[Paleopsych] Re: paleopsych Digest, Vol 3, Issue 25

Michael Christopher anonymous_animus at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 26 18:29:05 UTC 2004

>>Marijuana does disconnect people rather dramatically
from those around them. More than caffeine, not more
than >4.5 oz of alcohol.<<

--How exactly do you measure "disconnection"? You
could say that writers and artists are profoundly
"disconnected" from others, no? Seems like a rather
subjective thing to me.
Test it: stay clean and sober and try to have a real 
dialog with someone who is stoned.<<

--Done so many times. Can't tell much difference. Of
course, the people you interact with who DON'T show a
difference, you won't know they've smoked, right? 

>>I am told that it harms your lungs much more than 
tobacco, but that is not my field.<<

--The smoke does do damage, like any inhaled smoke.
The difference is, tobacco is extremely addictive,
while most people who want to quit smoking pot find it
about as easy as quitting coffee.

>>I had a patient once who thought his therapy 
would be better if he was stoned. I was skeptical, and
mentioned the rather abundant evidence that 
people on marijuana are quite pleased with rather 
trivial efforts.<<

--Humans in general are pleased with trivial efforts.
Again, another very subjective measure, don't you

>>Anyway, one day he showed up and as we talked, 
his thoughts were terribly unconnected and he didn't
seem to be able to actually dialog with me.<<

--Some psychologists would call that "free
association" and say therapy was successful. What
criteria were you using to determine he "wasn't able
to dialog with you"? In any case, it's one anecdote,
and you may have interacted with hundreds of patients
who smoked pot and never told you, right?

>>In the 60s and 70s when I went to school 
(yet, that is my generation) there were some studies
showing subtle long term damage (Richard's key losing

--You diagnosed Richard losing car keys as a
"syndrome"? My wife loses things, she never smokes
pot. I've smoked pot hundreds of times and I tend not
to lose things. Let's try to find some scientific
standard and stick to it, rather than judging the
effects of drugs by anecdote and assumption.

>>I said marijuana damages relationships, and that 
moves into a cycle of alienation and stress, which may
lead to more marijuana use as the user tries to escape
the interpersonal effects of the drug.<<

--Before I smoked pot, for years and years, I had
trouble with relationships. I was nearly autistic.
After smoking pot, my social life improved
dramatically. Do I attribute that to the drug? Not
really. My social situation changed, along with my
confidence level, about the time I started meeting pot
smokers. Remember the post hoc ergo propter hoc
fallacy? It's one of the serious flaws in anecdotal
evidence, along with the filtering for anecdotes which
support rather than detract from a position. Nobody
compiles anecdotes about people's lives improving
after they use drugs. Can you see how data can be
skewed that way?

>>Any chemical dependency counselor will explain 
the role of 'denial' in substance abuse.<<

--And accusations of "denial" are an easy way to force
an agenda. Nobody who smokes pot is allowed to include
their anecdotal evidence in your analysis, because you
can immediately and without evidence accuse them of
being in denial, as opposed to having an opinion based
on experience or data.

It's not unlike the statement "More young people are
in treatment for marijuana than for any other drug."
Not mentioned is that most of them are not there for a
medical diagnosis of addiction but for legal reasons.
Another is "Marijuana causes mental illness". Any
commonly used drug, including coffee or alcohol, will
be used by a large number of mentally ill people,
statistically. Self-medication is another factor, not
everyone trusts the drug companies to medicate them so
they seek alternatives. All of this makes it very easy
to skew data and come up with false conclusions about
what causes what.  

>>Objective studies back in my grad school days did 
show a loss of motivation and lessened performance.<<

--What were the specific methods used to measure
motivation and performance? I'm less motivated to do
algebra when my wife wants sex. Does that mean sex
interferes with algebra?

>>The fact that Richard says he was not affected is an
interesting clinical anecdote, not proof.<<

--So you are allowed to use anecdotal evidence, but
Richard is not. Interesting!

>>Another way to frame that is to say if Richard had
NOT smoked tons of hash, he would be president today
(and perhaps we would be better off instead of the 
two idiots that are running for president now).<<

--So let's not use anecdotes but scientific research,
the bulk of which says marijuana is on a par with
caffeine in terms of damage to health. Alcohol and
tobacco do more damage, and should be regulated more
strictly, if we are to use science as our standard
rather than politics. 

"Political correctness" is the enforcement of a view
based on the perceived consequences of that view
rather than the data that confirms or contradicts it.
There is PC among drug users (including legal drug
users) to ignore the damage drugs can do, and PC among
proponents of harsh drug laws who want ONLY data
showing marijuana to be harmful and are in denial
about data that fails to confirm their
presuppositions. Marijuana does damage lungs, but the
research about its effects on motivation and social
competence is hardly conclusive.

In any case, it does make sense to classify drugs
according to the damage they do, which puts alcohol
and tobacco above marijuana, by a large margin, on the
scale of dangerous substances. Since I have admitted
smoking pot in the past, you can ignore all of the


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