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'm leaning towards bullshit.

 

Richard Dawkins believes it too. Thats my best defense.

So theres no more need for me to defend it otherwise its going around in circles now ...

What more can I say?

Well, I admit I didn't watch the video, but from what I read he only sounded like he'd like to try it. 

 

@Unseen

"Yes, and I have the most profound insights under the influence."

Wow - your a cheap shout...

and do you enjoy the the feeling that alcohol gives you?

That altered state.

Yes, but it is what it is. It's not insight into reality. It's still intoxication ("intoxication" literally means "poisoned"). So, I don't deny that taking a drug may induce a pleasant feeling and alter your mind into thinking something profound is going on or that you're achieving some sort of meaningful insight, but in fact you're just drugged. Same as getting drunk only different and quite possible a better experience. But as a way to achieve knowledge or know truth, sorry but no.

 

Its not the same as drunk.

Otherwise Richard Dawkins in that clip would be saying that he wanted to get drunk. Drunk is different.

I was just referring to the altered state that alcohol gives you.

So - do you enjoy it?

 

 

@Unseen - "But as a way to achieve knowledge or know truth, sorry but no."

The knowledge that you gain from it is that mushies etc enhance focus and sharpen senses x a lot and thats enough to learn new things. Its like any new experience, You come away with knowledge.

The knowledge doesnt come from the spirit world or the wind.

The knowledge that you gain from it is that mushies etc enhance focus and sharpen senses x a lot and thats enough to learn new things. Its like any new experience, You come away with knowledge.

The knowledge doesnt come from the spirit world or the wind.

You're making affirmative statements there. Can any of them be shown to be factually true?

I'd have to respectfully disagree with this statement (quote: we've never found that people high on acid or psilocybin have anything particularly valuable to contribute to problem solving or even dialog (beyond some good laughs).). Francis Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA while un.... Kary Mullis attributed his discovery that gave hime the Nobel Prize in chemistry to the use of LSD as a tool for scientific discovery. Kary Mullis interview. Studies have indeed shown that LSD can lend itself to problem solving. The War On Drugs killed a lot of research, and just recently has research on psychedelics started again. Have a look at MAPS.org for research being performed. 

Francis Crick discovered the double helix structure of Dana while un... Kary Mullis attributed his discovery that gave hime the Nobel Prize in chemistry to the use of LSD as a tool for scientific discovery.

Most important discoveries are made by people who are 100% sober, high on nothing other than ideas. Because one dude was under some sort of chemical influence seems like a classic "exception that proves the rule." The rule being that you're far more likely to make a scientific contribution sober than trippiing on LSD, smoking crack (or marijuana), or after having finished a half bottle of Scotch.

Now, it's an effect of a lot of these psychedelic drugs that people feel different after taking them and want to attribute to them various insights and abilities. That doesn't mean anything. Coke makes many people feel invincible, too, for example, but it's a false perception.

Show me that LSD or shrooms turn a person of rather pedestrian intellectual skills into a genius with incredibe insights, and we'd be talking. Until then, I'm not buying.

The truth is, science got by very well without drug intoxication for a very long time and can continue to do so.

 

"The truth is, science got by very well without drug intoxication for a very long time and can continue to do so."

Hiya Unseen

I dont think thats the right way to think about it.

Its more about Neuro-typical brains and Neuro-atypical brains and as far as the science community is concerened I will hazard a (good) guess that a huge proportion of them are Neuro - atypical.

For example Temple Grandin.

As a person with autism, I have the typical profile of an area of great skill and an area of difficulty. Algebra was impossible because there was nothing to visualize, but I excelled at art. Thinking in pictures has been a great asset in my of designing livestock facilities for cattle. I can visualize projects in my mind before they are built. I observed that cattle often refused to walk over shadows, and they were spooked by sparkling reflections or shiny metal on wet floors. These things were obvious to me, but many previous designers had failed to see them.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Temple-Grandin-on-a-Ne...

 



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