Increases In The Domain Of Openness

involves: psilocybin, liberalism, happiness, morality

"Evidence suggests [that] clinically administered psilocybin actively shifts political values, just as it shifts many other nonclinical characteristics. One study reported that the treatment decreased authoritarian political views in patients. That trial also detected another effect previously reported in healthy participants: Psilocybin use leads to increases in the personality domain of openness, itself a predictor of liberal values"
ā€” Scientific American

I am largely a liberal, in both the British and American senses, so this strikes me as excellent news; I want other people to be liberals too, to agree with me on the means and ends of life and government, so we can all be friends. Let us all take this psilocybin.

And yet, if I am a liberal, I want other people to feel free (perhaps even be free) to have their own opinions, their own beliefs. I would not want to beat another person until they professed agreement with my views; so how could I want to drug them into agreement? Is a pill more forgivable than a beating? Or is a pill more like an argument, whereby your opinion is changed without damage to your body?

Try the contrary thought experiment: What if there was a mushroom extract (or similar) which made people more authoritarian, more demagogic? What if I could take a pill which made me happy to see people like Putin and Orban and Xi and Trump running the world? Should I take it, and have the satisfaction of feeling that the arc of history is bending in my favour?

This is a moral question of sorts, and morality, to endure, does need, in some way, however vague and distant, at least to seem capable of producing individual happiness. I want to feel that, even if my moral judgements cause me inconvenience or pain in the short term, they will give me satisfaction in the long term. One way to reconcile those aims is for me to act according to my morality, and hope that my example will change the world in my favour. But what if I could choose my morality by means of a mushroom? Then, surely, I should choose to change my morality to suit the world in which I live.

In the meantime, as a liberal, and in the present state of science, I suggest using crop-dusting aeroplanes to spray fine mists of psilocybin over selected centres of population with a view to seeing how the world evolves with a larger proportion of its population intoxicated by liberalism. If it all goes wrong, at least we can be open about it.

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