I posted this in a thread, and then decided I liked it so much, I'm adding it to my blog!
Original post: http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showpost.php?p=776364&postcount=91
I'm utterly sick of people claiming psychedelics show you the meaning of life, or unveils some great mysteries of the universe, but I've always had a little trouble getting my point across to others. I've been trying to understand epistemology lately, and it provoked me to write this...hope it helps my cause.
What psychedelics do for my pet dog is connect ideas together that normally wouldn't have so readily been associated with one another. It's like this powerful tool for supercharging abductive reasoning, and through this reasoning my dog can form unique hypotheses that normally wouldn't have been thought of. This, then, allows him to soberly evaluate his hypothesis, make predictions, and if warranted, have me try to confirm it, to the best of my ability, through empirical experimentation and observation. His ideas aren't always correct, but they aren't always wrong either. My dog says that many times they can even bring things to his attention that, in retrospect, should have been obvious.
Psychedelics allow one to view the world in unique perspectives, but those perspectives still belong to the ontology of the mind, and as such are subject to human error. The same epistemic methods of analysis need to be applied to determine the relevancy of one's "revelations." If someone believes whatever they are told by the psychedelic experience, based on the premise that it's revealing some great truth to them, they'd be able to rationalize their way into believing just about anything...I guess what I'm trying to say is that despite how profound the ideas that pop into one's head might feel, that person would still need to apply proper epistemic methods of justification and objective analysis to reasonably assert those ideas as baring any level of truth.
It's also important to hold a level of skepticism towards one's epiphanies, in order to avoid twisting the objective facts to suite currently held beliefs, as opposed to twisting one's beliefs to fit the facts. Beware of logical fallacy...it makes fools of us all.
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What exactly do people learn from psychedelics?