Essay date: May 12, 2020

Unscientific American

How the authors at Scientific American self-censor their articles in deference to America's Drug War

How Scientific American authors unconsciously self-censor their articles in line with drug war prohibitions

I sent the following message to the editors of Scientific American today, on May 12, 2020:

Attention Editors: please start acknowledging the Drug War's role in limiting scientific inquiry

Good afternoon.

Could you please pass this along to your staff and management? The following is written in response to a May 2018 article by Dana G. Smith entitled "At What Age Does Our Ability to Learn a New Language Like a Native Speaker Disappear?"

My topic is not so much the article itself as the fact that, like many SA articles, the author has left out a whole angle to the story in deference and obedience to America's anti-scientific Drug War, as if the Drug War prohibitions somehow provided a rational baseline for scientific inquiry. {^ The fact is that the Drug War provides anti-scientific obstacles to research on many subjects about which Scientific American authors write, and I believe it's about time that SA started acknowledging that fact in the articles themselves, thereby shaming the Drug Warriors for impeding scientific progress in a supposed free country.}{

Thanks for your consideration,

Ballard Quass.


Thanks for the fascinating article about language acquisition ("At What Age Does Our Ability to Learn a New Language Like a Native Speaker Disappear?")

I'd like to suggest however that you've limited your inquiry, albeit unwittingly, in deference to America's Drug War.

If science were free to investigate and research all the products of Mother Nature (and not just the ones of which politicians approve), it would discover something that psychedelic rebels have known for half a century now: namely, that psychedelic plant medicines can create fascinating and useful new connections in the brain that provide the substance user with whole new ways of looking at the world and whole new ways to process previously unintelligible information about that world.

The Drug War Censors Science

Scientists: It's time to wake up to the fact that you are censored by the Drug War. Drive the point home with these bumper stickers.

In other words, there is every reason to believe that one day, when America has finally cast off the anti-scientific slough of Drug War prohibitions, we will find ways to vastly improve the language learning abilities of older human beings through the strategic use of psychedelic substances that grow around us in the natural world. Right now, however, scientists who even broach such a topic must keep an eye over their shoulder lest their colleagues eye them askance for invoking the names of plants about which we are not even supposed to speak in so-called scientific America - let alone to speak positively.

I realize that this assertion is speculative, but it is a tantalizing hypothesis indeed, considering not only the anecdotal evidence of psychedelic-inspired mind expansion over the past 50 years, but the fact that there are hundreds - perhaps thousands - of promising plant medicines of this kind that are completely off limits to scientific investigation thanks to the DEA's mendacious and self-serving drug scheduling system, plants which a human being can be jailed for merely possessing, never mind that the substances in question grow unbidden at their very feet.

In short, I think that there is a whole angle to this story that scientists are ignoring thanks to Drug War sensibilities, and which they must ignore, since they are currently forbidden to even study the kind of plants that we're talking about here.

Yours in the name of true scientific freedom...

Ballard Quass

PS If I may make a suggestion: One way to change this anti-scientific status quo is for Scientific American's authors to start thinking about how their articles might change were the Drug War not in force with respect to psychoactive plants and their ability to change the mind (to better process new kinds of information, to ease depression, to help one make their peace with death, etc.). Then, once an SA author has determined that their story has angles that scientists cannot adequately pursue thanks to Drug War prohibitions, those authors should state this fact clearly and matter-of-factly in their articles, with a comment such as: "Note: Topic X will not be pursued further in this article thanks to American Drug War prohibitions which prevent scientists from studying such hypotheses in detail."

By thus acknowledging the censorship function of the Drug War viz scientific inquiry, the author can help bring about legal reforms by shaming the Drug Warriors who have shackled scientific investigation in this way.

PPS I will be publishing this letter on my website ( as an open letter to Scientific American, probably under the title (or at least subtitle) of: "How scientists self-censor in deference to America's Drug War." I realize that this self-censorship is not conscious, but that really just makes it all the more insidious.


Next essay: Comedian Adderall Zoloft Riffs on the Drug War
Previous essay: In the Realm of Hungry Drug Warriors

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end America's disgraceful drug war: visit to learn more

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The key to ending the Drug War is to spread the word about the fact that it is Anti-American, unscientific and anti-minority (for starters)

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By demonizing plant medicine, the Drug War overthrew the Natural Law upon which Jefferson founded America -- and brazenly confiscated the Founding Father's poppy plants in 1987, in a symbolic coup against Jeffersonian freedoms.

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Stop the Drug War from demonizing godsend plant medicines. Psychoactive plant medicines are godsends, not devil spawn.

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Scientists: It's time to wake up to the fact that you are censored by the drug war. Drive the point home with these bumper stickers.

old time radio playing Drug War comedy sketches

You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at 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.

Brian Quass
The Drug War Philosopher

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.

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)

Selected Bibliography

  • Bandow, Doug "From Fighting The Drug War To Protecting The Right To Use Drugs"2018
  • Barrett, Damon "Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People"2011 IDEBATE Press
  • Bilton, Anton "DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule"2021 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Boullosa , Carmen "A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'"2016 OR Books
  • Brereton, William "The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade"2017 Anna Ruggieri
  • Burns, Eric "1920: The year that made the decade roar"2015 Pegasus Books
  • Carpenter, Ted Galen "The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America"2012 Cato Institute
  • Chesterton, GK "Saint Thomas Acquinas"2014 BookBaby
  • Filan, Kenaz "The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally"2011 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Irwin-Rogers, Keir "Illicit Drug Markets, Consumer Capitalism and the Rise of Social Media: A Toxic Trap for Young People"2019
  • James, William "The Varieties of Religious Experience"1902 Philosophical Library
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • Rudgley, Richard "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances"2014 Macmillan Publishers
  • Shulgin, Alexander "PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story"1991 Transform Press
  • Shulgin, Alexander "The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact"2021 Transform Press
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief"0
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology"2022
  • St John, Graham "Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT"2021
  • Szasz, Thomas "Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt"0
  • Wedel, Janine "Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class"2014 Pegasus Books
  • Weil, Andrew "From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs"2004 Open Road Integrated Media
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at