Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Communicating with people on psychedelics (qualiacomputing.com)
241 points by bemmu on Feb 23, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 111 comments

I believe the main factor at play in the first pair of images, is that on LSD and other hallucinogens as well as intensive meditation is that there are little mind programs that run on our perception that smooth out reality for us.

If you notice, even just sitting still we are constantly moving our head just a little, constantly moving our eyes. Without these programs, our visual field would seem far more jumpy and unstable. In certain states of consciousness, these smoothing programs can become intermittent, less effective or even completely disabled.

Also, when mind rambling, chatter and perpetual loops stop, a greater amount detail can be seen and perceived through all senses. At higher and higher levels of perceptual resolution with our filters disabled and the smoothing programs down, you begin to notice that we don't perceive reality smoothly. We perceive it in tiny little frames. If you just watch the first picture, your mind isn't drawn to he frames. After looking for a bit at the second picture of the pair, suddenly you can start to see the frames of perception more clearly. It's simply a matter of learning to (or being tricked to) get past our habitual programs and filters to tune into a more fine grained perceptual reality happening.

These observations come from my own experience with psychedelics in my 20's and extensive meditation practice including a number of longer meditation retreats.

To take this phenomenon further down the Rabbit Hole, if you pay close enough attention, a defined sense of self is just a feeling or thought that rises from time to time. However addiction/compulsion to perpetual thinking (which 99.99% of humans are caught in) plus the smoothing programs that provide a sense of continuousness and continuity begin to act on that sense of self firmly establishing a deep continuous sense of me. And there is a tremendous amount of conscious energy wrapped up in the perpetuation of a continuous sense of me. Certain states and activities more deeply lock the sense of me in including anger, conflict, proving yourself right, proving someone wrong.

Meditation and Hallucinogens can quiet the mind (or more dramatically short circuit habitual mind loops) and allow you to see the gaps in the self-ing process. The self-ing process never really stops. You never really stop having a sense of self arise from time to time, but when you see the frames and gaps of self-ing you begin to question a lot of who you think you are. And you begin to see the amount of time and energy you spend protecting the self from paper tigers.

Spiritual circles generally call this awakening and tend to over-emphasize it's specialness and idealize those who have deeply conditioned themselves to reside in that state. But it is real and mostly desirable phenominon (with a few drawbacks). Putting aside questions of full enlightenment and mind blowing transcendent unitive states, simply freeing up the consciousness that gets locked up in perpetuating the continuous sense of self and all the efforts to defend as if you are defending your physical body from harm allows for a richer, higher resolution and more textured moment to moment experience of life.

From my subjective experience it is the same sorts of filters that smooth out reality, that also give you a continuous sense of a psychological self which basically manufactures the vast majority of our problems and suffering.

This idea of reality being "passed through" multiple filters, and these filters being reduced or disabled on psychedelics, is developed (somewhat unscientifically) by Huxley in "The Doors of Perception"- it's a fairly good read.

If I remember correctly, the main criticism against this is that if it were the case brain activity should be reduced, at least in some regions, when on psychedelics. However, observing people on psychedelics with fMRIs does not match with that.

However, observing people on psychedelics with fMRIs does not match with that.

This study would appear to disagree: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/6/2138

Decreased activity in the ACC/medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) was a consistent finding and the magnitude of this decrease predicted the intensity of the subjective effects. Based on these results, a seed-based pharmaco-physiological interaction/functional connectivity analysis was performed using a medial prefrontal seed. Psilocybin caused a significant decrease in the positive coupling between the mPFC and PCC. These results strongly imply that the subjective effects of psychedelic drugs are caused by decreased activity and connectivity in the brain's key connector hubs, enabling a state of unconstrained cognition.

If you have bottom-up sensory associations and top-down inhibitory control (the filters), only inhibitory signals would be reduced. You would actually see more brain activity, since the bottom-up sensory associations would be less inhibited, and therefore trigger a greater amount of neurons. Probably an over-simplification, but you can see how it would be tough to use an fMRI to measure reduced inhibition and increased activation.

maybe the mechanism of "shutting down" these processors is not about ON/OFF behaviour, bur rather just disconnect from processing pipeline, not being in sync with other ongoing processes etc.

generally brain on psychdelics is in "overdrive" mode (confirming on myself), but maybe not everything is on turbo in same way, and works seamlessly in normal state doesn't work well anymore

Why would it follow that less filters would infer less brain activity? - even partially. Surley any cleansing/removing of the filters would excite all the brain, as it reacts to new stimuli.

To quote Huxley "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern."

> Surley any cleansing/removing of the filters would excite all the brain, as it reacts to new stimuli.

"Filter" in this case is just an analogy, and not necessarily a good one. We don't know the nature of consciousness and how it maps to brain activity, so it's not appropriate to assume that what is perceived as removing a "filter" is increasing stimuli, it's just processing it differently in some way.

I was replying to the someone, who it seems has misunderstood what Huxley meant by filters - I wasn't defending or affirming them, let alone discussing in what context they are 'appropriate'. I used the quote to give the 'filters' being discussed a context. Are you saying Huxley really meant: If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would not appear infinite but just 'processed differently'?

That's interesting. Could that be because those filters are imaginary in nature?

After all, no specific brain activity can be detected on a person imagining Santa Claus to be real either.

Brain activity is not a precise meassure, not in terms of fMRI, which just shows an increased blood flow.

The hypothesis is obvious on the other hand. However, individuals that would submit to a test on psychedelics is likely the type that gets easily exited just for the sake of it and doesn't. Or brain activity doesn't corralate with actually functioning correctly. I' expect a failing subsystem would respond with increased activity, simple feedback. Eventually some controle unit would shut it off or the subsystem would keep working but a bit unusual, despite increased blood flow.

did the easily exited type bit strike a feeling or why the downvote? I mean, it can't be given to an unsuspecting control group. That would probably feel moderately icky and the desire to rest.

    > I believe ... there are little mind programs that run on 
    > our perception that smooth out reality for us

Our cortex’s main role is to provide inhibitory control on thalamic activity. The serotonergic activity of psychedelics blocks this control signal, and thus prevents the swift extinction of qualia once the triggering stimuli (whether internal or external) is removed.

The OP article cites it to explain lingering visuals, but the source generalizes the mechanism. How would we ever sit at a desk all day or argue about Javascript on HN if we didn't evolve inhibitory processes to dull life down?

It's a thought easy to marvel at when you're on acid, and a mechanism easy to appreciate when you take too much.

Anecdotally, I can perceive the smoothness turning into jerkiness even after something benign as caffeine.

Kind of like toggling "motion blur" on and off in a first-person shooter, I suppose? Or maybe more accurately "motion of other 3D objects" blur.

that would rather be because of motor control issues, including inhibited feedback from the visual cortex or simply dry eyes but something about focus.

i've been meditating for 6 yrs now and i'm interested in your meditation experience. do u have a blog or social media account or something publicly available about it?

I don't have that. However if your not familiar with the Dharma Overground, I'd check it out. There are lots of dedicated geeky practitioners over there that share experiences and to whatever degree possible attempt to document the results with more scientific rigor than a typical spiritual community. http://www.dharmaoverground.org/

thank you, will check out

I just popped over there. I haven't been in a while. It looks like one of my longer reports was linked up to their wiki. This chronicles my meditative exploits from when I really got into it up until an 8 month sabbatical I took and had some initial breakthroughs. http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/messa...

lee, i copy/pasted one of my hn comments below, that describes my meditation. there's a lot of lingo in your link that i don't understand. can you comment on what i describe as stage 1 and 2 below, and if that is related to stream entry, etc.?


2009: 1 hr

2010: 30 min

2011-2014: 10 min

2015-present: 0-10 min

these are my daily averages. i have one rule: before I go to bed, I must assume the lotus position on the floor in front of my bed.

2015 was particularly a challenging year for me (startup problems), and it was all i could do to even assume the lotus position for a second. so for much of 2015 i really didn't meditate, which was ironically when i probably needed it the most. such is my life.

it takes around 4 minutes for me to reach what i call stage 1. this is when all the normal chatter in your mind ceases and your breathing is synced (i've also noticed that it takes around 40 breaths, which is roughly 4 min, so sometimes for shits and giggles i just count to 40). after much trial and error i've noticed i don't even need to do anything; it's the mere passage of 4 minutes that gets me to stage 1.

thereafter is when the real effort begins. it is a constant effort to reach what i call stage 2, or what i consider the beginning of true mindfulness, which means you are neither thinking of the past nor the future. i would say i only enter stage 2 at seconds at a time, only to fall out again into stage 1 (usually by an intruding thought, and that thought is usually "oh, i've got it!").

to be honest, i don't know what the effects have been for me. i seriously don't feel any different. anyway, how are we to separate the effects of meditation with the normal process of maturation or aging? am i getting calmer because of meditation or because i am getting older?

i take it on faith. faith in data and science. our personal experience with meditation cannot be the guide with which we measure it's effectiveness, because subjective experience is exactly that. i liken it to flossing. i floss my teeth every day but still have worse gum recession than those who do not. my periodontist and dentist chalk it up to genetics, because that is the best they can conjecture based on the current science. we can measure flossing easily; without a brain scanner in our basement we cannot so measure effects of meditation. so from the research i take it on faith that the effects must be beneficial on my brain.

Stream Entry is a Theravada Buddhist term for the first of 4 stages or paths of awakening. A precise model has been created but it tends to be only useful if you have a certain mental makeup and you engage in the practices with a certain degree of intensity. Even then it feels to me like too much effort to make a subjective process set of experiences into a hard and fast model masquerading as authoritative and true.

I'm not so familiar with your stages model so I can't really comment. Based on your last paragraph, my engagement with meditation comes from a very different place than yours. It started in order to stabelize attention after an ADHD diagnosis; a way to get off meds. Quickly that was left behind and the real focus was enlightenment, spiritual awakening or whatever you want to call it. It was motivated by a deep spontaneous inner faith that there was something to it and it was important that I go 100% into it and discover for myself. It was not based on research or attempting to find the best approach to make my mind measurably more effective. I just felt a powerful internal yearning for awakening and I had to follow it.

I don't know how they'll get their message past the machine elves from dimension 9 that also communicate with people on LSD.

I thought elves were limited to the DMT experience. At least I hoped that was the case.

I found this interesting at the end of the article, regarding the Control Interrupt model:

This inhibitory control mechanism occurs a discrete number of times per second. Therefore “control interruption” caused by psychedelics, in this model, is conceived as a periodical failure of inhibitory control that allows aspects of one’s experience to be sustained for longer than usual. The frequency of control interruption is specific to the psychedelic used. As the article conjures, salvia and nitrous oxide produce control interruption at a frequency of 8-11 and 12-15 Hz, respectively. On the other hand, DMT disrupts control at a much higher frequency (24-30+ Hz). This control interrupt creates “a standing hallucinogenic interference pattern in the consciousness of the subject”.

It's interesting that different substances might have measurably different effects on perception. Would be nice to see a bit more scientific study into this, maybe seeing if there is a link to fMRI data at all.

One lesser known psychedelic, Salvia Divinorum, when taken responsibly and with a measured dose derived from incremental experimentation, tends to bring a person into the weird world too. Lots of beings, lots of entities.

Salvia takes you to a pretty weird place if you irresponsibly take an oversized dose too. According to my friend.

That wasn't the case for me when I experimented with that in high school years ago. Definitely no hallucinations or anything really close to that, though the extracts will put you in a weird (and very uncomfortable - it is not fun; about as fun as being tickled against your will) world for a brief period of time. Really the only thing that makes Salvia Divinorum worth trying is the "after glow" affect that lasts a couple weeks that can alleviate depression.

DMT is much different than LSD. I have never heard anyone talk about machine elves and LSD.

DMT is a legitimate mystery of science and is not a drug in the traditional sense.

I spent a good amount of time a few years ago exploring the DMT realm, and its totally, completely and inexplicably mysterious. Either consciousness is a non-local phenomena and when you smoke it you end up in some kind of parallel dimension or for whatever crazy reason evolution decided it was important to incorporate these alien beings into our subconscious mind. Those with a rigid reductionist perspective would do well to explore it a bit. IMO there's nothing more mind expanding and question inducing than DMT, and it just begs out to science: "STUDY ME!"

I have not tried DMT and to be honest i do not intend to, based on what i have read. So my insights might not be so cleaver as i think.

But here is an article that makes sense to me.


Our brains are really not that good at letting us know what is going on in our lives. Our brains are however really good when it comes to making us believe that we know what is going on in or lives.

Just look at this list for some examples https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

I'm both fascinated and very scared of DMT. As I get older and my want to experiment with unfamiliar substances wanes, I'm pretty confident that I'll probably never try DMT, but I wish I had when I was younger and more brash. I've had friends who have taken too much and went down the DMT-hole, and their description of it (as best they can recollect anyways) is absolutely terrifying. One example was a friend who felt he spent years in a completely different world, with completely different laws of physics - he had to literally give up his idea of how the world worked in order to embrace what he thought at the time was his new world/being. Once he accepted it, apparently he started to come out of it.

Yeah, I can very much sympathize with your friend. One thing I've learned is that setting an intention is important, and not being reckless with it is important too. There have been a few time where I've come back home after a night out and dove right in with half drunken bravery, and yes infinite thought loops are a thing! There was one time where I quite literally thought I had died and landed in hell and in that moment of time an indescribable suffering was transmitted through my being via some kind of demon which left me in tears for about a half of an hour afterwards. But lest I drive the curious away, whenever I have gone into it with respect I've had experiences that were deeply enlightening and, while always weird, seemingly benign.

Occams razor suggests the latter, i.e. it's all in your mind. Unless you can get one of the beings to factor some huge number for you, of course.

- http://www.ayahuasca-info.com/data/articles/paralleldmt.pdf - http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/04/21/universal-love-said-the...

People always use the large number factor as an argument which pretty much assumes we and they are on similar wavelengths, so to speak. Its a strawman.

"Evolution" has "decided" to "incorporate" plenty of unimportant things, or else everything is equally important, and thus nothing is important.

It's so odd how there's a near-universal reporting of small elf- or dwarf-like creatures from that drug. Is there any proposed mechanism of action for how it works?

Priming seems likely. Most experience reports I've read describe the "entities" as ineffable, so I have to think the language used by McKenna is more a cultural staple/fallback than a consistent hallucination unique to DMT.

I'm sure that contributes to a lot of it, as well as experiences others have with harder drugs. But from my research, many people reported this experience without ever being aware that others have experienced it. I think there must be some factor unique to DMT that can create experiences like this.

My running theory is that the machine elves from Dimension 9 are actually a heavily modified perception of one's self. This is purely just based only on research done in my basement with DMT, so nothing approaching academic research, but I think those little people are actually our "mind's eye" perception of ourselves, just twisted by the DMT. Like when you imagine yourself walking through a hallway to go to lunch, as people sometimes do, you're "seeing" that image of yourself. I think this is what triggers most of the creature visions. Maybe I'm not making sense, but this is the first time I've tried to put that idea into words.

That makes sense, but were you already aware of the "DMT elf" mythology before taking the drug? If so, that could've influenced a lot of your experience.

Otherwise, I think that could be a plausible explanation. Though I've read about people actually talking to the elves, or hearing things from them, which would be weird if the elves were themselves.

The very first time I did DMT -- this is way before stuff like Erowid -- I was not aware of that, no, and I did sense what seemed to me to be some kind of otherworldly presence. In the times since, I have read all about it on Erowid but still haven't seen specifically the "machine elves" but have had similar "encounters". The presence was more aggressive and "dark" when I smoked it versus drinking ayahuasca (from a mix of B.Caapi and P.Viridis). Also sometimes I feel a similar (but different) "presence" when smoking salvia divinorum.

I dit DMT once. No elves or other creatures.

Just for clarity, someone told me that 5-MEO-DMT is sometimes mistakenly called "DMT", but it is totally different from the "machine elves" N,N-DMT version: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5-MeO-DMT

Same here.Extremely strange parallel dimension and some other entity, but not the sort of alien companions I hear about from other people. It might be that I'm very unsocial and a bit of mystic to begin with, my brain has always seemed to be wired quite differently from most other people.

On LSD you become the alien.

On DMT the aliens come to you...

Plus, people on psychedelics are already communicating in a level that sober people cannot understand.

Many years ago I tried LSD, and for whatever reason, I never seemed to experience visual hallucinations. However, in recent years, cars have started having LED tail lights, which really bother my eyes. Several times I have asked my friends, "Aren't those terrible!?" to which they might reply, "They are pretty bright." Bright! They aren't just too bright, they are intensely STROBING! Can normal people not see that? Is this the flashback I was promised?

Low frequancy PWM is annoying, it's not just you:


Yeah, I really think the NHTSA should mandate a much higher minimum frequency.

They should limit the brightness as well, pulling up behind one at a stop light at night is blinding.

Interesting video of the effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XpGUYbehSk

EDIT: Well, I thought it was interesting anyway... my ability to perceive flicker deteriorated markedly after the age of 30 but this way I can at least see how the camera sees it! (I will be keeping an eye out for this phenomenon now but I doubt I could spot it any more unless right out of the corner of my eye.)

I hate to continue your tangent but I do feel something that is relevant to the OP article are new vehicles that have blinking break lights.

Most people don't notice these new break lights (I think its on Chevy cars) but when the driver breaks there is a very fast and subtle blinking of the red tail lights (opposed to just the red tail lights being on for older cars).

I only noticed this blinking while under... but now I see it often but my wife does not. ie its similar to the pong bar "C" letter in the article.

A kid I went to school with would be driven mad by fluorescent lights flickering, even if no one else could see it.

I have no reason to think he had been taking hallucinogenics as a preteen.

"Brake" lights, not "break" lights.

Yes... that was dumb (and even twice!)... I know how to spell brake.. I'm not sure what happened :)

I get visual migraines and your comment reminds me of the experience. Perception of light is often out of the norm for me. Sometimes I will see lights that aren't there. Sometimes I will have certain visual triggers for these effects.

There is some evidence that psilocybin in low doses (much lower than "effective for recreation") can ameliorate or even cure migraines. I mention this as I have a member of my family that suffers from terrible periodic migraines and I myself experience migraines at least once a year.

Many current migraine treatments (such as triptans and ergotamine) are serotonin agonists designed to induce vasoconstriction. The "classic psychedelics" are also serotonin agonists.

Migraine treatments target different subparts of the serotonin system than psychedelics do (migraine: primarily 5HT1B/5HT1D vs psychedelics: 5HT2A). However, from what I see, a lot of the classic "popular psychedelics" don't tend to be very selective, and act on a lot of the serotonin system as well as other systems such as glutamate (5HT2A agonism by itself is not necessarily psychedelic).

Consequently, LSD for instance seems to have quite an affinity for 5HT1B (with a touch of 5HT1D), and psilocin for 5HT1D (and a touch of 5HT1B). So reports of LSD and psilocin being effective against migraines aren't surprising.

LEDs use pulse width modulation to dim, so if it's a subpar circuit with relatively large width duty cycle, that might be what you're picking up. Might want to check out persistence of vision displays. They rely on tricking your brain in similar ways.

Do florescent lights bother you too at all?

Also from what I've heard sometimes people will only see visuals after a second time taking LSD or by taking a more substantial sized dose.

I've got some screwy eyes (astigmatism, nystagmus, myopia) and have definitely noticed that sometime over the last few years the lighting situation has gotten more annoying. Some things I've noticed are particularly annoying:

The screens of cellphones and certain OLED displays having visible screen refresh rates, especially if my eyes are panning across them from a distance.

Shitty LED display lighting with a visible flicker. It's especially bad on a place nearby that has window frames outlined in what are effectively Christmas lights--almost enough to give me a headache just looking at them.

Certain LEDs and phone backlights tend to leave trails in the dark (once my eyes are accustomed to it). This is probably normal, but is a little disconcerting.

Projected images can have minor chomratic aberration, which can be distracting during a presentation. If I twitch my eyes purposefully back and forth, it gets worse.


I love graphics, but that shit is annoying IRL.

I see the strobing of LEDs if the lights are moving across my field of vision. I find it a pretty distracting as well.

This is because, as the source of light is moving across your field of vision, it is exciting different areas of your retina. With a stationary light source, persistence of vision (POV) would make the light source appear continuous, uninterrupted, because the rods/cones do not have time to clear the signal. You can perceive the LED being switched on and off as POV does not come into play.

This must be what I experienced this weekend. I was trying to take a picture of some LED light fixtures and they were doing a number on my camera's sensors. Black bands that at certain angles would move across the screen even though the camera and the lights were stationary.

I don't think it has anything to do with LSD. I've never tried LSD, but I also see moving LEDs (especially white ones) strobing that happens very fast and it's more like they are vibrating. It's hard to explain this feeling, but it's very distinct and distracting.

I have had rainbow halos around street and car headlights since my early twenties. I first noticed it whilst tripping and have yet to determine whether the cause is physical or mental. Looks pretty though.

You may have astigmatism or some other more "mundane" issue there. I see them partially too, but it's astigmatism, because when I put on my glasses they go away. Some do it more than others, but that may be related to the spectrum of the light, which varies quite substantially.

(On that note, here's an old HN post I recall about how to cheaply and easily see light spectrums: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=971413 Of course you can't do that with car lights very easily, but you can still check incandescent vs. florescent vs. LED, etc. fairly easily, and perhaps learn to correlate which is which when you see the "rainbows".)

Thanks for the link.

I thought it could be something to do with my eyes but never thought it could be corrected. Looks like I'm due an eye check! Last time was when I was 6 I think..

A lot of that stuff is always there - just think of the hundreds of optical illusions that can be constructed! - but until it's connected with an emotional experience during a trip, the brain doesn't single it out.

The effect that jumped out at me was focusing at a spot on the floor while standing up and turning. It creates the momentary impression of a spiral pattern in my perception. Especially with a dot-like pattern on the floor :)

Also, if you like rainbow halos, you might also like Shock Diamonds: https://www.google.com/search?q=shock+diamonds&source=lnms&t...

I've had something similar since at least my teens. At night if I look closely at streetlights, I see what looks to me like a magnetic field around streetlights. I don't think that's what I'm actually seeing, but that's what it looks like.

As mentioned in another message, you may have astigmatism. I get triangular spikes off of relatively point-sources at a consistent angle of about 10 degrees clockwise from vertical from my astigmatism. Your angle will vary, of course.

You should have your eyes checked. Halos around bright light sources may be caused by cataracts.

Cataracts generally affect the elderly, but young people may also have it due to genetic factors or medication (such as corticosteroids).

This could be HPPD[1] or related. There seems to be uncertainty as to if hallucinogens cause some of these effects directly, or if they simply help train the mind to notice what was already there. For instance, is visual snow there already, and hallucinogens simply make one more aware of it and capable of focusing on it (similar to how tinnitus is worse if one focuses on it)?


Many people find this condition extremely debilitating:


There is a lot of pain, anguish and regret expressed on the forums by people suffering with this condition.

This can also be caused by (minor) eye issues. I had that effect for a while after PRK surgery.

I've had that for as long as I can remember, I'm pretty sure its a light reflection/refraction kinda thing.

You noticed a change in your vision and you didn't go get it checked?

From some of my past experience, I am skeptical. I think they make assumptions about what people will and wont see that just arent correct.

I suspect that they're right for certain brains on certain types of LSD, but as someone who once had a pipeline to the stuff, there are many different formulations that produce dramatically different effects.

Distinctly, I remember watching Mars Attacks in theaters (which should date the experience) on what was promised to be a "special" blend... how it was special, I have no idea, but the visualizations were very unique.

In lieu of the strobe effect this article discusses, everything instead morphed. When someone turned their head, for example, my eyes (brain?) saw their head briefly in both positions (with no gaps), and then they morphed from the first position into the second position, its path being trailed by a ghost of their heads.

It was unique, different, and I've never had another experience like it. Perhaps there was something in the mix that wasn't purely LSD, I honestly don't know, but from my (admittedly naive) understanding, not every trip produces the same effects as every other.

What do you mean by "types of LSD". It's one chemical, no?

I mean "types" more like I might say "types of water". Sure, there's only one real water, and whether there's lemon added, or if it's filtered through limestone, it technically bears a different configuration (now making it water with lemon, or water with limestone).

That said, LSD is (to my experience) rarely concocted at pharmaceutical grade. Different concentrations, different configurations, different additives lead to different outputs, each of which we might all refer to as LSD colloquially, but which are all effectively "water, with a hint of lemon", or whatever else, moreso than LSD-25 vs. something else.

There are not many chemicals active in the μg range, let alone when they are only present in traces.

With psychedelics dose and unknown environmental and psychological factors can lead to different effect, so there is no need to speculate about a different chemical composition.

I'd be careful when talking about 'different kinds of LSD' because while there are indeed various other Lysergamides that produce analogues effects, most of the time you are more likely to get something that is not LSD at all (e.g. NBOMe) when talking about 'different kinds' of LSD.


Related: gwern's study was pretty bad in a number of ways, most notably that it's unlikely the lsd was stored correctly, which will have a large effect on potency and make dosage much less meaningful as the test progresses.

Furthermore, I think there's a lot to be said that the brain needs to be "trained" to make good uses of the drug, including microdoses—you might be able to recognize the effects better if you're already familiar with the doses at a strong level. However, this is completely spitballing. I'm eager to see proper medical/psychological testing with pharmacists maintaining dosage and administration.

> Related: gwern's study was pretty bad in a number of ways, most notably that it's unlikely the lsd was stored correctly, which will have a large effect on potency and make dosage much less meaningful as the test progresses.

It was stored fine. LSD will not self-destruct in days when stored in distilled water in a refrigerator. It will not even self-destruct after multiple decades in a jar. People store LSD in all sorts of forms for regular trips and it works fine, and somehow, people keep reporting positive microdose experiences regardless of how they sourced or stored their LSD...

You were not in control of the drug before you took it. You have no idea what you took. the sample size is one (or arguably two). Are you saying that in spite of this, your experiment has any meaningful results?

I have no idea why you're attempting to preserve the authenticity of your experiment when it had vanishingly few verifiable materials, effects, and samples. Your post has great value without attempting to draw results.

Psychedelics aren't about pure visuals. They're more about meaning.

Same thing.


"Seeing" is the process of constructing meaning from the raw activation of the light receptors in your eyes. That's why optical illusions work. After all, it's simply patterns of ink on a page - why should you see things that seem impossible? It's because the image is designed to get your brain to construct a particular meaning out of the image.

LSD's effect isn't limited to visual perception. One of the most common reported phenomenon is a sort of understanding of the connectedness of things.

That may be a result of the reality that all things really are connected when they are stored as concepts in a network of neurons.

I'm well aware of that. What I'm getting at is that the same process that produces changes in how visual sense data gets interpreted also produces changes in how all your other sense data gets interpreted. This includes the sense data that introspection and narrative construction generates.

This in no way follows from your initial equation, which by itself doesn't make any sense.

Visuals contain meaning, but they are not meaning.

and that the neurons are not, if briefly, connected anymore when a chemical acid destructs them.

That's not how LSD works.

It would be interesting to hear more about the micro-dosing part.

> Finally, we are currently experiencing a memetic explosion with regards to the use of micro-doses. .... A more noticeable enhancement would be observed on artists, writers and possibly mathematicians. It is genuinely exciting that there is a new wave of attention to this particular application of psychedelics: General, all-purpose life-enhancement.

What I found most remarkable about my LSD experience were the auditory effects. It seemed like my hearing had been dramatically enhanced. I could readily pick out a conversation being held between two people standing a hundred feet away. Of course, that could just be an illusion, but I was curious if anyone had studied this phenomenon.

How about trying to apply the same logic for communicating with people with Synesthesia?

As a synesthete myself, that was the first thought I had after reading this article. It would be interesting to see where this leads.

You would have to find a synesthete with the same sensory cross-over to you, and hope you have a similar mapping of the senses, right? Aren't the mappings at least semi-individualistic? E.g. Person A sees red when looking at the number 42, Person B sees blue.

"* LSD here is a shorthand for psychedelics in general."

The tracing effect is specific to LSD and LSD-like compounds. Mescaline and DMT, for instance, have very different effects.

Yep, ergolines are known specifically for this behavior (although I've had similar experiences with psilocybin).

Imagine the types of debugging tools you'd need to be able to finish a game like the one suggested in the article. They would necessarily need to encode transformations such as those that happen when taking LSD, compared to baseline sober people.

Or of course, try and code while high..

Even more awesome is the idea that this technology can lead to the creation of a video-game that only people on psychedelics can understand and play.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Giraffe seems like a good candidate, though no for the reasons the author suggests. I usually suck on high speed videogames but I just kept endlessly running up a high score on Space Giraffe while my wife (who's way better than me at arcade games) sat there going 'but how are you playing? What's even going on?!'

The authors should get an Ig Nobel award for this. I mean, out of all the things to research... how to communicate secretly with someone who uses a decoding tool of a heavy psychedelic drug (instead of a decoder ring)...

Interesting idea - I wonder if this was investigated by the CIA during the MKUltra days?

Real heads just use telepathy.

Here's a kinda related subreddit https://www.reddit.com/r/replications/ 'The work submitted should seek to emulate the psychedelic experience as accurately as possible from a "first person" vantage point.'

This would be significantly easier to test if the author included a few more images.

Sounds like a great way to gaslight someone.

Which seems especially insidious to do to someone who's tripping. Holy shit.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact