Rick Strassman

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DMT and the Soul of Prophecy: A New Science of Spiritual Revelation in the Hebrew Bible (Park Street Press, 2014) asks a number of provocative questions about drugs, consciousness, prophecy, and the Hebrew Bible—with attention to how a particular chemical can help us understand mystical experience. DMT (dimethyltryptamine) is a molecule endogenous to several mammals including humans, as well as the active psychedelic ingredient in a number of plant species around the world—most notably in an Amazonian brew called ayahuasca. Rick Strassman’s first book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, showcases his research in the 1990s at the University of New Mexico, during which he injected several volunteers with DMT as part of a government-sanctioned research project. During the trials, volunteers experienced a number of similar phenomena, such as communication with other-than-human beings, out-of-body experiences, and geometrically complex closed-eye visuals. DMT and the Soul of Prophecy complements Strassman’s first book, but it also stands on its own and gives enough context of his DMT research to make sense of his arguments about prophecy in the Hebrew Bible. The new monograph aims to further interpret the data from Strassman’s experiments in the 90s, by arguing that the notion of prophecy in the Hebrew Bible offers a compelling model for what happens in the DMT state. One might ask, then, if the Hebrew prophets were affected by DMT. Although it’s not possible to know for sure, and Strassman doesn’t claim that they were, he nonetheless draws significant parallels between DMT experiences and prophetic states in the Hebrew Bible. At the cross-section of biology, psychology, and religious studies, Strassman’s monograph is sure to spark provocative conversations about the relationship between religion, drugs, and the politics of research.

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Donna J. DruckerThe Classification of Sex: Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge

March 10, 2015

Donna J. Drucker is a guest professor at Darmstadt Technical University in Germany. Her book The Classification of Sex: Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge (University of Pittsburg Press, 2014) is an in-depth and detailed study of Kinsey’s scientific approach. The book examines his career and method of gathering vast amounts of data, identifying […]

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Evan ThompsonWaking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy

February 16, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] The quest for an explanation of consciousness is currently dominated by scientific efforts to find the neural correlates of conscious states, on the assumption that these states are dependent on the brain. A very different way of exploring consciousness is undertaken within various Indian religious traditions, in which subtle states of […]

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Joelle ProustThe Philosophy of Metacognition: Mental Agency and Self-Awareness

December 15, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] Metacognition is cognition about cognition – what we do when we assess our cognitive states, such as wondering whether we’ve remembered a phone number correctly. In The Philosophy of Metacognition: Mental Agency and Self-Awareness (Oxford University Press, 2014) Joelle Proust considers the nature of metacognition from a naturalistic perspective, drawing on recent psychological research as […]

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Anne Jaap JacobsonKeeping the World in Mind: Mental Representations and the Sciences of the Mind

August 15, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] Some theorists in the cognitive sciences argue that the sciences of the mind don’t need or use a concept of mental representation. In her new book, Keeping the World in Mind: Mental Representations and the Science of the Mind (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), Anne Jaap Jacobson, Professor of Philosophy and Electrical and Computer Engineering at […]

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Adam PhillipsBecoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst

July 28, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Psychoanalysis] For those who are savvy about all things psychoanalytic, be they analysts, analysands, or fellow travelers, the existence, presence, work, writing, and imprimatur of Adam Phillips is given long, as opposed to short, shrift. It is safe to say that his voice is singular in its mellifluousness and its range. I first encountered […]

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John H. McWhorterThe Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language

July 18, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Linguistics] The idea that the language we speak influences the way we think – sometimes referred to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis – has had an interesting history. It’s particularly associated with the idea that languages dismissed as primitive by 19th century thinkers, such as those of indigenous peoples in America and Australia, […]

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Marcin MilkowskiExplaining the Computational Mind

July 15, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] The computational theory of mind has its roots in Alan Turing’s development of the basic ideas behind computer programming, specifically the manipulation of symbols according to rules. That idea has been elaborated since in a number of very different ways, but in some form it remains a core idea of […]

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Elizabeth LunbeckThe Americanization of Narcissism

June 20, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and Society] “It is a commonplace of social criticism that America has become, over the past half century or so, a nation of narcissists.” From this opening, Elizabeth Lunbeck’s new book proceeds to offer a fascinating narrative of how this came to be, exploring the entwined histories of narcissism, psychoanalysis, and […]

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] The prediction error minimization hypothesis is the first grand unified empirical theory about how the brain implements the mind. The hypothesis, which is as bold as it is controversial, proposes to explain the mind via one core mechanism: a process of comparing predicted sensory input with actual input, updating our hypotheses […]

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