In 17th century Europe, ‘a black swan’ was a by-word for an impossibility. But it took only a single observation of such swans in Australia to undo the presumption forever.
Today, Black Swan theory uses the metaphor to describe any argument or system of thought that can be undone at a single stroke
A psychedelic experience has the potential to be a Black Swan event for the individual.
Brain scans of individuals high on the drug revealed that the chemical allows parts of the cortex to become flooded with signals that are normally filtered out to prevent information overload.Study shows how LSD interferes with brain’s signalling (The Guardian)
By ‘switching off’ the filtering mechanism of the thalamus, psychedelic compounds can, at a single stroke, help us overturn entire systems of thought that we once presumed not only true for us, but ‘real’ and inviolable.
This might explain the seemingly paradoxical subjective effects often reported in psychedelic-induced altered states of consciousness that are characterized by increased arousal as well as a dreamlike experience, impaired cognition but at the same time reported perceived mental clarity, and psychosis-like effects combined with blissful experiences.Effective connectivity changes in LSD-induced altered states of consciousness in humans (PNAS)
As Aldous Huxley wrote after his experience with the psychedelic mescaline:
It’s a very salutary thing to realise that the rather dull universe in which most of us spend most of our time is not the only universe there is.Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics & the Visionary Experience
Thanks to DRL for the inspiration for this little piece.