Psilocybin as effective psychotherapy

We should be looking for ways to effectively use drugs people already like and seek out on their own rather than ban them.

There is good evidence that psychedelics like psilocybin can do good things for people. A recent study confirms this.

Lead author of the study, Kelan Thomas, says:

This therapy has also demonstrated large effect sizes for improving symptoms on validated psychiatric rating scales, which suggests psilocybin-assisted therapy may be significantly better than the current treatment options only demonstrating small to moderate effect sizes. The other important distinction is that participants experienced dramatic improvements and higher remission rates after only a few psilocybin-assisted therapy sessions, which also appeared to persist for a much longer duration than current treatment options.” (Clinical review: Psilocybin therapy could be significantly better than current psychiatric treatments)

The study is here: Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy: A Review of a Novel Treatment for Psychiatric Disorders.

Psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD change awareness for several hours by changing brain connections. This brief change is the “high” many people enjoy.

This change provides dramatic evidence, or a dramatic example, to the brain of how it can be. Positive new connections can be formed while negative old connections can be extirpated.

At lower doses, psychedelics seem to make people both feel and act more creatively and positively.

White people and ethnocentrism

White people seem to be less ethnocentric than most other people in the world.

I (anecdotally) have observed this based on many years living in China and Japan, but many studies have also found this to be true.

An article I read this morning covers this topic quite well.

There are two types of ethnocentrism. “Positive ethnocentrism” means you take pride in your own people and make sacrifices for them. “Negative ethnocentrism” means you don’t especially like other peoples. Computer modelling experiments show once you control for other factors, ethnocentric groups will dominate and displace less ethnocentric groups.

The article, It’s Official: Europeans (Such As Macron’s Voters In France) Have a Genetic Death Wish, has a splashy title which I do not care for, but otherwise deals with this topic pretty well. It includes links to a number of studies that support its basic claim—that whites have evolved differently.

We know that evolution must lead to group differences and we know that many group differences are based on genes, so why do we generally avoid this topic?

We will all be much better off when we recognize the fundamentals of group differences.

Full disclosure, I come from a small ethnic group that tallies some of the lowest IQ scores in Europe. This does not bother me at all. I believe “my group” will be better off recognizing both its weak and strong points and dealing with them realistically.

Moreover, l know that low group averages for “my group” say very little about me as an individual.

Memory-guided behaviors employ spatial “maps” in the brain

A new study seems to show that the brains of rats—and by extension ours as well—use a spatial “mapping” system to encode more than just space.

This suggests that mammalian brains encode “continuous, task-relevant variables” in “common circuit mechanisms” that can “represent diverse behavioural tasks, possibly supporting cognitive processes beyond spatial navigation.” (Mapping of a non-spatial dimension by the hippocampal–entorhinal circuit)

It does seem that we do a lot of thinking, remembering, and associating in systematic or roughly systematic ways. And it does seem that these systems resemble spatial ones.

Ever notice how amazing it can feel to stumble upon a new view of a spatial system you already know well? “So that’s where the duct goes through the wall!” Or, “I never realized that Bob’s Street intersects Jones right here!”

When we explore our psychological “maps” in interpersonal settings using FIML techniques, we gain access to details that reorganize those “maps” in a similar way to the example above. Small insights can yield amazing results.

Typically, normal psychological maps are distorted impressions of the psychological space around us. FIML allows us to see in our psychological “maps” a level of detail or resolution that cannot be gained in any other way.

Understanding verbal, emotional, semiotic, and associative details is key to understanding our “psychological locations” in this world.

American chestnut tree may return due to genetic modification

Excellent article on the probable return of the American chestnut tree. This appears to be a good use of genetic modification. It will return an important wild species to its natural habitat.

…By splicing a single gene from wheat into the tree’s genome, scientists from the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) have engineered blight-resistant saplings.

This year, the team plans to apply for approval from U.S. and Canadian regulators to distribute the plant. If they are successful, the tree would be the first genetically modified organism released with the goal of reintroducing an endangered species to the wild, rather than producing a commercial agricultural crop. (Science finds a way to bring back the American chestnut tree)

Could Mysterious Cosmic Light Flashes Be Powering Alien Spacecraft?

Bizarre flashes of cosmic light may actually be generated by advanced alien civilizations, as a way to accelerate interstellar spacecraft to tremendous speeds, a new study suggests. (Source)

In Buddhist cosmology, there exist billions of world-systems, each of which contains billions of worlds. This has always sounded like a description of galaxies to me.

The hypothesis that “fast radio bursts” could be evidence of alien spacecraft is presented in the linked article, which also has a link to the study itself.