“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”
T.S.Eliot

The Isolation of Science

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This is a good example of intellect-run-amok … how to heal science from its isolation and to bring it back into context? is there a more pertinent and fascinating science question? how deeply has this systemic flaw held us back from developing as individuals and societies? how much effort will it take to repair the damages we have incurred because of this arrested development?

“Over the next decade, Osmond and Hoffer tested this hypothesis on more than seven hundred alcoholics, and in roughly half the cases, they reported, the treatment worked: the volunteers got sober and remained so for at least several months … ‘we considered not the chemical, but the experience as a key factor in therapy’

… Osmond and Hoffer were learning from their volunteers that the environment in which the LSD session took place exerted a powerful effect on the kinds of experiences people had and that one of the best ways to avoid a bad session was th presence of an engaged and empathetic therapist, ideally someone who had had his or her own LSD experience … Though the terms ‘set’ and ‘setting’ would not be used in this context for several more years … Osmond and Hoffer were already coming to appreciate the supreme importance of those factors in the success of their treatment.

… Based on this success the Saskatchewan provincial government helped developed policies making LSD therapy a standard treatment for alcoholics in the province. Yet not everyone in the Canadian medical establishment found the … results credible … In the early 960s, the Addiction Research Foundation in Toronto … set out to replicate the … trials using better controls. Hoping to isolate the effects of the drug from all other variables, clinicians administered LSD to alcoholics in neutral rooms and under instructions not to engage with them during their trips, except to administer an extensive questionnaire. The volunteers were then put in constraints or blindfolded, or both. Not surprisingly, the results failed to match those obtained by Osmond and Hoffer. Worse still, more than a few of the volunteers endured terrifying experiences – bad trips, as they would come to be called.”

Michael Pollan – How to Change Your Mind , The New Science of Psychedelics

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