Newsletter #3 - The 'Stoned Ape' Theory of Evolution of Man

Hello again! Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror author Paul James Keyes here with another newsletter and more musings!

Last time I told you story of how I spend over a year developing my characters with a police psychologist [LINK TO NEWSLETTER 2 - HOW POLICE PSYCHOLOGIST HELPED ME CRAFT MY CHARACTERS].  The time before that I left you with a poem about cheese [LINK TO NEWSLETTER 1 - INTRODUCTIONS AND CHEESE]. Who ate it first, risking life and limb? I have no idea, but isn’t it fun how human knowledge has developed in response to necessity? You plop down two starving men and watch them forage for resources. One eats a mushroom and dies. The other eats a different mushroom, and accidentally expands his mind.

Today, I thought it would be fun to talk about the ‘Stoned Ape’ theory, and how some believe that consciousness has its roots in magic mushrooms, or more specifically, the chemical found within, called psilocybin. If you haven’t watched the Netflix Documentary Fantastic Fungi, I highly recommend it. It’s not about taking mushrooms, but it is very fascinating.

The ‘Stoned Ape’ theory originated from Terrance McKenna, a psychedelics advocate, in a book called Food of the Gods, published in 1992. McKenna states that psilocybin caused a rearranging of information processing abilities within the brains of primitive man, and that this evolution of cognition is what led to early developments in art, technology, and language for our species. Basically, more shrooms in the diet may have led to more wrinkles on the brain.

I’m not trying to persuade anyone into taking controlled substances here, I just find the topic highly interesting. My favorite description of the affects of psilocybin is to picture the pathways in your mind like a well-walked forest. These are paths you tread every day to get from one thought to the next. Psilocybin acts as a snowy blanket, covering the landscape of the mind, temporarily forcing your neurons to wake up and make new connections—new pathways—that can be more efficient than how your mind was working before. The ‘snow cover’ lets you cut new paths and work through ruts. There’s a reason psilocybin is being used alongside therapy to treat depression and anxiety more frequently these days.

Maybe the ’Stoned Ape’ theory is true, and maybe it’s not, but one thing that’s clear is that magic mushrooms have had a long history of expanding the mind. One thing I am highly passionate about is that we, as humans, should constantly be refining ourselves, growing and expanding our thoughts so that we may grow as individuals within society. You don’t need drugs for that—just good old fashioned attention and intention.

Here’s a hot tip that doubles as a great starting point for expanding your own capacity for dealing with emotions:  Point with your index finger at a ‘thumbs up’ in the opposite hand. Now switch which hand is pointing at which, and go back and forth slowly, pointing at your thumbs. Do it a little bit each day, picking up speed if you can. The fact that it is difficult for the mind tells you you’re learning something new.

This physical action of pointing at your thumbs uses both sides of the brain at once, thus creating new connections between the left and right hemispheres. It creates a superhighway of sorts, and has been shown to aid in emotional processing, among other positive benefits. Once you’ve mastered pointing at your thumbs, try giving a thumbs up while pointing your index finger at something else. Once you master that, start pointing with your pinky instead of your index finger. Find new ways to make the action you take difficult again—that’s when the brain-building happens. If it’s difficult, it’s working! Try it for a few minutes each day over the course of a few days or weeks and you just may be surprised how much this impacts you in a positive way.

Until next time, stay safe out there!

Freebie: Into the Beyond - Part 1: Fated - A Fantasy Horror Series


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