Sunday, 26 May 2013

Article: Open Your Mind to the New Psychedelic Science

Original Article written by Greg Miller for Wired - Friday 26, April 2013

Timothy Leary really screwed things up for science. By abandoning the scientific method for a mystical embrace of hallucinogenic drugs, the Harvard-professor-turned-LSD-evangelist became a symbol of ’60s-era drug-fueled degeneracy. Worse, the ensuing backlash pushed these drugs underground and caused an enormously promising field of research to go dormant for nearly half a century.

Or so say some scientists who met in Oakland, California last weekend for a conference on the science and therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs. “The antics of Timothy Leary really undermined the scientific approach to studying these compounds,” psychopharmacologist Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University told the audience.

But the times they are a-changin’. In recent years, a small cadre of scientists has cautiously rekindled the scientific study of psychedelics. At the conference, they reported new findings on how these drugs scramble brain activity in ways that might help explain their mind-bending effects. They’re also slowly building a case that these drugs might help people with depression, anxiety and other disorders.

Roughly a dozen small clinical trials are now underway worldwide. But the idea isn’t “take two tabs of acid and call me in the morning.” Instead, these trials are testing the idea that psychedelics taken in a therapist’s office as part of a series of psychotherapy sessions can make talk therapy more effective.

“Now that we’ve been able to start getting some evidence on the benefits, it changes people’s calculus,” said Rick Doblin, the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), one of the meeting’s sponsors.

Doblin and MAPS have been battling regulators since the mid-80s to allow research and clinical trials with psychedelics. The recent revival of psychedelic science may be one sign

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Speech: Gary Wilson - The Great Porn Experiment (TEDxGlasgow)

In response to Philip Zimbardo's "The Demise of Guys?" TED talk, Gary Wilson asks whether our brains evolved to handle the hyperstimulation of today's Internet enticements. He also discusses the disturbing symptoms showing up in some heavy Internet users, the surprising reversal of those symptoms, and the science behind these 21st century phenomena.

More About Gary Wilson:

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Speech: Philip Zimbardo: The demise of guys?

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo asks, "Why are boys struggling?" He shares some stats (lower graduation rates, greater worries about intimacy and relationships) and suggests a few reasons -- and challenges the TED community to think about solutions.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Documentary: Ecstasy Rising (MDMA)

ABC News television documentary with Peter Jennings on the history of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine) also known as ecstasy. It includes a short history of the drug and criticizes the negative health claims made by the U.S. government.
The rise of Ecstasy is a major event in drug history. If current trends continue, 1.8 million Americans will try Ecstasy for the first time in 2004. Only marijuana will attract more new users. Overwhelming, positive word of mouth has made Ecstasy a nightmare for drug controllers.
On a special edition of ‘Primetime Thursday’ Peter Jennings tells the epic story of Ecstasy that has never been heard.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Article: A Psychedelic-Science Advocate Takes His Case to the Pentagon

Original Article written by Greg Miller for Wired - Tuesday 05, March 2013

For Rick Doblin, being invited to the Pentagon was an emotional experience. Growing up in the 60s,Doblin embraced the counterculture and protested the Vietnam war and the military-industrial complex behind it.

Yesterday he was at the Pentagon trying to persuade military medical officials to permit a clinical trial that would test MDMA, the active ingredient in the party drug Ecstasy, in conjunction with psychotherapy, in active duty soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There’s been this history of conflict between psychedelics and the military, and we’re trying to say that’s not the only vision,” Doblin said. “There’s a way for us to come together.”

Doblin is the founder and director of the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is trying to get drugs like psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA approved for medical use. MAPS has already sponsored small clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, first in survivors of sexual abuse and assault, and now in military veterans, police, and firefighters.

Doblin spoke with Wired about his military mission and what it says about shifting attitudes towards psychedelic drugs.

Wired: What were you doing at the Pentagon?

Rick Doblin: I am hoping to convince them to back a study with active duty soldiers with PTSD. But I’m not asking them to fund it. MAPS will fund a demonstration project. If it works, I’d hope they will fund future studies. This was our second meeting to talk about some sort of collaboration, and the meeting went really well.

Wired: Was it strange for you to be there?

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Article: How Austerity Kills

Original Article written by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu for the The New York Times - Sunday 12, May 2013

EARLY last month, a triple suicide was reported in the seaside town of Civitanova Marche, Italy. A married couple, Anna Maria Sopranzi, 68, and Romeo Dionisi, 62, had been struggling to live on her monthly pension of around 500 euros (about $650), and had fallen behind on rent.
Because the Italian government’s austerity budget had raised the retirement age, Mr. Dionisi, a former construction worker, became one of Italy’s esodati (exiled ones) — older workers plunged into poverty without a safety net. On April 5, he and his wife left a note on a neighbor’s car asking for forgiveness, then hanged themselves in a storage closet at home. When Ms. Sopranzi’s brother, Giuseppe Sopranzi, 73, heard the news, he drowned himself in the Adriatic.

The correlation between unemployment and suicide has been observed since the 19th century. People looking for work are about twice as likely to end their lives as those who have jobs.

In the United States, the suicide rate, which had slowly risen since 2000, jumped during and after the 2007-9 recession. In a new book, we estimate that 4,750 “excess” suicides — that is, deaths above what pre-existing trends would predict — occurred from 2007 to 2010. Rates of such suicides were significantly greater in the states that experienced the greatest job losses. Deaths from suicide overtook deaths from car crashes in 2009.

If suicides were an unavoidable consequence of economic downturns, this would just be another story about the human toll of the Great Recession. But it isn’t so. Countries that slashed health and social protection budgets, like Greece, Italy and Spain, have seen starkly worse health outcomes than nations like Germany, Iceland and Sweden, which maintained their social safety nets and opted for stimulus over austerity. (Germany preaches the virtues of austerity — for others.)

As scholars of public health and political economy, we have watched aghast as politicians endlessly debate debts and deficits with little regard for the human costs of their decisions. Over the past decade, we mined huge data sets from across the globe to understand how economic shocks — from the Great Depression to the end of the Soviet Union to the Asian financial crisis to the Great Recession — affect our health. What we’ve found is that people do not inevitably get sick or die because the economy has faltered. Fiscal policy, it turns out, can be a matter of life or death.

At one extreme is Greece, which is in the middle of a public health disaster. The national health budget has been cut by 40 percent since 2008, partly to meet deficit-reduction targets set by the so-called troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — as part of a 2010 austerity package. Some 35,000 doctors, nurses and other health workers have lost their jobs. Hospital admissions have soared after Greeks avoided getting routine and preventive treatment because of long wait times and rising drug costs. Infant mortality rose by 40 percent. New H.I.V. infections more than doubled, a result of rising intravenous drug use — as the

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Article: Are we all Muslim now? Assata Shakur and the Terrordome

Original Article written by Sohail Daulatzai for the Al Jazzera - Thursday 9, May 2013

Assata Shakur is now a Muslim. Well, she didn't actually convert to Islam. But in the eyes of the United States government where "terrorism" and threats to the state have become synonymous with Islam and Muslims, the recent placement of Assata Shakur on the FBI's "Most Wanted Terrorist List", has for all intents and purposes, made her one.

While her being named to the list shocked many, is it really that surprising, especially when one considers how the "war on terror" has been used as a logic of control to systematically target, undermine and destroy any challenge to the domestic and global realms of US power?

Welcome to the Terrordome

Recently while in New York, I was on a panel at the Riverside Church that explored the links between the "war on crime" and the "war on terror". I joined an incredible group of mostly black and Muslim activists, individuals (including Yusef Salaam, one of the "Central Park Five"), and family members of individuals who have been persecuted and incarcerated due to the policies of these proxy "wars".

As I discussed on the panel, it's no coincidence that the figure of the "black criminal" and the "Muslim terrorist" both emerged in US political culture in the early 1970s due to the neurotic fears of Black Power domestically, and the threats to an expanding US imperial footprint in Muslim countries abroad.

For the individuals and family members who have been deeply scarred by these violent state policies, their powerful testimonies of life on the frontlines made plain to all of us there the deep connections that exist between the "war on crime" and the "war on terror", between the "black criminal" and the "Muslim terrorist".

Take the logic of "crime" for example. Cle Shaheed Sloan's 2005 documentary Bastards of the Party and Mike Davis' book City of Quartz suggest that the criminalisation of blackness in the late 1960s and early 70s was in essence a counter-insurgency strategy against black communities in the shadow of Black Power, as the "war on crime" (and "war on drugs") became an extension of the dirty wars waged by COINTELPRO that sought to prevent

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Speech: Terence McKenna - Evolving Times

American philosopher, psychonaut, researcher, teacher, lecturer and writer Terence McKenna presents his perspective on evolution in this 1995 lecture titled Evolving Times.

What's fascinating and disturbing is that McKenna's thoughts are still a great indication of how we probably should evolve as a society.

Definitely one of the most astounding speeches you will ever hear.


Speech: Rupert Sheldrake - The Science Delusion

Re-uploaded as TED have decided to censor Rupert and remove this video from the TEDx youtube channel. Follow this link for TED's statement on the matter and Dr. Sheldrake's response.

RUPERT SHELDRAKE, Ph.D. (born 28 June 1942) is a biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and ten books. A former Research Fellow of the Royal Society, he studied natural sciences at Cambridge University, where he was a Scholar of Clare College, took a double first class honours degree and was awarded the University Botany Prize. He then studied philosophy and history of science at Harvard University, where he was a Frank Knox Fellow, before returning to Cambridge, where he took a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, where he was Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology. As the Rosenheim Research Fellow of the Royal Society, he carried out research on