Drugs may help prevent us from becoming a world of boring assholes

Maia Szalavitz has an interesting piece in Time: How Getting Tipsy May Inspire Creativity

In it, she talks about a recent study that discovered that a little alcohol actually helped stimulate inspiration and creativity and resulted in a better job answering word-association tests.

Increasingly, science is confirming that altered states of consciousness — whether induced by drugs, alcohol, sleepiness, travel or anything else that removes us from our usual way of seeing the world — do indeed improve creative thought. The inhibition of what researchers call executive functioning, which includes focus and planning — abilities that decline when we’re under the influence — may be what lets us generate new ideas and innovative solutions, instead of remaining fixed on the task at hand.

Of course, that’s not a surprise in any way to us. And you can bet that if the study involved marijuana instead of alcohol, they’d find even stronger positive effects.

Artists have long found their creative juices stimulated by drugs. The entire field of jazz exists in part because of cannabis.

This doesn’t mean you have to use drugs to be creative. Of course not. And many creative people spend their entire careers successfully without using anything. But as Maia notes, the inhibition of “executive functioning” can be critical in opening your mind to new things. And for many people, the use of mind-altering substances helps open that door.

I have spent most of my life around creative people. I’m an artist, a musician, a theatre professional and have an incredible number of artistic friends. I’ve also met a lot of creative people in other fields.

In my experience, people who are creative, or lean toward creative thinking, are less likely to be boring assholes. People who are unable to turn off their “executive functioning” are more likely to be boring assholes.

Our world needs artists, musicians, poets, and creative thinkers in all disciplines. We don’t need boring assholes.

And if marijuana or a glass of wine helps a few more people find their creative muse, the world will be a better place.

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30 Responses to Drugs may help prevent us from becoming a world of boring assholes

  1. allan says:

    beyond a shadow of a doubt Pete… as an artist, a writer and political activist my favorite folks mostly all imbibe something. My politics lately (the last decade +) being what they are a lot of cannabis is about… Oregon has lots of good domestic brews so outfits like Ninkasi end up w/ neighborhood located production facilities like Eugene’s Whitaker area (what once passed for a ghetto in Eugene) where there are loads of artist and activist types.

    The world is meant to be enjoyed! My dog… it’s such a beautiful and powerful place. Laughter and good company is as natural a right as any other and whether aided thru enhancement or not, matters not.

    Like Grampa Semu used to say, if you can handle it, you’re ok. The implied trick of course is to know when you can’t handle it.

    My photography (hell, my life!) wouldn’t be what it is had I not followed Alice. I learned what I could handle and my affinity is for the organic/vegetative intoxicants. Cacti, fungi, ganji… and I still have yet to meet Ayahuasca and Ibogaine… a meeting I look forward to.

    • allan says:

      and while I may be an asshole, I’m certainly not boring! (one of my life’s major mottos is that everybody is an asshole once in awhile)

  2. CJ says:

    to add to the “the entire field of jazz was in part created by cannabis” well also the entire album (except 1 song) of In Utero was heavily influenced by heroin as well as the take on the music video for boston’s more than a feeling, sid vicious’ my way (and the multiple takes needed to make the actual track) i think the most prominent thing about altered states if you will and the positive effects they have should be traced seriously to the reign of the first roman emperor, augustus – a noted lover of opium whom successfully introduced the habit into the center of rome and in doing so made it a cultural trend throughout all of the world, it is well noted that during this time, the world has never been more productive or peaceful. Coincidence? no.

  3. Matthew Meyer says:

    Pete, if there are no more boring assholes, who will do all the government jobs?

    (Oh yeah, you did a post about this a couple back.)

    I’m thinking of Kevin Sabet’s throwaway about alcohol as a “cultural decision” that “we” have made (Kemosabe has a mouse in his pocket).

    Um, didn’t some “we” among us make a cultural decision about cannabis too? Isn’t that what this is all about–the people making “cultural decisions” and the laws condemning them for it?

    Anyone who’s never heard the jazz collection “Reefer Songs” should check it out. Totally fascinating glimpses of the cultural politics of cannabis in the years before 1937.

  4. John says:

    The key is following through by assembling physical projections of your creative conceptions…

    Alan…the Dimethyltryptamine world will surely give you the visions and instructions you desire….

    • claygooding says:

      Every time I try to improve my blow up sex doll as I imagine her she farts and flies out the window.

      • John says:

        wtf really

      • tensity1 says:

        lmao, god god, clay. lol.

        I’ve heard wonderful and scary things about DMT and related substances, but isn’t that the case for just about any ingredient leading to psychoactivity? At this point, I’d just be happy for some good, strong, legal reefer. Not that the two are related in any way in effect, but my psychoactive and sociopolitical desires currently would be fulfilled by legal MJ. Stong, legal MJ. Strong, and sativa–or indica. Mmm . . .

      • Duncan20903 says:

        No need to keep frustrating yourself…the blow up doll has been perfected. Hurry, they’re having a sale too, $1000 off each doll for a limited time. Available in male or female!

  5. ezrydn says:

    Some call it “executive thinking” where I’ve always used “outta-the box” thinking. The problem I run into is they don’t know they’re in a box. Personally, I’m an “education sponge.” I’m learning to trade Forex at the moment and doing fairly well with it. Never would have looked into it if a friend hadn’t challenged me. He understood the “challenge a vet” concept. LOL

    As for Allan being an asshole. Maybe. In moments. That describes every one of us. Had I not had cannabis available, I doubt I could have achieved my Ph.D/J.D. I just wasn’s spring-loaded in that direction. Cannabis opened me up to the World of Knowledge. My current endeavor proves it.

    I don’t know about a “cultural decision” but I made a Personal Decision on what would make me a better person. It worked!

    • claygooding says:

      Somebody stole my box and gave me a freedom I would never have missed if not for the lady.

  6. darkcycle says:

    I wrote my Doctoral thesis with a glass of Irish whiskey and a joint on the table next to my Apple (an original apple, the 2E had just been released and I didn’t have one yet.). I re-wrote the entire thing and added three pages of additional references the night before I turned it in, and finished the references, index, footnotes and final read through in a blackout (this I DO NOT recommend).
    My adviser’s reaction? He called me in said he was impressed by the quality of the work. He actually asked if I had written it, it was so much better than what he had expected (as I think back, that really was as much of an insult as a compliment…. typical Jesuit. Three meanings to every statement). But, as fate would have it, I quit using alcohol in 1989, because it turned out that I did more and more stuff in blackouts, and I wasn’t quite as good at some of it…

  7. claygooding says:

    Guatemalan president leads drug legalization debate


    “”(CNN) — On the campaign trail, Otto Perez Molina vowed to rule his country with an iron fist. The retired general said he would send troops into the streets to fight drug violence. Analysts summed up his political platform with three words: law and order.

    Now — just two months after taking office — the 61-year-old Guatemalan president is pushing a controversial proposal that has come under fire from U.S. officials and earned praise from people who were once his critics.””

    I think he is playing poker for more US dollars,,but hell,it’s a good place to put comments with honest practical facts in them.

    • allan says:

      because ours is after all, an effort in practicality.

    • AddyCat says:

      Latin America is being awesomely ballsy with all of this. I studied abroad there and have learned a lot of their history, and it is truly amazing to me that they are standing up to the United States – it shows how far our nation has fallen in the international community. We are quickly becoming a pariah, and the historically oppressed, colonized “South” is calling our bluff. It is difficult to overstate the power shift that this movement in Latin America represents.

      I would argue that several Latin American countries will have a higher standard of living than the US within a decade – especially Argentina and Chile (Argentina already has universal health care). People should study Latin America, since we are quickly become the corrupt “Banana Republic”-style country that they have been for more than 50 years. If you want to understand societies with high wealth inequality and chronic rule of law problems, studying Latin America is the trick.

      • AddyCat says:

        Oh and by the way, Mexican immigrants are actually leaving America to go back home, even with the cartel violence. That shows how bad our economy is, and also arguably how fast we are in decline as a country.

        Shall we take bets on how long it will take for the US Empire to implode?

      • AddyCat says:

        If anyone is interested in learning more about the rule of law in Latin America, I wrote a thesis about it in undergrad that I can send you. The basic argument was that economic instability puts people into “economic survival mode,” where they are ok with violations of the rule of law so long as the president fixes (or tries to fix) the economy. This is true no matter what political party holds office. Interestingly, a lot of my observations have held true for the United States as well.

        • darkcycle says:

          I’m interested, I served in Central America and got a very skewed perception. It was under circumstances that were extreme to say the least. I could probably go a long way to clear up exactly why Carter made the decision to let Samoza dangle…if you’ve ever wondered why we let Nicaragua fall to the communists.

        • darkcycle says:

          Pete? Would you mind giving Addycat my darkcycle address?

        • darkcycle says:

          Thanks again, Pete. You are awesome!

  8. claygooding says:

    I keep getting this argument for the prohibs claims of future dangers of catastrophic proportions,,

    “”If marijuana use were that harmful to mankind’s society,how did we ever make it the first 5000 years when it was legal?

    80 years of imprisonment and persecution has evolved into our present prison industrialization with stocks sold on Wall St and you see this as an improvement?””

    We need to build some good ones for pasting. I have been skating the web and nailing,the best I can,every new article on drugged driving propaganda,,man,,that cost the ONDCP budget a good jolt,,getting that article out.

  9. Cocaine made me so creative that I figured out how to snort a BMW – and it was anything but boring…

  10. Chris says:

    I become a boring asshole when I smoke weed. I mean, there’s so much to worry about! People could come break down my door and kill me, or cops could come and ruin my entire life. It’s damn stressful!

  11. Rick Steeb says:

    “I know everybody whose heart is still thumping, Is drinking, shooting, snorting, smoking on something”
    –Curtis Mayfield

  12. Hope says:

    Lol! You must have watched American Weed the other night, Pete. That’s the first thing I thought of when I read, “Drugs may help prevent us from becoming a world of boring assholes”.

  13. Hope says:

    Lol! You must have watched American Weed the other night, Pete. That’s the first thing I thought of when I read, “Drugs may help prevent us from becoming a world of boring assholes”.

    Add “Hateful” and “Fearful” to that, too. As in fearful, hateful, boring assholes.

    Oh, and “Arrogant”.

    But we digress.

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