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The Book of the Damned continued

a sequel to the Charles Fort classic of 1919, featuring the thrice damned accounts of the positive use of drugs

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

December 3, 2023

PROCESSION of the damned.

By the damned, I mean the excluded.

We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded.

With those three lines, Charles Fort launched his attack on the exclusionary practices of dogmatic science in the Book of the Damned. "I have gone into the outer darkness of scientific and philosophical transactions and proceedings:", wrote Fort, "ultra-respectable, but covered with the dust of disregard. I have descended into journalism."

I now descend into journalism myself in an attempt to eke out Fort's book with some data of my own, drawn from newspapers published before 1900, when the Drug War ideology of substance demonization was still just a glint in the jaundiced eyes of puritanical politicians.

Fort's many well-documented examples of arbitrarily excluded scientific data were drawn from sightings of anomalous phenomena either in the sky or issuing therefrom. But my excluded data are of another type entirely. They come from the many positive reports about psychoactive substances that used to appear in newspapers prior to the 20th century and the codification of substance prohibition. Now those reports about positive drug use are damned, gathering dust, totally invisible to modern science. Worse yet, there are very few new reports of positive drug use even reaching the stage where they would be eligible for damnation these days since scientists (amateur and professional alike) know that it's risky to report anything positive about the modern scapegoat called drugs.

Those few who successfully run this gauntlet of disincentives find a science establishment that is unmoved by common sense. You say that laughing gas cheers you up? Modern scientists see no sign of that, or if they do, they fail to see any benefit in such a state. You say that MDMA makes you compassionate? Modern scientists see no sign of that, or if they do, they fail to see any benefit in such a state. You say that coca helps you obtain a prolific output in your chosen field and thus achieve vocational self-fulfillment? Modern scientists see no sign of that, or if they do, they fail to see any benefit in such a state.

The fact is that the damnation process now has the backing of the federal government and scientists do not want to alienate their benefactor by acknowledging that there are any benefits whatsoever to drug use. This Drug War collaboration comes easy to modern science, however, thanks to its outdated materialist viewpoint that consciousness is a mere epiphenomenon. If that's so, then a millennia's worth of anecdotal reports of positive drug use can be safely ignored as so much subjective blather. All that really counts are biochemistry and genetics, and human beings are interchangeable widgets amenable to one-size-fits-all cures for mental and emotional problems.

Sure, it is technically legal for scientist and layperson alike to sing the benefits of drugs that have been criminalized by racist politicians, but anyone who praises coca or opium is setting themselves up for reprisals in the workplace and society in general. In fact, I fear that the DEA is holding meetings even as we speak trying to find a way to arrest or otherwise silence the self-avowed responsible drug user Carl Hart, author of "Drug Use for Grown-ups," one of the handful of prominent people in the world who's actually daring to speak the simple truth about drugs. In Charles' Day, they merely ignored folks who spoke truths that failed to gibe with modern dogma: in our day they seek to arrest such reporters or, barring that, to remove them from all roles of importance in American society.

In short, Fort was lucky. He lived before Drug War ideology had made data damnation a civic duty. If I could travel back to 1919 and confront the author, I would tell him just one thing: "You don't know from damnation, Charles!"

Book of the Damned II: Damnation #1

The Imperial Incas of Peru

On page 2 of the Boston Globe from New Year's Day 1886, JJ Tschudi praises the value of coca in what appears to be an extended selection from his 'Travels of Peru'. He quotes a certain Dr. William S. Searie to the effect that: "[Coca] is one of the most remarkable productions of the world, and has powerful therapeutic properties." It was considered to be a gift to the Inca from the sun god, for whom it was the living embodiment here on earth. This plant was said to satisfy the hungry, give strength to the weak and make them forget their misfortunes. It made oracles speak and its presence in their homes kept away all accidents and crime. None could visit the tomb of his ancestors, or invoke their spirits, unless he had some Coca in his mouth.

Fast-forward 150 years and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. have decided that the coca plant has no positive uses for anybody, anywhere, ever. No, not one single benefit. What's more, they have determined that it is downright immoral to suggest otherwise. Who knew? One wonders if the DEA is getting their information about drugs from Mary Baker Eddy via a Ouija Board.

Scientists must be ecstatic because they now have the green light from their own government to pretend not simply that the coca plant has no positive uses, but that the plant does not even exist. Coca would have never passed scientific muster with them anyway due to its failure to produce the kind of results that would satisfy a reductive materialist, namely those that would show up under a microscope or in a brain scan. That's why Dr. Robert Glatter wrote a 2021 article in Forbes magazine entitled "Can nitrous oxide help those with treatment resistant depression?" Could it help? Was Dr. Glatter serious? Was he channeling Dr. Spock of Star Trek when he wrote that piece? He had to ask that amazingly naïve question because the laughter of the depressed does not count for him: he's a materialist who needs lab scans to see if folks like myself are "really" happy - whatever that means. I'd be more than happy to give him an affidavit to that effect ("Yes, laughing gas actually works for me, thank you very much, Doc!") if Robert would only sign off on my use of a plant medicine that the Inca considered to be divine. Then we'll let bygones be bygones and say nothing about the fact that the government had no right whatsoever to outlaw mother nature in the first place, least of all in a country that was founded on the principles of natural law.

But no such luck. When it comes to the outlawing of coca, materialist science says "Good riddance," I'm afraid.

Meanwhile the patriotic editors of magazines like Scientific American and Psychology Today play dumb for the government on the subject of drugs by producing endless feel-good pieces about the "latest treatment" for depression, this month telling depressives like myself that we need to go to bed earlier (or was that later?) , the next month telling us to drink less coffee (or was that more coffee?), and never a word about the outlawed godsends that grow at our very feet. Whenever they start to run out of politically acceptable bromides for fighting depression, they recycle a therapeutic blast from the past that one had naively thought to have been long since discredited: see, for instance, the Shock Therapy 2.0 now being promoted by Sci News in a series by Laura Sanders. Well, shock therapy worked before for the severely depressed, didn't it? In fact, the nursing staffs could not say enough about the treatment. It rendered their hitherto excitable charges so tractable and uncomplaining that it seemed little less than a miracle. Turns out such treatment has a time-honored history, dating back to caveperson days when the first cro-magnon gave his brother-in-law a sharp whack on the head with a club, only to discover to his amazement that he had thereby transformed the erstwhile obstreperous neanderthal into an eminently pliable (if perhaps somewhat morose) cave mate.

Charles Fort was right: the scientific establishment is hypnotized by the existing weltanschuung. "The coca leaf?" ask the modern scientists. "What coca leaf? Never heard of the stuff. What MDMA for that matter? What laughing gas? What opium?"

Of course coca already had its detractors back in 1886, "but mark one thing," writes Tschudi.

"This detraction has not come from scientific investigators, nor from those who have patiently examined into the facts, such as Sir Robert Christison, Baronet (M. D., D.C.L., LL. D., F.R.S., President of the British Medical Association, Professor of Materia Medica in the University of Edinburgh, Physician to her Majesty the Queen), Prof. Fauvel of Paris, Prof. John M. Carnochan of New York, the distinguished surgeon. Dr. W. S. Searie of Brooklyn, the eminent writer, and a score of men equally distinguished for honest devotion to the truths of science."

No, the detraction came from the great great ancestors of grumpy puritans like William Bennett and Kevin Sabet, whom Tshcudi refers to as "kickers." "In all professions and in all callings," writes Tschudi, "there is a class of men who gain notoriety by their adoption of the role of kickers. Their success in life -- their stock in trade as 'twer. -- lies in the notoriety they gain by detracting."

It won't surprise the modern reader to learn that the main "kickers" against the coca plant at the time were also the principals of a firm that produced a tonic for which coca proved to be a fearsome rival. "The real secret of the yarns about Coca which have recently been appearing in the papers," Tschudi reports, "lies in the jealousy of a large manufacturer of certain tonic preparations the sale of which has become greatly abridged by the growing popular appreciation of Coca as a tonic."1


1 JJ, Tschudi, The Imperial Incas of Peru (from 'Travels in Peru'), (up)

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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.

The drug war has created a whole film genre with the same tired plots: drug-dealing scumbags and their dupes being put in their place by the white Anglo-Saxon establishment, which has nothing but contempt for altered states.

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.

Even when laudanum was legal in the UK, pharmacists were serving as moral adjudicators, deciding for whom they should fill such prescriptions. That's not a pharmacist's role. We need an ABC-like set-up in which the cashier does not pry into my motives for buying a substance.

Today's Washington Post reports that "opioid pills shipped" DROPPED 45% between 2011 and 2019..... while fatal overdoses ROSE TO RECORD LEVELS! Prohibition is PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE.
Prohibitionists having nothing to say about all other dangerous activities: nothing about hunting, free climbing, hang-gliding, sword swallowing, free diving, skateboarding, sky-diving, chug-a-lug competitions, chain-smoking. Their "logic" is incoherent.
Drugs like opium and psychedelics should come with the following warning: "Outlawing of this product may result in inner-city gunfire, civil wars overseas, and rigged elections in which drug warriors win office by throwing minorities in jail."
If we let "science" decide about drugs, i.e. base freedom on health concerns, then tea can be as easily outlawed as beer. The fact that horses are not illegal shows that prohibition is not about health. It's about the power to outlaw certain "ways of being in the world."
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.
Then folks like Sabet will accuse folks like myself of ignoring the "facts." No, it is Sabet who is ignoring the facts -- facts about dangerous horses and free climbing. He's also ignoring all the downsides of prohibition, whose laws lead to the election of tyrants.
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 the problem with prohibition. It is not ultimately a health question but a question about priorities and sensibilities -- and those topics are open to lively debate and should not be the province of science, especially when natural law itself says mother nature is ours.
I personally hate beets and I could make a health argument against their legality. Beets can kill for those allergic to them. Sure, it's a rare condition, but since when has that stopped a prohibitionist from screaming bloody murder?
I can think of no greater intrusion than to deny one autonomy over how they think and feel in life. It is sort of a meta-intrusion, the mother of all anti-democratic intrusions.
Enforced by the blatantly rights-crushing solicitation of urine from the king's subjects, as if to underscore the fact that your very digestive system is controlled by the state.
Until prohibition ends, rehab is all about enforcing a Christian Science attitude toward psychoactive medicines (with the occasional hypocritical exception of Big Pharma meds).
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.
Democratic societies need to outlaw prohibition for many reasons, the first being the fact that prohibition removes millions of minorities from the voting rolls, thereby handing elections to fascists and insurrectionists.
Prohibition turned habituation into addiction by creating a wide variety of problems for users, including potential arrest, tainted or absent drug supply, and extreme stigmatization.
The goal of drug-law reform should be to outlaw prohibition. Anything short of that, and our basic rights will always be subject to veto by fearmongers. Outlawing prohibition would restore the Natural Law of Jefferson, which the DEA scorned in 1987 with its raid on Monticello.
Philip Jenkins reports that Rophynol had positive uses for treating mental disorders until the media called it the "date rape drug." We thus punished those who were benefitting from the drug, tho' the biggest drug culprit in date rape is alcohol. Oprah spread the fear virally.
This is the "Oprah fallacy," which has led to so much suffering. She told women they were fools if they accepted a drink from a man. That's crazy. If we are terrified by such a statistically improbable event, we should be absolutely horrified by horses and skateboards.
This hysterical reaction to rare negative events actually creates more rare negative events. This is why the DEA publicizes "drug problems," because by making them well known, they make the problems more prevalent and can thereby justify their huge budget.
The Partnership for a Death Free America is launching a campaign to celebrate the 50th year of Richard Nixon's War on Drugs. We need to give credit where credit's due for the mass arrest of minorities, the inner city gun violence and the civil wars that it's generated overseas.
In 1886, coca enthusiast JJ Tschudi referred to prohibitionists as 'kickers.' He wrote: "If we were to listen to these kickers, most of us would die of hunger, for the reason that nearly everything we eat or drink has fallen under their ban."
Drug Warriors never take responsibility for incentivizing poor kids throughout the west to sell drugs. It's not just in NYC and LA, it's in modest-sized towns in France. Find public housing, you find drug dealing. It's the prohibition, damn it!
I don't believe in the materialist paradigm upon which SSRIs were created, according to which humans are interchangeable chemical robots amenable to the same treatment for human sadness. Let me use laughing gas and MDMA and coca and let the materialists use SSRIs.
What prohibitionists forget is that every popular but dangerous activity, from horseback riding to drug use, will have its victims. You cannot save everybody, and when you try to do so by law, you kill far more than you save, meanwhile destroying democracy in the process.
Prohibition is based on two huge lies: 1) that there are no benefits to drug use; and 2) that there are no downsides to prohibition.
The 1932 movie "Scarface" starts with on-screen text calling for a crackdown on armed gangs in America. There is no mention of the fact that a decade's worth of Prohibition had created those gangs in the first place.

"When two men who have been in an aggressive mood toward each other take part in the ritual, one is able to say to the other, 'Come, let us drink, for there is something between us.' " re: the Mayan use of the balche drink in Encyc of Psych Plants, by Ratsch & Hofmann

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You have been reading an article entitled, The Book of the Damned continued: a sequel to the Charles Fort classic of 1919, featuring the thrice damned accounts of the positive use of drugs, published on December 3, 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)