Note: Jonathan is one of those stars in the scientific firmament who has risen too high to be contacted by mere mortals like myself. Although I tracked him down online at the University of Calgary's Psychology Department, he appears to be the only faculty member there whose email address is unavailable. I can only speculate that he is not interested in receiving feedback on his materialist proclamations in Scientific American and Science News, or on Twitter for that matter, where I was first jangled by his condescendingly strident belief that reductive science is qualified to deal with the emotional and spiritual subject that it calls "mental health." Fortunately, I was able to find the email address of Department Head Michael Antle, to whom I have delivered these musings instead. Let's hope that he is willing to forward the same to my elusive would-be recipient.
Dear Dr. Stea:
As a 64-year-old lifelong depressive, I would suggest that science is not free in the age of the Drug War and that it is therefore pseudoscience. The proof can be seen by looking at academic articles about drugs that elate and inspire. Almost all of the articles are about abuse and misuse. This is because organizations like NIDA are all about abuse and do not generally fund articles about positive use. This again is in line with the ideology of the ONDCP which is to ignore positive talk about "drugs" for fear of encouraging use. This is politics, not science. Moreover, scientists know that their jobs are at stake if they adduce positive evidence about the use of the drugs that we have been taught to hate since childhood.
Scientists do not seem to realize the anti-science nature of the Drug War, which tells us falsely that drugs can be panned entirely based on their worst imaginable usage -- which, of course, is a standard whereby no drug in the world could ever pass muster.
I would further suggest that modern science IS pseudoscience when it comes to mental health. It is focused exclusively on reductive "evidence" for things like happiness, meanwhile ignoring obvious things like laughter, first-person user testimony, and the history of psychoactive substances through the ages, some of which have inspired entire religions, as coca inspired the Peruvian Indians, soma inspired the Vedic-Hindu religion and the psychedelic kykeon inspired a who's-who of western elites for 2,000 consecutive years -- until the ritual was tellingly outlawed by Emperor Theodosius in 392ce as a threat to Christianity. Dr. Robert Glatter epitomizes this purblind reductionism in his 2021 article in Forbes magazine asking "Can laughing gas help those with treatment-resistant depression?" The answer is an obvious yes for the depressed like myself, but Glatter has to ask because mere laughter and user reports are not considered "scientific."
That is why, in order to save a few kids whom we refuse to educate about safe use, drugs like laughing gas can be made illegal for everybody in the world -- notwithstanding the fact that William James himself said we should study the effects of such substances to learn about the ultimate nature of reality. That's how depressed folk like myself are thrown under the bus by science. That's why I have had to go my entire lifetime now without godsend medicines that grow at my feet, because scientists are collaborating with the Drug War to normalize prohibition by ignoring all the many obvious benefits of illegal drugs. This is why I've been asking science magazines like SciAm and Science News to start adding disclaimers to their articles about subjects like consciousness and depression, to make it clear that the authors and researchers are taking Christian Science substance prohibition as a natural baseline from which to draw deductions and inferences about the topics in question. My many suggestions on this topic have never even been acknowledged, let alone acted upon.
Consider the state of affairs for the folks on the receiving end of science's current treatments: If I am depressed, the doctor can prescribe me Big Pharma meds that will fog my brain and turn me into an eternal patient via chemical dependency -- but they cannot prescribe me the drugs that grow at my feet and which obviously inspire and elate. They tell me laughing gas won't REALLY make me happy, that chewing the coca leaf won't REALLY make me happy, but that is all scientism and politics. God save me from drugs that "REALLY" make me happy, because they have turned me into a patient for life.
If, as a result of prohibition, I get really depressed, what is the scientific go-to treatment? Shock therapy! Talk about scientism and politics!
Currently we would rather damage the brain of the depressed with shock therapy than to let them use time-honored substances that obviously cheer one up and elate. My uncle was subjected to that treatment 40 years ago and if the treatment "worked," it was only in the sense that it made him more docile and easier to be around -- because he simply muttered rather than musing gloomily.
This is why I am somewhat taken aback by your fierce attacks on mental health pseudoscience on Twitter. Based on my 60+ years of experience, mental health treatment is and will continue to be pseudoscience until scientists stop collaborating with the Drug War while tacitly agreeing with them that drugs that elate and inspire do not "really" elate and inspire. Until they do so, they are not advancing the cause of science, but rather the cause of Christian Science, which tells us that drugs are immoral.
Not only is this Christian Science ideology, but it is fanatically so. Many states and countries now allow euthanasia. This means that the depressed can kill themselves with drugs, but they are not allowed to use drugs in order to make them want to live.
I also am unclear as to what you meant by your August 12th Tweet about "weaponizing kindness" (which is the vague but button-pushing post that inspired me to write to you in the first place). It did not seem to be in response to any other Tweet, so it's hard to agree or disagree with it. However, I would say that we SHOULD be weaponizing kindness when it comes to drugs like MDMA. These drugs can inspire compassion in users and should therefore be "weaponized" -- that is, used therapeutically to stop haters from shooting up grade schools. Instead, drugs like ecstasy are pilloried for killing a handful of people, all of whom died because the prohibitionists failed to teach safe use. In short, if we fail to weaponize kindness with drugs like Ecstasy, then we are tacitly weaponizing real weapons in the hands of mass murderers.
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.
If drug war logic made sense, we would outlaw endless things in addition to drugs. Because the drug war says that it's all worth it if we can save just one life -- which is generally the life of a white suburban young person, btw.
5% of proceeds from the sale of the above product will go toward getting Brian a decent haircut for once. Honestly. 9% will go toward shoes. 50% will go toward miscellaneous. 9% of the remainder will go toward relaxation, which could encompass anything from a spin around town to an outdoor barbecue at Brian's brother's house in Stanardsville (both gas and the ice-cream cake that Brian usually supplies).
You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at abolishthedea.com. Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.
A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.
The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.
It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)
If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.
PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.
Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company