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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I think anyone who doesn't have direct experience with this stuff will definitely jump on Heather's bandwagon. I think it's safe to say you have no direct experience with psychedelics, because most people who approach this stuff coming from a straight perspective, and by straight, I mean never having taken something like psilocybin or N,N-DMT, usually tend to criticize the meager and trivial aspects of Terence's speculation.

That's a twin to the religious argument that until you have the experience of meeting God of course you won't be a believer. I'm sure heroin addicts make converts with similar arguments (and no, I'm not some dummy who thinks psychedelics are addictive...they just make people dumb).

@Unseen, who said I'm trying to convert anyone? I simply find eastern philosophy an intensely interesting subject, as I'm sure other atheists might find it so, too. That's all and you're welcome to think about it what you like, and in fact, please do. Who's this Brian Akers guy, anyway? Is it Heather trolling?

I find all religion fascinating, but I don't go around pretending it's true or that it really means anything in a factual way.

Akers, like you, is another member of TA.

Unseen, you misunderstood me. I wasn't saying that unless you had a psychedelic experience, you're not going to "believe." I was pointing out a pattern amongst individuals who haven't had the psychedelic experience, they always seem to criticize the wrong points. Coincidence? I don't know.

Akers is a very recent member, who by the looks of it, signed up simply to respond to this thread. Took about 45 minutes typing out a response, so I thought I should reply.

You know, one thing Terence was accused of was logorrhea. It's something we all fall victim to sometimes. Gricean maxims, anyone? I'm not sure how it is you think I'm "acting out." I find it quite risible, actually, that you'd even use that phrase because I don't think I've done any harm or have harangued anyone. I, too, am simply someone speculating this stuff without trying to convert anyone. Even Terence had a certain atheistic attitude against religion and rarely went into western or eastern philosophy at any depth in his talks, nevertheless he studied all religion.

You mentioned that you didn't accept any form of "dishonesty," and I'm not if you were implying that I was dishonest. It's funny to bring that up, 'cause that's the definition of a troll. Deception. And for all I know this is Heather f'in' with me. If not, then obviously you're taking Heather's side. I'm not sure if you've went through the backlog of posts here, but maybe you should before taking some kind of position. What is it exactly do you disagree about? Otherwise I feel a whole lot of what you typed here is, what you accused me of, a harangue.

Jimmy man, you don't seriously think you are so important to Heather that she would go to the trouble of setting up a new account in a man's name after all this time, and totally change her writing style (you do know how writing styles differ, I presume) in order to 'troll' you? 

Get a grip on reality, mate.  Either dialogue with Brian, or don't - but do try not to get carried away with these wildly paranoid speculations, they aren't worthy of putting down in print.

Actually, Strega, the time has come to reveal that...

wait for it...

wait for it...

wait for it...

*I* am Heather Spoonheim.

*I* am Spartacus! I mean Spoonheim.

Laughing you are both nutcases, but utterly lovable :)

Kind of like that Vendetta movie. We are ALL Heather Spoonheim!

I believe Heather owes Terence an apology. I asked a question, and I thought you, being a rational and honest person, the qualities you hold so virtuous, would honestly reply, instead I get the runaround, and yet you still accuse me of dishonesty. I really believe you haven't really read the backlog of posts here, you never said what it was exactly that you didn't agree with, and so forth.

@Strega, maybe it's a really bored Heather. Haha! I mean, are you reading this stuff? I still haven't really figured what this guy is on about. He posts a comment weeks after Heather's last word where she insults me, and then he types that I owe her an apology. It's not that I'm paranoid that someone would go out of their way to troll me, but that it's hilarious that I could imagine it happening.

And I'm trying to converse with Brian here, but I feel there's a lot of circumlocution on his part that we cannot get to any conclusion.

Heather, I sincerely enjoy your rather knowledgeable discussions. Because I think visually (as a result of Asperger's Syndrome) I find words I do not use daily occasionally difficult to recall. Now that I am in my seventies, even my science career is nothing more than a piece of ancient history. Thus I so enjoy your quick and sharp mind. It brings me to attention and I almost applaud at the monitor. Is the internet not an incredible device to bring together distant minds?  

I have not read anything by Terrence McKenna, and thanks for saving me the trouble.  Junk science so aggravates me that I often wish those who prophesize such garbage, insisting on instilling non-empirical science into the heads of the innocent just to gain a following and an income--should be jailed just as were atheists in the dark ages. Not really, but such revolting debris ought to be illegal in some sense--perhaps through some meaningful and ethical restrictions. However considering our current government, the likeliness of that is not to be.  While I believe that free speech is important, I do not go so far as to condone such uneducated and irresponsible selfish blathering in print.  

It's just more Blardy, blardy blar. (from one of the Shrek movies, to give due credit). Much like the massive religious following.  



It's just little details, you know. The use of French phrases, the lack of an apostrophe to indicate the contraction in "it's," the mocking use of McKennaism, and the intentional misspelling of his first name, Terence. If you aren't Heather trolling, you two could be soul mates.

I mean, if you want to jump back on this topic, it'd help to read the backlog of posts here. If you're going to base your judgement of Terence's ideas on Fischer's citation alone, that's fine. But you're just like John Cook when he thanked  Heather of saving him the trouble of ever hearing anything Terence had to say. Instead of investigating himself, being intellectually honest, and coming to his own conclusions, he's just going to instead completely disregard Terence McKenna based upon someone's gratuitous judgement.

For those who are unfamiliar with Folie à beaucoup, it is intentionally (or accidently) communicated virtual insanity, or perhaps actual induced insanity, dependent on the circumstance of course. 

Paranoid patients not only can make those with whom they associate buy into in their delusions, but they infect others who continue the delusions in a somewhat altered form on to other willing subjects. It is somewhat akin to coercive persuasion (brainwashing) as many tend to agree instantly on unrealized subjects that also fit within a somewhat preconceived or peer expectant notion. Somewhat, as in not all and not exactly.

Because many of us have idealized some aspect of preconceived mental mystery without necessarily contemplating it, we may be far more easily influenced by peers and even associates to attribute reality on a pronouncement of it where no reality factually exists. Additionally because humans do not wish to seem the one in disagreement with the herd, many humans are unwilling followers who soon succumb to irrationality. This of course, is all religion.  

In short, this makes solid skepticism a beneficial form of mental health. Something the religious herds will not easily consider, if at all, as learned and shared dogma is Folie à beaucoup and prevents skeptical rationality.  

I did not recall exactly the meaning of the term and I am (was, I am long retired) a psychologist, so I thought the definition might be welcome, if not essential for some.

As a side note, and considering my DSM IV and PDR are huge, few if any, physicians or psychologists can recall it all. So it is not uncommon to forget or to be unfamiliar. This is why medicine and psychology are a practice. It is also well known that a number in each science will cheat or lie.

Psychologists (especially) often make instant diagnoses (10 minutes) and pronounce a clients "problem" and then, will continue to fake reports to justify the original claim, afraid to be seen as incompetent. This fact is well known, not only in psychology, but in humans of all cultures save (perhaps) the Jains who practice absolute honesty--and I doubt even the highly rational Jains are so secure as to not be taken in with expansive hyperbole. (Look Jainism up--too much to explain here) 

Many clients (the term used in psychology for a patient) will have what is stupidly called comorbid diagnoses, or several simultaneous disorders. I prefer a couple of difficulties as it does not connote some bizarre imagined morbid and incurable disease of the mind that makes a person someone to shun. Better to start easy and keep it that way.

Truly, most are simply difficulties that can easily be assisted (never corrected) however the psychologist language can strike fear into people. Consider Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD as it was named long ago by an incorrect psychologist who failed to consider the impact of that name on people. It is NOT bordering on psychosis, but a difficulty with mood swings and perception; a pattern of marked impulsivity and instability of affects (plus commonly, but not always, ADHD with emotional insecurity and a number of fears (and others). Fears are so easily removed to a level of rational consideration that almost anyone trained in behavioral science can do it.

Certainly BPD is a difficulty to many women and some men but thanks to current research especially by Dr. Marsha Linehan it is better understood, and some psychologists with the correct training and attitude (very important) can treat it--often using mindfulness, behavioral and cognitive psychology. Regrettably treatment is often very expensive considering the time it takes. Some disorders medically treatable for symptoms although not completely curable, as in Bipolar Disorder can be assisted through Medicare, yet it must be treated (usually) for life. BPD is not acceptable by Medicare's rules of assistance even though it is often well assisted in as short as three years.    

Medicare needs to catch up with science, and they are not the only ones.  


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