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've followed this thread from the start, but it has become long enough that not everyone will have time to read all the posts.  In order to comment further, I'd like to summarise the position as I see it (feel free to correct me).

1. That psilocybin (mushrooms) affect the mind in a positive and potentially enlightening way, i.e. by enhancing creative scientific productivity.

2. That psilocybin creates an awareness of an external existentialism, i.e. an experience not confined to the physical subjective mind of the 'user'.

3. That certain ancient hominids ingested psilocybin and this explains their enhanced development, separating and speciating them apart, causing their evolution to homo sapiens.

@Strega That sounds about right.

I want to post some talks where Terence McKenna, himself, distills these concepts himself. I feel that Heather close-mindedly just announced this BS. She didn't address a lot of the more important points that Terence has made. So, instead of saying, "I think this is bullshit, but here's the set of concepts Terence talks about and what they're about, and so decide for yourself." She just simply announced it "Bullshit!" Well, making outrageous statements is a good way draw attention to your thread, I suppose, but I think people should decide from themselves. So, I'll post a couple of links to some talk where Terence distills his concepts...

The short version:

Seeking the Stone

The long version: 

Plants, Consciousness, and Transformation

Thanks Jimmy.

The "short version" is 1 hour 43 minutes.  The "long version" is 8 hours 7 minutes.  Interesting though these may be, I truly don't think many of us would have the time to devote an entire day to watching them.

Are there any points in these videos that you could direct me to so that I can understand the gist of them without spending that kind of time?

Are there any points in these videos that you could direct me to so that I can understand the gist

"Man whoah, I was high man trust me this is the meaning of life man. Like wow."

You'd have to be ON pot to have the patience to even watch a talk nearly 2 hours long much less one 8.

Instead of a couple movies, how about a peer-reviewed scientific study?

 

@Unseen

'Try Harder'

I dont want to keep trying with you Unseen. There IS enough information here to at least make some realize that there is something to it. Its obvious that you are completely closed off to this subject. If you have a personal prejudice against it then Im not going to try to change your mind. If you dont care about it then just say that instead of the foot stomping.

I could show you the negative effects of Asprin too - but that doesnt stop people using the stuff because it benefits more than it harms. So your example means nothing to me. Its not a good one.

Every single person I know who does not use drugs - seems to have some silly horror story about it - like

"I knew someone who smoked pot and it led them on to heroin"

I knew someone who smoked pot and it was laced with strychnine"

I knew someone who smoked pot and it gave them schizophrenia"

"I heard about a person on LSD and they all jump off buildings"

I mean the rubbish about it just goes on and on and on.

Yet - I know loads of people who smoke pot or tried LSD and each one of those people also knows loads of people who try it and in these circles we never see or even hear of this stuff happening.

I have personally seen more adverse nut reactions in people than I have ever seen in these drugs that we are discussing here...

 

 

 

 

@Unseen

and the stuff your saying is exactly like the stuff that frightened and worried parents say to their teenagers hoping to scare them off. - but we arent teenagers  here so we dont need the parental lectures.

I did have the talk to my son when he became exposed to drugs at school but I told him the truth. That these ones are ok but keep away from those ones.

Teenagers appreciate that much more than just a blanket statment like - All Drugs Are Bad.

Let me know when you're awarded Parent of the Year.

Absolutely true. I told my son, when he was 13 or so, "If you go out with your buddies on the weekend and have a bunch of beers or smoke some pot, you will have a GREAT time!! That's the problem. The following weekend, without any external stimuli, you won't have as much fun. So, in that short time, you will have learned an important lesson: 'Drugs = Fun' - Fun = Drugs. Do you want to go through life with this equivalence?". This is something "authorities" NEVER tell kids. Kids find out for themselves and through their friends. They smoke some pot and the world DOESN'T end. They don't even have a hangover. What have they learned? Parents are full of shit!

Given the truth, my son made a considered decision. He has never tried ANY mind-altering substance.

 

Absolutely Mike - when my son hit 13 he morphed into a Rock God - He was the best Bass Guitarist at his school 5 years in a row,

You should have seen him go - The Rolling Stones - Led Zep - Jefferson Airplane  -- Alice Cooper - David Bowie.  

It was the music from that generation that he became obsessed with. He idolised Richards and Jagger. These were his influences. My son is creative and artistically minded and naturally drawn to new experiences. So why wouldnt a parent warn them about drugs intelligently and honestly?

Ive know  parents who are prepared to end relationships with their own children over something as harmless as pot smoking.

Thats the real tragedy.

 

 

My son is in the process of gaining his doctorate in experimental music. No offense, but, as much as I loved the music of the 60s and 70s, I'm happier that he's moving past it - even though I don't understand his music. (Can you imagine us, as young people, revering the music of the 1920s? The timescales are similar. I don't understand the younger generations' failure to move on as we did.)

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