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This is your brain on Neuralink

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

July 19, 2019

Originally published July 19, 2019, in response to Elon Musk's Neuralink plan to fix brain disorders

Musk's idea might sound funny, were it not for the fact that many equally nutty ideas have been implemented in the name of psychiatric 'science' over the past 150 years: enema therapy, insulin coma therapy, Metrazol therapy, fever therapy, enforced isolation, and even forced sterilization - all piously claiming a scientific basis for their method of action. As if this past menu of hubristic horrors is not enough, we have modern psychiatry to thank for the fact that, even as I type this, 1 in 4 American women are chemically dependent on SSRIs for a lifetime - never mind the fact that these pills were originally trialed and marketed only as short-term remedies.

To be sure, Musk's comments focus on the use of implanted AI to treat Alzheimer's, but he also makes the grandiose insinuation that no mental trouble will eventually be beyond the mind-correcting powers of his surgically implanted device.

I used to laugh at the Kurzweils of the world who ran around screaming that "the Singularity is at hand," while I, for my part, could not even make myself understood by a corporate phone-bot, not even when using the most basic of highly articulated English-language phrases. But now I see that the AI proselytizers have to be taken seriously, not because they are on the brink of solving the world's problems, but because they THINK they are and so are liable to create real problems for real patients, unless we see through their enticing sci-fi pretensions to the vapid philosophy that underlies it: materialism, which is to say the philosophy according to which all the nonsense cures cited above once claimed to be justified.

Don't get me wrong: I would be thrilled if Musk could electronically tweak the brain so as to essentially cure Alzheimer's, but his ambitions go far beyond that. He's out to cure "brain disorders" in general, which, given his materialist assumptions, presumably means depression and anxiety as well.

That's where I say "hold everything."

We already know of plants whose use can create new neural connections in the brain, yet we do not even consider using them to treat mental illnesses. Why? Because Americans, who otherwise boast of their scientific prowess, have yet allowed those plants to be rendered illegal for over a half a century now. Plants! To be rendered illegal! In a scientific society? Hello?

We have no right to go casting about in the electronics cupboard for cures for depression and anxiety under such anti-scientific circumstances. Scientists and researchers should instead be rising up en masse to overthrow this government-sponsored prohibition on medical progress. (Better late than never: had they not been snookered by politics and materialist prejudices against psychedelics, scientists would have risen up in this way 50 years ago.)

Instead, almost to a man (and to a woman), scientists ignore their loss of freedom, expunging it from history in the very sentences that they speak. Thus a clinician will claim that they use ECT as a last resort, because everything else has failed for a given patient, when what they really mean is: 'We're using ECT because the government refuses to let us use non-damaging and non-addictive plant-based therapies instead.' That honesty would serve a profound purpose, by reminding the tabloid-led public how hysteria-based drug laws end up harming everyone in the long run.

I mention these indefensible drug laws because Musk's ambitions only make sense in the light of their pernicious existence. If the depressed and anxious were able to proceed with the informed use of psychedelics to treat their depression and anxiety, then I think Musk's AI plans would appear as laughable to them.

'Let's see,' says the giggling psychonaut: 'I can use this natural plant here to expand my mind, thus following in the footsteps of the mysteries at Eleusis in which Plato himself took part. . or I can have this Elon Musk fellow implant some operating software in my brain - which he'll no doubt update from time to time à la Windows Updates."

Then, reflecting on the countless PCs that have been ruined by Windows' bug-filled Updates...

"Uh, thanks, Elon, but I think I'll stick with my plant medicine!"

Author's Follow-up: December 1, 2022

Neuralink might be just another promising tool in a sane world, but it is an ominous development in a Drug War society, because its very existence begs the question, why are we willing to computerize the brain while we are unwilling to naturally empower it with godsend medicines? Apparently for the same reason that we will damage the brains of the depressed with shock therapy but we are unwilling to let them chew a coca leaf, use laughing gas or enjoy MDMA. Apparently for the same reason that we are willing to euthanize patients with chemicals but we are not willing to give them chemicals that will encourage them to live.

Next essay: Eight Reasons to End Drug Testing
Previous essay: America's biggest drug pusher: The American Psychiatric Association:

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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.

essays about

How Scientific Materialism Keeps Godsend Medicines from the Depressed
Obama's Unscientific BRAIN Initiative
Materialism and the Drug War Part II
How Thomas Nagel Reckons Without the Drug War
Materialism and the Drug War
Alternative Medicine as a Drug War Creation
Why Science is the Handmaiden of the Drug War
David Chalmers and the Drug War
The Placebo Effect and Drugs
Why Rick Doblin is Ghosting Me
How Bernardo Kastrup reckons without the drug war
The Pseudoscience of Mental Health Treatment
Physics has found a theory of everything
The Handicapped NEED Crutches
Forbes Magazine's Laughable Article about Nitrous Oxide
Speaking Truth to Academia
A Quantum of Hubris
Unscientific American: the hypocritical materialism of Elon Musk
Modern Science as a symptom of insipient madness
Materialism's War on Drug Addicts and Alcoholics
The Book of the Damned continued
The Muddled Metaphysics of the Drug War
Illusions with Professor Arthur Shapiro

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