David Nutt (former chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and lonely voice of reason in drug policy) has just published a book called Drugs Without the Hot Air. You may remember him from the avante-garde Channel 4 ecstasy experiment in which celebrities such as Keith Allen and Lionel Shriver got high for shits and, most importantly, for ratings (and who knows, perhaps even for science too). So I thought I’d publish this article I wrote several months ago now on the topic of drugs policy, folklore, history and potential benefits to society.
Reading through scientific journals is how I address most of life’s problems, and I would recommend that to anyone as a sound way to both personal and professional success (I don’t, and I wouldn’t, in case it needed telling). Like any regular, self-loathing schmo, I am an empiricist. While this doesn’t mean that I believe we can fully understand or even emulate complex social or physical phenomena through experimentation, I do think it can give us an insight into things in such as way as to dispel myths and instigate significant and positive cultural shifts.
Having recently attended a highly entertaining cardiovascular conference, I thought I would attempt to cleanse myself of the purely factual reporting I was doing there and open a can of nerdy whoop-ass.
The conference reporting game brings up more happy surprises the longer I do it. By far my greatest pleasure is getting to know the scientists and therapists that are the best at what they do, and talking to them off the record.
One such big cheese said that drug-eluting balloons, which have been transforming the sordid yet inexplicably glamorous world of artery-unblocking in Europe for a while now, have not yet been approved by the FDA in the US. The reason for this strange discrepancy? They are not as profitable for the big businesses involved as the devices that are currently employed.
Having bored myself into dribbling obscurity with my bloody tedious dissection of Argo (why did I bother writing that, I will never know), I decided to mention a few things in my upcoming posts that have been bugging me for a while – mostly to do with the infallibility of authority, the unavoidable fingers that big business has in government pies, and my embarrassment by the fact that noone in science seems to be able to do basic statistics – to which I will uninspiringly don the mantle of ‘Sciencewipe’.
Sorry, Charlie Brooker. I have hijacked your franchise, but it’s only because I have no wit of my own.