Psilocybin Doesn’t Alter Belief or Disbelief in God, Study Suggests

in Culture

The effects of psilocybin probably won’t convert an atheist to a believer in God, or vice-versa, a new study suggests. Psilocybin was linked, however, to changes in mind perception—notably the higher attribution of consciousness to living and nonliving things.

The study, “Psychedelic Experiences Increase Mind Perception but do not Change Atheist-Believer Status: A Prospective Longitudinal Study,” published May 7 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University uncovered insights into psilocybin’s power to alter our mind perception, but it probably doesn’t convert atheists, Filter Magazine reports. The study was conducted by Sandeep M. Nayak, Sydney H. White, Samantha N. Hilbert, Matthew X. Lowe, Heather Jackson, Roland R. Griffiths, Albert Garcia-Romeu, and David B. Yaden.

Researchers asked 657 participants questions from three main categories including their Atheist–Believer status, metaphysical beliefs, and mind perception.

To determine their Atheist–Believer status, participants were asked “How would you characterize your overall religious or spiritual belief system?” Participants could select one category each: Non-believer, Agnostic, or Believer.

Among the participants, Atheist-Believer status showed “no change.” Regarding changes in metaphysical beliefs, researchers observed “little to no changes.” 

“These findings suggest that concerns that psychedelics could change metaphysical beliefs or result in ‘conversions’ across religious affiliations may be overestimated,” researchers wrote. They added that “concerns related to changes in non-naturalistic beliefs or religious affiliation may be exaggerated.”

Metaphysical beliefs include ideas of materialism, dualism, idealism and determinism. Participants were asked questions like if they agree with the statement: “Everything that has ever happened had to happen precisely as it did, given what happened before.”

Researchers did notice changes in mind perception, notably increases of “small effect size”of non-human primates, quadrupeds, insects, fungi, plants, and inanimate objects. “Of these, the largest increases were apparent for attribution of consciousness to insects.”

“As …

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Author: Benjamin M. Adams / High Times

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