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July 12, 2006

Religion and Happiness, continued... -- 2

The study (thanks Popp) is an ex-hippie's delight. Give psilocybin, the active ingredient in some "magic" mushrooms, to certain religiously inclined people and see what it does for them. But this premise is not likely to cheer nonbelievers:

The Johns Hopkins researchers were interested in inducing a mystical experience because of the widely recognized value of creating a sense of spirituality to help people overcome fears and psychological problems.

That the case?

And, oh yeah, the folks behind this study claimed it worked -- in creating a mystical experience and in that experience improving outlooks on life:

The subjects were surveyed two months later and reported that they continued to feel a sense of well-being. Some said they had the same feelings a year later.

Far out!

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at July 12, 2006 7:56 PM


But you didn't quote the most interesting part of the story, Mitch:

"Lead author Roland R. Griffiths said psilocybin was no 'God pill,' but rather a chemical process. The interplay of brain chemicals sparked by psilocybin could explain the biology underlying spiritual experiences.

"The process 'could be the basis of ethics and morality,' he said.

"Dr. Richard P. Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research, said it was a mistake to reduce spirituality to a function of brain chemistry.

"'I would think religious people would find it objectionable to describe the religious experience as a product of neurochemistry with no intrinsic truth,' he said."

Yeah, no kidding I'll bet he's right.... so, what if that kind of transcendent feeling IS actually (as JayS has argued all along) just brain chemistry? That to me is pretty interesting... think anyone would ban that report? or torture the scientists responsible for publishing such findings?

Posted by: JM at July 12, 2006 8:55 PM

John Hopkins? I am beginning to feel very spiritual and in need of study.

I am ready to put back on that white lab coat I used to wear while experimenting with psychotropics. I wonder what I did with those notebooks filled with those experimental findings?

As I remember you (Mitch) and I did a couple of experiments together in Isla Vista, did we verify any hypotheses?

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 12, 2006 8:58 PM

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