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December 22, 2018

Unscientific American

by Ballard Quass

How the authors at Scientific American self-censor their articles in deference to America's Drug War

Night of the Addicted Americans brought to you by the Drug War, Big Pharma, and the American Psychiatric Association

I sent the following message to the editors of Scientific American today, on May 12, 2020:

Attention Editors: please start acknowledging the Drug War's role in limiting scientific inquiry

Good afternoon.

Could you please pass this along to your staff and management? The following is written in response to a May 2018 article by Dana G. Smith entitled "At What Age Does Our Ability to Learn a New Language Like a Native Speaker Disappear?"

My topic is not so much the article itself as the fact that, like many SA articles, the author has left out a whole angle to the story in deference and obedience to America's anti-scientific Drug War, as if the Drug War prohibitions somehow provided a rational baseline for scientific inquiry. The fact is that the Drug War provides anti-scientific obstacles to research on many subjects about which Scientific American authors write, and I believe it's about time that SA started acknowledging that fact in the articles themselves, thereby shaming the Drug Warriors for impeding scientific progress in a supposed free country.

Thanks for your consideration,

Ballard Quass.


Thanks for the fascinating article about language acquisition ("At What Age Does Our Ability to Learn a New Language Like a Native Speaker Disappear?")

I'd like to suggest however that you've limited your inquiry, albeit unwittingly, in deference to America's Drug War.

If science were free to investigate and research all the products of Mother Nature (and not just the ones of which politicians approve), it would discover something that psychedelic rebels have known for half a century now: namely, that psychedelic plant medicines can create fascinating and useful new connections in the brain that provide the substance user with whole new ways of looking at the world and whole new ways to process previously unintelligible information about that world.

In other words, there is every reason to believe that one day, when America has finally cast off the anti-scientific slough of Drug War prohibitions, we will find ways to vastly improve the language learning abilities of older human beings through the strategic use of psychedelic substances that grow around us in the natural world. Right now, however, scientists who even broach such a topic must keep an eye over their shoulder lest their colleagues eye them askance for invoking the names of plants about which we are not even supposed to speak in so-called scientific America - let alone to speak positively.

I realize that this assertion is speculative, but it is a tantalizing hypothesis indeed, considering not only the anecdotal evidence of psychedelic-inspired mind expansion over the past 50 years, but the fact that there are hundreds - perhaps thousands - of promising plant medicines of this kind that are completely off limits to scientific investigation thanks to the DEA's mendacious and self-serving drug scheduling system, plants which a human being can be jailed for merely possessing, never mind that the substances in question grow unbidden at their very feet.

In short, I think that there is a whole angle to this story that scientists are ignoring thanks to Drug War sensibilities, and which they must ignore, since they are currently forbidden to even study the kind of plants that we're talking about here.

Yours in the name of true scientific freedom...

Ballard Quass


PS If I may make a suggestion: One way to change this anti-scientific status quo is for Scientific American's authors to start thinking about how their articles might change were the Drug War not in force with respect to psychoactive plants and their ability to change the mind (to better process new kinds of information, to ease depression, to help one make their peace with death, etc.). Then, once an SA author has determined that their story has angles that scientists cannot adequately pursue thanks to Drug War prohibitions, those authors should state this fact clearly and matter-of-factly in their articles, with a comment such as: "Note: Topic X will not be pursued further in this article thanks to American Drug War prohibitions which prevent scientists from studying such hypotheses in detail."

By thus acknowledging the censorship function of the Drug War viz scientific inquiry, the author can help bring about legal reforms by shaming the Drug Warriors who have shackled scientific investigation in this way.

PPS I will be publishing this letter on my website (abolishthedea.com) as an open letter to Scientific American, probably under the title (or at least subtitle) of: "How scientists self-censor in deference to America's Drug War." I realize that this self-censorship is not conscious, but that really just makes it all the more insidious.


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Are you wondering why I stopped you? Well, aside from the fact that you're Black, of course. No, seriously, seriously! (Sorry, my mom always said I should have been a comedian.) I stopped you to give you a warning. No, not about your dodgy right headlight (tho' you really should get that fixed). I wanted to warn you that this website is all about criticizing the willful ignorance of society when it comes to so-called "drugs." It is not -- I repeat NOT -- about encouraging either "drug use" or the LACK of "drug use." Ya feel me? It's about encouraging EDUCATION about substances rather than DRUG WARRIOR DEMONIZATION of substances.


So if you're contemplating using anything from table salt to heroin, you've come to the wrong site. The author is neither a doctor nor a pharmacologist. This is a philosophical website, not a practical website. You dig me? You need to study up on any and all substances using reliable sources: don't get your medical opinions about specific substances from a philosophy website like this one, for Peter's almighty sake! Ya feel me? Is the copper right or is the copper right?

Now, be on your way -- unless, of course, you're Black, in which case, get out of the car this instant and put your hands on the top of my vehicle! Move! Move! Move! Papa's gonna rough you up a bit. (Tee-hee.)

Just kidding. I really should have been a stand-up comedian, you know.

And get that right headlight looked at, ya numbskull!


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