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November 06, 2009

American Drug Policy; what ever happened to Skepticism?

I’ve long subscribed to Scientific American and often read its monthly columns, not because I necessarily agree with the columnists, but because they often make me think. One such is Michael Shermer, an academic from Southern California whose column is known simply as Skeptic. Shermer has literally made a career of skepticism, not only has he written extensively about it, he's also founded an organization dedicated to it, and publishes a magazine focused on it.

I recently caught up with his July column, and became intrigued with the esoteric concept of the Null Hypothesis, which, upon first reading, seemed to have some promise as a model for what had become a personal holy grail: the perfect argument for dispatching the drug policy monster once and for all in a way that would leave little doubt about its fundamentally evil and irrational nature.

After considerable time spent going back and forth between various Null Hypothesis explanations summoned by Google, I realized that holy grail, if it exists at all, is still out there waiting to be discovered and that Michael Shermer will probably always have work trying to explain the nature of truth to skeptics of all stripes.

On the other hand, the short essays I'd just posted do reveal how deeply rooted our drug policy is in two deceptive laws which, when taken together, reveal how faithfully it reflects the ambient ignorance of two bygone eras. That raises an important question: how could such limited views of drug use and addiction have remained almost unchanged over so long an interval?

The answer is that drug policy "science" was easily discouraged during the Anslinger era when Pharmacology was relatively primitive. Following Harry's departure, it was replaced by Nixon's CSA, which gave rise to two in-house agencies, the DEA and NIDA, that have protected their policy from scrutiny far more successfully than their policy has protected civilization from the evils of the global criminal drug markets it has sponsored.

In that respect, they have been aided to no small degree by an essential human weakness: that of denial. I expect that over the next few days we will see plenty of denial as our government and news agencies attempt to minimize and confine the obvious PTSD that is now afflicting an increasing percentage of our military, which, in turn, is being assiduously drug tested to detect the agent my study has revealed to be most effective in treating it.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at November 6, 2009 05:43 AM