Debunk Ze! Question about "magic mushrooms"

Howdy folks,
If you’re a proper Web surfer then hopefully you’re very familiar with Ze Frank, particularly his video blog, The Show:

Though the show’s primary draw for me is its rabid silliness, Ze is obviously a very intelligent fellow, and went off on an interesting lecture today about the recent “magic mushrooms” study:

Essentially, Ze’s point is that taking mushrooms causes irrational associations in one’s mind between unrelated concepts, and this can lead to spiritual experiences when people feel that the universe is all connected together. An interesting hypothesis, but does this match what scientists are concluding? In other words, was he just spouting off an idea about how the mushrooms lead to Godlike experiences, or was he stating the opinion of mainstream science on the matter? I thought it was an interesting view either way, just wondering how much of a WAG it was :slight_smile:

I believe the authors of the study (one of whom is a close friend) would not make any sort of claim about the mechanism how ingestion of psyilocybin would lead to self-declared spiritual experiences in the individuals they studied. Their claim was simply that, in a rigorously controlled test environment, many more people who received psyilocybin than those in the control group (who received methylphenidate, or Ritalin) reported these experiences, and none reported harm.

IOW: I think Ze’s a funny, smart guy who was making a WAG in interpreting the results of the study. Not that i’m saying he’s wrong, simply that he’s not accurately reflecting “the opinion of mainstream science” in this case.

Scientists have conluded that gravity ‘connects’ matter, matter shares fundamental elements, food chains and evolutionary history ‘connect’ living creatures and that superstrings (possibly) connect parts of the space-time continuum, so yes, it seems that psychedelic mysticism is in line with scientific consensus. :wink:

No one knows what causes religious experiences, though some people have reported it can be produced by stimulating pieces of one brain electrically.

My WAG having dabbled in MMs on occassion (purely for research purposes) is that indeed there is a profound “religious” experience which feels real - a feeling of connecting and general well-being. I think there is a difference between “connecting” in a fuzzy, warm way as on MMs, and the sort of intellectual connections that the OP seems to be implying. I mean if there it was random, then the experience is just as likely to be very bad (OMG Im connecting with Satan or the dog next door) than good.

You can definitely lose associations and connections while under the influence, e.g. faces seem to melt away or morph , and then other connections arise to take their place. But I think the religious aspect is too regular not for it to be a “God” spot or spots being stimulated in the brain.