Re: Terrence McKenna

Mark Crosby (
Fri, 18 Jul 1997 09:31:04 -0700 (PDT)

Rick Knight wrote:
<I hope this information [Terrence McKenna’s _Food of the Gods_
theory] prompts two conversations: the role of psychedelics in
advancing consciousness (because I feel it has advanced mine) and the
seemingly exponential increase in novelty in modern times.>

Not that I don’t think psychedelics have been useful tools in the
development of human consciousness, but there are some other
scientific theories that help explain humanity’s preference and
ability for innovation and creativity. The "exponential increase in
novelty in modern times", though driven by our evolved capacity for
curiosity, seems surely due to an outward-looking focus on science,
commerce, gadgetry and rising awareness of cultural diversity through
much-enhanced communication channels rather than any inward-looking,
spiritual focus or drive to ‘return to nature’ as ‘noble savages’.

One theory about how our capacity for curiosity and creativity evolved
was described recently in a 970712 Science News article by Bruce
Bower: "Humanity’s Imprecision Vision: A Volatile World May have
Forged Minds That make a Virtue of Uncertainty", describing the work
of Smithsonian anthropologist Richard Potts who "exalts uncertainty as
the way of the world and the instigator of human nature" in his 1996
book _Humanity’s Descent_ and the 960816 issue of Science magazine.

Pott’s theory of "variability selection" claims that "animal species
best able to scrounge a living from whatever resources were available
gained the upper hand over pickier creatures" that were more optimized
for specific niches. Most of Pott’s claims are based on sedimentary
and fossil records of climate change which supposedly show that
"hominids had to react nimbly each [of the many] time[s] the
environmental rug was pulled out from under their feet".

Mark Crosby

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