The pieces don't represent an army, they stand in for the Western social order.
The heart of the religious ritual is mysticism, argues Brian Muraresku in "The Immortality Key."
- The concept of "dying before you die" lies at the heart of religious tradition, argues Brian Muraresku.
- This secret ritual connects the Eleusinian Mysteries with the origins of Christianity.
- In "The Immortality Key," Muraresku speculates that psychedelic wine could have been the original Christian Eucharist.
Brian Muraresku explains the potential role of psychedelics in Christianity<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9d12252d13cebc4f3ca73f98e47ba60b"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jkL2DLBM1j0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Muraresku has been getting a lot of press since the book's publication, in part boosted by his appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast. The classicist speculates that the Christian Eucharist is rooted in the Eleusinian Mysteries, which may have involved the ceremonial ingestion of wine spiked with psychedelic ingredients. The idea of a psychedelic Christianity is not new, but Muraresku brings a detailed level of scholarship and compassion to the topic.</p><p>As he told me in a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aogj-08AMo&t=222s" target="_blank">recent interview</a>, the "immortality key" is not psychedelics, but the concept of dying before dying. He opens his book with a Greek inscription: "If you die before you die / You won't die when you die." Muraresku, a devout Catholic raised in the Jesuit tradition, kicks off the discussion with an atheist from the Johns Hopkins trial. Despite her lack of faith, she felt an "overwhelming, all-encompassing love" that helped her deal with the inevitable consequences of mixed-cell ovarian cancer—really, the inevitable consequences of being an animal bound to die. </p><p>The Hopkins study went mainstream when Michael Pollan <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/09/trip-treatment" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote about it</a> in the New Yorker. The results were stunning: 70 percent of participants felt a single dose of psilocybin produced the most meaningful (or among the top five) experience of their lives. Interestingly, the same result occurred after the famous Marsh Chapel experiment, when Timothy Leary and friends dosed Harvard Divinity School grad students with psilocybin; a quarter-century later, all but one rated the event in their top five. </p><p>Not only do you die before you die while under the influence of psychedelics, but you also gain a new perspective on life. The ego death that occurs during the ritual changes their orientation about existence. And what good is a religious experience if it can't be applied to living? </p><p>As Muraresku told me, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"[Psychedelics] is one tool in the Spiritual Toolkit. What I mean by 'the key' is in Greek, which is preserved at St. Paul's monastery: <em>if you die before you die, you won't die when you die</em>. <em>That's</em> the actual key. It's not psychedelics, it's not drugs; it's this concept of navigating the liminal space between what you and I are doing right now, and dreaming and death. In that state, the mystics and sages tell us, is the potential to grasp a very different view of reality."</p>Muraresku taps into a growing consensus that humans are "wired" for mystical experiences. He points to lead Johns Hopkins researcher, Roland Griffiths, who <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81-v8ePXPd4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">believes</a> that mysticism is included in our operating system at birth. You just have to turn it on. While the effects of psychedelics can be replicated through the more arduous path of meditation, in the right set and setting anyone can tap into mystical states of consciousness. Psychedelics provide a shortcut to these states.
Credit: Galyna Andrushko / Adobe Stock<p>Western religious leaders, especially those in Christianity and Islam, treat their prophets as standalone figures. The best you can hope for is being granted access to some special place after you die. Gnostics and Sufis—sects within those faiths that attempt to replicate their prophet's mysticism—are considered outcasts by mainstream religious figures. In some circumstances, they're outlawed, threatened, or even killed for their supposed heresy. </p><p>Sufis might spin for hours in ecstatic rapture to reach this mystical state, but as Muraresku's extensive research shows, psychedelics also tap into this "secret" knowledge that he believes to be at the heart of Christian—and if we extrapolate, <em>religious</em>—tradition. And to him, this is the essence of the religion, not a byproduct of the real faith. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I didn't write this book to be anti-organized religion. In some cases, it's the exact opposite. In the intro, I mentioned Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk who is a hero of mine. He talks about the tension between mystics and the dogma and doctrine of organized faith. I don't think you can have one without the other. The balance, as Brother David says, is to rediscover that original visionary power and <em>live in it as a lived experience</em>. This is what Joseph Campbell says of religion being a <em>lived experience</em>. We're talking about emotional potential. That's how the great anthropologist Clifford Geertz defines religion: these powerful, pervasive, long-lasting moods and motivations. That only happens when you're talking about something that gets inside of people's bones. That's what the mystical experience is; it's how these religions are born. Brother David says it's virtually impossible to start a religion without mystical experience, like Moses in the burning bush, Paul on the road to Damascus, or Peter, in Acts, caught up in a trance."</p><p>Campbell's conversation with Bill Moyers in "The Power of Myth" nicely ties together this idea:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive."</p><p>The mythologist also advocated for a reformation of religion every generation so that the faith speaks to the times. This is effectively what Muraresku advocates for in "The Immortality Key": an honest conversation regarding the historical circumstances that birthed the world's most-followed religion in the hopes of applying the foundational lessons to our current reality. If that means a psychedelic ritual that shows you how to die before you die so that you may better know how to live, then it's time to rethink the role of the sacrament. </p><p>Mysticism is a universal phenomenon. The "eternal return" Mircea Eliade wrote about has been experienced throughout history in disparate regions of the world. As Strassman's and Griffiths's work shows, we retain the capability of dying before dying. In fact, current research on psilocybin, LSD, iboga, DMT, and ayahuasca show that these substances are helping people gain a perspective of their lives, be it in depression treatment, addiction recovery, or easing the pain of hospice care. A little mysticism goes a long way. </p><p>Let's move beyond this notion that mysticism only applies to a chosen few. In fact, let's reconsider the role of consciousness in general. Every religion has its own take on what happens after we die. Yet we have tools at our disposal to show us how to exist now: a living religion that speaks to the entire planet. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
A 2020 study published in the journal of Psychological Science explores the idea that fake news can actually help you remember real facts better.
- In 2019, researchers at Stanford Engineering analyzed the spread of fake news as if it were a strain of Ebola. They adapted a model for understanding diseases that can infect a person more than once to better understand how fake news spreads and gains traction.
- A new study published in 2020 explores the idea that fake news can actually help you remember real facts better.
- "These findings demonstrate one situation in which misinformation reminders can diminish the negative effects of fake-news exposure in the short term," researchers on the project explained.
Previous studies on misinformation have already paved the way to a better understanding<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU1NzQ4NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjE2Mjg1Nn0.hs_xHktN1KXUDVoWpHIVBI2sMJy6aRK6tvBVFkqmYjk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C800%2C0%2C800&height=700" id="8873f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="246bb1920c0f40ccb15e123914de1ab1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="fake news concept of misinformation and fake news in the media" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
How does misinformation spread?
Credit: Visual Generation on Shutterstock<p><strong>What is the "continued-influence" effect?</strong></p><p>A challenge in using corrections effectively is that repeating the misinformation can have negative consequences. Research on this effect (referred to as "continued-influence") has shown that information presented as factual that is later deemed false can still contaminate memory and reasoning. The persistence of the continued-influence effect has led researchers to generally recommend avoiding repeating misinformation. </p><p>"Repetition increases familiarity and believability of misinformation," <a href="https://engineering.stanford.edu/magazine/article/how-fake-news-spreads-real-virus" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the study explains</a>.</p><p><strong>What is the "familiarity-backfire" effect?</strong></p><p>Studies of this effect have shown that increasing misinformation familiarity through extra exposure to it leads to misattributions of fluency when the context of said information cannot be recalled. <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797620952797#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2017 study</a> examined this effect in myth correction. Subjects rated beliefs in facts and myths of unclear veracity. Then, the facts were affirmed and myths corrected and subjects again made belief ratings. The results suggested a role for familiarity but the myth beliefs remained below pre-manipulation levels. </p>
New research into fake news has uncovered something interesting about misinformation<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ddeac998508e09fb9d1b4691d6c20d28"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bJ5qUx1WOsg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>A 2020 study published in the journal of <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797620952797" target="_blank">Psychological Science</a> explores the idea that fake news can actually help you remember real facts better.</p><p>Fake news exposure can cause misinformation to be mistakenly remembered and believed. In two experiments, the team (led by Christopher N. Wahlheim) examined whether reminders of misinformation could do the opposite: improve memory for and beliefs in corrections to that fake news. </p><p>The study had subjects reading factual statements and then separate misinformation statements taken from news websites. Then, the subjects read statements that corrected the misinformation. Some misinformation reminders appeared before some corrections but not all. Then, subjects were asked to recall facts, indicate their belief in those recalls, and indicate whether they remembered the corrections and misinformation. </p><p>The results of the study showed that reminders increased recall and belief accuracy. These benefits were greater both when misinformation was recalled and when the subjects remembered that corrections had occurred. </p><p>Researchers on the project <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797620952797" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">explained</a>: "These findings demonstrate one situation in which misinformation reminders can diminish the negative effects of fake-news exposure in the short term."</p><p><strong>The conclusion: fake-news misinformation that was corrected by fact-checked information can improve both memory and belief accuracy in real information.</strong></p><p>"We examined the effects of providing misinformation reminders before fake-news corrections on memory and belief accuracy. Our study included everyday fake-news misinformation that was corrected by fact-check-verified statements. Building on research using fictional, yet naturalistic, event narratives to show that reminders can counteract misinformation reliance in memory reports," <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797620952797" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the researchers</a> explained.</p><p>"It suggests that there may be benefits to learning how someone was being misleading. This knowledge may inform strategies that people use to counteract high exposure to misinformation spread for political gain," <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/afps-rtf101620.php" target="_blank">Wahlheim said</a>.</p>
Join Radiolab's Latif Nasser at 1pm ET today as he chats with Malcolm Gladwell live on Big Think.
Can voters really predict who will be a good leader? Malcolm Gladwell joins Big Think Live to discuss this how lotteries could, in theory, distribute leadership more effectively, from government elections, college admissions, and grant applications.
Is indulging in erotic content good or bad for your sex life?
- Erotica is defined as any type of art that is meant to cause sexual ideation or arousal. The main difference between erotica and pornography is that the former is seen as "art that has a sexual aspect."
- While there are many different misconceptions about the consumption of erotic or pornographic content, many studies on this topic prove it may not be as harmful as you think.
- Erotic literature can allow you to become more comfortable in your sexuality, communicate easier with your partner and may even impact your ability to orgasm.
Common misconceptions about written erotica<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzc5MjU4Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTk4OTA3MH0.UUHj7oImKfaRvteKGi0VdJKJmQyccFbKEGoPuM26eTE/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C103%2C0%2C103&height=700" id="66c89" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="72ddf915c4d9e920a0e27b4e7202cc16" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Concept of confused woman" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
There are many myths and misconceptions about erotic content...what are the facts?
Photo by Dean Drobot on Shutterstock<p><strong>MYTH: Women like erotica more than men.</strong></p><p>While it's a generalization that women prefer erotica and men prefer visual porn, this is not always the case. <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224499.2015.1131227" target="_blank">This 2016 study</a> examined the effects on both men and women who read BDSM themed erotica. The findings of this study proved that there was no difference in the extent to which the erotic stories aroused men and women. </p><p><strong>MYTH: Erotica (and pornography in general) are toxic to relationships. </strong></p><p>This is a widely spread myth about all things pornography. Some people are wary of erotic content because they assume it will hurt the intimacy and sexual desire felt in their relationship. However, according to <a href="https://www.regain.us/advice/intimacy/reading-erotic-literature-online-might-help-get-couples-in-the-mood/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Regain</a>, a popular couples counseling service, reading erotic literature can help get couples into the mood. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6155976/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This 2018 study</a> suggests whether porn hurts your relationship depends on how your partner feels about you consuming pornographic/erotic content. </p><p>"For men who are more accepting of pornography, more pornography use is associated with more relationship satisfaction; however, for men who are less accepting of pornography, more pornography use is associated with less relationship satisfaction."</p><p><strong>MYTH: Erotica is vulgar and crude. </strong></p><p>There is a large stereotype about erotic content being vulgar and crude, however, this is not always the case. There are many different kinds of written erotica available - the stories can range from romantic and subtle to aggressive and outrageous. Not all erotica is created to stun and surprise - some erotica is created to help the reader explore parts of their sexuality they've never experienced before. </p><p><strong>MYTH: Enjoying erotica is bad. </strong></p><p>There are some studies that prove this to be quite false. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK67373/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This 1998 study</a> examined the effects of bibliotherapy (reading therapy) on patients with orgasm disorders (sexual dysfunctions), and found that "the available evidence warrants the recommended use of self-help books for sexual dysfunction, but only after proper assessment."</p><p>While erotica may not quality as "self-help" to some, for others, reading and exploring sexuality through the written word is in fact a form of self-help. </p>
How reading erotic literature can improve your sex life<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzc5MjY1My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzQ1MjMwOH0.OfgPRry6Xk6qLJU6QFzuwY7Q2JaXx-goY4_N9xx7B6E/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C4%2C0%2C4&height=700" id="66884" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6a7fb0be3ebf9473b8c2dcdbcc2552ef" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="man and woman in bed reading erotica book together" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Reading erotica can be relaxing and boost your confidence, allowing you to communicate better with your partner about your sexual needs.
Photo by Dmytro Zinkevych on Shutterstock<p><strong>Reading relaxes you. Relaxation makes sex easier and more enjoyable.</strong></p><p>Stress can impact your health in numerous ways, including lowering your sex drive. One of the best ways to relieve daily stress and overcome anxiety is to lose yourself in a good book. </p><p>According to the <a href="https://worldliteracyfoundation.org/reading-reduces-stress/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">World Literacy Foundation</a>, reading has been found to decrease blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and reduce stress. In fact, as little as 6 minutes of reading can slow down your heart rate and improve your overall health. </p><p>Reading erotica can rid society of stigmas around sexual satisfaction.</p><p>According to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/life/how-reading-erotica-can-unlock-sex-drive/12127924" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ABC Life</a>, reading erotica may just be a key to unlocking your sex drive. Kate Cuthbert, a program manager at Writers Victoria, explained that, "erotica reflects our sexuality in a positive way, unlike in mainstream society where a lot of it can be repressed."</p><p><strong>Erotic literature can help you discover your sexuality and feel more comfortable. </strong></p><p>Not only does it relieve stress and anxiety (which can often be barriers to an active and enjoyable sex life), but it can also help you navigate your own sexuality and express yourself in a healthier way. </p><p>"Romance novels are as much about a woman falling in love with herself—in addition to the adventures, true love, and fantastic sex," says romance novelist <a href="http://www.mayarodale.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Maya Rodale</a>.</p><p><strong>Much erotic literature highlights consent and safe sex. </strong></p><p>While there are some erotic stories that don't discuss things like birth control, safewords, and consent, these themes are becoming more and more popular among up-and-coming erotica authors. </p><p>Erotica can be a safe place to express sexuality and explore curiosities and it can also promote communication and conversations between partners around safe, healthy, vibrant sex that all parties involved are happy with.</p><p>--</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/jaimeebell_" target="_blank">Jaimee Bell</a> is the author of "All the Dirty Little Things," a six-story erotica collection now available on <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08F4JTQTZ?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">Amazon</a>. <br></p>