Interview: Dr. Rick Strassman

Discuss

49 Responses to “Interview: Dr. Rick Strassman”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The question is whether there is, in reality, a bridgeable separation between the physical and spiritual… or simply a drug-induced state that creates this kind of vision/experience. This is the most basic point where all ventures depart and where all arguments eventually return.

    We know that the brain is basically an electrical device and that energy does not simply vanish, or die. It merely changes form. If indeed the human machine is operated by an electrically powered, spiritual entity, then it may well be possible that certain substances could allow the spirit to phone home, so to speak.

    It’s an incredibly relevant subject for study that is almost wholly disrespected by the modern scientific community and our bumbling bureaucratic governments. Both seem to be more about control rather than service or discovery.

    Great read! Thanks!

  2. Johnny Coelacanth says:

    Dr. Strassman seems to have taken a different lesson from Buddhism than I did. I recall Buddhist psychology positing that your sober, mundane “real” life is just “all generated by the mind” and, no matter what “you” think you’re experiencing, it’s all filtered through the layers of accumulated stuff we call the self.

    Altering your brain chemistry until you think you’re interacting with beings from a different dimension sounds like a good time, but nightmares and lorazepam-induced hallucinations can also feel “more real than real.”

    Strassman says that Buddhism has failed to properly “integrate the spiritual properties of the psychedelic experience.” Leaving aside the semantic note that there’s not really any Buddhist equivalent to “spiritual,” we can certainly point to Buddhists who have tried. Alan Watts wrote extensively about it, as have quite a few others (see “Zig Zag Zen”).

    The general consensus is that enthogens can be useful for sweeping aside some of the accumulated detritus of the ego and let us see ourselves and the world a little more clearly. Perhaps, when they make room for machine elves as Bodhisattvas, Dr. Strassman will feel that the spiritual component is properly integrated.

    For the record, I try to temper my knee-jerk empiricism by remembering that the universe is indeed a big, weird place. I like the idea of a nearby parallel universe, teeming with machine elves who only want to show us their cool toys, but Occam’s Razor cuts without mercy through bullshit and cherished illusions alike.

    • MrCompletely says:

      A lovely and well reasoned comment. One minor point is that we are getting a bit off base talking about “buddhist” this and that. There is no buddhist philosophy, psychology or vision in the singular. Tibetan tantric buddhism has one view, Zen buddhism another quite different one, etc.

      The notion that a buddhist (of whatever flavor) perspective hasn’t been brought to bear on the psychedelic experience would be quite the odd one. In fact, if anything I would say studies of psychedelics have been overly influenced by buddhist models, if anything.

      Despite his myriad and quite deep flaws, especially in the last decade, Ken Wilber nailed it pretty brilliantly (IMO) when he said that psychedelics are useful inasmuch as they provide a peak experience view of higher levels of consciousness, but cannot and do not promote stable adaptation to those levels. They can give you the view from the mountaintop, but if you want to live there, you have to do the hard work of climbing the mountain. (the reality of the mountain is left as a koan for advanced students)

      Ah, Ken…why did you have to go all flaky new-age guru on us? There was a time you were doing the best work of anyone. Sad, sad, sad…

    • MrCompletely says:

      One more note; while again I agree with your comments both in general and in most of the specifics, please note that Occam’s Razor is not and has never been part of the scientific method, and is in fact mostly just an excuse for mental laziness. The rest of your argument is strong enough that you don’t need to weave in this exceedingly weak reed.

      I don’t believe in machine elves either, but parallel universes are increasingly indicated (or at least allowed) by both high energy physics and cosmology. And, how is quantum physics the simplest possible explanation for anything? Or M-theory, if you believe in that? The Higgs?

      LT;DR: Occam’s Razor is bullshit, and is only applicable in trivial contexts.

    • sfnate says:

      @ Johnny Coelacanth – but Occam’s Razor cuts without mercy through bullshit and cherished illusions alike

      A razor can be mis-applied, and used to cut down viciously anything resembling curiosity or wonder.

      It’s certainly true that the parsimony of science is useful for discovering solutions that do not rely on absurd extremes or improbable conditions, but nonetheless the absurd and improbable are very much at home in this universe, at least as far as many of us experience it every day.

      @ Johnny Coelacanth – Dr. Strassman seems to have taken a different lesson from Buddhism than I did.

      I had a similar reaction. My own take is that it’s possible to have an attitude of something like “it is, but it isn’t”–or, as a Zen master said, “first it was a mountain, then it wasn’t, then it was a mountain again”. Many of us are stuck at the first step of realization; others are marooned at the second; getting to the third step requires an ineffable quality of some deeper level of awareness that no amount of walking or talking will ever get you there, nor will any kind of complacency or quietism. Perhaps if we could move off this fixation that something must be clearly defined with razor-like precision before it can be said to have any kind of relationship to reason or belief, maybe then we would begin to see how things really are. Or aren’t.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. http://youtu.be/6mEzgc_ne60

    Tao Te Ching Written by Lao-tzu From a translation by S. Mitchell http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/core9/phalsall/texts/taote-v3.html

    Emptiness and Existence – the Dalai Lama on Buddhist philosophy
    http://www.katinkahesselink.net/tibet/dalai2.html

    Ganesha: Lord of Success – About the Hindu Elephant-Deity
    http://hinduism.about.com/od/lordganesha/a/ganesha.htm
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/82427/ganesh.jpg

    Latin Vulgate Bible with Douay-Rheims and King James Version Side-by-Side+Complete Sayings of Jesus http://www.latinvulgate.com/
    “helps you understand difficult verses in the Bible using the original Latin Vulgate as a reference. Sometimes meaning gets lost in the translation. By going back to one of the original texts, you can often figure out the meaning. One of these original texts is the Latin Vulgate written by Saint Jerome.”

    The red rays represent God’s Divine Mercy. The white rays represent God’s Divine Justice.
    http://www.churchofndbeth.org/NotreDameChurch/images/divine_mercy.jpg

  4. Ty_MY says:

    Can we stop from getting ahead of ourselves?

    Those who wanted a “simple” and “scientific” explanation – how about, “DMT causes a special kind of hyper-real experience. But we don’t know why yet. Let’s allow everyone to explore why from all angles, scientific or spiritual, and not condemn anyone who chooses one or the other.”

    I think the problem in this discussion is that one group is so eager for the research to validate their beliefs, while the other group is so scared that it invalidates their beliefs.

  5. Johnny Coelacanth says:

    @MrCompletely: Thanks for the kind words. I know there’s no one, true Buddhism (splitter!) but Dr. Strassner said he was a Zen Buddhist, and is likely getting his Buddhist psychology where I got mine; the Prajna sutras and Vasubandhu.

    In re Mr. Occam’s implement, sharp objects should always be kept away from fools, but I think it is a useful heuristic. I grant you that Occam’s Razor is not a tool of the scientific method; it can’t be used to determine facts, but only plausibility. It’s what you use when you have no facts on hand, or no way to test them.

    Trivial applications? Well, yeah. Conspiracy theories or conjecture about alternate-reality elves who can only be contacted via heroic doses of psychedelics is trivial. Only a fool would apply it to actual scientific knowledge. It won’t cut that stuff.

    • Ambiguity says:

      In re Mr. Occam’s implement, sharp objects should always be kept away from fools, but I think it is a useful heuristic. I grant you that Occam’s Razor is not a tool of the scientific method; it can’t be used to determine facts, but only plausibility.

      I’d go further. What confuses most people is that scientific parsimony is an epistemological principle, not an ontological one. It says nothing about nature — ask a modern particle physicist if nature likes simplicity — but it’s a useful cognitive principle for humans, considering our propensity for assuming too much. It’s a good way to keep us from multiplying our assumptions.

  6. ultranaut says:

    This is a great discussion. Having been a research subject of my own scientific experiments involving DMT I think I have some level of expertise on the topic. In my experience, DMT is absolutely amazing stuff. I’m a radical skeptic and thus don’t believe the “rational irrationality” DMT induces, but whatever is going on with it is deeply mystifying. DMT subverts the subjective experience of reality at a fundamental level, regardless of how you interpret this it is undeniably profound in a way science can’t yet explain.

  7. noen says:

    “Tags: dr rick strassman, drugs, interview, pseudoscience”

    fixxored for more better accuracy in tags.

    “the “this is your brain on drugs” model seemed too simplistic”

    Translation: real science in which the simplest explanation is to be preferred conflicts with my religious beliefs therefore the science must be false.

    • Anonymous says:

      Simplistic != Simple. Simple is the minimum assumptions and data needed to model a system or modality. Simplistic is LESS than the minimum assumptions and data needed to accurately model a system or modality – leading to a bad model.

      The “this is your brain in drugs” modality IS simplistic. It dismisses what may be useful and valuable understanding of why these chemicals are present, and what purpose they may serve in favor of “change the soup and watch the druggie twitch” mentality.

      The study of psychoactive drugs can lead to valuable insights about the nature of cognition, and the agonizingly complex system that results in consciousness.

      …or we could take your approach and pretend that there is no science to be done and nothing to be learned just because the guy doing the research has ( an acknowledged ) bias that he has already admitted does not match the data he collected, and is thus in search of an alternative interpretation that fits what he found.

  8. mraverage says:

    It’s no surprise that the two DMTs he talks about there have such profound effects. They are both found in the cerebro-spinal fluid of all of us. Our bodies make it for our minds and they know how to use it. The trick is to ingest a week’s worth all at once and then dream.
    I think it was the McKennas who theorized that the psychedelic state they put one into is the near death experience. The similarities between some of the classic visions and the survival value of the trait is hard to ignore. These dreams are what our myths were made out of.
    Plants make DMTs to keep animals from eating them (chemical warfare) because a stoned out herbivore in the wild is more likely to be some carnivore’s lunch. Since we’ve removed ourselves from the food chain, we get to get the useful-insightful good without the getting eaten bad.
    To governments and the owners class though; these are dangerous drugs. A person or population that has been deep into that space once in the last few years is more likely to be happy and self realized, less likely to be afraid of the boogie-men that we’re fed.

  9. rAMPANTiDIOCY says:

    The very aim of Strassman’s research was to unify the spiritual and the biological. He wanted to find a physical mechanism for the spiritual experience. Lrn2read

  10. za7ch says:

    Would it be safe to bet on the experiences of “westerns” (and a range of them, theist, atheist, devout etc) will be vastly different than “eastern” religions/philosophies?

    This doesn’t seem like that hard of an experiment to undergo to find real differences in experience with the same hallucinogen.

  11. TheSpiritMolecule says:

    The Spirit Molecule (http://www.TheSpiritMolecule.com) documentary explores the enigmatic dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a psychedelic molecule found throughout nature, including humans, and potentially existing in every living organism. In 1995, Dr. Rick Strassman completed the first government-sanctioned, human DMT research, with results that may answer humanity’s greatest questions. 

    After five years in the making, we’re pleased to release this revolutionary documentary to the world.  We’re planning a multi-city simulcast of the documentary followed by a live Q&A panel with audience participation. Director, Mitch Schultz, will be joined by Rick Strassman MD, Dennis McKenna PhD and Graham Hancock (to name a few) to answer questions via an audio/video feed and e-mails/Twitter.

    This one-night exclusive simulcast experience will only screen in the towns with the highest demand, so DemandIt! in your city from our official website: http://www.TheSpiritMolecule.com

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi TheSpiritMolecule,
      How ’bout state the time, date,and website, and allow anyone to attend, rather than hype it like that? If there’s a goal of gauging interest, why not say that and ask for requests? “DemandIt!”? What!? Is this the Spanish Inquisition? Homey’s BS detector goes off from language like this same as noen’s statements.

      Faith is the true spirit molecule. Faith the size of a mustard seed CAN move mountains. Those that deny faith in the name of science, or any other ‘reason’, are IGNORING faith, and science. True science only questions faith. Faith is God.

  12. Mash the Stampede says:

    Strassman’s studies are very rigorous. It would probably have been impossible for him to acquire DMT from NIDA if they weren’t. However, with all this talk about religions, mystical experiences, and hallucinogens, there is no doubt that he would cause many people to get out the torch and pitchforks of rationality.

    What ruffles my feathers about his methodology is not so much his incorporation of religion, but that he never mentions that every mystical field of study carries with it the ideals and dogma of that religion. Whether it’s Zen Buddhism, shamanism, or Hebraic prophecy, if we are to study consciousness, we must be careful to remember that those are not the nature of reality but merely tools that became incorporated into the minds of a number of people. Perhaps the subject’s deepest beliefs about the universe and spiritual upbring need to be examined first, before forcing his/her experience into a particular “prophetic” model.

    I understand that because we live in countries shaped by Judaio-Christian philosophy, we would probably have some aspects of the religious systems hardwired into our minds at this point. Kind of like not being able to look at English text without reading it automatically. However, is Strassman trying to demonstrate the salience of this phenomenon by comparing his subject’s DMT experiences with the Hebraic prophecy model, or simply trying to put the experience into a context non-trippers can understand? When taken out of the context of a person’s spiritual beliefs and choices and placed into a context of spiritual hegemony, doesn’t the story of the experience lose its meaning?

    I suppose that it makes Dr. Strassman appear far more credible to place his study in the context of a very ancient and rich spiritual traditions with which Westerners can relate easily. It’s hard if not impossible to find the vocabulary to talk about psychedelic experiences without sounding like a New Age flake to a lot of people. However, I did feel the need to bring up these issues.

  13. MrCompletely says:

    The third stage requires nothing. It is always already present. All you need to is remember that you are it. Peace.

  14. Yamara says:

    Consciousness remains slippery in its falsifiability and repeatability conditions. Otherwise, we’d just ask the latest IBM machine what’s up.

    Dr. Strassman’s research is valuable, but it is nowhere near the final paradigm.

    • MrCompletely says:

      Slippery indeed @yamara. I suspect Dr. Penrose is correct that there is essentially a Godelian paradox at the root of this issue, though I hold the rest of his conclusions about the nature of consciousness as no better than plausible.

      (radical-reductionists and strong-AI stalwarts please note that the Tegmark theory of heat decoherence has been strongly refuted by recent experimental results showing macroscale quantum coherence in biological systems, a major series of hard lab-science wins for the quantum consciousness theorists and the subject of an amusingly deep silence from the other side. Nonetheless I myself am holding the line at ‘plausible’.)

  15. sfnate says:

    @noen, RE: your accusation of Strassman’s pseudoscience

    I’m sure you’ve read Dr. Strassman’s books, reviewed his papers, studied his methodology?

    Simply stating that a prevailing popular model is inadequate to the task of explaining the contradictions and complexities of observed behaviors in a laboratory setting does NOT seem unscientific to me. It DOES suggest that there are elements in the related experiences of the patients that seem to defy conventional explanations (eg, “it’s all just a hallucination brought on by drugs”).

    Your comment seems to betray a certain type of scientific materialist thinking that has achieved a quasi-religious status among people who congratulate themselves for being very smart, very rational, and tend to reflexively dismiss anything that challenges a very narrow and limited view of what reality is.

    You know the saying, “there are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy” etc? I think that’s the essence of what Dr. Strassman is saying, while humble enough to admit the limits scientific bias in the face of mysteries that require more intellectual bravery than many so-called pure scientists can muster these days.

    • noen says:

      @ sfnate – “I’m sure you’ve read Dr. Strassman’s books, reviewed his papers, studied his methodology?”

      I don’t need to. Methodology that involves rejecting the scientific explanation in favor of New Age pseudo religious clap-trap can be automatically eliminated on it’s face. Your argument from authority is also a fallacy.

      “Simply stating that a prevailing popular model is inadequate to the task of explaining the contradictions and complexities of observed behaviors in a laboratory setting does NOT seem unscientific to me.”

      What model would that be? He talks about the “the brain-consciousness matrix”. This is incoherent gibberish.

      “It DOES suggest that there are elements in the related experiences of the patients that seem to defy conventional explanations”

      I disagree. I think that the experience of talking to sentient mushrooms or grey aliens is fully explained by the fact that one has taken a hallucinogen.

      “Your comment seems to betray a certain type of scientific materialist thinking that has achieved a quasi-religious status among people who congratulate themselves for being very smart”

      I am not a philosophical materialist and I routinely criticize the New atheists for their scientism. Nevertheless I do not accept that I therefore must believe in New Age woo. There is an objective real world that exists independent of our interests. I can find no reason to believe in a parallel dimension filled with grey aliens and talking fungus.

      “You know the saying, “there are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy” etc?”

      Today there are far far more things in our philosophy (science) than the people of Shakespeare’s day could have ever imagined. Our world is made of impossibly small knots of vibrating energy deeply intertwined with the rest of the universe. The quantum realm is far more strange than ‘ol Bill could have thought. Yet that still will not get you to sentient fungus.

      • sfnate says:

        @ sfnate – “I’m sure you’ve read Dr. Strassman’s books, reviewed his papers, studied his methodology?”

        @ noen – “I don’t need to.”

        Fascinating. A curiously unscientific attitude, and sadly, these days, very much in fashion among those who claim to have absolute certainty about everything.

        Thanks for making my point for me.

        @ noen – Today there are far far more things in our philosophy (science) than the people of Shakespeare’s day could have ever imagined

        And what will they say about these days in the far future, I wonder? That we had this very quaint notion that “our world was made of impossibly small knots of vibrating energy”?

        Science is all about transgression and exploring places where the timid and dogmatic refuse to go. The scientific method is a kind of armor to protect against the dragons of superstition, but if you’re unwilling to even read the data because you already know it’s “pseudoscience,” that’s not a brave stance, that’s an armchair dilettante who likes to impress at cocktail parties but nowhere else.

        • noen says:

          @ sfnate — “Fascinating. A curiously unscientific attitude, and sadly, these days, very much in fashion among those who claim to have absolute certainty about everything.”

          Not at all. I feel justified in rejecting his claims because he rejects the scientific method in the first place. “…. the spiritual literature and worldview seems, now, more applicable than a scientific one.” He isn’t *doing* science and therefore his results cannot be considered to be facts about the world. He is a believer seeking to validate his own belief system.

          It is not unscientific for me to reject the claims of those who do not conduct scientific research on the grounds that they are not following the scientific method. That is in fact *exactly* what the scientific method IS.

          “The scientific method is a kind of armor to protect against the dragons of superstition, but if you’re unwilling to even read the data because you already know it’s “pseudoscience,” that’s not a brave stance”

          1. No, science is not armor, it is a process by which we can determine facts about the world.

          2. I know what he is doing is pseudoscience because he has already admitted that he is not doing science.

          “if you’re unwilling to even read the data”

          It’s not the data I take issue with, it’s the conclusions he apparently draws from it. I am not the least bit surprised that people who take the same hallucinogen tend to have similar experiences. But from that mere fact we are not justified in concluding that there exists a parallel reality peopled by grey aliens and sentient fungi.

          • ultranaut says:

            “I feel justified in rejecting his claims because he rejects the scientific method in the first place. “…. the spiritual literature and worldview seems, now, more applicable than a scientific one.”

            It is true though! This is one of the central problems of DMT that must be confronted. I believe entirely in the rational pursuit of truth to whatever end there may be. I believe there is a scientific explanation for everything. It is not a rejection of science to say that the “spiritual literature” seems more applicable to the human experience of “DMT intoxication” now. It is an honest statement describing the current limitations of science.

          • noen says:

            ultranaught said: — “It is true though!” What is?

            “It is not a rejection of science to say that the “spiritual literature” seems more applicable to the human experience of “DMT intoxication” now.”

            In what way is the spiritual lit “applicable”? Do you mean that perhaps religion and mystical experiences can be traced back to pre-historical human’s experimenting with psychedelics? Sure, I’d buy that as a working hypothesis. What I don’t buy is the implication that those experiences are in any way objectively real. They are hallucinations and have no significance beyond that.

            “It is an honest statement describing the current limitations of science.”

            The boundaries of science are fairly clear. Science fixes facts about the world.

          • Anonymous says:

            “They are hallucinations and have no significance beyond that.”
            “The boundaries of science are fairly clear.” Well, You Know, That’s Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man http://youtu.be/QsogswrH6ck

          • Anonymous says:

            “What I don’t buy is the implication that those experiences are in any way objectively real. They are hallucinations and have no significance beyond that.”

            This is precisely the opinion that prevents any “real” research when it comes to the psychedelic experience. I cannot relate it, therefore it is meaningless. Just as with high energy particle physics, making assumptions of the unseen, based on relatable perceptions of observations and calling the result “fact” if it does not directly challenge those assumptions. A game of language building, really. At least there they are willing to smash some atoms to get a picture to play with. Someone who makes statements such as this obviously would never allow themselves to have one of these experiences, to challenge the language forging components of his own ego and perceive objective reality unfettered by relatable syntax.

            The fact is, wiser minds than yours have, and it is their bafflement at the tremendum of the information presented by this state that makes it significant.

            If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed.

          • noen says:

            any mouse squeaked:
            “This is precisely the opinion that prevents any “real” research when it comes to the psychedelic experience.”

            Oh nonsense. My attitude is in fact the proper scientific one. If you believe that the entities encountered during a DMT hallucination have an objective existence beyond being drug fueled apparitions then you need to prove it. Dr. Strassman assumed facts not in evidence from the start:

            “I decided to emphasize the spiritual nature of these states while at the same time positing a biological route to them, and an inextricably interwoven relationship between the spiritual and physical.”

            In other words, he is here saying that these DMT hallucinations represent contact between a spiritual world and our physical one. But that is what he assumed these hallucinations are in the first place. You just can’t do that. You can’t assume that these experiences represent spirital/physical contact and then turn around and use those experiences as “data” that demonstrate the reality of a spiritual world you already presumed to exist in the first place.

            Not only is that pseudoscience, it isn’t even rational.

            “A game of language building, really.”

            NO, science is not a language game. There is a real world that exists independent of our desires. If there is an objective world independent of us then there is a way that world is. If there is a way that world is then we can say how it is. Statements about that world are true only inasmuch as they correspond to that world.

            “The fact is, wiser minds than yours have, and it is their bafflement at the tremendum of the information presented by this state that makes it significant.”

            Mysterium tremendum: “overwhelming mystery”. I find nothing mysterious in the possibility that during a drug induced hallucination one may have experiences that seem real and yet are not. Nor do I find any “mysterium tremendum” in the auditory and visual hallucinations of those suffering from schizophrenia.

            If Dr, Strassman believes that such entities are real then he needs to provide evidence to that effect. He cannot simply assume they are real from the beginning and then use those experiences as proof of your assumptions.

            That is, as I have said from the beginning, pure pseudo-scientific claptrap and religious mumbo jumbo.

            “If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed.”

            No, that is not how we decide if something is true or not. It is not enough to merely understand a knowledge claim. It has to be, you know, actually true.

          • Anonymous says:

            My point about your opinion on hallucinations impeding on real research has nothing to do with beliefs. I am saying you cannot tell me what a hallucination is without having had one. That’s Science, Mister. You shoot up the dosages that Dr. Strassman’s subjects did, and you get back to us on what’s “real”. The truth is, we need people like you with a rational, skeptical framework to look at these spaces and define and map them. Then we could have some real answers on the matter. But again, you shout and stomp and say the world is flat. You have nothing to say here, really, without the real world experience/observation to back it up.

            “I find nothing mysterious in the possibility that during a drug induced hallucination one may have experiences that seem real and yet are not.”

            Again, words from the mouth of a babe when it comes to the experience of DMT.

            I hope some positive discussion can resume on the implications of Dr Strassman’s new thoughts on the connection between DMT and the classical prophetic experience after we are done feeding this troll.

            Roaring Mouse.

          • deckard68 says:

            I love it when people confuse science with reality.

      • Ambiguity says:

        @ sfnate – “I’m sure you’ve read Dr. Strassman’s books, reviewed his papers, studied his methodology?”

        I don’t need to…

        That’s really all you needed to say. We can understand your approach and position based on just that bit!

      • Anonymous says:

        Amazing to me how often I encounter people who identify with science,yet abandon basic logic in reaction to any discussion that brings up religious ideas. No model is real,applying a model to any area of study is a way of focusing to accquire data. To argue that someone can’t be doing science with an invalid model seems silly,and unscientific. The model is only a tool. Myhtologies,cosmologies religious and otherwise seem to be isomorphic of modeling. It’s not uncommn for some rationalists to immediately reject ,astrology and alchemy as pseudo science-but they are ,historically fundamental to the development of scientific modeling. It was once believed that the planets described perfect platonic soids in their orbits,the attempts to prove this model refined the focus enough to track the true elliptical nature of the orbits.Kepler was an astrolger,out to prove his beliefs.It dosnt matter if a mdole or hypothesis is incorrect,what matters is using it to gather data.
        The notion that to examine the effects of an ‘hallucinogen’ that is naturally present in the brain using religious mythology as a way to discover how that substance is integrated by humans does not seem unscientific.In fact one of the implications would be that the hallucinations could be a way that we give form to the unknown,and the dmt the mechanism.I suspect the psychedelics may have influenced the development of imagination ,without which no scientific modeling could be done.The notion that they influenced the development of certain sets of .
        Rejecting methodology without looking at it is not the way scientific method is supposed to work.

  16. salvarsan says:

    quote: “real science in which the simplest explanation is to be preferred…”

    Real science is where the simplest explanation covers all of the essentials, as in, “essentials must not multiply beyond necessity.”

    If so many who experience DMT or ayahuasca refer to it as a spiritual experience, then it is reasonable that someone attempt to interpret the phenomenon in spiritual contexts.

    If Strassman, who has studied the phenomenon rather more deeply than most alive, feels that a purely materialistic explanation does not address the essentials and sets about to address the lack in a rigorous (if recondite) way, then I am inclined to take him at his word.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Closer To The Heart http://youtu.be/quBCjo2rUZg
    Lyrics—
    And the men who hold high places
    Must be the ones who start
    To mold a new reality
    Closer to the heart
    Closer to the heart
    The blacksmith and the artist
    Reflect it in their art
    They forge their creativity
    Closer to the heart
    Closer to the heart

    Philosophers and ploughmen
    Each must know his part
    To sow a new mentality
    Closer to the heart
    Closer to the heart
    You can be the captain
    I will draw the chart
    Sailing into destiny
    Closer to the heart

  18. Anonymous says:

    My two cents.IMHO.

    I’ve smoked 5meo-dmt before. I’m fascinated by Dr. Strassman’s findings in light of my own experience. I think he believes in God, or at least wants to.

    Buddhism neither confirms nor denies “God”. It’s based on reason, not on faith. Ig-norance is at the root of all suffering. The Enlightened One is empty of inherent existence.

    We are justified(balanced)by faith. It would take eternity to prove eternity exists. We are all gods created by the One True God.

    We worship God in Truth and spirit.

    Persecuting those who have faith in God, is on account of the One, and making all kinds of accusations against believers is because of the One they believe in. I guess non-believers attack God at God’s weakest point as they perceive it. Those claiming God is a delusion are delusional.

    Challenge for all atheists: to prove God does not exist. It’s impossible.

    An excellent prayer for all people is this, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    I refute atheism. It’s nearly ultimately close minded.

    There’s a door. Can you see it, non-believer? I can only show you the door, madam, or sir. You’re the one who has to go through it. Then again, you don’t have to… half,? …. 2 …….? We are learning the value of ONE.

    We are like drops of water on a table, seemingly separate, until the table tilts.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I meant to say ignore-ance is the root of all suffering.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I am surprised he’d say shamanism isn’t in our blood. Its the world’s oldest religion. I guess he’s looking for something younger like Abrahamic prophecy to explain DMT.

    • Anonymous says:

      I guess he’s looking for truth. Seems your dismissing “Abrahamic” prophecy cause it’s “younger” than shamanism. The test for a prophecy is this, if it happens it’s true, if it doesn’t happen, it’s not prophecy. What if what the “Abrahamic” prophets said is true? What Jesus said, is it true or not? If your faith is in shamanism, you might ask a shaman about the “Abrahamic” prophets and Jesus. You might be even more surprised!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Good interview with Strassman, as always.

    I believe the language used to describe DMT experience must inevitably delve into religious terminology simply because we have no closer linguistic framework with which to discuss it.

    Our scientific language is not up to the task of these psychedelics. Neither is our spiritual language. This is why we have such a divide between the two camps. On the one hand the scientific approach tends to explain the experience as “hallucinogenic noise”, whereas the spiritual approach tends to veer towards “angelic entities”, and all sorts of things of this nature. Yet none of this adequately communicates the DMT experience.

    We are just beginning to understand this substance and will need to evolve our language accordingly.

  22. Tau'ma says:

    “If a picture can say as much as a thousand words, that smile can say as much as a thousand pictures.” ~ Ben Kenobi
    http://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php?ID=86863

  23. Anonymous says:

    It seems his attitude towards the effects of DMT, its possible benefits in use, and his choice of a model of interpretation of it as a spiritual phenomenon have all gone through some changes since the writing of his book The Spirit Molecule … though I did find the title a bit strange at the time after reading it.

    I would ignore any accusations of his work being “pseudoscience” as the words of a person not familiar with his work, and this very brief interview seems to be more about where Strassman’s head is at in relation to what he discovered, rather than the gist of his very respectable scientific inquiry. The suggestion that the data shows something akin to the experience of an old biblical prophet does not seem to have anything to do with his own religious beliefs.

  24. Anonymous says:

    @sfnate and @salvarsan

    Sorry, but I just don’t think anyone can reasonably claim that there’s anything about the DMT experience that can’t be straightforwardly explained in materialist terms. This is coming from someone with *plenty* of personal experience with DMT.

    Really, I think the temptation to resort to the supernatural in describing these types of experiences just betrays our ignorance of how the brain works in general. If we can’t (yet) even understand how the brain’s typical operation gives rise to our everyday consciousness, it’s not surprising that its altered states could leave us bewildered.

    Note that these remarks are only directed at the comments above — I haven’t read any of Strassman’s work.

  25. MrCompletely says:

    It’s always pretty funny when people dismiss psychedelics researchers as pseudoscience out of hand, I agree. This is about as scientific sounding as most psychological research, which is to say, it’s very very soft social science. To a physicist, is this science? Of course not. But then, not much besides physics counts as science to physicists.

    My problems with this particular methodology have to do with the adoption of Western religious terms and trappings. I think the fact that these concepts are deeply held/felt by most westerners is a problem, not a benefit. For one thing it leads inescapably to conceptual projection, which blurs the already difficult process of understanding. Second, for many of us, it causes a negative reaction; for instance I have a strong negative reaction to anything that invokes hebrew or christian symbolism, and it’s hard for me not to reject these ideas out of hand. My point isn’t that my prejudices should influence his model, but rather than almost everyone in our culture has some form of positive or negative prejudice in this area.

    I haven’t read his work and am unlikely to, not out of rejection of his models or methods, but simply because I try to stay away from building up strong concept-structures from other people which might influence my own experiences. However, based on the brief interview, it’s hard to see what’s new here to anyone with more than a passing interest in the subject. Tryptamine psychedelic experiences typically involve mediation by seemingly external entities; this is one of the most fundamental things we know about them. I do agree, certainly, that the average tryptamine experience is not a unitary, buddhist-like nirvanic or dissolved state, of course. That’s much more common at (or just past, depending on how you define it) the peak of a moderate to high dosage LSD experience. To me, this makes tryptamines somewhat less interesting, though only slightly. Knowing that we’re all like a hot dog order (“one with everything”) is important and calming, but not always useful in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. DMT and salvia-type experiences are not only quicker and fit better into the normal post-early-20s lifestyle than extended LSD trips, in my experience they’re a bit more useful for resolving particular life issues and roadblocks. But in my opinion, the unitary white light experience of a high-level acid (or drug-free meditative) experience is the more profound and necessary one, as it tends to free the mind of illusions concerning separate identity and mortality and lead to a more peaceful soul and a grounded life.

    None of the above reduces my respect for Dr. Strassman, though. Just my thoughts on the subject. Thanks for your work!

    • Ambiguity says:

      Tryptamine psychedelic experiences typically involve mediation by seemingly external entities; this is one of the most fundamental things we know about them. I do agree, certainly, that the average tryptamine experience is not a unitary, buddhist-like nirvanic or dissolved state, of course. That’s much more common at (or just past, depending on how you define it) the peak of a moderate to high dosage LSD experience.

      Different strokes for different net folks. My tryptamine experiences have always been very Buddhist in nature — I’ve always been much more prone to experience, say, rigpa than STEMs (self-transforming elf…).

      Everyone’s millage varies.

  26. loosenut says:

    “I find nothing mysterious in the possibility that during a drug induced hallucination one may have experiences that seem real and yet are not.”

    Everything is a hallucination. see also: ladder of inference.

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