What Passes for Education In America Is Often Just Indoctrination

The ancient Athenians had a name for people who were unable to participate in and determine the course of public life:  idiote. It is from this that our word idiot derives. And though we live in so-called democracies, these days very few of us are not idiots in this powerless  respect.

To be sure, though he doesn’t phrase it in such a manner, in his Theses on Feuerbach Karl Marx draws attention to just this intersection of these two meanings of idiot (fool and dominated subject). The point of philosophy, he states, is to change the world. But the world cannot be meaningfully changed without interpretation. And who is to educate the educators? This leads us to a problem. The idiot (who is unable to interpret the world) is inextricable from the idiote—who cannot change it.When considering how to rectify the various forms of political idiocy that are produced and reproduced by this society, one of the most obvious things that comes to mind is education. After all, at its best education is indistinct from broadening minds, opening eyes, and aiding in the contemplation of our mysterious existences—not to mention solving the problems such contemplation brings to consciousness. As the early-20th-century philosopher John Dewey put it: Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
At its worst, however, education is arguably not even education at all. What passes for education is, more often than not, merely indoctrination. And such is the condition of virtually all levels of education in the US today. Subjected to the demands of the market and the state, rather than facilitating a good faith examination of the world, education functions as a massive industry busy creating and recreating this society’s “idiotic” projects, along with its ideologies. Rather than critical thought, it is but a tool of a type of thought so uncritical it leads one to wonder whether it even qualifies as thought at all.This point was made very strongly by the French philosopher Louis Althusser. In his 1969 essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” Althusser refers to the institution of education as the Ideological State Apparatus par excellence. These days, as schools function as either businesses, or minimum-security prisons, and Janet Napolitano, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, seamlessly slips into the presidency of the University of California system, it is difficult to argue with Althusser’s conclusion. In spite of the above, however, a radically emancipatory kernel remains implicit within the concept of education. For what is the point of education? Though some may contend that it is simply instrumental, its point penetrates further—to question the purposes, the reasons—for any instrumentalization. Such larger, critical questions lead not only to the interpretation of the world, but to questions of social and economic justice.
As more and more public schools are being privatized, and standardized test-taking skills stand in more and more for thinking, and even essays are being graded by computer programs, it is disheartening that the opposition to this extreme commodification of education is more or less restricted to no-brainer demands for reductions in classroom sizes, and requests for basic materials and facilities. In other words, the basic model and function of education is by and large not seriously questioned at all. This is highly troubling for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the critique of the institution of education can draw out its critical kernel and lead to emancipatory forms of social organization.Consider the community college. Rather than viewing these simply as feeder schools for four-year colleges and universities, community colleges could develop into new forms of social organization. Collectively run community colleges—one for every couple of thousand people across the continent—could develop cooperative economies beyond the compulsion of the market. Developing the potential and the expertise of their respective communities, these colleges could support agriculture and horticulture departments that would meet their community’s food and nutrition needs.
Nursing and medical schools could train doctors and nurses who could, in turn, run and support community health clinics. Engineering, design, and architecture departments, in concert with ecology departments, could attend to the community’s basic heating, plumbing, housing, and transportation needs, among others. Art and cinema departments could flourish within each community. Dispute resolution programs could help resolve disputes within the community in non-punitive ways. Journalism departments could support the journalism that is vital for an informed public.
In cooperation with one another in regional, and inter-regional networks, such community colleges could not only share what they produce, and organize events such as film festivals, they could attend to the problems of their particular community entirely beyond the profit-based demands of the physically, psychologically and environmentally destructive market-economy, and beyond the State as well.
And though it may sound farfetched—utopian even—to suggest that such a reimagining of the institution of education could contribute toward the overcoming of our present-day political idiocy, over the course of human history far stranger things have actually happened.
Source: alternet.org

Climate Reductio ad Absurdum

Recently, three researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, had a study published that claimed that a “substantial” correlation between violence and climate change could be made.
They cited sixty studies from around the world that, according to a BBC World Service article, demonstrated that “even small changes in temperature or rainfall correlated with a rise in assaults, rapes, and murders, as well as group conflicts and war.”
Apparently they missed the data on World War II’s Battle of the Bulge or the siege of Stalingrad, both of which were fought in freezing weather. Earlier, Napoleon ran into a similar problem when he wanted to conquer Russia.
We have now reached a point in the Great Global Warming Hoax where pure absurdity is the norm for claims made on behalf of a warming cycle that ended around 1996.
In a Washington Times January 17 commentary, Patrick J. Michaels, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for the Study of Science, wrote, “My greener friends are increasingly troubled by the lack of a rise in recent global surface temperatures. Using monthly data measured as the departure from long-term averages, there’s been no significant warming trend since the fall of 1996. In other words, we are now in our 17th year of flat temperatures.”
Citing the usual scientific data involved, Michaels wrote, “It’s a pretty good bet that we are going to go nearly a quarter of a century without warming.”
Much of the kind of idiotic “scientific research” with which the public has been inundated for decades has been the result of the pursuit of funding that involves “professional advancement”, noted Michaels, and which is “particularly dependent upon a certain view”—proving that global warming is real despite all the evidence to the contrary. Claiming that it is causing a rise of violence around the world is idiotic.
Commenting on the Cal-Berkeley study, James M. Taylor, the Heartland Institute’s editor of Environment & Climate News, noted that the three researchers “claim to apply expert principles of ‘archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology’ in their paper” despite the fact that they ”share the same limited background in economics” to claim such expertise.
Over at ClimateDepot.com, editor Marc Morano said, “Instead of looking at temperature data or other climate metrics to prove or disprove man-made global warming, the global warming activists have now shifted the playing field so rape and murder statistics are now used as some sort of ‘proof’ of man-made global warming. Global warming science has truly morphed to modern witchcraft!”
The only place you will find “proof” of global warming these days is in computer models.
Too often they are those used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and those at NASA, both government entities that are mindful that they better toe the party line if they want their budget requests fulfilled. Despite having the best satellites and computer models available, the National Weather Service would not guarantee its predictions more than three days out and surely not more than a week or two.
It is unfortunate that we have a President who keeps repeating the same false claims about “climate change”—the new name for global warming—despite the fact that they have been disputed and abandoned by thousands of scientists around the world. Worse, claims about “carbon pollution” are being used by the Environmental Protection Agency and other government departments to justify the war on coal in particular and hydrocarbon fuels in general.
Some elements of the press such as the BBC are unwilling to abandon the global warming hoax. This means that the search for new scary headlines with which to sell newspapers and magazines, or increase ratings on the evening news will lead to claims about dramatically rising sea levels or, as Michaels predicts, “acid oceans.”

It is all garbage and the real threat is the billions in taxpayer dollars that are being wasted on so-called “climate change” research or the tons of regulations being written to support the strangulation of the nation’s economy in the name of air and water pollution. We have clean air. We have clean water. We need jobs.

Source: factsnotfantasy

Islam and Inbreeding

Massive inbreeding within the Muslim culture during the last 1.400 years may have done catastrophic damage to their gene pool. The consequences of intermarriage between first cousins often have serious impact on the intelligence, sanity, and health of their offspring, and on their surroundings.

The most famous example of inbreeding is in ancient Egypt, where several Pharaonic dynasties collapsed after lasting for several hundred years. In order to keep wealth and power within the family, the Pharaohs often married their own sisters or half-sisters, and after a handful of generations offspring were mentally and physically unfit to rule. Another historical example is the royal houses of Europe in which royal families often married among themselves because tradition did not allow them to marry people of a non-royal class. The high number of mentally retarded and handicapped members of royalty throughout European history shows the unhealthy consequences of this practice. Fortunately, royal families now allow themselves to marry for love and not just for status.

Muslim culture still practices inbreeding and has been doing so for longer than any Egyptian dynasty. This practice also predates the world’s oldest monarchy (the Danish) by 300 years.

A rough estimate shows that close to half of all Muslims in the world are inbred: In Pakistan, 70 percent of all marriages are between first cousins (so-called “consanguinity”) and in Turkey the amount is between 25-30 percent (Jyllands-Posten, 27/2/2009 “More stillbirths among immigrants”). Statistical research on Arabic countries shows that up to 34 percent of all marriages in Algiers are consanguine (blood-related), 46 percent in Bahrain, 33 percent in Egypt, 80 percent in Nubia (southern Egypt), 60 percent in Iraq, 64 percent in Jordan, 64 percent in Kuwait, 42 percent in Lebanon, 48 percent in Libya, 47 percent in Mauritania, 54 percent in Qatar, 67 percent in Saudi Arabia, 63 percent in Sudan, 40 percent in Syria, 39 percent in Tunisia, 54 percent in the United Arabic Emirates and 45 percent in Yemen (Reproductive Health Journal, 2009 “Consanguinity and reproductive health among Arabs”). The number of blood-related marriages is lower among Muslim immigrants living in the West. Among Pakistanis living in Denmark the amount is down to 40 percent and 15 percent among Turkish immigrants (Jyllands-Posten, 27/2 2009 “More stillbirths among immigrants”). More than half of Pakistani immigrants living in Britain are intermarried: “The research, conducted by the BBC and broadcast to a shocked nation on Tuesday, found that at least 55% of the community was married to a first cousin. This is thought to be linked to the probability that a British Pakistani family is at least 13 times more likely than the general population to have children with recessive genetic disorders.” (Times of India, 17/11 2005 “Ban UK Pakistanis from marrying cousins”). The lower percentages might be because it is difficult to get the chosen family member into the country, or because health education is better in the West.


Several studies show that children of consanguineous marriages have lower intelligence than children of non-related parents. Research shows that the IQ is 10-16 points lower in children born from related parents and that abilities related to social behavior develop more slowly in inbred babies: “Effects of parental consanguinity on the cognitive and social behavior of children have been studied among the Ansari Muslims of Bhalgapur, Bihar. IQ in inbred children (8-12 years old) is found to be lower (69 in rural and 79 in suburban populations) than that of the outbred ones (79 and 95 respectively). The onset of various social profiles like visual fixation, social smile, sound seizures, oral expression and hand-grasping are significantly delayed among the new-born inbred babies.” ( [pdf] Indian National Science Academy, 1983 “Consanguinity Effects on Intelligence Quotient and Neonatal Behaviours of Ansari Muslim Children”). The article “Effects of inbreeding on Raven Matrices” concludes that “Indian Muslim school boys, ages 13 to 15 years, whose parents are first cousins, were compared with classmates whose parents are genetically unrelated on the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices, a nonverbal test of intelligence. The inbred group scored significantly lower and had significantly greater variance than the non-inbred group, both on raw scores and on scores statistically adjusted to control for age and socioeconomic status.” (Behaviour Genetics, 1984).
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Another study shows that the risk of having an IQ lower than 70 goes up 400 percent from 1.2 percent in children from normal parents to 6.2 percent in inbred children: “The data indicate that the risk for mental retardation in matings of normal parents increases from 0.012 with random matings to 0.062 for first-cousin parentage.” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 1978 “Effect of inbreeding on IQ and mental retardation”). The study “A study of possible deleterious effects of consanguinity” (Departments of Pediatrics, United Arab Emirates, 1996) concludes that “The occurrence of malignancies, congenital abnormalities, mental retardation and physical handicap was significantly higher in offspring of consanguineous than non-consanguineous marriages.”

Mental and physical diseases and death

The risk of stillbirth doubles when parents are first cousins (Jyllands-Posten, 27/2 2009 “More stillbirths among immigrants”). One study analyzed the risk of perinatal death (the child dies during its own birth), infant death (the child dies while still infant), and autosomal recessive disorders (serious and often deadly genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy): “Perinatal mortality in the Pakistani children was 1.5 times higher than that in the Norwegian children, and infant mortality in the Pakistani children was more than double that in the Norwegian children. Deaths due to autosomal recessive disorders were 18 times more common in the Pakistani children. Similarly, deaths due to multiple malformations, which may be part of unrecognized autosomal recessive syndromes, were 10 times more common.” (BMJ, 1994 “Infant death and consanguineous marriage”).

There is also evidence suggesting that inbred people have a higher risk of developing mental disorders: “The clinical observations indicated that depression is very high in some communities where the consanguinity of marriages is also high.” (Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2009 “Relationship between consanguinity and depression in a south Indian population”). Another study focused on the relationship between intermarriage and schizophrenia: “The closer the blood relative, the more likely was there to be a schizophrenic illness.” (American Psychiatric Press, 1982 “The role of genetic factors in the etiology of the schizophrenic disorders”). The increased risk of insanity among children of marriages between cousins might explain why immigrant patients are causing stress to the psychiatric system and are strongly overrepresented among the criminally insane: “In Sct. Hans Hospital, which has the biggest ward for clinically insane criminals in Denmark, more than 40 percent of the patients have an immigrant background.” (Kristeligt Dagblad, 26/6 2007 “Ethnic minorities overrepresented among the criminal insane”).

Implications for the Western and Muslim Worlds

The consequences for offspring of consanguineous marriages are unpleasantly clear: Death, low intelligence or even mental retardation, handicaps, and diseases often leading to a slow and painful death. Other consequences are: Limited social skills and understanding, limited ability to manage education and work procedures, and painful treatment procedures. The negative cognitive consequences also influence the executive functions. The impairment of concentration and emotional control most often leads to anti-social behavior.

The economic costs and consequences for society of inbreeding are of course secondary to the reality of human suffering. However, inbreeding among Muslims has severe implications for both Western society and the Muslim world.

Expenses related to mentally and physically handicapped Muslim immigrants drain the budget for other public services: “When cousins have children together, they are twice as likely to have a disabled child — it costs municipal funds dearly. Disabled immigrant children cost Danish municipalities millions. In Copenhagen County alone, the number of disabled children saw an overall increase of 100 percent in 10 years… Meredith Lefelt has contacted 330 families with disabled children in Copenhagen. She estimates that one third of their clients have a foreign cultural background.” (BT, 10/11 2003 “Immigrants’ inbreeding costs one million”). On top of that come the expenses for Muslim immigrants who — because of various consequences of being born from blood related parents — are not able to live up to the challenges of our Western work market: Muslim immigrants and their descendants in Europe have a very high rate of unemployment. The same goes for Muslims in USA, where the Gallup Institute made a study involving 300,000 people that concluded “The majority of Muslims in USA have a lower income, are less educated and have worse jobs than the population as a whole.” (Berlingske Tidende, d. 3. marts 2009 “Muslims thrive in the USA”).

The cognitive consequences of Muslim inbreeding might explain why non-Western immigrants are more than 300 percent more likely to fail the Danish army’s intelligence test than native Danes: “19.3% of non-Western immigrants are not able to pass the Danish army’s intelligence test. In comparison, only 4.7% of applicants with Danish background do not pass.” (TV 2 Nyhederne, 13/6 2007 “Immigrants flunk army test”). It probably also explains — at least partly — why two thirds of all immigrant school children with Arabic backgrounds are illiterate after ten years in the Danish school system: “Those who speak Arabic with their parents have an extreme tendency to lack reading ability — 64 percent are illiterate… No matter whether it concerns reading ability, mathematics, or science, the pattern is the same: the bilingual immigrants’ skills are exceedingly poor compared to their Danish classmates.” (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit [pdf], May 2007 “Ethnic students do not make Danish children worse”). The high expenses of special education for slow learners consumes one third of the budget for the Danish schools. “Immigrant children are clearly overrepresented on Copenhagen’s schools for retarded children and children with physical handicaps… 51 percent of the children in the three schools in Copenhagen for children with physical and mental handicaps have an immigrant background, and in one of the schools the figure is 70 percent… These amounts are significantly higher than the share of immigrant children in the municipality, which is 33 percent. The many handicapped children are clear evidence that there are many intermarried parents in the immigrant families.” (Jydske Vestkysten, 4/4 2009 “Tosprogede i overtal på handicapskoler”).

Our high level of education may also make it harder for inbred students to follow and finish their studies: “Young people with minority backgrounds have a significantly higher dropout rate at secondary schools than youth with a Danish background. For trade school education, the dropout rate among immigrants is 60 percent, twice as high among adolescents with a Danish background…There is great variation in educational outcomes when compared with national origin. For example, dropout among young people with Lebanese or Iranian background is far greater than among people of Vietnamese background.” (Center for Knowledge on Integration in Randers, May 2005 “Youth, education and integration”). “Among immigrant children that are born and raised in Denmark, more than a third has no education. Among native Danes it is less than one fifth that do not get an education. (Danmarks Statistik “Indvandrere i 2007”).

The negative consequences of inbreeding are also vast for the Muslim world. Inbreeding may thus explain why only nine Muslims ever managed to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize (5 of them won the “Peace Prize” — for peace that turned out not to last for very long).

The limited ability to understand, appreciate and produce knowledge following a limited IQ is probably also partly the reason why Muslim countries produce 1/10 of the World average when it comes to scientific research: “In 2003, the world average for production of articles per million inhabitants was 137, whereas none of the 47 OIC countries for which there were data achieved production above 107 per million inhabitants. The OIC average was just 13.” (Nature 444, s. 26-27, 1. November 2006 “Islam and science: The data gap”). The lack of interest in science and human development in the Muslim World is also clear in the UN Arab Human Development Reports (AHDR). AHDR concludes that there have been fewer books translated into Arabic in the last thousand years than the number of books translated within the country of Spain every year: “The Arab world translates about 330 books annually, one fifth of the number that Greece translates. The cumulative total of translated books since the Caliph Maa’moun’s [sic] time (the ninth century) is about 100,000, almost the average that Spain translates in one year.” (Eugene Rogan “Arab Books and human development”. Index of Censorship, vol. 33, issue 2 April 2004, s. 152-157). “70 percent of the Turkish citizens never read books.”(APA, d. 23. February 2009 “70 percent of Turkish citizens never read book”)


There is no doubt that the widespread Muslim tradition of first-cousin marriages has harmed the gene pool among Muslims. Because Muslims’ religious beliefs prohibit marrying non-Muslims and thus prevent them from adding fresh genetic material to their population, the genetic damage done to their gene pool since their prophet allowed first cousin marriages 1,400 years ago are most likely massive. The overwhelming direct and indirect human and societal consequences have been explained above.

Compassion for the health of future generations should be enough to ban intermarriage among first cousins. The economic and social consequences are also important. Such a ban would also lessen Muslim immigration to the West because many Muslim families would like to be able to continue their practice of intermarriage in order to live up to cultural and religious traditions and keep wealth and power inside their families.

A legislative ban on first cousin marriages is a logical and compassionate imperative for the Muslim world, the EU, and our Western national governments.

by Nicolai Sennels: http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2010/08/islam-and-inbreeding.html

Up to our ears in Al Gore’s ‘climate change’ snake oil

gw-al-gore-fireAl Gore and his traveling medicine show is back in town with his new, improved snake oil, guaranteed to grow hair, improve digestion, promote regularity and kill roaches, rats and bedbugs. Al and his wagon rumbled into town on the eve of “a major forthcoming report” from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is a panel of scientists affiliated with the United Nations. Their report is expected to buck up the spirits of the tycoons of the snake-oil industry.

A snake-oil salesman’s lot, like a policeman’s, is not a happy one. There’s always a skeptic or two (or three) standing at the back of the wagon, eager to scoff and jeer. The global-warming scam would have been right up Gilbert and Sullivan’s street. Would Al and the U.N. deceive us? No! Never! What! Never? Weeeell, hardly ever.

The New York Times, a faithful shill for Al’s snake-oil elixir, following the wagon from town to town, got an advance copy of the U.N. report and gives out with the “good” news: It’s a “near certainty” that humans are responsible for the rising temperatures of recent decades, and warns that by the end of the century all the little people — small children, midgets and others whose growth was stunted by drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes at an early age — will be up to their belly buttons in salt water. The seas will rise by more than three feet.

The inconvenient truth Al and the junk scientists have to deal with is that temperatures aren’t rising, but falling. In fact, since the early 1990s we’ve had global cooling. It got so embarrassing Al and the junk scientists started calling it “climate change.” Some days it rains, some days it doesn’t and some days it’s a little of both. That’s real change. The U.N. panel concedes that global warming has in fact given way to global cooling, but attributes this to “short-term factors.” The minions of the compliant media, ever eager to blow hard about the coming end of the world, when women and minorities will suffer most, will rattle and twitter about the U.N. climate report with their usual tingle and flutter.

President Obama tried the other day to elbow Al aside to lead with his assertion that hurricanes are getting worse and that only he has the power to put them in their place. Hurricanes are actually getting not worse, but fewer. Only three major hurricanes have made landfall so far in Mr. Obama’s presidency. Grover Cleveland, who was president between 1885 and 1889, entertained 26 major hurricanes during his presidency, and that was before global warning was invented.

We were scheduled to see an enormous melting of polar ice by now, but even the ice won’t co-operate. The U.S. Navy forecasts twice as much mid-September ice this year as it measured in 2012.

The only way to deal with the inconvenient truth is to bellow and bawl the convenient whopper louder than ever. In an interview this week with a blogger for The Washington Post, Ezra Klein greeted Al with a shower of sanitized softballs, and Al knocked some of them halfway back to the pitcher’s mound. Al is exhausted dealing with the skeptics, whom he calls “denialists,” as in denying the Holocaust. The denialists, he says, are “like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage every time a subject is mentioned and so everybody avoids the elephant in the room to keep the peace.”

Al, who is a decent sort who tried to be a good ol’ boy when he went back home to visit the family tobacco farm, says the denialists remind him of racists, warmongers, homophobes and other congenital undesirables, but he thinks it won’t be long until they’re permanently silenced. “We’re winning the conversation,” he says.

On the contrary, what frustrates Al and the snake-oil industry is that the skeptics can no longer be shut out of the conversation. “We can expect the climate crisis industry to grow increasingly shrill, and increasingly hostile toward anyone who questions their authority,” Kenneth P. Green, a former member of the U.N. panel, predicted three years ago. Another former panelist, Dr. Kimimori Itoh, a Japanese physical chemist, calls the phenomenon “the worst scientific scandal in history. When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.”

That’s too bad, because when science and scientists one day discover a genuine crisis, nobody will listen. We’re up to our ears already in snake oil.

Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/23/pruden-up-to-our-ears-in-snake-oil/#ixzz2cobuiIDd

Why I changed my mind on weed

(CNN) — Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called “Weed.” The title “Weed” may sound cavalier, but the content is not.

I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.

Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”

Well, I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.

Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”

They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works. Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month.

I have seen more patients like Charlotte first hand, spent time with them and come to the realization that it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana.

We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.

I hope this article and upcoming documentary will help set the record straight.

On August 14, 1970, the Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Roger O. Egeberg wrote a letter recommending the plant, marijuana, be classified as a schedule 1 substance, and it has remained that way for nearly 45 years. My research started with a careful reading of that decades old letter. What I found was unsettling. Egeberg had carefully chosen his words:

“Since there is still a considerable void in our knowledge of the plant and effects of the active drug contained in it, our recommendation is that marijuana be retained within schedule 1 at least until the completion of certain studies now underway to resolve the issue.”

Not because of sound science, but because of its absence, marijuana was classified as a schedule 1 substance. Again, the year was 1970. Egeberg mentions studies that are underway, but many were never completed. As my investigation continued, however, I realized Egeberg did in fact have important research already available to him, some of it from more than 25 years earlier.

High risk of abuse

In 1944, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia commissioned research to be performed by the New York Academy of Science. Among their conclusions: they found marijuana did not lead to significant addiction in the medical sense of the word. They also did not find any evidence marijuana led to morphine, heroin or cocaine addiction.

We now know that while estimates vary, marijuana leads to dependence in around 9 to 10% of its adult users. By comparison, cocaine, a schedule 2 substance “with less abuse potential than schedule 1 drugs” hooks 20% of those who use it. Around 25% of heroin users become addicted.

The worst is tobacco, where the number is closer to 30% of smokers, many of whom go on to die because of their addiction.

There is clear evidence that in some people marijuana use can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety and nausea. Even considering this, it is hard to make a case that it has a high potential for abuse. The physical symptoms of marijuana addiction are nothing like those of the other drugs I’ve mentioned. I have seen the withdrawal from alcohol, and it can be life threatening.

I do want to mention a concern that I think about as a father. Young, developing brains are likely more susceptible to harm from marijuana than adult brains. Some recent studies suggest that regular use in teenage years leads to a permanent decrease in IQ. Other research hints at a possible heightened risk of developing psychosis.

Much in the same way I wouldn’t let my own children drink alcohol, I wouldn’t permit marijuana until they are adults. If they are adamant about trying marijuana, I will urge them to wait until they’re in their mid-20s when their brains are fully developed.

Medical benefit

While investigating, I realized something else quite important. Medical marijuana is not new, and the medical community has been writing about it for a long time. There were in fact hundreds of journal articles, mostly documenting the benefits. Most of those papers, however, were written between the years 1840 and 1930. The papers described the use of medical marijuana to treat “neuralgia, convulsive disorders, emaciation,” among other things.

A search through the U.S. National Library of Medicine this past year pulled up nearly 20,000 more recent papers. But the majority were research into the harm of marijuana, such as “Bad trip due to anticholinergic effect of cannabis,” or “Cannabis induced pancreatitits” and “Marijuana use and risk of lung cancer.”

In my quick running of the numbers, I calculated about 6% of the current U.S. marijuana studies investigate the benefits of medical marijuana. The rest are designed to investigate harm. That imbalance paints a highly distorted picture.

The challenges of marijuana research

To do studies on marijuana in the United States today, you need two important things.

First of all, you need marijuana. And marijuana is illegal. You see the problem. Scientists can get research marijuana from a special farm in Mississippi, which is astonishingly located in the middle of the Ole Miss campus, but it is challenging. When I visited this year, there was no marijuana being grown.

The second thing you need is approval, and the scientists I interviewed kept reminding me how tedious that can be. While a cancer study may first be evaluated by the National Cancer Institute, or a pain study may go through the National Institute for Neurological Disorders, there is one more approval required for marijuana: NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It is an organization that has a core mission of studying drug abuse, as opposed to benefit.

Stuck in the middle are the legitimate patients who depend on marijuana as a medicine, oftentimes as their only good option.

Keep in mind that up until 1943, marijuana was part of the United States drug pharmacopeia. One of the conditions for which it was prescribed was neuropathic pain. It is a miserable pain that’s tough to treat. My own patients have described it as “lancinating, burning and a barrage of pins and needles.” While marijuana has long been documented to be effective for this awful pain, the most common medications prescribed today come from the poppy plant, including morphine, oxycodone and dilaudid.

Here is the problem. Most of these medications don’t work very well for this kind of pain, and tolerance is a real problem.

Most frightening to me is that someone dies in the United States every 19 minutes from a prescription drug overdose, mostly accidental. Every 19 minutes. It is a horrifying statistic. As much as I searched, I could not find a documented case of death from marijuana overdose.

It is perhaps no surprise then that 76% of physicians recently surveyed said they would approve the use of marijuana to help ease a woman’s pain from breast cancer.

When marijuana became a schedule 1 substance, there was a request to fill a “void in our knowledge.” In the United States, that has been challenging because of the infrastructure surrounding the study of an illegal substance, with a drug abuse organization at the heart of the approval process. And yet, despite the hurdles, we have made considerable progress that continues today.

Looking forward, I am especially intrigued by studies like those in Spain and Israel looking at the anti-cancer effects of marijuana and its components. I’m intrigued by the neuro-protective study by Lev Meschoulam in Israel, and research in Israel and the United States on whether the drug might help alleviate symptoms of PTSD. I promise to do my part to help, genuinely and honestly, fill the remaining void in our knowledge.

Citizens in 20 states and the District of Columbia have now voted to approve marijuana for medical applications, and more states will be making that choice soon. As for Dr. Roger Egeberg, who wrote that letter in 1970, he passed away 16 years ago.

I wonder what he would think if he were alive today.