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Spotlight on: Magic Mushrooms

Tonight's guest, James Arthur, believes that certain plant substances which alter human consciousness helped our species to evolve. The renowned thinker and American shaman, the late Terence McKenna also hypothesized about this. In his book True Hallucinations he documented his journey to La Chorrera, Colombia where psilocybin mushrooms innocently growing on cow patties out in the fields became a focus of their experiments. McKenna spoke of 15,000 years of a "human-mushroom quasi-symbiosis" where early humans evolved into communities where altruism, language, and long-term planning were fostered through the enhanced awareness that came from psilocybin usage.

James Arthur has focused his investigation on another psychedelic mushroom, the amanitas, which has long been used by shamans. Its effects include an "alive quality to inanimate objects, auditory hallucinations and a sense of great mental stillness and clarity... distinctly different from psilocybin, LSD or mescaline, and may last up to 8 hours," wrote one user on the Erowid.org website.

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