Stoned Ape Theory?
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07-11-2011, 05:27 PM
Stoned Ape Theory?
I recently heard the strangest theory for evolution, the "Stoned Ape Theory". It's in the book, Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna. I remember reading about an interview in my Uncle's High Times, and at that age, it sounded weird, yet plausible. Here's what Wikipedia says:

In his book Food of the Gods, McKenna proposed that the transformation from humans' early ancestors Homo erectus to the species Homo sapiens mainly had to do with the addition of the mushroom Psilocybe cubensis in its diet - an event which according to his theory took place in about 100,000 BC (this is when he believed that the species diverged from the Homo genus). He based his theory on the main effects, or alleged effects, produced by the mushroom. One of the effects that comes about from the ingestion of low doses, which agrees with one of scientist Roland Fischer's findings from the late 60s-early 70s, is it significantly improves the visual acuity of humans - so theoretically, of other human-like mammals too. According to McKenna, this effect would have definitely prove to be of evolutionary advantage to humans' omnivorous hunter-gatherer ancestors that would have stumbled upon it "accidentally"; as it would make it easier for them to hunt.
In higher doses, McKenna claims, the mushroom acts as a sexual stimulator, which would make it even more beneficial evolutionarily, as it would result in more offspring. 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. Generally McKenna believed that the periodic ingestion of the mushroom would have acted to dissolve the ego in humans before it ever got the chance to grow in destructive proportions. In this context he likened the ego to a cancerous tumor that can grow uncontrollable and become destructive to its host. In his own words:
Wherever and whenever the ego function began to form, it was akin to a cancerous tumor or a blockage in the energy of the psyche. The use of psychedelic plants in a context of shamanic initiation dissolved-as it dissolves today-the knotted structure of the ego into undifferentiated feeling, what Eastern philosophy calls the Tao.
—Terence McKenna, Food of the Gods
The mushroom, according to McKenna, had also given humans their first truly religious experiences (which, as he believed, were the basis for the foundation of all subsequent religions to date). Another factor that McKenna talked about was the mushroom's potency to promote linguistic thinking. This would have promoted vocalisation, which in turn would have acted in cleansing the brain (based on a scientific theory that vibrations from speaking cause the precipitation of impurities from the brain to the cerebrospinal fluid), which would further mutate the brain. All these factors according to McKenna were the most important factors that promoted evolution towards the Homo sapiens species. After this transformation took place, the species would have begun moving out of Africa to populate the rest of the planet . Later on, this theory by McKenna was given the name "The 'Stoned Ape' Theory of Human Evolution".

Terence McKenna passed away early 2000, but I don't think the guy has proven his theory. It's more of a hypothesis to me. There are quite a few tribal people that use psychedelics to "see in to the spirit world" or something, so it could have some kind of truth.

What are your opinions on the subject?

"You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” -Siddhārtha Gautama
"I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” -Lao Tzu
"...thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself..." -Jesus
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08-11-2011, 01:50 PM
 
RE: Stoned Ape Theory?
It sounds like someone that likes Hallucinations caused by Psilocybin and promotes the use of these natural products, well, because our ancestors did it and orgies are good. Apparently.
How do we know that these existed 100 thousand years ago?
How do we know that the had the same impact then as it does now?
Now... define low doses? When will they stop just to get hunting or gorge on them when they're getting ready for an orgy? Would they know the effects and the correlation between the quantity and different effects?
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08-11-2011, 05:04 PM
RE: Stoned Ape Theory?
Tell you about that War on Drugs and the Historical Record.

Once upon a time I read a story of how we got civilized. The priests needed to get high to see god, so we kinda stumbled upon agriculture. Coupla years back, I tried to rediscover that story... no way. That's a hell no!

Lemme tell you a conspiracy story that ain't a conspiracy. Remember Monica Lewinsky? (spell check does). That's because the IG of the CIA was to testify before a combined House that day. Ken Starr was prepped and ready to go six months earlier. Power structure likes both Bill Clinton, and a CIA that has an unlimited black budget. I don't disagree, under that consideration.

With this story, I use a modified form of "cui bono?" In this case, what's McKenna's agenda?

And if you don't have an agenda, ya don't have a pulse in my book.

The problem with CD is that it is mostly in my head - which is how naive philosophy evolves. Yet Chaotic Determinism includes my intrepation of Godel's Incompleteness
(It's pretty complete for being Incomplete - Godel the logician is liking this cat these days)...

Anyhoo, the naive philosophy that says "any self-consistent structure is Incomplete" applies in a big, nice-and-easy way... my agenda is "save Humanities for my Gwynnies" there for all to question...

(Ya don't wanna question me about Gwyneth Paltrow - if that becomes a problem , ya wanna shoot first and ask questions later. CD is even a predictive model. Big Grin)

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09-11-2011, 11:54 AM
RE: Stoned Ape Theory?
(08-11-2011 05:04 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  With this story, I use a modified form of "cui bono?" In this case, what's McKenna's agenda?

I think his agenda was to say that the mushrooms caused our brains to "grow" quick. You guys have thinking about another side of this though, and that's a good thing. Big Grin

"You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” -Siddhārtha Gautama
"I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” -Lao Tzu
"...thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself..." -Jesus
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10-11-2011, 06:58 AM
RE: Stoned Ape Theory?
No time now, will come tomorrow, have TONS of things to say...

Smile

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10-11-2011, 10:14 AM
RE: Stoned Ape Theory?
(10-11-2011 06:58 AM)Filox Wrote:  No time now, will come tomorrow, have TONS of things to say...

Smile

I can barely contain myself!

"You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” -Siddhārtha Gautama
"I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” -Lao Tzu
"...thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself..." -Jesus
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11-11-2011, 06:56 AM (This post was last modified: 11-11-2011 07:02 AM by Filox.)
RE: Stoned Ape Theory?
OK, Terence McKenna is one of those "to-read-list" people. I didn't know about this theory, but it sounds interesting. Now the question is could we ever find evidence on his claims? No. Could it be true? Yes, at least some parts of it. Did something similar happen and is it still happening in the world? Yes, and we have a lot of documented studies on the subject. Every tribe that has a shaman who gives them visions is exactly this, what McKenna has described. There are a lot of rituals in different tribes all over the world that include some kind of hallucinogen to produce visions. The shamans do not give those hallucinogens just for fun, it has spiritual, religious, emotional and intellectual meaning. All those who have tried "magic mushrooms" will know how it can help you in some things, how it can "change" you as a person. For those of you who haven't tried it, do not think that you transform into a different person after one "trip", the changes are very, very subtle, it is wrong to call it "a change in ones psyche", it can be more like a revelation, an understanding of some things that surround you. With understanding comes that "change", you simply have more input on some things/thoughts. My revelation came to me while I was on LSD, not shrooms, and to summarize it in one sentence, the revelation itself was (after hours of debating and arguing with my friend) when I said: "It is all relative" When I said that, it was like all the havens opened up, those were not just words, I really understood the whole meaning of the word "relative" and what that that sentence really meant. At that moment, Einstein was a pussy compared to me. Smile

What McKenna wanted to say with this story is that if (he didn't say "if", I am saying "if") old human tribes found shrooms and some shaman discovered how they give you "trips" for half a day, you can imagine how religious that omen was for him and them all. Can you imagine the time when lightning was the anger of Gods, what would a person on shrooms think is happening to him? If somebody did discover that, and it is not that unlikely that they have, why wouldn't they use it to communicate with Gods on special occasions, like the ritual to become a man, or some festivity to celebrate good hunt, or crop? In some "primitive" cultures and tribes today we still have rituals that include hallucinogens. People go out for their share of "visions" and after they return they interpret those visions, draw conclusions from them and they have their share of spirituality for some period, maybe for the whole life. Other cultures use meditation for the same purpose, to give you visions so that you can interpret them and draw life-changing conclusions form those visions.

This is one of those things you can never verify, but it does sound plausible, I wouldn't a bit surprised if thing happened like McKenna has written. You say he was just promoting drugs for his own pleasure. I say that is completely wrong. He was not the person who took drugs just to get high, he would then be using heroin or cocaine, not shrooms and LSD. Also, I don't think there are good or bad trips, there are only trips, it is how you look at them that gives you your experience.

Not everybody can stand the extent and intensity of the visions, that is why not everybody was able to be a shaman, or a warrior, or a chieftain... This drugs could also be used as a test of different kinds, a test that is not like any other and that tests your inner strength in ways you can never imagine. This is if you take a large dose of the substance, of course.

If spirituality and religions are important for development of early civilizations, then the shrooms, or similar substances could speed things up quite a bit. For meditation to give you visions and change your view on this world it would take years of practice and meditating, shrooms can do that in a day. Today we look at drugs as something normal or something dangerous to have fun with, but 100k years ago it was a bit different story. Hallucinations and visions could have come only from Gods, what else is there, right?

Combine all that together and you got yourself a shaman who has discovered the food of Gods and the way to communicate with them using rituals and potions he made while he was in a trance, by the recipe that those Gods have given him. Those who pass the test will have their vision interpreted by the wise shaman and will be on their path, those who do not pass the test will be given some other things to do, more suitable for them. If someone died of it, it was the will of Gods, they were not worthy enough to use the knowledge of the Gods.

Of course these are all just theories, and since we are talking about 100K B.C. it is virtually impossible to have evidence and confirm this, so we are left with one cool story/theory in which you can believe or not.

I will now go and download the book, read it and enjoy it, believing it was all true, because I want it to be true.

Smile

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I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.
-Hunter S. Thompson
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