There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.
— Alfred Korzybski
- 1 of 86
My goal is that by the end of this essay, I have altered the minds of those who need to be convinced. :-)
Many people use the phrase “mind altering” to describe specific drugs. After doing some analysis on my own I have reached a few conclusions, and show in this short essay, why “mind altering” is a misguided portrayal, a kind of bogeyman.
Recently I heard Michael Krasny (photo) of KQED Public radio in San Francisco, moderate a discussion about the (re)legalization of marijuana. One person, Judge Jim Gray (his website), held the view that marijuana should be legalized. And John Lovell, veteran lobbyist, and current lobbyist for California’s Peace Officer’s Association, the California Police Chief’s Association, and the California’s Narcotic Officer’s Association, held the opposite view, that marijuana should stay illegal.
Part of John Lovell’s reasoning was there is, “no social justification for adding yet another mind altering substance to the array of mind altering substances that are available.”
So let’s analyze this as in-depth as possible.
1. What is the mind? Many people would answer that “it’s what one uses to think with.” But there is no scientific evidence that the mind is a physical object. Certainly the brain is a physical object, but many people do not assign a one-to-one correspondence to the brain and the mind, although clearly they are related. However, let’s assume for now that the brain and mind are almost a one-to-one relationship.
Humans have devised many schemes to objectify the mind, but they all fall short in some way or another. Many units of measure have been put forth to quantify the mind, but due to phenomena like “idiot savants,” or kids who are so bored by the pace of the classroom they get F’s, those methods fall short of being able to fully quantify the mind. They can place certain aspects of the mind on one-demensional scales, but even putting all their scales together does not fully describe the mind.
2. If the saying, “you are what you eat” is true, then everything is “mind altering.” Clearly this yanks out a big part of the fear mongering. To the best that science can figure out, our body is built solely from substances we take in to ourselves. And if the brain and the mind are almost the same, then no matter what we eat, it affects our brains, thus minds.
Eat broccoli instead of ice cream, your mind will be affected differently. Your mind will be altered if you go off your diet of whole grains and start ingesting white flours. Your mind will be altered if you stop slurping down sugary soft drinks and start drinking unadulterated fruit juices.
For the Christians out there, please let me remind you of a saying of Jesus, “it’s not what goes in to your mouth that makes you spiritually unclean, it’s what comes out of your mouth that does.” [Matt 15:11-20, Mark 7:15-23] This saying is used by many to show that eating pork and anything else, does not cause spiritual uncleanness as was often feared.
3.What is the most mind altering of all?! What is more mind altering than the food you eat, or substances you put in yourself? Ideas! Books! Information! Education!
This is why many governments (and religions) around the world work hard to censor the information their citizens have access to. Clearly many governments put more effort, money, and other physical resources into limiting the information their citizens have access to, than keeping them from having access to “drugs.”
Not only do governments and religions work to hide information as a means to control others, but middle-men and corporations do too.
It should be noted that not only is gaining an understanding of the truth, mind altering. But being brainwashed with lies is mind altering too. This explains the Bible quotes above from a Christian perspective, when you spread truth, it’s a good thing, when you spread lies it creates spiritual uncleanness.
Clearly “mind altering” is used as a bogeyman to scare people.