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Scientists get religious leaders high on magic mushroom compound

Commentary: A revolutionary experiment involves seeing whether drugs heighten the religious experience.

 Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Digital composite of man praying

We are all seeking more enlightenment and greater uplift. Aren't we?

BrandonKidwell

We're all a bunch of chemicals with some water swilling around inside.

So we sometimes use other chemicals to make ourselves feel better, to bring our best selves to the fore or even to hit a few more home runs.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are taking a more celestial look at chemically enhanced spiritual uplift.

As the Guardian reports, they've brought together a few rabbis, some Catholic, Orthodox and Presbyterian priests, and a Zen Buddhist to see if doses of psilocybin might enhance their religious fervor. 

Should you not be familiar with this substance, it's the part of magic mushrooms that makes them -- I understand -- so magical.

One of the scientists involved in the study, Dr. William Richards, told the Guardian: "With psilocybin, these profound mystical experiences are quite common. It seemed like a no-brainer that they might be of interest, if not valuable, to clergy."

The doses -- two taken one month apart -- given to these religious practitioners are potent. While the holy men experience the effects, they're blindfolded and given headphones that play godly music. 

Though the experiments haven't yet concluded, initial results are apparently uplifting. 

"Generally, people seem to be getting a deeper appreciation of their own religious heritage. The dead dogma comes alive for them in a meaningful way. They discover they really believe this stuff they're talking about," Richards told the Guardian. 

In addition, he said, the participants' appreciation of other religions seems to mushroom. Why might this be? Do they suddenly realize that man is such a low-grade form of being and divinity might just represent a far higher, perhaps unattainable level? Richards didn't immediately respond to a request for enlightenment.

Altering moods and expanding minds is a growing business. Tech companies are busily creating wearables that use various methods of neurostimulation to radically alter the way we feel. 

How much more productive -- or even happier -- might we be if, having woken up in a bad mood, we then don a strange headset or patch that suddenly makes us feel at one with the world?

Tech companies such as Neurostar are using magnetic fields, for example, to affect the brains of those who haven't responded to anti-depressants. 

And who can't be entranced by HVMN, which happily says on its website: "Humans can be upgraded. Start with Nootrobox"? HVMN works in the area of "biohacking and human enhancement."

In our most alone moments, we surely acknowledge the almost limitless depths of our imperfections. It's inevitable, then, that science will use everything at hand to see whether we can be helped to see the light. 

Before we become chip-controlled robots, that is.

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