I am a skeptic and a dreamer in the same time.
As a skeptic, it’s hard to believe that even a single dose of psychedelics can result in lasting changes in beliefs related to the supernatural or non-physical world. However, a recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggests otherwise. The study found that even for those who had used psychedelics in the past, a single dose could lead to significant changes in beliefs related to mind-body dualism, paranormal or spiritual phenomena, and consciousness.
The study recruited almost 2,000 participants who reported past experiences with LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, or ayahuasca. The results revealed that all categories of beliefs, except superstitious beliefs, increased after a psychedelic experience. Interestingly, these changes remained consistent over time, even when assessed an average of 8.4 years later.
However, the research team acknowledged some limitations to the study. The individuals who reported changes in beliefs may not be representative of typical psychedelic users, and the survey relied on retrospective self-reporting. Additionally, the study was advertised as a “psychedelic belief change survey,” which could have biased the results towards religious or spiritual beliefs.
Despite these limitations, the study provides further evidence of the potential consequences of psychedelic use and its potential as a therapeutic intervention. As a skeptic, it’s important to consider the context and expectations surrounding psychedelic use, as these may influence the direction of belief changes. While more research is needed in this field, this study highlights the importance of exploring the effects of psychedelics on beliefs related to the non-physical world.
Numerous individuals have discussed achieving altered states of consciousness through transcendental meditation and other techniques that date back thousands of years. This implies that our consciousness or “being” has states that we cannot easily access at will.
For example, humans are capable of vivid and realistic dreams, but it is difficult for most people to induce such a dream state on command. Although they may be able to daydream or conjure up an image in their mind, they typically cannot transition into a lucid dream state on demand. Typically, people can only achieve such a state when they are asleep, or when their brain and consciousness are in a certain state.
Scientifically, it is well-known that the human mind produces various frequencies of brain waves, and these different frequencies are associated with different states of consciousness (such as alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and theta).
Although daydreaming is primarily associated with the alpha pattern of brain waves, and actual dreaming is associated with the theta pattern, there may be other states of consciousness with waves that do not follow the standard patterns. These alternative states may also hold some form of meaning or value.
The study, “Belief changes associated with psychedelic use,” was written by Sandeep M. Nayak, Manvir Singh, David B. Yaden, and Roland R. Griffiths.