Posted: Apr 28, 2019 4:56 am
by Spearthrower
When it comes to science, there are things you can research about the world, and there are things you can research about what humans think and feel. These are distinct and of wholly different provenance. That's why they're in two separate categories, and why specialization in the latter nets you an Arts degree, not a science one.

Through anonymous online surveys, 3,476 people reported supernatural encounters that they had while on psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD, ayahuasca, or DMT. An additional 809 people reported they had non-drug encounters with supernatural or divine forces, but the survey did not gather information on what, if anything, apparently sparked their experiences.

Anonymous online surveys are qualitative, not quantitative. All they tell us is that people answered surveys.

Look further at the methodology: ... ne.0214377

Participant recruitment

Participants were recruited primarily via internet advertisements, email invitations, and online social networks. Two different participant groups were recruited corresponding to two versions of the questionnaire. The purpose of both was stated as: "In this survey, we want to characterize various experiences of encounters with something that someone might call: God (e.g., the God of your understanding), Higher Power, Ultimate Reality, or an Aspect or Emissary of God (e.g., an angel)." However, one group (the Psychedelic Group) completed the questionnaire based on an experience of encountering something that occurred after taking a classic hallucinogen (e.g., psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca, DMT, etc.). The other group (the Non-Drug Group) completed the questionnaire based on an experience that occurred in absence of taking a psychoactive drug.

The advertisements were self-selecting. If we conducted a survey about the existence of aliens and wanted specifically to find out whether humans were being abducted, we would get a self-selected group of people who believe that aliens abduct humans, whereas there's little reason for someone who doesn't believe in aliens abducting humans to participate. That could still provide some interesting aspects of the beliefs of people who believe in abducting aliens, but not a very well grounded survey in terms of divining percentages of people comparative to those who don't as per the magazine you cited.

As for what it means: the human mind on mind-altering drugs creates experiences that are atypical for the experiencer. Does it tell us that the subject of those experiences are real? Of course not. If I take ayahuasca and see a dancing umbrella, you don't assume that therefore dancing umbrellas must exist. You assume, rightly so, that my drug-addled brain made some unusual connections based on its past experiences and crafted a scenario mentally that I then experienced. If 100 people see a dancing umbrella, you don't think that dancing umbrellas exist, you think there's something else going on under the hood that make people who have taken those drugs more likely to have this experience.

This was explained in spades to Kafei many times, either in this thread or others, so if you've been following Kafei's career here, then I must assume you already know the response?

So what's the conclusion drawn by the survey?


This is the first study to provide a detailed comparison of naturally occurring (non-drug) and psychedelic-occasioned experiences that participants frequently interpreted as an encounter with God or Ultimate Reality. Although there are interesting differences between non-drug and psychedelic experiences, as well as between experiences associated with four different psychedelic drugs (psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca, and DMT), the similarities among these groups are striking. Participants reported vivid memories of these encounter experiences which frequently involved communication with something most often described as God or Ultimate Reality and having the attributes of being conscious, benevolent, intelligent, sacred, eternal, and all-knowing. The encounter experience fulfilled a priori criteria for being a complete mystical experience in about half of the participants. Similar to mystical-type experiences, which are often defined without reference encountering a sentient other, these experiences were rated as among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant lifetime experiences, with persisting moderate to strong positive changes in attitudes about self, life satisfaction, life purpose, and life meaning that participants attributed to these experiences. Future exploration of biological and psychological predisposing factors and the phenomenological and neural correlates of both the acute and persisting effects of such experiences may provide a deeper understanding of religious and spiritual beliefs that have been integral to shaping human cultures since time immemorial.

The paper's conclusion is that biological and psychological factors predispose humans towards mystical experiences. Not that the god things exist which is Kafei's contention.