The Rebuttal to the Rebuttal.

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.

We disappointed in you Nash, why you no work hard enough!?

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)

Strawman now rears it’s ugly head. In fact Nash, the guardian article I original linked to in my first drug post made no such mention of this. The one shortcoming of the research was:

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

MAX

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3 Responses to The Rebuttal to the Rebuttal.

  1. ukipboy says:

    I am assuming Max never has heard of the stories of the people who have to grow drugs like cocaine in Peru and Heroin in Afghanistan who are often forced to work for the drug lords of be killed. Or of the parents/family/friends of the poor young sod who watch as said darling slips into addiction and that entails or of the random person in the street who has their purse nicked or car stolen to fund the drug habit. Drugs even mild ones like cannabis harm other people apart from the person taking them.

    On the war on drugs arguably the only reason why it is failing or at least is not being won is that the West doesn’t want to use its full range of weapons. This in essence was a plot point in book 4 (Eagle Strike) of the popular children’s Alex Rider series.

    Another point Max I assume for you one of the joys of being a primary school teacher is that you don’t have to give any lessons in the evils of drugs as I don’t think they are covered till secondary school if I am right.

    • maxattacks says:

      Well of course I have heard of those stories Pete. But I’ve also heard of underworld drug use derives fom underworld farming (as mentioned earlier) in the same way I’ve heard of legally approved beef being produced by ethical farms that treat their workers fairly. Pete, if you criminalise a something you criminalise the production and all the problems that entails. It’s not a hard concept to understand, legalised drugs means legalised and ethical production from companies that obliged to seek such assurances under the law.

      In regards to addiction, where’s your outrage over alchol addiction, food addiction, exercise addiction? You also keenly skim over my original point that a legalised production means that the state can regulate the concentration of said drugs. A state can prevent chemicals which are normally added to make the substance far more addictive than it would normally be. I know selective reading is your thing Pete, it’s not going to work here.

      In regards to your last paragraph, I’m not sure what that entails or how it means anything constructive. Though I can assure you that any class I teach involves extracts from ‘the Communist manifesto’ and ‘God is Not Great’ are recited every morning to compensate for your vague point.

  2. ukipboy says:

    And here a few links to help out Nash, because fellow geologists should always help each other out, with his health claims, while he was wrong about Livers it is Hearts that you have to look at

    http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/healthyliving/alcohol/benefits/can-alcohol-be-good-for-you

    http://www.drinkaware.co.uk/check-the-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/effects-on-the-body/is-alcohol-good-for-the-heart

    A bit more ambigious
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/health/16alco.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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