In September 2002, Dr. George A.
Ricaurte announced that research that he had conducted
on primates suggested that the drug Ecstasy (MDMA) might
cause permanent brain damage in humans. Dr. Ricaurte,
who previously had been responsible for the questionable
"plain brain/ecstasy brain" ad campaign on television,
reported that when he fed even a single dose of Ecstasy
to the10 baboons and monkeys in his lab, they suffered
brain damage (and, in two cases, died).
Because his dramatic experiment on primates both
had a reputable sponsor, Johns Hopkins University, and
had been published in a prestigious journal, Science,
the press jumped to the conclusion it was true, and
warned their readers-- especially those attending late
night raves-- of the cerebral consequences, with headlines
such as "One Night's Ecstasy Use Can Cause Brain Damage."
fog about brain damage persisted in the media for more
than a year, others scientists quickly found they were
unable to replicate Ricaurte's results with other baboons,
no matter high they got them on ecstasy. And for
good reason. It turned out that Dr. Ricaurte had
erred in his experiment: Instead of giving his
baboons and monkeys Ecstasy, he gave them killer doses
of methamphetamine which had been mistakenly labeled
as ecstasy. Once the mix-up in drugs was discovered,Sciencee
retracted the article-- at the request of Dr. Ricaurte,
who cited an "apparent labeling error" as
the cause of the ecstasy fog.apparent
labeling error .