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Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is yielding results (newyorker.com)
347 points by juanplusjuan on Feb 3, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 149 comments



I took a ton of acid (blotter) in the late 70's and early 80's as a teen, and then again in the late 90's (window pane and liquid eyedrops), and I just have to say, I, personally, have mixed feelings about this sort of thing being heralded as some sort of metaphysical panacea.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I became addicted to opiates in the mid 2000's and lived as a zombified-but-somehow-functional heroin addict for about 4 years.

There is no doubt, in my personal case, that acid and mushrooms (that I often hand-picked in cow pastures after rainstorms here in central Florida) gateway-ed me into harder, destructive "escapes", and for that reason, I cannot fully endorse this sort of thing.

I've had amazing trips where I literally felt as one with the group of friends I was chilling with and created deep, transcendent bonds, and I've had a select few shit ones where I felt totally alienated from every living soul (but not nature, interestingly) on earth.

They did expand my consciousness, but looking back, I see now that it introduced into my psyche a fairly deep distrust of authority and convention which, under sober scrutiny, perhaps did little to help me always successfully nagivate my life.

Treating the very sick and/or terminally ill with psychedelics makes great sense to me; anything to ease those pains, but my own experience makes me want to throw at least a dart of caution into the mix when it comes to making a blanket statement about the benefits of LSD and such.


I remember the point Alan Watts used to make that I agreed with strongly– it's ridiculous to think that LSD is a magical perfect good thing for everyone, because nothing is.

The point is that it's a tool, like a car or a chainsaw. It should be used responsibly, with supervision, safely, around people who know how to help you, etc. Without regulation/licensing, when it's driven underground, it goes to the black market and that's where things get terrible.


This is so true. Use of psychedelics (and psychoactives in general) is such a polarizing issue, partially due to the poor drug education that the majority of the public receives, but also due to the force with which drug proponents feel they have to present their arguments in order to be heard. Too often advocates of responsible drug use portray the substances' benefits in the same uncompromising, unbalanced way that the mainstream media goes about deriding their harms.

Psychedelics are not "good" or "bad". They simply modify one's brain chemistry in novel ways that have the potential to be useful. Whether the experiences one has under their influence are useful or not depends entirely on the individual, where they are in their life, and to a moderate degree, chance.

The same goes for gateway theory. Personal experience tells me that the concept of drug use leading to more drug use is valid with some people and not with others. Much like tripping, it is largely dependent on the individual and their life situation at the time. It is not at all black and white (is it ever?).

As usual, balance is key.


There are a ton of very successful opiate addicts. OxyContin alone does around $3BN of sales a year, in addition to other opiates and generics. It's safe to say that not all of that is going to people in hospitals or on workman's comp. While failed users are gonna generate a storyline and visible effects, successful users aren't going to make a big deal out of it.

Heck, the commander of Germany's Air Force was a lifelong addict. Not that he's a good role model, but that should dispel the idea that opiates kill the ability to run a "successful" life (for some values of successful), in the same way that FB using PHP should dispel idea that you can't write a world class service in PHP.

Keep your eyes open in meetings with "successful" white collar people. If you look carefully, you should not have a hard time finding plenty with pinned pupils.


It'd be interesting to do an analysis of famous drug addicts and see if any pattern emerges in their work.

For example, do amphetamine and cocaine addicts get more work done in the long run? Are heavy psychedelic users more creative than average (examples like Francis Crick's discovery while on LSD seems to point that way, but the sample size is small)?


> famous drug addicts

With that much selection bias you'll probably find exactly what you're looking for.


You're completely right. There's probably a much better way of formulating the study; working professionals rather than (just) famous people, perhaps.


For example, do amphetamine and cocaine addicts get more work done in the long run?

I can tell you from a lifetime of experience with addicts I've known that the answer to this is absolutely "Hell NO".

Please do not try this at home, and take my word for it.


And Paul Erdos, one of the most prolific mathematicians, would say the opposite:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Erd%C5%91s

He took speed everyday, and said it gave him great ideas. On a bet, he stopped taking them for a month, and said that month was a waste of time.

I suspect most successful speed users aren't going to talk about it like he did.


Sure...play with fire, I sure did. I would never tell anyone (except maybe as a suggestion to my kids, due to the troubles in my life) not to.

Prescribed attention deficit disorder medication non-withstanding, coke and meth addicts are just ticking time bombs.

I know a bunch of speed (meth) users who truly believe that are being super productive, but in the end all they have to show for it is scrubbed concrete, an empty bank account, and psychosis.

These are just my personal experiences as a 48yo who has been deeply involved with recreational drugs since age 13.


now you're mixing apples and... uranium ore. next step is extrapolating heroin/crack/meth addiction drawbacks to alcohol and tobacco addicts, right?

I tried shrooms roughly 10-15x in my life, gradually found a way to get most out of the experience (instead of 5-6 hours of mediocre intensity having 2-3 hours of pure joy). Never tried anything harder/different than this & pot, so there goes gateway thingie. I don't even know how to describe what I've been trough, but always purely positive extremely intensive experience. FOr me it's not social drug like pot. In fact, when trying to walk around in broad daylight, meeting people etc. the struggle to look normal was literally killing whole trip, since reality was much stronger info feed to my brain.

Since it's digested, after laying down in bed and closing eyes, I would describe the event as gradually losing all senses and connection with body. My self dissolving into something like a mist, breaking into atoms and just hovering. I am an atheist, but it was always very spiritual experience (to me it explains a bit why there are so many religions - we have it built in somehow). Coming back from trip was not instant, always like going down some massive mountain, step by step, discovering your senses and body again (you don't realize that you are "seeing" without anyhow utilizing your eyes, until you start getting them back. Same for rediscovery of hands for example).

Would I advise these to anybody? Nope. As article said, if one has some deep issues, this can unearth them. But so can excessive alcohol and other stuff (one of my ex' father had schyzophrenia attack triggered by excessive drinking, stayed with him whole life after that accident). Is this an issue of psychedelics? No, just us. They are just powerful tool, nothing more.

That being said, didn't have ones for couple of years, mostly because they are not easily accessible (collecting wild mushrooms can bring nasty poisoning if you mix them up for others, and I don't feel up for Tor orders :)). They are definitely not addictive, in fact after each experience being so hugely intense, I didn't feel the curiosity for quite some time. Also, trip being super intense, after it I always get terrible headache from my brain being literally owerworked.

I say everybody who is mentally OK (strong condition here) should try them once. I think mankind overall would look better, and be happier :)


>I say everybody who is mentally OK (strong condition here) should try them once.

It's a bit of a problem here that you cannot really know whether people are actually mentally okay, even if they seem so.


Personally, as someone with ADHD who began taking medication for it only recently, his statements resonate with me.

I would guess that, at the forefront of a field like mathematics where you need to hold a virtually superhuman amount of the field in your mind at once, and explore it for possible cross-connections in a very thorough and rigorous way, being neurotypical would feel like having ADHD, and being on speed would feel like being "functional."


Define addict.

That's going to be your first problem.


"Failed users are gonna generate a story line and visible effects..." True. But you act as though this is not a serious thing to take into account when weighing fucking consequences. Take a sample of everybody who crosses a busy highway blindfolded and survives. Cause, that's scientific.


> There are a ton of very successful opiate addicts.

Oxymoron.


>There is no doubt, in my personal case, that acid and mushrooms (that I often hand-picked in cow pastures after rainstorms here in central Florida) gateway-ed me into harder, destructive "escapes", and for that reason, I cannot fully endorse this sort of thing.

A drug may be a gateway, but you are the one walking through it. If you are using drugs irresponsibly it is your fault, not the drugs'.


Absolutely, I agree...I tried to be very careful in my post(s) not to condemn drug use in any way, and understand that 90% of people who do drugs have no long term issues with them.

I've come to learn, after intense inpatient treatment, that my "irresponsible" drug use almost surely developed from deep emotional scars inflicted on me in my very, very early childhood.

Over the past two years, since I've cleaned up, I've studied the neuroscience of addiction quite deeply, and there are some rather enlightening studies that pretty much prove, beyond most doubt, that addiction is a brain disorder and not a "will power" (whatever that really is) issue.

In other words, people with a certain type of "neural initialization", created in very early childhood, will almost certainly become addicts of some sort, while others without those disorders, won't (or are far less likely).

All I was really trying to say was this; giving mood-altering drugs to everyone might create problems and should continued to be studied carefully.


Sure, but if a drug was truly harmful, we shouldn't encourage it. And if we discover activity X leads to doing something else harmful, it's cause for considering restraint. After all, cigarette ads don't harm anyone directly, yet we make the tradeoff to limit them in order to limit smoking.

(Not that it applies here. Everything I've read and seen indicates the world would be far better off if access to opiates and psychedelics was legal, easy, and well understood/educated.)


Fault is not a useful construct in this context. I would say rather that "it is your responsibility".


I'm surprised (and disheartened) to hear that psychedelics served as your gateway into harmful drug use. Can you tell a bit more about the role psychedelics played?


Different respondent (I'm not him). I can't answer to his personal experience, and it's never happened to me, but I've seen this happen to people. When I lived in Williamsburg, probably 3/4 of the people I saw on a daily basis were regular recreational drug users. It's a nihilistic, icky culture and the negative energy is intense. People are flaky and half-there. This isn't the fault of the drugs, I don't think. They'd be just as icky and nihilistic if running on booze, cocaine, and casual sex alone. LSD and pot and shrooms merely fail to improve those people. The danger is that, in the process of getting access to a drug like LSD, you're likely to associate with that sort of people more.

Also, while I don't consider psychedelics "evil" at all, they do make a person more suggestible. If you're surrounded by a rotten culture and bombed-out people, you're going to suck in a lot of negative energy.

The recreational drug use lifestyle is, for most people, pretty awful. Again, I think that the chemicals themselves (if we're talking about psilocybin and LSD) are probably a minor factor. But to get in access, you have to deal with despicable people (such as dealers) and make a bunch of shitty friends who are in access, and there's definitely a lot of the crappy, cliquey behavior associated with American high schools. Oh, and since you're dealing with an scumbag black market, you're not always getting the chemicals that you think you are. And even if you're only interested in exploratory, "spiritual" drug use, you're still surrounded by crass, hedonistic, bombed-out people who also use cocaine (which is an asshole/empty-hedonist drug if there ever was one) and opiates (which can wreck your health and turn you into a lethargic zombie). Most of these people also have undiagnosed mental illnesses (not minor yuppie shit, but severe, unmedicated bipolar and schizophrenia that they are actively making worse) that they are too lazy to take care of [0].

[0] Please don't think I'm a Republican for calling these people "lazy". I'm talking about upper-middle- and upper-class hipsters living on parental funds who've had everything handed to them.

This is, I'd argue, a case where the illegality of these drugs makes them a lot worse in their totality (and that's one reason why I'm really glad to see these compounds being studied for potential beneficial effects, even if I'll probably never again use them). Because LSD is illegal and stigmatized, you have to deal with the dregs of humanity to get it. Now, while LSD and psilocybin may not be long-term harmful under ideal conditions (the jury is still out about that, but evidence suggest that they can do a great deal of good) they are pretty awful when used in the wrong setting... and they are almost never available in the right setting. People who run marathons and write novels and program open-source libraries rarely use LSD, not because they're "above it" (I also know some absolutely wonderful people who've used LSD) but because they're just generally not in access.

Furthermore, these drugs seem to scale poorly. The more often you use them, the less benefit they seem to deliver. I think that it's probably healthy for a normal person to have a psychedelic experience on occasion. It can set a person on a different course, and we all need that on occasion. Dropping acid every weekend is probably not a good idea. When drugs become one's life, or one's lens through which everything good or bad is viewed (note: someone who relates all intense experiences to drugs probably should fucking stop using them)... it gets very unhealthy. At this point, the person has frank psychological problems, has probably lost jobs and friends and relationships, and is exactly the sort of person who will be drawn into the use of drugs that are physically harmful (like coke and heroin).

I hope this helps to explain the pattern. Of course, there's a lot tied into it, and a lot of it's cultural. But some people undergo a subtle shift from self-improvement and learning to "experience chasing", and the chasing turns into escapism, and LSD and psilocybin are rather poor drugs for escape (they intensify life, rather than drowning it out) while alcohol, heroin, and cocaine are good for that. I know many who were irresponsible "psychonauts" in their 20s and turned into boozing alcoholics in their 40s.

All that said, this is just one slice of experience and observation (and a negative one). There are plenty of people I know who use these drugs on occasion and haven't gone wrong or boiled their brains. It's not for me, but I think it's necessarily bad. Legalizing and de-stigmatizing psychedelics would do a great deal of good, in my opinion, for everyone by removing them from toxic cultures.


This is why the internet is one of the greatest things ever to have happened to the world of drugs. Someone who wants access to drugs no longer has to involve themselves with the toxic culture surrounding the physical black market. One can just download Tor, buy some Bitcoin and hop on Evolution to buy virtually any drug without interacting with any personalities beyond sending a PGP encrypted address.

There are still reasons one might end up associating with the drug culture; if one wants to share and discuss their experiences, the easiest way to find psychonaut friends is through the local drug trade.

The other major benefit of online drug trade is that many middlemen are cut out of the equation. With less underground transportation and distribution, there is less violence. Many vendors produce the drugs they sell themselves. A highly reputed psilocybin vendor, TripsWithScience (believably claims to) grow psychedlic mushrooms in his home, using spores he originally collected himself, then extracts psilocybin, packages it up and mails it to the recipient.

No middlemen means no violence. I don't believe I'll live to see the categorical legalization of drugs, but for now I'm happy with this.


This is exactly why I've never dropped acid. I don't trust the kind of person who regularly comes into supplies of LSD to give me what is actually LSD. It's not just an informational asymmetry thing, although that's certainly in play. (He knows what LSD is "supposed" to look like in various forms; I know only what I can glean from the internet.) Rather, it's that LSD is so rare that an LSD dealer is likely to be a really odd duck.

I don't feel this way about shrooms, or about shroom dealers, because mushrooms are so comparatively common. There is less ipso facto sketchiness about the kind of person who's selling shrooms. (Although there is certainly some sketchiness there; don't get me wrong.)


> Furthermore, these drugs seem to scale poorly.

Someone once told me, regarding psychedelics: Once you've gotten "the message", it's time to hang up the phone. I think it's good advice.


Or in the words of my friend - you open the door, and then go through it. You don't keep re-opening the door.


Alan Watts said that, if you want an interesting person to read about and haven't yet :-)


It sounds like you're blaming your problems on the drugs and not yourself. Did you smoke cigarettes before any of this? Why isn't that the gateway drug? People tend to like yellow mustard before they move on to dijon. People tend to like light beers before they move on to IPAs. There is a natural progression there and to blame the drugs for your clearly addictive personality is wrong. Yes, they can be dangerous and because of that demand respect, but you have "mixed feelings" of people seeing if these drugs can help humans who are sick? Honestly, that is extremely extremely selfish. It's like the people who are against pot and refuse to even let sick people use it even though it's fucking magical for stomach issues and nausea (think of cancer patients going through chemo), great for glaucoma, proving to be amazing for seizures, etc... Your mistakes mean we should be hesitant to give sick people relief? Do you have "mixed feelings" morphine drips for people in intense pain? I don't understand how you can be so short sighted and selfish.


I was about to upvote you, and then I realized that that's not what the OP is saying at all. Hell, his words were that it "makes great sense to him", and he just cautioned against treating LSD as a panacea.

Therefore, I must downvote you for the straw man.


>I see now that it introduced into my psyche a fairly deep distrust of authority and convention which, under sober scrutiny, perhaps did little to help me always successfully nagivate my life.

I have one of those too, and I can see where my life could have been easier had I not stubbornly clung to my own principles and instead accepted authority; but drugs had nothing to do with that in my case. I'm not sure that I understand how drugs could have done it in yours.


I agree. Psychedelics give access to altered states of mind. Very often, these altered states are mistaken to be transcendental states (like what yogics and other saintly beings experience). It's best to avoid these shortcuts to the mind, unless one is feeling adventurous and is willing to face the consequences of the unknown that lies beneath


I, personally, have mixed feelings about this sort of thing being heralded as some sort of metaphysical panacea.

These drugs seem to be karmic accelerators, and they seem to intensify time by factors of 100 to 1000+, which means you can get months or years worth of experience in a few hours. If you're on a path "upward" (ignore the subjectivity of spirituality and growth for now) the drugs will push you along, you'll learn a lot, and have a beautiful experience. If you're headed for, or at risk of, crisis or a disaster, they can bring it forward with a lot of force... and it might be better, for many people, to have more time to deal with such a thing.

Monitored use with a skilled therapist is probably fine for most people (and I wouldn't be surprised if psychedelics were much more safe than what's currently being used for high-grade mental illnesses, because many of those drugs-- legal and regularly deployed in mental institutions-- are nasty) but the recreational/hedonistic use pattern you see in our society (which, for the most part, is materialistic, thrill-obsessed, short-tempered and crass... and using LSD or psilocybin doesn't change that aspect of a person unless he has the right intentions) seems to have minimal expectancy and a lot of variance.


I highly doubt there's much any skilled therapist can do to people who are completely hallucinating and on a bad trip.


I don't. Trips can move gradually, and a therapist with the patient can move them in a positive direction. The remarkably positive results of these controlled tests indicate that yes, you can keep a person from having a bad trip if you have a trained guide with them.


The advice I heard was to eat a mars bar. That ain't too difficult.


Thorazine.


This can be dangerous, Xanax or klonopin are preferred by modern psychedelic therapists.


From personal experience: xanax works very well.


Includes an interesting account of Robert Jesse's (former Oracle VP, software engineer) efforts to resurrect this research:

When the history of second-wave psychedelic research is written, Bob Jesse will be remembered as one of two scientific outsiders who worked for years, mostly behind the scenes, to get it off the ground.


For those who haven't seen them, his talks are highly worth watching and will completely change your ideas about religion:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM-yinhpOgQ

http://vimeo.com/10968562


Your comment reminds me of Timothy Leary and the Harvard experiments.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Psilocybin_Project


In the same vein (and including at least one essay by him):

http://csp.org/practices/entheogens/EFR.html


> will completely change your ideas about religion

Sort of presumptive.


Keep in mind that I can see how many views those videos have. I can also see what the best selling books on religion are on Amazon, how many copies of the books he references are sold each week, how many views the most popular YouTube videos on religion have, etc. So it's not difficult to say that even if he is drawing from the most famous works in the academic study of religion, which he is, most people here probably haven't been exposed to those ideas.

And as for why most people here would be convinced, he has an engineering and science background, and his talks are largely aimed at engineers and scientists.

FWIW he's not trying to get you to 'believe' in religion, whatever that means. Rather, his points are more along the lines of that scientists should learn more about the academic study of religion and the commonalities between religion and science, rather than allowing the discourse on religion to be set by extremists.


“I didn’t want there to be an easy way out,” she recently told me. “I wanted him to fight.”

Attitude that keeps everything stagnant and backwards.


It's repulsive how people think "no pain no gain". I think that might be some of the resistance against sucralose. It's a free ride. Same for the attitude about addiction. It's viewed as intrinsically bad, instead of just evaluating it in context of benefits.


It's a very Catholic mentality, the notion that sin is atoned for with suffering. It would seem entirely foreign to a Buddhist, for example, who would see fortune as a result of accrued karma.


Catholics don't believe sin is atoned for with suffering.

Sacrifice and repentance? Yes. Suffering? No.


What about purgatory?


Over 12 years of Catholic education I was taught that the whole concept of purgatory had been repudiated. But looking it up now, it seems to have been resuscitated, albeit as a sort of "waiting period" for souls that hadn't fully reconciled with God.

In any case, at least in the modern Church, the concept of purgatory isn't an endorsement of the benefits of suffering.


Have you ever considered the possibility that for over 12 years of Catholic education, you were being lied to, and that many of the things you devoutly believe without question are simply not true?

Case in point: your false beliefs that fly in the face of all the evidence (much of it from their own doctrine, statements and actions) that the Catholic Church believes and preaches that sin is atoned for with suffering. Haven't you ever heard of that guy named "Jesus"? Isn't there a commandment that says you're not supposed to lie?

Penn and Teller and Christopher Hitchens certainly make a strong case that the Catholic Church and Mother Teresa and Bill Donohue are obsessed with suffering and totally full of Bullshit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6voAW_Go5Y https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UR-0Kdff4M


I am not Catholic, but to assert that he devoutly believes things without question is a big assertion.

For myself, to believe something I question it first. We should extend the same courtesy to others - they surely question things first.


[flagged]


You're clearly passionate about this topic. I can practically feel the flecks of spittle hitting my face as I read your comment.


Well you should learn more about your own religion before spreading misinformation about it.


Well, you've sure persuaded me.


Mother Teresa certainly did.

Penn and Teller - "Bullshit - Holier than Thou" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6voAW_Go5Y

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Mother_Teresa

She was sometimes accused by Hindus in her adopted country of trying to convert the poor to Catholicism by "stealth".[6] Christopher Hitchens described Mother Teresa's organization as a cult which promoted suffering and did not help those in need. He said that Mother Teresa's own words on poverty proved that her intention was not to help people, quoting her words at a 1981 press conference in which she was asked: "Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?" She replied: "I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people."[2]:11[7]


Unless I'm completely misunderstanding Buddhism, they would also see suffering as a result of accrued sin. Karma works both ways.


Yes, many people raised in Buddhist households would say that, but it's not an accurate representation of what the Buddha taught, based on the Pali texts which are the earliest written record. You can decide whether that means it's "Buddhism" or not.


Are you able to give a more accurate representation, or point me to a source that would do so? I am genuinely curious, this is the first I've heard someone say differently (I know several Buddhists/Hindus although none could be considered devout).


So Western karma and Buddhist karma can be a bit different, as the West has adopted the term it's become the Western version of the idea. And Buddhist karma is a bit different from Hindu karma. I haven't found a fully consistent use of the word across Buddhism even. But one common theme is that you shouldn't be ascribing the suffering of others to their karma.

Overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma_in_Buddhism

Theravadan view: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/kamma.html

Soto Zen view: " We say, result is—will result immediately, not later punishment. To do something is already punishment. That you do something is already punishment. Not later." (edit: I may be taking this out of context....) http://suzukiroshi.sfzc.org/dharma-talks/october-1968-9th-ta...

Secular view: http://www.stephenbatchelor.org/index.php/en/karma-and-its-f...


Take a look ,or listen, into Ken McLeod's Pragmatic Buddism. His podcast The Unfettered Mind is quite a resource.

He describes a culture that began with a base of perception and the experience of the now and due to the foolhardy nature of humans always trying to describe what is a unique and individual experience, if even describable at all, led to a disconnect and subsequent acadamization and institutionlization that seems to me to be what all religions suffer from. The "Story of Tea" is a tale told in some of his sessions that is quite relevant.

The phenomenon seems also to be related to what legislative bodies suffer from as well though not entirely so.


From the Karma in Buddhism wiki, Complex Process:

Karma is also not the same as "fate" or "destiny". Karmic results are not a "judgement" imposed by a God or other all-powerful being, but rather the results of a natural process. Certain experiences in life are the results of previous actions, but our responses to those experiences are not predetermined, although they bear their own fruit in the future. Unjust behaviour may lead to unfavorable circumstances which make it easier to commit more unjust behavior, but nevertheless the freedom not to commit unjust behavior remains.

Within the Pali suttas: In the Anguttara Nikaya, it is stated that karmic results are experienced either in this life (P. diṭṭadhammika) or in a future lives (P. samparāyika). The former may involve a readily observable connection between action and karmic consequence, such as when a thief is captured and tortured by the authorities...

I'm not seeing anything to convince me I was wrong in thinking of karma as an impartial system of justice, both good and bad.


It's hard for me to tell if you're actually "in the wrong" here. Innocent people are also captured and tortured by authorities, but it's a huge stretch to blame that on karma.

If you say people experience karmic responses for all of their actions that's roughly true within Buddhist doctrine depending on how you define these things. Many believe it's a purely internal process so there's no guarantee something bad will happen to you in the sense of losing your job or stubbing your toe.

If you say that when a bad thing happens to a person it's because they did something bad to deserve it then that's not what the Buddha taught. The world's a big place and your past morality isn't the only thing that determines your present situation. http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/tp/The-F...


Following your link and comparing the Hindu and Buddhist explanations of Karma, that makes more sense to me. It seems I've been co-opting the strictly Hindu interpretation while Buddhism is a bit different. Anyway, thank you.

http://buddhism.about.com/od/karmaandrebirth/a/karma.htm http://hinduism.about.com/od/basics/a/karma.htm


A Buddhist may also see fortune as irrelevant.


And then there is huge difference between Western so called Budhhist living in Southern California and buddhist peasant from a Chinese village.


I read that quote as his wife saying that she didn't want him to give up and die. She wanted him to fight the cancer rather than obtain a "profound acceptance" of it.


I think that's a false dilemma. In my mind, part of "fighting" cancer is trying to mitigate its impact on your everyday life, and acceptance probably plays a key role in that process. It's not like being angry and afraid makes you any better at fighting a disease. If anything "fighting" and "accepting" could be said to go hand-in-hand, especially with respect to illness.


in fact, constant stress would make body even weaker. psychosomatism is a real thingie. not that happy people cannot die from cancer


The psychedelics weren't offering him a pain-free cancer treatment. Their purpose was to get him prepared to die.


"During each session, which would last the better part of a day, Mettes would lie on the couch wearing an eye mask and listening through headphones to a carefully curated playlist—Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Pat Metheny, Ravi Shankar."

This strikes me as sort of funny. For someone completely unfamiliar with this stuff I would imagine encountering it to be pretty trippy on its own.


I imagined this as, "There's no music here. These are just notes." 45 minutes later -- "Oh."


Some time ago I listened to a radio documentary on Steve Reich. One bit I remember quite well was a description of the door to the room where musicians were practising for Music For 18 Musicians.

Apparently it had a sign warning people to stay away from that room if they had a history of mental illness.


If you're interested in this, check out MAPS: http://www.maps.org/

They are doing a great deal to push this research forward and have been for decades.


John Gilmore, founder of the EFF, is on the board of directors, as is David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and grandson of Dr. Bronner himself. Dilute! Dilute! Dilute!


While this is undoubtedly exciting, lets not forget what should be for us (specially people in the technology who have seen waves of the same 'fad' come over and go) this paragraph from the article:

>The first wave of research into psychedelics was doomed by an excessive exuberance about their potential. For people working with these remarkable molecules, it was difficult not to conclude that they were suddenly in possession of news with the power to change the world—a psychedelic gospel[...]It didn’t take long for once respectable scientists such as Leary to grow impatient with the rigmarole of objective science. He came to see science as just another societal “game,” a conventional box it was time to blow up—along with all the others.

Special emphasis on the last sentence.


Indeed, though I'm a little more optimistic this time around. I think Leary and the rest assumed LSD was more-or-less guaranteed to produce profound spiritual insights in anyone who took it. Therefore, the primary problem was distribution: once LSD was available to the general public, society was guaranteed to "wake up."

Obviously, this was mistaken. Many people did take acid, have direct experiences of divine revelation, and go on to live happier, more fulfilled lives because of it. But many also took it primarily as a deliriant; they took it for fun, saw some neat visual hallucinations, maybe offended some people, maybe got wrapped up in a paranoid delusion. Or, even if they did "wake up," their excited babbling could appear very disturbing to observers, who often had no frame of reference for what the drug-user was going through. I'm sure it scared the hell out of a lot of them.

Clearly, psychedelics aren't a panacea for society's problems. But what we're seeing now is a return to the more reserved approach of administrating these drugs in a controlled setting, and primarily for the purpose of psychotherapy. I think psychedelics have a bright future as long as we avoid trying to "change the world" and focus on just helping one person at a time. I don't fault Leary for his optimism, but ultimately I wonder if he did more harm than good.


Every person is different, and every trip is different. You must learn what helps you.


Can we stop with random the downvoting?

Clapas is on topic and contributing to the discussion. That means no downvoting.


HN is a fickle beast, one I've quit several times for being down voted to oblivion for a humours but on topic, relevant and quite poignant comment. And the very next story on the topic had almost the exact same joke as top comment by a well known handle. I've seen vulgarity posted in the top comment, but been down voted for using the word bullshit when referring to something that was complete and utter nonsense. Don't kid yourself, just because the topics are intellectual, doesn't mean all those with voting rights are.


Misha, is that really you? Come away with me to redder pastures, this place is no good for you. We can use their downvotes as cover to hide our communications. (See my profile! No matter what happens remember that I love you, and tell the others!)


> He came to see science as just another societal “game,” a conventional box it was time to blow up

and here i thought this site championed disruption.


Mention of "ego-less" state etc sound just like the teachings of hindu masters like Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj...


Yes, I noticed that too.

From previous thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8940650

Related: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego_death


Fascinating research. I just hope the same mistakes aren't repeated and a really rigorous and robust effort is made to find what sorts of applications these substances can be used for. I'm reminded of LSD microdosing by scientists to improve innovation that had been done before, but I am unaware of to what degree it really bore any viable fruit.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychedelics_in_problem-solving...

Solutions obtained in the experiment include:[3][5][6]

- a new approach to the design of a vibratory microtome

- a commercial building design, accepted by the client

- space probe experiments devised to measure solar properties

- design of a linear electron accelerator beam-steering device

- engineering improvement to a magnetic tape recorder

- a chair design, modeled and accepted by the manufacturer

- a letterhead design, approved by the customer

- a mathematical theorem regarding NOR gate circuits

- completion of a furniture-line design

- a new conceptual model of a photon, which was found useful

- design of a private dwelling, approved by the client

- insights regarding how to use interferometry in medical diagnosis application sensing heat distribution in the human body


Allegedly one of the forces working against LSD research is the popular narrative about how SSRIs work: the idea that higher serotonin is good. The primary mechanism of LSD appears to be serotonin agonism. In a hand-wavy way you can argue that elevated serotonin numbs a mammal and dulls perception of the world, and that reducing it makes thought and senses more vivid. An LSD trip is arguably the experience of removing the filters.

The idea that SSRIs even boost serotonin levels is probably wrong. The mechanisms of action are more complicated than that. But the serotonin narrative is well established and in use by a multi-billion dollar industry.


Agonism isn't antagonism. Though, some of the first and newer antidepressants are antagonists or mixed agonist/antagonist. Some forgo significant SERT binding altogether.

Their simple narrative wouldn't have been torn apart by LSD research anymore than the industries other offerings.


I'm sure the drugs can have therapeutic uses. I'm also just as sure that they don't reveal any kind of metaphysical Higher Reality, and we should stop addressing them as if they did. They merely alter your brain functioning in certain ways.


"The data are still being analyzed and have not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review"

Maybe the NewYorker could have waited for that to happen.


With the proper approach and care, these substances can be incredibly powerful and beneficial. I can't wait until the research eventually forces the hand of those who mistakenly believe otherwise. Psylocybin and perhaps LSD should be legal on some level in our lifetime hopefully.


"I can't wait until the research eventually forces the hand of those who mistakenly believe otherwise."

I wouldn't be so optimistic, we still can't even "prove" to some that vaccination is beneficial. Even if research found a valid application for hallucinogens, I doubt they will be legal or widely available in anytime soon except, maybe, as carefully dosed therapy drug in extreme cases (pretty much like opiates).


The vaccination situation proves that there are idiots in the world, if you take those people as example of "can't prove X" then we might as well stop all scientific research right now. There's also people who believe the world is only a few thousand years old.

To get societal (and legal) change, you don't need to convince 100% of the crazies. Convincing most of the sane people is enough.

(I'm not saying only crazies are against psychedelics, just that the vaccination comparison isn't useful.)


With other recent news in mind, I wonder what effect compounds like these might have on religious extremists. I wonder whether - assuming some kind of method of administration is figured out (a love bomb?) - they might stop burning people alive in cages after a decent trip.


Unfortunately, it would probably make them worse. While mysticism and political extremism are loosely correlated and probably zero-to-negatively correlated once one controls for a general "religiosity" variable, at least some of these assholes in extremist movements are clearly not strangers to altered consciousness... and they're still extremist assholes.

Intention (set and setting) plays a major role. These drugs aren't "evil" and don't seem to corrupt good people, but when bad people use these drugs, they become more bad. (Source: lots of personal observation. I lived in Williamsburg for a few years.) I've seen plenty of people turn for the worse after using MDMA, LSD, psilocybin. All that said, I don't think it's just the drugs; it's also the environment, and probably the combination of the environment and the drugs in truth. Being around unhealthy people, often with bad intentions, makes for poor health.

A skilled therapist may be able to use the suggestibility of a willing person in a psychedelic state to purge him of harmful ideas... but that starts getting into a territory that some people find uncomfortable (sounds like "brainwashing").

I'm not saying that these drugs shouldn't be studied. There's no good reason for us to be 40 years behind in our understanding of these compounds and their effects on the mind. I think that they can clearly do a lot of good; but they aren't panaceas and, while I wish they could cure us of "the problem of evil", I'm not quite that optimistic.


As someone who has done their fair share of psychedelics - I would feel like a coward consuming these substances if I had a terminal illness. If I knew damn straight that I was gonna die, I wouldn't want to numb it up with a substance. I'd want every minute of pain, suffering, and emotional baggage to be taken on with a sober mind.

But that is my personal choice. I would say it's probably a very positive thing on the other hand for people like Patrick who never consumed these substances. DMT might be the best one for someone who is dying, as it is hypothesized that pineal gland floods an endogenous version of this chemical into your bloodstream upon death. Consuming it prior to death could potentially work as a "practice run" to help cope with the real thing as sad as it sounds.


The whole "DMT release upon death" thing has very little supporting evidence. https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/dmt/dmt_article2.shtml


Quite, pretty much zero supporting evidence.


I think you've got the wrong idea. It's not about numbing the individual from the suffering they are experiencing; it's about gaining a new perspective and transcending the part of you that perceives your impending death as a cause for suffering.


I had my back tatoo being done on 4 sessions, each was 4-hour long experience. It felt as a pizza cutter running here & there on my back, having areas around spine and sides much more sensitive and thus painful. I can guarantee you, after coulpe of hours of nearly-sustained pain, I was dumbed down to basic creature, which can say yes, no, left, right and that was about it. Imagining 2 years of it... you, not even me, have an idea how crippiling such pain long term is. I can see roughly your point - but it's a point made by boy who has no clue how crippiling constant pain is. Neither do I, but I had at least a glimpse. With pain level high enough, it would cripple your remaining days to drooling struggle to function like a human being. That's why most of those unfortunates end up on high doses of painkillers, which really dumb them down to semi-consious level. That's not what psychedelics do to you.


Why would you be a coward if you had a terminal illness? Because you want to transcend reality beyond your pain? If so, that's the same logic people use to discredit any psychedelic experimentation; saying that people who use substances (often only non state-sanctioned drugs) to alter their experiences.

>I'd want every minute of pain, suffering, and emotional baggage to be taken on with a sober mind.

Seeing the broad trend with end-of-life care is to numb this pain, it seems like you're coming from a place of muchisimo-ness. I've been in medical-grade pain before and there is nothing more in the world you care about than ending the pain.


I see where you're coming from, but then, I also don't think it's a fair judgment on yourself. Who gets to decide 'the amount of pain, baggage to be taken on'? Would you be okay with getting torture-level pain, instead of say, lesser pain? From the article: >Aldous Huxley concluded from his psychedelic experience that the conscious mind is less a window on reality than a furious editor of it.

What does it matter if your editorial is less strict about filtering reality in? Again, as the article asks:

>Psychedelics open the valve wide, removing the filter that hides much of reality, as well as dimensions of our own minds, from ordinary consciousness.

Is that really that much of cowardice?


The idea isn't to numb yourself or stay high the whole time. It's to take psychedelics once (or maybe several times) to gain a new perspective, well before dying.


I didn't find any aspect of psychedelics numbing. Rather the opposite for me.


exactly!


I learned more about the world from DMT than in all my years of school.


Tell a story? :)


My last biggie voyage also involved an anointing with Abramelin oil, and I was trying to focus on a copy of the Hermit card from a Tarot deck. By this time I was very deep into using DMT as a meditation tool, and on this occasion I was really pushing my luck.

I sat on the back deck of a cousin's cabin, fairly removed from the modern world, and a massive electrical storm was slowly gathering through the evening. For most folks I've spoken with DMT trips last 10 to 15 minutes, but for me they last hours. I'm still unsure as to whether this was due to a stronger variety of crystal we were growing, or because I was giving myself to it that much more.

Suffice to say, on that night the world around me became pulsating molecules, everything connected like neon blueprints going 3-D and contorting and revolving around themselves, extending into and beyond everything. The raindrops were merely pulses, the colors like waves flowing softly around me. It grew to be a violent storm, but the passivity I felt, especially from the benevolence of the bright Felix-the-Cat-like elves whose eyes would at times appear in the arrangements of atoms about me...I knew that no matter what happened around me, I had a strong center, strong enough to enable my survival of virtually anything. I was the only stillness in the universe.

It sounds silly, I'm sure, but I have known fear by no means and in no circumstances since that night, almost two years ago. Religion strengthens the soul for some. DMT reinforced my spine, and my faith in myself.


Doesn't sound silly to me. If you like DMT and it lasts longer for you, have you tried acid too? Can be much milder than DMT, but much longer trips. Personally when I smoke DMT (well, changa) it lasts 5-15min so I enjoy it as an experience, but doesn't let me really do any interesting thinking like LSD does. That said, I've only tried DMT a few times (haven't "broken through" yet), but do have a couple of grams waiting for me when I can get somewhere to pick it up...


I tried quite a lot of acid in my New England college days. I did have some curious times, but it just doesn't compare to DMT. I am the first to say that I do not think tripping is for everyone, and I have had some bad acid trips (which were probably even more informative than the good ones), but my times with DMT really made me rethink the silliness of "spirituality without religion". I think even in my hardest acid trips, somewhere in my grey matter I stayed aware that it was ultimately senses being toyed with. DMT felt like something was talking back, even though the five sense barely applied.

I heard an intelligent music reviewer say once how the greatest music is difficult to quickly describe in words. That's DMT in a nutshell.

All said, I hope you do "break through" someday. It is nothing but beautiful and inspiring, mindfuck or no mindfuck.


I just picked up my changa, smoked a little in a spliff but didn't do much (very, very wrong setting, wasn't expecting much - am away from home and was outside). Thinking of getting a bong in the morning, though as I've quit weed and soon will be living somewhere I can't smoke indoors feels like a slightly annoying cost.. Either way, shall be trying to break through when I get home tomorrow night or Saturday - have got equivalent to 1g of pure dmt (2g changa) ready to play with :)


TL;DR I grow magic mushrooms myself and can asure there is a mystic experience on eating them. I do not eat them often, but it helps me everytime with a new perspective.


Using a throwaway as while I'll talk openly to some friends/family, I don't want my handle and lsd to show up together on Google.

This is a story, an anecdote, and while my view on LSD is positive as a result, definitely shouldn't be read as an endorsement of my actions.

I'm the perfect example of somebody who shouldn't go near psychedelics. I've suffered depression most of my life, and was recently diagnosed as bipolar, though I've only had two real manic episodes. But.. I'm also someone who does stupid things, possibly because of not just despite those things. I've abused coke, benzodiazepines, mdma, alcohol and weed. But never to an extent people around me might notice a problem.

A little while ago, I fell in love with my best friend. It was really fucking hard to deal with (after a few months of hoping it would go away I told her, talked it through and we set about trying to get rid of the awkwardness of staying friends), harder than any other life/love problems I've had. For 6 months I was depressed, had no appetite.. I was forcing myself to eat one meal a day because despite never getting hungry I knew I needed to. Friends told me the appetite was related to my feelings, but I stubbornly dismissed that as pop science - meanwhile I was kind of happy about the appetite, as I was losing inches from my waist.

Then I took LSD for the first time. It was nothing like I'd expected it to be (in my imagination it would be like entering a new world, not just altering the way your mind works in the current world), but it was lovely. A few hours into that trip, I started thinking about my friend. I realised that while I still felt the same way about her.. it didn't hurt any more. It was like this clarity just appeared over the situation that there's nothing I can do about it, so I shouldn't let it hurt me. While under the influence I realised it would probably be back to normal when I woke up the next day, but then it wasn't. I woke up feeling the same way I had while tripping, went into the office, and by lunchtime I was feeling hungry for literally the first time in half a year.

Now I'm in a slightly different place. I'm no longer abusing <something> on a daily basis (the last thing to go was daily weed smoking). I've no interest in benzos or MDMA. I still love coke, but hardly ever do it (twice in the last 18 months, both times someone else's suggestion, both times I didn't want more the next day). And psychedelics... I haven't done them much lately, but have an order on-route from dark net markets of LSD and DMT, largely motivated by wanting some more internal soul searching.

I was hugely grateful to the LSD for that effect it had on me. I've used it quite a few times since then, though it's never made such an impact since. But lately I've been starting to feel down about her again. I don't know if it can help me again.

Long story short... I'm not saying any of my actions were/are sensible or the results deserved. Nor that LSD would help everyone who was in my situation. But as a single anecdote (and hopefully interesting story), it opened my eyes to believing in the sort of trials being described by this article. My pre-existing mental conditions mean I'm probably unlikely to get approved for anything like this, even when it reaches wider access, but if I could, I'd jump at the chance to go through psychedelic therapy with expert scientists guiding me rather than doing it on my own.

(Incidentally: who knows, maybe my next tab will turn me into a schizophrenic: but in the ~15 trips I've had on acid, I'm yet to have a single "bad trip". Same goes for the few times I've tried DMT.)


[flagged]


Replying as breadcrumbs to the militant anti-drug members of HN trolling the pro-drug threads.

Seriously. Look at his posting history.


Most writing is structured such that you don't need to read the entire thing to get the gist of it.


Very often yes; but I can't say so about that article.


"According to Ross, cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months."

You might have made it that far in the time it took you to count page downs.


I saw this, but wasn't sure it is very exciting.

Also, read the next sentence "The data are still being analyzed and have not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review, but the researchers expect to publish later this year".

And a little bit later "But it’s important to remember that the sample sizes are small.”

So, it's not even a conclusive result yet.


[flagged]


Problem? Drugs are interesting because the brain is interesting. As a community that probably collectively spends a lot of time thinking, an interest in the brain makes sense.



In your story, there are a lot of red flags that would indicate depression. It is very sad that your friend died, but I do not see how it is relevant to this article at all.

I am certain that your friend also drank beer, played video games and watched television. None of those factors are directly linked to his suicide. The existence of those drugs aren't related either.

Struggling with addiction is very hard, but do not confuse it with the substances themselves. In a medical or scientific settings, doses and addiction are managed.

That being said, my sympathy for your friend.


Wouldn't this story be a reason to actively research these drugs?


I am all for research. But instead of putting into the title words "psychedelics" together with "exciting", I would prefer the article to be called for example "Psychedelics may help terminal cancer patients to die at peace".


We took the word "exciting" out of the HN title, since doing so makes the title more neutral.

I'm sorry about your friend and can easily understand your feeling. But could you please not turn these threads into off-topic arguments about the topic being on HN? This article is substantive and of interest to the community. Upvoting it doesn't imply endorsement, just curiosity.


It's my opinion, based on facts I witnessed, not vendetta. And I don't want somebody else to share the same fate.

You say it doesn't imply endorsement, but I think threads like this lower the barrier and increase probability of drug consumption. Multiplied by large audience, this gives some new drugs users.

Mentioning an object plants seeds in people minds. Mention oranges, you will have increased oranges consumption, mention Facebook React - more React users, mention coca-cola - increased cola consumption.

Also, humans are very social. Seeing group enthusiasm in the subject, individuals can lean to it. There are many experiments about this, one example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asch_conformity_experiments.


It's my opinion, based on facts I witnessed...

And I've known hundreds of people who have taken one of the most powerful psychedelics on the planet between 3-5 and hundreds of times each. Of them, there's been exactly one case of an adverse reaction that I've seen, on the part of a woman who had a pre-existing, but occult mental health issue.

My anecdata can beat up your anecdata.

Of course, none of that means it doesn't happen, but it happens radically less often than you seem to want people to believe.


I know people who have been essentially cured of otherwise intractable PTSD through the use of psychedelics. Would you prefer them to have suffered for the rest of their lives? All medicine carries risk, and it is through research that we learn how to apply it safely. Suppressing research is what leads to uninformed use, and increased danger.


> not vendetta

Ok, I've edited that word out of my comment.

You may be right that there is a problem with social proof deluding people into thinking psychedelics are more harmless than they are. But that can't be the only factor here. If it were, we'd have to bury all stories about serious psychedelics research. That isn't going to happen.

Therefore, please stop re-litigating the presence of these stories on Hacker News. You're creating a gigantic off-topic diversion. If you want to comment on the topic, that's fine, but please make an effort to ensure that your comments aren't flamebait.


I personally know many people who have taken psychedelics with 0 adverse reactions. Personal anecdotes are worthless.


I know hundreds of high-functioning drug users, and know that sometimes illegal drugs can be beneficial.

But also have many friends and family who were killed by drugs - the #1 cause of death amongst my peers. More than war, car crashes, cancer combined. Mark, John, Sue, Bryan, Dan, Jeff RIP. Also many more that are alive but seriously damaged.

Drug addiction creates second-hand victims, the parents/children/siblings/family. Unbelievably painful.

The town I grew up in was torn apart by drugs and gangs. Watch 'The Wire' - art imitating life.

The costs of drugs are truly staggering.

Seems I'm the lone person who agrees with @avodonosov. The mods have told us that anti-drug views are not welcome on HN. At this point many of you are reaching for the downvote button. :-)

Sorry but - yes it is possible - drugs can have a downside!


Please consider that at least some of the downvotes you're receiving may have more to do with your claim that you and 'avodonosov's positions are "not welcome" on HN than with the positions, themselves.

Delusions of persecution aren't conducive to the kind of discourse we're trying to maintain here.

EDIT: It's also fallacious to lump all "drugs" together under the same banner. I'm very skeptical that psychedelics factor significantly into drug-related gang violence and trafficking. I also very much doubt that there are very many LSD or psilocybin "addicts" around.

This article was about legitimate scientific exploration of a repeatedly claimed benefit of psychedelics. It has nothing whatsoever to do with gangs, violence, trafficking, or addiction. As such, those issues are tangential at best, and probably also diversionary and specious.


> very much doubt that there are very many LSD "addicts" around

My cousin - big LSD user - messed up his brain function. After that: drooling/voices/psychosis. Years of hell for his parents. Hell is an understatement.

He died at a rehab / halfway house - killed by a fellow resident - stabbed in the heart with a butcher knife.

My childhood friend - took LSD/psychedelics in Japan & never came out of it. Bumbling around in the streets naked, didn't know his name etc. His parents had to go bring him home. 20 years later he lives with them still, can't hold a job, can't handle a relationship, doesn't even come out of the house.

Me and tons of others took psychedelics with no side effects - it works that way for most people. But when it goes wrong, the downside can be staggering.

> re: you and 'avodonosov's positions are "not welcome"

If you think HN is open to anti-drug views, you're kidding yourself.


If you think HN is open to anti-drug views, you're kidding yourself.

I'll certainly concede that HN doesn't tend to respond well to a position of, "Drugs are bad, mmm'kay?" I submit that has more to do with that being a hopelessly naïve stance than anything else.

Sure, some drugs are bad. Sure, some drugs are bad for some people. Sure, some people probably shouldn't take any drugs at all.

Going from that to blanket condemnation and prohibition is sloppy and illogical, and is very likely not to be a welcome notion in a community as broadly libertarian (note, small-l) in attitude as we "hackers" tend to be.


> blanket condemnation and prohibition is sloppy and illogical

I said:

> yes it is possible - drugs can have a downside!

Nowhere in this discussion do I call for prohibition. Downvotes are given to the possibility that drugs can have a downside. Now who is sloppy and illogical?


> The mods have told us that anti-drug views are not welcome on HN.

What? That's not true at all.


> not true at all.

Be serious @dang - Hacker News mods and community are very strongly pro-drug. Own it!

Your warning to @avodonosov:

> please stop re-litigating the presence of <drug> stories on Hacker News. You're creating a gigantic off-topic diversion.

Anti-drug views on HN are litigating/vendetta/off-topic/divisive. Pro-drug views on HN are exciting/substantive/interesting. By your own words! :-)


I don't think my words said anything remotely like that, so let me offer a general observation instead.

There's a strong temptation on HN to see the community and perhaps also the mods as lined up against oneself on controversial issues. For the sake of interesting discussion—and, I might add from experience, one's own well-being—it's important to resist this. Such perceptions are easily distorted by cognitive bias: enemies loom larger than friends, negative responses feel stronger than positive ones, and so on.

No doubt the community does have more bias on some issues than others, but there's nearly always room for calm, substantive contrarian arguments. What there isn't room for is the frustrated comments people tend to post when they become convinced that the community is against them. That's the HN equivalent of going on tilt. Other users respond negatively to the lashing-out aspect, which then gets interpreted as "hostility to my views", "groupthink", etc., at which point you're in a cognitive-bias hall of mirrors.

As for the moderators, we try as hard as we know how not to let our personal views influence moderation activity, and to keep the latter strictly procedural. I know we don't do that perfectly, but one improves with practice, and we get a lot of practice.

p.s. I'm sorry about your cousin and your friend. I'd feel intensely too in your position.


The Wire was about psychedelics?


> But I also have many friends and family who were killed by drugs. Drugs are the #1 cause of death amongst my peers - killing more than war, car crashes, cancer combined. Mark, John, Sue, Bryan, Dan, Jeff RIP. Also know half-dozen more that are alive but seriously damaged.

You might be confusing drugs and drug policy.

Poor drug policy like the "War on Drugs" has killed millions, and is indeed a huge tragedy that needs to come to an end.

Edit: To whoever downvoted this comment: could you please reply to this comment with your concerns (instead of downvoting and walking away)?


It's the subtitle.

And 'exciting' was used to describe the results, not psychedelics.


And like clockwork, the anti's come out with the same anecdotal FUD. This one linking to a previous thread out of laziness.

Your contribution as an anti-drug crusader has been noted in this thread. You can move on now.


Given all the studies showing that psychedelic users have better mental health than the general public, aren't you at all worried that the stigma around psychedelics causes more people to have the same sorts of issues as your friend?


Is it OK if I bring a part of that thread into this one?

You said:

> It is irresponsible and inappropriate to promote drugs (LSD or whatever). And off-topic for Hacker News. There are people who unstable, who have internal emotional conflicts, etc. For them drug use may be a catastrophe.

I would agree with the latter, and only half of the former.

Yes, you are absolutely right that for some people in some circumstances drugs like psychedelics can lead to real harm.

But that is true of virtually all drugs. Let's dive deeper into the first sentence:

> It is irresponsible and inappropriate to promote drugs (LSD or whatever).

If you meant that literally, then you also believe that it is irresponsible and inappropriate to promote aspirin and caffeine.

Do you believe that? If not, you are not being consistent, and what you really meant to have said is that it is irresponsible and inappropriate to promote some drugs.

Well, which ones and why?

Think about this in a larger context, and maybe actually consider reading the article. I read your post and the article both, and I think there's a lot in the article that, if you read it with a clear mind, you will find yourself agreeing with.


Pharmaceutical research is part of science, and there's a lot of science on here. I haven't felt that drugs are an unusually prominent topic.


I'm sure there's no way to use technology to improve how our minds work, so we definitely shouldn't try.


[flagged]


> Fucking wah. What do you want, another cryptocurrency?

Comments like this violate the HN guidelines. Please don't.


IMHO that was a relatively witty and funny comment.


:) Or Lisp OS :)


Oh avodonosov, being anti-drugs on an HN post again. Let's all collectively try harder to please avodonosov, because after all, HN posts solely for his/her pleasure.




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