Weekly Psychedelic News – Week 43, 2023

Stay up-to-date with the latest in the world of psychedelics with our weekly news roundup for week 43 of 2023. Read about the latest research, policy updates, and industry developments in the rapidly growing field of psychedelic science.

Harvard Announces Interdisciplinary Study on Psychedelics Funded by $16M Gift

harvard builiding

Harvard University is launching an interdisciplinary study focusing on the impact of psychedelics in society and culture, thanks to a $16 million gift from the Gracias Family Foundation. The study aims to be a collaborative effort involving the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Divinity School.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring students, faculty, and researchers together around the important issue of how psychedelics impact our society”Robin Kelsey, dean of arts and humanities at Harvard.

The generous gift will fund an endowed professorship, research across the university, and a series of public events aimed at fostering interdisciplinary dialogue. The move comes at a time when psychedelics are drawing increased interest for their potential therapeutic benefits in treating disorders like PTSD, depression, and addiction.

“This is a visionary gift, in that it is the first to take the so-called psychedelic renaissance beyond medicine”Michael Pollan, a professor in Harvard’s Creative Writing program.

The initiative will explore various aspects of psychedelics, including their legal, ethical, and social implications, as well as their impact on consciousness, spirituality, and art. “This initiative will give us the space to explore and enrich public dialogue around psychedelics,” noted Bruno Carvalho, interim director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard.

In addition to expanding existing programs, the gift will also fund a new set of fellowships in Psychedelics, Transcendence, and Consciousness Studies. These fellowships will engage researchers from multiple fields to encourage cross-disciplinary research.

Antonio Gracias, president of the Gracias Family Foundation, said, “Harvard is the ideal place to explore the topic of psychedelics from new angles and to craft a framework for their legal, safe, and appropriate impact on society.”

Alternative beliefs in psychedelic drug users

In a recent study focusing on the links between drug use and beliefs, researchers found that people who have used psychedelics are more likely to believe in alternative facts and think that facts are politically influenced. However, psychedelic use did not correlate with a preference for intuition over empirical evidence when forming beliefs. Interestingly, alcohol consumption showed an inverse relationship with beliefs in alternative facts.

The study, primarily aimed at the Swedish population, employed various scales to measure beliefs and attitudes, including the Epistemic Belief System and the Conspiracy Mentality Questionnaire. Results indicated a significant positive association between frequent stimulant use and alternative views, even after accounting for demographic factors and concurrent drug use. Contrarily, psychedelic use did not indicate a propensity for conspiracy ideation, suggesting it may encourage questioning of mainstream information rather than promote outlandish beliefs.

The study also found significant associations between beliefs in alternative facts and psychopathology-related traits like paranoia and schizotypy. Yet, the research clarifies that most participants were healthy adults, and the findings should not be interpreted as indicative of pathological conspiracy ideation. Furthermore, the study’s limitations include self-reporting biases and a focus on a specific cultural context, cautioning against broad generalizations.

The study concludes that while psychedelic use may be linked to non-conformist beliefs, it raises questions about whether these beliefs arise from the drugs themselves or from pre-existing traits among users. It calls for further research to understand the neural and behavioral mechanisms behind these associations.

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