The Hygiene Hypothesis: Are Allergies the Result of Being Too Clean?

The hygiene hypothesis is the idea that allergies, such as hay fever and asthma, are the result of a lack of early childhood exposure to germs and parasites. Looking at this idea from another angle, we can say that allergies are the result of living in a highly sanitised and clean environment (since sanitation involves…

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How Geometric Hallucinations Are Generated in the Brain

This article is based on a lecture delivered by Professor Jack Cowan at an event entitled ‘A Discussion on Scientific Research with Psychedelic Drugs’ (the conference was chaired by Professor David Nutt at Imperial College London, 12/06/2013). There are many causes of geometric hallucinations, including: Flickering lights (a phenomenon which the scientist Jan Evangelista Purkinje…

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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,…

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Presentism and Eternalism: Two Philosophical Theories of Time

Presentism is a theory in philosophy which says that the only events and objects which exist are those that exist in the present. So, only things which exist now, right now, really exist. It is a theory which focuses on the temporal present; that is, things existing in the present moment. It is not a theory…

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The Evolutionary Origins of Music

Music is universal. It is found in all cultures and societies, and it is something which humans seem compelled to create. Even indigenous tribes who are completely cut off from the civilised world will feel the urge to create music, whether it is through drumming, chanting, the use of full-fledged instruments, or a combination of…

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