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.
@MikeLong I'm wondering if you could explain a little more how music so influential on 1960's musical culture could be, in your estimation, irrelevant.
not relevant to the culture of the 60s
Let's wait and see if anyone else has trouble understanding the difference between historic influence and cultural relevance.
@MikeLong I think both apply.
I think what he's trying to say is that almost no one in the 1960s generation actually listened to 1920s music. You wouldn't be caught dead listening to your parents' or grandparents music back then, and that was for the most part true in the late 70s and 80s as well (though one could reach back to the 1960s without being uncool).
Yet today many young people listen to music that's 40 years old.
When will you show me some non-anecdotal evidence by a dispassionate researcher that there is some undeniable benefit to taking psilocybin or LSD? There are anecdotal stories about pyramid power and crystal power, too. These are things I'm proud to have a closed mind about.
So, apparently we're past the idea that the bad things about these drugs is just theist conspiracy theory. There actually are medical considerations. Yes, I do take aspirin and other drugs, but they have been researched and risk/benefited so that safe dosages have been established. Also, I'm as aware as I want top be about the risks of taking drugs. You don't even seem to want to hear about any potential risks of modifying your brain.
If I take a drug, it's going to be for a predictable and scientifically established benefit and not on a "I wonder what will happen" basis.
You should be careful: there isn't that much difference between being open-minded and having a hole in your head. None of those quotes above were anything I said. You're just having a pissy fit because I actually was able to find an official medical site (not a Christian site) with an honest discussion of possible risk factors. Looking at those risk, I can't think of any reason to take them. I'll leave it to people who aren't happy with their brains "as is."
Why are you ignoring the information that Roberts provided?
I dont need to add more to that do I?
I would definately listen to the opinion of a Biologist over you or anyone who wasnt a biologist. (re: your remark about Dawkins)
"If I take a drug, it's going to be for a predictable and scientifically established benefit and not on a "I wonder what will happen" basis."
Good for you Unseen - Nobody is forcing it on you.
"I'll leave it to people who aren't happy with their brains "as is."
I am happy with my brain Unseen - why are you acting like a 16 year old about this anyway - Really
Imagine someone going into your cat blog and calling you out or running you down about your claims that cats make you happy just because they've got some personal gripe against cats.
If drug taking makes you feel uncomfortable - then just say that. You dont need to claim a high ground about it.
"When will you show me some non-anecdotal evidence by a dispassionate researcher that there is some undeniable benefit to taking psilocybin or LSD?"
How about this?
Furthermore, there are negative side effects for all drugs. It's been proven multiple times that LSD and psychedelic mushrooms are FAR less dangerous than alcohol, which I've seen you admit to enjoying in other posts.
The way you go about debating is increasingly off-putting; I've not seen Angela once attack or reply condescendingly towards you, yet you feel the need to throw in little jabs with your comments.
Wow - Thank you very much for defending me Worst. I really appreciate that.
I may have started to get just a little condescending a few minutes ago but it usually takes some provoking before I do that.
I really like Unseen and I'm going to put this down to a sensitive personal issue about drugs.
@Unseen Aspirin, you do realize, hasn't been around that long. It's probably less than 100-years-old! Most pharmaceuticals today leave society as the guinea pigs for their long-term effects. Why do you think you see so much commercials about pharmaceuticals that are being banned, and lawsuits that are taking place due to these horrible side-effects?
Psilocybin mushrooms, on the other hand, have been used for millennia! So, I think it's been well established that you can take these things responsibly in a shamanic setting, etc. Richard Dawkins talks about it, Graham Hancock, etc.
@MikeLong You know, the tribes in the Amazon have a completely different attitude towards these substances, and it's even considered a rite of passage for 13-year-olds to take ayahuasca for instance. Tests have been done, and it's been found that these people are perfectly healthy even after years of taking ayahuasca.
Instead of replying to all these latest posts, how about a reply to my last couple of posts containing information on the effects of psychedelics on problem solving and scientific discovery? I've provided some information that's very relevant to this discussion, but you seem to ignore it. I'm not having at you, by the way, just trying to shed some light on the facts of the discussion. Let's not make this contrived Psychonauts VS Science discussion.
Robert - you have provided brilliant information.
I wonder why its being (deliberately) overlooked.
Do you think that the increase in problem-solving abilities could be related to the removal of mental associations? Going on the assumption (wild, I admit) that chemicals only impair, could it be that problem-solvers, when under the influence, were able to follow trains of thought that, when straight, they thought were fully-explored and therefore closed?