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A Quantum of Hubris

how know-it-all materialists block scientific progress

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

November 25, 2023

n a recent tweet, I made what I took to be an obvious claim: namely that the disdain for human consciousness that is implicit in the myopic materialist approach to mind has its correlate in sciences other than neurology and psychiatry. Physicists like Stephen Hawking, for instance, have gone to great lengths to explain the non-intuitive outcome of the double-slit experiment without reference to consciousness. Hawking viewed the inclusion of consciousness in physics as such a non-starter that he has proposed the existence of endless universes to render such consciousness superfluous.

This grasping for materialist straws takes place in life science as well, resulting in equally extravagant hypotheses, like the doctrine of Panspermia by Francis Crick, according to which the extreme improbability of life being created by random accident on Earth is explained by an appeal to the interposition of extraterrestrials. We're told that highly advanced aliens seeded the Earth with the necessary chemicals to begin the cascade of "endless forms most beautiful" that we see about us today. No conscious creation was called for - at least not on Terra Firma. (Presumably, the aliens lived on a planet wherein biochemical conditions were "just right" for the transformist doctrine of Lamarck to hold sway without violating any laws of staggering improbability in so doing.)

Theories like these may sound like long shots. (You might even say that they make a mockery of the principle of Occam's Razor.) But not to worry. If they turn out to be false, then Neil De Grasse Tyson has a theory that will settle all questions once and for all in favor of consciousness-scorning materialists. For the Harvard-trained astrophysicist assures us that we could very well be living in a Matrix-like simulation, in which case all our concerns about consciousness and aliens is absolutely meaningless. Only our eternally unknowable overlords can have access to the true state of affairs - provided, of course, that those overlords are not themselves being duped into thinking that they are calling the shots by a yet higher (and yet smugger) intelligence.

Surely these viewpoints would be considered laughable by scientists did they not help account for the seeming anthropic nature of the universe, which in the absence of such speculation, might have to be referred to purpose and meaning.

But materialists tell me there's no problem here: materialism is proven, they say -- even if this proof has been accomplished with the help of a variety of totally incompatible theories!

So I should not have been surprised when an indignant materialist shot me a prompt reply to the above-mentioned tweet about quantum physics. He begged to assure me that there was no disagreement about the interpretation of quantum physics whatsoever, thank me very much, and that science has, indeed, conquered all - or at least was on track to do so.

I replied as follows: "We will have to agree to disagree because I am not going to even attempt to debate the niceties of quantum physics on Twitter." In retrospect, however, I consider that response to have been "too diplomatic by half" (as the Brits might say). Is not Richard Feynman himself on record as saying: "Anyone who claims to understand quantum theory is either lying or crazy"?

Of course, I am not a physicist and I claim no special knowledge on this subject. However, the extravagant claims of consciousness-scorning materialists do not depend on scientific evidence but rather on philosophical assumptions.

Take for instance this 2023 comment by physicist Martin Rees in "The Conversation":

Our universe is suspiciously unlikely to exist—unless it is one of many.

That's obviously true, right?

Wrong. This statement is true only if we assume the philosophy of naturalism, which tells us that all explanations must be physical explanations, that we can never talk about purpose or meaning in nature if we want to be scientific.

So let's not mince words. Here is what Rees is really saying, given modern scientific assumptions:

Our universe is suspiciously improbable, given that (as we all know, wink-wink) things just happen in life randomly and without purpose, although according to causal laws.

To which I respond:

Hey, Martin: the existence of our universe would not be half so suspicious if, in some sense, our universe was actually meant to be. But then talking about meaning in life is a good way to get yourself slandered as a flat-earther in today's scientific community.

The same naturalist scorn for consciousness that informs physics is also at work in the fields of pharmacology, psychiatry and neuroscience. This is why drug researchers are deaf to anecdotal accounts of positive drug experiences, whether in the past or present. Consciousness is not a reliable scientific subject, after all. Researchers want feedback that can be added to Power Point presentations and Excel Sheets. When I tell them that laughing gas would help me as a chronic depressive, both because it makes me laugh and it gives me the anticipation of laughter which naturally boosts my mood, they will shrug uncomprehendingly. Like Sergeant Friday of Dragnet, they want just the facts, ma'am, which in science these days means "the measurements." It's as if researchers believe that they must channel Dr. Spock from Star Trek in order to be a REAL scientist.

My point here is that the reigning scientific ideology of materialism informs all the sciences these days, and in so doing renders scientists blind to the obvious. In terms of the Drug War, it deafens them to reports about godsend medicines. In terms of the life sciences, it blinds them to all signs of teleology, i.e. purposeful causation.

It was in response to that latter blindness that American philosopher Thomas Nagel wrote "Mind and Cosmos: why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false." In that 2012 challenge to reductive materialists, Nagel chided the latter for their intolerance toward proponents of purpose in nature, referring to their scornful treatment of two Intelligent Design theorists (Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer) as "manifestly unfair."

This is another reason why I did not want to argue online with the naysaying Twitter critic mentioned above. I have learned (to my cost) that most materialists have nothing but scorn and ad hominem attacks for those who believe that there may be purpose in life. The discovery for me came close to ruining a family gathering in 2020.

Such self-avowed "objective scientists" fail to see that the non-materialist is not challenging the science of the materialist, but rather their interpretation of that science

For materialism has its own very specific dreary beliefs about the meaning of life, namely that there is no meaning whatsoever.

As molecular biologist Francis Crick puts it in his 1994 book "The Astonishing Hypothesis"

"You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."

To which I respond:

"Why should I take your word for this, Francis, given that you yourself are just a vast assembly of nerve cells and molecules?"

If this essay seems a trifle disjointed, it's probably because I've never been challenged before on the topic of scientific limitations (that plus the fact that I'm not exactly Hieronymus P. Shakespeare, of course ). But I think it's always hard to write about something that one feels is obvious to any sane mind. If you point at a cat and say, "That's a cat," what do you say if a seemingly intelligent person disagrees with you? You could attempt to describe the generic appearance of cats, talk about the Platonic form of cats, the absence of canine characteristics, etc. But you'd be scouring the word closet for second-best declarations after your usual go-to statement had failed to establish the intended identity.

It all comes down to belief. I freely admit that I believe there is a purpose in life.

If they were honest and fair, materialists would counter that they believe in meaninglessness.

Then we could both agree to disagree.

The problem is, materialists are blind to the philosophical assumptions that underlie their theories, and so they do not merely say that they believe in meaninglessness, which would be honest and admirable. Instead they say that the world is meaningless and that science has proven this to be the case.

It's ironic therefore that such materialists tend to badmouth philosophy, for their theories about the world only make sense in light of their own commitment to an unspoken philosophy, namely that of reductive materialism.

Author's Follow-up: November 27, 2023

If you want to understand the materialist myopia of modern science in the west, read Alfred North Whitehead. He exposes the western world's schizophrenia on the subject of reality. We see the world of invisible electrons as the real world and consider sense perception to be mere secondary qualities -- whereas the lived life sees the world the other way around. This is the fundamental origin of the psychiatric trope that you have to treat the "real" problem, and not just make the "patient" feel good. According to this theory, who cares if the depressed laugh their a-- off while using nitrous oxide -- that's just a "crutch." No, the real problem can only be solved with microscopes and MRI scans. This is ultimately why, in the west, we would rather see a depressed person commit suicide than to allow them to use drugs that "merely" make them want to live.

Next essay: Treating the REAL problem
Previous essay: Drug War Radio

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We would never have even heard of Freud except for cocaine. How many geniuses is America stifling even as we speak thanks to the war on mind improving medicines?
"Now, now, Sherlock, that coca preparation is not helping you a jot. Why can't you get 'high on sunshine,' like good old Watson here?" To which Sherlock replies: "But my good fellow, then I would no longer BE Sherlock Holmes."

More materialist nonsense. "We" are the only reason that the universe exists as a universe rather than as inchoate particles.
It is consciousness which, via perception, shapes the universe into palpable forms. Otherwise it's just a chaos of particles. The very fact that you can refer to "the sun" shows that your senses have parsed the raw data into a specific meaning. "We" make this universe.
As such, "we" are important. The sun is just a chaos of particles that "we" have selected out of the rest of the raw data and declared "This we shall call the sun!" "We" make this universe. Consciousness is fundamental.
Besides, why should I listen to the views of a microbe?
Materialists are always trying to outdo each other in describing the insignificance of humankind. Crick at least said we were "a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules." Musk downsizes us to one single microbe. He wins!
Musk vies with his fellow materialists in his attempt to diss humans as insignificant. But we are not insignificant. The very term "insignificant" is a human creation. Consciousness rules. Indeed, consciousness makes the rules. Without us, there would only be inchoate particles.

If psychoactive drugs had never been criminalized, science would never have had any reason or excuse for creating SSRIs that muck about unpredictably with brain chemistry. Chewing the coca leaf daily would be one of many readily available "miracle treatments" for depression.
That's why we damage the brains of the depressed with shock therapy rather than let them use coca or opium. That's why many regions allow folks to kill themselves but not to take drugs that would make them want to live. The Drug War is a perversion of social priorities.
Weaponizing science is a bigger problem. Even as we speak, Laura Sanders of Sciam is promoting Shock Therapy 2.0 for the depressed, this in a world wherein reductive scientists aren't even sure that laughing gas will help the depressed.
It's because of such reductive pseudoscience that America will allow us to shock the brains of the depressed but won't allow us to let them use the plant medicines that grow at their feet.
David Chalmers says almost everything in the world can be reductively explained. Maybe so. But science's mistake is to think that everything can therefore be reductively UNDERSTOOD. That kind of thinking blinds researchers to the positive effects of laughing gas and MDMA, etc.
"Can I use poppies, coca, laughing gas, MDMA?" "NO," says Jonathan Stea, "We must be SCIENTIFIC! We must fry your brain and give you a lobotomy and make you a patient for life with the psychiatric pill mill! That's true SCIENCE!"
In "The Book of the Damned," Charles Fort writes about the data that science has damned, by which he means "excluded." The fact that drugs can inspire and elate is one such fact, although when Fort wrote his anti-materialist broadside, drug prohibition was in its infancy.
In other words, materialist scientists are drug war collaborators. They are more than happy to have their fight against idealism rigged by drug law, which outlaws precisely those substances whose use serves to cast their materialism into question.
Drug warriors have harnessed the perfect storm. Prohibition caters to the interests of law enforcement, psychotherapy, Big Pharma, demagogues, puritans, and materialist scientists, who believe that consciousness is no big "whoop" and that spiritual states are just flukes.
There are endless drugs that could help with depression. Any drug that inspires and elates is an antidepressant, partly by the effect itself and partly by the mood-elevation caused by anticipation of use (facts which are far too obvious for drug warriors to understand).
But materialist puritans do not want to create any drug that elates. So they go on a fool's errand to find reductionist cures for "depression itself," as if the vast array of human sadness could (or should) be treated with a one-size-fits-all readjustment of brain chemicals.
The search for SSRIs has always been based on a flawed materialist premise that human consciousness is nothing but a mix of brain chemicals and so depression can be treated medically like any other physical condition.
I'd like to become a guinea pig for researchers to test the ability of psychoactive drugs to make aging as psychologically healthy as possible. If such drugs cannot completely ward off decrepitude, they can surely make it more palatable. The catch? Researchers have to be free.
The drug war ideology of substance demonization actually outlaws such investigations. Why don't at least the saner half of the prohibitionists understand that this makes no sense in a purportedly free and scientific country?
Caveat: the experimentation must be done holistically, and not with the presupposition that brain waves and molecular analysis is more important than my perceptions -- for my perceptions are what really matter viz. psychological health.
I don't want purblind researchers telling me when I am happy or optimistic. Materialist researchers need not apply, especially those so immersed in minutia that they cannot even figure out if laughing gas could help the depressed!
To understand why the western world is blind to the benefits of "drugs," read "The Concept of Nature" by Whitehead. He unveils the scientific schizophrenia of the west, according to which the "real" world is invisible to us while our perceptions are mere "secondary" qualities.
This is why we would rather have a depressed person commit suicide than to use "drugs" -- because drugs, after all, are not dealing with the "real" problem. The patient may SAY that drugs make them feel good, but we need microscopes to find out if they REALLY feel good.
This is why the foes of suicide are doing absolutely nothing to get laughing gas into the hands of those who could benefit from it. Laughing is subjective after all. In the western tradition, we need a "REAL" cure to depression.
Both physical and psychological addiction can be successfully fought when we relegalize the pharmacopoeia and start to fight drugs with drugs. But prohibitionists do not want to end addiction, they want to scare us with it.
Materialist scientists cannot triumph over addiction because their reductive focus blinds them to the obvious: namely, that drugs which cheer us up ACTUALLY DO cheer us up. Hence they keep looking for REAL cures while folks kill themselves for want of laughing gas and MDMA.
It's "convenient" for scientists that their "REAL" cures happen to be the ones that racist politicians will allow. Scientists thus normalize prohibition by pretending that outlawed substances have no therapeutic value. It's materialism collaborating with the drug war.
In the Atomic Age Declassified, they tell us that we needed hundreds of thermonuclear tests so that scientists could understand the effects. That's science gone mad. Just like today's scientists who need more tests before they can say that laughing gas will help the depressed. Science today is all about ignoring the obvious. And THAT's why scientists are drug war collaborators, because they're not about to sign off on the use of substances until they've studied them "up the wazoo." Using grants from an agency whose very name indicates their anti-drug bias: namely, the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Just think how much money bar owners in the Old West would have saved on restoration expenses if they had served MDMA instead of whiskey.

Live and learn. I'm told that science is completely unbiased today. I guess I'll have to go back and reassess my beliefs in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
In his book "Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seers," Ross Heaven explains how "salvinorin A" is the strongest hallucinogen in the world and could treat Alzheimer's, AIDS, and various addictions. But America would prefer to demonize and outlaw the drug.
I think there needs to be a law -- or at least an understanding -- that it's always wrong to demonize drugs in the abstract. That's anti-scientific. It begs so many questions and leaves suffering pain patients (and others) high and dry. No substance is bad in and of itself.
When we say so, we knowingly blind ourselves to all sorts of potential benefits to humankind. Morphine can provide a vivid appreciation of mother nature in properly disposed minds. That should be seen as a benefit. Instead, dogma tells us that we must hate morphine for any use.
I might as well say that no one can ever be taught to ride a horse safely. I would argue as follows: "Look at Christopher Reeves. He was a responsible and knowledgeable equestrian. But he couldn't handle horses. The fact is, NO ONE can handle horses!"
That's another problem with "following the science." Science downplays personal testimony as subjective. But psychoactive experiences are all ABOUT subjectivity. With such drugs, users are not widgets susceptible to the one-size-fits-all pills of reductionism.
Imagine the Vedic people shortly after they have discovered soma. Everyone's ecstatic -- except for one oddball. "I'm not sure about these experiences," says he. "I think we need to start dissecting the brains of our departed adherents to see what's REALLY going on in there."
He'd probably then say: "In fact, we'd better outlaw this substance for now until we understand its biochemical mechanisms of action. We should follow the science, after all."
This is the mentality for today's materialist researcher when it comes to "laughing gas." He does not care that it merely cheers folks up. He wants to see what is REALLY going on with the substance, using electrodes and brain scans.
I'd tell him knock yourself out, except that his expensive and purblind research is used by prohibitionists to say: See? There's no scientific proof that laughing gas helps the depressed.
This, by the way, is why we can't just "follow the science." The "acceptable risk" for psychoactive drugs can only be decided by the user, based on what they prioritize in life. Science just assumes that all users should want to live forever, self-fulfilled or not.

ECT is like euthanasia. Neither make sense in the age of prohibition.

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You have been reading an article entitled, A Quantum of Hubris: how know-it-all materialists block scientific progress, published on November 25, 2023 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)