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.
Nope. One of those new fangled concoctions, eh? The 5-minute length of the experience sort of reminds me of amyl nitrate, although I'm sure it would be a bit different to that. :-)
Any dangers or drawbacks?
For the last 30 years or so, I averaged maybe one alcoholic drink per week and two puffs of weed per year. I don't actually think that access would present any real problem (but I don't really know. I've never been shopping for DMT). I've haven't had a lot of interest in changing my mind set. I'm actually quite a happy person.
We haven't lost anyone, you pick up your pieces right where you left off, only you come back having undergone this colossal experience. I mean, sure, it's fine that you're a happy person, but this isn't done so that you can relieve depression, as I said before, the only people drawn to these experiences are the curious, those who wish to explore the depths of consciousness, etc.
Did I mention DMT is a part of your natural neural chemistry already?
Did I mention DMT is a part of your natural neural chemistry already?
I think it's only about the 5th time or so I hear it from you.
Although your guru died of brain cancer after years of ingesting seemingly any chemical he could lay hands on.
We're talking about specifically DMT, Heather. You know, there were tests down in Brazil and blood samples taken from people who've spent their entire life imbibing ayahuasca, and they're perfectly healthy!
@kOrsan I know I told you, I was aiming that question to MikeLong.
"The idea that hallucinogenics altered human evolution SEEMS far-fetched, but I'm perfectly happy to be taught."
Its an exciting claim worth exploring.
No - I quoted YOUR citation. Do you have another?
Those are the citations, but they only refer to the research books they appear in, so they're not the direct quotes, which is I'm sure what you're looking for, but it looks like we're either going to have to pay to access these citations. So, since neither of us can directly quote from them, (but I assure you, they're there)... you said that you had other points to make if we disregard the "visual acuity," and I'm curious to hear what you have to say about that.
Fischer's paper is here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01965761#page-1
McKenna suggested that the paper supported an increase in visual acuity - which it did not. This is the reason I say McKenna's bullshit is junk science. All he did was get high and make shit up. He didn't do research, and when he did he misrepresented the papers he cited rather than accepting the results he found.
We have evidence of ancient cultures using mushrooms - but long AFTER the appearance of homo sapiens. His day dream that mushrooms were some how the catalyst of speciation from homo erectus is just that - a day dream.
The great embarrassment for evolutionary theory which can explain the tongue of the hummingbird, the structure of the orchid, the mating habits of the groundhog and the migration of the monarch butterfly. Nevertheless, the great embarrassment to evolutionary theory, is the human neocortex. Lumholtz, who was a pretty straight evolutionary biologist, described the evolution of the human neocortex as "the most dramatic transformation of a major organ of a higher animal in the entire fossil record."
Well, why is this an embarrassment? Because it's the organ that thought up the theory of evolution. So you know, can you say tautology? That's the problem right there. So, it is necessary in evolutionary theory to account for the dramatic emergence of the human neocortex in this very narrow window of time. Basically, in about two million years, they went from being higher primates, hominids, to being true humans, as truly human as you and I tonight. What the hell happened? What was the factor? The earth was already old. Many hundreds of higher animal forms had come and gone, and the fire of intelligence had never been kindled. So what happened?
Are you familiar with what mainstream biology says about this? Well, I described below why you wouldn't find archaeological evidence for mushroom use back that far, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a possibility or it's mere "day dream."
@Jimmy - I wouldn't call it an embarrassment, just an ordinary "don't know". As with any major event, it must have had a number of causes.
Well, why is this an embarrassment? Because it's the organ that thought up the theory of evolution. So you know, can you say tautology?
There is no tautology. First, humans didn't 'think up' evolution; we described it using empirical and scientific means. Second, such cognitive abilities provide some pretty dramatic advantages to the species, so it is not particularly surprising that the development of such a trait succeeds as a selection factor.
So, it is necessary in evolutionary theory to account for the dramatic emergence of the human neocortex in this very narrow window of time.
Mushroom consumption, at the very least, doesn't seem to account for this in any way, if that's the implication.