I was struck by the unusual poverty of the objections to the posting on the family wrecked after a child smoked cannabis, and the problem of ‘anecdotes’.
Take for instance the lofty contribution from Colin Walker:
Anecdotal evidence is never enough to make a case, even with a case by case analysis of anecdotes to discern patterns it would not give you any valid indications on how common, likely and severe the reactions can be.
I always find it amusing that people like Peter will give credence to negative anecdotes. They are seen to have some weight while the anecdotal evidence of millions of users indicating neutral or positive reactions is dismissed.’
Wouldn’t that depend on the case being made? Recall what I said ; ‘Beyond asking if any rational, responsible person would or could pursue cannabis legalisation or ‘regulation’ or ‘decriminalisation’ until such ‘anecdotes’ could be explained, I make no further comment.’
Surely even one such anecdote (let alone the thousands available, among the parents, friends and relatives of these victims) should give pause to anyone campaigning to remove the existing restrictions on the drug concerned?
I also have to point out again to those naïve enough to think that research is carried out constantly on a broad front about everything that is interesting, and is disinterestedly directed, that this is not so. I would be overjoyed if the state would pay for a full-scale research project on the effects of cannabis, especially on the young. There is no such project. One has to ask why not. In its absence, we have to make what warnings we can, with the information we have.
Then there’s John Rowe, who asserts :’ I really wish Peter wouldn’t bother with these kinds of posts, because they’re so intellectually dishonest and have nothing to do with the real reasons he’s opposed to cannabis use. It wouldn’t influence his opinion one way or the other if it were proven beyond doubt that cannabis never led to mental health issues or if it always did, so there’s no point trying to discuss harm issues with him.’
I use the arguments that come to hand. In a world that doesn’t believe in sin, let alone that it is bad, there’s little point in telling people not to commit it. In a world given over to self-indulgence which doesn’t believe in the immortal soul, it is not going to be very effective to tell people that it is morally wrong and may have eternal consequences. It happens to be the case (and this is itself interesting) that moral wrongs pretty much invariably lead to various forms of temporal, material damage as well as to those deeper consequences. If this is what I must stress to keep people away from folly, then I will do so. Personally, I have no doubt that the ‘anecdotal’ link would, if subjected to proper research and testing, be shown to be real. As I’ve said before, it is hardly a surprise that a mind-altering drug of some power has a long-lasting effect on the brain .
As for ‘complete dominion’ over ‘someone’s flesh’, only one authority has that, and the user of the phrase does not, I think, accept that authority. The law, on the other hand , can – even in the secular moral system – concern itself with actions which harm others. I have many times explained here why self-destruction is not and cannot be a victimless crime. Indeed, the post to which I linked showed quite clearly who the victims are, and how they suffer, how deeply and how long. It would take a head of concrete and a heart of plywood to fail to see this.
Mr Knight’s posting, incoherent, clichéd, self-serving (How does he know it hasn’t done him any harm? How can he know what he might have been and done otherwise?) and rambling as it is, undermines his own case brilliantly.
Then there is :’ The millions of anecdotes from addicts of various substances mean nothing to you so I assume this anecdotal evidence means nothing either. Afterall I would hate you to be inconsistent in your views Peter.’
That is because a moral concept cannot be transformed into a material illness (the heart of the ‘addiction’ argument) by any number of anecdotes. It is precisely because lobbyists for ‘addiction’ make such an extravagant claim that they must be subject to such severe tests, which of course they cannot pass, but they get terribly cross when told so. They wish to use pseudoscience to shut up anyone who refuses to accept their (rather squalid) moral position. Any informed person can see that it *is* pseudoscience.
, but of course many gullible peopel are fooled by pseudoscience and Graeco-Latin expressions, , so any dissentient vocie must be furiously attacked lest the truth get out
My claim ( see above) is far more modest. There is enough anecdote to discourage any irreversible change in the laws controlling the suspect drugs, and to justify the extensive, expensive research needed to establish whether there is in fact a danger.
And finally, from another lobby wounded by me: ‘In response to Mr. Hitchens’s piece some weeks ago on dyslexia, a significant number of people posted comments outlining their personal experiences of suffering from dyslexic symptoms despite the majority having had perfectly good educations. In the interests of consistency, is Mr. Hitchens planning to take those anecdotes on board and re-consider his view that dyslexia doesn’t exist?’
The question with ‘dyslexia’ is not whether people have trouble with reading, which is beyond doubt, but why they do, and whether this is caused by a complaint in their physical bodies called ‘dyslexia’. Therefore a million anecdotes, or indeed a million peer-reviewed accounts of people describing their own reading problems, would not resolve the issue. What would resolve it would be controlled tests, in which those claiming to be ‘dyslexic’ were taught to read using Synthetic Phonics. When, after a few months ( as would certainly be the case) , they could all read, we could all go home, and the people in the control groups, who were being ‘treated’ for dyslexia could be given SP lessons too.
The question here is whether there is enough of a reason to launch a major research project into the effects of cannabis, and enough of a reason to hesitate before irreversibly abandoning existing laws against cannabis.
Only a dogged, dogmatic, and unreasoning adherence to a cause could make anyone confuse the two.
Oddly enough, that cause is always the same, whether it be cannabis, ‘dyslexia’ , ‘addiction’ or, ‘ADHD’ – it is the cause that demands absolute personal autonomy, and the cause which denies personal responsibility for actions and failures. It is the most powerful cause in modern civilisation, and it is so intertwined with selfish personal desires that it hates with a passion any voice which suggests it may be wrong. It hates, especially, the idea that there may be a God and any absolute source of law or goodness. I call it ‘Selfism’.
Oh, by the way, if the incidence of the problems apparently connected with cannabis was random and unpredictable, the number of those not suffering (or claiming not to suffer) problems from using this drug would have little bearing on the question at issue, which is, simply, whether we should show natural caution and exercise natural curiosity.