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posted by martyb on Wednesday May 18 2016, @03:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-magic! dept.

The BBC reports on a small trial (12 patients) that used psilocybin to treat "moderate-to-severe, unipolar, treatment-resistant" depression:

A hallucinogenic chemical in magic mushrooms shows promise for people with untreatable depression, a short study on just 12 people hints. Eight patients were no longer depressed after the "mystical and spiritual" experience induced by the drug. The findings, in the Lancet Psychiatry [open, DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(16)30065-7], showed five of the patients were still depression-free after three months.

Experts cautiously welcomed the findings as "promising, but not completely compelling". There have now been calls for the drug to be tested in larger trials.

From the study:

Psilocybin's acute psychedelic effects typically became detectable 30–60 min after dosing, peaked 2–3 h after dosing, and subsided to negligible levels at least 6 h after dosing. Mean self-rated intensity (on a 0–1 scale) was 0·51 (SD 0·36) for the low-dose session and 0·75 (SD 0·27) for the high-dose session. Psilocybin was well tolerated by all of the patients, and no serious or unexpected adverse events occurred. The adverse reactions we noted were transient anxiety during drug onset (all patients), transient confusion or thought disorder (nine patients), mild and transient nausea (four patients), and transient headache (four patients). Relative to baseline, depressive symptoms were markedly reduced 1 week (mean QIDS difference −11·8, 95% CI −9·15 to −14·35, p=0·002, Hedges' g=3·1) and 3 months (−9·2, 95% CI −5·69 to −12·71, p=0·003, Hedges' g=2) after high-dose treatment. Marked and sustained improvements in anxiety and anhedonia were also noted.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Groundbreaking Ketamine-Derived Treatment for Depression Approved by the U.S. FDA 24 comments

Fast-Acting Depression Drug, Newly Approved, Could Help Millions

Of the 16 million American adults who live with depression, as many as one-quarter gain little or no benefit from available treatments, whether drugs or talk therapy. They represent perhaps the greatest unmet need in psychiatry. On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved a prescription treatment intended to help them, a fast-acting drug derived from an old and widely used anesthetic, ketamine.

The move heralds a shift from the Prozac era of antidepressant drugs. The newly approved treatment, called esketamine, is a nasal spray developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a branch of Johnson & Johnson, that will be marketed under the name Spravato. It contains an active portion of the ketamine molecule, whose antidepressant properties are not well understood yet. "Thank goodness we now have something with a different mechanism of action than previous antidepressants," said Dr. Erick Turner, a former F.D.A. reviewer and an associate professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. "But I'm skeptical of the hype, because in this world it's like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown: Each time we get our hopes up, the football gets pulled away."

[...] Esketamine, like ketamine, has the potential for abuse, and both drugs can induce psychotic episodes in people who are at high risk for them. The safety monitoring will require doctors to find space for treated patients, which could present a logistical challenge, some psychiatrists said.

The wholesale cost for a course of treatment will be between $2,360 and $3,540, said Janssen, and experts said it will give the company a foothold in the $12 billion global antidepressant market, where most drugs now are generic.

[...] One question that will need to be answered is how well esketamine performs in comparison to intravenous ketamine.

Also at STAT News, Reuters, and NPR.

Previously: Ketamine Reduces Suicidal Thoughts in Depressed Patients
Studies Identify How Ketamine Can Reverse Symptoms of Depression
Ketamine Shows Promise as a Fast-Acting Treatment for Depression

Related:


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by rts008 on Wednesday May 18 2016, @04:05PM

    by rts008 (3001) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @04:05PM (#347878)

    Thanks to disinformation, and rampant stupidity, beneficial research on many naturally occurring alkaloids have been needlessly fettered for priceless decades.

    Another unfortunate casualty in 'the War on Drugs', along with trillions of tax dollars wasted.

    Thankfully, 'underground research' has been going on. I remember reading "PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story",by Dr. Alexander Shulgin and Ann Shulgin, 1991, back in 1994, and was impressed.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by curunir_wolf on Wednesday May 18 2016, @04:28PM

      by curunir_wolf (4772) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @04:28PM (#347885)

      The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has had a web site documenting this stuff since 1994.

      --
      I am a crackpot
  • (Score: 2) by fadrian on Wednesday May 18 2016, @04:21PM

    by fadrian (3194) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @04:21PM (#347884) Homepage

    'Nuff said...

    --
    That is all.
  • (Score: 2) by Non Sequor on Wednesday May 18 2016, @05:09PM

    by Non Sequor (1005) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @05:09PM (#347898) Journal

    Doesn't electroshock have documented levels of effectiveness comparable to this for unipolar depression?

    Not that I'm opposed to legalization or anything and I think if psilocybin helps someone manage their depression then good. But we are talking about a treatment we don't understand being promoted for symptoms we don't really understand.

    --
    Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by kurenai.tsubasa on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:01PM

      by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:01PM (#347921) Journal

      Electroshock is something that's not well understood by the public. Judging by TFS (yeah, small sample size) and Wikipedia's ECT article [wikipedia.org], psilocybin appears as effective and has fewer side effects. Side effects of ECT are commonly amnesia and confusion. Contrary to most perceptions, it's not simply electrocuting the patient, and it doesn't cause the patient physical harm or injury (as much as some proponents of it wish). Patients can be put under or given muscle relaxants. Some other things I've read in the past about ECT as a depression treatment indicate that there's a bit of voodoo to it such as whether triangle or sine waves work better and which have fewer side effects.

      Simply as pure conjecture, I'd tend to think that psilocybin and ECT may be working along similar mechanisms: scramble parts of the brain to upset established neural patterns reinforcing depression. However, ECT strikes me as the equivalent of "This is your brain. *cracks egg and scrambles it* This is your brain on drugs." It scrambles the whole brain. Psilocybin seems to be more targeted and doesn't require specialized equipment or a trained medical staff to administer (set and setting more of a concern for psilocybin).

      I would also like to see more research. I have a feeling that honest, objective, scientific research will prove the existing government propaganda parading as research wrong. If/when the propagandists are proven wrong, I would go so far as to say they have blood on their hands.

      As for Hemingway, here's what Wikipedia says:

      Ernest Hemingway, American author, committed suicide shortly after ECT at the Mayo Clinic in 1961. He is reported to have said to his biographer, "Well, what is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient...."

      Oh! One other comparison between ECT and psilocybin. ECT has proven worthless at curing heterosexuality. Psilocybin on the other hand....

    • (Score: 2) by CoolHand on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:23PM

      by CoolHand (438) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:23PM (#347930) Journal
      I, for one, would rather eat some shrooms than subject myself to electroshock therapy... Call me crazy.. (and then shock me?)
      --
      Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job-Douglas Adams
      • (Score: 2) by Hartree on Wednesday May 18 2016, @11:37PM

        by Hartree (195) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @11:37PM (#348073)

        I'm Doctor Horrible. Eat these shrooms or I'll shock you.

        "*gulp*"

        Now do you feel better?

        "No."

        Well, then. I'm going to have to shock you.

        "Honest doc. I really do feel much better!"

        Oh, good. I won't have to shock you. (marks down a positive result).

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by kurenai.tsubasa on Wednesday May 18 2016, @05:36PM

    by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @05:36PM (#347910) Journal

    This is more confirmation of what a lot of people have already known. Psilocybin mushroom and iboga root in particular are good with treating addictions. LSD-25 as well if you don't mind doing some lab work on the lysergic acid in ergot. Heck, even good old cannabis flower works in cases of moderate depression.*

    Let's compare those to what big pharma wants to hook us on.

    - Mom Nature: nonaddictive (even un-addictive in the case of psilocybin, haven't tried LSD or iboga myself). Big Pharma: addictive as hell to the point you need medical assistance to even quit without risking such fun things as seizures or even temporary insanity!
    - Mom Nature: effective after one or two experiences (cannabis flower may require use 2 or 3 times per week to be effective so wouldn't recommend for severe depression). Big Pharma: take these pills once or twice per day and maybe, perhaps, in 2-3 months, there might just be a little... unquantifiable effect?
    - Mom Nature: grow this in your closet (except LSD-25)! Big Pharma: that'll be $$$ every month. Wanna fly, kid? Gotta buy.**
    - Mom Nature: it's perfectly natural to want to experience a spirit journey. Big Pharma: you have low serotonin even though we haven't done jack for blood work or other tests to establish that. These pills will fix everything. If they don't, well try another pill with another brand name. Failing that, that's just something wrong with you and you haven't been trying hard enough.
    - Mom Nature: after you've felt yourself reconnected to nature and the cosmos, you may notice yourself effortlessly exercising more, becoming more fit, losing weight, and experiencing renewed energy. You may find yourself sleeping better and waking up well rested. Big Pharma: side effects may include among others nausea; nervousness, agitation or restlessness; dizziness; reduced sexual desire or difficulty reaching orgasm or inability to maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction); drowsiness; insomnia; weight gain or loss (which one we dunno lol or even why); headache; dry mouth; vomiting; and diarrhea. (sauce [mayoclinic.org])

    * Hmm... there is a correlation between depression and cannabis flower usage. Cannabis flower must be the causation and never the other way around! /s

    ** I keep trying and trying to find this commercial/PSA from the 80s, maybe early 90s, but it eludes me. It was an acid trip all unto itself. There were these, like, talking shoes, man, and one of the shoes got the other shoe hook on "drugs," man. Then the shoe who's like, hooked, man, wants to score but he doesn't have the money, you know? So the other shoe says to him, "Wanna fly, kid? Gotta buy." That quote and the talking sneakers are the only things I remember.

    • (Score: 1) by DeathElk on Wednesday May 18 2016, @10:31PM

      by DeathElk (4834) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @10:31PM (#348058)

      Talking sneakers. Hmmm, been doing some of your own research have we? ;)

      • (Score: 1) by kurenai.tsubasa on Thursday May 19 2016, @03:33PM

        by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Thursday May 19 2016, @03:33PM (#348369) Journal

        Heh, I may or may not have some independent research in the pipeline... for science! I wish I could find that PSA, it was just... *wow*. I remember I must have seen it at least 20 or 30 times before it stopped airing. I think it was claymation or else some kind of stop motion. I wonder if there's some kind of archive of PSAs in some corner of the internet I haven't stumbled across yet.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by devlux on Wednesday May 18 2016, @05:48PM

    by devlux (6151) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @05:48PM (#347916)

    I realize that was not the original intent of Marx's turn of phrase. He was really just trying to say that religion frees people from having to think for themselves.
    However the only support I can find in the world for God existing is that we are hard wired for religious experiences.
    There is something about the way our brains are constructed / evolved, that we appear to be susceptible to powerful life changing religious experiences.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srinivasa_Ramanujan [wikipedia.org]

    Truthfully I would be a die hard atheist were it not for this simple fact. Humans seem to be wired for this singular sensation.

    Triggering a religious experience has been shown time and time again to be life changing.
    People who were chronically depressed or otherwise mentally ill seem to magically "get better" when they have a life validating religious experience.
    Which is what is also claimed in this study. Psychedelia is to my mind a similar thing or at least seems to act on the brain in a similar fashion.

    I cannot explain this and everyone who tries to do so ends up on the fringe, because thus far it does not appear to be quantifiable.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_K._Dick [wikipedia.org]

    The experience of a tunnel with a bright light at the end, etc. Appears to be a universal part of the human condition whatever else it may or may not be.
    The ability to feel as one and connected with nature or the universe, to hear spirit voices etc when undergoing extremes to the brain.

    It's also interesting that those with mental conditions similar to being in a sort of permanent psychedelic state seem to have made important contributions to numerous fields or simply been amazing in their own right. This despite having a condition that could best be described as malfunctioning hardware / software.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Forbes_Nash,_Jr. [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Peek [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Routledge [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Ellery_Hale [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vashishtha_Narayan_Singh [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:23PM

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:23PM (#347931) Journal

      That is a terrible argument for there being a God, and I'm not an atheist and I'm saying this. It's a class of "I dunno lol therefore God" argument, i.e., argument from ignorance.

      NDEs are very, very cultural; Americans tend to see Hippie Caucasian Jesus, Hindus very often see Lord Yama on his freaking celestial water buffalo, etc etc. The tunnel can be explained by oxygen deprivation. And the fact that naloxone terminates NDEs means there's an opoid system component to them.

      --
      I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
      • (Score: 2) by devlux on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:34PM

        by devlux (6151) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:34PM (#347935)

        Well if you read what I wrote, you'll see that I'm not calling it out as being strong support for a God. Just that it's the only supporting evidence I can find, specifically that we are wired for religious experiences for whatever reason. Not just NDEs, but the whole "touched by god" feeling.

        • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Wednesday May 18 2016, @07:38PM

          by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @07:38PM (#347970) Journal

          But it's not supporting evidence at all, especially not if there is a personal, interacting God that can (and in Yahweh's case, DOES) screw with peoples' heads.

          Something no apologist seems to get is that utter agnosticism about the truth of our propositions, logic, etc., is the BEST case scenario if this type of God exists; it's worst-case under metaphysical naturalism. Plantinga ought to put that in his pipe and smoke it, but he won't, because like all apologists he's dishonest and "motivated."

          --
          I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
          • (Score: 2) by devlux on Wednesday May 18 2016, @08:17PM

            by devlux (6151) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @08:17PM (#347993)

            This wasn't meant to spark some deep religious debate, just marveling at something which to me seems extraordinary.

            Simply put, the only evidence for the divine which I find at all compelling is the fact that we are capable of perceiving / contemplating the divine and in so doing it changes us.

            It appears to me that you take God in this context to mean any one of the numerous posited religious deities named or otherwise.
            To me that is religion and religion needs no evidence, it is by definition a matter of personal belief which makes it a personal matter between you and said deity.
            If any of those happen to exist then by definition, they know my cellphone number, if they want me to believe in them all they need do is call.
            Otherwise I figure it's pretty safe to say they either don't exist or don't care whether I believe they exist.

            What I am speaking of when I say God or Gods, is what I always mean by the term, i.e. "all of that which exists beyond our ken".

            Just any sentience which is as profound to us, as we are to an ant, whether past, present or future.
            The fact that we are the only creature we know of capable of contemplating something like this is just strange, isn't it?

            • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Wednesday May 18 2016, @08:35PM

              by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @08:35PM (#348006) Journal

              Ah, okay. Well, I am a Deist (or that's the closest word to it) so I can understand where you're coming from, but 1) how do you know we're the only species that can do this? and 2) How do you know there's actually any ontic referent for these supposed feelings of divine connectedness?

              --
              I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
              • (Score: 4, Interesting) by devlux on Wednesday May 18 2016, @10:19PM

                by devlux (6151) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @10:19PM (#348053)

                To answer your questions...

                #1 This is just personal belief.
                #2 I don't know, I merely suspect.

                So that you can understand where I'm coming from, here is a bit of background.
                I was raised as strong church going christian lad and it was instilled in me from my earliest years that we were God's elect, that our church was the one true church and in the year 2000 Jesus Christ himself would come down and whisk us all away while he purged the whole earth with 7 terrible afflictions, plague, fire, famine etc.

                Now clearly that did not happen. But well in advance of that, I'd say around 1989, the "one true church" I was raised in began to fall apart and die.
                This left me in a crisis of faith. The was no possibility that what I had been taught my whole life could be true. Yet according to every theology on earth, God is truth.
                Ergo I came to the conclusion that truth is god, but that no religion could be correct. I decided to adopt the philsophy that should there be some supreme personage, i.e. a deity that should he be seeking for my attention, then he knows exactly how to contact me and at that point I decided to shut out anything which claims to be truth but which cannot be proven. In order that I could listen for only truth.

                I divided my world into two buckets. That which is provably true, and that which is merely belief.
                Because their are so many disparate and unprovable beliefs, I created a magic bucket to hold them all in, that has infinite capacity and renders anything in it completely weightless.
                Whereas truth must bear it's own weight.

                Nevertheless I cannot dispute that everyone I know who has had a spiritual experience has been changed by said experience.
                Usually in powerful and positive ways.
                The drug addict who collapses from an OD in the shower and pleads to god for one final chance to turn their life around, then gets "saved" and makes something positive of their life.
                The drug dealer / gang banger who takes a gunshot running from the police, sees something on the operating table, then does his time and comes out of prison and runs a center for at risk youth.

                If the examples were limited to the dregs of society I might be able to dismiss it, but that's not the case at all.
                Look at Ramanujan nothing particularly rough about his life or upbringing, an entire life spent in devotion to a deity and he redefined mathematics with no formal training in the subject matter.
                For a more mundane example look at Gary Busey who was dying from a mixture of drugs, alcohol and cancer despite having a successful acting career, then had a motorcycle accident and came back to become a motivational speaker.

                Myself on the other hand. I drowned in a swimming pool. I remember it clearly because it was my 5th birthday. I was underwater nearly 30 minutes. Yet I don't remember a thing about the time I was "dead". Just the clock showing 1:30 (I was proud because I had just figured out how to read a clock the day before, which is what caused me to stop paddling for a minute) and then the number 5 indicating the depth rolling past as I sank to the bottom. I remember struggling for air then pitch black. The next thing I remember is people screaming and crying that I'm dead and then I coughed up a ton of water and asked what the fuss was all about, then I looked at the clock and it was 2:00. I was proud I could read the clock. A whole bunch of fingers and questions. Paramedics etc. I remember the whole incident but not a thing about being dead. For me dead was just dead.

                So I'm left with the conclusion now looking back, either I suppressed some profound spiritual experience, or I did not have one.
                I consider myself to be extremely open to spirituality and spiritual experience. I believe the divine to be plausibly real, but I am unable to state that there is a deity.

                If anything I find as I grow older my view on divinity is beginning to sway into the idea that perhaps we are divinity. Little tiny threads of a much greater tapestry that is spun across all possible worlds at all possible times. Stitching and weaving existence itself into being. What we perceive ourselves to be in this world is sort of a middle point in the stitch. We are neither divine here, nor are we "not quite divine". We can look down and we can see the non-sentience and yet we can and do anthropomorphise them into at least a form a semi-sentience. For example when your computer "acts up" rather than "malfunctions". I don't think that's just a trick of the language.

                Yet we can also look up and imagine a sentience much greater than ourselves.
                I don't know what this means or that it even has a meaning, but to me at least it feel like there is a meaning.

                Sorry if this isn't clear, it isn't always clear to me either, but it's the best words I have to describe what I see in my minds eye.

            • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Thursday May 19 2016, @09:11AM

              by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 19 2016, @09:11AM (#348233) Journal

              If any of those happen to exist then by definition, they know my cellphone number, if they want me to believe in them all they need do is call.

              So if someone whom you don't know calls you on your cell phone and says "hello, I'm god, believe me!" then you'll consider that sufficient evidence? Well, I'd rather take that as evidence that the caller is someone who at best makes fun of random people by calling them.

              --
              The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
              • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Thursday May 19 2016, @02:46PM

                by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Thursday May 19 2016, @02:46PM (#348343)

                So if someone whom you don't know calls you on your cell phone and says "hello, I'm god, believe me!" then you'll consider that sufficient evidence? Well, I'd rather take that as evidence that the caller is someone who at best makes fun of random people by calling them.

                Brings to mind that Far Side strip:
                Phone rings.
                Ernie: Hello!
                God: This is God. Is this 555-1234?
                Ernie: No, This is 555-1235.
                God: Oh sorry.
                God hangs up. For the rest of his life Ernie told people he talked to God.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Thursday May 19 2016, @09:04AM

        by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 19 2016, @09:04AM (#348232) Journal

        That is a terrible argument for there being a God

        Indeed. Actually, it could only be used as argument for an evil or at least incompetent god, because just as we seem to be hardwired to religious feelings, we are obviously also hardwired to do evil things. Yes, every single of us would say "no, not me." But experiments (Milgram experiment, Stanford prison experiment) show quite unambiguously that if the circumstances are right, the vast majority of us is going to do evil things.

        If being wired for religious experiences is assumed to be evidence for a god, it is implied that god made that wiring (because if the wiring just happened without godly intervention, it cannot be evidence for god). But if that god actively made or modified the wiring in our brain, then he could just as well have removed (or not made in the first place) the wiring for evil, and therefore not doing so would have been an intentional decision. And why would a god — who, by the premise, does not mind messing with our wiring otherwise — not remove those evil wirings? Well, the only two explanations I can see for this is that either the god wants the evil wires be in, which by definition would make him an evil god, or that the god didn't figure out how to remove them, in which case it was an incompetent god.

        If you want a god that is neither evil nor incompetent, you must assume that this god has a good reason not to mess with our wiring. But then, that god cannot be responsible for the religious wiring either, and therefore the religious wiring cannot be evidence for that god.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Thursday May 19 2016, @09:24PM

          by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Thursday May 19 2016, @09:24PM (#348508) Journal

          Wow, I hadn't thought of that. Interesting argument; too bad the kind of people who most need to hear it are the types who think William Lane Craig is a respectable philosopher :(

          --
          I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
        • (Score: 2) by PocketSizeSUn on Saturday May 21 2016, @10:39PM

          by PocketSizeSUn (5340) on Saturday May 21 2016, @10:39PM (#349295)

          I prefer to simplify the it as ... we learned to lie to order to survive when resources are too limited to share equally through the entire social grouping.
          My evidence is the result of this (old) study. [technologyreview.com]

          ... have found that robots equipped with artificial neural networks and programmed to find “food” eventually learned to conceal their visual signals from other robots to keep the food for themselves.

          I believe that our need to believe in something beyond ourselves, a 'god' if you will, stems from the survivor's guilt induced by such a biological imperative. Making hard choices is significantly easier to justify when you pretend that there is some higher power guiding your hand.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by JNCF on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:38PM

      by JNCF (4317) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:38PM (#347938) Journal

      I like the argument that religious experiences are useful for organizing groups of people to work together. Especially in war, when the promise of an afterlife might make desertion and cowardice less likely. We clearly have a mix of prosocial and antisocial traits.

      I also think it's probably normal for our type of evolved consciousness to misinterpret light and sound in a way that allows for quick response and few false negatives, which means we're letting a lot of false positives past our filters. How many varies from person to person, and dose to dose.

      • (Score: 2) by devlux on Wednesday May 18 2016, @10:53PM

        by devlux (6151) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @10:53PM (#348064)

        I don't doubt the power of religion and religious experience for controlling people.
        But I think it's important to note that humans are hardly the only ones to wage war.

        War is endemic to life anywhere there is resource contention. There's a war going on right now in my body as my immune system fights dengue fever.
        To take a less extreme example, Monkeys are known to wage war and as far as we know they aren't religious but they will fight with about as much determination and cunning as humans will. Ants & bees are also known to wage war on an epic scale.

        • (Score: 2) by JNCF on Thursday May 19 2016, @12:50AM

          by JNCF (4317) on Thursday May 19 2016, @12:50AM (#348087) Journal

          I'm betting that most monkeys are more or less animists, reading monkey-like thoughts and feelings into the weather-systems and riverbanks and the sun and the moon and the stars. But how could I know? I suspect that religion requires a more specific means of abstract communication than any wild monkeys have at their disposal. Now whales, they might have religions. Some animals (including dolphins) have been given hallucinogens, and they seem to respond.

          • (Score: 2) by devlux on Thursday May 19 2016, @01:39AM

            by devlux (6151) on Thursday May 19 2016, @01:39AM (#348102)

            That would be anthropomorphism :D

            • (Score: 2) by JNCF on Thursday May 19 2016, @02:36AM

              by JNCF (4317) on Thursday May 19 2016, @02:36AM (#348121) Journal

              People are animals :D
              Do you expect our close relatives to fundamentally different than us? They can't gain technological momentum because they can't communicate abstractly enough. There are other differences in mental faculties of course, but symbolic communication might open a whole floodgate of technologies that were just out of grasp before your species had managed to pass on arbitrary information between generations. Whales are a funny case, because they might be communicating abstractly (dolphins too). None of them can write, though. We use hands for writing, which whales and dolphins lack. We've progressed very quickly since we managed to figure out external data storage. But if you're looking at the world as a rock with funny water-cycling machines growing on it you shouldn't expect an untrained human to experience the world too much differently than an untrained chimpanzee. If you ever have time for a retro science documentary, episode 11 of Carl Sagan's Cosmos - The Persistence of Memory - [youtube.com] changed how I model whales. It's better than the vast majority of things you could choose to watch, not that watching is a good habit to be in.

              • (Score: 2) by devlux on Thursday May 19 2016, @03:11AM

                by devlux (6151) on Thursday May 19 2016, @03:11AM (#348139)

                It's more than that though. I'm willing to buy your argument for Monkeys for a moment because I believe that an important aspect of divinity that is missed out on is time for reflection and certain simian groups do have that kind of time. I don't think you even need abstract communication for it. There are evidence of hominid burials featuring flowers that go back to homo-erectus, much further than that and there is nothing organic left so we really don't know. However despite not particularly burying their dead, many simian species do have something approaching a "death rite".

                https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/1dduu9/what_do_chimpanzees_and_other_apes_do_with_the/ [reddit.com]

                Also Elephants have a death rites as well. So perhaps they can contemplate something beyond their current existence and perhaps not.

                • (Score: 2) by JNCF on Thursday May 19 2016, @03:43AM

                  by JNCF (4317) on Thursday May 19 2016, @03:43AM (#348152) Journal

                  If we hypothetically granted that some animals have religious experiences, would that make you reconsider the nature of animals or the nature of religious experiences? Neither? Both?

                  I'm pretty firmly in the camp of religious experiences being an emergent phenomenon that happens to exist in our wetware, but you seem less certain with regards to this topic. I still haven't finished that Tegmarck paper you linked a while back (it's slow reading when you have to Google the jargon, but I'll pick it back up again). His basic view of consciousness seemed like a reasonable stab to me. I think he posits too many prerequisites, but what the fuck do I know?

                  • (Score: 2) by devlux on Thursday May 19 2016, @04:22AM

                    by devlux (6151) on Thursday May 19 2016, @04:22AM (#348163)

                    Well if you look closer at what I said, I didn't say animals don't. I said that humans are the only ones we know of for certain that do. We seem to be hard wired for it and at the moment this hard wiring is the only actual support I find for the divine, which I did call God, but I should have used the word divine. Here I mean divine to mean anything we can conceive that is beyond our ability to fully perceive, comprehend or measure. Now when I say support, I mean it in the hard science, testable hypothesis sense.
                    Finding that animals had religion would make me reconsider nothing because it's only cursorily relevant to the hypothesis.

                    As for the Tegmark paper,
                    There are video versions as well...
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjhEtqhUZkY [youtube.com]

                    FYI, something I find highly compelling. If you take a look at 12:29 and look at his error correction method, you'll notice that it closely matches the in built Error Correcting Codes found by S James Gates in Super Symmetry.
                    http://www.winlab.rutgers.edu/~crose/papers/ROSEita13_sequence.pdf [rutgers.edu]
                    Which makes me wonder if despite the fact that they are completely unrelated if there isn't some deeper connection.

                    Why would neural nets and super symmetry possess the error correcting codes?

                    • (Score: 2) by devlux on Thursday May 19 2016, @04:53AM

                      by devlux (6151) on Thursday May 19 2016, @04:53AM (#348171)

                      Meant to link this earlier, but right now I'm fighting a pretty serious case of dengue (break bone fever) so to say I'm perhaps a bit feverish today and over focusing is putting it mildly.

                      Nevertheless, I am shocked at how much adinkras (supersymmetry's graph function), look like neural nets.
                      https://arxiv.org/pdf/0806.0051.pdf [arxiv.org]

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_neural_network#Gallery [wikipedia.org]

                      OTOH it also reminds me of Qabalah
                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermetic_Qabalah [wikipedia.org]

                      There are probably a lot of really good reasons for striking similarities, perhaps this type of graph just naturally grows from a human mind trying to express an enormously complex topic. But the possibility that something is in this direction just seems to be standing out like a "detour" sign in the middle of the interstate.

                      • (Score: 2) by devlux on Thursday May 19 2016, @05:37AM

                        by devlux (6151) on Thursday May 19 2016, @05:37AM (#348187)

                        This will be my last post on the topic and on soylent for awhile.
                        I need to go to the hospital for a few days and get proper treatment, this tropical fever is kicking my ass and I have no desire to find out the truth of any of these theories first hand just yet.

                        Anyways, this is a really good layman's explanation of Tegmark's theory that avoids much of the "oh crap I need to look that up" moments.
                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXBfXNW6Bxo [youtube.com]

                        Last Post! (at least for now)

                        • (Score: 2) by JNCF on Thursday May 19 2016, @05:55AM

                          by JNCF (4317) on Thursday May 19 2016, @05:55AM (#348196) Journal

                          Well if you look closer at what I said, I didn't say animals don't. I said that humans are the only ones we know of for certain that do.

                          I didn't mean to imply that you didn't think it a very real possibility, merely that you seem to think it less certain than I do. I feel almost exactly as confident speculating that chimpanzees are conscious as I do speculating that other humans are - unless this whole thing is a simulation just for me in which I am not an emergent phenomenon but rather the star of the show, it seems like these other apes have to be feeling things too.

                          Finding that animals had religion would make me reconsider nothing because it's only cursorily relevant to the hypothesis.

                          I think it's very relevant. If there are Simulators, and they purposefully let only one species have religious experiences, then that is a huge arrow of intent. If the Simulators purposefully gave every conscious species religious experiences, that would imply a different intent. If there are Simulators but they had nothing to do with our religious experiences, we may still be a meaningless emergent phenomenon even if the universe at large has a purpose (it could be a metaphysical foam sealant - it seems to expand a lot).

                          This presentation by James Gates [youtube.com] has some great animated visuals in it.

                          I don't think the possibility of us living in a simulation on top of some other universe is absurd, and if the layer of abstraction were intelligently designed (which is necessarily less likely) I would happily agree that the Simulators were metaphysical entities, even definitionally gods. It would be a really interesting twist for physics to take, certainly.

                          right now I'm fighting a pretty serious case of dengue (break bone fever)

                          Oh shit, that sounds horrible. Wikipedia tells me that you might die, but it's really rare. Try not to die, I guess?

                          I need to go to the hospital for a few days and get proper treatment, this tropical fever is kicking my ass and I have no desire to find out the truth of any of these theories first hand just yet.

                          Yeah, seriously. Try not to die. Hope you get better, buddy! I enjoy most of your posts that I see here.

        • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Thursday May 19 2016, @10:06AM

          by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 19 2016, @10:06AM (#348237) Journal

          The only relevant example of those you've listed is the one of monkeys, as monkeys, like humans, can behave in ways not determined by their genes. The behaviour of immune cells, ants and bees is completely determined by their genetic programming. Moreover, in all three cases, they don't carry the genes that are passed on, so from an evolutionary point of view, an ant of bee colony is a single organism. Thus ant colonies fighting each other is less like a war, but more like two people fighting each other. Losing cells is not by itself relevant, all that counts is the effect on the body as a whole.

          --
          The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:42PM

    by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @06:42PM (#347941)

    One of the things about depression, at least as far as I have experienced, is that your view of things gets fixed on things you can't change, a death, a crappy job, unfairness of life, etc.. I know there is a lot more to it than just those but I have thankfully never been that far down.

    Things like Psilocybin and LSD alter the way we perceive things, giving us a different view of the things in our lives. Its one of the reasons hallucinogens have been used in various religious rituals by radically different cultures throughout history. It might not help the really severe cases of depression but for milder cases it might be just what is needed.

    I hope they can pursue this line of inquiry with a larger study group and get a better view of its potential. Sadly I expect that government and pharma to block this kind of research as hard as they can. Just like they do every time there is something that helps people but they can't control it or make a profit off from it.

    --
    "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 18 2016, @10:42PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 18 2016, @10:42PM (#348062)

    Read upside down, you could say expected normalness is living in contant hallucination instead of reality. Keep dreaming. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_River_%28Bruce_Springsteen_song%29 [wikipedia.org]

  • (Score: 2) by Hartree on Wednesday May 18 2016, @11:51PM

    by Hartree (195) on Wednesday May 18 2016, @11:51PM (#348077)

    Interesting result with psilocybin. It's not clear though that the anti-depressant effects are due to the same neurological system that the hallucinations are. They may be. They may not be.

    Ketamine is another drug that's restricted here in the US for worries over recreational use. It's been found to be quite effective for very fast acting relief of depression. There's at least one study that's indicated that the anti-depressant effect is due to a metabolite of it that doesn't cause the "high", but instead impacts a different receptor. (AMPA receptor rather than an NMDA receptor). Even if it doesn't work out directly as a therapy, it shows an expected receptor very quickly damping down depression. That's likely to teach us things about root causes of depression.

    Ibogaine has long been at least anecdotally reported to be effective in treating addictions of some types. It being a schedule 1 substance has stood in the way of more research being done with it.

    Things that have powerful effects on the brain often turn out to be useful either as medicines or research tools, and restricting research just due to the drug laws is a bit short sighted, IMHO.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday May 19 2016, @02:24AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday May 19 2016, @02:24AM (#348108) Homepage Journal

    this is anecdotal evidence; one would need to repeat the experiment with a larger number of volunteers.

    I experience Body Dysmorphic Disorder from the time I was seven years old until I was 21, when I had this experience. The condition is best-known among women, who see themselves as weighing a great deal more than they really do, but it does happen among men. However it manifests in different ways. In my case, when I looked in the mirror, the guy looking back at me was ugly. At its worst I would see an ugly monster, horribly disfigured.

    I had the usual sort of college student shroom trip but then because profoundly depressed. I lay in the dark in my dorm room listening to gregorian chants for what seemed like an eternity - but just one side of that record was about twenty minutes.

    At the end of the music, the depression lifted. As far as I could tell the trip had ended.

    When I looked at myself in the mirror after that, I saw a handsome young man.

    I had never seen myself that way, not since I was seven.

    I'd had other treatment for depression but it didn't effect the man I saw in the mirror. To this day, when I look in the mirror, I see a good looking guy despite being much older now.

    I have Bipolar-Type Schizoaffective Disorder. That's quite a different thing from unipolar depression.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]