The Associated Press sent out an article discussing resurgent interest in psychedelic research on April 23, 2010, echoing what we reported here at Whenceforth Progress on April 19. But AP writer Malcom Ritter couldn’t resist bashing the dirty hippies, and in so doing made an egregious error.
Ritter quotes Professor David Nichols of Purdue University and president of the Heffter Institute, which is supporting a psilocybin study at NYU:
“There’s still a lot of resistance to it. The whole hippie thing in the 60s” and media coverage at the time “has kind of left a bad taste in the mouth of the public at large. When you tell people you’re treating people with psychedelics, the first thing that comes to mind is Day-Glo art and tie-dyed shirts.”
But that is flat-out wrong. The “whole hippie thing” isn’t to blame at all, and media coverage only repeated what reporters were told by government mouthpieces. The source of the public’s resistance is the same as always, a repressive reactionary authoritarian cabal deeply fearful that somebody somewhere might be happy. Echoing that fear, and blaming it on the hippies, is not only false and gratuitous but feeds the same baseless fears that the government and its media lackeys have perpetuated for 50 years.
Consumed sensibly, just as with any other substance, psychedelics are no more harmful than any intoxicant. Of course they can be misused, as can anything, but there is nothing about them that is inherently dangerous. Most psychedelics are all but completely safe, they are non-addictive and certainly far less harmful than alcohol, a legal drug which kills thousands annually.
Fair evidence of their benefit and desirability can be found in the AP report, from listening to the research subjects.
A study published in 2008, in fact, found that even 14 months after healthy volunteers had taken a single dose [of psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms], most said they were still feeling and behaving better because of the experience. They also said the drug had produced one of the five most spiritually significant experiences they’d ever had.
Cancer patient Nicky Edlich, 67, tried psilocybin for the first time last year as part of the NYU study:
“I think it made me more aware of what was so important and what was making me either sad or depressed. I think it was revelatory.”
Revelatory. That’s the response for most people, a tremendously moving and wonderful experience rather than the terrifying freak-out falsely pushed by “anti-drug” crusaders. According to Dr. Stephen Ross, lead investigator of the NYU study, all three subjects tested so far have asked for a second dose of psilocybin even though the study allows one time only. Asked her opinion, patient Edlich said
“I would do it a second time in a New York minute.”
Me, too. Looks like the 60s hippies were right, after all. Again.