Groovy Medicine

Scientific American has a very informative piece up about new research into the uses of LSD, psilocybin and other psychedelic drugs for mental illness:

Much remains unclear about the precise neural mechanisms governing how these drugs produce their mind-bending results, but they often produce somewhat similar psychoactive effects that make them potential therapeutic tools. Though still in their preliminary stages, studies in humans suggest that the day when people can schedule a psychedelic session with their therapist to overcome a serious psychiatric problem may not be that far off.

Awesome illustrations as well. Hat tip: Mind Hacks.

The Morality Of Potheads



Beyond the caricature of libertarians as, what, amyl-nitrate-huffing poofters (not that there’s anything wrong with that–there we go again!), I just don’t get the idea that what sometimes gets called the pursuit of happiness is in any way controversial. And if it is for conservatives, then it’s a good thing they seem to be in the shitter politically.

Amen. But I’d make a slightly different point. Dinesh seems to conflate morality with certain anti-pleasure codes, largely to do with sex and/or drugs. And so he places libertarianism in an immoral or amoral camp. But toleration is itself a moral virtue. And leaving others alone in a free society can and often does go hand in hand with quite strict personal morality in your own life. Some of that morality can be along the lines D’Souza admires: no sex outside heterosexual marriage and no drinking or smoking. There are plenty of libertarians in that camp. But others see morality as being more about how one deals with other human beings: the virtues of compassion, patience, civility, kindness, courage, honesty, toleration, humility and so on. This is the deeper and wider moral agenda that encompasses many, many libertarians. It seems to me that a focus on morality that is obsessed primarily with issues of personal pleasure or sex is a warped and misleading one. I’m not saying that morality is not a part of those areas of human life. I am saying that morality is far, far broader and deeper than that.

Merry Christmas. Enjoy your day – however you want to.

(Photo: Sergei Supinsky/Getty.)

Professor’s Little Helper

Nature has an interesting story on scientists using various cognitive-enhancing drugs to push their limits. It’s rather like the use of steroids by athletes – but they’re brain steroids, if you will. Mind Hacks notes:

These are the same drugs that have caused concern about their level of use among students, chiefly modafinil (Provigil) and methylphenidate (Ritalin), although other drugs such as Alzheimer’s medication donepezil (Aricept), non-amphetamine ADHD drug atomoxetine (Strattera) are also candidates.

I haven’t had a cow about the baseball steroids "scandal" because the only issue to me is whether some athletes have cheated by getting an unfair advantage over others. I don’t actually believe the use of steroids in sports is inherently problematic – as long as everyone gets a fair crack at the needle. I guess it’s because my own long-term use of testosterone replacement therapy has opened my eyes to the power and largely benign impact of moderate and responsible steroid use. I need it, of course, and when I’ve forgotten my dose (who wants to jab themselves if they can put it off?), I’ve experienced serious fatigue and marginal weight-loss. But I really can’t see the harm in aging men without HIV using testosterone or human growth hormone to ease the transition into geezerdom – or just because it makes you feel good or look hotter. It’s positively harmful for the young; but I tend to believe that adults should be allowed to put whatever chemicals they want into their own bodies. The line between medical and cosmetic or lifestyle usage seems to me to be rather blurry – and will get blurrier as science advances. So if a prof wants to do a little Provigil, it’s no worry for me. Why should it be a worry for anyone but the prof himself?


All you need to know at Christmas – and more. If you want to get plastered as quickly as possible – because, you know, you have to spend time with your family – here’s a tip:

Rate of absorption of alcohol depends on several factors. It is quickest, for example, when alcohol is drunk on an empty stomach and the concentration of alcohol is 20-30%. Thus, sherry, with an alcohol concentration of about 20% increases the levels of alcohol in blood more rapidly than beer (3-8%), while spirits (40%) delay gastric emptying and inhibit absorption. Drinks aerated with carbon dioxide—for example, whisky and soda, and champagne—get into the system quicker.

I always try to get as numb as possible at this time of year. It makes the hell pass more quickly.

African-Americans And Clinton’s Obama Drug Smear


A reader writes:

The second generation story emerging from yesterday’s Billy Shaheen story is that African Americans are up in arms over the insinuation that Obama will be asked if he was a drug dealer.  On African American radio stations, callers were correctly observing that not even the most in-your-face reporters asked Al Gore or George W Bush if he actually sold drugs as opposed to using them.  Why is a black candidate who admitted to youthful drug use expected to answer such questions?  I truly think Hillary needs to fire Shaheen to repair the potential rift, and not just make him apologize, which is what they’ve done.  This story really could cause the first serious black flight from Hillary.

That hadn’t occurred to me, but it makes a great deal of sense. For Clinton to be targeting a black man for confessed past drug-use, while white politicians who dissemble (ahem) get a free pass, could be terrible for the Clinton black vote. Hence her sudden apology.

(Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty.)

Clinton Campagn Attacks Obama On Drugs

The hints were there already, but now a Clinton surrogate is flaying Obama for his refreshing candor about past drug-use. Again: this is the politics of fear. Check out the classic Clinton defensive crouch with respect to the GOP:

"The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight … and one of the things they’re certainly going to jump on is his drug use," said Shaheen, the husband of former N.H. governor Jeanne Shaheen, who is planning to run for the Senate next year. Billy Shaheen contrasted Obama’s openness about his past drug use — which Obama mentioned again at a recent campaign appearance in New Hampshire — with the approach taken by George W. Bush in 1999 and 2000, when he ruled out questions about his behavior when he was "young and irresponsible."

So a Clintonite is urging that Obama follow W’s example. Somehow, I don’t think this is going to help. But it’s a sign of how worried they are that their coronation has turned into something a little more complicated.