In Search of an Honest Newspaper: ‘synthetic LSD’ continues its ill-advised romp through the public discourse.

Since writing an article on 25i-NBOMe a couple of months ago, lamenting the profound dishonesty of an Australian journalistic establishment which would not name the substance, opting to use the misnomer ‘synthetic LSD’ instead, I’ve been keeping tabs on the phrase with a weekly google alert. This yielded results quickly, as by the time one week had passed the phrase had already skyrocketed to the top of establishment journalism – to the pages of the Herald Sun. The article makes no explicit mention of its subject matter – 25i-NBOMe.

From there, it really took off. The next week it had been in the Daily Telegraph, the Legal Examiner, the Delhi Daily News, and the Australian. Of these, only the Legal Examiner was bordering on being informative, stating that the drug they persisted in calling ‘synthetic LSD’ anyway “also goes by the names 25i, Nbomb, and Smiles gives users a similar high as to that one would experience from taking LSD,” and listing a few adverse side effects. This is notches above the rest of the establishment journalism that preceded it, but is still highly problematic in its continued use of the misnomer ‘synthetic LSD’.

The following week, in an apparent bid to distinguish themselves, the woeful West Australian embellished the phrase to ‘synthetic LSD-like’, which is actually slightly more accurate. It is synthetic, and arguably LSD-like.

And then…and fucking then, the Daily Telegraph goes ahead and tries to write an honest article and fails spectacularly, calling it “251-NBOMe”, suggesting that this is its “official” title, and stating that it “can be 25 times more potent than LSD.” I have absolutely no idea where this was plucked from, but it’s absolutely unsupportable and untrue, not to mention sensational.

There is signs in all of this of slight improvements. Twice, the media has given up enough information to enable the reader to better research than the writer by allowing phrases like ‘25i’ and ‘NBomb’ into print, which (while not precisely accurate) are close enough to elicit information when googled. Still, not once did they manage to actually print the full name of the drug, 25i-NBOMe. Credit to the Daily Telegraph for at least trying, but one wonders how they managed to screw it up.

But it is all too clear that the journalistic establishment doesn’t care to be accurate or informative. In my article, I gave a substantial amount of information on 25i-NBOMe which I had acquired by showing “a level of integrity common to first year university students but not post-graduate journalists” and googling the drug…still no professional journalist has managed to clear this unbelievably low hurdle which I, stoned and unpublished, stepped idly over two months ago. Most articles still refer to it exclusively as ‘synthetic LSD’, and the handful of articles which get closer to its real name still use this misnomer more than any other term.

This is beyond being uninformative – they’re making it hard for people to inform themselves. If they would print the term 25i-NBOMe, which is really not asking very much of an article about 25i-NBOMe, then people could google it themselves and find out a very great deal. But if somebody reads a piece of establishment journalism about ‘synthetic LSD’ and google’s the phrase, what do you think they find? More establishment journalism about ‘synthetic LSD’. As a rule, I try never to attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence, but I struggle to convince myself that published journalists and newspapers with national circulations, editors, and fact checkers are really quite this incompetent. The invention and persistence of this phrase smacks strongly of an attempt to slander LSD, which is a physically safe and often very beneficial substance, by association. Either way, the level of dishonesty and incompetence in the Australian media’s reporting on drugs is approaching absurdity, and something must be done.


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