Friday, October 30, 2009

Nutt ...

It's amazing how stupid an intelligent man can be. Prof Nutt sounds a bit of a Richard Dorkins - a very clever chap who has trouble understanding people.

Earlier this week Prof Nutt used a lecture at King's College, London, to attack what he called the "artificial" separation of alcohol and tobacco from illegal drugs.

The professor said smoking cannabis created only a "relatively small risk" of psychotic illness, and claimed those who advocated moving ecstasy into Class B had "won the intellectual argument".

Public concern over the links between high-strength cannabis, known as skunk, and mental illness led the government to reclassify cannabis to Class C last year.

In the past, Prof Nutt has also claimed that taking ecstasy is no more dangerous than riding a horse.

Now it's perfectly true that if alcohol had just been synthesised in the lab for the first time, and tobacco and smoking had just been brought across the sea from some exotic empire (note that King James I (VI of Scotland), while disapproving, didn't criminalise tobacco use), it's likely they would be made illegal. On a strict damage-from-use basis, the Prof stands on unassailable high ground.

But that isn't where we find ourselves. Smoking has a 400-year history in these islands - the use and abuse of alcohol goes back to our prehistory. Dope as a mainstream drug goes back thirty or forty years (yes, I know about Queen Victoria, laudanum and all that), ecstasy 20 or so. There's a cultural reason why riding a horse is socially acceptable round my way and dropping an E isn't - people have been doing the former for a lot longer.


(There's a useful little paper on alcohol and history by Prof Virginia Berridge here. And wasn't James I full of good logic and observation ? 'oftentimes in the inward parts of men fouling and infecting them with an unctuous and oily kind of soot as hath been found in some great tobacco-takers that after their death were opened').

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked neither alcohol nor tobacco (nor horse-riding) exhibited a causal link to schizophrenia.

Anonymous said...

agreed 9:47, I know of a few people's (friends of the family) children who have gone nuts at a young age from taking that skunk shit.

These profs are typical liberal elite idiots, who think the mild bit of drug taking when they were young is representative of what goes on now.
He claims his opinion is based on science, but although I don't know his history I would be willing to bet a large sum that this guy has been arguing for drug liberalisation since he was a student.


Laban,
Whether or not you have an accident on a horse is somewhat down to your own control, taking drugs is like russian roulette. Thats the difference.

The the moral point ofcourse is that taking drugs breaks a taboo in that it is a deliberate attempt to chemically alter the brain, which alters your charactor and behaviour in sometimes unpredictable ways.

Alcohol is not dangerous at all unless it is abused.
My Grandparents used to drink plently, never enough at one time to get drunk though.
(yes I only knew them when they were old, but they were too straight-laced to intentionally get drunk anyway)

Andrew K said...

As a student in the mid 1970s, and a reasonably regular user, I have seen cannabis mess people up in very short order twice.

I have also seen a brother die of ling cancer in his mid thirties; for tobaco, that would have been the fifties onwards.

It is the drug that I most dread either of my university age sons touching.

Deogolwulf said...

On the matter of intelligent-stupid, have you not read Bruce Charlton's article on “clever sillies”?

moriarty said...

And wasn't James I full of good logic and observation ?

He was a bit of a precursor to prof Nutt really, James was dubbed 'the wisest fool in Christendom' IIRC.

Anonymous said...

One assumes that Prof. Nutt is a real expert, presumably because he has contributed hugely to the literature on drug dependency. And yet, any one who works with society's drop out drug addicts has seen endless numbers of destroyed men and women without a shred of dignity remaining, totally addicted to hashish. How is it possible for Nutt to have overlooked this? Is it because he lives in a liberal elite exclusive environment?
I am increasingly aware of the huge constituency of regular smokers exerting pressure for legalisation, elderly ladies with arthritis, to intellectually destroyed youths in their hundreds of thousands who preach to the liberal elite as to how enlightened it would be to legalise pot. It remains a major threat to the social fabric of the country, and it accords well as a little helper to the aims of Antonio Gramsci.
This government has been a disaster which our country does not deserve. Nevertheless this is perhaps the only decision they have made in the country's interest, even though one can safely bet that most or all of this dreadful cabinet were pot smokers.

Trofim said...

I posted this on Harry's Place:

"Before I retired, one of the last cases I was ever asked to assess in the local A & E as a member of an out-of-hours emergency psychiatric was a young bloke who smoked cannabis for the first time ever. He was convinced that his heart had slipped down his body into his thigh. He was in a state of terror. The only thing that alleviated it was a dose of Olanzapine. He needed continuous anti-psychotic medication thereafter, then I lost track of him. I’ve seen a few people as severely affected as that and shedloads affected in lesser degrees. It may be only a tiny proportion nationally, but it can ruin lives if you just happen to fall into that genetically-predisposed category".

A couple of years ago I and the other half went to an open-air do in Herefordshire with some folks I knew, not well enough, though. Once everyone had arrived they started handing round spliffs, which we declined - the only ones to do so. We did feel a bit like lepers, and left as graciously as we could.

Mark said...

'Smoking has a 400-year history in these islands - the use and abuse of alcohol goes back to our prehistory.'
Spot on Laban; if scientists wish to be taken seriously as 'government advisers', they should be capable of historical contextualising as well as hard science.
'Alcohol' is always imbibed in solution. The peoples of Europe and the Near East have gained experience, over several millenia, in the production of alcoholic beverages that are easy on the palate (to say the least). Beer and wine are also integral to the gastronomic traditions of our continent.
Prof Nutt's thesis is actually a useful argument for those of our antipodean cousins who argue that 'grog' should only be sold to aboriginals under strictly controlled conditions. He should therefore be delighted if he's cited by right wing Aussies as giving credence to such a discriminatory policy, shoudn't he ?

Molly said...

Alcohol is an evil, dangerous, anti-social drug that urgently needs banning -- and your reasoning here is as confused as that of the potheads! (don't blog and drink in future?)

You just want the freedom to take drugs and mangle your mind because you cannot handle life as is, and you don't care about the tens of thousands people who suffer from the dangerous freedom of being able to buy alcohol, who are not able to make good judgments, just like your good self -- how can any sane person not demand total prohibition?

We know that cannabis is a highly addictive poison that kills many people and causes massive mental illness (as the commenters here demonstrate, everyone knows at least one victim, so it is ubiquitous!) and alcohol is scientifically proven to be far worse than cannabis and the statistics also bear this out.

The jails and hospitals are full of binge drinkers and alcoholics already, and alcohol is a huge factor in crime and NHS usage.

Clearly, Dr. Nutt has demonstrated with science that alcohol must be banned totally in the UK -- why are you trying to say 'it's traditional, so we can ignore any new evidence'? Of course we can't!

Alcohol has always been bad, but after the very successful ban on tobacco which is bankrupting the pubs (as it should), we soon will be in a position to properly implement prohibition and make alcohol socially unacceptable, just like cannabis, tobacco, and heroin and all the other filthy poisons.

So Laban, stop drinking and start thinking!

JuliaM said...

"You just want the freedom to take drugs and mangle your mind because you cannot handle life as is, and you don't care about the tens of thousands people who suffer from the dangerous freedom of being able to buy alcohol, who are not able to make good judgments, just like your good self -- how can any sane person not demand total prohibition?"

Because it doesn't work?

And because some freedoms are 'dangerous' doesn't mean they aren't worth having. In fact, quite the opposite.

I don't want to live in your world, Molly, where we are all governed as if we were naughty children, to all be kept behind after the bell goes because one member wrote 'Miss suck!' on the wall...

JuliaM said...

"The jails and hospitals are full of binge drinkers and alcoholics already, and alcohol is a huge factor in crime and NHS usage."

Have you looked at the tax take from alcohol, Molly? Because I think you'll find that it far exceeds the expenditure.

Still, not to worry. The State will find that lost revenue from somewhere else, won't it?

Molly said...

That is the same argument that pot heads use JuliaM.

They think we can tax poisons and that makes it ok.

It doesn't.

Scientific evidence is that alcohol and cigarettes is worse than cannabis, and so, it is logical to prohibit those drugs.

And prohibition does work, as you can see, deaths due to heroin are only 932, but the legal drugs alcohol and nicotine kill many many more than that.

Prohibition works and we should not sell out human beings who are not clever enough to decide for themselves and end up taking drugs.

Otherwise, why not tax heroin, cocaine and exctasy? That would be a huge money spinner and easily pay for the damage it does, just like alcohol and nicotine.

Your position is a cynical one, typical of immoral druggies!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Molly. Fact is that not only should Cannabis be banned because of its ill effects, but given the public will it would be wise to ban tobacco and alcohol for exactly the same reasons. So the nutty prof is wrong - it isn't cannabis that should be made legal, it is tobacco and alcohol that should be moving towards prohibition. Of course, we know from experience that banning alcohol outright is difficult (but certainly NOT impossible since many US states do indeed ban it).

My concern with alcohol is not just the road deaths, liver disease and domestic violence that affects a small proportion of users, but the impact on all users of alcohol. The problem with alcohol is that it is used by teenagers to get over social awkwardness when meeting strangers or the opposite sex. Continula use of alcohol for this purpose is firstly ineffectual and secondly prevents the individual from developing helathy coping mechanisms for dealingwith challenging social situations. Therefore I see that the majority of adult Brits also have a tendency to drink themselves stupid whenever put in a social situation where they are expected to be friendly with strangers. This fact continues to contribute to the misuse of alcohol, the social awkwardness of Brits, failed relationships (due to relationships having started in alcohol fuelled situations), and a lack of social cohesion.

The fact that some people here are willing to support the continued use of alcohol for what amounts to purposes of self-medication for deep-seated emotional problems says a lot about them but rather less about the rights and worngs of alcohol misuse.

Sam Tarran said...

I think some of the commentors here have misunderstood the post.

Molly, I understand your reasoning entirely. I understand that it's logical according to the stats at hand. But life isn't logical, human beings aren't logical. Duties on alcohol and tobacco keeps going up, the government adverts keep coming, everyone knows the risks ... but people keep drinking and people keep smoking. Alcohol's been a part of our culture for millenia, and tobacco has integrated itself pretty well too. Demand appears to be pretty price inelastic, and creepy government advert inelastic.

Fortunately, we're not there with cannabis yet. It can still be pushed out, along with the culture of apathy and idleness that goes with it.

And Anon@2:31pm, I don't think anyone has advocated alcohol as a cure for a bad divorce or "deep-seated emotional problems".

Molly said...

Cannabis culture is well entrenched in society and as anyone always knew that dangerous drug is nowhere near as dangerous as alcohol in the scheme of things.

And as long a alcohol is legal, children will never believe that drugs are all bad -- ask any parent, and they will tell you that this argumentation is used by kids to decide that official drug education is a lie.

The only way forward is to ban all drugs and thus get the idea out of people's heads that getting high/drunk/stoned/ etc is socially unacceptable.

People in general are not intelligent enough to make their own decisions in many things, personal liberties must be severely curtailed in many spheres as to save people from themselves.

JuliaM said...

"Your position is a cynical one, typical of immoral druggies!"

Crap! Molly's onto me. I knew I shouldn't have had that asprin this morning...

"Therefore I see that the majority of adult Brits also have a tendency to drink themselves stupid whenever put in a social situation where they are expected to be friendly with strangers."

The majority? Are you sure about that? You don't think you might be exaggerating a teensy bit there?

JuliaM said...

"People in general are not intelligent enough to make their own decisions in many things, personal liberties must be severely curtailed in many spheres as to save people from themselves."

I find your ideas intriguing, Molly, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter...

Anonymous said...

"The majority? Are you sure about that? You don't think you might be exaggerating a teensy bit there?"

Yep, the majority. If you don't believe me, do a little experiment that I did myself. Give up alcohol for a year and try alternatives like apple juice, schloer, cranberry juice and cola. Then see what happens to the people around you when you tell them you don't want a drink. You will be shocked.

I did this for two years really just as an experiment to see the impact on my mental and physical wellbeing, but then when I realised just how addicted my friends and family were to the "social" benefits of alcohol I never went back to it. I don't regret it. Life all round has been better since I gave it up and I am noticeably a better person. In fact more than that, since I no longer use alcohol as a kind of sticking plaster over whatever other issues might be going on in my life, I actually get up and do something about those issues directly so they don't fester.

If you want to understand why nobody in Britain will stand up to this lame duck government and its destructive policies then you need look no further than the local pub where people will do nothing but complain about Gordon Brown but then wash the bitter taste of the Labour government away with another cheap beer.

JuliaM said...

"Then see what happens to the people around you when you tell them you don't want a drink. You will be shocked. "

I often tell people I don't want a drink.

Because I drive. Or will be driving the next morning.

Oddly enough, no-one's ever fainted in horror at my feet...

"If you want to understand why nobody in Britain will stand up to this lame duck government and its destructive policies then you need look no further than the local pub where people will do nothing but complain about Gordon Brown but then wash the bitter taste of the Labour government away with another cheap beer."

I don't think it's the drink that's causing that. I really don't...

Laban said...

"A couple of years ago I and the other half went to an open-air do in Herefordshire"

Wasn't anywhere near Canon Frome, was it ?