Criminals and Researchers: Perspectives on the Necessity of Underground Research



History has shown time and time again how innovative research and experimentation is sometimes deemed too radical for the current paradigm, so much so that it is shunned by the societal structures that fail to understand it, and in some cases even made highly illegal. Whether it was persecuting heretical alchemists and “witches”, indigenous people across the world holding rituals with plant medicines/teachers, or students nabbing cadavers from the cemetery at night in order to further their understanding of the human body, humanity is no stranger to these completely insane fear-based witch hunts. It’s no secret that the biggest witch hunt today goes by the name “The War on [some people who use certain] Drugs”.

David Nickles, an underground researcher who has presented novel information at major psychedelic conferences on behalf of the DMT-Nexus, elaborates on the need for underground research via The Nexian :

Shortly after presenting on behalf of the DMT-Nexus at the Psychedemia conference at the University of Pennsylvania, in September 2012, I was interviewed by a Harvard Graduate student for a paper he was writing. The purpose of the interview was to discuss “the decision-making process related to pursuing psychedelic research.” By and large, it was a positive discussion that I hope was as enjoyable for him as it was for me.

During the interview, I was asked a question that I couldn’t get out of my head, even after the interview had finished. I was asked why I felt there was a need for underground psychedelic research. I found myself somewhat caught off guard by this question, as the need for psychedelic research has always seemed self-evident to me. Psychedelics challenge so much of what we are commonly told about the nature of the world around us, how could they not be deserving of research? At first glance, this need for psychedelic research, combined with the fact that these substances are currently criminalized, generates a de facto need for underground research. That is to say, if there’s a need for researching psychedelic compounds and these compounds have been criminalized, then becoming a criminal in order to research them seems to be a viable, or perhaps even necessary, route.

I do not deny that there is sanctioned research being done on psychedelics, nor do I deny that there are groundbreaking results coming out of sanctioned psychedelic research. However, the fact of the matter is that there is not “enough” psychedelic research being done, nor do I believe it is possible to ever pursue “enough” psychedelic research within the confines of sanctioned institutions set within a prohibitionist paradigm. Underground psychedelic research has pushed the envelope in many ways, at times going beyond the limits of sanctioned science in significant ways (examples range from extraction methodologies to phytochemical and ethnobotanical research, and beyond). These underground contributions to psychedelic science are indivisible from the broader context of psychedelic research, but are paradoxically dismissed by some (but certainly not all) sanctioned psychedelic researchers.

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4 Comments on "Criminals and Researchers: Perspectives on the Necessity of Underground Research"

  1. Simon Valentine | Mar 1, 2014 at 11:10 am |

    oh haha hi there
    you know about Parrando’s paradox right? and wheels seemingly spinning backwards according to the naked eye? wweeelll overlaying phase shifting frequencies can demonstrate a localized effective pull effect, like teaching a speaker to fetch a bear for you. err a beer, i mean a beer. we would never .. okay got to go!

  2. kowalityjesus | Mar 1, 2014 at 1:41 pm |

    This brings back an old paradigm: there are all sorts of unorthodoxies i.e. choices, a veritable infinite multi-dimensional matrix of them, and there is usually a reason why they are so. Every so often we realize we’re wrong about something, but it takes a fair amount of energy to negate the taboo inertia. Kudos to those trying to negate the inertia based on their convictions.

  3. Damien Quinn | Mar 2, 2014 at 10:08 am |

    Sanctioned psychedelic research seems to restict itself almost exclusively to areas already deeply explored by the unsanctioned among us. I would assume that the studies are limited to measuring well established effects because ethics boards are unlikely to approve researchers administering psychoactive chemicals to people to see what happens. The military industrial complex might get away with that stuff but they’re not really interested in anything that isn’t destructive.

    In other words, I think we need unsanctioned research because most of the people who can sanction research are arseholes.

  4. MRockatansky | Mar 3, 2014 at 7:14 am |

    There seems quite a disturbance in the force, a certain murkiness of purpose and research values unclarified, questions of – what is the problem exactly, for which ‘underground research’ is somehow going to fix or address? Not quite sure what perspective to put the plaintive call issuing from the rhetoric above – for ‘research’ that is free from requirements of rigorous review and valid methods? But what exactly is this ‘need’ (as declared above) – that isn’t subject to institutional oversight of disciplinary communities, or pesky standards of critical studies and expertise?

    Is there some kind of entitlement for psychedelic enthusiasts, that they be granted honors, recognized as qualified researchers – for having tripped, been there done that? The phrase ‘underground research’ as obscurely invoked and unclarified, sounds like a euphemism for subcultural ideological narrative, imitating research in classic pseudoscience fashion – steadfastly denying and defying any least criterion of research validity, reliability. What methods would such ‘underground’ research be founded on, and in what theoretical framework – ‘psychonautic’? It sounds like the calls we hear from Scientific Creationists, who likewise seem to have some kind of problem with the standards and critical tests to which data, evidence, and research are subject, as a matter of the most fundamental basics of scholarly inquiry and scientific search for knowledge and understanding.

    There is something in the sound of this ‘necessity’ – as its called above – for this ‘underground research’ apparently unconstrained by any requirement that it satisfy minimal standards, ‘liberated’ as it were – from any need for qualifications, clarity of meaning and purpose.

    It really sounds like dreary party line-ism of the psychedelic movement right back to Leary, and hardened/narrowed since by charismatic followers in that vein, razzzling and dazzling the dwindling psychedelic popular culture. That tripping confers some sort of personal expertise, enabling one to testify from experience now – regardless how incoherently, no cogency nor rational meaning necessary – is like a foundation tenet of the psychedelic movement. As an oppositional subculture, basic issue for psychedelia seems to be a pursuit of power and ambitions of privilege, by demand.

    The above line of discussion, decoded and translated, sounds like manifesto, declaration: tripping constitutes ‘gnosis,’ a basis to claim authority for testifying all about it, to a know-nothing world that hasn’t taken its 5 grams in the dark – as its been clearly prescribed – and thus has no right to question or critique what any who have followed the Rx say.

    One notices over and over, the psychedelic movement’s issues about research not subject to its demands, not in service to helping ‘prove’ its ‘theories’ and ‘ideas’ – is chockfull of prejudicial rhetoric, anti-science stereotypes about ‘conventional’ (or ‘orthodox’) science … exactly parallel, point-by-point verbatim, to the anti-science propaganda broadcast night and day – by Scientific Creationists likewise piqued that their ‘research’ isn’t credited. They have their own ‘underground’ ‘research’ operations, and the same kind of power struggle over ideological issues driven by their ‘inspirational’ expertise.

    There is significant fraud and charlatanry that has come to typify and pervade the psychedelic movement. Claiming the mantle of ‘research’ empowers unqualified ideologues in service to a Glorious Cause, to stage their theater of authority and entitlement – whether its rightwing, old time religion (like Bible literalism) or neo communitarian fringe, in a different tentshow revival movement.

    Psychedelia’s pattern appears increasingly authoritarian-cultic. It stages a circus of underground ‘experts’ dubiously distinguished and touted as such – by “Us” not “Them” – the wide-eyed following whose minds and hearts they charm their way into – ripping off words like ‘ethnobotanist’ to wrap themselves in, without a shred of factual validity by any reasonable criteria. Nor will such ‘researchers’ entertain any discussion of what the key words – research, ethnobotanist, evidence, etc – even mean. Meaning has to be excluded, because it is lethal to the ambitions of power and privilege one hears, at deafening volume, in this kind of rhetoric.

    Its disappointing, and concerning, both – to witness psychedelia’s emerging fanaticism, so evident in its rhetoric and the way it operates – subcultural developments as they’ve unfolded and intensified recent decades, reflect a deepening darkening cultic aspect, of grim determination and ideological zeal.

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