Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Moment of Self Indulgence...Please Forgive Me ;)

I'm in the process of writing a new short story (entitled 'Memories Along a Fault Line') and I am re-reading what I have thus far before I continue on with the tale. Anyways, as I was just reading it, I was impressed with a particular passage, so much so that I thought I would indulge in uncharacteristic showmanship and post it here, becase, damn it, I may not be great but I have moments of well, something approaching greatness (or perhaps I am deluded) and this passage exemplifies this:

Pulled away from her thoughts, and brought back to the reality of the moment, his voice suddenly swelled and filled her realm of comprehension like sound returning to the world when resurfacing after an underwater dive. Momentary confusion cannibalized by sudden clarity and a return to normal comprehension.

I like that passage, especially the phrase "momentary confusion cannibalized by sudden clarity."

I'm going to forsake my usual (not phony, either) modesty and allow myself some hubris: FUCK that's a good phrase!

Mometary confusion cannibalized by sudden clarity.

Damn, that's good shit.

...I think :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Answers Lie Just Out of Reach (post 2 for the Day!)

The answers lie just out of reach....

He turned to her, and in a rare moment of immodesty and uninhibited vulnerability, he laid his weary head on her bare shoulder, and, taking in the smell of her perfume (he couldn't place the scent, but he knew it was cheap, and this only served to widen his despair) he spoke.

''The truth lies just across the pond, and the water is shallow; however, I have not the energy to wade that chasm, for its depth is deceptive. The answers will take that pond and render it an ocean, one I have not the means, nor the will, to cross. And so, at the risk of remaining ignorant, I must stay on land, and watch as both my feet and my resolve dry up and whither away to a fine dust, which, with the first cool breeze, will be picked up and strewn across that very pond, in the ultimate act of irony. For you see, there is irony in death, and the ironic thig is, I welcome that loathsome state, for with its barreness and melancholoy, it brings the thing I crave least, and most: rest. Rest for the weary head I know rest upon your overburndened and sun kissed shoulder.

I love you, Melinda, but I also despise you, and you me.

Come with me, if you will.''
And, rasing his weary head, he held out his hand. Without waiting to see if she would grasp it, he waded out into the body of water, and, as she watched, sheltering her eyes from the sun which glistened brightly, almost obscenely, off of its serene surface, the body of water opened up and swalloed him whole. The cavernous maw of irony had taken him, and she knew that it was for the best. Sighing, she waded in after him.

Don't ask. This was just a random, impromptu thing I typed up in the middle of a conversation about finding answers and wading in the dark, stumbling around blind until your way is illuminated by knowledge, and how sometimes the journey is so difficult we don't embark upon it.....or we do, but we do it reluctantly, and sometimes wish we didn't have this passion residing within us. How easy it would be! To just forsake the truth for whatever explanation pampered us.

How easy, indeed.

Oh, speaking of easy.....

Draw Muhammad Day: A Post Hoc Analysis

Note: This is an older post that I had sitting around in draft form. Excuse the slightly belated timing.

Here's a barely literate post from a jackass I unfortunately have to deal with on occasion on an internet forum speaking about Draw Muhammad Day:

I am all for freedom of speech, whether it will insult billions of people or not, since i can tolerate it. i, along with billions others are not stupid enough to start threatening people over it or send death threats over it or even kill a few of it. because we Muslims werent TAUGHT to react like that. but the moment some of you start taking the piss out of us INNOCENT people just because of a bunch of minority dumbasses, then its clearly obvious, that whatever shit your doing, was simply not gonna work. coz like i have been saying all along: you can express freedom of speech, but insulting people is not the RIGHT and FAIR way to do it.

Now, this is the type of sentiment I have seen expressed quite a bit since all of this has come to light. People who claim to be all for free speech (before adding conditions to it; cleary they don't actually grasp the concept of 'free,' but I digress) stating that Draw Muhhamad Day is not an exercise in free speech but rather a day meant to do nothing but insult and enrage.

These people have missed the point entirely.

Granted, I do concede that for many, Draw Muhhamad Day, or DMD, as I will refer to it going forward, was an excuse to insult and enrage. But for the rest, DMD represented exactly what it was purported to: a day dedicated to free speech and the exercise thereof. Well, that, and more. Much more.

See, the people making these sort of claims with respect to DMD don't seem to grasp the other point of the day at all. The day was dedicated to the exercise of free speech, yes, but also, and perhaps just as (even more?) importantly, it was dedicated to consciousness raising, to borrow from Dawkins. The message needed to be sent and reinforced: Non Islamic people do NOT live by Islamic law. We are not bound by it, we do not recognize it, and we are not duty bound to heap upon it any reverence or respect. In fact, we're free to admonish it and heap disdain and insults upon it and its followers if we so desire. The point is, no matter how far one does (or does not) take it, the message was that YOU say drawing this man is verboten. Okay, fine. That applies to you, but you do NOT get to dictate to the rest of the world what we can and cannot do.

They do not consider themselves bound by Christian or Hindu laws, correct? What makes them think an atheist or  a Christian would be bound by the laws of their religion? The point was to drive home this very, well, point (awkward phrasing FTL). Basically, DMD was supposed to:

  1. Drive home the idea that we are not bound by Islamic law. 
  2. Demonstrate how silly it is to be mortally offended by a drawing. It's completely silly.
  3. Exercise our free speech and show those who would like to take it away that we will not allow them to do so. 
  4. Show people that free speech means free speech. Free speech is only free if it is not restricted, and so, if you must reign in or attenuate your speech in any way, then it's not free. Sure, self censorship is fine, and perhaps even ideal at times, but note the preface: Self. Being FORCED to censor oneself violates the very idea of free speech.
  5. To show all religious practitioners that the days of religion getting a free pass are numbered. Any and all ideas should be up for scrutiny, and any and all religious commands are apt to be disregarded, especially by those who aren't in the religion to begin with.  
I'm not advocating that anyone go out of their way to insult a large group of people. At the same time though, sometimes the end justifies the means, and if we must offend a group of people en route to making an important point, then so be it. And, frankly (here comes the insulting part) if a bunch of adults are going to get offended at a stick figure drawing with a man's name above it, they seriously, seriously need to step back and re-evaluate things. They're nothing but irrational, emotive, reactionary morons at that point, especially if they think a death threat is warranted.

And to think the whole ban on drawings came out of the concept of idolatry (yes, just like xianity). How the hell does anyone think idolatry is relevant to someone who disbelieves in god in the first place?

Talk about irrational belief......

Monday, June 14, 2010

Christianity in a Nutshell (Brand NEW, not a copy)

Once upon a time, there was this eternal being named Yahweh (who was also referred to as simply God). This god character existed in an absolute vacuum with respect to time and space; ie, he existed within nothingness. This eternal being who existed in nothingness and would eventually be referred to as the very thing which he was (god) was lonely and decided to create some creatures to keep him company. With his infinite power and imagination, he created finite, fragile, bipedal creatures known as human beings. Of course, before he did this, he had to create a plane of existence in which we could live, and so, god created the universe. In six days.

That's right, god created an inconceivably gigantic universe just for us human beings in six days, although these days were, at least according to some, actually each about a thousand or so years long, as opposed to the 24 hour long periods of time we have since encapsulated and called days. Length of the six days (or “days,” if you prefer) aside, god then planted a bunch of evidence to make it seem as though we are the products of 2 billion years or so of evolution, and the universe in which we exist is 14 billion years old. Why did he do this? I don't know.....*shakes head* but anyways, again, I find myself digressing.

After making this mischievously much-younger-than-the-evidence-seems-to-tell-us universe just for us, he created a paradise within it called the Garden of Eden, and in that garden he placed the very first of us. Two brand spanking new, completely innocent, completely naked humans (foreskin and all), frolicking in this amazing garden called Eden. These humans were named Adam and Eve (not Adam and Steve lololololol aren't we clever!!).

Of course, god, being omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipresent and omnipotent, decided to create a tree of knowledge, which he did not want them to eat from, and which, if they did eat from it, would cast them into eternal disrepute with their creator god who created both their curiosity and the tree on which they could exercise said curiosity. Following this stroke of genius, he then created a talking snake to tell them to eat from the tree. After Eve listened to the snake, and ate from the tree, god got pissed off at them and decided that they and all future generations should be punished for their sins.

After many incest fuelled generations had passed, god decided that things weren't working out, and so he did a do-over (took a mulligan, for you golfers). This do-over, or mulligan, took the form of killing everyone and everything on the Earth, with the exception of 2 of every “kind” of animal, a 600 year old man named Noah, and his family. God instructed Noah to build a gigantic wooden arc, which was designed to house all of the animals as well as Noah and his family, so that they could all survive the giant worldwide flood that god was about to unleash in order to kill everyone and everything (except for his chosen boat friends).

This worldwide flood mysteriously went unnoticed by the ancient civilizations that were well under way during that time, but to be fair, the flood was one of those “blink and you'll miss it” worldwide floods. In fact, the water disappeared afterwards, never to be seen again.

After a number of years of re-population through incest (always a biblical favourite), god selected a small group of Jewish people from Israel, known as Israelites, to be his special group. He then appeared to Moses, a burly Egyptian, in a burning bush, told him to remove his sandals (sense of propriety and what not) and then, once Moses had removed his sandals, he told Moses to travel back to Egypt in order to free god's chosen group of Jews from slavery.

Moses expressed doubt that the Israelites would believe that he was sent by god, and so god turned Moses’ stick into a snake and subjected his skin to leprosy, in order to show him how he would convince the people. God then told Moses that if the Israelites still did not believe him that Moses should give them an encore and take water from the river Nile (fantastic death metal band, btw), and pour it into the sand because it would turn to blood and that should convince them that Moses was legit.

With me so far?

Good, let's continue our tale.

Ocne Moses arrived in Egypt, he encountered Pharaoh and asked for the Israelites to be freed. God, playing double agent for the lulz, hardened Pharaoh’s heart, which resulted in his refusal to let Moses' people go. The fact that god got exactly what god wanted when he hardened Pharaoh's heart pissed god off, as god doesn't like getting exactly what he bargained for. God liked surprises goddamn it. And so, in the spirit of being an incredible asshole, god released a series of 10 plagues upon Egypt.

1)He turned all of the water in Egypt into blood, and killed all of the fish.

2)He unleashed an infestation of Frogs.

3)He sent Lice to crawl over every man, woman and beast that lived in the land.

4)God then sent a cloud of insects to attack the people.

5)He then made a severe pestilence strike the livestock of the Egyptians.

6)God made it so that the Egyptian people were suddenly covered in boils.

7)God dispatched thunder, hail and fire to strike the lands.

8)God then sent Locusts to cover the sky and fields.

9)In a move so terrifying that it made everything prior to it seem like a walk on the beach on a warm, sunny, slightly breezy midsummer afternoon, god worked his evil magic and......made it so that......(are you ready for this?).....darkness then fell for 3 days. Bastard!

10)After the terrifying act of casting darkness for 3 days, resulting in the most stubbed toes to ever to occur in one 3 day period at any time in history, antiquity or otherwise, god decided to be a bit more lenient and for the tenth and final act, went easy on the terrified and toe stubbed Egyptians, this time merely killing their first born children.

After the death of all the first born children, including Pharaoh's own son, Pharaoh is convinced and the Israelites are able to leave Egypt and told about the promised land, which was to be theirs, but only after they were tested and found their faith in god.

And so god had the Israelites wander around the desert for 40 years, until their generation died away.

They weren't able to reach the promised land, because somewhere along the way, they had lost faith in god and built a golden calf, which they had begun to worship. This pissed off Moses, who had gone away to Mount Sinai to have the Ten Commandments dictated to him by god, which he then inscribed onto some tablets, since they didn't have Dictaphones at that time and the first generation PC's were too damn expensive. They cost one bronze coin at that time. Do you know how many concubines Moses could have purchased for that kind of money? Besides, the PC's only had floppy disks for storage at that time, and they were still using 14.4 external modems, which were slow as Molasses.

Anyways, Moses was pissed off about the golden calf, so he threw down the Ten Commandments, shattering them, then got hold of the golden calf that the Israelites had been worshipping, burned it, put the golden ashes in the Israelites water, and made them drink it. Moses then returned to Mount Sinai to get a second copy of The Ten Commandments, and the Jews continued to wander through the desert towards the Promised Land. They ended up dying off without ever being able to step foot in the place.

Moses never got to step foot in there either, but, god, feeling jovial one day, did decide to let Moses cast his eyes at the place, and we can only assume it was love at first sight, but it was doomed forever to be unrequited love, as Moses was NOT allowed in. God then promised the Promised Land to Moses' offspring. The new generation then stormed the Promised Land, which, in line with god's infinite capacity for evil, was already occupied. Well, the slaughter, rape, and enslavement of scores of men, women and children at god's command took care of that little wrinkle, and then the land was theirs.

After this, things sort of stagnated for a while. As the years passed, god's people kept screwing up. Their favourite boo boo was to worship graven images, which god hated, and so for a time there was a cyclical sort of pattern: god's people would worship graven images, thereby fucking up, and then they would get fucked up, as god would visit plagues upon them. God would also have other people conquer and exile his people, and then, invariably, those people, who had become god's new people, would screw up, usually involving graven images, and god would visit upon them plagues, which would conquer and exile them, and other people, which would ravage them with disease.....or maybe it was the other way around, I dunno.

Either way, the cycle repeated, as cycles do. Occasionally, as god's people would fuck up and god would prepare to reign down upon them the wrath of a jealous, anthropomorphic god, a particularly wise prophet or priest would appear and convince god to spare the people. This convincing would take the form of a sacrifice, by these prophets or priests, to god, of an animal with absolutely no defects. Apparently, the slaughter of one of the best designed of god's own creations, to god, by one of his other creatures, made him happy enough to convince him not to kill anyone else for a while.

Of course, they weren't there to convince him not to send a couple of bears to maul 42 children (no, sorry, youths) for making fun of a bald prophet for being bald. But hey, according to god, if you make fun of someone for being hairless, you deserve to be brutally murdered by a creature who is full of hair. And who's going to dispute god? Especially such a loving, merciful one?

Still with me?

Great, because it gets even better. (Believe it or not)

After many generations, god realized that this whole situation really was not ideal, and so, in an effort to save the people from their fate (the very fate he had created the conditions for) god, in his infinite brilliance, flashed on a fantastic idea: he would magically impregnate a virgin who would then give birth to a son Jesus, who was really god, and this son who was really god would be born, have three kings bring him shit, only to have him disappear for a while and reappear at the age of 30, whereupon he would be baptized, preach for a while, perform some miracles, get tortured and killed, resurrect 3 days later and ascend into heaven, thereby giving gods' creations a second chance at the salvation they had thus far been missing.

God then had all of this written down in what became the world's bestselling book of fictio-er.....well, bestselling book.

Now, according to this book, which some people jokingly refer to as “The Bible” (lol), whomever believes that this happened, thinks gays are evil, and is truly sorry for any wrongdoings they may have enacted during their short time on this earth is granted entrance to the eternal amusement park and avoids eternal torture. Even if they kill a bunch of people.....as long as they are very sorry and repent, they are granted an all access pass to eternal bliss at Six Flags Heaven (or, Six Flags: Heeven, as the New Zealanders call it).

Contrary to this, anyone who believes that this, just like all of the other similar stories, is a myth, and/or does NOT think gays are evil, and is truly sorry for any wrongdoings they may have enacted during their short time on this earth is tortured forever in hell, a place replete with things like hot oil being poured down your throat and having hot pokers jabbed into your eyes while your lower body is submerged in liquid hot magma.

According to some interpretations of this omniscient god's notoriously contentious and difficult to grasp book (a book which many people study their whole lives to try to fully understand), after some undisclosed amount of time, god/Jesus will (presumably without this time needing to metaphysically rape a virgin) return to the earth, and bring with him a time of terror and tribulation, followed by a time of peace, some instances of the dead coming back to life, and then the end of the world.......or something like that.

All of the believers who have met the conditions for entry to heaven, save for one (being dead ) will be ascended into heaven (or heeven) while the atheists, believers in the incorrect gods, believers who have NOT met all of the entry requirements, and Christopher Walkin, will be left behind. Satan is in there somewhere, running the show for a while (finally, the poor guy has been biding his time for thousands of years now, resigned to mundane shit like making people cheat on Algebra tests and telling their significant others that “no, those pants don't make you look fat); at least until God/Jesus returns and finally kicks his ass.........or something like that. This part is a bit confusing.

Some people say that this was intended to happen within a generation of the torture killing of god/Jesus, since there were a few lines in his book that well, literally said as much, but, since this book was merely inspired by, as opposed to being directly written by, this omniscient god, some things were said to have been lost in translation (anyone else just suddenly think of Bill Murray?).

Anyways, that's basically the story of christianity. Believe that the world was created by a lonely magical being 6-10 thousand years ago (so, you know, after we built the first houses, created languages, domesticated the dog and other animals, designed jewelry, etc) and that this being, after murdering nearly everything on earth in a scientifically impossible worldwide flood (see THIS blog for details on the impossibility of that particular little tale) metaphysically impregnated a human virgin who then gave birth to a baby boy named Jesus, who was the human manifestation of the god who impregnated her (don't ask) and who, after sacrificing himself to himself in order to allow himself to forgive us for living up to our design, mandated that we believe this happened lest it be for naught and we still end up in the hell that he created, but really, really, really doesn't want us to end up in....you know, because he's infinitely merciful.


Psychology: Science? Unscientific? Bullshit? Pt. 1

I've heard it many times before, as I am sure many of us have:

 "Psychology is not a science." I have even heard that "psychology is bullshit."

While the second sentiment is not uncommon (over 700,000 hits on google), the first, "psychology is not a science," is VERY common (over 50 MILLION hits on ze goog). In fact, I just ran into one such comment and engaged in a small conversation regarding it.

An online friend of mine, who is a molecular biology (or was it microbiology?....I can't recall, but something to that effect) major recently made a comment to this end on a blog of mine, in which I had interviewed someone who is going to be majoring in pyschology (which was the discipline in which I attained my BA as well). Here is his comment:

I think a psychology major is so lame.
His response to me after I asked him for an elaboration was as follows:

Well from all of my friend's experiences they say they absolutely got nothing out of psychology so similar to what Lenano is planning on doing they all ended up changing their majors. I just don't like it as a science; at least not compared to sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

Sure psychology incorporates some aspects of biology and chemistry, but for the most part unlike those sciences, it doesn't provide conclusive theories. Since psychology uses a lot of deductive reasoning most psychological theories are in actuality hypotheses. I do however commend psychology for elaborating on stuff like social sciences and stuff, but for the most part I think other sciences could figure that stuff out and I consider psychology to be basically philosophy involving biology and chemistry. I may be stupid for saying that but that's just how I feel towards psychology.
I responded to him with the following:

One problem with this is that many psychological theories are testable, repeatable, and falsifiable. They also, just like theories in other disciplines, are based upon evidence. They are the explanations for the facts, and therefore, they ARE theories as opposed to just hypotheses. I see what you are saying about the nature of deductive reasoning, don't get me wrong, but psychology has changed much in the last 50 or so years.

Biology might point out that x follows from Y, but the manifestation of X will have to be pyschology. So if you think that form and function are good, but the interactions between and processes behind those functions are ''lame,'' well, I'd say you're looking at an incomplete picture. Without psychology, you'd have neurology but no neuropsychology. Without psychology, you'd have evolutionary biology but no evolutionary psychology.

Psyc is sort of like the why to the how. And the why toay is functionally much different than the why's of people like Freud and Jung. Of course, there are still those fanciful pychoanalytical theories (or hell, hypotheses) out there, as you drive at, and I agree. Even back when I was a fresh undergrad, I had issues with that stuff.

And psychology is the reason I am in the career I am in today.
What do you think? Is psychology a science?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Brilliantly Stupid And/Or Ironic Forum Quotes Pt. 1

It's sequel time, baby! This is a sequel to This Blog which was entitled Brilliantly Stupid And/Or Ironic Youtube Quotes.  So, let's gear up, and take on some more Brilliantly Stupid And/Or Ironic Youtube Quotes sent my way by people trying to insult/own/'pwn'/denigrate/disparage or otherwise hurt me for whatever reason. *Whew!!* Try saying that 5 times fast.

God probably got rid of the fossils of those evil giants & the rest of the people that didn't listen to Noah's warning.

But nothing is impossible to God, he can do anything he wants with all his power & wisdom even on specific situations.

Everything needs a start & process in order to appear & continue operating (with the exception of Jehovah cause he always existed and is the Almighty

It wasn't magic it was power. God doesn't use magic.

things that exist in the whole universe. That's all the evidence we need as Christians.

But when was the last time that you read about mankind's extinction caused by volcanoes?

God shrunk all the animals

In response to "So every single human being on the planet sinned enough to deserve eradication? Even infants, small children who haven't done anything whatsoever? Wow, that's one benevolent god!":

Yes. The small children were too busy being sacrificed, raped, or traumatized to do much sinning, though. They would have grown up to be horrible.

(man, the lengths these guys will go. The cognitive dissonance must give them migraines at times)

And now, amidst all of this rampant idiocy and hilarity, I close this particular edition (oh ya, more are coming. PLENTY more, actually. I have so much material just from the same topic.....yes, all of these in this edition were from 1 single forum thread) with this absolute doozy. Is it the worst of the worst? You decide. Like Faux News says, We report, YOU decide. Although, I must draw a line of differentiation between myself and Faux News, as the following statement is not misquoted or misrepresented in any way. Here goes nothing:

Someone made this statement (still talking about the Noah's Ark story): You are also aware, that 2 animals are not enough to start a race, right? It would led to horrific genetic deformities over the generations- no one species can start from just 2 animals. And the response from some moron:

How do you know that those species needed either salty or fresh water?

Since "evolution is a fact", if the salinity of water back then was less than it is now, the fish in the water back then were able to survive in it, otherwise we wouldn't have any fish today.

There's a reason the story is called NOAH'S ark. It's because it's about Noah and his ark. It's not even about plants or aquatic creatures. If God took care of 8 people and some animals, what makes you think he didn't take care of the aquatic life and plants?

Well, I'm sure God found a way to do it. Nothing is impossible for him.

Water produces oxygen & hydrogen. Enough to breath and help them to survive as well.

That's where faith comes into play. It does stand to reason that the deformities wouldn't have been all that bad, considering the planet was only...two thousand years old or something.

WOW. Just fucking WOW.

Oh, and here's a pic to sum up this awesome forum topic (which is going to provide comedy gold for a few more blogs, amazongly):

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Arguments Against The Legalization of Drugs (Updated With Videos)

There are a few main arguments employed by individuals who are against the legalization (or for the continued ban) of recreational drugs (most popularly, marijuana) that I would like to address. The arguments I am going to tackle are as follows:

  • Drugs are bad, m'kay.
  • There is potential for negative societal effects, in terms of the economy and health care.
  • If we legalize them, kids will use them!
  • Drugs=crime

 I will tackle these one at a time.

Drugs are bad, m'kay.

This claim is a vague, and generalized umbrella claim that basically blankets an entire group of substances under one moniker without actually qualifying and quantifying the claim. Qualifying in the sense that you must take such a blanket statement and break it down. For one thing, you must specify the drug, as surely not all drugs are equally, right? Then, you have the task of explaining just what you mean by 'bad' in the first place. In the interest of being fair, and avoiding being facetious, I will say that we basically understand that the claim is that recreational drug use has health consequences for the user. And I accept that. You'd be silly not to. But there are several problems with this, when it's used as an argument for continued bans on these substances.

  • Not all drugs are equal in terms of potential negative health consequences. The claims MUST be separated and applied to the specific drugs. You cannot advance this argument as a blanket statement. It's not fair and it's certainly not accurate to do so, and we want our laws put into effect based on accurate information rather than propaganda, don't we?

  • The study of these drugs is limited, mostly due to the fact that they are illegal. I am not saying we have no empirical analysis of the health effects of specific drugs available to us; we do. But we certainly have an incomplete, and quite often biased, picture of the potential effects. This can also be applied to the positive effects. One thing that many anti-drug (in terms of legality) advocates fail to mention, or realize, is that some of these drugs have health benefits. And the extent of these is also not fully known, due to the impediments encountered when trying to study these substances.

  • Have we ever considered the fact that we could always try to re-engineer (is that the proper term?) these drugs to change their profile and decrease their harmful effects? Just because drug X can bring consequence Y doesn't mean that, given the chance to do so, the intelligent and industrious chemists and other experts could not work to improve the drug so that drug X no longer has the potential (or certainty) to saddle one with consequence Y.

  •  A lot of the claims of ill effects are skewed. Much of them are based upon anecdotal evidence, subjective assessments, poor usage of statistics, etc. Take for example, the following statistic:
    On the subject of Marijuana the DEA has said that marijuana is far more powerful than it used to be. In 2000, there were six times as many emergency room mentions of marijuana use as there were in 1990.
    So they are purporting that, based on this, marijuana is more powerful than it used to be, and consequently, is causing more emergency room visits. Problem is, that's NOT what that statistic says, at all. That's an erroneous and disingenuous conclusion. If not, at the very least, it's fair to say that they are drawing a causal link where there is not one, at least not one made clear by the data provided. See, the statistic was that “in 2000, there were six times as many emergency room mentions of marijuana use as there were in 1990.” Mentions. It does NOT say that there were 6 times as many marijuana related emergency room visits. All they are saying that 6 times the amount of people disclosed that they had used/use marijuana.

  • There are many possible explanations for this. It's quite possible that people are more willing to disclose their usage than they used to be. Changing political and social climates, and all that. Or maybe it's just a statistical anomaly. Notice that they did NOT say something to the effect of “Hospital visits due to marijuana use have been steadily increasing, year after year, since 1990. So for all we know, the number was at 1990 levels in 1999 or 2001. Or this year. And believe me, this is probably accurate, because if it was a major trend as opposed to an anomaly, they'd have mentioned that. However, even if I am wrong, and someone can provide data that shows this increase is noticed year after year, they are still only saying that disclosures are up. In plain English, how many people are admitted to hospital solely for marijuana usage, and not for any number of comorbidities or extraneous factors? Where's that statistic?

  • Let's ignore all of the above. I mean, clearly there ARE real negative effects associated with recreational drugs. You'd be an idiot to claim otherwise. Even the relatively benign marijuana has negative health effects associated with its use. So fine, the various drugs have differing health consequences associated with their use, either in the short or long term. Okay, but is the issue that these people want to legislate out things that are unhealthy? If so, um......we have amazing hypocrisy at work here. If ANYONE is going to look me in the face and tell me that recreational drugs should be illegal because they're bad for you, but doesn't levy that exact same charge against other harmful things, like, oh I don't know.......alcohol and fast food, for two examples, then that person is clearly not holding a logically tenable position. If the route to prohibition is drugs=negative health effects=ban because we don't want negative health effects, then this person must also be pushing for these other things to be made illegal. If they aren't, then clearly there's something else at play here.

  • “Drugs are bad.” So what? Why must an adult be told what he can and cannot put in his or her own body? Is that up to the government? Should it not be up to the individual to decide for themselves? It's amazing to me that for a country that prides itself on “freedom,” America sure as hell likes to ban things that consenting adults want to engage/partake in (gay marriage anyone?). I don't, at all, see how you can square the idea of freedom with the word banning. Of course, I recognize that freedom must have limits. Clearly you want to ban murder. But that's where you get into impinging on the rights of others. If Gary wants to smoke a joint, eat some KFC and watch a movie in his basement, he's not interfering with, or harming, anybody else. Who the fuck gets to take it upon themselves to tell Gary he cannot do this in his own home?

Of course, this is where the other arguments come into play. Advocates of prohibition will make the argument that Gary IS (or at least could end up) harming others.

Potential negative societal effects.

My understanding of this one is that the basic idea basically says that the health effects and dependency seen with some drug users adds extra strain to a nation's healthcare system (and also on the economy, but we'll focus on health). I wouldn't necessarily argue against this. I don't know to what extent this is true, but I am sure it is. But, as with the last argument, I see a few problems here:

  • People already do drugs. The only way this argument would work is if legalization itself would lead to more drug use. That one I am not so sure of, but what could conceivably happen is that more people would come forward seeking help, as the illegality is no longer an issue. This strikes me as a positive thing though. More help for more people who need it. However, I don't want to get sidetracked. This argument only makes sense if the person making it is presupposing that legalization would lead to increasing rates of use. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I am just pointing out the fact that his claim actually makes a secondary, implicit claim, that's necessary for it to even work.

  • Again, consistency, the lack of which makes me wonder if the arguments put forth are really the extent of the reasons why people push for these substances to be illegal. If the issue is strain on the tax payer (essentially what it boils down to), or, to put it another way, the consumption of resources, then again, things like fast food and alcohol should be illegal as well. The number of people who have health conditions associated with poor diets, lack of exercise, and alcohol consumption is astronomical. The morbidity associated with these things is a humongous burden. In fact, more people now die of obesity than starvation worldwide. If you ask me, shitty food is the worst drug problem facing us today.

If we legalize them, kids will use them!

Gotta love those slippery slope arguments! “Cause you know, it's not like we can't set age restrictions. And also, it's not like they don't, you know, use them now. And already drink. If they want to do it, they will. If there is demand, there will be supply. If you build it, the- er, uh.....nevermind.


Drugs cause crime. This argument interests me, because I think it's quite the opposite. Prohibition equals crime. Look at the situation in the United States with alcohol prohibition. We all know how that fared, don't we? And what was the trend when it came to crime? Did crime decrease with prohibition and increase with the passing of the legalization laws? Or was it the inverse? Hint: Option 2. You keep drugs illegal when there is demand for them, and you will have the situation you had then, and have now: gangs controlling and selling the substances, and a whole litany of crimes associated with this black market.

And so you have crime that's directly resultant from the laws (make it legal, there won't be much of a need for a black market) and a so called “War on Drugs” that has been waged for decades now with absolutely no end in sight, and billions of dollars spent along with thousands of lives lost and lives shattered. People being prosecuted and sitting in jail for possessing a drug for personal use, people arrested for growing their own plants for personal consumption, and people arrested for being high, when all the while we have people out every single night of every single week, consuming alcohol, getting into fights, ruining relationships, driving, causing accidents, and putting themselves and others in the hospital.....or even into a casket.

So then, why do some claim that drugs cause crime? Well, the idea is that people commit crimes to support their addictions, or they get high and commit violent crime (or even more benign crimes like vandalism). And, as I said above, when it came to the societal effects argument, I wouldn't necessarily argue this. However, yet again, people already do drugs. This argument only makes sense if the person making it is presupposing that legalization would lead to increasing rates of use.


It seems to me that the arguments for keeping drugs legal either ignore the fact that people are doing them anyways, can be applied to many things that are legal (alcohol, fast food, driving, skydiving, gambling, etc) are (at least partly) based on faulty or flawed information, misuse of statistics, both by accident, and, more insidiously, for the purpose of propaganda, which implies that there is clearly an ulterior motive here. I just don't know what that motive may be.

People give drugs such a bad rap, but so much of the information out there is skewed, exaggerated, or outright lies. Yes, there are definite negatives to recreational drug use. But there are downsides to recreational alcohol use, consumption of deep fried chocolate bars covered in icing sugar, bungee jumping, and driving. Seriously, how many people actually sit back and consider just how dangerous driving actually is? Yet they have no qualms about strapping their four year old into the backseat of a car. They have no qualms about putting their teenager in control of one of these machines. They have no qualms about letting their teenage play football, a sport which consists of constant and hard physical contact, which can and does result in serious injuries to those involved. But if that teenager was to smoke a joint or pop a pill.....OH BOY, FREAK OUT TIME!!

And please, someone, explain to me how this makes sense: It's perfectly okay for someone to pop a percocet for pain relief, but not okay for them to ingest some marijuana for pain relief. The percs will get them high. The percs will relieve the pain. The weed will get them high. The weed will relieve pain. The percs are highly addictive. The weed is not. The percs can harm them over the long term. The weed can harm them over the long term. So, let's see, two substances that basically do the same thing. One is prescribed by a doctor and sold by a drug company. The other could be prescribed by a doctor and grown by the patient themselves, at home, for much cheaper than they would get access to the percocet.


All I am asking for here is a little consistency, a little more truth, and a lot less hysteria.