Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My latest SETI.com post introduces Terence McKenna's ideas regarding panspermia:

Boldly venturing away from conventional evolutionary narratives, McKenna speculated that homo sapiens might owe its unique cognitive abilities to exposure to psilocybin, a mushroom-derived substance with pronounced neurochemical effects. In McKenna's scenario, the medium is the message: the bizarre worlds encountered by people under the influence of psilocybin are components of an "invisible landscape" with which we share a profound and unacknowledged symbiosis. (McKenna credited the advent of language, among other phenomena, to chemically altered states.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"homo sapiens might owe its unique cognitive abilities to exposure to psilocybin"

I am familiar with McKenna's ideas on this subject but there is no way to know if we owe our cognitive abilities to exposure to Psilocybin.

Many plants and compounds have been used by humans throughout the ages. Whether they generated cognitive abilities or just tweeked them a bit, I think will remain a mystery.

Michael

Mac said...

I agree; this is likely to remain conjecture. But it's a fascinating idea that might open some unexpected doorways.

dad2059 said...

I don't know enough about McKenna's work to make a value judgement about psilocybin and cognition, but I do know a thing or two about 'shrooms and panspermia. One, 'shrooms are a good natural means of attaining an altered state. Eating them is nasty, but smoking dried ones or making a tea (which is the preferred way) makes for an intense vision. If you're adept at meditation, that helps. I never saw God, but I've had some interesting conversations with myself and dead relatives.

Two, panspermia is a time honored and very plausible means of seeding planets biologically. I see no problem with spores buried inside a large comet or condrite-like asteroid making planet-fall.