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February 22, 2007

Paradigm Shifting can be Lonely Work

Despite its somewhat checkered history, the term paradigm, which is now encountered far less often than in the Nineties, remains a useful generic term for the unwritten rules observed by a majority of discussants in a specialized field. In that sense, one can understand that American drug policy is surviving its unbroken record of failure largely because of the restrictive paradigm in which it has long been ‘debated’ by the ‘experts’ on what are erroneously presumed to be both sides of the issue.

Because a majority of those experts are actually within the same ‘box’ and either actively or passively resist efforts at thinking outside it, the paradigm shift required for significant change in American drug policy has been made far more difficult.

What has also been made clear to me by the (unexpected) oportunity to do unbiased clinical research among actual drug users is that our national drug policy is best understood as a gigantic and destructive conceptual error which evolved erratically into repressive dogma over almost a century, despite its near total lack of scientific validation at every phase of that evolution.

The drug policy emperor indeed wears no clothes, and the degree to which his illusory raiment has been accepted as real is a major part of the problem of deposing him. There are now a host of vested interests which would have enormous difficulty acknowledging such a mistake; to say nothing of having to deal with the economic consequences. In the meantime, I occupy a lonely position, because a detailed understanding of the errors underpinning pot prohibition turns out to be a kind of Rosetta Stone for deciphering many of the generic human cognitive aberrations it exemplifies.

In other words, the more familiar one is with my findings, the easier it is to translate the rhetoric with which we fear-driven humans tend to deal with each other, whether in commerce, politics, diplomacy, or religion. Because we have impusively plunged ahead in using science to serve the usual fear driven goals, we may have already painted ourselves into a corner from which escape is far from guaranteed.

While I’m not claiming drug policy is responsible, it has certainly helped; and it also serves as an excellent illustration of how the problem was created.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at February 22, 2007 05:28 AM