A new scholarly article published in the professional journal Marine Corps Gazette suggests that LSD can give the US military an upper hand over the country's adversaries.
Mixmag recently covered a systematic study on microdosing psychedelics which claims that taking small amounts of psychoactive drugs on a daily basis can help individuals "improve their focus" and "fight depression". The militaristic benefits of these findings, however, had not been considered until now.
This new paper, titled Microdosing: Improving performance enhancement in intelligence analysis, was written by Maj. Emre Albayrak - an active duty officer who has served with intel units in the Marine Corps. He claims that the cognitive advantages of microdosing LSD and entering what he calls "flow states" could give the US military a strategic advantage over others when it comes to intelligence analysis.
While no US military tests involving LSD have been conducted as of late (at least none that we know of), Albayrak suggests that the military select a group of volunteers and put them through a series of tests involving the popular and ancient Chinese strategy game, Go. The game has been used in the past to evaluate various cognitive functions such as decision making, working memory, attention and visuospatial processing and he hopes the test would help the military determine whether or not the drug can be used to help America fight its enemies.
While this study may seem like a bold proposal to many, Albayrak points out that the US military and various military forces around the world have long histories with the application of drugs to help their soldiers stay alert and give them a psychological edge over their opponents. Various types of amphetamines were handed out to soldiers and pilots on both sides in both WWI and WWII to help them stay awake longer when going out on missions.
Soldiers that self-medicate are not an uncommon occurrence either. During the Vietnam War, a study conducted by the Department of Defense found that 31 per cent of service-members had used psychedelics recreationally and 28 per cent had used hard drugs. Off-label drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall are commonly used in the US military. Last year, 14 airmen charged with safeguarding a nuclear weapons facility were charged with "using and distributing LSD on duty." A handful were also found guilty of using ecstasy and cocaine.
Speaking to The Daily Beast about Albayrak's LSD proposal, Sean Cavanagh - a military analyst who has studied military applications of drugs - has his doubts about the potential study, but says "strong oversight" and "comprehensive, ethical testing" could yield some noteworthy results.
"A person who goes to a rave has no idea what they’re ingesting," Cavanaugh boldly suggests. "A soldier that’s being given performance-enhancing drugs from a physician is certainly in a better place than that person at the rave.”
In his proposal, Albayrak argues that “combat does not reward fair play" and the enemies of the US have already started in "seeking an edge over us through [performance enhancing drugs] and nootropics.” Despite these possible advantages, many remain wary due to the US government's dark past with LSD testing - specifically the shady dealings of the CIA and its Project MKUltra human experiments.
“What is an intelligence unit that’s using psychedelics going to look like?" asks Cavanaugh plainly. "Are they going to be locked away in a room problem solving and breaking codes or are they going to be on a base with a sidearm?” The possible long-term consequences of microdosing US military service-members is something that still needs to be addressed, but Albayrak remains adamant in his belief that "LSD and mushrooms demonstrate the least amount of harm to users and others amongst drugs" and that microdosing experiments "would leverage an untapped resource to create an insurmountable gap over every other competitor."
Read the full academic article by going here.
Cameron is Mixmag's Jr. Editor. Follow him on Twitter
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