Because People Still Think LSD Gives Yah the Shits…

August 3, 2007

In 1993 Ann Landers ran a letter from a reader who had recently seen an article “about how LSD is making a big comeback among the youth of America.” (In retrospect, this “big comeback” looks more like a modest upward trend that peaked after a few years.) “I was a teenager in the 1960s,” Lander’s correspondent wrote, “and although I was never involved in the drug scene, I remember hearing a lot of horror stories about young people jumping in front of trains, off roofs, and out of windows while under the influence of LSD. I am very concerned for this new generation of LSD users.” The reader urged Landers to publish accounts by former acid users of “how this drug ruined their youth and possibly their adult years as well,” along with letters from people who had “lost loved ones because of LSD.” Landers agreed there was cause for alarm.” The prospect of this dangerous drug making a comeback is bone-chilling,” she replied. “This mind-altering drug has been responsible for many deaths.”

The exchange nicely illustrated how the conventional wisdom about LSD (and other illegal drugs) is propagated: People who don’t now what they’re talking about pass on hearsay and misinformation, blithely reinforcing each other’s ignorance. With no foundation other than the “horror stories” to which her correspondent alluded, Landers felt free to assert that LSD had caused “many deaths.” Her anxiety about irrational, life-threatening behavior triggered by “a mind-altering drug” reflects the perennial concern that certain potions have the power to drive people mad. According to voodoo pharmacology, drugs sever the user’s connection to reality, transforming him into a raving lunatic.

– From Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use by Jacob Sullum

By far my favorite part of that quote: People who don’t now what they’re talking about pass on hearsay and misinformation, blithely reinforcing each other’s ignorance.

‘But, but, but, the gover’ment told me so!’ Yeah, they also told you Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. See how far that got us? Oh… Wait…

And as a random side note, Karry Mullis, the chemist who invented PCR [though his work on that is up for grabs according to Wikipedia] uses LSD.

It was at Berkeley that he learned to make LSD, and though he wouldn’t talk with me about it, a clear theme across the anecdotes in his book is that he likes it still. To him it is indeed a mind-expanding substance.

Okay, this guy has a NOBEL PRIZE. If you still think that you can’t use drugs and still be brilliant beyond most mere mortals, I hope this anecdote dissuades a little from your point of view.
And if not, meh. I live as square a life as any. But dreaming about these sorts of things is still fun. Someday. When I live on my own.

Until then, goodbye from Normality Ville.


One Response to “Because People Still Think LSD Gives Yah the Shits…”

  1. dave in the back said

    Man… this feels like that time when I learned that christianity isn’t real. I’m still not doing drugs, but this is indeed interesting. I wouldn’t want to bet my life on something I can do for my own self with a smaller risk.

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