#6: How psychedelics work: Fire the conductor, let the orchestra play | Top 10 2019

Next up on the top 10 countdown, Big Think's sixth most popular video illustrates the mental fireworks of a psychedelic experience.

  • Big Think's #6 most popular video of 2019 explains the ego's "location" in the brain: It would be the default mode network, where much of your self-critical mind chatter happens. Taking psychedelics down-regulates this brain network.
  • Researchers describe the effect of psychedelics as "letting the brain off its leash", or firing the conductor to let the orchestra play. Without the default mode network acting as a dictator, areas of the brain that don't normally interact meet, producing phenomena like hallucinations and synesthesia.
  • An overactive ego may be what punishes those of us plagued with anxiety, addiction and mental health disorders. Psychedelics can have a beneficial effect by temporarily killing the ego, jogging the brain out of negative thinking patterns.
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Sexually transmitted disease rates are booming

A harrowing new report by the CDC should serve as a wake-up call.

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  • STD rates have risen every year since 2013, with 2017 showing the largest increase.
  • Syphilis passed from mothers to babies is causing easily preventable infant deaths.
  • STDs are easy to cure so far — the key is getting regularly tested.
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Imprisonment: Doctor who illegally prescribed 500,000 doses of opioids to serve 40 years

Dr. Joel Smithers was recently sentenced to decades in prison for the numerous illegal prescriptions he gave out.

Image source: Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority/photofunny.net
  • According to law enforcement officials, every individual who visited Smithers' practice in Martinsville, Virginia, was given an opioid prescription.
  • Patients traveled hundreds of miles to visit his practice, where Smithers only accepted cash or credit cards and not insurance.
  • Smithers and similar doctors represent one part of the chain of responsible parties who contributed to the opioid epidemic.
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Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, files for bankruptcy

Some critics say the move is designed to shield those who profited from the dangerous drug.

  • Purdue Pharma is facing thousands of lawsuits that allege the decades-old drug company misleadingly marketed the opioid OxyContin.
  • On Sunday, Purdue filed for bankruptcy after reaching a tentative settlement deal with some of the parties suing the company.
  • The deal, which some plaintiffs have already rejected, calls for a potential payout of up to $12 billion and for the company to restructure itself.
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Have we reached a humane alternative to the war on drugs?

Can treating addiction as a disease work better than treating it as a vice?

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  • The War on Drugs has taken fifty years of America's time, and an unfathomable amount of our blood and treasure.
  • A new method for dealing with drug abuse, treating it as a disease rather than a moral failure, is being tried.
  • Studies suggest this is a better way to deal with the problem, and programs using this view are seeing success.
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