A Critique of Terence McKenna’s ‘Stoned Ape Theory’

In his book Food of the Gods (1992), Terence McKenna describes one of his many controversial ideas. This idea, known as the ‘Stoned Ape Theory’, relates to how our ancestors evolved to produce language and create art. In a nutshell, the Stoned Ape Theory says that magic mushrooms sped up the evolutionary process and that, ultimately, the psychedelic experience is responsible for the origin of the human mind, language and culture. (It is more accurate to call the Stoned Ape Theory a hypothesis – it is not technically a scientific theory since it is speculative and not substantiated by evidence.)

Between the emergence of Homo erectus 1.8 million years ago and early Homo sapiens, the human brain doubled in size. The cause of this rapid expansion in brain size is still hotly debated within the scientific community. Humans may have required a larger brain in order to handle the complex motor skills that are necessary for making and using tools. We may have needed a larger brain for the purposes of living in a complex society, for gaining a greater capacity in memory, for developing language – or a combination of all these factors working together. One hypothesis that is not seriously considered in the scientific community, however, is McKenna’s.

It has long been said that psychedelics ‘expand your consciousness’ – and brain scans of people under the influence of psychedelics reveal “the physiological and biological underpinnings” of this phenomenon, according to researcher Robin Carhart-Harris. These substances seem to create a ‘heightened state of consciousness’ by increasing levels of random brain activity. McKenna gave new meaning to this phrase, by proposing that psychedelics were responsible for our ancestors’ curious doubling in brain size.

Is McKenna’s theory ignored for a good reason, namely because it is unscientific and lacks evidence to support it? To answer this question, it will be useful to look at the assumptions that McKenna makes. In support of his theory, McKenna refers to a study conducted by researchers R. Fischer and R.M. Hill, and claims the authors found that psilocybin in low doses increases something called visual acuity. Visual acuity is how clearly you can see things. McKenna asserts that if our ancestors ate a low dose of magic mushrooms, then they would have an increase in visual acuity or edge detection ability, and therefore be more successful at hunting.

The problem with this line of argument is that it relies on a series of assumptions which, while possible, are not backed up by any convincing evidence. Perhaps magic mushrooms in low doses could increase visual acuity, but McKenna goes on to assume that magic mushrooms grew where our ancestors lived, that our ancestors ate these mushrooms, that they hunted under their effect, that they hunted more successfully, and so on. The argument basically consists of: “If this is possible, then so is this, and this, and this, etc.” McKenna’s hypothesis is undoubtedly imaginative, creative and compelling, but each of his assumptions raises the question: where is the evidence?

It also appears that McKenna misrepresented the findings of Fischer and Hill. In their study, what they actually discovered was that psilocybin changes perception, not visual acuity or edge detection – the drug changes how things look, not how clearly they are defined (plus, they weren’t even testing for visual acuity in the first place). In fact, in a paper by these two scientists, they remark that the change in perception caused by a low dose of psilocybin “may not be conducive to the survival of the organism.” This conclusion is completely at odds with McKenna’s interpretation of their findings. It seems he may have skewed their conclusion in order to support his own ideas about human evolution. Furthermore, Fischer and Hill didn’t even study psilocybin at low doses, but at medium doses.

McKenna – and others who support his Stoned Ape Theory – might be inclined to believe his argument relating to visual acuity because, under the influence of psilocybin, it may feel like you can see objects more clearly. But there is no evidence to suggest that this actually takes place while under its influence. Some experiment – such as asking a tripping and non-tripping person to do some task or take some visual test – would be required to substantiate this argument.

Another strange thing that McKenna argues is that in higher doses magic mushrooms increase sexual arousal. From this, he claims that if our ancestors consumed high doses of the hallucinogen they would be more likely to reproduce, and therefore pass on their genes. For McKenna, this shows that the consumption of magic mushrooms would be adaptive and advantageous. Again, however, McKenna cites no evidence to support his claim. There is nothing in the scientific literature which points to the ‘fact’ that magic mushrooms increase sexual arousal.

McKenna also argues that an even higher dose of magic mushrooms would lead to ecstatic, visionary experiences and that these experiences would serve as the foundation of religion. This is an interesting idea, no doubt, but it has not been verified. The first signs of ‘religion’, if it can even be called that, would be found in the cave art of Europe, dating back to 40,000 years ago. This is far more recent compared to when our brain size doubled. Some leading archaeologists have proposed that altered states of consciousness inspired some of these ancient cave paintings, although the influence of psychedelics is not certain when it comes to the oldest caves that show possible signs of a kind of religion or quasi-religion. There also are other ways to alter one’s consciousness. In any case, there is simply no evidence of religion existing at the time of brain size doubling, so it is pure speculation to say that our ancestors were tripping during this period and that this led to the birth of religion.

In addition, it may seem obvious that an increase in sexual arousal will lead to more sex, but this is not necessarily true. If our male ancestors had to compete for mates, then being a bit more ‘horny’ than other males may not be likely to carry a significant advantage (other characteristics are more useful in terms of mate competition).

On the other hand, if the hominids that McKenna refers to are the Homo erectus species (which would fit his timeline), then an increase in sexual arousal may lead to more sexual activity since the hunter-gatherer society of Homo erectus could have been quite egalitarian or even orgiastic. Evolutionary scientist Richard Leakey has said that Homo erectus was probably socially very similar to us modern Homo sapiens. However, sexual dimorphism (differences between males and females) is greater for Homo erectus than for Homo sapiens. The male was 25% larger than the female, which is suggestive of male competition for sexual mates.

My own view is that McKenna’s Stoned Ape Theory is an entertaining and convincing narrative, but, in the end, it is not supported by any reliable evidence. This is not to rule out the possibility that McKenna’s hypothesis could one day be vindicated – after all, his theory is still within the realm of possibility and is even plausible. The renowned mycologist Paul Stamets recognises that while the Stoned Ape Theory is not supported by proven facts, he argued on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast that it is still a persuasive explanation of human evolution.

Some say that eating magic mushrooms could have been part of an epigenetic process. An epigenetic process is when an environmental stimulus (e.g. eating a certain quantity of magic mushrooms) changes how genes are expressed, as opposed to changes being made in the gene sequence itself. This change in gene expression could have been advantageous for our ancestors. Nevertheless, even if ingesting magic mushrooms did change the function of the brain or behaviour in some advantageous way, this would not produce inheritable changes through generations. Moreover, it is still difficult to show how tripping on mushrooms would have had an adaptive value.

Other proponents of the theory claim that eating magic mushrooms could be a culturally inherited behaviour. The adaptive behaviour would, therefore, be non-heritable, meaning that it is not passed on genetically, but passed on as a taught behaviour. This cultural inheritance could then perhaps lead to a beneficial epigenetic process. But once again, we can question whether this behaviour has an adaptive value. We might suppose that psychedelic experiences improved the psychological health of our ancestors and promoted pro-social behaviour, effects which have been verified by modern research. However, we are still left with a dearth of evidence about psychedelic use during this evolutionary period.

To try and add some more plausibility to McKenna’s theory, Dennis McKenna (Terence’s brother) has proposed that psilocybin could have caused synesthesia in our ancestors. Synesthesia refers to a condition in which one sensory modality is translated into another. An example of a synesthetic experience would be “seeing sounds” or “hearing colours”. Dennis argues that meaning, symbol, and metaphor (all central to language) depend on this cross-wiring of different sensory systems. Language is inherently synesthetic because it involves attributing meaning to mouth noises. He maintains that the synesthetic experience of a magic mushroom trip could have made the synesthetic experience of language possible and that, once the benefits of language were experienced, language would be naturally selected from then on.

While meaning is not a sensory modality per se, it is a kind of modality or perception, and one which is cross-wired with sound in both the generation and reception of language. Moreover, the meaning attached to mouth noises tends to paint visual images in our minds (as conveyed by the common phrase “I see what you mean”), so there is, in a sense, the cross-wiring of sound and vision, thus making language synesthetic in nature.

McKenna was a huge enthusiast of magic mushrooms, which may explain why he was keen to attribute to them an influence in our evolutionary past. Perhaps he was so blown away by the effect that magic mushrooms had on his consciousness that he thought it could have radically changed our ancestors’ consciousness as well. Nonetheless, McKenna also remarked in an interview that the Stoned Ape Theory proposed in Food of the Gods was “consciously propaganda”, as a way to persuade people that “drugs are natural, ancient and responsible for human nature” and not “alien, invasive and distorting to human nature.” Even if McKenna did believe in the hypothesis, it was in a sense formulated to promote his own agenda.


  1. Anonymous
    July 5, 2013 / 5:05 pm

    A sensible, well-informed comment on this 'stoned apes' biz. Welcome and refreshing with the usual gullible gush of "wow, this is really thought-provoking" – except, huh? What 'thought'?

    These 'theories' that apparently don't need evidence, and aren't based in any -insisting they be 'seriously considered' even as they resist (excusing themselves from criticism) – are something else. A recent youtube, interviewer asks Dmack (vid title): Is The Stoned Ape Theory True" (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq8-pTN3Hms)

    For reply purpose, question gets dumbed down to, well, maybe. Could be. Like who cares, truth schmuth. Like the interviewer 'missed the point.' – one of the 'customary and usual' retorts. What a great line. It doesn't need to even have a point.

    Bravo, Mr Woolfe – deserves an award for Extraordinary Integrity in Fringe Theory Coverage. Above and beyond the 'customary and usual.'

    • Ben Hennessy
      November 24, 2013 / 8:00 pm

      You think it's nonsense because there's no evidence, yet you don't want anyone to seek evidence because it's nonsense? That's not how science works, you know.

      • housedivided26
        July 27, 2018 / 8:22 pm

        Woolfe never said that. Simply evidence is not yet in and requires double blind studies, plural.

    • Anonymous
      November 24, 2013 / 10:19 pm

      Stoned apes is part TM's deceit, exploiting names of researchers; and part his cluelessness about evolution (biology etc). Despite his (and his defensive admirers') circus show. True, he and his gulls certainly exalt him as some expert . And he sure tossed off ‘science says’ lines in that authoritative-sounding voice he spoke in (like you, Mr 'How Science Works') – talking crap like:

      “Orthodox evolutionary theory tells us small adaptive advantages eventually become genetically scripted into a species” – OMNI interview

      (Earth to weirdo: that’s what Lamarck thought. Like, a couple centuries ago. Long before anyone heard of Darwin, or natural selection. HELLO?)

      Stoned apes isn’t just stupidity acting itself ‘fascinating' – its deceit. Its Modus Operandi is fabricated findings, w names of real researchers pinned on to try and excite whoever, make them think wow, there’s evidence that could support this (“possibly”)? Cool, maaan.

      Besides making up that “psilocybin, in low doses, enhances visual acuity” (and therefore … etc) bs – and pinning it on names real researchers – the extent of how shameless is unreal. The sheer number of lies (different shapes and sizes) he told to weave a whole web of deception.

      And nobody ever questioned, just went ‘wow, wow.' Bought it hook line and sinker. Like some weird mass hypno-lobotomy. Or just afraid what they’d find if they did – their hero, a fraud and liar. And thus, voila, TM's legacy – some glorious golden missionary cause, a pledge drive for more converts.

      Stoned apes is about "go forth and spread the word" – recruits needed, to help ensnare and delude more fishers of men to help cast the lines. Of all the lies about Fischer's study TM told – here, a couple faves:

      1) No ‘enhancement of visual acuity’ from psilocybin has ever been reported in scientific lit, at any dose, by anyone. That goes double for research TM pinned that claim on.

      2) The whole “low dose” piece of talk is empty allusion – pure ‘smoke and mirror.' Um, what ‘low dose’? How many µg/kg? Funny, he never said. And nobody going ‘wow, wow …’ ever asked. What a weird universe, imagine that … my mind is blown.

      3) And how interesting: Fischer, in his research with psilocybin – pure compound (not mushrooms with whatever percent, variable) – DIDN'T EVEN STUDY LOW DOSE EFFECTS.

      For psilocybin, here's dosage range – based in research, not fairy tales (Wackermann J, et al., 2008. Effects of varied doses of psilocybin … Neuroscience Newsletters 345: 51-55):

      12 µg/kg = Very Low Dose
      115 µg/kg = Medium Dose
      250 µg/kg = High Dose

      Now, the envelope: Dosage Fischer et al used to study effects was … (drumroll) 160 µg/kg

      Its pretty intriguing – how those parroting Terence's claims in his name (amen) – never quote Fischer’s pubs. Just robotically repeat what Terence said. Fans can't quote the research, they've never even read it. Not one. Prove me wrong, link – a single exception anywhere throughout internet.

      No wonder the circus. Here's Terence 'fessin' up about his little Operation Stoned Apes:

      “I felt if I could … convince people drugs were responsible for large brain size … get drugs insinuated into a scenario of human origins, I would cast doubt on the whole paradigm of Western Civilization. So, it was CONSCIOUSLY PROPAGANDA …” (http://deoxy.org/t_mondo2.htm).

      Well well, that explains a few things. Another good one from that con, candid camera style:

      “Since I feel pretty much around friends and fringies here, it doesn’t trouble me to confess … FOOD OF THE GODS, I conceived of as an intellectual Trojan horse. Written as though it were a scientific study, citations to impossible-to-find books and so forth … simply to ‘assuage’ academic anthropologists. THE IDEA IS – to leave this thing on their doorstep; rather like an abandoned baby, or Trojan horse” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuhrhT8Z5QA).

      Well, whaddya know? Turns out, behind the phoney idea, there actually is a real idea there after all – an ulterior one.

    • Anonymous
      January 19, 2015 / 1:15 pm

      The commentary writing style of mr. Anonymous here above does ring a bell. I have seen it commenting on other articles/vidoes. There is a strong sense of anger in his writing. But… Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

      Otherwise, nice article!

    • Anonymous
      July 7, 2015 / 9:14 pm

      Yup, it's Jan Irvin for sure. Don't read anything that guy has to say lol.

    • Tabula rasta
      September 5, 2015 / 8:40 pm

      Ignorance is obviously bliss for you. However, Terence McKenna, was certainly NOT ignorant; Terence was EXPERIENCED.

      • Srbodlak
        January 21, 2019 / 6:41 am

        I’m experienced and I still think TM talks crap.

      • Srbodlak
        January 25, 2019 / 8:41 pm

        I am experienced with psychodelics, huge doses, ego death and all, and I still say McKenna is full of s***. Just doesn’t make any sense.

        • kratomex
          February 3, 2021 / 9:55 am

          How do you figure he was full of shit? The guy taught the world about magic mushrooms and much more. Did he ever say he was correct? When you say you have ego death what do you mean? Who left this comment? 🙂

      • kratomex
        February 3, 2021 / 9:51 am

        Haha, well said!

    • John Smith
      September 17, 2015 / 2:26 pm

      In the Fischer study it was noticed that when graduate students were given psilocybin, they were able to more quickly ascertain when two parallel lines became skewed. One plausible way to explain this phenomenon would be increased edge detection. The most base term for visual acuity is sharpness of vision. Could one not say that increased edge detection is increased visual acuity (the increased acuity of the edges)? Interestingly in 2006, it was noted by Sharif, Kelly, and McLaughlin that 5-HT2a agonists, of which psilocybin is one, reduce intraocular pressure meaning…

      Also, Fischer and McKenna were very close, McKenna even quoting Fischer as saying, "So here you have the proof that a drug can show you a truer picture of reality!" Another important note to consider is that being a research scientist in the 70's and saying positive things about hallucinogenic substances was in extremely poor taste. Even today – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Nutt#Dismissal.

    • Brian Akers
      September 20, 2015 / 12:20 pm

      So you copied/pasted yourself here – http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2014/01/stoned-ape-theory-might-be-more-than-just-stoner-logic/

      'Might just be more than stoner logic'? Well – I wouldn't bet on it. But since you like c/p – here, from a reply you just got to your John Smithing – at that "Might Just Be" (linked). Not to spoil it all for you – just a sampler:

      In reality, not only did Fischer never claim "acuity enhanced" – Terence couldn't even truthfully state what his experiment was, and did. You wouldn't know, and like all Bardlings couldn't care less. Even the least, most micro-minimal facts are falsified under the Terence spell.

      As you'd know only by doing – the Unthinkable – reading Fischer yourself to actually see what it says, for minimal competence (no Bard fan has ever done that) – the screen display he used had a SINGLE line – ONE – not "two" (parallel or skewed):

      "The subject views a horizontal 15 x 0.7 cm black line, at 40 cm distance … The just-noticeable bending of the black line marked a subject's 'Spatial Distortion Threshold' (SDT) …" (p 122, R.M. Hill & Roland Fischer, 1971).

      When people who don't know what they're talking about act like World's Experts – to anyone who'll listen – but in reality don't even know what research they claim even says – one observes quite an 'Emperor's New Clothes' spectacle – of brain washing, and driven flight from reality.

      I can only tell the truth by talk – to show I'm right takes others, to model the walk And you've demonstrated by volunteer example – the exact form, precisely as I've discovered it. I wouldn't be able to show (not just tell) the truth – except for the unwitting assistance of you and other 'Terence's Heroes' – who come riding to his rescue – right on cue.

      All I need do is note, factually and truthfully – what Fischer et alia's work really says – in plain view right there on the page (as opposed to Terence's 'Version of Events'). And WHAM – that's the Pavlovian bell, reaction cue for the McKennae.

      You're hardly the only one. On self-appointed 'emergency response' you and 'the Others' – go right into '911 rescue' operations – posting empty claims, sticking to the script. Its like a Keystone Cops fire alarm. To one with a certain sense of warped humor, it might be amusing – almost.

      Alas. Good luck to parrots far and wide. Better keep (aWK!) repeating the scripture, reciting the lines faithfully – over and over and over. How many repetitions of a lie does it take, until it 'becomes true' (as Hitler wrote in MEIN KAMPF). That's how many readings of the Bardic script it might take for you and Others – to magically transform what Fischer et alia's research says – to match the woven web about it, in 'Clever Terence's' name-dropping 'Science Sez' exploitation. Best get busy, it'll be the 12th of Never.

      Read all about it – unless you're afraid (and why wouldn't you be, with all your eggs in a delusional 'stoned apes' basket of lies). Fischer and Hill's publications and findings – are right there in black and white, on printed page. Just like FOOD OF THE GODS – where it'll be hard to 'transform' what Terence wrote, to match what Fischer's work really says. Best content yourself with the Terrential fairy tales about Fischer's work, in service to 'stoned apes' – in Terence's name (amen) – as endlessly broadcast throughout the McKennasphere, by its spellbound bots. There is no helping such a condition. There is no effective medication for it, and its no more responsive to any form of therapy – than any form of fanaticism is. You might as well try curing jihadists, or Heaven's Gators.

    • Unknown
      January 5, 2017 / 6:42 am

      Good critique but actually Woolfe presents no evidence to counter TM claims, which are and will remain a fringe theory. The reason being is to try and substantiate some of TM's claims would require a prolonged and exhaustive study into the effects of these compounds on the human brain. This will NEVER happen because of the illegality of these compounds. Having personally taken DMT on 53 occasions, I can report that this does actually give you a sense of the divine, something that was reported widely in Dr. Straussmans study (DMT The Spirit molecule). However, whilst I certainly feel that my world view has been changed by these experiences, I doubt it has raised my IQ or made me hornier. Mind you, after 25 years a heating engineer, I am now at University reading a BSc in archaeologym so who knows maybe on a sublime level they did. Interesting debate though and one that should be continued, although it's not hard to spot the uneducated comments on this feed, assuming it is still live. I canbe contacted at timothy.lazenby@dur.ac.uk

  2. Troy Dube'
    October 5, 2013 / 5:10 pm

    Thanks for the youtube link it was interesting and i didnt roll my eyes once (seriously)! My favorite comment from Dennis McKenna was simply, "Its a plausible idea, there's no proof for it but it's a reasonable thing to suppose."

    I would be shocked if stoned ape theory was correct on all examples, for instance i KNOW i wouldnt go hunting on shrooms, no way im shooting an arrow at a…..bison or whatever while im high. However, most of the Stoned Ape theory makes sense when explaining our speedy evolution. If mushrooms containing psilocybin were bountiful when plants were not available (I think they survive droughts and severe weather better than plants), eating them would HAVE to have a long term effect on my personality. A mushroom trip is the first time all of my senses acted differently, and the only way to really measure what someone is going through is to compare it to a religious experience, at least according to computers hooked up to peoples brains during some studies from a dude with a doctorate, i'll just go ahead and take his word for it until another doctor says not to.

    Personally, ive done mushrooms four times knowing full well what i was getting into, well at least for three of those times. Simply said, the first time was easily one of the top five most brain-altering and intense experiences of my life.

    Now, if i was hungry one day and ate a mushroom while chasing a large animal because my family was desperate for protein, i very well may come back with some strange ideas about planning ahead for food that wouldnt spoil…..like beer…..i guess.

    So anyway, that's how beer was invented…..i think.

    Anyway, great article!

    • Ben Hennessy
      November 24, 2013 / 8:04 pm

      If you had only snacked on one mushroom you found in the woods you might be good to go hunting, although maybe not with modern firearms.

    • Amadeus Diamond
      October 11, 2016 / 11:28 pm

      Yeah, i was about to say my only gripe here is that low doses of mushrooms – I/e a dose that does not get you high – is what TM refers to.

  3. FreedomTogetherSlaveryAlone
    May 13, 2014 / 2:56 am

    An aspect of Terence's theory that was not mentioned is that while under the influence of the mushroom one has thoughts and ideas that one would never have otherwise. If our ancestors ingested the mushroom, they would be using their brain in new ways, thinking new thoughts. These thoughts are not forgotten. A hallmark of the thinking style of those on mushrooms is the fluid connecting of ideas and concepts, events and feelings, seeing relationships that were invisible before.

    These new ideas are utilized. Advances are made. Changes happen epigenetically and by teaching each successive generation the new ways. Eventually the brain changes to facilitate the new behaviors. I find nothing wrong with this idea. Other points Terence makes may be far less convincing. I am confident in this idea, however.

    If someone were to be good friends with a chimp who spoke sign language with them, and they both tripped and hung out, and observations were made then and for the following months, we might learn something. The chimp could tell us what tripping was like. If there were changes to behavior or what the chimps says that indicate a change in conception of themselves or the world, it would help to validate my this part of the theory.

    I think what I have stated is the core of Terence's theory, the rest of the pontifications are non-fundamnetal aspects.

  4. Brian Akers
    May 24, 2014 / 6:37 pm

    "it is not supported by reliable evidence." True. Although that's but a scratch in the surface. The problem with this stoned apes shit is plenty worse: it can't be supported by any evidence. Because it defies everything known about evolution top to bottom. Lamarck would roll over in his grave, listening to Terence & Philip butcher his wrong ideas – as a foundation to 'build on.'

    Evolutionary processes are well enough understood to decisively rule out the sort of 'theorizing' (ahem). Lying one's ass away as TM did for his little purposes – is no theorizing; neither in effect nor by intent. Closest thing to an idea in there boils down to ulterior motive – plus means, and opportunity ("Modus Operandi" in police talk). I guess folks are more sympathetic to con artists and charlatans than I am – pathological liars can be so 'entertaining' or – something? And whoever painted a counterfeit Van Gogh, why hey – that took some impressive artistic talent in itself. Who cares about forgeries and fraud? Is that the ethic 'we' (as in Us/Them, the cultic relations protocol) represent and stand for? Mkay, just asking.

    "This is not to rule out the possibility McKenna's theory could one day be vindicated" –

    Not sure that can keep you safe from being denounced or ostracized by the McKult. That stoned apes is even a 'theory' – is substantively erroneous, not even true. The 'theory' can't be vindicated, there's no evidence that could prove it any more than Adam and Eve might be 'scientifically vindicated.'

    Ideas that smugly defy the very premises of scientific understanding, disqualify themselves from ever having any validity. Discovering errors – and correcting them is how science advances. That's the opposite of holding mistakes above correction, in order to perpetuate them – in service to some glorious inspiration: T-R-I-P-P-I-N-G and T-E-R-E-N-C-E.

    Contrary to its press releases and the breathless excited FYI about stoned apes – its not a theory, nor can it be. Nor is it a hypothesis – by definition that's based in preliminary data that raise questions. Real ones not fabricated from lies. Made-up or concocted stories about 'researchers discovered visual acuity …' blah blah – that ain't no data.

    Same with TMac's story-telling (then the Logos told me "Terence, look in the I Ching" etc). The very lynchpin of stoned apes defiant doctrine is "ITS POSSIBLE!" ("And You Can't Disprove It!") – the act is 'we're not fanatics, we're not saying its definitely proven true (voila, that proves we're not cultic moths drawn to some charismatic creep's flame).

    Well no its not possible, despite its party line. Directly questioned (under oath) it explodes in adamant indignation, 'how dare you' incorrigibility and aggression. We all witness the effects this kind of 'oh boy' brainwash has on flies caught in its silky web.

    The Terence Effect (90% loss of rational better purpose, and reality-interest orientiation) – parades in the 'lively discussion' about stoned apes – right in plain view for all to see. Its like some naked emperor, "thinking" (if it can be called that) he's nawt naked! He's beautifully attired (although the fabric can't be seen by 'bad people'). And its "proven" by acclaim, all the "oohs" and "ahhs" of those subject to the naked emperor's rule, under his authority.

    One witnesses a sick cultic spectacle of narrative acting itself all this and that – proliferating below 'conventional' society's radar (blissfully unaware, paying no attention) – in the 'lively discussion' surrounding stoned apes, attending to it … like an incompetently protective bodyguard of noisy lies.

    • Todd russell
      August 13, 2018 / 8:23 pm

      Wow it’s amazing how someone who has nothing of their own to offer always illicets base jealousy .

      • kratomex
        February 3, 2021 / 9:58 am

        Right? Its incredible, these people completely miss the point.

  5. Unknown
    December 22, 2015 / 11:08 am

    It's just an idea….

    • Brian Akers
      February 7, 2016 / 11:09 am

      Its not even an idea – but it tries to look like, sound like one.

      "If it sounds like a duck" – that's what it must be? Abd 'we all know' there's no such thing as a duck hunter's call, nor word 'decoy' …

      Spelling out a few of the 'ideas,' needed to 'support' the stoned ape 'idea.' How else would an 'ideacoy' be rigged but to 'look like, sound like' – quack like – an idea?

      Among reasons Stoned Aping can't qualify as an idea (only an 'incredible simulation') – real ideas can be right or wrong. And Stoned Apes, according to its testimony, "can't be proven or disproven" – for lo, it will be with us always.

      Stoned Apes' conjured 'invulnerability' – vainly tries to neutralize threat of disproof – desperately. Its Un-disprovability doctrine is a key wrong note hardblown in its tinhorn broadcast throughout the McKennasphere – for missionary ambitions of its 'gospel.'

      Real ideas aren't impervious to tests of their validity – they can be right or wrong. What isn't and can't be either, is no idea.

      Far back as spring 1971, Tmac got told by a scientist he himself picked out for his 'special' purpose – "Dr. Gunther Stent, the world-class molecular geneticist … " In Mr Mackie's own words – Chap 15, TRUE HALLUE (read it and weep):

      < after a particularly long and outlandish burst of speculation .. I decided to try and bring the matter to a head. “Dr Stent, my concern … is simply that I would like to know whether this theory has any validity or is simply fallacious.”

      With a sigh of resignation that was heart sinking to his visitor he turned to me and spoke: “My dear young friend, these ideas are not even fallacious.” >

      "Ideas" that can't even pass tests of coherence, have no detectable content – only sound and fury geared to imitate it, trying to sound impressive, and – failing, signify nothing.

      By flunking criteria for what constitutes an idea in the first place (could be right, or wrong) – stoned apes falls short of status even as an idea – categorically. Silly rabbit, gloating about his idea and its 'immunity' – "you can't prove its wrong, that means its POSSIBLE, so there!" – such tricks are for the kiddies.

      Childish stuff. McKenna seems to have been quite an overgrown baby – and that was his 'peter pan appeal' – voila, his ardent cult.

      Its no mystery why his following gets enraged whenever the Entitlement in Mr Mackie's name (amen) – is dismissed, and rightly so. Its theatrical demand, stamping its feet for 'serious consideration – is not negotiable.

      Same as any totalitarian doctrine. Such 'ideas' are equally incoherent – except as a modus operandi, transparent as a cheap lace curtain. Held up to the light – it all 'adds up.'

      Y2K12, stoned apes, etc, the entire 'bardic' bs show – is brainwash pure and simple; and profoundly pathological as such. Its detrimental effects display, even parade – in how the 'resonance' psychologically cripples its followers, to the extent of their personal fervor (which varies case by case).

      It can't even be a fallacy much less an 'idea' – as Stent tried breaking it to the Bard, far back as 1971, that day When Terence Met Gunther. For a Bard thus denied his honors that was it – the straw on his camel's back. Never again would he give science (that self-infatuated pig) a chance to help a Bard so Brilliant, to 'develop' his 'theories.'

      From that day forward, far as the Mackster was concerned, science would pay the price for its defiance of the Bard's will – its denial of his honors as demanded.

      "Its just an idea" – no, its not even that. Alas. But you've at least recited lyrics, parroted its script accurately – just an idea, "Just A Closer Walk With Terence" – one small flag you can plant.

    • Anonymous
      February 13, 2016 / 6:38 am

      Dude you need to chill out, no need to write paragraphs of rage.
      Too many "scientists" or "intellectuals" going off is hilarious.
      You write like Terence is the incarnation of evil even though he clearly wasn't.

    • Brian Akers
      November 26, 2016 / 9:51 am

      Hey its your emergency, none of my own. Why don't you chill me out, if that's what "you need to"?

      Oh – you can't, no ways or means. Can't even manage your own.

      But to ease your mind so distressed, be assured – I'm thermally comfy, all's well here. Whether you can stand the heat in your blown bubble of hot air is your problem and – no thanks you can keep it.

      All's well that goes well, and the temperature's Goldilocks-perfect for me. Like porridge not too hot, not too cold – "just right" by me. Even if your reactor core's overheating, gone supercritical – and you got no AC. If what I say leaves you no way to chill your blood boiling rage, ain't that a shame. Not for me though, I'm okay with that. You might as well enjoy the condition your condition is in. Then no matter what may happen your toes can still be tappin' – like mine.

      Otherwise – best get used to the heat in your sweatshop sweetheart.

      And why not quote the Great and Mighty Bard Himself – verbatim, the better to bait 'em. For lo on occasion he spoke for himself – in his own words. Once Upon A Time, before the Fall of Humpty Dumpty off his wall. Whence it fell upon brainwashed bots to 'go forth' and advance the mission – like all the king's horses and all the king's men. Trying to put poor Terrential schmoerizing back together again – along with a Bard's 'good name' and reputation (among his little band of merry men). How you ask? Good question:

      By anal expulsive howlings, as one hears emanating from the Screaming Abyss – stranded down there, no way out, like stranded castaways on an uncharted desert isle, like Gilligan's Heroes – hope for some rescue someday might spring eternal. Alas.

      The legacy of prattle. Its not only quotable. Its so telling – telltale – vividly reveals the core sickness of 'this thing' (can't resist borrowing his 'idiom' of spell-casting). It displays so clearly in the testaments of terence as evidence, chapter and verse – word for word, glaring as thru a glass darkly.

      As primary documents in evidence, the Word of Terence serves to trace in all its sick features, the outline of this shaggy beast of brainwash contagion. Chas Manson eat your heart out, the bard is like some human prion of grim spell-casting intent, to sicken whoever else it can – on contact. By not just theorizing – Super Theorizing, invulnerable. Not only is whatever a Bard says is more than just – not wrong. Such a bard Can't Be Wrong, he's beyond error.

      'Terrence' [sic] "kindly" explained this basic principle of his genius under "friendly" questioning – by Art Bell (on his COAST TO COAST radio show):

      ART BELL: You put together a computer program which was able to … chart major events in history … were there ANY MISSES in the model, or did you hit each major moment on history ON THE NOSE ?

      TM: Well, by my understanding of this theory there CAN BE NO MISSES. In other words, it's not a statistical theory. We're not okay if we're right two-thirds of the time, so we have to be right all of the time.

      AB: So you're telling me you ARE.

      TM: I submit to you and to the world … the fact that – yes. The Timewave with it's end point December 21, 2012, describes with as great an accuracy as I am able to discern the actual vicissitudes of novelty and habit in history and natural history. That's the claim.


      What's not to be utterly brainwashed by?

      Who wouldn't be spellbound instantly, forever by such 'genius' – not only right, but unable to be wrong – ever? And if you don't believe, all you need do is – ask. As Art Bell did. And lo, in reply – you shall be told.

      And as Flounder put it, in ANIMAL HOUSE: "This is great!"

  6. Anonymous
    September 18, 2016 / 2:21 am

    It is just a theory. What is yours?

    • Brian Akers
      September 28, 2016 / 9:19 am

      That's the ticket, "just a theory." Right – o really! Except for one thing:

      No it isn't. Not even close.

      As poor Gunther Stent had to tell TM – read it and weep, TRUE HALLU Chap 15 (When Terence Met Gunther): "My young friend, your ideas are not even wrong."

      Leaving poor distraught Terence to flee in distress, his mind shattered by a mere word of sanity and meaning – unbearable stuff. Like Pee Wee Herman's flight from the Alamo upon finding out, to his dismay – not only is his bicycle not there "in the basement" – place doesn't even have a basement.

      Oh the humanity – and the mortality. Stoned aping's autopsy report – the fatal difference between the 'real thing' (like a theory) – and some lame 'imitation.'

      "Even a fake so piss-poor its like some sick private joke for a 'theorizer's' little secret laugh – all the way to bank – at the expense of his own gullible pied pipelings?" asked Riding Hood.

      "Yes my dear" said 'Granny.' "Even a piece of crap like that, staging itself a brilliant theory For Trippers Only – challenged to pass even as a real fake – my dear – or as our hero the zero liked putting it – Oh, Absolutely!"

      If only saying "its a theory" over and over and over could make it one – what a world it would be. But – look at the bright side. So its "just a" piece of pretentious prattle, unable to pass as an idea right or wrong, much less some 'theory' (as it has to try staging itself).

      Ok – That's bad. But at least we get a great case study from it.

      That's not all bad – for annals of psychopathology, good study fodder. The Terence's Witnesses make a fine 'high' value demo on parade, displaying the 'merits' of 'this thing' – as T Himself McKenna liked calling his fraudulent theorizing rodeo dough road show.

      That's something, even if not a theory – or "just a theory" … as our friendly neighborhood creationists like saying, about natural selection.

      But to their credit – that's actually a theory, at least. Gosh. Stoned aping makes sciencey creationists look honest by comparison. Wow I don't know now that happens or even could. But – voila there it is.

      Not a very enviable fate for those who've taken the bait, lured into the McKennical web of deceit. The ensnared are pretty much left helpless, no cards up their sleeve against the hazard of any close encounter with inconvenient truth – its a big lame con.

      Not much choice left to stoned apers but to deny reality and defy truth, sacrifice any honest intention upon the altar of its obnoxious self-inflation – more all the time, it never ends – it can't.

      If stoned aping were a theory how wonderful that would be for it. Alas its 'just' eloquent self-contradictory "try to finger me out" prattle – TM's little secret joke on everyone and everything around him – portentous jabberwocky to impress the easily awe-struck, and play Keep Away From Science with.

      As Clever Terence Ever The Witty put it – "It beats honest work."

      But hurray for choir practice, bravura recitation from the peanut gallery. And – congratulations on knowing the script. The heroes of such a theory inherit superpowers of parroting the line "is too a theory (just a theory)" – accurately as any stoned aping bots. Well done, anon

  7. Unknown
    November 9, 2016 / 11:19 am

    I have enhanced visual acuity on low dosages of mushrooms

    • kratomex
      February 3, 2021 / 10:00 am

      Without a doubt i have better vision with mushrooms! But hell why bother what people experience and instead lets do studies of mice :/ lol

  8. Rick Grimes
    January 13, 2018 / 5:47 pm

    Brian Akers needs a large dose of psilocybin mushrooms. Look how much work he has put into each response. I mean I appreciate the detail, but it is starting to come across as quite desperate. It seems that he is doing large amounts of research before writing purely to spite others commenting here. Why else would someone that knows so much about this topic be so vehemently against it? Relax. Smoke a joint, take some shrooms, and allow your mind to broaden a bit and stop trying to shove your opinion down everyone’s throat.

    • Brian Akers
      January 26, 2018 / 10:43 am

      A toddler with his candy taken away, eventually – ‘gets over it.’ Oh he may kick up quite the fussy fuss when his little hot button is pushed by anyone who dares defy his will. At first. But whatever crybabying such an outraged little one wails, as disentitled so criminally – at some point he tires.

      Throwing a tantrum can be exhausting. And such a little crybabying darling is no Energizer Bunny – who just keeps going no matter what. Even the most wrathfully distempered crybaby can’t hold up his head off his tear-stained pillow – forever. Sooner or later even the worst – cries himself to sleep, at very least.

      That’s the difference I discover in between your basic 2 year old brat – and TM’s maenads.
      As your post reflects in evidence, your own words so select – the McKennae can’t ever get over – anything at all. Like Fukushima – that stuff doesn’t cool down, the heat doesn’t dissipate. McKenna cultism is increasingly like a human toxic spill – a psychosocially contaminated site.

      Recent years as the deepening darkening continues to deepen apace – we’re seeing more web pages for mckennical thought reform and indoctrination projects ‘set to private’ – compared with more openly blatant exercises (‘in plain view’) that prevailed previously – smug overconfidence apparently having backfired – incurred too many defeats, not enough ‘victories.’

      Sic semper sickness, forever helplessly hopeless – world without end.

      Sounds like someone feels freshly disabused of their entitlement – newly enraged as of Jan 2018 of their terrential ‘theorizing privilege’ – brutally revoked by simple factual truth – a coin of the conversational realm not inside – outside – Terence’s circus tent.

      Welcome to reality, the world at large – not so dark as that dank circus tent. It’s place full of factual info and perspectives that, being educated, know better than ‘stoned aping.’ And how did Justice Brandeis put it, so memorably? Ah yes, by Jove – now I recall.

      Nasty stuff breeds and ferments in darkness and stealth, behind whatever curtains or cover – and for such, “the best disinfectant is fresh air and sunshine.”

      It’s not like stoned aping’s obituary is – new news. More like – old.

      It was in all the papers. Yeah, word has been out for some time. HEADS: A BIOGRAPHY OF PSYCHEDELIC AMERICA (2016) by J. Jarnow, for example:

      Well – on with your little fit, or carrying on now. Stages of grief being what they are – we all know the drill – first Shock! Then – Denial and Rage!

      And for those aboard the Stoned Ape Express – that’s as far as it goes, no ‘furthur’ – that’s where it gets stuck – stays – rage. You best enjoy that, it’s the reward you’ve earned. The prize at the bottom of stoned aping’s Crackerjack box – all heat no light, all anger all the time – never able to cool down or off.

      Never to get thru the anger – to reach grief’s so-called Final Stage – “Acceptance.” Call it sad call it funny – but it’s better than even money for those caught in the web woven by that darn bard – with his mckennical thought control capers. Welcome to your permanent state, as thought programmed.

      What a minx, that Terence. “Stoned apes” indeed – such a lively sense of humor.

    • kratomex
      February 3, 2021 / 10:00 am

      haha, well put!

  9. Brian Akers
    January 26, 2018 / 10:51 am

    OOPS – the quote from HEADS: A BIOGRAPHY … (Jarnow, 2016):

    • Rian Bakers
      January 30, 2018 / 11:00 pm

      Jesus. I just realized that Brian has been actively commenting on this thread for 4 YEARS… Brian, are you okay? Do you need help? Where’s the anger coming from, Brian?

      • Brian Akers
        February 8, 2018 / 10:29 am

        RIGHT ON CUE – almost. Took you a whole – four days? – to fly into your usual form, booger nosing for McKenna.

        As an emergency ‘first alert’ responder to – crisis in the McKennasphere (Brian Akers speaking) – no doubt that’s as fast as you can go, with your best show for – Terence.

        As a matter of fact yes, thank you – indeed, I welcome help. All I can do single handedly is in the dept of talk, not walk. I can tell on mckennism top to bottom, detail every single strand in his massive web of deception – now being spun in his ‘honor’ further, further – by those ‘inspired’ by such thought control.

        But to prove in evidence the entirety of what I say – takes help. I can tell what there is to know about the mckennical brainwash targeting alienated sociopathy and character disorder in the psychedelic subculture.

        But talk isn’t – walk. To prove what I say is accurately perceptive and informed – takes show and tell, both. All I can do is – tell. To show I’m right – it takes a village.

        Volunteer testimony like yours is indeed the help I need. And as you display so richly – boy oh boy the help sure does arrive – no big long wait neither (four days). And it really really works – never fails. Like clockwork – mckennically geared.

        All I need do is speak the word – of factually informed, inconvenient truth – and whammo. That’s all it takes. The ‘brainwash’ recipe sure work, but all I can do is read it – tell. For ‘proof of the pudding’ – I need help, from show.

        So – thanks for helping out – right on cue. Well done, and – goose cooked – once again proving so capably so vividly – what I can only tell – the fundamentally parasitic nature of the McKenna ‘theorizing’ cult.

        I see where I tried quoting Jarnow, twice – some search engine ‘copy/paste disenable’ function left blanks. Accordingly, on present occasion – ‘courtesy’ of my ‘loyal’ opposition (helping prove so well so capably, what I can only tell) – why not type out the Jarnow quote that didn’t copy/paste? From his book HEADS (2016): “As writer Brian Akers and others point out much later, [McKenna] misrepresents Fischer and Hill and team’s original study regarding mushrooms and visual acuity …”

        The ‘demonstrations in evidence’ span quite a range of pathological attempts – one of my recent faves is this one: https://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?t=3191

        Where some poor distraught stoned ape cultist decided he needed to try – impersonating me (i.e. appropriating my name) – to concoct a ‘I’m Brian Akers, and I’m a McKenna Fan!” post – I feel like Flounder from ANIMAL HOUSE sometimes, ‘This is great’ – but, you be the judge http://archive.is/3PKRC

        With good regards to our blog host, word to Sam.

        • Rian Bakers
          February 14, 2018 / 12:29 am

          Brian, to be honest, I’m not even reading your comments. You don’t have to keep banging your head against this wall. You can just let this go.

  10. Chris Archer
    August 23, 2018 / 2:47 am

    If you have every done mushrooms or acid you know that during an extensive part of the trip you are more agile, your timing is better, reflexes are peaked, stamina is maxed, adrenaline is pumping and mentally how aware you are of your surroundings, that eventually fades though and you enter the deep part of the high at that point you will be pretty useless but thats on a heavy dose, on a low dose dependent on tolerance you get the benefits without the confusion. So he is just wrong about that part. On the mental side mushrooms and weed both have huge creative properties, great ideas come from mushrooms or psychedelics and why today are able o fly into space, creativity is what brought us to where we are, creativity is intelligence. So it makes logical sense, its as likely as any other theory, because none of the theory’s are proven or have any evidence whats so ever, they are mere thought experiments and the Stoned Ape Theory is as likely mathematically as any other theory, and im my opinion makes way more sense and fills in way more gaps.If you have never done LSD or Mushrooms or some other powerful psychedelic then how can you really have an opinion on it?

  11. hANDwASH
    March 4, 2021 / 11:57 am

    Sexual arousal on mushrooms, no evidence ?!
    Try it yourself 🙂 than you get it.

  12. Michael Solas
    July 17, 2021 / 7:22 am

    Your rebuke is poignant and compelling — if not full of animus and vitriol. I had just finished hearing the interview where he offers that ‘conscious propaganda’ line and would like to hear where he says that last paragraph you cited, however it appears that the link to the vid provided no longer works. Could you please provide the lecture or interview in which it was said?

    • Sam Woolfe
      September 8, 2021 / 2:41 pm

      Thanks for your comment Michael. My intention was certainly not to be vitriolic, only critical. I’ve just included a different link to the same clip of Stamets.

  13. Christopher
    October 21, 2021 / 9:28 pm

    Hi Sam. Thank you for the article. Much to think about, indeed. Try to be a little more careful in the future using the phrase ‘begs the question’. It refers to an informal fallacy in critical thinking. I think you meant ‘raises the question’. thanks again.

    • Sam Woolfe
      November 1, 2021 / 11:40 am

      Hi Christopher, thanks for making that distinction. I believe ‘begs the question’ can be used in two different ways: pointing out the informal fallacy, as you mention, and also the sense of raising a question as a response, which was my intended meaning. However, I’ve changed the phrase to ‘raises the question’ to avoid any confusion. I appreciate the feedback!

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