Scientists find magic mushrooms could help fight fascism
Researchers find that magic mushrooms can keep people from developing authoritarian views and more connected to nature.
Researchers found unlikely heroes in keeping the world from authoritarianism - magic mushrooms. Scientists from the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London showed that psilocybin, the active compound in psychedelic mushrooms, makes people less likely to embrace authoritarian views like fascism and more connected with nature.
The study, authored by Taylor Lyons and Robin L. Carhart-Harris, a leading researcher in this field, shows that psilocybin treatment can lead to lasting changes in such mindsets.
"Our findings tentatively raise the possibility that given in this way, psilocybin may produce sustained changes in outlook and political perspective, here in the direction of increased nature relatedness and decreased authoritarianism," write Carhart-Harris and Lyons.
The researchers built on previous studies that showed the specifics of the political views and relationship to nature of psychedelic drug users. A 2017 study of 1,487 people discovered that people on LSD and magic mushrooms were more likely to say they enjoyed spending time in nature and felt connected to it. Another British study from 2017 of 900 people also found that people who use psychedelics experience a greater relatedness to nature and tend to be more liberal or libertarian in their politics.
What Lyons and Carhart-Harris set out to understand in their relatively small current study (involving 14 subjects) was whether using psilocybin could specifically promote anti-authoritarian attitudes and nature-oriented feelings. They compared 7 subjects with major depression, who were resistant to previous treatment and now received two oral doses of psilocybin, to 7 control subjects who were not taking the psychedelic ingredient.
The scientists checked in with the participants before they started treatment, a week into it and after 7-12 months. They found that participants who got the psilocybin had a clear increase in their attitudes of nature-relatedness after just 1 week - an effect they sustained after 7-12 months as well.
Participants like this one relayed how much their connection to nature was transformed:
"Before I enjoyed nature, now I feel part of it," wrote one subject. “Before I was looking at it as a thing, like TV or a painting… [But now I see] there's no separation or distinction, you are it."
These participants also showed a marked and lasting decrease in authoritarian attitudes and had fewer depression symptoms. Those who have not received the drug, showed no such changes.
The study's small sample was partially intentional, to be able to draw some inferences about cause and effects. But it's certainly also a limitation that leaves more to be explored in future studies. One possibility is that psilocybin decreased attitudes that could make one yearn for “dear leader" indirectly by alleviating depression, leading the authors to caution that “it would be hasty, therefore, to attempt any strong claims about a causal influence due specifically to psilocybin at this stage."
Read the new study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.
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Physics without time<p>In his book "The Order of Time," Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli suggests that our perception of time — our sense that time is forever flowing forward — could be a highly subjective projection. After all, when you look at reality on the smallest scale (using equations of quantum gravity, at least), time vanishes.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If I observe the microscopic state of things," writes Rovelli, "then the difference between past and future vanishes … in the elementary grammar of things, there is no distinction between 'cause' and 'effect.'"</p><p>So, why do we perceive time as flowing <em>forward</em>? Rovelli notes that, although time disappears on extremely small scales, we still obviously perceive events occur sequentially in reality. In other words, we observe entropy: Order changing into disorder; an egg cracking and getting scrambled.</p><p>Rovelli says key aspects of time are described by the second law of thermodynamics, which states that heat always passes from hot to cold. This is a one-way street. For example, an ice cube melts into a hot cup of tea, never the reverse. Rovelli suggests a similar phenomenon might explain why we're only able to perceive the past and not the future.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Any time the future is definitely distinguishable from the past, there is something like heat involved," Rovelli wrote for the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/ce6ef7b8-429a-11e8-93cf-67ac3a6482fd" target="_blank"><em>Financial Times</em></a>. "Thermodynamics traces the direction of time to something called the 'low entropy of the past', a still mysterious phenomenon on which discussions rage."</p>
The strange subjectivity of time<p>Time moves differently atop a mountain than it does on a beach. But you don't need to travel any distance at all to experience strange distortions in your perception of time. In moments of life-or-death fear, for example, your brain would release large amounts of adrenaline, which would speed up your internal clock, causing you to perceive the outside world as moving slowly.<br></p><p>Another common distortion occurs when we focus our attention in particular ways.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If you're thinking about how time is <em>currently</em> passing by, the biggest factor influencing your time perception is attention," Aaron Sackett, associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, told <em><a href="https://gizmodo.com/why-does-time-slow-down-and-speed-up-1840133782" target="_blank">Gizmodo</a></em>.<em> "</em>The more attention you give to the passage of time, the slower it tends to go. As you become distracted from time's passing—perhaps by something interesting happening nearby, or a good daydreaming session—you're more likely to lose track of time, giving you the feeling that it's slipping by more quickly than before. "Time flies when you're having fun," they say, but really, it's more like "time flies when you're thinking about other things." That's why time will also often fly by when you're definitely <em>not</em> having fun—like when you're having a heated argument or are terrified about an upcoming presentation."</p><p>One of the most mysterious ways people experience time-perception distortions is through psychedelic drugs. In an interview with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/14/carlo-rovelli-exploding-commonsense-notions-order-of-time-interview" target="_blank"><em>The Guardian</em></a>, Rovelli described a time he experimented with LSD.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It was an extraordinarily strong experience that touched me also intellectually," he said. "Among the strange phenomena was the sense of time stopping. Things were happening in my mind but the clock was not going ahead; the flow of time was not passing any more. It was a total subversion of the structure of reality."<br></p><p>It seems few scientists or philosophers believe time is completely an illusion.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"What we call <em>time</em> is a rich, stratified concept; it has many layers," Rovelli told <em><a href="https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.4.20190219a/full/" target="_blank">Physics Today</a>.</em> "Some of time's layers apply only at limited scales within limited domains. This does not make them illusions."</p>What <em>is</em> an illusion is the idea that time flows at an absolute rate. The river of time might be flowing forever forward, but it moves at different speeds, between people, and even within your own mind.
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Vanchurin interview:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="539759cbfd8fcd5b6ebf14a3b597b3f9"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bmyRy2-UhEE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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