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January 18, 2009

Truth Abuse by “Drug Science”

Last week’s happy outcome after what might have been a disastrous airplane crash points up a critical difference between Science practiced as it should be and the phony variety.

Accepted as a dangerous undertaking from its origins in 1903, powered flight has evolved with amazing rapidity from the Wright Brothers’ first biplane into today's huge and essential global industry. Even as its development accelerated, the safety record of Commercial Air has continued to improve for two obvious reasons: commercial airplane crashes are impossible to conceal and the flying public requires continuing reassurance that the system is trustworthy.

Those two circumstances have worked to keep commercial aircraft accident investigations unbiased, thorough, and open; yet the simple lesson implicit in that example isn’t routinely carried over into other areas of human endeavor or public policy. Unfortunately, quite the opposite; as the recent Wall Street vs Main Street imbroglio confirms, whenever humans can cheat for profit with relative safety, many will be tempted. Certainly the records now being compiled by public policies based on the “Behavioral” Sciences are worsening despite increases in the time, money, and effort being spent to enforce them.

A major difference between government regulation of flying and drug use is that one activity is being encouraged and the other banned. Another is that both the profits and dangers of drug use are (somewhat) easier to misrepresent than those accruing to publicly traded corporations.

A major implication of my opportunistic and relatively primitive study of the population of pot smokers made available through Proposition 215 is that the biggest reason our drug war fails is that it’s based on false assumptions about human behavior. An important collateral reason is that the same assumptions have become such an intrinsic part of the policy itself, they are difficult to even identify, let alone subject to scrutiny.

The best example is that until 215 passed, every study of pot smokers from 1975 onward has required NIDA approval of an experimental design required to assume cannabis is a dangerous "drug of abuse."

Similar obligations are required of the Pharmaceutical industry, now fascinated by the Endocannabioid system, yet precluded from exploring the possible therapeutic use of its agonists in humans, naming them, or even mentioning such restrictions.

The most pernicious blinders of all may be those donned by Psychiatry and Psychology in a quest for a more “scientific” classification of Psychiatric conditions they began shortly after World War Two. It has since expanded into an absurdly detailed set of descriptions of symptoms and behaviors without any recognition that, absent verifiable objective criteria, the whole exercise becomes hopelessly misleading.

It does, however give Big Pharma more targets for profitable moral molecules able to obtain FDA approval while helping the feds maintain the confusion that precludes accurate analysis of their policy.

If your anti depressant isn't working, ask your doctor to try adding Abilify; but don't smoke pot or we'll bust your ass.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at January 18, 2009 07:18 PM