Friday, September 2, 2011

Terrence McKenna's "Stoned Ape Theory"

If you're not already familiar with Terrence McKenna, you should be. McKenna was a philosopher/spiritual leader/psychedelic explorer/speaker/author/hash smuggler who experienced popularity with the counter-culture movement in the 80's and 90's. His most famous work is a book called Food of the Gods which introduced his "stoned ape theory." There's a lot of crazy-ass ideas being thrown about by "counter-culture" types, but this is one of those that sorta seems plausible, especially if you've done many psychotropic drugs.

Humans evolved from apes incredibly fast. Our brain size doubled in less than two million years. According to McKenna, this all happened because of psilocybin mushrooms. He began forming this theory when he observed wild baboons in Africa turning over cow pies looking for grubs. And ya know what else grows on cow shit? That's right, psychedelic mushrooms! It is entirely possible that apes would have unintentionally ingested these mushrooms along with their bugs.

Okay, so we've got a bunch of stoned apes but what does that have to do with evolution? First of all, very small doses of psilocybin greatly improve visual acuity. A monkey that sees better is going to be more successful with hunting and gathering. Therefore, the stoned ape is more likely to survive than his square brother. In slightly larger doses (we're still talking about very small amounts) the mushroom acts as a sexual stimulant, so the stoned ape breeds more too. The mushrooms also help to break down social boundaries so it's likely to help diversify (and thereby strengthen) the gene pool.

As the doses get even heavier (now we're cookin!) our ape begins to experience synesthesia. Sight and sound are all mixed up and linguistic thinking begins for the first time. Suddenly we've got a bunch of tripping, fucking, talking monkeys on our hands. Before you know it they've started a band:

Ah, fuck it. Let's just watch a cartoon.

Hear it (and much more cool shit) in McKenna's own words here.


  1. Great! Never put together the McKenna/Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp connection before.

  2. "... very small doses of psilocybin greatly improve visual acuity... In slightly larger doses (we're still talking about very small amounts) ..."

    You're right that's what McKenna based his 'stoned apes' on. Alas, as anyone can verify by simple fact check, turn out he fabricated it, pure disinfo. The research he cited it to, in his book FOOD OF THE GODS, actually says no such thing. Pure flimflam, and doctrine to invest faith (and better not check into, for that reason).

    But anyone wondering can so easily check the facts. Those studies by Fischer and Hill aren't top secret or something. What they say is right there in black and white, for anybody to read. If they like. And if they aren't afraid to find out what it actually says -- and doesn't. The boring truth proves pretty astounding and amazing -- made me go WOW.

    Its not just that nobody has ever read that research to check up on McKenna's handiwork and use of it. Neither has anybody ever said "how many mgs" their talking about for "small dose" (or "very small"). Nor has anybody ever even thought to ask. Apparently nobody wonders, no curiosity or interest to know. I'd like to see any citation or lit reference to indicate otherwise. I don't believe there is any, so far.