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.
I don't think these are simply "wild theories." Michio Kaku's initial interest in physics was to seek Einstein's "unfinished work." Which, of course, I suppose you could define many ways, but a complete understanding of how reality works simplified down to a one-inch equation or in Einstein's words, he wanted to "read the mind of God." And so, to regard something like M-Theory as "pseudo-science" seems a little specious, because it's really the only best shot science has at describing how reality works on all levels, how it works in our every day experience, on a quantum level, what goes on in a black hole, etc.
Well, perhaps I was misunderstood, because what I meant by it's "science's best shot" is that if M-Theory could continue to evolve as a theory to a point when we can finally put it to the test, then we will have a scientific model that represents reality, because as of yet, what other models are out there that have this as their goal? We've already thrown religion out the window. That's why I typed that it's not that it cannot be tested, it's simply that it cannot be tested currently.
It's not that it cannot be tested, but it cannot be tested currently. That's all. And it's not like this type of fungi have become extinct. They're still here. So, it's not like gnome saliva at all, because psilocybin-containing mushrooms are still extant among us.
So, to this "sizable crop of scientists" that regard M-Theory as a form of pseudo-science, I doubt they even grasp the theory.
Except that psilocibyn does NOT increase visual acuity - he made that part up. Jimmy wants to claim this is irrelevant to the theory, yet it is the basis of the theory.
Increased sexual arousal also does not increase reproductive success. Humans can only reproduce every 9 months and there is nothing in our biology to suggest we have ever been prone to trying to procreate less often.
Even if shrooms did manage to increase our ability to kill & fuck - that is a far cry from causing selective pressures that would lead to increased consciousness.
You're forgetting the third factor, which is the most important one of all, and does propel one into a kind of "higher consciousness."
And you are forgetting that that would require Lamarckian inheritance -> completing the triumvirate of Stoned Ape bullshit.
First of all, Lamarckian inheritance has long since been discredited, so that's absolutely irrelevant…
All right, now to define "Higher consciousness." This is something I've mentioned before, but I didn't use that phrase. I would equate it, since you want me to be specific, to this phenomenon in consciousness that I've been talking about. The phenomenon of "ego death." Now, it's had many names throughout history, as I've mentioned, but I won't repeat myself. I'll just leave a link to another thread where I have vigorously attempted to describe this.
You, like McKenna, seem unable to understand that this 'altered consciousness' is a chemically induced state - not a genetically acquired change that can be passed along.
As I said, at every level the Stone Ape conjecture is nothing but junk science - if one can even qualify it as junk science; perhaps hallucination induced drivel would be more appropriate.
@Heather No, actually, this is the part where I ask Gallup to describe his experience. You don't think it's possible to lie about one's experience? It's also possible to miss the mark. There was something I posted on page 19 of this thread where I talked about two experiences I've had relative to psilocybin mushrooms, in both instances, I had taken a measured dose of 5 dried grams, but only one of them elicited this phenomenon.
So, it's possible to receive mushrooms that have a low potency, but that's just one factor. McKenna always recommended that one should fast for about 5 to 6 hours prior to ingesting the mushrooms. There's many factors involved, and just because you take the "measured recommendation" doesn't ensure that you'll hit the mark.
I'm also going to re-post a quote that I originally posted on page 10, and here goes:
"My thing is not about my opinion or what I saw in Africa or anything like that. This is, get it straight, this is about an EXPERIENCE, not my experience YOUR EXPERIENCE. It’s about an experience, which you have, like getting laid, or like going to Africa. You must do the experience, otherwise it’s just whistling past the graveyard. And we’re not talking about something like being born again, or meeting the flying saucers, or something like that where good works and prayer are the method. No, If you take a sufficient dose of an active compound it will deliver itself to you on the money. If it doesn’t work, take more! Nobody is in a position to dismiss this just because it didn’t work for them on one or two tries. This is an art, it's an art, It’s something you coax into existence. I mean, you have to learn to make love, you have to learn to speak English. Anything worth doing is an art that is acquired. This is part of our birthright, perhaps the most important part of our birthright. These substances will deliver. It is the confoundment of psychology and science generally, and that’s why it’s so touchy for cultural institutions, but you are not a cultural institution. You are a free and independent human being, and these things have your name written on them in big gold letters." - Terence McKenna
@Gallup So, Gallup's Mirror, would you be so kind as to describe your experience, did you experience any hallucination, etc.?
And so you do exactly as predicted - just obfuscating with verbosity to hide the universal message of the theist, "Just continue in the faith until it becomes sincere." Thank you.
I assure you, Heather, it's not the theist's defense that you're attributing it to. Psychedelics, when done in the shamanic fashion, will deliver. What's so wonderful about psychedelics is that there is no faith necessary, as McKenna said, if you take a sufficient dose of an active compound, it will deliver on the money. There's a certain threshold that must be exceeded necessarily to elicit this phenomenon. I could get more detailed with my question to Gallup. Did he fast that day? Did he get any sleep? Did he weigh the dose? etc.
In other words you can get more detailed in your excuses as to why he isn't a convert and you are. Exactly like any other theist.
Why don't you tell me exactly what you expect will happen if everyone takes the 'heroic' dose? Suddenly all our free energy schemes will work, the population will level out at sustainable rates, fruit will blossom from every tree? What?