Psychedelic singularities (was Test Scores (was Causality))

Lyle Burkhead (
Sat, 14 Dec 1996 05:21:45 -0500 (EST)

Mark Crosby writes,

> I dropped ten percentage points after going through
> what I've labeled a 'psychedelic singularity'.

I never thought I would say what I am about to say. This is something
I have never talked about, indeed something I have only recently
admitted to myself. But, here goes.

I took a lot of tests when I was in school. There was a college nearby
that used us as guinea pigs. We took a battery of tests every other year
starting in the second grade. I scored in the 99th percentile on all of
them. I wasn't a prodigy like some people here, just a normal genius.

When I was 20 I took mescaline. I only took a small amount, not
enough for a full-fledged psychedelic trip. But I did feel some effect.
When I was 21 I took one more standardized test, given by the army.
(This was during the Vietnam war; they tested us to see if we were
draftable.) I scored in the 94th percentile on that one. About the same
time, my grades started slipping. Lyle, the straight-A student from
day one, had lost his edge.

Then at age 23 I took LSD for the first time. This was a full-fledged
cosmic acid trip, a journey to the center of time, the sort of thing that
produces a conversion experience. After that, I *believed in* acid.
But I still had enough caution not to take too much; I took acid a total
of about 20 times over the next five years.

I could still write -- both prose and computer code -- but only with
great effort. My attention span wasn't what it had been when I was
younger. Sometimes I knew something was wrong. The analogy
that occurred to me at the time was putting a towel in a refrigerator door
to keep it from closing. That's what my mind felt like. It wouldn't
close down on anything. But most of the time I wouldn't admit that
anything was wrong, and if I did admit that something was wrong, I
wouldn't draw the obvious conclusion about the cause.

I didn't get my strength back until I was in my thirties. Ironically,
it was pot that helped me put myself back together. This of course
made it even more difficult to admit that I had been an acid casualty
for years. To say anything bad about acid would be a betrayal of the
psychedelic cause. I still believed in acid, and advocated it, long after
I had stopped taking it. I even went to a Terence McKenna seminar
at Esalen in 1988.

But now, looking back, the sequence of events is too obvious to deny.

This is not an antidrug sermon. I still smoke pot. Some of my best
posts were written when I was stoned. Some of my best ideas
have come to me when I was stoned. (The best ones don't get posted --
they are trade secrets.)

I'm just trying to be realistic about what happened to me. I think it is
possible for most people to recover from acid. But I think it is
something to be recovered from, not something that gives us strength.
I don't know of anybody whose test scores went *up* after taking acid.
I'm not saying this never happens -- all drugs affect different people in
different ways -- but I never heard of it happening.

There are better paths to the center of time.