Podcast Interview The tide seems to be turning with regard to attitudes to the healing powers of psychedelics, says Tom Shroder, the author of a new book on the subject. And, according to some researchers, their incredible efficacy is down to their ability to unleash the mind's own "innate healing intelligence".
The award winning journalist and ex-editor of The Washington Post Magazine spoke to The Eternities podcast about his latest work, Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy and the Power to Heal, which looks at the history of psychedelic therapy from the fifties to the present day.
He said, "Our system, as biased as it might have been against psychedelics, certainly was based on [a] belief that science could prove something, and science [has been] proving the efficacy of these drugs ... in clinical conditions. They're plenty safe enough. In fact, they're much safer than most other drugs used in psychiatry. So, you can't argue with the science."
Podcast Interview The main character in Andrew Clover's latest novel has an accident, her consciousness splitting to revisit significant scenes in her past and to review her life. And this, he claims, happened also to him.
He discusses his near death experience during which he seemed to leave his body in the latest podcast from The Eternities.
Clover fell and knocked himself out while running to collect his young daughter from a local bus stop. But instead of finding himself unconscious, he claims to have remained aware.
"I could actually see my body in this puddle, and then I was just thinking, 'The girls!', and I was remembering my eldest daughter." Suddenly, he found himself viewing her safely making her way home.
"And the next thing, I was back in my house and I could see my eldest daughter … she was fine. And I was in the living room and I could see my youngest daughter, lying on the sofa. And I just suddenly thought ' Oh my god, what have I done!' Just terrible guilt. What I saw really quickly were sort of scenes in my life with her.
Podcast Interview In a time when Artificial Intelligence is getting all the headlines, English author and film-maker Simon G. Powell is making the case for Natural Intelligence - the idea that life itself is intelligent and nature has solutions to problems we have yet to even understand. And it was a series of mushroom trips - "like insights into the essence of existence" - which initiated and propelled his work.
Powell describes these first revelatory experiences in the latest podcast from The Eternities: "I had a mystical experience, what felt like divine energy [was] pulsing through me. It was like I tasted something that most people don’t taste and it was absolutely astonishing. "
Powell went on to write The Psilocybin Solution: The Role of Sacred Mushrooms in the Quest for Meaning (2011), which traced the history of the sacred psilocybin mushroom and discussed its visionary effects, also examining the current science and lasting spirituality that surround it.
Podcast Interview "Agriculture is really the dominant system of 8,000 years, and it's more than a way of growing food. It's a way of domesticating humans and organising humans. It is 'the' system." So says the environmental author and journalist Richard Manning in the latest podcast from The Eternities. "And the system that brought us here and made us sick is not going to fix us."
Manning is the author of Against the Grain: How Agriculture Hijacked Civilisation, which argued that major world shaping forces, such as trade, imperialism and disease, were conditioned and driven by agriculture, both for good and ill. But, mostly ill.
Manning has now returned for another tilt at civilisation with Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization, co-authored with John Ratey, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of such titles as A User's Guide to the Brain. The book attempts to show that our human physical evolution is lagging far behind civilization's socio-cultural advances, significantly affecting health and wellbeing.
Podcast interview. “You only need to do something as stupid as a detox because you’re eating stupid things,” said the nutritional researcher Dao Earl.
Dao is co-founder of Sura Detox, a retreat centre in Devon on the south coast of England. “I was troubled for a long time in bringing people into the retreats. They go through this fantastic process [then] go back out into the world and do exactly the same things and come back next year. The retreats allow me to nail home this nutritional information. It’s about making conscious eaters.”
I thought I knew a fair amount about diet and nutrition until I attended one of Dao’s public talks. I was quickly engrossed, the whole room united – all of us sinners – but I felt inspiration rather than shame. We don’t know any better - until now. Effectively our taste has been corrupted from a finely tuned sensory apparatus and commandeered for use in a pleasure circuit, blurring its capacity for determining the most applicable nutrients.
Podcast interview. It's over thirty years since his death, but fascination for the work of science fiction author Philip K. Dick continues to grow with more than ten major Hollywood movies based on his novels and short stories, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau. A new biography shines further light on the man himself, attempting to sift the details of his complex personal life and penetrate the unique inner life that fuelled his work with something that may have been more than merely imagination.
"What I wanted to do was get into the man's head," said author Antony Peake. "His psychology is as interesting as his novels [as is] his life itself." A Life of Philip K. Dick: The Man Who Remembered the Future is the first biography to emerge following the publication of Dick's Exegesis, the fabled million word, late-night diary, that was his attempt to fathom the bizarre visionary experiences of 1974, which he termed "2-3-74" and described as, "an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane."
Podcast interview. Humankind was expelled from the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. But, according to a radical theory, it was actually for not eating enough of the stuff.
Consciousness theorist Tony Wright argues that human evolution stalled around 200,000 years ago, an event that may have been recorded in the world’s myths as “the fall from grace”, humanity’s rude ejection from a “golden age”. According to the theory, climate change forced humans from tropical forests where a high fruit diet had fuelled the rapid development of the brain. Beyond the forests, with fewer nutritional components present, the brain degenerated, a trend which included the growing domination of the left-hemisphere over an actually better preserved right.
Podcast interview. Pascal's Wager demonstrated a certain rationality to a belief in god. The seventeenth century philosopher, Pascal, argued that if one believes, yet god does not exist, nothing is lost in death. But, if god exists, the reward is eternal happiness.
For the transhumanist thinker, Giulio Prisco, if god doesn't exist, he believes we will create him. Or her. Or, more accurately, perhaps - them. Prisco's reasoning results not so much in a wager as an expectation.
Speaking to The Eternities podcast, he said, "Richard Dawkins … the atheist mastermind … writes in The God Delusion [that he] finds it very plausible in the universe that there may be very powerful beings like gods. He thinks these beings are a product of natural evolution like ourselves. That's exactly what I think myself. I don’t place any artificial limits on the achievements that will be possible to intelligent life in the future. And I do think that some of our descendants, perhaps in a few thousand years, will be so advanced … that we could only call them gods."
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet.
The idea for my first novel, Human+, came from a desire to write about psychic phenomena. That is, to write persuasively about psychic phenomena. Telepathy, astral travel, precognition, discarnate entities. There truly is more in heaven and earth, and I know through personal experience.
“I have seen little evidence of the paranormal,” said one reader who, nevertheless, enjoyed the novel, drawn to the story more for its technological and transhumanist themes. I still find myself surprised by people who tell me such things.
Podcast interview. Graham Nicholls claims to have experienced hundreds of out-of-body experiences (OBEs) since his first spontaneous one at twelve years old. Over the years he has sought to hone the art in his efforts to increase the number of his own experiences and their attainability for others. Graham has for several years offered one-on-one coaching and in 2012 published the science and philosophy of the area, as well as what to expect from an experience.