Friday, January 30, 2015

The likely cause of addiction is not what you think

By British Leftist journalist Johann Hari.  What he says below is pretty right for heroin and cocaine use but may not apply to other drugs.  Hari's stress on the importance of human connections should sit well with conservatives.  With their connections to their families, their churches and their past, conservatives tend to have much better connections to others than do Leftists. Leftists think anything is a family, despise the churches and despise the past

Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine.

Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment.

The rat is put in the cage all alone.  It has nothing to do but take the drugs.  What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently?  So Professor Alexander built Rat Park.

It is a lush cage where the rats would have coloured balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want.  What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.  The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water.

They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War.

Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among US soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 per cent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended. But in fact some 95 per cent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab.  They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.

Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation.  It’s not you.  It’s your cage.

When I first learned about this, I was puzzled. How can this be?

This new theory is such a radical assault on what we have been told that it felt like it could not be true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the more I looked at their studies, the more I discovered things that don’t seem to make sense — unless you take account of this new approach.

Here’s one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day.

If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin.  In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief.

The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it.

So if the old theory of addiction is right — it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them — then it’s obvious what should happen.  Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here’s the strange thing: It virtually never happens.  As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use.  The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe — as I used to — that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s theory, the picture falls into place.

The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to.

The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves.  The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts.

Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections.  It’s how we get our satisfaction.

If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe.  He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’

A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety.  It is human connection.


Spare the blogger and lash us instead

by Jeff Jacoby

ON JAN. 9, the government of Saudi Arabia publicly whipped a liberal Muslim writer, Raif Badawi, flogging him 50 times outside a mosque in Jeddah. It was the first installment of the 1,000 lashes to which Badawi had been sentenced — in addition to 10 years in prison and a fine of more than $250,000 — for the crime of "insulting Islam" on his former website, the Saudi Free Liberals Forum.

Two days later, following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Saudi ambassador to France joined in the great Paris solidarity march in defense of freedom of expression.

Such hypocrisy was more than seven members of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom could abide. The commission — an independent, bipartisan federal agency — had several times expressed concern about the persecution of Badawi; it denounced his lashing as "a cruel and barbaric act" inflicted "for nothing more than creating an online forum for diverse views to be expressed freely." Last week, writing in their individual capacities to the Saudi embassy in Washington, the seven commissioners drew attention to the glaring inconsistency between Saudi Arabia's public show of support for civil liberties in France and its brutal denial of those very liberties in Badawi's case.

Then, in a powerful demonstration of genuine solidarity, they offered to share personally in his flogging.

"If your government will not remit the punishment of Raif Badawi, we respectfully ask that you permit each of us to take 100 of the lashes that would be given to him," they wrote. "We would rather share in his victimization than stand by and watch him being cruelly tortured."

The signatories are as intellectually distinguished as they are religiously and politically diverse. They include Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor and former ambassador to the Vatican; Zuhdi Jasser, a physician and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy; Robert George, a notable public scholar and professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University; and Eric Schwartz, a former assistant secretary of state who is now dean of the University of Minnesota's school of public affairs. Another commissioner, Daniel I. Mark, is a political scientist at Villanova University; Hannah Rosenthal is president of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation; and Katrina Lantos Swett, the commission chairman, heads an international human-rights foundation.

Of course, the chances are nil that the Saudis will agree to administer lashes to prominent American thinkers and social activists. But that doesn't make the commissioners' willingness to share in Badawi's suffering insincere. "If you're a serious religious person, you don't make such an offer unless you're prepared to carry it out," George told me. The same conviction was expressed by Mark, who in a blog post titled "#IAmRaif" wrote that he had been thinking hard about "what it means to sacrifice for others, to go to the Cross, as some might say, in the fight for justice."

Vocal appeals in support of Badawi have come not just from the American commissioners, but also from Nobel laureates, from Amnesty International, from members of Congress, and from PEN, the international writers' organization. But from the president of the United States there has so far been only silence.

President Obama cut short his state visit to India this week so he could travel to Saudi Arabia to pay his respects to the deceased King Abdullah. Yet "the Saudi who should be on the president's mind and heart right now," George insists emphatically, "is not Abdullah, it is Raif Badawi — the brutalized freedom advocate who has become the living symbol of the oppression practiced by Saudi Arabia's rulers."

Obama's silence is a source of particular distress to Jasser, a faithful Muslim who since 9/11 has made opposition to radical Islam his life's mission. "Everybody asks why more moderate Muslims don't speak out against the poison of Islamism," Jasser said by phone the other day. "Well, Badawi's ordeal is a clinic in what happens when they do." It would so hearten reformers and moderates within Islam, he says, if the president would publicly express concern for liberals like Badawi — the way Ronald Reagan made a point of mentioning Soviet refuseniks like Natan Sharansky by name.

Realpolitik may require an ongoing US relationship with the Saudis. But Americans are not obliged to pretend that Saudi Arabia — where liberals are whipped, dissidents are tortured, and jihadists are incubated — isn't one of the world's leading producers of intolerance and fanaticism. Badawi and others like him are the antidote to those toxins. They need all the solidarity we can give them.


European Socialists, Radical Muslims United by ‘Mutual Hatred for Judeo-Christian Culture’

 European socialists are united with radical Muslims by a “mutual hatred for Judeo-Christian culture,” which is why they continue to defend failed multicultural policies that are promoting the Islamification of Europe, says Soeren Kern, a senior fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.

“It’s called the Red-Green Alliance, red being the socialists and the green being Islam. There’s sort of a mutual interest on both sides to deconstruct the Judeo-Christian culture in Europe,” he explained.

“What the socialists don’t realize is that the Muslims hate them even more than they hate the Judeo-Christians, and so once it works out to its logical end, the socialists will be in big trouble.

“But right now, there’s a mutual interest to change the established historical culture in Europe. And that’s really what multiculturalism is all about,” Kern, an expert on Euorpean politics, told

Kern pointed out that European politicians like French President Francois Hollande, leader of the Socialist Party, promote the expansion of social programs in return for Muslim votes. Because of this mutually dependent alliance, socialist leaders are reluctant to criticize the 10 to 15 percent of Muslims who have become radicalized, even in the wake of the bloody terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo.

“I thought that these attacks in Paris were going to be a turning point, but when Francois Hollande said these attacks had nothing to do with Islam, that made me realize that either he’s dishonest, or he’s so afraid of what the consequences might be if he actually says that these terrorist attacks are somehow linked to Islam, what the Muslim community in France might do, how they might react.

“I think he’s trying not to rock the boat because he’s very fearful of [National Front Party leader] Marine Le Pen, who is the most popular politician in France right now. He’s trying to show that he’s doing something about it to slow down her rise in French politics.

"On the other hand, he doesn’t want to upset the Muslim community. So he is really walking a very fine tightrope. And the problem is, if you don’t have convictions one way or another, then you lose the respect of everybody.”

Kern said that while most European leaders are “reluctant” to take on the threat posed by radical Islam, more ordinary Europeans are coming to the conclusion that multiculturism has been a failure.

“I think that the European elites are very reluctant to admit that they were wrong, because they have everything invested in this multicultural social model. But I do believe that in most European countries, a pretty significant segment of the population is beginning to wake up and beginning to realize that something needs to be done,” he told "And that is the appeal of people like Marine Le Pen, she's from the National Front Party.

“I think until European elites recognize that mass immigration, a model of multiculturalism, is not viable, and it’s actually damaging, it’s putting in jeopardy the future of Europe, until they come to that conclusion, this is going to continue. Because right now, there’s no political will whatsoever to crack down on this and to admit that there’s been a mistake.

"And I think that the rise of people like Marine Le Pen, whether you like her or not, she's a fixture in French politics and I think that she is going to end up putting a lot of pressure on the multiculturalists. But what they're going to try to do is they're going to try to demonize her. They're going to try to destroy her, and do whatever they can to make sure that she never gets into political power in France,"

Kern added that the European political elite’s embrace of multiculturalism, with all of its “internal contradictions,” has ironically created more segregation and less freedom in Europe by allowing Muslims to create their own enclaves governed by sharia law, which is often at odds with their own nation’s laws.

“In Europe, it’s not a melting pot at all,” Kern told “Multiculturalism allows minority immigrant groups to set up their own societies and there’s no expectation of integration, of learning the language and of adopting to the legal system.

“In Britain, what you have now is a parallel system of more than 80 sharia courts that adjudicate all sorts of family law for Muslims. And under Islamic sharia law, women are not equal to men. So in a country where all people are supposed to be equal, you have a certain segment of society allowed to be treated as lesser individuals because they’re subjected to sharia law instead of the British Magna Carta.

“You also have the question of polygamy,” he continued. “It’s illegal in Germany and all the European countries, but exceptions are made for the Muslim communities. And what’s even more outrageous is that in the U.K., for example, the polygamists are able to collect social welfare benefits for all of their wives and all of the offspring of those wives. So you have one family of maybe 30 or 40 people all living off the state, even though it’s illegal.

“Even women’s rights groups in Europe, they all want abortion rights, but then when you have all this mass female genital mutilation and all this terrible stuff going on against [Muslim] women, they don’t say anything because it’s a ‘cultural right',’"Kern said. “So there’s a lot of contradictions and a lot of hypocrisy going on in Europe, and I think we’re beginning to see the consequences of all that.”

Most Europeans, including the police, are afraid to enter Muslim enclaves, added Kern, who has written that there are “literally thousands of references to French ‘no go zones’ from academic, police, media and government sources."

“Radical Islam has momentum. It operates on fear and there’s a lot of intimidation going on,” Kern told “A lot of journalists and a lot of [other] people who see what’s going on are afraid to speak up because of reprisals. That’s been going on for at least 10 or 15 years, but it’s definitely picking up over the last couple of years.

“I think it has something to do with just the fact that there are more Muslims in Europe and that they’re beginning to become more politically assertive. And multiculturalism, which is closely linked with political correctness, is also a factor. People are afraid to speak out against Islam because they’re afraid of being accused of being Islamophobic or racist or whatever.”

Kern pointed out that “the majority of Muslims in Europe are peaceful and wish no one harm. But I’d say 10 or 15 percent of European Muslims are drawn into radicalized Islam. These are the guys that are really willing to die for their beliefs, and they’re the ones that are perpetrating what happened in Paris and setting up these sharia courts in different European cities and trying to intimidate even moderate Muslims into conforming to their ideas of Islam.

“To my mind now, it’s come to [the point] where it’s almost impossible to reverse because of the sheer numbers of radical Muslims. They’re becoming mobilized, they have the initiative, and they see that time is on their side. And they also see that the European authorities are afraid and don’t know exactly how to deal with them.

“Radical Islam plays on fear,” he noted. “Looking at Islam when it’s in power, like in the Islamic State or in the caliphates in the early period of Islamic history, it is essentially a totalitarian system that brooks no opposition whatsoever. And you pay for it with your life if you oppose it, so it does have parallels to [Nazi] Germany in the 1930s and ‘40s.” asked Kern why Europeans, who suffered under both Nazi and Communist rule, seem unable to defend themselves from this new form of totalitarianism.

“I’m a Christian. Personally I believe that it’s a spiritual issue at root. But from a secular perspective, there is a lot of confusion in Europe about nomenclature,” he replied.

“It’s like these PEGIDA [Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamification of the West] guys in Germany. These are just ordinary citizens. I did an analysis, and they are not even linked to neo-Nazi parties.

"And what’s happened is that automatically, the press and the German political establishment tries to brand these critics of Islam – they’re not really even critics of Islam, they’re critics of the Islamification of Germany, which is a different thing – they right away brand these people as Nazis. And they’re trying to delegitimize any criticism of what’s going on in the country.

“I don’t know if that is because of what happened to the Jews, that there’s a fear of singling out a certain religious group, but this is very, very different from anything that Europe has seen before.”

Kern noted that Princeton historian Bernard Lewis predicted back in 2006 that Europe would be majority Muslim by 2100.

“Islam is definitely not going away. It’s rising in every single European country,” he pointed out. “And so whether it’s in 2050 or 2100, things are going in a certain direction. And it’s partly demographics, because there’s a certain hedonism in European society and that contributes to the low birth rates.

“People don’t really care about tomorrow that much. They just think about enjoying today. Because when you have children and have to think about the future, that creates a burden that takes away your liberty of enjoying life today.

“Whereas I think the Muslims have a long-term view of history. They know that time is on their side. And I do believe that ultimately, there’s going to Muslim leaders, Muslim presidents in Europe, and European societies are going to be more Islamized. I don’t know when that will take place. But the trend is definitely going in that direction.

“As a dual German-American citizen, I’ve lived in Europe all my life,” Kern added. “I really do love it, but I feel very sad by what I see going on there and the reluctance of European leaders to do anything about it.”


Safety fear as EU make Britain's  railways go metric

Britain’s rail network is to go metric on the orders of EU bureaucrats – sparking safety fears that the move could cause chaos and lead to more accidents.

Miles and yards will be banished from official signs and documents and translated into kilometres and metres under the plans.

But an official report seen by The Mail on Sunday states that railway workers will have to calculate speeds and distances in both imperial and metric measurements during the change-over, causing a risk of dangerous confusion.

And last night the switch was branded unnecessary by train drivers’ union Aslef. General Secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘It’s a waste of money which would be better spent on keeping fare increases down.

'It is also an unacceptable safety risk to expect train drivers to cope with signalling data which switches between mph and kph depending on which bit of track they are on.’

According to a ‘risk analysis’ by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), problems could arise when staff are required to handle some trains which are metric-compliant and others whose speed is still measured in miles per hour during the transition period.

Trackside mile markers will be replaced by kilometre signs and staff rule books and training manuals will be rewritten following a directive from the European Railway Agency, an EU quango based in France.

The chain – a unit of measurement equivalent to 22 yards still used by engineers to calculate track lengths between stations and bridges – will also disappear. It follows a decision to introduce the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) in EU countries – a computerised signalling network that feeds information about the train’s location and speed to a screen inside the cab.

A test run of the system on the remote Cambrian line between Shrewsbury and the West Wales coast has been blamed for a series of problems, including five incidents in five months of trains passing red signals.

Train operator Arriva said in a report that difficulties had been encountered in introducing metric measurements on a route originally designed in miles.

Despite these problems, Network Rail has started rolling out the new signalling system across the country. The Department for Transport applied to Brussels for an opt-out from the metrication directive in 2012 but was turned down.

The RSSB ‘hazard analysis’ warns: ‘Signallers will be required to advise train drivers of speed restrictions in kph for ERTMS-compliant trains and in mph for non-ERTMS compatible trains. That means the signaller will need to be able to identify the type of train he is dealing with before sending the information.’

It adds: ‘Train drivers may… have to operate in metric one day and imperial another, thus exacerbating potential for confusion and error.’

The switch to metric will take place over the next two decades.

Network Rail said: ‘Our aim is to digitise the railway to ensure Britain has the network it needs for the future.’ The Department for Transport said: ‘To meet EU regulations, ERTMS-equipped trains and signs will use the metric system.’



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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