The modern skeptic needs to be well armed to deal with the array of woo being spewed these days.  Biblical criticism is pretty much a solved game but the new-agers can toss out faux-facts faster than you can say, “Bullshit!”

One flavour making the rounds here recently has been the junk science of Terrence McKenna.  An incredibly articulate ethnobotanist of the late 20th century, he was able to public several books that garnered the attention of aging hippies and which seem to have renewed their popularity with contemporary new agers.  As a self-described psychonaut, his writing mostly revolved around his ever more desperate attempts to instill perceived empirical value to the observations he made of his own consciousness while higher than a kite.

His timewave zero and novelty theories tied into eschatological prognostications for 2012 – a prophecy failure that his devotees overlook as quickly as the adherents of Benny Hinn overlook his.  Perhaps the most entertaining of his drug-addled ramblings was his ‘Stoned Ape’ conjecture.

In his Stoned Ape conjecture, McKenna tried to convince himself that use of magic mushrooms was the catalyst that sprung homo-sapiens into existence from homo-erectus.  He starts by assuming that the magnificent shrooms appeared on the African savanna 100,000 years ago and made their way into the homo-erectus diet – both assumptions being supported by zero evidence.  He then misrepresents a scientific study about visual perception to suggest that use of these mushrooms increased visual acuity in our early ancestors – thereby making them better hunters.

Based on his first two unfounded assumptions and an outright fabrication he then jumps to the conclusion that the results performed a miraculous one-time instance of Lamarckian inheritance, altering the offspring of psilocybin-gobbling hominids enough to speciate them from surrounding populations of homo-erectus.  It just goes on and on, and he actually managed get published for it in 1992 - Food of the Gods.

I feel this load of malarkey is worth our attention, as skeptics, so we can be better prepared to counter the ridiculous claims of McKennites that we may encounter.  I know there is one with us lately and felt he might like to put his thoughts on display here for all of us to observe the workings of such a mind.

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Terence McKenna would often say, "If you think what I'm telling you is bullshit, go and try five dried grams of psilocybin mushrooms, then come back and tell me I'm bullshitting you."

Five grams? You're a pussy, McKenna. Me and my college roommates went on a week-long camping trip with a 2-gallon freezer bag stuffed half-full and they were gone by the fourth day. I took a big fist-full and ate it with peanuts because it tasted like shit.

I walked up a mountain, sat on a rocky ledge overlooking the river, watched the sun go down, looked at the stars all night, watched the sun come up, then walked down again. I didn't sleep, eat, drink, shit, or pee for over 36 hours. It was incredible and better than any Disneyland vacation I ever took. But I went up an atheist and I came down an atheist. I went up only so smart and creative, and my capacity for both remained the same, no matter how much I may have thought otherwise. 

So I'm telling you McKenna, flat out: You're bullshitting me.

Now, most people I'd wager, aren't going to take up that recommendation, but if you did, it's guaranteed that you will undergo a niagara of alien beauty, something absolutely profound and transcendental.

Or you'll descend into a terror so jagged and ugly it tears into your mind like tissue paper. Millions of beetles crawl between the fibers of your muscles and skin. You resist the urge to grab a knife and start cutting holes all over yourself to let them out. You know that's insane but if you're insane, doesn't it make sense, and shouldn't you start cutting? You're afraid to stand up because your bones suddenly seem too fragile and creaky to support your flesh. Your heart pounds like it'll burst. Your friends suddenly seem like weird, hostile, alien beings, barking in foreign tongues. The second hand on the clock seems to take an eternity to move each time. It goes CLICK.... CLICK.... CLICK.... The coolness of the air when you inhale seems like poison. Every thought you have, every aspect of reality, seems like a malevolent sham, a laughably silly prop, put there specifically to deceive you. You are incapable of trusting yourself, anyone, or anything. This is hell and hell is YOU and there is no way out of hell until the trip ends, and you know it's going to last all day and all night, and the worst is yet to come. 

That was the last time I used a psychedelic drug. It wasn't profound. It wasn't beautiful. It wasn't transcendental. I could have seriously harmed myself, physically or psychologically, while I wasn't in control of my wits. Any would-be psychonaut should keep that in mind. 

How can you possibly "guarantee" to yourself, let alone anyone else, what they will experience on psychedelic drugs? You can't, so that's just more bullshit, Jimmy. 

Well, there's many factors to consider here, Gallup. You can't guarantee that this will have a positive effect on a person, but what you can guarantee is a colossal transformation of consciousness. This experience is often referred to as "ego death." I believe as long as you're gripping to ego, you will have an experience of "hell," but that means you haven't entirely undergone ego death. When you can finally let go of the ego, then that's when you get to a place beyond the psychological hell you've described here, and I've experienced what you've described. It's a kind of Edgar Allan Poe-ish nightmare, it is a kind of psychological hell, but I'm telling you, there is something there that is transcendentally profound if you can get pass the detritus of the ego.

"My thing is not about my opinion or what I saw in Africa or anything like that. This is, get it straight, this is about an EXPERIENCE, not my experience YOUR EXPERIENCE. It’s about an experience, which you have, like getting laid, or like going to Africa. You must do the experience, otherwise it’s just whistling past the graveyard. And we’re not talking about something like being born again, or meeting the flying saucers, or something like that where good works and prayer are the method. No, If you take a sufficient dose of an active compound it will deliver itself to you on the money. If it doesn’t work, take more! Nobody is in a position to dismiss this just because it didn’t work for them on one or two tries. This is an art, it's an art, It’s something you coax into existence. I mean, you have to learn to make love, you have to learn to speak English. Anything worth doing is an art that is acquired. This is part of our birthright, perhaps the most important part of our birthright. These substances will deliver. It is the confoundment of psychology and science generally, and that’s why it’s so touchy for cultural institutions, but you are not a cultural institution. You are a free and independent human being, and these things have your name written on them in big gold letters." - Terence McKenna 

However, it's true that these things can be dangerous, that's why I'd suggest studying these things before attempting to experiment. Perhaps you dove into this experience a bit more recklessly, Gallup. By the way, I mean, you said "five dried grams" is a "pussy amount." You know, five dried grams is well over a fist full, it's a plateful. And he only recommended that for a person who weighs about 140 lbs. So, obviously, there's other factors involved, the potency of the mushrooms, whether you've fasted that day (which you obviously did), environment, lack of sleep, etc., etc. However, at the dose range McKenna is talking about, you wouldn't have even been able to hike up a mountain on this dose level, let alone even walk, at that. That would have been totally out of the question. I'll leave a link below that goes over some precautions and what a typical experience of the sort McKenna advocated is described like.

Ideas such as "set and setting" and "LD-50" are important. The first link here goes over some of that stuff if anyone here is actually considering this endeavor.

How to take Psychedelics

Culture is Your Operating System

Reclaim your mind

You specifically guaranteed that "you will undergo a niagara of alien beauty, something absolutely profound and transcendental". 

This experience is often referred to as "ego death." 

You can call it whatever you like. I call it changing your premise after your guaranteed "beauty" turned out to be rubbish. 

However, it's true that these things can be dangerous, that's why I'd suggest studying these things before attempting to experiment. Perhaps you dove into this experience a bit more recklessly, Gallup.

Or perhaps I did a great deal of research as a university student before I experimented (many times) and you should have asked about that first. 

By the way, I mean, you said "five dried grams" is a "pussy amount." You know, five dried grams is well over a fist full, it's a plateful.

It is a pussy amount. 5 grams is 0.0110231 pounds, a measure of weight, not volume. I didn't weigh it but what I ate loosely filled about 1/2 of my ball cap. For added perspective, the caps and stems were pressed almost flat after sitting under the spare tire and camping gear in my roommate's trunk.

However, at the dose range McKenna is talking about, you wouldn't have even been able to hike up a mountain on this dose level, let alone even walk, at that.

No, I didn't hike all the way up the mountain like that-- hell no-- although I see from the way I wrote it how I might have given that impression. I went up high enough to ensure I'd have a good view. I wanted to ensure I achieved the desired effect and I surely did, so I'm not buying the "you didn't do enough" part. 

 

Jimmy dont even bother with them .... This thread is a really poorly thought out set up ...  Hearher should have used a topic she knew something about...even just a little bit even ..

They've been given really good information and they still want to play ignorant ...

Does it remind you of another kind of closed minded group?

Im actually quite surprised at the ignorance.

If they think that Carl Sagan and Jill Bolte Taylor are liars - theres nothing more to say.

This whole thread is bait -

Dont waste your time with the Von Daniken set.

Let it go.

 

@Jimmy - in another thread, Heather said that she liked beer.

I find that hard to believe - dont you?

I think she should prove this liking for beer that she claims to have by providing emperical evidence - because unless she does -  how could I possibly believe that she likes it ...

I think she must be drunk.

Well, I guess you're right.

If you think what I'm telling you is bullshit, go and try five dried grams of psilocybin mushrooms, then come back and tell me I'm bullshitting you.

This is entirely irrelevant to the original post. The claim contested is that homo sapiens evolved from homo erectus largely (or chiefly) due to the consumption of psilocybe cubensis. If McKenna has never promoted that view, then by all means provide the corrected version, but consumption of that drug has no relevance on the veracity and credibility of claims made. 

I wasn't saying that, Kris Feenstra, I had actually replied to your earlier posting, I'm not sure if you got it, but I left a link where Terence actually thoroughly distills the topic of this discussion. You said that you might look more into it, and so there's a good place to start.

I was saying that the psychedelic experience reveals a mental universe that not only did you never suspect existed, but that you could have not have suspect to exist. That's why I mentioned the consumption of psilocybin-containing mushrooms.

Perhaps I lost the thread of the conversation. Apologies for misrepresenting your position. I see where the video is linked now. I have some desk work today, so I will play it in the background as time permits.

Thanks for the links. I just finished the Harris one. (I didn't realize that one could point to a specific time in a YouTube video. Cool.

In the 60s I was the Trip Master :-) - queues of people wanting my guidance for a good trip - the local Timothy Leary (if you've ever heard that name). Never guided a bad trip, though I've brought outside people to the other side of a bad trip on a couple of occasions. 

But these were all "recreational" doses as you say. I never did more than a double dose (and that only once or twice) because I didn't have a guide of my own and, seeing the power of recreational doses, I was afraid of where high doses would bring me. 

I haven't kept up, I'm a little sorry to say. Drugs like DMT, MDMA, E (is that the same thing?) are unknown to me.

I always saw tripping as a learning experience more than purely a good time. Many of the things Harris says about it really ring true. The distinction between self and the universe fades (probably disappears at higher doses)

Thanks. Well, on to Hancock and Watts. (I'm a really slow reader (vision anomaly)  and so read very little. Videos are my speed.)

 

@Mike - "In the 60s I was the Trip Master :-) -"

 COOOOL : ))

"queues of people wanting my guidance for a good trip - the local Timothy Leary (if you've ever heard that name). Never guided a bad trip, though I've brought outside people to the other side of a bad trip on a couple of occasions".

You really need to be in the right frame of mind before you take them - dont you agree Mike?

Because psychoactives super enhance your senses so if you are depressed or angry, It'll just enhance that = bad trip.

Good happy mood = good happy trip

 

 

@Mike - "I always saw tripping as a learning experience more than purely a good time."

So true -

and psychoactives arent everyones cup of tea either. Not for the faint hearted thats for sure.

I cant drink Vodka - makes me ill but others love it.

 

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