It was only a brief section in the chapter but one of the areas of neuroscience that I find most fascinating is the effects of hallucinogens. As the book states hallucinogens have been used for thousands of years in religious and non-religious rituals and despite the vast amount of knowledge we have accumulated in the field of neuroscience we still do not know exactly how they work.
There are a few questions I would have for neuroscienctists on this subject are:
How do you explain common hallucinations that are not common experiences? Meaning that there are some common hallucinations or hallucination themes when taking psychedelics that are not common shared experiences. Where do these hallucinations then originate? Is there a larger collective human consciousness? Are there deep imbedded unconscious structures common to all humans? Part of the reason we still have so many remaining questions on the subject is that studying psychedelics was largely outlawed in the early 1970’s. Luckily there has a been a resurgence in the subject which many are now calling the psychedelic renaissance. Hopefully we will finally begin to explore this subject with the scientific seriousness it deserves.
As a side note another interested antidote to this subject is that there is at least a plausible possibility that the story/myth of Santa Claus originated from Finnish Shamen who used to hallucinate using the Amanita muscaria mushroom (the big red and white one hence Santa Clause a big red and white figure). Here’s a link for the full theory.