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Richard Dawkins and the dangers of Geriniol

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Warning: This post was published more than 11 years ago.

I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might have changed in the 11 years since I wrote this post.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Many thanks for your understanding.

In a very cleverly written allegorical article for Prospect this month (“Opiate of the masses: It is a highly addictive drug, but governments everywhere encourage its use“), Richard Dawkins grapples with the inherent dangers associated with ‘Gerin oil’:

Gerin oil (or Geriniol to give it its scientific name) is a powerful drug which acts directly on the central nervous system to produce a range of characteristic symptoms, often of an antisocial or self- damaging nature. If administered chronically in childhood, Gerin oil can permanently modify the brain to produce adult disorders, including dangerous delusions which have proved very hard to treat. The four doomed flights of 11th September were, in a very real sense, Gerin oil trips: all 19 of the hijackers were high on the drug at the time.

I’m quite surprised that the Mail hasn’t picked up on this and given Dawkins a pretty hard time for it – but then, perhaps they didn’t get it. Either way, it’s a superbly well written piece, and has some pretty convincing arguments, many of which I largely agree with:

It is easy to regard such people as evil criminals, from whom the rest of us need protection. Indeed, we do need protecting from them. But the problem would not arise in the first place if children were protected from becoming hooked on a drug with such a bad prognosis for their adult minds.

It’s very well worth reading, whatever your point of view, and I think it was quite a brave piece for Dawkins to write. He’s always been one of my favourite scientific authors, and this has certainly done nothing to change that view.

This 755th post was filed under: News and Comment.






More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 7th May 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd April 2017)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 4th March 2017)

Photo-a-day 34: Lungo (published 3rd February 2014)

Photo-a-day 42: The Penshaw Monument (and a cow) (published 11th February 2012)

Michael Crichton: Airframe (published 1st March 2005)

Update (published 28th September 2004)


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