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Scientific bias

David Nutt has a good piece: Here’s Why We Hear So Many False Claims About Cannabis

On the whole, my many years of research on substance use has taught me a major overarching lesson: we are much more likely to demonize drugs for their negative effects than consider their neutral or potentially positive impacts. Or – in scientific terms – there is a built-in bias in the scientific literature, textbooks, and the popular press towards highlighting the negative aspects of drug use. And more ink has been spilled about cannabis than any other drug, perhaps because it’s the most widely used illegal drug and the subject of intense debate concerning its regulation.

He goes on to talk about the ways in which funding and confirmation bias (although he doesn’t use that term specifically) affect the scientific results we hear or notice.

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18 comments to Scientific bias

  • Al

    I seem to remember reading that the Feds won’t permit any study funded by them (which is mandatory if you’re using Fed-supplied cannabis)to publish ANY positive results.

    I don’t have the reference handy. If someone else does, please post a link.

    • “In 1974 researchers at the Medical College of Virginia, who had been funded by the National Institute of Health to find evidence that marijuana damages the immune system, found instead that THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice — lung and breast cancer, and a virus-induced leukemia.

      The DEA quickly shut down the Virginia study and all further cannabis/tumor research, according to Jack Herer, who reports on the events in his book, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes“.” http://tinyurl.com/nhtc8yn

      “Vietnam veteran denied pain pills after testing positive for marijuana”
      http://tinyurl.com/npw3ur5

      Plenty of bias abounds. The victims in the war on drugs are the public at large.

  • jean valjean

    I expect there are a load of drug warrior chicken-hawks in Washington and London weighing up the feasibility of a drone strike. Watch your back David. First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.

  • Servetus

    Biased drug science doesn’t necessarily originate with the science. It originates with people who believe government should force other people to practice their religion.

    Religiously-based 12-step programs ignore the science, while failing to achieve long term abstinence among most patients. Bias can be found in the punishment of drug sinners, while opposing their medical treatment. Schedule I drugs are subject to the binary thinking seen in religion–a drug is either all good, or all bad—with nothing between. Among prohibitionists, a drug’s harm is not always based on its true material harm, but by how it’s used by people in defiance of an ad hoc religious authority.

    Moral questions arise only when certain individuals run afoul of a drug’s biochemistry. Since the moral dilemma involves health, it’s subject falls within the category of bioethics.

    Prohibitionists rarely exhibit ethics, in contrast to bioethicists. Prohibs lie, cheat, and steal taxpayer money and thereby profit from a Malthusian contempt of the poor. Prohibs exploit individualists and rebellious, risk-taking teenagers. Bioethicists maintain a secular attitude toward drug use, while prohibitionists function as religious messengers. If it’s sinful, religious demagogues don’t care if a chemical compound treats cancer. Bioethicists, by contrast, have little interest in alleged spiritual harms.

    A distinction between the bioethicist and the prohibitionist is rarely observed by the media. Rather, the public ends up harangued by unethical charlatans posing as disreputable anti-drug crusaders.

  • strayan

    As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use,” said Shirley Simson, a spokeswoman for the drug abuse institute, known as NIDA. “We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/19/health/policy/19marijuana.html

    • DdC

      National Institute on Drug Abuse

      “At DEA, our mission is to fight drug trafficking in order to make drug abuse the most expensive, unpleasant, risky, and disreputable form of recreation a person could have.”
      – Donnie Marshall, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

      Drug Abuse = Any amount used.

  • Servetus

    I can’t get the site to print my comment. It was sent into limbo, and now it tells me I am trying to repost something I already posted, which isn’t there. Changing the comment doesn’t help.

    • Sometimes that happens due to the arcane algorithms of the spam filter. If so, just let me know and I’ll be happy to rescue it. Found four copies in the spam folder and put one of them back online – hopefully that’s the one you wanted.

  • Will

    David Nutt is correct of course, but there are cracks in the bias. Here’s a physician touting the positive aspects of cannabis’ medical utility. A rarity I know, but perhaps increasing less rare as time moves forward;

    Hearing the Case in Support of Medical Cannabis

    Yes, he has a book out recently (did “Stoned” really have to be the prominent part of the title, Dr Casarett. Come on!). And yes, his comments about the addictive nature of cannabis is overstated (in my opinion). But at least he refutes the idea that there is a paucity of research supporting the plus side of things.

    • DdC

      Out of 157 schools absolutely NO American physician has sat in an endoCannabinoid Science class room. Not one of the medical schools surveyed had a department of endocannabinoid science or an ECS director. None of them taught the endocannabinoid science as an organized course.13% were said to have “mentioned” it whatever that means.

      There is no room for denial. Growers are the experts, Caregivers and Patients know what works best with what. The dispensary system works as efficient as any drug store that have no extra hoops to jump through. To even contemplate banning research should send shivers up the spines of anyone. Do no harm? Especially in such a place that boasts of being the land of the free. To see that it is still banned since 1974 has to be in Guinness as some kind of gullibility record, or something.

      Propaganda Media, repeated fears and heavy consequences for nonconformists. Hasn’t done much to persuade hundreds of millions using it daily. How can someone be trusted after they teach lies and are exposed? Do they even consider the consequences of their inactions, for decades.

      Those demonized as “Black Market” are simply Outlaws living the truth. They wear the “white hats” in this story. The harm, including the violence and adulterated dope come directly from Prohibition and the dark stain on humanity of the Prohibitionists.

      The system of control to assist Wall St and Chinese crap from Iranian crude is the true “Black Market”. As defined by the demonizers. Laws are not an excuse for shunning those brutalized by the laws. To consider it is done to sick people and the elderly. Has that ever been done in modern history? Those who profit on bad laws, and those who barter with them are the Cartels wearing the black hats. Profits over people according to the amount of pigments in their skin. Or life status, measuring their worth in yearly income.

      Kid snitches turning in their granny, losing their home to forfeiture and cars, furniture and toys to confiscations. Siblings split up and sent off to prohibitionist Foster Care rackets. Good job kid, you got the message how dangerous pot really is. Support your local prison industrial complex over an out dated electrical grid. Damn good for lawyers.

      Only 13% “Mention” it. Shush, its a secret.
      http://endingcannabisprohibition.yuku.com/sreply/937

      Professionals Riding their Laurals of Ignorance.
      http://endingcannabisprohibition.yuku.com/topic/1988

      • Will

        DdC, You know and I know and everybody else knows — even if they don’t yet know — that all this shit is crumbling down. It’s over for the prohibitionists regarding the cannabis plant. It’s like watching a building being purposefully imploded. Yes, it takes ‘time’, but their time is up for good. Watch for the little clicks and puffs in the video linked below, before it all comes down, that’s us;

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73U5cYOR0-4

        • DdC

          Too long for that one, again.

          Should it be legalized? Soon we will know.
          Marijuana: the law vs. 12 million people
          Life magazine Oct 31, 1969. 25-35

          With all of the wonderful unheard of accomplishments in the past decade. Compared to the first three. Shows positively how it can be done in a safe and prosperous manner. Everyone celebrating the victory, even with half of the country at war. Lulled into a content civilized place, at least where I am on the Central Coast. As it stands right now I have no dog in this fight until the next election. Happy camper here.

          That is the point. All the boasting of how we have kicked their ass and at the end of the day. What has changed? Temporary truces and cease fires depending where on the planet you happen to be standing. At the beginning of the day cannabis in all forms was considered a schedule#1 controlled substance, with no legal means to reference it as anything but a schedule#1 controlled substance. Giving it to Fat Pharma as a schedule#2 triplicate script maintains the very same prohibition on Growers and whole plant consumers. Times up.

          Unless the Federal scam is dealt with there is NO change since Nixon. Farmers still can’t grow schedule#1 Hemp except by Obama sometimes not enforcing. Except when it serves a purpose. As with Oakland and the Indians. Local yokels restrictions. A new arena for the prohibitionists to continue harassing patients and stress preventions. Old dinosaurs still get press and the ONDCP is still stealing tax dollars. Even Bernie dropped the drug war as one of his top priorities. Peasants so grateful for crumbs they forgive and forget the starvation.

          We know because we made a conscious choice to know. No University has made that simple choice. The media still grabs hobgoblin headlines down on their knees praying for someone to be hurt from cannabis. The point is or missed is you can only offer information to those who are able or care to grasp it. The pro’s have chosen to barter with insanity as a lesser evil from insanity itself. That’s pretty insane. The drug worriers who profit on prohibition know the last thing in the world they want is for all of us to find some mystical god to take the heathern devil weed from our addictions. They would be unemployed, same as when we remove it as a schedule#1 narcotic. Each state has to move together as one to remove cannabis Federally as a controlled substance. No one in government is willing to risk their seats.

          The Emperor Wears No Clothes 1985

          Information with references leading to more information has been around for those caring to make informed decisions. Obviously the AMA and MSM aren’t interested. Since they advise the politicians and the CSA controls the courts. Another democracy by Hocus Pocus. Same shell game. Same bait and switch ending with the same laws still on the same books. Ignorance seems to be accepted by the vast majority of people we are asking to face reality. With their world dictated so thinking is almost unnecessary. The very ones who profit on the alternatives or prohibition. We are counting on to do the right thing. Telling the truth. Showing some actual websites where you can buy actual Hemp products, still leaves just say no denialists.

          If the candidates are still afraid of this as a top priority. We have to nonviolently force it. Black Lives Matter and Stoner Lives Matter too. The drug war does harm to everyone in some way or another. That is what has to be screamed from the media towers and soap boxes. Lawyers probably prefer incrementalism. Most don’t like to gamble on losers. The next election can roll back the clocks or bring violence to the streets trying to hold onto basically nothing at the end of the day. As long as the CSA is the law and the 10th doesn’t trump the Commerce Clause. The only way to hold onto what we have is to remove it from the CSA without states having the ability to save us with protection from poldergeists.

          Letting time sort it out won’t prevent history from repeating itself.
          Soon we will know Déjà vu.

          Why Do YOU Think They Call it DOPE?
          * Cannabis Hemp: The Invisible Prohibition Revealed
          * The Elkhorn Manifesto
          * Marijuana and Hemp: The Untold Story
          * The Nation of Apathetic Puppets By John Pilger
          * Maintaining Dysfunction

  • O.B.Server

    Nutt also says,

    If a scientist can show that a drug is harmful, then they can show that it’s important to do more research on the topic to protect society.

    In other words, “Institutes” like NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), exist to find out plausible factoids that put drugs (cannabis) in a bad light, which makes good propaganda.

    Which is to say, government research on pot is propaganda.

    We knew this all along, but it is important to re- emphasize what a bogus bag o’ crap government proclamations about pot, really are.

    Multi-billion dollar departmental fiefdoms (NIDA, ONDCP) exist, basically, to make propaganda against pot.

    Government lackeys try to dress that pig up, slather it with perfume and apply lipstick. They conflate pot with other drugs, whenever government thinks it can fool you. Of course, the compartmentalization and secrecy of the police state means they have to lie first and foremost to themselves, to fool their own fellow-pigs as to their mutual truth and beauty. Which makes them all the more sincerely (and usefully) duped about their own propaganda. Many of them believe their own lies. And why shouldn’t they? Police state hireling government starting salaries are high, so they really bring home the bacon. Apparent strategy? “May as well eat at the pork-filled public trough until the yummy fiat slop is no more.”

  • Paul McClancy

    Somebody should send that link to anti-cannabis YouTuber c0nc0rdance.

  • DdC

    New DEA Head Believes Medical Marijuana Should Remain Schedule I

    “Marijuana is dangerous,” Rosenberg said. “It certainly is not as dangerous as other Schedule I controlled substances; it’s not as dangerous as heroin, clearly, but it’s still dangerous. It’s not good for you. I wouldn’t want my children smoking it. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone do it. So I don’t frankly see a reason to remove it.”

    Rosenberg went on to tell host Jay Rosen that in spite of parts of the country like Colorado and Washington ending prohibition at the state level, he sometimes encourages his people to shake these areas down when necessary.

    Interestingly, when Rosen pointed out that it doesn’t make sense for the U.S. to maintain pot prohibition, while alcohol continues to cause many social problems that typically aren’t attached to the use of marijuana, Rosenberg—who claimed to never have smoked weed—said that he does not believe marijuana legalization is an animal that should be let out of its cage.

    The Politician Denial Syndrome Behind Marijuana Prohibition

  • DdC

    Leading anti-marijuana group got its facts wrong

    Alarming findings indeed — but untrue.

    Here are the actual numbers (highlighted below), which appear in data from the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which just came out this week. In 2013, roughly 451,000 teens smoked marijuana 20 or more days per month. In 2014, that number dropped to 400,000, according to the survey’s estimates. That number is, in fact, the lowest it’s been since at least 2009.