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Becoming a Better Species

While watching a documentary a few days ago, I noticed a recurring theme amongst persons who had positive psychedelic experiences. Most seem to have this new outlook on life of a sense of "oneness" with people and nature.

This observation of mine is not a groundbreaking thought. As obvious as it might seem, it should be noted that the idea is substantiated by research. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America released a study conducted in January 2020. They found, "...psychedelic substance use was significantly associated with positive mood—an effect sequentially mediated by self-reported transformative experience and increased social connectedness. These effects were particularly pronounced for those who had taken psychedelic substances within the last 24 hours..."

We all can probably picture someone who has just had a similar experience. They probably wear tie-dye and hold a 'Make Peace not War' sign. While that is a stereotypical example, we can generally agree that we would imagine these people would likely have a better sense of community, be willing to help their neighbor, and a host of other potential benefit's to the lives of themself and others.

This got me thinking; well, if this feeling is beneficial in these ways, then it seems like this would have a positive effect on the well-being of those around them. Therefore, this should be something that evolution starts to select in our species.

While natural selection isn't something that I believe can be condensed down to a few major factors, I believe that this would make sense with some reasonable predictions. Let's take for example people who go off to war. There will be all sorts of people participating in war for many different reasons. Nevertheless, if you were to take a generic person without a deep sense of connectedness to others (psychedelic experience or not) and compare them to someone with that connectedness then I think it would be reasonable to assume that the person without that deep sense of connectedness would be more likely to go fight in a war. Another example is that people with stronger social ties generally have better health. Finally, these social ties would also make for a stronger community that could support someone if they were in a situation of trouble. All of these hypothetical scenarios (and likely many more that you could think of ) would aid in the ability for someone to survive over someone else without these advantages.

So, I feel pretty confident that a deep feeling of connectedness is net beneficial to our species. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to think that over many generations (with all things being equal) that we will be generally more connected to one another and be better social beings.

Here is my disclaimer: First, I am not advocating for psychedelics. I simply used them as an example to help explain the intense feeling of connectedness that I was trying to convey. I believed that most people have a general understanding of this reported phenomenon so it seemed like the best way to share this idea. The point of the blog is about people who have a strong sense of community and love towards others which could just as easily occur without the use of any psychedelics. Second, I made many generalizations above about people with a strong sense of connectedness to others and those who do not. There are many one-off situations when these wouldn't hold and each one as a whole could potentially not hold up by itself. Once again, they were included to hopefully convey my general reasoning behind the observation that I made.

Link to the study mentioned above:

"Transformative experience and social connectedness mediate the mood-enhancing effects of psychedelic use in naturalistic settings" -Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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