Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Framing Thoughts (LSD vs. Alcohol)

"You can observe a lot just by watchin'"
—Yogi Berra

Recently, I read a book about how people think in frames which is itself a frame. I have found myself thinking in that frame ever since I read that book. I think that is kind of funny really. I have been looking at the frames people view the world in and how difficult it is for them to accept any other view or even accept facts that are in conflict with their view. I know I do this too but, of course, the areas where I do this are less obvious to me than when others do it. Here is one example:

There was a pretty good discussion about LSD on amptoons where I noticed many people making comments like "I haven’t done anything harder than alcohol." I started to think about that. I mean, clearly the frame they are working with is that LSD is harder or worse than alcohol. But in what way? I suppose if one were talking purely from a legal point of view, LSD is worse than alcohol since LSD is illegal and alcohol isn’t. But I think they were coming from a point of view that LSD is more harmful to oneself than alcohol.

I have noticed a lot of people have a frame where they view all illegal drugs as being more harmful than legal ones. Some people do not even consider legal drugs to be drugs at all. Honestly, I have had people stand in front of me with a rum and coke while smoking a cigarette and say, “Well, I have never used drugs in my life!” Often if one suggests that caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are all drugs and potentially harmful ones in their own way, one will get a blank look of incomprehension in response.

If one should suggest that alcohol is not only a drug but possibly one that is worse than LSD, they will not accept that view even if one has facts to back it up. For example, if one presents facts that it is easier to overdose on alcohol than it is to overdose on LSD as evidenced by the percentage of users of each drug who have overdosed, such facts will be dismissed. For the record, I got some statistics off of the web that suggest an annual average of 317 deaths attributed to alcohol poisoning (notice that most people call it alcohol poisoning rather than alcohol overdose) and I was able to find only one anecdotal case of an LSD overdose where a person injected over 100,000 times the usual dose into their veins. But people have a hard time believing this, both because they are used to alcohol and either consume it themselves regularly with few ill effects or see others who do. Most people have not been quite as regularly exposed to LSD. I see a fear of LSD as being similar to the irrational fear of flying that many people (including myself have). We all KNOW that driving a car is more dangerous but we cant really believe it because driving a car is familiar and something we do regularly while riding in a plane is not.

Another interesting thing is that even though people will deny serious research that conflicts with their frame, these same people will, however, accept without question anecdotal evidence if it supports their frame. In almost every discussion I have had with someone about LSD, someone always mentions someone they have heard of who tripped on LSD and then "lost their mind" Almost always, when questioned, they will admit that they don’t actually know this person and that it was a friend of a friend. I don’t deny that such a thing is possible with a drug like LSD. I imagine that some people have a bad experience with it and then suffer PTSD or some similar disorder. I also know from working with people with serious mental illnesses like Schizophrenia that the onset of that mental illness is often around the same age that many people experiment with drugs so that the onset of the illness could easily be confused as a reaction to the drug. I can even believe that LSD causes mental illness in rare cases. It is one of those things though where a good study or several good studies would be good to have when forming an opinion but there simply are no studies that I know of that show that LSD causes any mental harm to anyone. Yet, people continue to believe LSD urban legends wholeheartedly.

Now, I am not saying that LSD is a drug without harmful effects although many people will hear that because I am saying that it is less harmful than alcohol. That is how it seems to be with frames though. A person has a frame that alcohol is safe so they will hear "LSD is Safe" when someone says something quite different such as "LSD is safer than Alcohol". LSD is safer than shooting yourself in the head too for what it is worth.

I find myself wondering what my frames are. I have identified a couple and have decided to try to be more open to facts that conflict with my world view. It isn’t easy though but I think that if more people did it, the world might be a better place. At the very least, I would hopefully find myself banging my head against my wall less while screaming “Why are so many people so stupid”

One can always hope.


E-Speed said...

interesting example of frames. It is the same with all kinds of irrational frames to. People are just stubborn! (myself included) ;)

islandarts said...

I consider myself the MOST stubborn when it comes to thinking in frames. sometimes i even know that i'm being close minded (even stupid) but i can't help myself.
i'm getting better in my old age.

Great blog!

Anonymous said...

what a thought provoking post! i guess thinking in frames could explain the current political climate, yes?

Anonymous said...

I tripped four times as a young man and I have no idea whether it was dangerous or not, but man talk about thinking in frames.

It was fun AND? I never want to do it again.

Lynne said...

I tripped on acid way more than four times. There is a big part of me that would like to do it again but I think I would be afraid that my body just couldnt handle it well. I am not so worried about the actual effects of the drug harming me but it keeps me from sleeping and I tend to use poor judgement about things (like I might just decide to go on a twenty mile hike or something) and then I would pay for it later. It is a moot point though since I dont have access to it.

Sandy D. said...

Whether something is perceived as "natural" is a big frame. I know a couple of people that think pot is natural, and took offense when I pointed out after thousands of years of domestication (and much increased chemical fiddling over the last 50 years), it wasn't any more natural than Prozac. At any rate, "natural" doesn't mean safe, or good, any more than "chemical" means artificial and unsafe.

(Getting down off my personal soapbox now).

Brian Damage said...

You've brought up some fantastic points in a very mature manner and I commend you. In fact, you and some people who commented on this post are all in sync.

Why do we consume alcohol or LSD? To alter our perception. By consuming intoxicants we better understand our world. We see the world in a different way for a while and then we change back. We compare our experiences and classify them as different states of perception, or as real and fantasy.

This is how we define our realities passively - not by what's there, but by what's NOT there. We bombard ourselves with stimuli and gauge reality on our kneejerk reactions. Socrates said "the more you know, the more you realize you know nothing." Light and sound travel at finite speeds, so by the time you've percieved something it's already history. Who are humans to judge what is real? What is truthful?

Anyone willing to tune into alternate realities will see their own reality expand. You've done this not only by considering new possibilities in prose, but by sharing your findings and allowing people to comment. Posters here who tried LSD more than once did so because they wanted to delve deeper into the difference between reality and fantasy. Same with those who enjoy a drink or two or ten.

Even those who don't listen still hear. So keep speaking!

Anonymous said...

I can tell you this, now that I'm in my early 30s and starting to realize that I may be an alcoholic, I wish acid was legal. Maybe I would have gotten drunk less often in my early 20s (due to availability) and avoided this mess. At least all the acid I took didn't make me an addict.

Anonymous said...

LSD brought back fanatical belief in Jesus/Christianity/Gog Magog/Jews being the chosen people of god/And the Holocaust (yes, it was a trip). None of this shit existed besides with a few nuts before the 60s.
Therefore it is more dangerous then alcohol.
We were close to defeating the semitic madness before the release of LSD.