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November 11, 2007

Denial as Intellectual Dishonesty (Logical, Political)

The opportunity Proposition 215 provided for a systematic study of pot smoking for the past six years was completely unexpected; the study became a high point in my professional career. Unfortunately, the knowledge obtained has generated more pessimism than hope because it reveals that not only has American drug policy been based on deception and fraud, the degree to which it has been accepted and exploited by governments around the world suggests a deeply ingrained human tendency to compete for bureaucratic control by cheating whenever possible, and to whatever degree seems necessary.

Of course, humans don’t readily admit  to cheating, especially in “official” matters, thus the protocols by which nations deal with each other  have always been deeply dishonest. Even now, when it appears our environment may have been seriously compromised by an uncritical reliance on technology, that idea is being denied by those with the most to lose, and at the risk of squandering precious time.

Denial has been defined psychologically as, “an unconscious defense mechanism used to reduce anxiety by denying thoughts, feelings, or facts that are consciously intolerable.” The implication left unspoken is that if what is being denied could be true, the act of denial becomes tantamount to lying. The most obvious contemporary drug policy example is the mainstream media’s apparent deafness to the APA’s announced support of medical marijuana. Three days following that surprising development, the internet is aware, but no major newspapers have even reported it; let alone commented.

When feigning deafness eventually becomes impossible, as with Evolution, Global Warming, or certain aspects of the “wars” on drugs and terror,  the fall-back positions of those in denial often become unsupported claims that their favored alternativea are morally superior, and the ones they oppose will lead to disaster. Thus do they usually favor war over negotiations, profits over environmental preservation, and imprisonment over rehabilitation.

In the case of the drug war they have gotten away with a particularly egregious injustice by defining safe self-medication as a crime; entirely on the basis of  deductive logic which has  been assiduously protected for nearly a century from the rigorous scrutiny supposed to be applied to “evidence based” policy, and despite its obvious failures and piously dishonest claims.

Even if we acquire the courage to change American drug policy, a huge mess will remain....

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at November 11, 2007 09:20 PM