British psychiatrist David Nutt specializes in neuropsychopharmacology, the research of drugs that affect the brain. In his recent interview with The Guardian’s Science Weekly Podcast, he discusses the science and politics of mind-altering substances. The neuroscience blog MindHacks refers to it as “essential listening” and “possibly one of the most sensible discussions of drugs and drug harms you are likely to hear in a long time.”
Prof. Nutt is quite well-known in the UK – largely due to being fired by the Government from their drugs advisory panel for pointing out in a scientific paper that the health risks of taking ecstasy are about equivalent to going horse riding.
Rather than doing the usual dishonest apology required of government advisors where they ask forgiveness for ‘unintentionally misleading the public’ away from a convenient collective illusion, he decided to take the government to task about their disingenuous drug policy.
He is now a straight-talking, evidence-based, pain-in-the-arse to the government who doggedly stick to the ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric that not even they believe any more.
In the interview the discussion ranges from how psychedelic affect the brain to the scientific basis (or lack thereof) of drug policy.
He also claims that ecstasy and LSD are less dangerous than alcohol, proposes research into the potential use of MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and founded the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. Give it a listen if you’ve got an hour free (or… uh… something that can help you alter your perception of time).