Anonymous wrote:

The views that the psychedelic-catalysed mystical experience may change "about the purpose of life" are the views and beliefs that make up the dominant paradigm in which the bombing of families, environmental degradation, economic subjugation, burgeoning fascism, and a coarsened and xenophobic society are the fruits. Is that what we fear may change?

Sorry if this rankles, but what are the "societal risks" of the mindset of the current track which you apparently would like to preserve?

Will we grasp this opportunity, or be mired in bronze age ideas corrupted and exploited by kings and politicians to control their subjects?

I think we need to look into history and just see for ourselves whether these sorts of drugs actually make things better or not. You're making a lot of assumptions and arguments that are pretty evidence-free when there is perfectly good evidence to come to a conclusion one way or another. Let's just ask the question flat-out:

[i]Were societies that used these sorts of drugs any kinder, gentler, or more connected to the universe than we are?[/i]

The answer to that question is very plainly NO. Ancient Greeks used barley ergot to trip balls in their rituals; you can't get more Bronze Age than that. And they were not exactly pacifist. To be a woman in that society was ghastly. They held slaves and cruelly so. They engaged in almost non-stop internecine war. Clearly these were not people for whom their hallucinogenics had given them any greater appreciation for fertility, life, the sacred personhood of their fellow human beings, or the universe in general.

Ancient Central American empires used all manner of hallucinogenic drugs in various rituals as well. The reason why the conquistadores could take them over so easily was because they were ripe for being set against one another after centuries of monstrous slaughter that they had inflicted on each other. They were not peaceful agrarians living in eco-friendly round huts. They were warlike and as barbaric toward one another in many instances as the conquistadores became toward them.

This is not something we need to wonder about. This is not a magical what-if game we need play nor a pie-in-the-sky guess we need to make. We can actually look into human history for examples to [i]actually see what happened[/i] in societies that used these chemicals in ritualized ways. History has already answered this question: [i]such societies were no better than we are and in many ways far worse[/i].

We can even examine individuals (in the aggregate) to determine whether or not taking these drugs does in fact turn them into the superior and more "evolved" creatures they claim it does -- and using very simple statistical questions. Does dropping acid correlate with an increase the percentage of your income you donate to charity? Does eating a mushroom make you more likely to go to law school for public good and fight for housing and worker's rights? Does smoking toad funk make you more likely to carry out a sustained campaign of neighborhood volunteer work including things like staffing homeless shelters or working in your local volunteer firehouse?

I'm not joking here. These are the ways in which you gauge how "evolved" someone is -- not by how evolved they claim to be, but by their behaviors. By how likely they are to inconvenience themselves for the benefit of strangers. And these things can actually be studied, these questions answered directly and unambiguously. (If my own knowledge of acid-droppers and their ilk is any indicator, the answer is once again a resounding NO. People like to talk about how Steve Jobs dropped acid and Bill Gates didn't, but only one of those men will be responsible for the global eradication of guinea worm and polio, and it's not the acid freak.)

I'm sorry, I wish this were not the case. I wish there [i]were[/i] a magic pill -- or a magic mushroom -- that we could just all chew on that would turn humans into angels and the Earth into heaven, but there isn't one. And it's entirely possible to [i]feel[/i] more evolved to oneself without actually [i]being[/i] more evolved.

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