About a month ago now I eloquently (if I say so myself) set out the case for the decriminalisation and legalisation of many now illegal drugs. To see the original piece, click here.
Nash and I agree on most things, but this is something where we have fundamental disagreement. So two weeks later Nash came out with blistering yet incoherent and logical fallacy ridden response. To see the response, click here.
Due to ‘popular’ demand here on Things Can Only Get Better, I thought it’s about time I shoot Nash’s response clean out of the water.
In my original piece I laid out 5 carefully constructed arguments for my case:
1. Letting individuals do what they want with their own body as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else (especially when many drugs are less harmful than alcohol).
2. State control over the substances and concentration of drugs.
3. Would wipe out most of the organised crime world’s income.
4. Large tax revenue that would be gained from legalised drugs.
5. And end to the costly and ineffective ‘War on Drugs’.
All 5 points I expected, in a soon to be Nash response, would be addressed in some form or another. It seems I was wrong, as he only had time for the first argument.
Overall seems my brutally authoritarian anti-science co-editor’s response was on the whole of a bit of a let down. So let’s go through it and pick it apart.
“he made a point of stubbornly sticking to one of his more bizarre, niche obsessions.” (logical fallacy count: 1)
This is a line Nash is going to stick to throughout the majority of his post. This is very much the same principle as argument ad populum, popular support, or in this case apathy to an issue still has no absolutely no bearing on whether that issue should be addressed or not.
“While most people are quite happy to accept the long-standing illegality of such substances;” (historical inaccuracy count: 1)
Not true Nash, the criminality of drugs have only truly been going for around 100 years, relatively recent in the grand scheme of human history. For many soldiers during the First World War they could still have access to drugs from home.
“for a tiny but disproportionately vocal subculture this issue is a scab they will not desist from picking.” (logical fallacy count: 2)
I know it’s the same fallacy as before, but nothing beats distorting the figures…
“Illegal drugs are the obsession of a fashionable and over-represented middle class clique.” (logical fallacy count: 3)
Ad hominen makes an appearance.
“What’s more, alcohol in modest quantities is harmless, even beneficial, as the liver naturally regenerates. Smoking cannabis on the other hand contributes irreversibly towards the development of lung cancer. That’s in addition to turning dull posh kids into pretentious w***ers.” (logical fallacy count: 4)
Sadly Nash was unable to provide evidence for such a claim, consequently I’m comfortable labelling this under anecdotal for now. He also fails to recognise that if this is the case, a state controlling how drugs are produced can prevent other chemicals being added to make the said drug less addictive and less harmful while at the same time lowering the overall concentration.
“that is only the case for comparing worst case against worse case. Statistically a very questionable methodology. Compare your median drinker who had two or three pints at the weekend with your median junkie shooting up in a Glasgow public toilet and you grasp the absurdity of the comparison.” (logical fallacy count: 5)
“Two experts from the Amsterdam National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and the Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research point out in a Lancet commentary the study does not look at multiple drug use, which can make some drugs much more dangerous – such as cocaine or cannabis together with alcohol”
But this was added with:
“ – but they acknowledge the topic was outside its scope.”
“Were it not for people like Max muddying the waters with their dissent, telling impressionable younger people that drug use is OK or cool, then use would probably be much lower.” (logical fallacy count: 6)
Strawman again. Well after all Nash, I am so down with the kids. But I’m curious, where did I (or people like me) say it was “OK or cool,“?
“In no other criminal activity would a proposed solution be legalisation –for murder or burglary it would be unimaginable.” (historical inaccuracy count: 2)
Homosexuality decriminalised in the 60s (ok yeah, decriminalised, but in this case it’s more or less the same thing), abortions legalised, repealing prohibition, etc, etc. Nash then also makes the mistake of equating drug use to murder or burglary. I can’t spell this out any simpler, murder and burglary bad as they hurt other people. Nash getting sh*t faced off caffine and/or alcohol only bad for him and him alone in the same way it would be bad for a drug user.
The ‘defining’ argument of Nash’s reponse boiled to one very bad case of special pleading and iron fisted authoritarianism.
“Thing A is bad and legal. Thing B is bad and illegal. Therefore Thing B should also be legal. That’s just bad logic. If human civilisation was starting from a clean slate then yes, perhaps for the sake of consistency both A and B would be kept illegal – but as things currently stand living in the world as it is, not as some would have it be, there is no sense in making more harmful substances available to more people.” (logical fallacy count: 7)
Nah, it’s called consistency babs. If you kick up a fuss over drugs potentially being decriminalised/legalised and not about the dangers of junk food, then that’s hypocrisy at it’s finest. You can throw all the excuses in the world out, it still not consistent babs. On another note, I’m curious where people like Nash think it’s ok to dictate to people what they can and can’t do when it has no direct impact on themselves, must be my hipster elitism must clouding my senses every now and then.
You may think that this post hasn’t really brought anything new to the debate and you’d be right. When most of my points are ignored I see no point throwing in new information and arguments.
Either way, is this what you want, brutal authoritarians dictating to people what they can and can’t do (even when it does absolutely no harm to anyone else) simply because they’re too high off their fizzy pop? I’ll leave you with damning thought.
Total logical fallacy count: 7
Total historical inaccuracy count: 2