Anthropocene: The Age of Humans
Have Humans Really Created a New Geologic Age? No one can agree when it started or how human activity will be preserved.
Why scientists think we've entered a new chapter in Earth's history:
WARNING: LOW CONSCIOUSNESS EDITION
Owning Golden Retrievers was a fad about a decade ago in Istanbul. When the breed became so popular that everyone had one, people simply left many of them on the street to live with feral dogs. Golden Retrievers do not live well on the streets and in the forests because they do not fight back when attacked.
Still, more than a thousand dogs were sent to live in a wooded area in northeastern Istanbul."
I call them 'social animals,' meaning they know to stop at red lights and go at green lights," he said."
11Alive: Golden Retriever Rescued from Forest South of Black Sea
Cats and dogs, living together
Got your passports? Let's go!
Groups from around the United States have plucked many of the Golden Retrievers out of the forests north of Istanbul and sent them to America for adoption. Adopt a Golden Atlanta recently received its 100th dog.
Facebook: Turkey’s Golden Retrievers Saved by AGA
Facebook: Adopt a Golden Atlanta
These Old Yellers will be rockin' around
the Christmas tree in Amerika this year
TRAVEL RAP: Europe Through the Back Door (It's Pretty Much Da Bomb, If Ya Know What I Mean)
Rick Steves: European Take on America's War on Mary Jane
Highline Heaven: 3rd Annual Turkish Highline Carnival in Geyikbayırı
Kotor & Mostar: 135 Seconds of Happiness
in the Balkans (And Realities of America)
Overprescribing the Appalachians and Anatolians
100th ANZAC Day: How Gallipoli Turned an Islamic Empire into Secular
Country, and a Quote that Brings Tears To Every English Speaker's Eyes
Turkish Breakfast - Kahvaltı
Great Palace Mosaic Museum - click images to enlarge
Selimiye Mosque, Edirne, Turkey
Artist Blake Fall-Conroy makes a strong case for raising minimum wage with a simple yet extraordinary sculpture.
From Blake Fall-Conroy's Website:
"The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage. Turning the crank will yield one penny every 4.11 seconds, for $8.75 an hour, or NY state minimum wage (2015). If the participant stops turning the crank, they stop receiving money."
This piece is brilliant on multiple levels, particularly as social commentary.
Without a doubt, most people who started operating the machine for fun would quickly grow disheartened and stop when realizing just how little they’re earning by turning this mindless crank. A person would then conceivably realize that this is what nearly two million people in the United States do every day…at much harder jobs than turning a crank. This turns the piece into a simple, yet effective argument for raising the minimum wage.
Check out Blake Fall-Conroy's Tedx talk below.
Article updated on 1/18/15
In the most recent Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders attacked Hillary's political pragmatism that has sucked at the teat of the medical-industrial complex for 70 years.
"Will Congress act to save taxpayers billions of dollars–and protect the solvency of the Medicare programs–by taking on the AMA, the drugmakers and the insurers? Don't hold your breath."
–Wendell Potter, author and private health insurance whistle-blower
Read Bernie Sanders' universal healthcare plan, Medicare-for-All: Leaving No One Behind.
"People are dying and not buying the food they need because they have to pay outrageous prices for medicine."
"We need a commissioner who will stand up to the pharmaceutical industry and protect American consumers. Dr. Califf, you are not that person." – Senator Bernie Sanders
We Need Leadership Willing to Stand Up to Big Pharma
Who Were the Winners from the Healthcare Expansion (Affordable Care Act)? It's clearly not the American people.
Result of no public option or single payer healthcare (Medicare-for-all): "The public option's demise is another win for insurance companies, which didn't want to compete with the government. And they'll get $447 billion worth of federal subsidies through customers given money to buy coverage."
"The people who figured out how to get rich off this expansion of government were the private insurance companies."
Remember, this is a system where both patients and physicians are unhappy. Who else benefited from the Affordable Care Act? "If success is measured by return on the dollar, the pharmaceutical industry made a killing. A win by pharmaceutical companies includ the swift death of drug reimportation. The industry argued on safety grounds." The "safety" argument is unacceptable catering to the pharmaceutical lobby.
Infographic: It takes 10 healthcare administrators for every 1 physician to create one of the least efficient, least equitable healthcare systems in the developed world. Click images to enlarge and for links.
End Prescription Drug Price Gouging: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Grill Obama FDA Pick on Big Pharma Ties
SANDERS interviews FDA Commissioner Nominee: We can bring fish products and vegetables from farms all over the world but we cannot bring from across the Canadian border brand name drugs. You don't think we have the capability of doing that?
CALIFF: We have the capability, it would add additional cost and systems would have to be put in place to make it work.
the world, but we cannot bring in brand name drugs manufactured by the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world from a country like Canada. I just, do not, accept that.
#RxProblem: America's Psychoactive Prescription Drug Problem, Followed by Price Gouging of American Taxpayers to Clean Up the Mess that Medicine Made
CDC Vital Signs report: "Heroin use has increased across the US among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.
When the prescription opioid supply decreased, users switched to an unregulated and much cheaper opioid–heroin, administered via injection–resulting in increased overdose deaths and infectious disease transmission. The image above shows how the increase in heroin-related overdose deaths mirror the increase in acute cases of hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C may lie dormant for years and not cause harm to patients. However, when it become acute, it destroys the liver and kills those who have it. Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) is a new drug that can cure hepatitis C, but it costs $1000 per pill and is busting state Medicaid budgets. In India, the cost per pill is $4.
Click to enlarge.
Reign in Mental Health Spending on Inefficient Therapies and You Will Get Mental Health Parity
But I am so grateful that I live now and not 50 years ago, when there would have been almost nothing to be done. I hope that 50 years hence, people will hear about my treatments and be appalled that anyone endured such primitive science."
Mental Illness, 1978 vs 2015. Any changes? Any better?
Mental Health Care in the Most Expensive and Inefficient Healthcare System in the Developed World: Inaccessible, Unaffordable
From Andrew Solomon's Ted Talk, Depression, the Secret We Share:
"I was struck by the fact that depression is broadly perceived to be a modern, Western, middle-class thing, and I went to look at how it operated in a variety of other contexts, and one of the things I was most interested in was depression among the indigent. And so I went out to try to look at what was being done for poor people with depression. And what I discovered is that poor people are mostly not being treated for depression.
And so I found an academic who was doing a research project in slums outside of D.C., where she picked up women who had come in for other health problems and diagnosed them with depression, and then provided six months of the experimental protocol. One of them, Lolly, came in,and this is what she said the day she came in. She said, and she was a woman, by the way, who had seven children. She said, "I used to have a job but I had to give it up because I couldn't go out of the house. I have nothing to say to my children. In the morning, I can't wait for them to leave, and then I climb in bed and pull the covers over my head, and three o'clock when they come home, it just comes so fast." She said, "I've been taking a lot of Tylenol, anything I can take so that I can sleep more. My husband has been telling me I'm stupid, I'm ugly. I wish I could stop the pain." This therapy helped her, but at a cost.
Unfortunately, dozens of expensive talk therapy sessions will never be affordable for most low to middle-income Americans. Government nor insurance companies will ever be willing to pay for this intensive level of mental health care. Consider psychoactive plant medicines: If an appropriate clinical or ritualistic framework can be established, consider providing this type of therapy before stress or worries from life reach a crisis level.
Solomon continues, "But we've had a lot of trouble with Western mental health workers, especially the ones who came right after the genocide." I said, "What kind of trouble did you have?" And he said, "Well, they would do this bizarre thing. They didn't take people out in the sunshine where you begin to feel better. They didn't include drumming or music to get people's blood going. They didn't involve the whole community. They didn't externalize the depression as an invasive spirit. Instead what they did was they took people one at a time into dingy little rooms and had them talk for an hour about bad things that had happened to them."
The Veterans Affairs Healthcare System is arguably the best we have in the United States, yet even it cannot provide adequate mental health care to patients.
DisabledAmericanVeterans.org: “Self-medicating with alcohol or other drugs is not a rarity among veterans returning from war. According to the VA’s National Center for PTSD, more than 20 percent of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) abuse such substances. For Jensen, the destructive forces of substance abuse culminated the day he put a gun to his head in front of his wife and two young children."
Through nearly half a year of treatment, Jensen was prescribed five different kinds of depression medication, three types of anxiety medication and two different sleeping aids. But none of it provided the relief he was hoping for. “Everybody’s different. You need to find the right fit for you, and in order to do that you need to try new things.”
“There are other methodologies besides medications and expensive treatments that they can do themselves and have for the rest of their lives without spending a lot of time and money,” Yellin stated.
The American mental health system trying to do things right by doing rigorous research on non-drug therapies. However, if thought leaders in the United States do not focus heavily on therapies that are affordable, decent mental health care will never be available to Americans.
What is not being done that should be done?
Government should fund research of non-addictive classic hallucinogens, also known as "psychedelics," as well as cannabis. Schedule I drug laws preventing research of these medicines have been a great detriment to on neuroscience research and treatment innovation.
In the long-term, hallucinogen research will provide tremendous insight into their unique ability to temporarily alter consciousness in a therapeutic manner without harming the patient or causing addiction.
Spread the word! Help author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss fund personal and groundbreaking psilocybin research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. ➡ SEE THE FUNDRAISER
"A recent but still unpublished study at Johns Hopkins demonstrated rapid, substantial, and sustained (lasting up to six months) antidepressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects of a single dose of psilocybin in psychologically-distressed patients with life-threatening cancer diagnoses. This is incredibly exciting. What if we could decrease or avoid altogether the known side-effects (and frequency of consumption) of current antidepressant drugs like SSRIs? This study could help establish an alternative.
Current popular antidepressant medications have significant adverse side effects, with up to 50% of patients failing to respond fully and as many as 30% remaining completely resistant.
Psilocybin has been safely consumed by humans for millennia. Despite this, the study of entheogens like psilocybin was blocked for several decades due to political rather than scientific factors. Now, we can finally explore the therapeutic and medical potential of these powerful compounds."
The work Tim is hoping to fund "will determine the efficacy of psilocybin in treatment-resistant depression, and will also use cutting-edge brain imaging to clarify the mechanism of action of psilocybin's antidepressant effects. In the world of science, it is a rare opportunity to be able to conduct such potentially groundbreaking work for a mere $80,000. It’s almost unheard of. Psilocybin has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of major depression that cannot be properly addressed with current treatments. This also applies to end-of-life care for terminally-ill cancer patients." (Follow Psilocybin and Cancer Research on Facebook).
Much is left to be learned about the effect of hallucinogens on positive emotion–joy, pride, contentment, and awe–and how it modulates the immune system, inflammation, HPA-axis, and other areas of health.
We must do better in the United States and it could start with large-scale, culturally competent, government-sponsored research of classic hallucinogens and mindfulness. Both are archaic means of resilience that will not bankrupt the nation and provide immense help to every social strata.
List of Selected Hallucinogen Studies and Educational Resources
Blog: PTSD, Mindfulness and Psilocybin
Psychosocial Interventions for Mental and Substance Use Disorders: A Framework for Establishing Evidence-Based Standards
Science and Psychology of Classic Hallucinogens
MDMA psychotherapy to treat PTSD
America, Don't Fight Mental Illness and Addiction with One Arm Behind Your Back
FDA-Approved Drug Therapies and Classic Hallucinogens to Treat Alcoholism: Barriers, Background, and the Latest Research
HUGE Speaker for "Breaking Through," TEDMed 2015: Psychopharmacologist Roland Griffiths
Psychology Study Explains Psychedelic Ethics: Awe, the Small Self, and Prosocial Behavior
The New Yorker: Trip Treatment
Dr. Gabor Maté, M.D., discusses how ayahuasca offers addicts insight into self-destructive behaviors
Psychedelic Stroke of Insight for Smoking Cessation
Hofmann's Potion: "I thought this was the greatest discovery that man had ever made"
A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin
Will "The Coming Boom" in Brain Medicines Include Mental Health?
Stunting the Growth of Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, and Pain Meds: Meditation & Hallucinogen Therapy as Mental Health Preventative Medicine?
CARERS Act Could Justify Re-Scheduling of Psychedelics Psilocybin, LSD, Ayahuasca, Peyote
American Ethnobotanists Richard Evans Schultes, Dennis McKenna Discuss Hallucinogenic Plant Medicines, More
MassGeneral: Hallucinogens: A Trip to Therapy
Gordon & Tina Wasson Award Winner Paul Stamets Wins the Psilocybin Mushroom Wizard Award
Modern Stress on Prenatal Life: Autism, Inherited PTSD, Behavioral Disorders, Personality
Address to the Jung Society - Psychoactive Substances of the World
Psychedelics Reclassification & Research the Right Thing to Do For Mental Health? UK Psychiatrist James Rucker Thinks So.
Is Consciousness the Only Savior for a Changing America? Meditation Has People Believing
Science & Nonduality: Magic Mushrooms Work Like Meditation? The Latest Evidence
Science & Nonduality: Ayahuasca, Autism, Aging and the Default Mode Network…New Research
NYU Alumni Magazine: A Trip to the Doctor
Courageous Heffter-Funded Work at UAB School of Public Health that Changes Perceptions & Could Change Your World
Individual States and an American Public Fraught with Addiction, Mental Illness, and Jail Time Looking to Alternatives
Fear & Hate-Based Ideology Past & Present Countered by Shock & Awe-Based Therapies, Past & Present
ASCO Post: Researchers Discuss Pilot Study on Hallucinogenic Therapies for Cancer Anxiety
End-of-Life Pain & Palliative Care as an Alternative to Physician-Assisted Suicide. Johns Hopkins Seminar Series
Ketamine vs. Psychedelics
Johns Hopkins: Meditation effective in treating anxiety, depression, Hopkins research suggests
Dr. Gabor Maté Talks Addiction, Culture, Ayahuasca... and Drug Policy
Top Ayahuasca Researchers Discuss Challenges and Achievements
Shamans of the Amazon: Ayahuasca, Politics, & the War on Drugs (1999) McKenna, Shulgin
Peyote: Last of the Medicine Men - Shamans of the Huichol People
Pahnke & Leary's 1962 Good Friday Experiment Explained by Psychology of Religion Expert Ralph Hood [Full Video]
Dr. Gabor Maté Talks Addiction, Culture, Ayahuasca... and Drug Policy
Sacred Medicines are to Be Respected. The Effects are Profound But Temporary: Current NIH Director Francis Collins and others discuss psychedelics, religion, and science at a Pew Forum in 2009
I remember thinking about this a couple of years ago as I sat for 11 hours, from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. on the dirt floor of a teepee. I was at a Navajo peyote ceremony in Lukachukai, Ariz. There were about 30 of us. Everyone but me had ingested a whole lot of peyote – the active ingredient is mescaline. It’s basically a psychedelic. I kind of wish I had as I watched everyone looking pretty happy, their heads bobbing to the beat of the drummers like little bobbleheads. But, alas, I was there to observe. So there I sat cross-legged for 11 hours.
Question for NIH Director Francis Collins: With the poor level of preventing and treating mental illness and substance abuse in the United States, is it unethical for NIH not to expedite the rescheduling of classic hallucinogens to facilitate their research?
Around midnight the woman who was the center of the ceremony broke her silence. Her name was Mary Ann, and she suffered from shingles. She had had it for a couple of months. It had gone untreated, and this was a healing ceremony. Around that time she confessed that 20 years earlier she had accidentally run over a man on the highway. She stated he was already dead when she ran over his head. But at any rate, for the past 20 years, a headless man kept haunting her dreams, and she wanted forgiveness. She wanted the peyote, which Navajos consider to be the mediator between the spirit world and the human world – she wanted the peyote to kind of broker the deal between this guy whose head she had run over and her.
So I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed that we may have just had a confession to vehicular homicide. Everyone was just smiling happily and nodding. A few hours later, after a lot more peyote, Mary Ann announced that the shingles were gone. She said, the spirit came before me and forgave me and now I’m healed.
Peyote is like other psychedelic drugs, including LSD and magic mushrooms – magic mushrooms and psilocybin are kind of the same thing. They seem to prompt mystical experience. Scientists have discovered recently that these psychedelic drugs have a couple of interesting things in common.
Chemically, they all look a lot like serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that affects parts of the brain that relate to emotions and perception. Now scientists at Johns Hopkins University have discovered that they all target the same serotonin receptor, serotonin HT2A. So what that receptor does is, it allows the serotonin or the psilocybin or the active ingredient of these psychedelics to create a cascade of chemical reactions, which then create the sounds and sights and smells and perceptions of a mystical experience. Essentially, they’ve discovered a “God neurotransmitter,” in a way.
So now they can get a sense of what happens in the brains of mystics or you and me when we have a spiritual experience. What’s really cool about this is that the war on drugs ended this sort of research for about 35 years, but now at Johns Hopkins and other places, the government’s allowing this to go on.
They’ll be able to give you a capsule of psilocybin, slide you into a brain scan, and actually watch spiritual experience unfold in an FMRI. This has really opened the door for understanding the brain mechanisms of spiritual experience.
So the question is, does that mean that God is just a chemical reaction? I think probably a lot of scientists would say, yes. But Roland Griffiths, who’s the researcher at Johns Hopkins, doesn’t think so, and he doesn’t think so for a couple of reasons. One is that people who have spiritual experiences can do this without help from their chemical friends, right? They can do it through meditation and prayer and chanting and fasting – all of these can spark spiritual experience. Second, he says it’s just as plausible that the chemical reactions and the electrical firings in the brain are reflecting an interaction with God or the spiritual realm.
Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Griffiths. J Psychopharmacology. Editorial & Commentaries. Press Release. Griffiths Q&A. 2006.
Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later. Griffiths. J Psychopharmacology. Press Release. 2008.
2011. Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness. MacLean. J Psychopharmacology.
And he uses this analogy: He says, when you eat a piece of apple pie, all sorts of things happen in your brain. The part of the brain that mediates smell will light up or taste will light up. Probably the part of the brain that handles memory will light up as you think about the last time that you had a piece of apple pie. But does the fact that there is this predictable and measurable brain activity – does that mean that the apple pie doesn’t exist? Of course it doesn’t. So maybe, Griffiths says, this brain activity is chronicling an interaction with the divine.
He raises a third issue, which Francis alluded to, which is, why? Why are we wired to have mystical experiences in the first place? Is it possible that there is a God or an intelligence who’s created this way? I mean, if there is a God who wants to communicate with us, he probably wouldn’t use the big toe; he’d probably use the brain. Doesn’t it make sense that this is how God would communicate.
Now in the end, I don’t think science will be able to prove or disprove God, but I do think there’s a really fascinating debate – and I’m going to close with this – that’s circling around spiritual issues. We may actually make some headway about it. There may be a way to tackle this issue in a definitive way. It’s the mind-brain debate, or can consciousness operate when the brain is stilled
I just have one more story to tell you to illustrate a point. In 1991, there was a woman named Pam Reynolds. Have you all heard of her? She was found to have had an aneurysm on her brain stem. Her doctor told her that it might rupture at any moment and that she could die at any moment, and so she decided to undergo what was then a very experimental surgery called a standstill operation. She flew out to Arizona to a place called the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.
Essentially what they did was they put her under anesthesia, they taped her eyes shut, they put in molded speakers in her ears that emitted really loud clicks – about 90 to 100 decibels. That’s what a jet plane sounds like when it takes off. So loud clicks were firing in her ears. Then when her brain no longer responded to the clicks, the surgeons knew that they could proceed.
2014 Herbet Disrupting posterior cingulate connectivity disconnects consciousness from the external environment environment
2014 Carhart-Harris Was it a vision or a waking dream? (A commentary on: Disrupting posterior cingulate connectivity disconnects consciousness from the external environment)
2014 Carhart-Harris How Do Hallucinogens Work on the Brain? The Psychologist Magazine. The British Psychological Society.
So she was basically without blood in her head or in a deep coma-like state for over an hour. When she awakened, she had quite a story to tell. Basically, she said that she floated upwards – she had an out-of-body experience and watched part of the operation – not all of it because she had a near-death experience in the middle of it. But what was interesting was, she could describe the operating theater – how many people were there, who was placed – she could tell where men and women were. She didn’t know their names, obviously.
She could describe a very unusual-looking bone saw called the Midas Rex bone saw and the blade container. It’s unusual; it looks like an electric toothbrush, so it’s not something you see all the time. She heard conversations, including the one where a female surgeon said that her arteries were too small in the left groin for a tube and so the chief surgeon told the other surgeon to try the right side – she heard this kind of conversation. So she saw things, heard things even though her senses were apparently blocked.
And then she had a typical near-death experience – the white light, seeing the dead relatives, yada, yada, yada, yada. Now I’m not all that interested in the near-death experience, but her ability to describe the operation while under deep anesthesia when her eyes were taped shut and her hearing blocked – it raised a question for me: Was Pam’s mind or consciousness operating separately from her brain? I’ve heard dozens of stories about people who died on the operating table or in a car crash and felt themselves float above their bodies and claimed that they could see everything that was going on. I thought they were interesting, but not conclusive stories.
It’s entirely possible that their brains were operating and that this is what a brain does when it is shutting down – it creates illusions, it creates sensations. It’s entirely possible that this is normal activity that’s explained by material means. But Pam Reynolds’ story feels a little bit more compelling to me, probably not to a lot of you, but to me it does. For one thing, it’s corroborated. A doctor named Michael Sabom got all the hospital records and the transcripts from this operation and found that when Pam said something happened, that in fact did happen in the order that she suggested. It seemed to corroborate her account.
I interviewed the chief neurosurgeon, Robert Spetzler, who confirmed that she was in a deep coma for an hour and could not have seen or heard any of the operation. I asked him how he explained it, and he said that he “had absolutely no explanation from a scientific perspective.” He also said that this has changed the way he thought about reality.
I just want to conclude by observing that in my year of interviewing scientists, I learned something about scientists. When they hear of a case that they don’t like – one that doesn’t jive with their worldview – they call it just an anecdote. When they like a story, they call it case history.
Now most scientists would probably say this challenge to a materialist worldview is an anecdote. After all, Pam’s story could lead to the astonishing notion that somehow we have consciousness or maybe a soul that could survive death. Other scientists – in fact a growing number – will call Pam’s story a case history, something to be explored and not just so easily dismissed. But I’m sure of a couple of things. First, this question of consciousness is the next big battle in the emerging science of spirituality. And second, how a scientist comes down on the debate about consciousness will be as much a matter of his own belief system as it will be of the science."
Appalachia, American Politicians Lack Courage to Go "All In"
on Opioid Maintenance, Harm Reduction, and Mental Health
Prescription pills are Britain’s third biggest killer:
Side-effects of drugs taken for insomnia and anxiety
kill thousands. Why do doctors hand them out like Smarties?
Top 10 Drug Company Settlements
Over the course of 20 years, Johnson & Johnson created a powerful drug, promoted it illegally to children and the elderly, covered up the side effects and made billions of dollars. This is the inside story.
End-of-Life Pain & Palliative Care as an Alternative to
Physician-Assisted Suicide. Johns Hopkins Seminar Series.
Living and Dying (Steve Jobs, Terence McKenna)