

With regards to scientific inquiry into measuring the effects of these drugs, thanks to the efforts of Roland Griffith at Johns Hopkins (and others), we're beginning to overturn 40 years of prohibition with studies into the effects of psilocybin (shrooms) and MDMA (ecstacy) for end of life experience and PTSD therapy.

Some links to that research: http://www.maps.org/research/mdma/ http://www.maps.org/research/psilo-lsd/

If this interests you and you ask "why hasn't this been done before?", I recommend searching for interviews with Rick Doblin, PhD (founder of MAPS) where he explains his long battle with the DEA, and how they eventually turned to the FDA, which focuses more on the science than the politics.

So yes, it is fair to say that there hasn't been much scientific research done into this, but to no fault of the scientists. I look forward to the next few years as the results of these studies come out and the US hopefully begins to permit these substances to be used in therapy.


"Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness."

I very much respect Sam Harris for taking the consciousness problem seriously. It poses a real problem to (his) atheism, and he, obviously, rejects the substance dualism, which would logically lead to a religious view on us.

However, without a conscious soul, meaning itself loses meaning. What's the ontological support for meaning to rise on?

One thing that is little known about Christianity (as an example) of the first millenium is its fierce fight with illusions, hallucinations and misleading spiritual experiences. Contrary to popular beliefs that religious spiritual experiences are quickly taken for granted for their emotional gratification, this was really not the case. Spiritual experiences were not looked after. They were not provoked. On the contrary. Great care was taken as to discern real experiences from illusory or, worse, misleading ones. The same goes with miracles.

Discernment, the ability to discern over what's real or not, was the most important virtue. Something that modern Christianity, in many areas, has lost. And with it, its credibility.


Look, if you think rejecting dualism is "not taking the consciousness problem seriously", you should read more.

And well, one thing that Christianism seems to be still struggling to learn is that, beyond reproductible and well defined experiments, and falsifiable hypotheses, nothing can really be more than logical inference from some axioms. Maybe some dudes up in the Vatican implicitly defined some axioms about what's "really a mystical experience", probably marginalizing the Orthodox and Gnostics and Cathars while they were at it. I don't personally care.


If you Google "taking consciousness seriously," the first link is to an excerpt from David Chalmers' book. That book as a whole is essentially a long argument that understanding consciousness requires a dualist position (although not a substance or interactionist form). I don't agree with it, but it's compelling. If you believe the position that "rejecting dualism is 'not taking the consciousness problem seriously'" is an ignorant one, you should read it.


Ok, but first you should read some Samkya and Kashmir Shaivite non-dualism. Since the texts are about 1500 years older, you go first.


> its fierce fight with illusions, hallucinations and misleading spiritual experiences

Only for competitive reasons. To get a stable foothold, Christianity had to either do away with the rampant spiritualism of the largely shamanistic religions it replaced, or in some cases had to embrace and extend them. This is and was a purely strategic consideration.

> It poses a real problem to (his) atheism, and he, obviously, rejects the substance dualism, which would logically lead to a religious view on us.

One of his personal core issues is to "rescue" spiritual experiences and bring them over into a secular world. It is not necessarily a concern of atheism per se. For him, as for most atheists, there is not really a "consciousness problem" comparable to what a religious person might identify. As an atheist myself, there is nothing inherently problematic about consciousness, or intelligence, or feelings.

> However, without a conscious soul, meaning itself loses meaning. What's the ontological support for meaning to rise on?

I think most atheists, myself included, as well as many religious people would agree with you that the mind gives rise to meaning. However, I have no idea what you mean by ontological support? Are you asserting that without an overriding supernatural meaning-giver the mind cannot form a world view? Or that a mind capable of categorizing the world meaningfully cannot arise without supernatural influence?


Notice that I said the first millenium, not the first century. By the 5th century, Christianity had a stable foothold.

By ontological support I mean a substance. The mind is still an undefined substance. Is it the brain or is the soul? If you state it is the brain, as I take it to be the default naturalistic/atheist option, than the problem is still not solved. So it's still a problem, something that needs explanation.


You're creating a false dichotomy to try to force your beliefs into the argument.

The idea of a soul is supernatural so the default naturalist/atheist position is to give it no more thought than unicorns or leprechauns (although this is not universally true; some believe in something analogous to a soul, but with far more complex reasoning than "God did it") in a meaningful debate. Instead the atheist/naturalist world view looks for other natural causes for consciousness and very easily finds them: the depth and breadth of complex phenomena emerging from smaller cells (chemical, biological, and informational) is astounding, so much so that we haven't even begin to scratch the surface of the neuroscience, let alone the complex phenomena that emerge from societies and an interconnected global civilization.


> Notice that I said the first millenium, not the first century.

I would go even further and assert that delineation efforts continue to this day. But I might be wrong, since I don't really know a lot about Christianity beyond what's in the news.

> If you state it is the brain, as I take it to be the default naturalistic/atheist option, than the problem is still not solved. So it's still a problem, something that needs explanation.

I still don't follow what the problem is. I suspect some of these words mean fundamentally different things to each of us, or that there might be a Christian catch phrase in there that I don't know and hence can't respond to. I don't mean this in a derogatory way, I just don't get what the issue is. What problem is not solved?


This article contains some bits on this topic.

http://rationalist.org.uk/articles/4203/thinking-machine-an-...

Search for this passage: "The idealists, following philosopher of mind David Chalmers (who also comes in for some rough treatment from Dennett), say there is a “hard problem” with consciousness. While accepting that much about consciousness is amenable to explanation by an evolutionary perspective and neuroscience, experience itself will always somehow evade a materialist explanation."


Leaving aside the issue that this still contains no credible explanation why there is supposed to be a problem, I simply don't agree with this philosopher. There is no "hard problem" with consciousness, and just because not all facts are known (or knowable) doesn't mean the supernatural is required to fill in the blanks.

For example, I'm looking at my coffee maker right now, it's in the process of making coffee. As an atheist, my "default naturalistic option" as you put it, would be to say that I fundamentally understand how the coffee maker works and that it's using electricity to heat the water which then courses through its pipes.

If I understand correctly, you're saying something analogous to: "wait, there is a hard problem with coffee making. You don't know exactly how the thing is wired, and even if you did you could never know the exact position and trajectory of every single water molecule. Therefore, it's obvious that there is some kind of dualism required for the coffee maker to work: a supernatural effect that makes the whole of it possible."

My problem with this perspective is that a diety is supposed to be necessary to drive the thing, whereas I content there is no need (and indeed not a single piece of evidence, not even a hint) for a supernatural entity. In fact, it always utterly astounds me why people keep conjuring up this need. Just because there is some information currently missing about the internals of the coffee maker, and because it's beyond me to know and monitor all of its internal information, doesn't mean the coffee making itself poses a hard problem that can't be explained by materialism.


>It poses a real problem to (his) atheism

Theism hardly solves the problem of consciousness. It shuffles the question onto a deity without actually answering it.


To a substance, the soul, not a deity. And that, actually, is an answer.



Right now "the mind is the brain" theory still uses the magic of brain to explain what we observe. Everytime you hear someone saying "the brain does this or that", they act like it's a known thing and the mind is the brain and the brain has some yet unknown and unexplained properties that give rise to "this or that".

So, yeah, magic.


We can create things like brains (Bayes nets) that then react to stimuli like minds do, given all the experimental tests we can devise on "what minds are like." We might not fully understand the human mind, but that is not at all the same thing as having no idea how or why we think or observe or experience.


But in principle, the properties of the brain can be studied and tested. Maybe there are phenomena in the brain that are impossible to experiment on, but to say that this is the case definitively now is to give our imaginations far too much credit. Science is full of answers to questions that were once thought to be fundamentally unanswerable.


The soul is an immaterial substance - the supernatural, unexplainable. It is, by its very nature, am unknowable question. How can that be an answer by any reasonable definition?


You should make a distinction between what exists, and can be named, and what can be known and explained. These are two distinct categories. There are things the exist and can be explained, but nothing allows us the say that there aren't things that can't be explained.

If what we known to exist and understand can't explain all observed data (our thoughts and inner experiences) than we are forced to infer the existence of something outside our understanding.


>If what we known to exist and understand can't explain all observed data (our thoughts and inner experiences) than we are forced to infer the existence of something outside our understanding.

Yes, but there is a difference between "outside our understanding" and "impossible to understand". There is simply no good reason to believe that consciousness is impossible to understand.


No, it's not an answer. It's just a name for a the thing we don't understand, and (often) an implication that that thing is unknowable. If I ask "how are we conscious", and you answer "because we have souls", you haven't given me any new information. It sounds like new information, but it doesn't change anything about the predictions I will make for how the world behaves. It doesn't constrain my view of the observable universe, so it's useless.

Edit: also, you're describing substance dualism, not theism. You can be a dualist but not a theist.


> However, without a conscious soul, meaning itself loses meaning. What's the ontological support for meaning to rise on?

I sort of understand what you mean here, but at the same time I don't. Are you specifically referring to intrinsic meaning, as opposed to socially-constructed meaning?

As an agnostic that rejects supernatural explanations, I don't feel a conflict between the ability of human beings to ascribe meaning to things and the possibility that the "soul" (in the sense of a magically indivisible entity of self) does not exist.


My point is that there is no intrinsic meaning in the bits that make the computer I am using right now. It's all atoms. The causal connections that transform my typing on a keyboard to pixels on the screen, it's all physics.

The same way, the brain is a whole made of parts. They may be causally interconnected, but just that. You have different physical states over time, and in different parts of the brain. But understanding and awareness and phenomenological experiences are not there. Or, better said, it's puzzling to see how they are there when there's no clue of how they occur.


You make your own meaning, do you?

Don't you?


Personally, I feel more gratified after working hard and increasing my ability/achievements than doing drugs.. Perhaps I haven't done the right drugs (though I've done my fair share)? I've never had something happens where the world suddenly made sense, nor have I felt some spiritual connection with the cosmos or my soul. I feel that the one true way to understand myself and the world is to live in it unaltered.


I don't think people are fully reading this article looking at the top comment...

>There is nothing that one can experience on a drug that is not, at some level, an expression of the brain’s potential. Hence, whatever one has experienced after ingesting a drug like LSD is likely to have been experienced, by someone, somewhere, without it.

>I cannot account for why my adventures with psychedelics were uniformly pleasant until they weren’t—but when the doors to hell finally opened, they appear to have been left permanently ajar.

It is quite obvious this guy is someone who has well experimented with psychedelics and is actually urging people to avoid them if their approach is based on falsifiable reasoning e.g. 'opening their eyes to true reality/life' or some unscientific bullshit like that.

And WTF is all this commenting about how alcohol should be considered SO bad for a healthy society. Wine and beer in moderation is actually perfectly healthy. It is the lack of control for moderate consumption that creates a weakened human/society. However, this lack of self-control can appear in numerous other areas (food, internet, TV, work, etc.).


> Wine and beer in moderation is actually perfectly healthy.

The idea that moderate consumption of alcohol is "perfectly healthy" is actually quite debatable. Taking red wine as a an example because of the popular belief that it has notable health benefits when consumed in moderation, a few points:

1. Many of the studies on the supposed health benefits of red wine are inconclusive. For instance, we still can't explain the French Paradox.

2. Last year, it came to light that a researcher who was behind some of the studies on the benefits of resveratrol falsified data. A decent amount of the hype around red wine in recent years was centered on resveratrol and it's important to note that even if there are benefits, the actual relationship between compounds like this and human health are in most cases not yet clearly established.

3. Red wine contains known carcinogens.

4. Even moderate consumption can add significant calories to one's diet. For example, if you're a male and drink two glasses (which is considered a moderate, "healthy" amount) three days a week, you're adding nearly 3,000 calories to your monthly caloric intake. Depending on when and how you drink your wine, you might also consume more food because of wine's impact on hormones associated with appetite. By the way, this is even worse in most cases for beer, where with some major brands, a single can or bottle a day can easily add 4,000+ calories over the course of a month.

5. Many of the potentially beneficial compounds in wine are available through other food sources that come with fewer drawbacks. In other words, you don't need to drink a glass or two of red wine every day to get your antioxidants.

The bottom line: if you're going to enjoy a glass or two of wine (or beer) with a meal, you shouldn't justify it on the belief that it's "perfectly healthy".


3. Red wine contains known carcinogens.

So do potatoes.

I picked this one point out to rebut with a potato, but I think my potato wields equally devastating attacks against the rest of your points, too. Olive oil, oily fish, grapes, you name it: lots of things that currently do seem very healthy in moderation have a downside if abused.

One thing my potato is very unlikely to do: cause a psychically shattering experience that severs the last link between a troubled mind and the reality it inhabits. Not so much with the warning label requirements, with our trusty potato.


I would assume you're referring to potato-based processed foods (like potato chips) that been have cooked at high temperature. If not, and you're seriously trying to argue that eating a small amount of potatoes exposes one to cancer risk, it would be more enlightening if you posted an actual comparison between the levels of carcinogens in a sack of lowly potatoes and a bottle of red wine. Hint: there's a reason the bottle of red wine you bought at the store has a warning label and the sack of potatoes you bought with it doesn't.

In any case, while I appreciate your attempt at being clever, the whole point is that we're not talking about abuse here, we're talking about moderate consumption. Let's be clear: there is debate as to whether moderate alcohol consumption provides any net benefit to health.

Moderate consumption of, say, grapes or salmon, will not add 3,000-plus excess calories to your diet each and every month. And there are plenty of studies showing that regular consumption of fruit and Omega-3 rich fish is associated with significant health benefits.

I used to be a wine snob, and still enjoy a glass every now and again, so I'm not anti-alcohol. But if you'd like to believe that moderate consumption of wine or beer is about as healthy as eating fruit and fish regularly, or that eating fruit and fish regularly is about as risky as having a glass or two of wine every night, I respectfully hope you don't become a nutritionist.


I'm referring to acrylamide.


Acrylamide is found in foods, like potato chips, that have been produced by certain high-temperature cooking techniques such as frying.

To suggest that a potato (or three) carries with it the same cancer risk as alcohol, which is considered a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization, is disingenuous.


No, acrylamide is extremely common, in many cooked foods and in many raw foods. It's a myth that acrylamide is the product of deep frying food.


I'm sorry, but the published science is very clear: acrylamide is the product of cooking at high temperatures. According to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12368845, it has not been found in food prepared at less than 120 degrees C. Furthermore, the foods found to be most susceptible to acrylamide formation are starchy foods someone with a healthy diet would probably be consuming in low quantities anyway.

In any case, this has become a forest from the trees debate. You can enjoy your grapes fermented, I can enjoy mine off the vine and hopefully it won't be the potatoes that do us in. Bon appetit!


If you happen to recall where you learned that acrylamide is found in raw foods, I'm curious to read about it. My understanding was that it was associated with the maillard reaction (i.e. cooking above 120F)


Regarding point 4, most of the calories that come from red wine is alcohol. Alcohol isn't metabolized the same way as other foods, so comparing calories from alcohol to other foods is misleading.

http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/AlcoholCaloriesAndWeight.ht...

The rest of what you write doesn't really validate your conclusion. Actually, there has been a study indicating the reverse. People who drink live longer.

http://www.mnn.com/food/beverages/stories/study-abstaining-f...


1. You're right: it isn't metabolized the same way as other foods. If you want to get really technical, you should look at the impact of alcohol on fat oxidation. See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3280601. The term "beer belly" is not a misnomer.

2. The study you cited looked at people above the age of 55. There was another similar study published in 2009 that also looked at alcohol consumption above the age of 55. It too found a correlation between moderate alcohol consumption and longevity, but after factoring for disability and socioeconomic status, the correlation dropped substantially. It was still significant, but the researchers noted that other factors not considered could fully explain the correlation. So to suggest that drinking a glass or two of wine a day is a "perfectly healthy" activity that will lengthen your life is quite premature. On the other hand, the evidence showing that regular consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish, etc. is beneficial to health is pretty conclusive.


1. From your link "We conclude that ethanol was a preferred fuel preventing fat, and to lesser degrees, CHO and protein, from being oxidized." So for the few hours that alcohol is in your system, it is the preferred substance for oxidation. It's quite a leap to take that to development of a beer belly.

From mine, "Alcohol contains calories, but drinking alcohol doesn't lead to weight gain, according to extensive medical research, and some studies report a small reduction in weight for women who drink" This is about as clear as you can get that alcohol doesn't lead to weight gain. Care to directly address this?

2. That's a false dichotomy, You can eat fish and drink wine, too.

Also, you seem to be shifting goal posts. First you write that alcohol can't be considered "perfectly healthy", and now you write that it is premature to be suggest that it can be considered "perfectly healthy" and will lengthen your life.

Why does something need to extend your life to be perfectly healthy?


"We conclude that ethanol was a preferred fuel preventing fat, and to lesser degrees, CHO and protein, from being oxidized."

How can you read that and write that alcohol is the "preferred substance for [promoting] oxidation"? The study says precisely the opposite, hence the title "Ethanol causes acute inhibition of carbohydrate, fat, and protein oxidation and insulin resistance."

Now that this is resolved, let's be clear: I am not suggesting that having a drink on occasion will on its own make you morbidly obese, but there is a very good reason athletes shun alcohol while training (if not altogether) and you're more likely to find a spare tire than six-pack abs on a guy who drinks a couple of six-packs every week (which falls under the category of "moderate" consumption). I know, I know: a ripped midsection does not equal health, but there is plenty of evidence that belly fat is insidious.

As for changing goal posts, you posted a study concluding that moderate alcohol consumption increases longevity, ostensibly in an effort to support the notion that moderate consumption of alcohol is beneficial to health. I simply responded to it with further details about a similar study in which the authors readily stated that other factors may explain the correlation. The implication that longevity equals health is your own.

Finally, the point that you seem to be overlooking here is this: even if alcohol has some components that may be beneficial on their own, there are almost always alternatives for attaining them through other food sources that come with fewer drawbacks. Again, as an example, the person consuming a couple of glasses of wine each night while saying "I'm getting my antioxidants!" (yes, I have heard this) is providing a poor excuse for drinking because it's easy to get antioxidants from less problematic sources.

So you can eat your fish and drink wine too, or you can just eat your fish, but let's not pretend that one isn't likely to be healthier than the other.


"How can you read that and write that alcohol is the "preferred substance for [promoting] oxidation"? The study says precisely the opposite, hence the title "Ethanol causes acute inhibition of carbohydrate, fat, and protein oxidation and insulin resistance.""

How can you tread what I wrote and add "promoting" in there. That completely changes the meaning of what I said! I meant that alcohol is burned in preference to other carbohydrates first. I'm not clear on the details, but lets face it, the known details of how alcohol is processed isn't enough to indicate that it makes you fat. Which is the very center of my argument, shown to be true by the study I have cited, and which you seem to dance around with anecdotal evidence, and comparisons of joe six pack vs a well trained athlete. Well there are other differences between Joe six pack and an athlete, too. In other words, correlation does not imply causation. Fat people drinking alcohol does not necessarily mean alcohol makes you fat.

The point I was trying to make if there is a correlation between drinking alcohol and living longer, then being suspicious that consumption of alcohol is less healthy then anything else is unwarranted. I was simply refuting your conclusion, that's all, not going for the hook shot of defeating your arguments and asserting another argument at the same time.

How are you sure that the reason that alcohol lengthens life is because of the antioxidants that come along in the beverage that contains it? How do you know which components are promoting health, when it certainly isn't settled scientifically?

Finally, I am not "pretending" when I say that there is no solid evidence one way or another whether eating fish is healthier than drinking alcohol, or vice versa, and there isn't any rational reason to be worried about eating either, or both, in moderation.


I have personally experienced both spectrums with my psychedelic experiences.

One positive experience involved me sitting on a hill near a road only to get lost in a the almost musical sound of cars whooshing by. Afterwards I returned to my apartment and experienced amazing closed eye visuals of some kind of fused technological/organic robots trees. The onset was seeing the walls of my apartment melt before my very eyes.

One negative experience involved me pacing back and forth furiously in my apartment for hours while crying hysterically. If felt as if the weight of everything (good or bad) humanity has done and would do in the future was crushing me. I think tripping alone may have added to this experience.


Alcohol has a greater potential for harm than a variety of other recreational substances, legal or otherwise. That's basically it AFAICT.

It has significant addiction potential, people do abuse, and there are long term harms associated with that abuse.


Not to mention the high correlation between violent crimes and alcohol.

[0] http://ncadd.org/index.php/learn-about-alcohol/alcohol-and-c...


>greater potential for harm than ... other substances

Uh ... this style of description would need more parameters for a proper classification of alcohol's 'abilities' in relation to other substances.

>significant addiction potential

This is PURELY on an individual basis i.e. that potential is relative per person.

>long term harms associated with ... abuse

Yep, very true. It's also true of almost ANY type of abuse.

EDIT: Although, I do realize that this is just another: "Come on, marijuana is not any worse than alcohol" style argument. And for that singular case I would say: yeah sure your case holds up alright.


>>This style of description would need more parameters for a proper classification of alcohol's 'abilities' in relation to other substances

Yes, it does need that. Luckily researchers do these sorts of measurements. I recommend reading things like "Drugs without the hot air" mentioned a few times in this thread. I'm posting from my phone so not going to look up references right now.

>> This is PURELY on an individual basis...

Different substances have different addiction profiles. Some people don't get addicted to tobacco. Most users don't get addicted to cocaine. Many people do develop alcohol addiction, and the addiction profile turns out to be higher than for many (not all) illegal drugs.

>> It's also true of almost ANY type of abuse.

Sure, but the actual harms from alcohol can be pretty damn awful compared to other things.

I love my beer. But just because it's socially acceptable and not a problem in small amounts, we shouldn't make it immune to honest evaluation. And honest evaluation puts it higher up the scale of harm than a variety of other recreational drugs, many of which are illegal.


>> Although, I do realize that this is just another: "Come on, marijuana is not any worse than alcohol" style argument. And for that singular case I would say: yeah sure your case holds up alright.

NO, It is absolutely not a "come on MJ is no worse that alcohol" argument. I'm not even making an argument here, I'm trying to tell you about the relative harms of alcohol, which you asked about.

The addiction potential, short term and long term physical harm profiles for alcohol are much worse than for things like ecstasy, LSD and various others.

I'm not trying to make an ideological point here. I'm not arguing for legalisation of everything, I'm not arguing at all. I'm just trying to answer your question, but you seem to want to cling to denial.


I'd never mess with mind-altering drugs. You don't tweak a Ferrari.

EDIT: Guys, relax. It was a joke. You think anyone goes and calls their own mind a Ferrari seriously? Jeez.


worst analogy ever, especially for a post that so thinly veils your misguided feelings of superiority.

ferraris were meant to be tweaked, what do you think the entire field of motorsport exists for? from F1 all the way down to the local DE event at the local track, cars are tweaked endlessly, with passion. you won't find any shortage of tweaked exotics at your local autocross, either. if nobody "twaeked" cars, you wouldn't have ANY of the improvements in performance, safety, and comfort you find in your modern automobile.

and furthermore, a HUGE aftermarket exists for ferraris (and other cars, expensive or not) for the sole purpose of tweaking them and making them go faster, safer

there is no philosophical difference between the manufacturer "tweaking" cars, a privateer racing team putting together a specialized hill climber, or an enthusiast "tweaking" his own car in a garage while drinking six packs. none whatsoever. it's people, working on cars. period.

it's incredible there are people on HN like you. i'm a little shocked to be honest.


it's incredible there are people on HN like you. i'm a little shocked to be honest.

Yes, I was also sure this site was populated exclusively with ferrari-tweaking experts. I'm a little shocked, too, but there it is. ;)


oh, yeah i guess i didn't include the porsche people like DHH and his le mans prototypes.


That was a fantastic response.


I agree with you aside from your last comment. That wasn't needed. It's great that we have diversity of opinions on here.


>It's great that we have diversity of opinions on here.

I agree that the last comment was overly snooty (I think it was in response to the implied snootiness of the original comment, but snootiness does not justify more snootiness).

That said, I think there's a bit of an indirection of the point when you go to celebrating "diversity of opinions". Yes, diversity of opinions is good, but there is a difference between "diversity" and "the space of all possibilities". Some opinions are just dumb, and having them doesn't improve the community.

More importantly, it is not merely the opinion that is being rejected - it is the attitude accompanying the opinion. If the original comment had been something along the lines of "I'm wary of trying psychoactive drugs because it seems like the brain is a very sensitive organ, and messing with its state could have subtle unintended consequences", then it would be expressing a very similar opinion, but the attitude would be completely different.

By the same token, if the original comment had said "You're wasting your life if you don't use psychoactives to broaden your horizons", then that would be a polar opposite opinion, expressed with a similarly unacceptable attitude.

I'm happy to see either of those opinions expressed on HN. But I'd happily do without either attitude.


Ouch. That was unnecessarly rude. Not a good analogy I agree.


Do we have like sectarian wars on HN now? Who's worthy of being on HN and who's not?


Haven't we always? When one gets a lot of downvotes, the software often responds with an (hell)ban. How is that not the community deciding that some people are not worthy of being on HN?


You don't have much of a sense of humor, do you.


If nobody gets your joke, the failure in communication was yours - and probably your own sense of humour.


Irregardless of that, the reply to OP's comment is representative of the attitudes that are common of HN. Sometimes I feel people just disagree and take apart anything for no other reason than longing for plain acknowledgement.


irregardless is not a word


I think it is: I just saw two people use it and they both knew what it meant. ;)


Are you sure he's not making a joke as well?


The human brain is not a Ferrari, exquisitely hand-crafted and intelligently tuned.

It's been cobbled together over hundreds of millions of years out of whatever spare parts were lying around. It does its job remarkably well considering, but there are obvious design flaws that could be improved.


What do you mean by mind altering drugs? Do you never touch beer? Coffee? What makes you so sure that the drugs you favour are safe for your mind and that others are not?


Personally I do avoid illegal drugs, and many legal ones such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, etc. so I don't think it is really fair to assume hypocrisy on makeset's part here.

That being said, I did find their comment to come off a bit arrogant, and dismissive. If you do choose to live a lifestyle where you do not use these substances, like I and many others do, that is okay. But it's not okay to try and push this view on others. In turn, those who do use such substances shouldn't try and push their view on those that don't. Live and let live.


Events took for the worse, by introducing alcohol as the new "norm", we accepted "norm" as something horrible.

Then We put nam "drugs" as something way way worse than alcohol.

You don't need to use any of these, but this is the perfectly engineered view.

You can see this pattern in human behaviour, easily manipulative behaviour. Shopping culture, money spending, corporations, laws, this is like big fractal blooming same thing.

Still, it is interesting, seeing it all expressed and experiencing it, ever changing.

Have a nice day!


I'm not trying to push my views on anyone. But people who avoid all mind altering drugs (legal or otherwise) are very few and far between.


Try it sometime, in a safe environment with good people. You might be surprised what you learn.

Saying that is like saying "I'd never mess with Ruby-on-Rails; you can't do better than CGI and C."


Upvoted you because I find it humorous that so many go off the defensive deep end with regard to your little joke.

My own opinion regarding the matter is that there are plenty of mind and body altering effects that we encounter every day. I'm a chemical engineer, and anyone who is involved with chemistry or biology can tell you that all but the simplest mechanisms are difficult to understand. There can be repercussions you would never predict from some compound. Heck, even ordinary food items (high fructose corn syrup, margarine) are constantly under debate because of the unknown long-term effects. With a system as complex as the human body, it's difficult to tell what subtle effects may exist.

But you can't avoid it. As a whole, people are living longer and healthier than they were in the past (well, maybe that second point is debatable in some countries). I think the best philosophy is to weigh the risks and go with what you ultimately think will be the best route for yourself. Someone who has terminal cancer may be willing to try a new drug that isn't well understood at all, but that's because the possible benefits far outweigh any risk.

So it comes down to an individual decision of what you find to be an acceptable risk. And I think it should be a right to make personal decisions like that. For me personally, I'm not going to try illegal drugs because I believe they have a higher probability of causing negative long term effects. Do they actually? Who knows; you could debate this ad nauseum. And science isn't anywhere near a stage to definitively confirm or refute it. But it's not a risk I'm interested in taking. In fact, I find it funny that out of all the unconventional things that Feynman tried in his life, the thing that embarrassed him was the time he tried LSD (he was worried about any unknown effects it might have on his brain).


> My own opinion regarding the matter is that there are plenty of mind and body altering effects that we encounter every day. I'm a chemical engineer, and anyone who is involved with chemistry or biology can tell you that all but the simplest mechanisms are difficult to understand.

Yeah, some people even have experiences without drugs that they interpret as revelations from God.


This joke sucks!


Wow. From the article:

  On my first trip to Nepal, I took a 
  rowboat out on Phewa Lake in Pokhara, 
  which offers a stunning view of the 
  Annapurna range. It was early morning, 
  and I was alone. As the sun rose over 
  the water, I ingested 400 micrograms 
  of LSD
I can't imagine what it must be like to be someone who would do something like that. I just... can't. Is that a sign of good judgment, or of cowardice?


Bit of both.

People that do LSD in places like this tend to have a bit of a bulletproof mindset, or are young enough and foolish enough that they still feel immortal and untouchable. You don't do it if you're worried or insecure about ... well anything much, IMHO.


Why would that be cowardice?


I've never taken LSD, but as I understand it:

1) It may impair your ability to operate a boat

2) It may impair your ability to swim

3) In many/most Asian countries, getting caught with drugs is taken about as seriously as gunning down a convent full of nuns and five-year-old orphans would be treated here in the US

4) It may impair your ability to talk your way out of situation (3) above after the authorities rescue you from situations (1) and/or (2)

Clearly Harris wasn't afraid of any of these consequences, so that makes him either much braver than I am, or much dumber. He doesn't seem dumber.


This man's writing is such a pleasure to read.


LSD makes very smart people get hung up on trying to pull logic out of strange old metaphors. I always felt it was a stimulant for the mechanism in our brain that makes new connections. Metaphors represent connections that are kept around because our culture gives value to vague non-conclusions.


I think the problem with drugs in society today can definitely be largely attributed to governments setting the bar to "dangerous, addictive and illegal" and smart people have to move down from there and educate themselves. Alexander Shulgin who synthesized and researched around 150 phenethylamines and tryptamines said it pretty well:

"had been brought about by a fraction of a gram of a white solid, but that in no way whatsoever could it be argued that these memories had been contained within the white solid ... I understood that our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit. We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us, and there are chemicals that can catalyze its availability."

He is also responsible for introducing MDMA and later 2CB to psychiatrists. Even recreational drug users are now using "Shulgin trials" and overall I feel a lot of my peers try to educate themselves, but unfortunately are often misinformed.

You can actually only a good idea on how to use certain drugs responsible if you are aware of at least the most important biochemical functions such as P450 liver enzyme, MAOis and especially the monoamine transport system. You need to be aware of for example drug interactions with SSRI's and serotonin releasing agents. For example: grapefruit juice is a weak MAOI inhibitor and can potentate the effect of certain drugs. Stronger MAOIs could pose lethal danger. St Johns Wort also has a lot of interactions as it works as a SSRI, and sold over the counter as a supplement here. It is found in trials to be as effective as benzo's in cases of anxiety.

Mostly, psychedelics are looked down upon by society, while we feed our kids methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, l-amphetamine, lithium, a whole scala of benzodiazepene's, tryptans, and antipsychotics. Hey people, they work on exactly the same neurons... dummies. Maybe we should start banning essential and non essential amino acids, and antioxidants. OR maybe we should start educating about proper their benefit of preventing drug induced neurotoxicity as a neuroprotective agent and as replenishment of used up GABA, serotonin, dopamine etc.

I'm 26, live in the Netherlands, using mushrooms a dozen times from my 15th-18th, never touching anything else except for smoking weed and alcohol, I found it mind-opening, I really felt reborn after I experienced an ego-death and my mind melted into nothingness. It was like this feeling of bliss and comfort and letting-go, there is nothing that ever compared to it. I would say the occasional binge drinking we did at parties en masse would be considered a lot more harmful by doctors, but guess which one got the ban? I would consider my drug using peers often cautious, seemingly educated but often ill-informed, which I perceive to be due to the 'evil' bias that is often noted. They now know about the good and bad effects of certain drugs, but not HOW they work. If they would have this information more readily educated they could be made aware of responsible use and harm reduction, and then make their own choices.

Parents could also be able to make their own choices of putting their kids on synthetic cocaine or amphetamines. Hey weed worked for me, and it is frowned down upon. Also L-Theanine+caffeïne (i.e. tea, but it doesn't contain a lot of theanine per cup) is proven to be really effective in focus, and relaxation. It lowers blood pressure, ups dopamine, and therefor it works great in treating anxiety. St Johns Wort is also proven to be as effective as benzo's in treating depression. L-Tyrosine is a precursor to dopa as well, and replenishes the neurons. 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin/melatonin. I'm often upset with people taking melatonin and ruining their chemical balance. Let your brain synthesize it for you please.. or it will stop doing it altogether!


I don't find that taking a drug is any different than eating food or drinking water. You get hungry, so you eat and gain energy and feel fullness on your stomach, which leads you to drowsiness. Of course, conventionally, taking drugs(like smoking weed or taking MDMA) is done for different reasons than just survival.


Every human generates DMT, every night.


As far as I know, that's purely hypothetical.


Even if it's true it really doesn't mean anything.

DMT was the most intense psychedelic experience I've ever had, but came away with zero insights or spiritual change (unlike as from the usual suspects).


I had an awesome visual representation that eventually made a lot more sense when I started doing some GL programming. Everything in front of me, on it's surface, was made of triangles. I could see those triangles were made of infinitely smaller triangles, ad infinitum. It was absolutely beautiful.


It effects everybody differently.I highly suggest Rick Strassman's book 'DMT the spirit molecule'. It shows how different and similar they are


I'd highly recommend not reading such nonsense that has no scientific backing. That book is just the author making up explanations, with no evidence. It doesn't "show" anything, at least not more than any other user making up stuff about their favourite drug.


It's obvious that you haven't actually read the book and have some kind of prejudice against the substance. Try actually reading it before acting so irrational. If you're going to present a debate then at least have the decency to know what you're arguing about. The entire thing is about an approved scientific study into DMT. Much of the book actually goes into the legal troubles they faced setting up such an experiment.

The entire book is about various patients undergoing experiments in their reaction to the substance and the like. It's not just a bunch of kids in a basement with something they think is DMT. The actual DMT itself is provided with permission from the government and all the findings are thoroughly documented.

One can only assume you've just seen the short film and palmed off the book as the same. It's not.


Actually, I'm extremely pro-psychedelics. I'm familiar with the book, and have had to deal with plenty of close friends and family that read it and then go spouting off nonsense. While I'm not against documenting "experiments" as subjective experiences (ala Erowid), drawing out any further conclusions is counter-productive.

Strassman, for instance, "documents" things like "Hey, the pineal gland is usually visible around 49-days into a fetus's development. And hey, the Tibetan Book of the Dead says 49 days is how long reincarnation takes!" This kind of mystical tripe is unscientific and reinforces the stereotype that psychedelic users are illogical, new-age hippies.

I feel this way about a lot of "drug" researchers. In their zeal, they lack rigour, and they do the community a disservice. A lot of the LSD proponents of decades passed also fall into this category. I get it, psychedelics are awesome, and can be very beneficial. But just cause you tripped really hard, no, you don't suddenly understand the universe.


That passage you referenced does exist, sure I'll give you that but it's a lot more than that. He actually says something along the lines of 'Its probably a coincidence.' I'm almost certain he doesn't believe there is any correlation. The rest of the book has a lot of useful information


Unbelievable comment! Can't tell whether extreme trolling...or an extremely ignorant individual with a massive prejudice against the drug/author...


In any case, there is a big difference between the amount you get in the sleep and the 60mg trip... People would definitely notice the effects when being woken up in the middle of the night.

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