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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An article by James Fadiman: The promise of psychedelic research.


Microdosing LSD:

Typically, micro-dosers talk about sustained intellectual and emotional clarity. A physician I talked with reported, “Since I started microdosing, taking 10 mcg of LSD every three days, I am in touch with a deep place of ease and beauty and trust. I have more strength and determination.” An addiction counselor concludes, “The subthreshold doses helped me to be more focused overall, with better mental clarity. I was also more energetic, with better memory recall.”

Low Dose: Creative Problem-Solving

At a dose of about 100 micrograms of LSD, higher-than-normal levels of creativity have been reported. Willis Harman, president of IONS from 1975 through 1996, helped pioneer this work and was convinced that it was possible to harness the psychedelic experience for the purpose of finding solutions to difficult technical and scientific problems. At the time, there was no evidence that this was likely. People working with psychedelics generally felt that the experience was so sensorially overwhelming and psychologically and emotionally engaging that no one could or would focus that psychic energy on a problem in physics, architecture, computer design, or biology.

Nevertheless, in l965, Dr. Harman, together with a small research team of which I was a member, conducted a series of sessions with senior scientists and architects. One criterion for inclusion in the study was that a participant had to have been trying to solve a specific problem for several months without success. Having already invested considerable effort on the problem area, finding a solution mattered personally as well as professionally to them.

They were instructed to use the psychedelic-induced state as a way to stay with their problem and not get distracted by any other influence. After taking the psychedelic (LSD or mescaline), they were encouraged to lie down, put on eyeshades, and let their minds relax by listening to music for several hours. Soon after the peak of the psychophysiological experience, they were asked to sit up and take the same standard creativity tests they had taken earlier. They spent the rest of the afternoon—and for most of them that evening—on their chosen problems.

This initial group of four was so successful that later groups were told to bring at least two problems, so that if one was solved, they would have another one ready. [Of the forty-four problems attempted by twenty-seven subjects, only four were scored “no solution obtained.” Twenty problems were scored “new avenues for investigation opened.”1  One participant voiced what seemed to be true for many of the subjects: “The ideas considered and developed in the session appear as important steps, and the period of the session was the single most productive period of work on this problem I have had in the several months preceding or following the session.”2  As an indirect measurement of the perceived value of the process, many colleagues of those in the original study eagerly volunteered to be prospective subjects.

I visited the website and have some observations. James Fadiman has written a book entitled The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic and Sacred Journeys. Sacred is a synonym for "Holy." Right there, Fadiman sounds like a psychedelic fanboy rather than an objective scientist. 

I see no indication that the article there has been peer reviewed. And no wonder, with other articles appearing there like "Can Mediums Really Talk to the Dead?," "The Power of Premonition," and "Mythic Visions for Uncertain Times," they probably don't have any peers, unless they, too, are psychedelic or occult 

The specialty of the author of "Can Mediums Really Talk to the Dead," Julie Beischel's seems to be the occult, as she's widely published in parapsychological publications, with a lot of concentration on contacting the dead. (Queue up the Twilight Zone theme here.) Dean Radin is her co-author and he seems to specialize in similar themes. One of his "academic" gems is "Testing the plausibility of psi-mediated computer system failures," which I hazard no respectable scientist would even agree to peer review.

It seems to me that their work is just one level above bending spoons with the mind or TV's Ghost Hunters.

A journal that countenances that sort of work is hard to take very seriously, I must say. 

Anyway, Fadiman's stuff sounds like non-peer reviewed psychobabble. When his work hits the mainstream, let me know. Until then, his work is very much outside the realm of respectable science.


"Yes, drugs can alter the mind. More specifically, YOURS!"

Can you show me something that supports your claims that drugs only alter MY mind?



I can't provide evidence. I never said that.


Would you give LSD  a try Unseen?

Are you making an offer of illicit drugs? I think you'll find you're violating the Terms of Service. Or if there isn't a term covering that, there soon would be.

Now, why would I want to alter my mind? So that I can have a flashback? So that I can experience tachycardia? So that I can risk a bad trip? So that I can do something that might endanger me or others? 

I can think of better things to do.


"Are you making an offer of illicit drugs?"

I asked would you try it - NOT do you want some.

"Or if there isn't a term covering that, there soon would be."

Ok ..

"Now, why would I want to alter my mind? So that I can have a flashback? So that I can experience tachycardia? So that I can risk a bad trip? So that I can do something that might endanger me or others?"

Ive been searching around for some negative opinions on LSD - the only place I can find anything is in places like Christian Forums.

They say things like:

"Don't know, not been there. With God why the drugs? I just get high on God."


Try harder:

Psychological: Hallucinations, increased color perception, altered mental state, thought disorders, temporary psychosis, delusions, body image changes, and impaired depth, time and space perceptions. Users may feel several emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. “Bad trips” may consist of severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, and despair.

Physiological: Tachycardia, hypertension, dilated pupils, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, tremors, speech difficulties, and piloerection.

Side Effect Profile: Rhabdomyolysis, renal failure, prolonged mania, panic, impairment in color discrimination, and residual visual effects have been described. LSD users may manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression. (source)

Once again you aren't paying attention.  Please actually read what I'm writing before you respond to avoid wasting my time.  I stated I had just started a stretch of 12 hour shifts when this thread got hot so I made a bulk reply to trends I was seeing - and now you are acting like I've been reading every post all day long.

You said Dawkinds and Harris had something to contribute to this discussion and I asked you for a link.  If such a link existed, I assume you would have posted it - but we all know how you react when asked for a citation.  Typical theist.



Who's not paying attention?

Who are you talking at?

If its me - then I dont give a rats ass about your 12 hour shifts - Not my problem.

This is your thread - your responsibility. - Im not wasting my time walking you around your own thread to show you where things are..   Are you for real? -

You go back and read everything or go ask one of your minions.


Again, same zero evidence response - typical.


lol -  You sure sorted me out then ...





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