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How AI turned William James into a Drug Warrior

letter to the editors of New Scientist

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

October 6, 2023

In response to Daniel Cossins' 2018 article about "Discriminating Algorithms:

We need another article from Daniel, this time about "Politically Correct Algorithms" (aka "Philosophically Anachronistic Algorithms").

I recently visited where I queried the AI version of William James. I wanted to know what James thought about the ongoing push to outlaw laughing gas in the UK and the US. The use of laughing gas, after all, convinced William James that we must study altered states in order to understand ultimate reality and the true nature of consciousness.

The response of the AI version of William James sounded suspiciously modern. Regarding laughing gas, he suggested that we "limit use to professionals."

That statement reflects a classic Drug Warrior lie: namely, that the only stakeholders in the legalization debate are the impressionable young people whom we fail to educate about substance use. But James was not programmed like that. He did not attend DARE classes as a kid that indoctrinated him in the drug-hating beliefs of Christian Science. He did not watch endless TV shows as a kid whose plots were tweaked by the White House to promote Drug War prejudices. He would have recognized, when pressed for elaboration, that laughing gas could be a godsend for the depressed and a worthy replacement for alcohol. Nor would he have advanced the elitist doctrine that only professionals should use the substance in order to achieve altered states.

You may say that these claims are debatable, but that is my whole point. It is wrong for AI algorithms to put modern answers in the mouths of historical figures by assuming that they would share our modern prejudices.

The AI programmers should instead have the honesty to respond to questions like mine with a humble disclaimer, stating that the query is far too "fraught" to conduce to a quick answer based on the parsing of Big Data.

Instead, they pretend that no answer is too hard for them, even if they have to falsify history in order to keep up that air of omniscience.

Next essay: There is nothing to debate: the drug war is wrong, root and branch
Previous essay: Physics has found a theory of everything

More Essays Here

Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Oregon's drug policy is incoherent and cruel. The rich and healthy spend $4,000 a week on psilocybin. The poor and chemically dependent are thrown in jail, unless they're on SSRIs, in which case they're congratulated for "taking their meds."
There's a run of addiction movies out there, like "Craving!" wherein they actually personify addiction as a screaming skeleton. Funny, drug warriors never call for a Manhattan Project to end addiction. Addiction is their golden goose.
I'm told antidepressant withdrawal is fine because it doesn't cause cravings. Why is it better to feel like hell than to have a craving? In any case, cravings are caused by prohibition. A sane world could also end cravings with the help of other drugs.
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.
The formula is easy: pick a substance that folks are predisposed to hate anyway, then keep hounding the public with stories about tragedies somehow related to that substance. Show it ruining lives in movies and on TV. Don't lie. Just keep showing all the negatives.
When folks die in horse-related accidents, we need to be asking: who sold the victim the horse? We've got to crack down on folks who peddle this junk -- and ban books like Black Beauty that glamorize horse use.
Opium is a godsend, as folks like Galen, Avicenna and Paracelsus knew. The drug war has facilitated a nightmare by outlawing peaceable use at home and making safe use almost impossible.
Imagine if we held sports to the same safety standard as drugs. There would be no sports at all. And yet even free climbing is legal. Why? Because with sports, we recognize the benefits and not just the downsides.
Richard Evans Schultes seems to have originated the harebrained idea (since used by the US Supreme Court to suppress new religions) that you have no right to use drugs in a religious ritual if you did not grow up in a society that had such practices. What tyrannical idiocy!
Prohibitionists are also responsible for the 100,000-plus killed in the US-inspired Mexican drug war
More Tweets

essays about

Drug War U.
The Semmelweis Effect in the War on Drugs
Physics has found a theory of everything

essays about

Listening to Laughing Gas
Forbes Magazine's Laughable Article about Nitrous Oxide
Keep Laughing Gas Legal
William James rolls over in his grave as England bans Laughing Gas
The Criminalization of Nitrous Oxide is No Laughing Matter
Speaking Truth to Academia
How the Drug War is Threatening Intellectual Freedom in England
Why the FDA should not schedule Laughing Gas

essays about

Drug War Agitprop
William James rolls over in his grave as England bans Laughing Gas
Why the FDA should not schedule Laughing Gas
How the Drug War is Threatening Intellectual Freedom in England
The Criminalization of Nitrous Oxide is No Laughing Matter
Keep Laughing Gas Legal
Listening to Laughing Gas

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans

You have been reading an article entitled, How AI turned William James into a Drug Warrior: letter to the editors of New Scientist, published on October 6, 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)