I should probably just let it go, but a story in today's New York Times is just such a hand-wringing piece of bullshit that I have to weigh in:
In a 15-page package, [Wired] magazine gives some mild advice to people who want to enhance their cognition: “Think Positive,” it advises, and “Distract Yourself.” Then there is a somewhat disarming chart: “Do the Right Drugs,” it recommends, laying out the pros and cons of eight drugs — some legal, some not — that it says can “boost your cognitive output.”
Six are prescription medications, like Adderall, a potentially addictive drug that is often prescribed to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But the list also includes nicotine, which, according to Wired, aids in “memory formation and attention.” And methamphetamine, which the magazine says can “increase concentration and creative output.”
I wrote the story in question. And including meth in the list of drugs? Totally my idea.
I don't quite get what the Times' position is, other than "Wired is suggesting you do meth!" Well, no. That wasn't the point at all. Let's look at some of the side effects I listed: "Parkinson's-like symptoms, addiction, stroke, psychosis, prison, death." Oh, hey, and in the "what it does" column, I also note "Prolonged use can also make you stupid and crazy." Does that sound like an endorsement to you?
I'll tell you one thing about Wired that I really appreciate: we don't assume our readers are idiots. I've written for a lot of publications., and you'd be amazed at how many think you're fucking stupid. Apparently, the New York Times shares that sentiment.
Look, here's the thing: meth can help you focus and accomplish menial and creative tasks--just as is true of other amphetamines. It boosts dopamine output. Plain and simple. Does that mean it's worth doing? No.
Amphetamine has a long and storied history as a tool that has helped people, well, amp up their brainpower. Jack Kerouac is one famous case. His drug of choice for cranking out page after masterful page was Benzedrine. Benzedrine's active ingredient is dl-amphetamine, which is, of course, a close cousin to meth.
Now, that doesn't mean you should use it. Certainly long term use makes you dumb and crazy. I've watched friends ruin their lives on meth. It's a horrible drug that's less likely to turn you into the next Kerouac than it is this guy.
Why, this may shock you, but here's the thing: Cocaine is exceptionally fun. LSD? It genuinely alters your perception. I'm not suggesting that you do either of these. Both conspired, unsuccessfully, to kill me and I would no more try either today than I would attempt to put a rattlesnake in my anus. I am older and wiser and recognize that the benefits are not worth the risks. Despite my swinging-dick persona on Twitter, I'm more this guy than that guy. Drugs, especially highly addictive ones like speed or cocaine or heroin or ones with powerful psychological components like LSD, tend to not be worth the price you pay for their use.
But the viewpoint that illegal drugs are purely bad and have no positive contributions whatsoever to offer is simply nonsense, and we should put it to rest. We'll never solve society's problems if we can't at least speak honestly about them.
The bottom line is if you use meth, you're very likely to ruin your life. Which I noted. In fact, one reason I wanted to include meth was to help make the point that every drug has its cons.
But that does not mean the cons are the entire story. And as long as we're shaming, maybe the New York Times should be ashamed of itself for assuming we are a nation of six year olds who can't be spoken to honestly or trusted to make rational decisions.
For the last word on this, I'll leave you with the inimitable Bill Hicks: