Psychedelic mushrooms reduce authoritarianism and boost nature relatedness

This article discusses a few studies that tend to show that psychedelic mushrooms make people a little more connected with their surroundings.

The basis for this conclusion, however, is somewhat questionable.  The article cites two old studies that do not appear to have controlled for personality by investigating the subjects’ opinions before they were exposed to the “magic mushrooms.”  That said, a third study that is cited does seem to have controlled in this fashion, which leads to promising results.

There is also a question based on the sort of anecdotal and common sense conclusion that openness to new experiences, “liberal values,” and nature relatedness are already the characteristics of the kinds of people who would be willing to take “magic mushrooms” as part of a study.  In other words, the study might have attracted subjects with these types of values in the first place.

Equally anecdotal and common sense is the idea that folks who fall into authoritarian lines of thinking are already biased against drugs, and that this outlook would itself impact the experience of eating “magic mushrooms.”

These initial results are interesting, but more investigation is needed, and more studies need to be planned that take into account these issues.  I suppose you’d have to have a population of subjects that consent to taking a “new drug” for “medical use” to see how they would react.  Then again, if you are vague in this way, an investigator could tap into people who have negative ideas about pharmaceuticals and medicinal use and have a whole new set of negative impacts on study results.  You’d have to control for the bias that people already naturally have for or against drugs and that might not be such an easy thing to do in this context.




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