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Smart v. Stupid

A medical cure for conservatives?

Scientists have found new reason to hope for those suffering with a family member who has Conservative Disorder. Conservative Disorder (also commonly called CD) affects some 90 million Americans. Almost eleven percent of our older folks suffer from the most disabling form of the disease, Teabaggery.

But now—just in time for Thanksgiving dinner conversation—researchers at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University have found a quick and easy treatment for anyone debilitated by conservative thoughts. Finally, there is hope for that conservative you love (but don’t really like.)

We’ve written extensively about the life disruptions caused by conservatism, how these poor folks experience overwhelming fear of change, chicken-little panic about things like gay marriage, gullibility about obvious misinformation, and paralyzing paranoia which makes them unable to leave the house without a gun. CD can interfere with almost every aspect of daily life.

The solution is a fungus used in religion and mysticism for thousands of years—the Psilocybin mushroom. As little as one dose may be all that’s required to break the cycle of closed-mindedness—the hallmark of Conservative Disorder. And it appears there are no side effects, assuming you don’t just try to sneak it into your uncle’s cornbread stuffing. Although that could be interesting…

For thousands of years, Psilocybin has been used in religious and spiritual practices. But until recently, we’ve known little about its immediate psychological effects, much less its lasting psychological impact.

That may be changing. In a double-blind study conducted in 2006, some subjects were given Psilocybin, some the ADHD drug Ritalin, and some others were told what drug they would be given. Just after the original study, two thirds of subjects who received mushroom found it to be among the “most meaningful and spiritually significant” experiences of their lives. Groovy!

But it was not until a recent follow-up that the therapeutic value for treating Conservative Disorder was discovered. In new analysis’ of the research subjects, scientists found that even one dose of the psychedelic mushroom led to lasting, perhaps permanent, changes in the subject’s “openness.” It is this factor that could be a turning point in the treatment of CD. However more research is needed before clinical trials can begin.

There is other good news too. The change in openness isn’t accompanied by other personality changes. Other measures that psychologists consider to be “personality” including neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness were unchanged. Counter to drug-war dogma, there were also no reports of insanity, rage killing, pedophilia or sister raping. Only openness changed—increasing in more than six out of ten subjects and lasting through the most recent follow-up.

Although the precise action by which the drug makes the subject more liberal is unknown, it can probably be inferred that it reduces fear and anxiety—or perhaps a worry that the sky is falling. The research team is now considering how to test whether the magic mushroom can be used to treat other anxiety disorders, or even trauma.

In addition to a strong counter-conservative influence, scientists also found long term improvements in happiness. In the latest review 64% of subjects said the experience “increased well-being or life satisfaction.”

It now appears that the pathological, anxiety-driven nature of CD can finally be cured; perhaps with a single visit to an outpatient psychiatric clinic. Conservative sufferers can lead better, more productive and happier lives, and be less of a bore at parties.

Without the need to accommodate the unreasonable fears of a significant minority of voters, just imagine what a newly liberated American culture can achieve. If the entire intellectual, social, and economic might of the United States was focused on progress, there is every reason to believe that Americans can collectively be better, smarter, faster, and more prosperous.

Jimmy Zuma splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Tucson. He writes the online opinion journal, Smart v. Stupid. He spent 5 years in Tucson in the early ‘80s, when life was a little slower, swamp coolers were a little more plentiful, Tucson’s legendary music scene was in full bloom, and the prevailing work ethic was “don’t - unless you have to.”

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