The Stoned Ape Theory

McKenna hypothesized that these mushrooms significantly improved the visual acuity of humans, making it easier to hunt. In higher doses, the mushroom acts as a sexual stimulant, accelerating population growth. At even higher doses, the mushroom would have acted to "dissolve boundaries", which would have promoted community-bonding and group sexual activities-that would result in a mixing of genes and therefore greater genetic diversity.

From this, McKenna proposes, vocalization and language development emerged and astrotheogical religious concepts formed around the magic mushroom as a tribal communion. This acted as a social bonding catalyst within the tribes, reducing individual ego and promoting the development of larger social structures, thus contributing to the rise of human civilization around agriculture.

So, can psychedelics actually help in problem solving and encourage social unity? Two studies from the 1960s would say yes.

One experiment in 1966 using LSD and mescaline to enhance ideation and problem solving was carried out in a facility of the International Foundation for Advanced Study, Menlo Park, California. A group of 27 subjects from a range of disciplines - engineering to mathematics to furniture design - were given psychedelics to see if they would help them solve difficult problems. The results were startling - many of the subjects were able to overcome obsticles in these altered states and invent novel solutions to problems they had been struggling with prior to the experiment. Read more about this here:

Concerning the role of psychedelics in religious experience and social bonding, the 1962 Marsh Chapel experiment conducted on Good Friday at Boston University's Marsh Chapel used psilocybin (from psilocybe mushrooms) to induce "mystical experiences" in a group of Harvard divinity students. Walter N. Pahnke, a graduate student in theology at Harvard Divinity School, designed the experiment under the supervision of Timothy Leary and the Harvard Psilocybin Project.

Almost all of the members of the experimental group reported experiencing profound religious experiences, providing empirical support for the notion that psychedelic drugs can facilitate religious experiences. One of the participants in the experiment was religious scholar Huston Smith, who would become an author of several textbooks on comparative religion. He later described his experience as "the most powerful cosmic homecoming I have ever experienced."

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