Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Study Guide

Hunter S. Thompson

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Course Hero. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide." Course Hero. 26 Sep. 2017. Web. 21 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/>.

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Course Hero. (2017, September 26). Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/

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Course Hero. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide." September 26, 2017. Accessed November 21, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/.


Course Hero, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide," September 26, 2017, accessed November 21, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Part 2, Chapter 7 : If You Don't Know, Come to Learn ... If You Know, Come to Teach | Summary



The chapter title comes from the motto on invitations to the district attorneys' convention. Duke and Dr. Gonzo sit through the first two hours of the conference and find they are not going to learn anything, nor can they teach anything. Duke thinks drugs would only magnify his disgust at the people around him. He thinks the only thing that might make the conference tolerable would be "massive consumption of Downers." Duke observes the officers in attendance don't even know where to find the drug culture in America. They blame the Mafia, the Beatles, and anthropologist Margaret Mead, among others. Frustrated with the proceedings, Dr. Gonzo decides to depart the conference for the casino. Duke follows suit.

At the casino bar Duke and Dr. Gonzo talk to a district attorney from Georgia. The man from Georgia says they don't have much of the drug problem in his district. Duke and Dr. Gonzo, claiming to be officers from California, tell him California dope fiends often break into people's homes and hold large knives while they sit on their victims' chests. Duke tells the man California has a huge problem with Satan worship and human sacrifice. He says a girl was pulled from a McDonald's and beheaded in the parking lot. Dr. Gonzo adds that sometimes whole families are beheaded. The district attorney worries this kind of drug-crazed behavior will make its way from California to Georgia. Duke and Dr. Gonzo tell the attorney they are beheading these drug fiends in California, they're just keeping it quiet. Dr. Gonzo wanders off to the slot machines, and Duke tells the man from Georgia goodbye and warns him not to tell anyone what he's heard.


The only thing Duke and Dr. Gonzo possibly learn from their time at the drug conference is how thoroughly misinformed law enforcement officers are about drug culture. They throw this term around, but they don't know what it really is or where to find it. Their cited causes for the drug problem in America range from the probable to the absurd. History of the Mafia in America indicates some groups did get involved with the drug trade, but in a city like Las Vegas, also historically affiliated with the Mafia, this seems like an unproductive place to put blame. The Beatles did engage with marijuana and psychedelics to expand their consciousness in the 1960s, but even a band as popular as the Beatles has limits to its influence. The citation of Margaret Mead, a distinguished academic and student of human behavior, seems to highlight the absurdity of the discussion as well as law enforcement's suspicion of all academics.

In an informal setting, Duke and Gonzo elect to teach. The Georgia district attorney's willingness to swallow the increasingly unlikely and heinous descriptions of addict behavior in California reveals his own ignorance and prejudice. His preconceived ideas about drug addicts make him susceptible to these stories because he has spent much of his career hearing exaggerated and inaccurate portrayals of drug users. Duke and Dr. Gonzo simply pick up on the themes they've already heard at this conference and push them to the limit. The district attorney's ignorance is also on display as he swallows these stories without thinking critically about anything he's hearing. He represents law enforcement as a group of mindless drones following one another in circles of increasingly extreme misinformation.

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