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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Why not just type out the 'third step' clearly and concisely?  How did a chemically induced state lead the selective pressure that passed on 'higher consciousness' to offspring?  That is Lamarckian, plain and simple.  If there is a non-Lamarckian mechanism there, then please elaborate.

The simple response, Heather, is that the dietary pressure that canopy-dwelling hominids underwent forced them to forage and adapt to the African veldt where ungulate mammals that also occupied this environment left behind excremental abodes for coprophilic fungi that a ravenous ape could not resist, and once digested, forcefully bestowed a catalysis of consciousness... That's it in a nutshell.

But like I said, if you fill your belly full with psilocybin, it's not going to be very easy to describe what follows. But, I am collecting videos on this phenomenon, and I will have a more elaborate response on it.

We already know that we moved onto the savannah and can use that data to find selective pressures for walking upright.  We do not, however, have any evidence whatsoever that our ancestors were any more likely to be eating shrooms than any other species on the savannah.

Even if we did, we would be left with the question of what selective pressure that would introduce towards increased brain function.  What is the selective pressure that you are suggesting here?  Oh, I forgot, you don't know the difference between selection and Lamarckism.

Not to interrupt what appears to be a passionate debate, but if these mushrooms were spread around and as available as you suggest, why was it only hominids that partook?  why don't we have other intelligent creatures?

I've already answered this question (not your question Strega, but I also find it interesting), but I think you, Heather, need to heed your own words, because it is you that doesn't know the difference. If psilocybin is the catalyst, then this would account for increased brain fuction. It's even accounted for in studies that have been done with psilocybin that you have increased functioning in the temporal lobes, and this is what I mean by extrapolation, we build upon what we know, and it's a good thing that we still have these things within our presence. 

I don't think we couldn't have these things not in our presence. In other words, I don't think it's a coincidence that not only is DMT part of our natural neural chemistry, but it's also ubiquitous in nature.

Full circle done - thank you for documenting the bullshit philosophy of Terrence as understood by one of his devotees.  Have a nice day.

It's *Terence* McKenna, with one "r," and thank you for once again giving me another narrow-minded  response. You've proven that you're just as close-minded as any theist. I'll have a nice day, but I don't know if I could say the same about you.


"or one that doesnt depend on a woo-woo concept like 'ego death'".

*quietly tip toeing in - dropping this .... *

The (Only) Five basic Fears We Live By

#5 - Ego-death - fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; fear of the shattering or disintegration of one's constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.

Why is it woo?

*and running away now very fast ...*


 Thank you Gallup - I get the drift.




@Gallup You still haven't really responded why this third factor is "woo." You, instead, re-capped on everything we've already established and completely avoided my question which I asked in my previous post. The definitions you grabbed from Google on "ego death" were both accurate and synonymous with each other, but they simply didn't make sense to you. Why? Because it's quite obvious you have never had this experience. That's why I asked those questions, because if you question someone closely who claims they've taken "well beyond the heroic dose", then a person who's actually undergone this experience can discern quite easily if the person making the claim truly has had this experience or not.

I also linked you to a thread where I give a more in-depth and detailed description of "ego death," did you, by any chance, take a look? It was the "God's Will and Human Freedom" thread. I suppose I can link it again, but I'm not even sure if you're going through any of this stuff or are just concerned with criticism as Heather was. Anyway, here's the link:

God's Will and Human Freedom

And so, judging by your responses, it's quite obvious you don't grasp that which Terence was trying to say. Did you take a look at any of the links I posted here regarding "Stoned Ape" or have you been just trying to pick up the gist of it simply by reviewing the posts here? Hmm…

The only psychology that isn't woo is the psychology that can be measured and tested and turned into data in the form of functional relationships between cause and effect.

The rest of psychology is pretty much a La La Land of conjectures. Ideas that work sometimes and sometimes not, which is the definition of a non-functional relationship.

@Unseen Well, when people under the influence of a psychedelic compound are under an fMRI, there is heightened brain activity in the temporal lobes, and the portions which light up have even been dubbed "The God Spot," not to be confused with God Particle or Spirit Molecule or anything like that, these are very different things. But of course, it's one thing to look at an image of a brain that's lighting up like a Christmas tree, it's another thing to actually be the person experiencing this phenomenon.


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