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People Who Have Taken Psychedelics More Likely To Be Environmentally Friendly (iflscience.com)
114 points by anythingnonidin on Sept 7, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 59 comments



>"The researchers say this isn’t the case because people who are into environmental issues are not more likely to indulge in other drugs, whether it's tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, or recreational illegal substances."

Ok, but it still could be the case that people who are into environmental issues are just more likely to be into LSD.

Actually, from my own personal experience this makes sense. People I've known who prefer hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and shrooms tend to fit into the 'hippy' personality type, which seems to exist antecedent to their drug use and is accentuated by it rather than being caused by it. Again, just personal experience here, but people who really like hallucinogens tend to be 'seekers' who are disillusioned with the human world and so idealize nature.

Other drug users who dislike hallucinogens and instead prefer drugs like cocaine, heroin and MDMA are less hippies and more partiers who like drugs because they make them feel good rather than giving them access to some spiritual connection with the world, or any other hippy trope.

So that this study claims "people who are into environmental issues are not more likely to indulge in other drugs" doesn't surprise me.


The paper rejects the hypothesis that this is the full explanation:

Lastly, as the relationship we found remained significant after controlling for demographic variables and personality traits such as openness to experience, conscientiousness, or political attitudes, it is unlikely that the association we found can be entirely explained by a collection of personality traits stereotypically associated with psychedelic users (e.g. being of the “hippie” type).


Interesting results, but they may not be testing for the right personality traits.


>Interesting results, but they may not be testing for the right personality traits.

As with any scientific reporting, the probability that they're not testing for the right thing is inherent in their experimental design and analysis.

As they state, it's very unlikely that error led to this case.

Generally, your results must reach a certain probabilistic rigor (95% chance the listed results are due to the listed reasons), so that there is a 5% or less chance that the effects being observed are due to design failure or similar issues.


> Other drug users who dislike hallucinogens and instead prefer drugs like cocaine, heroin and MDMA are less hippies and more partiers who like drugs because they make them feel good rather than giving them access to some spiritual connection with the world

As someone more on the hippy side I'd say be careful simply lumping MDMA in with party drugs. It's certainly used by partiers but it's a drug that adapts your mood to the environment and therefore, in a quiet and controlled environment, has very deep uses for introspection, advanced thought and instead of seeing things as you would when taking a trip, you feel like your body is in another place while your state of mind remains relatively lucid. It's a trip for the body and laser for the mind and would be one of the most important tools I've used for dealing with a violent past (as in being on the receiving end).

Lumping it in with cocaine, which in my (not so humble) opinion is the drug of choice for narcissists, seems unfair.


I was actually hesitant to group MDMA and cocaine together. While on MDMA I've always felt a deep emotional connection to people, one that has a hallucinogenic feel to it, while on cocaine I just feel really powerful and up which is awesome but not at all hallucinogenic or spiritual.

But people still largely take MDMA to party which is why I decided to put it with cocaine.


Psychedelics are also called entheogens ("generator of the divine within"), because one common trait of a psychedelic 'trip' is experiencing the nature of the divine, but also the divinity of 'life' in all living things when 'tripping'.

The realization that plants, animals, water, air, are all part of one whole living system of which we're just cells, just like the cells within us, ...

In other words, the realization of the divinity of nature.

Most people tend to treat divinity with respect hence the link.

I personally think everyone should have at least one psychedelic experience, especially in this age that we're in right now.


A little background - LSD was my first drug. I started when I was 13, before I ever had a drink of liquor, or a puff from a cigarette. I tripped probably 75 times between the ages of 13-23.

I firmly believe the same. Every person (without known psychological conditions) should have a psychedelic experience at least once within their lifetime, ideally during the formative years of early adulthood.

These are tools to investigate what it means to be a consciousness here on Earth. They allow people that otherwise may not (I am a staunch Atheist, for example) to experience the ineffable. That changes you, and in my experience, usually for the better. It shows you that you are just a tiny part of the system, and that you have this rare and special gift of existing as a conscious being, able to investigate your own mind and perceptions of reality. It shows you that there is no "outside" yourself.

I do think that most people would do better to try psilocybin, as it has a more "earthy" connected-ness feel to it than LSD ever did for me. To me, LSD puts you into the place of an alien experience this planet for the first time, and psilocybin makes you feel at home in your place in the world. LSD is much more cerebral, while psilocybin is more about the connected-ness.

Either are recommended for use at Disneyland, if you want to get the full experience of just how weird and wonderful this reality is. ;)

edit:

Try psilocybin _first_, then LSD if you enjoyed that.

Psilocybin doesn't last nearly as long as an LSD experience, which can be easier in my experience than just jumping straight into the deep end of the pool.


>one whole living system of which we're just cells

It's a moving metaphor but of course cells within us have the same genome whereas different humans have different genomes. So it's hard to consider them part of one living system, unless one accepts the Gaia Hypothesis.

The sense of oneness or of a divine essence permeating the whole of physical reality is caused by the fact that we don't perceive external entities directly. Rather we each of us perceive our own unified model of reality comprised of tokens for all entities including tokens representing external physical objects. And we may eventually become aware of this, giving rise to that sense. For some people this happens with the assistance of a hallucinogen which I think distorts the model enough for it to become noticeable as a model. Others have spontaneous spiritual experiences.

None of which is to say that life isn't precious, or that consciousness is not a wonderful thing.


> It's a moving metaphor but of course cells within us have the same genome whereas different humans have different genomes. So it's hard to consider them part of one living system, unless one accepts the Gaia Hypothesis.

Except recent studies have found that even our own cells often have different DNA from each other (not just due to mutation), and that what makes us function is a careful dance of countless microbes.


> So it's hard to consider them part of one living system

You couldn't live without many other organisms both in you and around you.


That's true; there's cooperation everywhere and at every level. But there's competition too. There are of course many organisms that kill and maim others to make a living.

So the divine unity that the mystics, poets and psychonauts speak of cannot derive from nature per se, as many people believe. In my comment I tried to give an alternate explanation.


I think it would be more constructive to base environmentalism on rational arguments (of which there are many), rather than chemically flipping some switches in the brain to make everyone love nature.


There may be people who aren't concerned with rational arguments / are close minded / fixed in their own beliefs, who then have an experience that rattles their perception, and shows them that their perception is only that - perception. And how loose/fragile perception is. And often they will pause and question things a little more, think for themselves a little more. And this is usually for the better and will open them up to more rational points.

That said, despite my fondness for these experiences, I do personally know 2 people who experienced prolonged (1-2 weeks) psychotic episodes after taking LSD. So there is more risk associated than many believe or want to accept. I haven't heard of this happening with mushrooms.


Could you expand what that was like for them? I've always heard that LSD was one of the safest drugs out there, aside from false beliefs like thinking you can fly.


I hope GP doesn't take this the wrong way, as I am sure their friends may have had truly terrible experiences. It's not a myth, but it is also something that has been overly demonized. No, LSD doesn't make you think you can fly. That's after school special propaganda.

That said, don't accept third hand reports of psychedelic experiences. If you want to read first hand accounts, I recommend browsing the trip reports at https://www.erowid.org/.

Or better yet, just give it a try and see for yourself. :)


I am not at all trying to demonize it.

I guess I stated it in the way I did because, most enthusiasts start thinking that LSD is "the answer" or "the cure" etc etc.. and get super 'bout it and consequently tend to reject the idea of any real negative consequences, because the experience really is truly amazing and even the day after can be even more amazing, in stark contrast of the 'hangover'.

So I just wanted to mention in spite of this, weird things do happen in very rare cases, and this could even be due to the fact that it's illegal and thus not manufactured with consistent/optimum purity.

Both of my friends were quite experienced with dozens of enjoyable trips under their belt.


Most people understand the world emotionally. Although rational and logical analysis can lead one to the same understanding, the freedom of mind is a hard sell, whereas "here try this snack" is far more accessible for most. Expedient means come in many forms and fashions. In a world of so many narratives and rationalities, being able to open up somebody's emotional understanding to greater senses and truths is something absolutely wonderful.


Sounds rather like brainwashing honestly. Even if it's for a good cause I'm not entirely comfortable with that.


There's no guarantee of results, it's just another way to introduce people to non-ordinary states of consciousness/mind. Certainly don't ever do it without someone's consent, and don't impose some sort of belief structure over what's personally and independently cognizable and knowable. I suppose I have a hard time saying that un-erasable insights are "brainwashing" because that's like saying traveling abroad is like being a traitor. Really, it makes you a stronger citizen, because then you have terms and modes with which to compare, and you also have a newfound wealth of treasure and discovery to help accelerate your own nation, to bring the simile full circle.


I think there are strong emotional anchors to environmentalism and all other political beliefs. You could provide a non-environmentalist with all the facts and rational arguments of why environmentalism is important, but you may never change their mind because they grew up a certain way and their belief on environmentalism is emotionally embedded. However, if they experienced the issue first hand or encountered some sort of emotionally-provoking insight (such as a psychedelic trip), they are more likely to reevaluate and change their core beliefs.


Agreed. We should preserve the natural world if there are good reasons for doing so. I believe there are, not only for self preservation of the human species, but because of the joy so many feel being immersed in nature.

Appeals to reason don't force us to bow to economic imperatives. Wanting to preserve nature for the joy it brings us is perfectly rational and reasonable.


Beautifully worded and said.


Number people who drowned by falling into a swimming-pool correlates with number of films Nicolas Cage appeared in.

http://tylervigen.com/view_correlation?id=359


Out of context "correlation is not causation" comments correlate with HN readership.

The correlation decreases for readers that have done research or at least bother to read the article.


Fair, but the headline on this one is offensively inane.


It is from IFLS. All headlines there are offensively inane. And I'm honestly surprised IFLS is on the front page of HN.


I agree but for that blame the journalist, not the scientific validity of the paper.


I disagree, journalists write articles, editors write headlines.

Show me a journalist who writes their own headlines, and I'll show you a freelancer who writes for their own publication...


No, blame Google and Facebook for forcing everyone to resort to clickbait titles in an effort to get traffic to their websites.


In a way it is a race to the bottom when it comes to quality in articles


The article mentions that it is just a correlation, and that further research would be necessary to discover a link.

This soapbox has a purpose, but you're stepping on it to yell at responsible science journalism. Should no stories be published until further research has been done? What should they present to get money to do more research?


The article spends the first half implying causation, briefly admits this study does not address that, and then resumes suggesting that causation exists.

I hope that's not considered responsible science journalism.

Personally, I don't conclude anything from this. The tone and overreaching conclusions in the study abstract and in the quotes of the study's conclusion make me think the study's authors were looking for a specific answer, which they found. It's not hard to pull what you're looking for out of nothing using statistics, especially on your own data. In fact, it's hard NOT to do.


>The article spends the first half implying causation, briefly admits this study does not address that, and then resumes suggesting that causation exists.

It starts talking about "common anecdotes," then talk about the self reporting survey this is based on. I can't see that as implying causation, and I don't know what more can be expected of science journalism. The field has to make it into a story, that's what differentiates it from scientific journals.

The abstract also states how inconclusive this result is, that the full paper addresses the limitations and that this data should be used with other evidence. The problems I see are the general need to find some link to get published, and they are at least straightforward about the strength of their data.


I was about to say I can probably correlate the number of births in Denmark to the number of storks entering the country or something.

Regarding the study I think both the LSD and being environmentally friendly are the result of certain personality traits, some of which I certainly possess.


Other HN readers, you may accept the following excerpt from the link to determine whether your fellow commenters read more than the headline before they comment:

> However, the relationship between taking psychedelics and being green is only a correlation and the eco-friendly behaviors in the study were all self-reported. This begs the question: Are people who have environmental concerns just more likely to be open to trying drugs?

> The researchers say this isn’t the case because people who are into environmental issues are not more likely to indulge in other drugs, whether it's tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, or recreational illegal substances. There was also no hint that certain personality types are drawn towards both psychedelics and nature.

Doubtless your fellow commenters will say the explanations are inadequate. But was that the impression of the article that they wanted you to have in their original comments? That the question was asked and inadequately answered? I leave this to you.


Yes, they address this:

> Although correlational in nature, results suggest that lifetime experience with psychedelics in particular may indeed contribute to people’s pro-environmental behavior by changing their self-construal in terms of an incorporation of the natural world, regardless of core personality traits or general propensity to consume mind-altering substances.

and

> Rather than psychedelics promoting nature relatedness, for example, it could be that people who feel more connected to nature are more likely to consume psychedelic drugs. But the researchers do not beleive that this is the case.

> “As the relationship we found remained significant after controlling for demographic variables and personality traits such as openness to experience, conscientiousness, or political attitudes, it is unlikely that the association we found can be entirely explained by a collection of personality traits stereotypically associated with psychedelic users (e.g. being of the ‘hippie’ type).”

from this interview with them: http://www.psypost.org/2017/09/study-suggests-psychedelics-p...

Also note that the paper/title say 'predicts' not causes, which is accurate, it's a correlation and X being true does predict Y being true, but we don't know if X causes Y, even if the authors suspect that it might.


Heh. Nicolas Cage shouted us an evening of drinks in Bangkok once. Nice fellow, really. Much less rah-rah than most of the Hollywood types, and a genuinely friendly fellow.


Yeah, it's always easy to find completely nonsensical correlations. You need to have an actual explanation why the one may correlate to the other, and ideally test it in some way or another (or through a different observational study at least) to ensure this is not just noise in the data.


Edited, since my original post was not helpful: If you have a ton of random survey data, you might indeed find two variables which correlate on ten data points. On the other hand, it is much less likely that you accidentally design a study with two variables, and find a similarly strong correlation across 1487 data points. This is particularly true when there is already evidence that this correlation should hold.


I theorize that far more people would drown themselves after a John Travolta movie than ever would after a Nic Cage flick.


Roland Griffiths, PI for psilocybin research at Johns Hopkins:

> Frankly, I can’t think of anything more important to be studying. As I’ve said, the core feature of the mystical experience [that we can now occasion with high probability] is this strong sense of the interconnectedness of all things, where there’s a rising sense of not only self-confidence and clarity, but of communal responsibility – of altruism and social justice – a felt sense of the Golden Rule: to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. ... Understanding the nature of these effects, and their consequences, may be key to the survival of our species.


Interestingly their survey was conducted using Mechanical Turk.

It struck me as highly dubious they could possibly control for the myriad dimensions of personality and social background with any statistical significance with a sample of 1487, of which, what, 10% would have taken psychedelics? Turns out it was 26.9%, versus a background level of 13.6% found in some larger study.

So I think one thing we can safely conclude is that that taking psychedelics tends to turn people into Mechanical Turks. Or the other way round?


People who take Psychedelics

People who go outside

People who spend some time in a forest

People who have had at least 1 close pet

People who got to study leaves in the middle of winter as a classroom activity

People who look at the stars at night with awe

Psychedelics is not the only way to remember where we came from.


Sure. But it's one we don't understand, so we research it.


> Psychedelics is not the only way to remember where we came from.

And I think not necessarily a way.


I sense a lot of dismissive response, mostly it seems from people who didn't read the article. For what it's worth, of my friends who did psychedelics, they were much more likely (even the fairly strong-minded ones) to come out of the experience trying to articulate the following ideas:

- Everything is connected - I'm a piece of the larger system - Inanimate objects have feelings / matter

Of course I reject all of these notions as clumsy to absurd.


Why do you reject them?


Some people here seem to suggest that people who care about environment have a hippy mentality and hence are open to consume LSD b/c the real hippies in the sixties chose accidentally LSD as their drug. As if Cocaine or Heroin could have just as well ended up as their medication. Well - Cocaine's affect would have certainly not supported what hippies do stand for - Cocaine makes over-confident, un-self-reflecting and numb. LSD on the otherhand raises empathy, self- and environmental awareness.

Also everybody with relevant experience in the field of psychedelics know that the by far most interesting environment for a trip is the nature, a field, a forest. Why - b/c green looks awesome and fractal shapes on plants become alive.

So - LSD might be consumed for whatever reason - it will make you empathic - and that might be the reason to take it. So the choice of LSD by some people is for a reason and LSD will also foster this particular motivation.


I know good ol' boys who stick to beer, whiskey, and a little weed who regularly cull the duck, quail, deer, and wild pig populations to keep them from overbreeding. Mostly, they leave the coyotes alone because they keep the rabbits and prairie dogs in check.


Phrased another way, hippies are more likely to have taken LSD than non-hippies.


The study did not look for a causation, yet it hinted "there is strong reason to believe that psychedelic substances increase nature relatedness as a function of their ego-dissolving effects."

This is not science, this is academic rubbish. The only thing they have a strong reason to believe is that a correlation exists.

Maybe people who walk in forests are more likely to pick mushrooms and take them? I wish universities were held to some sort of scrutiny, instead they pollute the pool of human knowledge with rubbish.


Of course it does. They both correlate with "openness" in the five-factor psychological model.


Not just correlate. Psilocybin is known to cause more openness.

"But more than a year after their psilocybin sessions volunteers who had had the most complete mystical experiences showed significant increases in their “openness,” one of the five domains that psychologists look at in assessing personality traits."

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/09/trip-treatment


Lol, no surprise here.


This is a cultural coincidence, not a causal correlation.


The actual article may be less garbage than the headline of the news post suggests:

Our model controlled for experiences with other classes of psychoactive substances (cannabis, dissociatives, empathogens, popular legal drugs) as well as common personality traits that usually predict drug consumption and/or nature relatedness (openness to experience, conscientiousness, conservatism).

(that's from the abstract)

Of course we won't know for sure – all praise the paywalls of science!


The walls are but an inconvenience for the determined: http://journals.sagepub.com.sci-hub.cc/doi/pdf/10.1177/02698...

I'm not qualified to evaluate the paper, but here is their summary.

Summary. We found a linear relationship between lifetime experience with classic psychedelic substances and scores on two sub-dimensions of nature relatedness, NR-Self and NR-Experience. The more people had experience with classic psychedelics, the more they enjoyed spending time in nature, and the more they construed their self as being a part of nature. None of the other substance classes included in our model significantly predicted any of the nature relatedness dimensions individually.

NR-Self, in turn, was the only dimension of nature relatedness that positively predicted self-reported engagement in pro-environmental behavior, and significantly mediated the relation between experience with classic psychedelics and pro-environmental behavior. That is, the perception of being part of the natural world — rather than being separate from it — that is heightened for people who have experience with classic psychedelics, is largely responsible for the increased pro-environmental behavior that these people report. Notably though, as the direct effect of experience with psychedelics on pro-environmental behavior remains marginally significant after controlling for the indirect effect, it is likely that it is not entirely driven by the mediating variable we identified. Which other factors may contribute to this effect, however, is for future research to determine.


Plot twist: the popularity of LSD in the 70's was a CIA operation to prepare the public for the global warming hoax (among other things).

/s although stranger things have happened.




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