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Hallucinogens and Bad Trips

Another clue comes from the effects of hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD.  I read of one "bad trip" where the user was convinced his body was covered and being stung by huge hornets.  He got a razor blade and attempted to shave off the bugs, succeeding in slicing off his epidermis and almost dying of blood loss.  From where did this imagery and feelings of bugs crawling over the skin and stinging it come from?  Certainly not from "the eyes" or from "the skin": such detailed imagery and sense data is not "hardwired" into the sensory apparatus, but comes from memories powered by a creative imagination that super-imposes these "sensations" on the part of the brain that handles vision.

Why should we be looking at Phantom Limb Syndrome, Charles Bonnet Syndrome, and bad LSD trips?  Mainly because a model is refuted or improved when contrary data is brought to it.  REAL science, REAL scientists, and REAL engineers do not treat contrary data in the same way that, say, a lawyer would treat contrary evidence or contrary testimony.  One method for detecting junk science (including junk science not seen yet as junk) is to present contrary evidence, data, or lab findings and see the reaction.  REAL scientists would look at the data, carefully consider it, maybe ask for time to think of a response, and either account for it using accepted methodology, modify their theory, or make an argument to discount it based on accepted scientific criteria for determining valid and invalid data.  Junk "scientists" ignore it, repeat their supporting data, take votes, allege conspiracies, use logical fallacies, and otherwise avoid addressing the issue within scientific boundaries and using accepted scientific methods for refuting or analyzing data.  REAL scientists want to know that reality is REALLY like.  REAL engineers want to know what reality is REALLY like, since REAL engineers know this: that which they do not know is precisely what the gremlins powering Murphy's Law wield to hit them up the side of the head.


I should point out that I am sure that many cognitive scientists and psychologists agree that the "classical" model is probably inadequate, and also agree that there is a lot of sensory processing going on in what is called the "unconscious".  I used the term "classical", rather than "modern", because I believe there is as big a difference between the two models as there is between "classical" physics and "modern" physics ("classical" physics modified by Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics).  Perhaps a better term would be  "the common sense model": it is a model that seems to serve rather well for most daily tasks, but it doesn't hold up when one departs from the "every day" kind of world in which most people live.  "Classical" physics works very well in the world of the (relatively) slow and (relatively) large, while the "Classical" model of the mind works well in the world of the healthy and intact.  It is when we leave those worlds that we see that there is more to reality than appears to the eye. 

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