Monday, February 2, 2015

A note from Michael Pollan

The food ethics guru notes his return to a theme he explored in Botany of Desire, which we read a while back in Environmental Ethics. He's lately
been immersed for much of the last year in a new project, the first fruits of which appear in the February 9 issue of the New Yorker, out today.  I’m eager to share this piece with you because the research has been some of the most exciting I’ve done. “The Trip Treatment” is a long narrative exploring the current renaissance of scientific and medical research into psychedelic drugs. My story looks at several recent and ongoing trials of psilocybin–the active ingredient in magic mushrooms—at Johns Hopkins, N.Y.U. and Imperial College in London, through the eyes of both the researchers and the volunteers. The U.S. trials involve giving cancer patients a guided psychedelic journey to help them cope with their fear and anxiety; most of the volunteers I followed found that the mystical experience they had on the drug radically altered their thinking about life and death.  Psychedelics are also being used to treat addictions (for smoking and alcohol); to explore the neuroscience of spirituality, and, in conjunction with various brain scanning technologies, to try to answer some fascinating questions about the self and consciousness. Here’s a link to the article, which is posted today: This might at first seem like a departure from writing about food. But those who have followed my work for some time know I’ve also had a longstanding interest in altered states of consciousness. I wrote about cannabis in The Botany of Desire and opium in Harper’s Magazine.  For me, these remarkable molecules are part of the same co-evolutionary story, products of nature with the power to change us.
And with such power comes the possibility of changing our environment and how we engage it. CoEvolution thus becomes companion to CoPhilosophy.

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