Re: Terrence McKenna

Anders Sandberg (
Tue, 22 Jul 1997 08:49:12 +0200 (MET DST)

On Mon, 21 Jul 1997, Rick Knight wrote:

> I am sensing an underlying assumption that Greco-Roman = psychedelics
> = successful empire and Indians/indigenous = psychedelics = where are
> they now? I don't know that I can automatically exalt ancient empires
> whose influence still dominates our cultural thinking (at times to our
> detriment) over ones that have vanished. Your conclusion appears to
> be over-simplifying so I'll just ask for more information so that I
> may reaccess. This thread is getting interesting now...

Actually, if you look at what I wrote (included below) I didn't draw
any conclusions. I'm not sufficiently well versed in anthropology and
history (and lack the time) to do a fair comparision (although I
think it would be worthwhile).

It seems that you misunderstood my comment about the Greeks and
Romans; while there certainly were some use of psychotropic drugs
(like the molded rye bread suggested by Bobby Whalen) as far as I
know they where never widely used or accepted during the classic era
(the use seem to have spread during the hellenic era); wine (and
opium) seems to have been the intoxicants of choice. From what I know
of the Roman empire the same held there. The comparision was more
Greco-Roman = little psychedelics, Indians = more psychedelics.

The big question is how to accurately measure novelty. Maybe one
should look at the number of occasions thinkers came up with ideas
people in general (and not just the rulers) disagreed with?

> Anders Sandberg commented:
> Something that might be used to support (or falsify) McKenna's theory
> is to compare societies where psychotropic drugs have been used with
> societies where they have been rare or not used, and see which have
> had the fastest memetic evolution. As a suggestion, what about
> comparing Greece and Rome (fairly non-psychotropic as far as I know)
> with India (some use, at least) and the indian civilizations?
> According to McKenna the amount of novelty among the Atztecs would
> have been larger than among the Greeks.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
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