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A debate at Scientific American: Can a pill change your mind about basic issues in life?

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Covered at Mind Matters News. One Oxford researcher offers a disturbing premise, “What if a pill can change your politics or religious beliefs?” Other researchers say no, not so fast:

Citing three studies, Jacobs argues that the relationship between magic mushrooms and liberal values is “causal,” meaning that the hallucinogen literally causes liberal values …

Readers who remain skeptical may wonder how religious and political values— so often rooted in decades of history, family history, and personal experience—could really be overturned by a mere trip.

Some researchers have wondered about that too. In a response op-ed, Johns Hopkins psychedelic researchers Matthew W. Johnson and David B. Yaden replied to Jacobs, “there is no evidence that people change political or religious affiliations from psychedelic treatments, and current evidence for other kinds of belief changes is weak.”

They address the three studies Jacobs cites…

News, “Can a pill change your mind about basic issues in life?” at Mind Matters News

What follows is an academic demolition derby.

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3 Replies to “A debate at Scientific American: Can a pill change your mind about basic issues in life?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Sounds like the authors do a pretty good job of separating correlation from cause.

    They underrate the importance of legality. From 1938 to 2010, the drugs in question were illegal everywhere. People who wanted to loosen their inhibitions generally used alcohol for the purpose. Alcohol definitely causes permanent personality changes and brain damage. Why wasn’t it counted in these studies?

    It would have been interesting to compare drinkers in 1925, when alcohol was the fashionably illegal drug, against potheads in 1975, when pot was the fashionably illegal drug.

  2. 2
    AaronS1978 says:

    That is a very good question
    Which I didn’t think of

  3. 3
    chuckdarwin says:

    “Purple haze all in my brain
    Lately things don’t seem the same
    Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
    ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky…”

    –James Marshall Hendrix

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