The Ritual of Testing

Psychedelia, Politics by Adam on 2006-01-30 03:55

The machinery of society is a strange beast. Practices are instituted at great expense and for specific purposes - so far, so good. But over time, these practices calcify into rituals, devoid of their original meaning. They continue year after year, decade after decade, century after century - with the dogmatic and unthinking rhythm of mantras chanted in a tongue whose language has been forgotten, but the sound of the words retained. They become so embedded in the culture of the society that hardly anyone ever stops to think of changing them.

Take drug testing. The staggering pointlessness of this practice does not prevent private and public sector alike from spending hundreds of millions on it every year. Standard drug testing kits do not detect the vast majority of recreational drugs; and the one it does detect (pot) lingers so long in the blood stream that a “failed” drug test is essentially worthless information. (What relevance does a joint you smoked two weeks ago have on the job you are applying for today?) On top of all this, these tests (like anything) are not 100% accurate; every year, tens of thousands of non-pot-smoking workers are forced to fight for their jobs via embarrassing and costly lawsuits due to false positives.

Check out this entertaining article on the subject of drug testing at the LA Times (the very publication that the article appears in), which sums up the entire matter quite nicely.

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