I feel very sorry for the Philosophy students of University College London

December 1, 2009

This is what passes for a publishable opinion piece from one of their professors?

I’ve been following the work of Professor David Nutt even before the newspapers took interest, since sitting on a working party on drug regulation for the Academy of Medical Sciences. As a newcomer, I wanted to find the “facts on drug harm”, and read Nutt’s A tale of two Es – ecstasy and ethanol (alcohol) – published in 2006.

Well surely the good Professor Wolff means he started here. Right? ….right?

Ok, let us read on and see…

..Professor Andy Parrott, wrote in a letter to the Evening Standard on 3 November: “All recreational drugs cause more harm than benefits … ecstasy [leads to] depression, memory loss and impaired immunocompetence (more coughs and colds)”. I see, so that’s why you can go to prison for possessing it. It gives you sniffles, just like not drying your hair properly after your swimming lesson.

Way to minimize guy. Guess we know where you are headed don’t we?

Animal experiments are an alternative. There is some great work looking at the types of webs spiders spin under the influence. More relevantly, a paper from 2003 [sic] in the leading journal Science claimed that primates injected with a recreational dose of ecstasy developed brain damage. Very worrying. But a few months later, when they couldn’t replicate the experiment, the researchers published a retraction, saying that the primates were given crystal meth by mistake, which has a very similar chemical name and was delivered to the lab on the same day. Whoops.

Riiiight. Because the sum total that is known about MDMA-induced lasting brain changes was the infamous retracted 2002 Ricaurte paper. And the only thing we know about the acute effects of MDMA is some dubiously sourced and verified YouTube video of spiders spinning webs.

So we have the spectacle of scientists over-claiming the quality of their results to publicise their research, journalists whipping up a moral panic to sell newspapers, politicians doing whatever they think will keep them in power, and the public looking on in semi-horror, as one would on a reality TV show spinning out of control.

Uh-huh. Sure that’s all the scientists do. And you would know because you show such depth of appreciation for the extensive body of scientific knowledge on this topic. Good God what an ass.

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