Thursday, July 13, 2006

Escalation of Violence and Psilocybin

Israel responds to repeated kidnappings of its soldiers with strikes on Hamas positions in Gaza and Hezbollah positions in Lebanon. Parents of students from overseas worry about the safety of their children in an unstable Middle East. The University assures the safety of Jerusalem, warns against travel to the North, and advises students to stay informed of developments and make their own decisions to stay or flee the region.

Unrelated random stuff: Effects of Coffee? Portrayals of Science in Popular Media? Idiot America?

Studies support a role of the psychedelic mushroom and its main ingredient psilocybin in creating positive religious experience which can be studied using neuroimaging techniques. Detractors warn against positive portrayals of illegal drugs. SHAME on them. Your concerns about drug abuse should not be allowed to adulterate scientific research. Science deals with empirical descriptions of what is. How people should behave is studied in separate fields such as philosophy, theology, and ethics. While there is an interaction, a scientific discovery does not imply any change in suggestions for behavior. This point is often confused in popular science which will recommend coffee-drinking because niacin, riboflavin, bioflavanoids, and caffeine have been linked to various health benefits. This does not automatically follow from the science, and other human factors mediate the interpretation and suggestion for action. Further, scientific discoveries of a natural "norm" does not impact the propriety or dispropriety of a given course.

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