Re: This is SL4. This is SL4 on drugs. Any questions?

From: David Cake (
Date: Tue Sep 10 2002 - 13:17:04 MDT

At 8:29 AM -0700 9/9/02, outlawpoet - scribbled:
><in re to David Cake's post>
>Being a nonproffessional in the area of neurochemistry, but an
>interested bystander, I am struck by the way that this thread has
>progressed with very little attention to the relative biological
>danger inherent in most of these drugs.
>MDMA and it's parent MDA, which David Cake upholds as "quite
>reasonable for particular purposes" is a stimulant, and a relative
>of the extraordinarily negative Methamphetamine or "Crystal Meth".

        No I did not make that explicit connection - the drugs I was
referring to with that comment were not MDMA. You are presuming
something I didn't say. I did say that damage from MDMA use has only
been confirmed from overuse, from what I know of the current
        I want to strongly distance myself here from the implication
that I advocated the use of a drug known to have negative effects,
and ones that are currently not well understood. I would not advocate
consumption of MDMA, certainly not regularly or to excess. Its
unclear how much damage occasional light consumption does - but
regular heavy consumption certainly does serious damage. But there
are drugs, such as long term alcohol abuse, or solvent abuse, that
are much worse for you. And other drugs that are probably not as bad
for you.

> The relatively negative neurochemical effects of powerful
>stimulants are well known.

        Thats a broad overgeneralisation - 'stimulants' is a very
vague description in pharmacological terms, and certainly a
simplification of what MDMA does. We prescribe stimulants for many
medical conditions (narcolepsy, for example). Stimulants certainly
aren't something to mess with without a good understanding of their
effects, but they certainly can be used in positive ways.
Dexamphetamine is used almost routinely here for treatment of
attention deficit disorder, for example.

> This is entirely seperate from the research of Dr. George Ricaurte
>of John Hopkins, which suggests that significant 'structural' damage
>is incurred through MDMA use over time.

        Researchers vary greatly (as they almost always do in a
politically loaded area), but most research agrees that prolonged use
of MDMA is bad for you. Just how much damage occasional use causes is
much more debatable. Ricaurtes well known research, for example, used
a control group who had taken the drug 75 or more times. Animal
studies indicate you need to take several times the effective dose
before neuro-toxicity appears - which some street users certainly do,
but not necessarily every user.

>Not to mention MDMA's role as a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, which
>is well documented.

        Thats simply a description of MDMAs primary effect. I don't
regard being a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor as an automatically
negative property, but simply a functional description. It appears
you do regard it as an inherently negative property. Serotonin
re-uptake inhibition is how drugs in the prozac family operate, and
while they have problems on the whole they have probably greatly
helped human suffering (and as we gain more experience with this
family, will probably go on to have a very great positive effect in
the future).

        I note only that the range of experiences that can be
psychologically addictive is very broad, and goes far beyond drugs,
to exploiting many of the bodies natural states through unusual
        I dare say many of the sorts of genuinely expanded
consciousness available in an SL4 scenario are profoundly
psychologically addictive - I don't think this is in itself a reason
to avoid them. I might find it terribly hard to give up the mental
augmentation from my brain implants!
        Its also worth noting the difference between psychologically
addictive and physically addictive is very large (and most serious
addictions combine both). Also, that many psychedelic drugs are not
usually psychologically addictive, and instead tolerance grows
        The consequences of addiction can indeed be terrible. Human
consciousness alteration is not without its dangers. And human
consciousness alteration is certainly something that I think we
probably agree is relevant to SL4. Drugs are certainly one of the
available tools for consciousness alteration at the moment -
sometimes in a socially sanctioned way, sometimes not. Sometimes in a
potentially useful way, often not.
        The question of are drugs a useful tool for inspiration is a
complex one - first define inspiration! In general, I agree that
drugs are not a source of general insight in the way some advocate.
But are they a source of insight about the altered consciousness? I
think pretty clearly - if nothing else, a serotonin re-uptake
inhibitor can teach something about the effects of serotonin on
cognition. Which is not to say that accounts of the value of the
insights obtained from drugs might not be wildly overrated.
        FWIW, I think psychedelic use can provide some psychological
insights not easily otherwise available.

>This above discussion ignores the fact that most psychoactive
>substances are illegal in many countries, and the available
>streetdrugs are of uncertain composition, and often arbitrary
>dosage. The wisdom of ingesting completely unknown substances
>advertised as psychoactive drugs obtained from people who smuggle,
>steal, murder, and write incoherent poetry occasionally is a
>decision entirely seperate from the inherent toxicity of the
>supposed makeup of said drugs.

        Indeed. But a response to this would get firmly into the area
of political drug policy and the wisdom of pure prohibition, which
probably is even more off topic than the rest of it.

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