Exploring Exceptional Human Experience on Psychedelics: Ayahuasca, Telepathine and Parapsychology

by David Luke, Ph.D.

The Amazonian sacramental decoction, ayahuasca (containing an alkaloid once called telepathine by Westerners), has been used by indigenous shamans and healers for several millennia. Apparently, for the explicit purposes of accessing altered states conducive to clairvoyance, precognition, telepathy, out-of-body travel, psychic diagnosis, psychic healing, and spirit communication. It has been argued that the endogenous neurochemicals present in this brew also play a primary neurological role in the occurrence of spontaneous parapsychological phenomena. However, although the neurobiological, anthropological and phenomenological evidence for this hypothesis is promising, the experimental parapsychological evidence to date is scant, poorly controlled, and inconclusive. Consequently, a recent parapsychological field study conducted in South America aimed to test the hypothesis that the ingestion of ayahuasca can increase performance on a task designed to measure precognition – the supposed ability to predict the future without recourse to any prior knowledge. The methods used and the results of this research project are discussed, along with the implications for neuroscience, medicine, parapsychology, philosophy of mind and psychedelic research.

The Mind Altering Science conference was organized by The OPEN Foundation on 23 and 24 October 2010 at the University of Amsterdam. With researchers and therapists from a wide variety of academic disciplines, this event was dedicated to the exploration of a broad range of subjects. From addiction treatment to psychotherapy with the aid of psychedelics, from the neurobiology of ayahuasca to the social, ritual and legal implications of its use, and from human psychopharmacology research and the exploration of exceptional mind states to new views on the legalization of psychedelic substances.

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