Okay, yes, I did just quote “The Matrix”…which is one of my favorite movies by the way. Makes you question your LIFE. What is reality? Are you REALLY seeing what you think you’re seeing? Or is that “brain in a vat” theory actually true? Psychedelics has a lot in common with this movie in terms of the viewpoint on knowing the “truth”.
Traditionally, people that claim to hear or see more are classified as deluded or schizophrenic, but it may be possible to increase your input bandwidth to provide you with a more representative worldview. Psychedelics show us our world in a different light, but are they showing us something that we are missing, something that is real?
I found this amazing article on Psychedelic Press UK by Dimka Drewczynski, and it is one of the most well-written articles I have read on this subject. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND reading it right here. It will be worth your while hands down.
In the meantime, I’m going to list the highlights of the article that stood out to me the most
- The sensory system and the brain have evolved into a fine-tuned machine, however, in terms of objective bookkeeping, the brain is the most unreliable machine that could have ever evolved. Our perception of the world around us is merely an abstraction, far from the objective replication we consider it to be. Our world has been filtered through a system with some bits truncated, others stretched and some excised completely. The agents of this prejudice are the memories created by our experience and the subsequent tailoring of our sensory systems to optimize behavioural output. Learning is a dynamic process that relies on memory to encode, store and retrieve previous experiences in order to optimize this output. And, focused attention pushes irrelevant stimuli to the margins further still. You don’t need an update of the osmolarity of your lymphatic fluids when reading a novel, nor would you want to know how many leaves are on a tree while hunted by some godless killing machine. Yet although, at some level, your brain is privy to this information, evolution has deemed your consciousness too easily distracted to deal with it.
- What is our conscious awareness left with? The bandwidth of the eye is approximately 1000 bits of information per second and the ear 10000 bits per second. Most importantly, the bandwidth of the brain is much lower than that of the sensory systems. The vast majority of sensory information is distilled out of the system at a peripheral level to accommodate the limits of the brain
- Our sensory system relies on both ‘Bottom-Up’ and ‘Top-Down’ strategies. Basic sensory input refers to the ‘Bottom’ and information from the ‘Top’ is related to experience and thought. It could be goal driven, knowledge-based and/or expectation-driven and it requires attention and filtering. Reality, therefore, is an internal perceptual idea of our world generated by neural processes in our brain, which get their information from both internal (top-down) and external (bottom-up) receptors
- There are many subjective accounts of tripping (qualitative data) rather than quantitative data which makes research difficult to measure
- The mind’s ‘Top-Down’ conceptualization dominates the evaluation of reality in normal situations and that in non-ordinary states of consciousness we are more likely to adopt a ‘Bottom-Up’ strategy from our actual senses. This means we can temporarily suspend our brain’s normal filtering process and actually perceive the world as it is, not as we expect it to be. The inhibiting of our ‘Top-Down’ filtering mechanism also explains why in the psychedelic state we tend to see patterns in our natural world. The concept of ‘stochastic smoothing’ is the ability to find patterns in otherwise random noise, which is amplified in the psychedelic state by increasing feedback excitation by disinhibiting our filtering mechanism. In this excited state, the brain can recognize and ‘create’ elaborate patterns on any field of noisy data, such as TV static and other textures. Most systems that appear around us in the world are actually driven by patterns, like fractals and self-similarity, which are ubiquitous throughout nature
- After the psychedelic compounds are ingested the result is a dis-inhibited thalamic filter that allows more signals through than it normally would. This, in turn, promotes excitatory feedback within the brain’s circuitry and pushes perception to its operational limit; overwhelming the network to its fullest analytical potential. The increased feedback excitation between thalamus and cortex is the direct cause of perceptual distortions, hallucinatory form constants, seeing patterns and expanded states of consciousness associated with hallucination. Psychedelics act as perceptual amplifiers creating the fullest sensory experience possible.
- When a psychedelic binds to the surface receptor protein it initiates a response sequence within the cell. This sequence may change the cell, pass on information to another cell, it may cause the cell to divide or it may cause the cell to die. Our receptors can be viewed as self-similar units of ourselves on our planet, as proteins on the surface of the earth we take information from our reality and can change ourselves, change others, divide or die. The more accurate our comprehension of the world around us is, the more likely it is that our behaviours will benefit ourselves, others and the planet as a whole.
Bravo, well said, well said.