MAGIC MUSHROOMS AND THE PASSION FOR MYSTERY
Published at: http://www.archania.org
July 24, 2017
Fairytale Construction Kit
Mysterious
Research has shown that children are much more curious about phenomena that appear
inconsistent and ambiguous to their prior knowledge, than about phenomena that appear
consistent with their prior knowledge[1] . You can read more about this in this article. Adults
generally also seem to be more curious about mysterious phenomena, than about dry facts.
Many adults are for example interested in black holes, which are highly mysterious celestial
bodies. People are often also interested in other mysteries; such as how/or if consciousness
arises from the brain, how photons can behave both like particles and waves, how time changes
according to the theory of relativity, and why the universe had a lower entropy in the past.
However, people are not necessarily interested in mysterious phenomena, unless their more
basic needs are met. Therefore, the passion for mystery could be depicted as laying on top of the
other layers in a modified version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
The need for survival
edible food, drinkable water, breathable air, habitable temperature, safety, sleep
Social needs
intimacy, friends, community, language, culture
Sexual needs
procreation, masturbation , coitus
Self-esteem needs
recognition, reputation, popularity, fame
Self-actualization
achieving one’s full potential
The passion for mystery
black holes, consciousness, time
Figure 1: Modified version Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where physiological needs and safety
needs are combined in the need for survival. A new category for sexual needs is added above
social needs, and a new category for the passion for mystery is added above self-actualization.
The lower levels of the pointed arch need to be at least partially satisfied before we get eager to
fulfill the higher levels.
Magic mushrooms tend to make everything appear more mysterious[2]. They might therefore
also make us more curious about everything. A study from 2011 at John Hopkins Medical
Institutions also found magic mushrooms to increase the personality trait known as openness to
experience[3] , and one of the facets of this trait is intellectual curiosity. By making everything
appear more mysterious and thereby fostering intellectual curiosity, they might also restore a
sense of purpose to individuals that feel like life is without any meaning or purpose.
Magic mushrooms
Mysterious phenomena Intellectual curiosity
Intellectual growth Meaning of life?
Figure 2: Magic mushrooms tend to make everything appear more mysterious[2]. Mysterious
phenomena seem to be one of the things we are most curious about[1] . Curiosity motivates us to
find explanations, which again facilitates intellectual growth. Could this be the meaning of life?
We have made great technological advances the last centuries, but many people also feel that
our society has lost a sense of purpose. Life shouldn’t just be about working during the day
and watch television during the evening, or about drinking alcoholic beverages that promote
superficiality in the weekends. Such a life seems completely empty to me. A sense of purpose
might be restored to our society with increased consumption of magic mushrooms. Most people
don’t get bad trips when they eat magic mushrooms, they get enlightening spiritual experiences.
You are however well advised to use magic mushrooms in surroundings you feel comfortable
in, as people tend to connect to their surroundings on a much deeper level while under the
influence of psilocybin. In the Marsh Chapel Experiment at Harvard University[2], almost all
of the students that participated in the experiment and were given psilocybin reported profound
religious experiences. The goal of the experiment was to see if psilocybin could facilitate religious
experiences in religiously predisposed individuals.
Abuse potential and toxicity of magic mushrooms
Magic mushrooms are approximately a hundred times less toxic than alcoholic beverages [4] and
they have a much lower potential for abuse[5] [6] (Figure 3). So it doesn’t make much sense that
magic mushrooms currently are illegal in most countries while alcoholic beverages are legal.
low (0.1%) moderate (1%) high (10%)
very low
low
moderate/low
moderate
moderate/high
high
very high
Magic Mushrooms Mescaline
Ketamine
Ibogaine
DMT
THC
Nicotine
Ecstasy
Amphetamine
Caffeine
Alcohol
Benzodiazepines
Barbiturates
Morphine
Heroin
Overdose potential (active dose
lethal dose )
Abuse potential
Figure 3: Overdose potential (active dose
lethal dose ) and dependence potential for different drugs.
How magic mushrooms might have influenced human evolution
Figure 4: How our evolution might have occurred under the umbrella of magic mushrooms.
The first proof of an abstract and symbolic language can be found in cave paintings that are
approximately 50 000 years old[7], but anatomically modern humans appeared about 200 000
years ago[8] . So the development of our abstract and symbolic language might have been
proceeding during the first 150 000 years of our history, from the emergence of anatomically
modern humans 200 000 years ago until the appearance of cave painting 50 000 years ago
(Figure 5).
200 000 150 000 100 000 50 000 10 000
Development of a symbolic language
Consumption of magic mushrooms
Anatomically
modern humans
Earliest
Cave Paintings Agricultural
Revolution Today
Years ago
Figure 5: Timeline since anatomically modern humans emerged until cave paintings and
agriculture appeared.
Anything we eat regularly can affect our health, and therefore also possibly the long-term
evolution of our species. A high intake of omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and slowly
digestible starches has been linked to many health benefits, while a high intake of trans fats and
easily digestible starches has been linked to many health impairments. If there was a slightly
higher survival rate for the individuals eating magic mushrooms, it is enough to have
influenced the genes and epigenetic structures within the human gene pool.
Occasional increases in interregional brain communication
Increased levels of lingual abstraction might have arisen from temporarily increased neural
communication between distinct parts of the brain that normally do not talk to each other.
While a permanent increase in such interregional brain communication probably disrupts the
proper functioning of the brain, occasional increases might have introduced our language to
new metaphors and analogies. These occasional increases in interregional brain communication
might have come from consumption of magic mushrooms as individuals under the influence of
magic mushrooms often report synesthetic experiences which can be correlated with increased
interregional communication between distinct parts of the brain. A study published by Journal
of the Royal Society Interface in 2014 also seems to confirm that psilocybin increases
interregional brain communication.[9]
Increased Interregional Communication
Temporal lobe
Occipital lobe
Parietal lobe
Frontal lobe
Figure 6: How magic mushrooms seem to increase interregional communication in the brain.
Perhaps due to the increased interregional brain communication facilitated by magic
mushrooms, they often seem to promote a panentheistic worldview.
Magic mushrooms Panentheism
Figure 7: How magic mushrooms often seem to promote a panentheistic worldview
A higher diversity of tribe members increases tribe survivability
Due to occasional increases in interregional brain communication (Figure 6), human tribes that
consumed magic mushrooms regularly might have had more diverse thinking than tribes that
didn’t consume magic mushrooms. According to the diversity prediction theorem by Scott E.
Page, groups with a high level of diversity are better at predicting than groups with a low level
of diversity (Figure 8).
(CX)2=1
nn
P
i=1
(xiX)2-1
nn
P
i=1
(xiC)2
The crowd’s square error = The mean square error - The diversity of the crowd
Figure 8: The diversity prediction theorem, by Scott E. Page at the University of Michigan. A
more detailed explanation of the theorem can be found here (PDF,HTML).[10]
So if tribes that consumed magic mushrooms had more diverse thinking, those tribes should
also have had a higher survivability. And then it seems likely that we have evolved in a close
symbiosis with magic mushrooms. Mushroom spores are extremely resilient, and might be able
to survive the extreme conditions of outer space, especially if kept within layers of rock in a
meteoroid. Is is an interesting hypothesis that magic mushrooms might have originated on a
different world, and have been purposely spread across the galaxy to promote sentience.
Bibliography
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[2] W. N. Pahnke The International Journal of Parapsychology, vol. 8, pp. 295–3113, 1955.
[3] K. A. MacLean, M. W. Johnson, and R. R. Griffiths Journal of Psychopharmacology, vol. 25,
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[10] S. E. Page, “Where diversity comes from and why it matters?,” European Journal of Social
Psychology, vol. 44, p. 267–279, 2014.