It's cheaper, safer, longer-lasting, and most certainly a higher-quality experience once properly learned.
A lot of people say this, but most of them have never tried psychedelics at all, much less had high-dose, strong trips. In those cases, I'm not sure they know what they're talking about.
There are others, like Ram Dass, who definitely have had strong trips, and many trips at that. They tend to have a much more nuanced view of the value of psychedelics. Instead of merely saying "meditation is better", they can actually have a meaningful conversation on the relative value of the two approaches.
To anyone interested in another side of the subject, I recommend The Paisley Gate by Erik Davis. In this and other talks, Davis explores the historical role of psychedelics in bringing many practitioners to Eastern religions and meditation, and their continuing role in enhancing the practice.
 - https://techgnosis.com/tantra-of-psychedelics/
What you say is true, but meditation comes with two major benefits over recreational drugs of any type: it's not illegal, and you (the meditator) have control over the quality.
It's a good place to start; you can easily try something different if it doesn't work, with no regrets.
On the other hand, most people agree that to get serious results from meditation you have to put in a lot of effort and practice it for a relatively long time. For many people that amount of effort and dedication is unrealistic, especially if all they have to go on to believe that it will eventually pay off is somebody else's word.
Psychedelics, on the other hand, provide virtually instant results. They are also relatively easily available to anyone, requiring almost no effort and no dedication to a long-term regimen of practice. There's no free lunch, however, and so psychedelics do come with their own risks -- risks that can be mitigated to a great extent by thorough preparation, having an experienced sitter, having the proper mind set, etc. But the risks can not be eliminated altogether.
Further, while a psychedelic experience can be profound, it is usually short-lived unless the insights gained during the experience are integrated constructively and put in to practice somehow in one's life -- something most people are not trained to do or even realizing they could/should be doing. A long term meditative practice, on the other hand, will almost by definition have long-term effects.
Another potential benefit of psychedelics is that the access they provide to non-ordinary states of consciousness and mystical experience, and the very real questions they pose about the nature of reality could ignite in the prepared mind a need to seek and perhaps to be open to trying things like meditation. They could also give a glimpse of what could finally be attained through long, hard practice, and some even continue to use psychedelics to enhance their meditative or spiritual practices.
I know in my own case, my experience with psychedelics ignited a life-long, deep interest in philosophy, religion, meditation, other means of attaining altered states of consciousness, and in what lies beyond the appearance of reality. Would I have gotten interested in those things otherwise? Possibly, but I doubt they would have been as important to me had I not had the glimpses of other worlds and other possibilities that psychedelics provided. I know I am far from the only on in feeling this way. I've heard many others credit their psychedelic experiences in similar ways.
From meditation I've learned to deal better with stress, to relax more, and not to get caught up so much in my emotions. Those are great skills to have, but not even remotely close to a psychedelic experience. Some long-time practitioners have reported "enlightenment" or "kensho" experiences with meditation, but there's no guarantee you'll ever have one, and not likely that it'll happen without a ton of practice (some say many lifetime's worth). Even then, those types of experiences in meditation are considered merely another step on the path, a very, very long path.
All in all, this is a complicated subject, without clear cut answers regarding which approach is "better".
While I strongly recommend meditation for absolutely everyone, and would not make such an unconditional statement for LSD, but it is an absolute mistake to disregard how powerful of a positive force LSD can be in a person's life.
Edit: I've tried all the psychedelics ad nauseum, fun but not for me when it comes to working. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
15 Laws of Growth: https://www.amazon.com/15-Invaluable-Laws-Growth-Potential-e...
The Bhagavad Gita: https://www.amazon.com/Bhagavad-Easwarans-Classics-Indian-Sp...
The Four Agreements: https://www.amazon.com/Four-Agreements-Practical-Personal-Fr...
(Note: grew up Christan in rural Scotland now agnostic chilling in Manhattan, so no religious slants)
I see meditation coming up so frequently in discussions here, I wish some high karma person would post a "Ask HN: What's your personal meditation routine/journey, and what has it done for you?"
One thing to keep in mind is that there are lots and lots of different approaches to meditation. An approach that has been mostly de-religionized called "mindfulness meditation" has been very popular in the West in recent years, but there are many, many other methods too. Unfortunately, I know of no one comprehensive guide to all the different types. The information tends to be scattered all over the place.
I recommend beginning with some Guided meditations (just search until you find some you like) no more than 10 minutes to start. Once you feel you have familiarized yourself with techniques continue without the guide. 20 minutes a day - I personally do it in the AM after a run - is all it takes. Better concentration, focus, helped me personally "slow down" my impulsive reactions, better relationship with my business partner (more patience), and a better sense of self.
The list really does go on and yours will be unique to you. Try it!
My mindfulness practice helps me to achieve direct insights in software engineering, though that's not the reason I do it. I do it for the insights into my own psyche, and for my mental health. It just happens to be the case that quieting the chatter in you mind will help you step out unproductive thought patterns in engineering more quickly.
Headspace offers a broad library of targeted programs, and I can pick a topic that causes the most friction right now - be it anxiety, productivity, relationships, health, etc. Each program has a supporting structure and provides continuity for my daily practice. I feel like I'm taking new baby steps every day, and that sense of progress is motivating for me. I decide on my time commitment (for me it's 10 minutes), and just put in headphones and sit down. I have my phone and headphones nearly all the time, so I've done this on the train, in the park during lunch, on a side street bench, in a taxi, etc.
In the year I've been using it, I have never finished a 10-minute session without feeling significantly lighter and more composed when I got up. I still don't do it daily (humans, hey), but for me it was the only thing that stuck. Give it couple weeks.
The rest of your points are still valid though :)
It's really hard to explain why- it feels to me like it's a weird quirk of the mind at times, because of how it only works if you follow the steps precisely.
At times I feel like it's the focus that you constantly bring yourself back into that helps. At others, I think it's the recognition of all the thoughts that are swirling around your head. At others, I think it's the anti-anxiolytic effect of simply dropping your worries.
I don't understand it at all. But it works.
Meditation is a much more sustainable, healthy solution, though
There's nothing inherently wrong with the drug, but there's something inherently wrong with the behavior around it, by people who are so desperate for edge. Down that road ultimately lies Lance Armstrong, and East German women with beards.
FWIW Doping was common not only in the GDR at that time. USA and even Western Germany also did quite a lot of doping.
What was special in the GDR (As far as I know) that it was done without consent or even information to the athletes and it started quite early. Athletes were told to get vitamin injections and stuff like that.
This was a case of the system wanting to be the best in sports and sacrifing the health of it's people for it.
It's a complete different thing than to consuming drugs to be more effective or successful in the system.
All behaviors are based on biased beliefs and not many of us are entirely cognizant of our true nature. Simultaneously, some realize we will never know all of our true nature while here in this reality because for something to know itself requires recursion and infinite memory space.
It is true that you are making conflicted statements, but I don't think your observations are that far off the mark. The conflict comes from the unknown variables and the use of biases to do discovery. In other words, it's a fair use of the dissonance present in all of us.
Also, I've heard that LSD, and psychedelics in general, are not addicting given they affect the consciousness process, not the body. If that's true, this would eliminate the women with beards problem.
I get you might be against performance enhancing drugs wholesale, but there's nothing "inherently wrong" with taking a chemical to perform better. If anything, it should be a personal choice, like working longer hours or taking a higher risk job.
In other words, if you're desperate for an edge and willing to spend money, compromise your health and integrity for it, then you'll eventually move on from expensive bullshit like copper bands, to blood doping (in the case of sports). Right now, with the state of the "art", you're mostly just hurting yourself, but I think it's reasonable to assume that given the money and interest, it will be determined which drugs/methods do yield actual results.
If the attitude remains the same, "Anything for an edge," then when that comes you're going to be screwed as a group.
I personally am on the fence about LSD microdosing (and relatedly, most nootropics). There's evidence on both sides and much of it likely comes down to personal psychology and physiology.
I think we are going to have to accept the future where unenhanced humans are (largely) obsolete at the top (say, 0.1% or 0.01%), though: if it's not drugs, then it'll be cybernetic implants.
I think we might actually agree at a deeper level, and disagree how to address it: you seem to be interested in regulating the actions of people to prevent a tragedy of the commons situation, while I think we need to change the fundamentally exploitative economic structure that's precipitating the tragedy; I think both of us are more concerned with the coercive aspect of the problem than that people are doping.
I don't want people to be desparate for an edge, but I also think people have a fundamental right to burn brighter for less time if they want to. But I don't like the ratcheting of that becoming necessary for survival any more than you do.
I would dream of the kind of solution you're talking about... changing the landscape, but it's hard to imagine that happening in a positive way anytime soon. You're right in your conclusion about the right of people to push themselves, even to destruction. Imagine if the Curies had been told to quit with the experimentation by modern Health and Safety?!
The problem is... Japan. Look at what it's like to work in Japan. They have all of these ideas about what you need to do to be working "110%" (roughly translated). You stay late, leave after the boss, drink like a fish, and a bunch of other things that largely do not improve life or productivity. If the search for an edge were not so tightly bound with how work cultures change, permanently, it would be less of a concern.
Still, the solution, whatever it may be, is not regulating essential freedoms.
"The LD50 for the mouse amounts to 50-60 mg/kg IV (that is 50 to 60 thousandths of a gram of LSD per kilogram of animal weight upon injection of an LSD solution in the veins). In the rat the LD50 drops to 16.5 mg/kg, and in rabbits to 0.3 mg/kg. One elephant given 0.297 g of LSD died after a few minutes. The weight of this animal was determined to be 5,000 kg, which corresponds to a lethal dose of 0.06 mg/kg (0.06 thousandths of a gram per kilogram of bodyweight). Most animals die from a lethal dose of LSD by respiratory arrest. The minute doses that cause death in animal experiments may give the impression that LSD is a very toxic substance. However, if one compares the lethal dose in animals with the effective dose in human beings, which is 0.0003-0.001 mg/kg (0.0003 to 0.001 thousandths of a gram per kilogram of bodyweight), this shows an extraordinarily low toxicity for LSD. Only a 300- to 600-fold overdose of LSD, compared to the lethal dose in rabbits, or fully a 50,000- to 100,000-fold overdose, in comparison to the toxicity in the mouse, would have fatal results in human beings. These comparisons of relative toxicity are, to be sure, only understandable as estimates of orders of magnitude, for the determination of the therapeutic index (that is, the ratio between the effective and the lethal dose), is only meaningful within a given species. Such a procedure is not possible in this case because the lethal dose of LSD for humans is not known."
Just take a look at any fundamental neuroscience/brain biology textbook. I would guess that most likely continued microdosing would lead to downregulation and added stress on the pre and post synaptic neurons. Does this mean death? Probably not. Does it have long term effects? I'm not sure, I haven't read the research literature.
While it is just anecdote, the first person to synthesize the drug (and use it, and later practiced microdosing), Albert Hofmann, died from heart attack at the ripe age of 102 with a healthy mind.
The brain is an extremely delicate organ, or atleast that's what I would consider it. It relies on maintaining balance and uses negative feedback. In an effort to regulate brain activity, your brain will do things like down-regulation as an effort to bring your high activity brain (while on lsd) to a more normal level. I haven't looked into exactly what happens with LSD besides that it acts on serotonergic pathways, but sustained high activity can also lead to cell death.
Drugs are demonized in our culture but a lot of people can get a lot of benefits out of them, that includes steroids as well if you know what you are doing.
You don't make anyone any favors by spreading illegal drugs = health problems attitude.
Why is microdosing LSD compromising integrity?
One look at my computer and I go "I sure waste a lot of my life on this thing. I'm going to go outside."
Maybe it's because I missed Burning Man this year, but I haven't heard of anybody doing this outside of articles on garbage news outlets like TechCrunch that say people are.
Marijuana or Adderall, sure (Meadow and Eaze are doing well here); maybe even the /r/nootropics stack, but not hallucinogenic substances.
I know people who have experimented with shrooms, but they don't consider them a "drug of choice," let alone a productivity enhancer by any means. In fact, one of my acquaintances ended up going off the deep end when he started taking LSD. It was a really sad story.
In fact, the morning after my first trip on LSD I thought "I should not do that more than, at absolute most, once a month." It did turn out to take me about a full month before I could take what I had experienced in stride, without any lasting delusion about the nature of the real world.
But I will tell you with certainty (while the article maybe over blown) there are many people, myself included, who work in SV and take great comfort in sub-threshold psychedelics. Without it, I worry too much and am a perfectionist to my detriment. With it, I can contribute without fear of judgment.
I would probably most expect this to come from Silicon Valley, Wall Street, professional sports, etc. Anywhere that fosters an attitude of seeking significant optimization or getting something for nothing.
Though this is all just personal perception. It's certainly filled with bias.
Tuning low-level settings to optimize the stack for the workload expected is standard engineering practice. Heck, we even do it in hardware: deciding if we want higher single-thread performance or higher throughput for a given heat envelope.
Provided the quality and dosage was strictly controlled and adjusted to fit the user. Discipline also needed to avoid too much too often. Doesn't help that it's illegal.
You wouldn't want to be doing it to fix a "normal problem" that could be addressed by eating nutritious food and getting more sleep for example.
Psychedelics aren't suited to capitalist agendas either. The idea is to use psychedelics away from the office for perspective and focus shift. I suppose that's normal dosages though, and the idea here is micro-dosages which would be more like a good strong coffee but a clearer more mental buzz.
An extra hit above the micro-dose might make you shut down your PC and head to the park for the rest of the day. Risk.
Let's face it, we're not all building things that are making the world a better place. Psychedelics tend to expose anything trivial that's masquerading as important. Your ability to discriminate genuine from fake is sharper. At normal dosages at least, you feel attracted to these insights and will follow them out the door if that's where they lead.
I see bad as confrontations with one's psyche, with one's subconscious, with things one has been denying or avoiding in ordinary life. To the extent you consciously face your demons on a bad trip and try to learn from it, they can be of great and profound value. For me it has been, as they say, like years of therapy compressed in to hours. Both the good and bad trips have also radically changed my understanding the world and the horizon of what I consider possible.
As much as I'd like to, I don't think I can in good conscience recommend that everyone take psychedelics, as everyone is different, everyone reacts differently, and people at different stages of their lives are ready or not ready for certain experiences. Especially at the higher doses, it could be a very profound, life-changing event -- for better or worse.
I would definitely treat it with the highest respect if one ever considers trying it. Those who decide to would be wise to prepare thoroughly, find out as much as they can, have an experienced sitter they trust, do it in a safe, supportive setting and with a healthy frame of mind where they have no other obligations at least for that day and the day after. Best of luck.
Please don't make generalizations about the entirety of HN. You're a member of the HN community as well: do you have an affinity for LSD? If you have some stats backing this up, I think a lot of people would find it interesting: at least I would.
Disputing his comment makes sense if you think he's wrong, but it seems unreasonable to require people to back up such commentary with "stats".
In 'lcw's comment, the generalization doesn't add anything substantive to the comment. Indeed, one could read it as disparaging to the HN community because it's too naïve to understand the risks of LSD, rather than granting the members the benefit of the doubt that they're capable of making reasonable decisions. And that's ultimately the point: by making generalizations like this, it doesn't add anything substantive or constructive to the comment and ignores the wide range of opinions across the HN community.
Edit to add: As an aside, you mention that 'lcw's observation matches your perception. It's well known that our perceptions are often wrong, or at least skewed. That's why backing them up with data is important, to make sure our perceptions are consistent with reality.
Why does it matter? Is lcw's statement regarding HN improved by the initial statement?
> It's well known that our perceptions are often wrong
Is these not generalizations across large groups of people?
Look at the discourse on HN, particularly on contentious topics, where people make general statements and then attack each other for apparently including unjustified assumptions in those general statements. Or look at the the polarization in the US where it's so often the case that it's "us" vs "them", bucketing people into two groups, without recognizing that there's significant overlap in values between them.
It's well known that our perceptions are often wrong
I would consider cognitive bias to be a pretty well-accepted idea. One of the strengths of the scientific method is that it provides a way to attempt to remove cognitive bias from observation. Do you disagree?
I didn't think my initial comment was going to result in this contentious thread. I'll leave it at that.
So, are the assumptions unjustified or not? polarization is self-fulfilling, if people believe that it is "us" vs "them", then it is "us" vs "them".
> Do you disagree?
Disagree with what? The statement is very general.
The statement "some things are True, some things are not True" is tautologically true, and utterly unproductive.
but I think you've missed the point, the intersection of the two:
> it's well known that our perceptions are often wrong
If this is an example of a "generalizations across large groups of people", then you claim to believe that it "degrades our ability to see the nuance and diversity of opinion and perspective that clearly exists".
You can't be exact about large groups of people to absolute resolution, there is always a degree of generality. Your own statements show that, either a) there are some statements, perhaps due to their passivity, can be made about large groups of people (but as a result, say very little) OR b) there is some acceptable level of generality when talking about large groups of people.
My conclusion is that either, there is a correct level of generality (that you don't establish), or that you can never talk about large groups of people, or at least say anything productive about them.
> I didn't think my initial comment was going to result in this contentious thread
I think everyone speaks at some level of generality about many things, whether they realise it or not; so simply language policing others on that basis begs a lot of questions.
This is like saying "assuming that 1 + 1 = 3, what is the square root of 7?"
If I don't understand there to be a valid point in your comment, I can't very well adopt your comments and try to rescue them..
I think self-reported gains in creativity are meaningless in defending LSD microdosing. Psychedelics are not magic creativity chemicals and their use does not inherently make anyone more creative. How are we defining creative? What does that even mean? Is the code I wrote on LSD really that much better than the code I wrote sober or on a different drug or combination of drugs altogether? What about strategic business decisions, design work, or documentation? How does one accurately measure 'creativity'- is that even a desired trait while working for most people?
I also don't see why it's necessary to use hallucinogens during the work day. Why can't you just drop acid on the weekend or vacation when you actually have the time to enjoy the experience (as heavily as you'd like) in whatever setting you feel most comfortable in? If you really are invested enough in your career to do psychedelics for the sole purpose of workplace creativity, can't you just do your creative thinking then? I think this approach to applying hallucinogens to your work would be as effective as microdosing, if not more so.
My biggest criticism is this though: isn't the whole point of psychedelics the expansion of consciousness and wisdom beyond its current state? The psychedelic community is generally a fairly anti-authoritarian one and I tend to think that it's not just because the state often treats the use of hallucinogens with the same level of violence as far more socially dangerous behavior. Using psychedelics for as shallow of a reason as coming up with ways to better optimize your stupid advertisement platform to sell foot cream to seniors is a tragedy. Besides, there already exist drugs for this purpose (coffee).
And these points ignore the main risks which are obviously being caught and having an adverse health effect.
I think this is a stupid trend highly indicative of just how boring and uncreative the tech industry is. At the end of the day, some of us use drugs to get through the work day. If you want to use psychedelics to do so, that's your business, I don't know how you function, but I doubt you're drastically outperforming the coffee guy or the straight edge guy at the office.
That said, this is a wide open field that could greatly benefit from more research. I am hopeful that such research will once again become acceptable to the scientific establishment before too long, as a number of studies on other effects of psychedelics have recently been completed with much success.
 - https://www.amazon.com/LSD-Spirituality-Creative-Process-Gro...
 - https://www.amazon.com/Psychedelic-Explorers-Guide-Therapeut...
As an aside here's a dosage guide: https://www.reddit.com/r/LSD/comments/2hg6io/different_dosag...
This used to be true, but is very unfortunately not true any more. Newer synthetic drugs, like bromo-dragonfly, are approaching LSD in potency making them essentially indistinguishable from LSD in practice, and resulting in actual fatalities.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bromo-DragonFLY#Dosage
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bromo-DragonFLY#Toxicity
 - https://erowid.org/chemicals/bromo_dragonfly/bromo_dragonfly...
Much lighter use however may be more sustainable. There is no law that says the human brain can't be tuned a little for different modes, and I have no problem with people doing that. There may still be tradeoffs though, so anyone doing this should try to be self aware and observe the effects carefully.
This is just another BS article from someone who knows nothing about how drugs can very dramatically Fuck up a person's life.
(How do I know? I've worked with many recovering drug addicts in the past who all wish they had never started in the first place)
Nobody "never comes back off" LSD - it isn't even addictive, and tolerance builds rapidly so it soon stops working anyway. It can be dangerous, if taken to extreme excess and/or combined with other factors like sleep deprivation or other drugs - but you'd really have to try, and "ending up in a psych ward for two weeks" is very unlikely.
From your perspective, I'm going to guess that the "drug addicts" you worked with were on something altogether more addictive and damaging, perhaps tobacco or alcohol. Don't generalise that experience to "drugs", unless you want to be dismissed as someone who doesn't know what they're talking about.
I find the micro dosing trend distasteful, but I hate anti-drug propaganda even more. This is just another BS comment from someone who has never done drugs and looks to force their misinformed values and opinions onto others.
That being said, it's a public health issue, not a criminal one. Abuse can also be significantly curbed by open and honest discussion about the benefits and negatives of various drugs. The DARE and scare model is an abject failure.
edit: fwiw imperio59 has a post history repeatedly
denigrating LSD, psychology as a valid scientific practice, in addition to advocating for and linking to Drug Free World, a Scientology-backed
nonprofit. Not even worth replying to.
It is possible to use psychedelic drugs constructively, in positive settings, and with knowledgeable sitters who can provide support when needed. Studies have shown time and again that such an approach maximizes the chance of very positive, profound experiences that are highly valued by the subjects for many years. That doesn't mean the experiences are risk-free. One could have a negative experience even when one has prepared thoroughly. But even negative experiences can be valuable if one faces them and tries to learn from them.
One other thing we should recognize is that people are going to alter their consciousness somehow. It seems to be a fundamental human need. The "just say no" approach does not work for a significant proportion of the population. Wagging fingers at that population and continuing to tell them "just say no" can even be counter-productive, as what is forbidden often becomes more alluring. Much more constructive and helpful is teaching people how to use these substances in a healthy, positive, and non-destructive way.
What? Hallucinogens don't cause physical dependency and tolerance builds quickly so psychological habits are hard to form as well.
And there is some evidence that taking psychedelics can precipitate long lasting or even chronic psychosis in those with genetic predispositions
I interpreted what they said as a reflection of those facts, though you are correct that risk of dependence is relatively low
If you're familiar with the literature you'll find meta-analysis with a lot of phrases like "At present, HPPD appears to be a genuine but uncommon disorder". YEah, its in the DSM, but at best it's vanishingly rare. And according to the DSM past hallucinogen in combination with the symptoms alone is not enough to constitute a diagnosis of HPPD. It's also tangled up with a number of other confounding mental illnesses. And, even still it's believed that a user must possess preexisting risk factors in addition to heavy use to trigger HPPD.
What I'm driving at is that microdosing is almost certainly unlikely to cause HPPD in healthy adults.