In short: a roundup of some of the psychedelic research that caught my eye over the past couple years.

Preachy intro:

Hope and optimism in the psychedelic ‘renaissance’ is starting to feel a bit hollow for me. I guess it’s nothing new — once the rosy glow of the initial revolution has subsided, the ‘mainstreaming’ of previously radical concepts is always going to be uncomfortable.

Psychedelics, for those leading the underground cultural revolution, were always something anti-establishment. Something that could challenge the current system rather than hybridise with it.

But for those fronting the above-ground, news-report, investor-friendly psychedelic movement, its survival depends…

It was the Vietnam/American War that helped me finally grok the immense failure of sentience at the heart of warfare, and the horrors of capitalist and colonialist conflicts.

In Vietnam, class, race and culture collided in the context of a truly hellish war, exposing the hypocrisy of Western society through the blood of millions of young Americans and Vietnamese.

That conflict changed our world in many ways. I don’t think its profundity can be overstated.

In 1982, director John Landis was filming a movie featuring a sequence in which an American veteran of the Vietnam War is transported back in…

Spoilers throughout.

Both The Babadook and Midsommar explore the horrors of living with grief; but the films’ resolutions are as different as night and day.

In The Babadook, the protagonist Amelia struggles with grief in the form of a dark spectre that haunts her and her young son Sam. Whereas Amelia feels the loss of her husband as an absence in her dark and pallid house, her son sees it as an enemy he must defend against. Amelia’s despair is quiet and anxious; Sam reacts by hurting the children who bully him.

When a mysterious children’s book appears, Sam summons…

Poker is rarely portrayed accurately in films. And that’s not really a big deal, considering that poker is not usually the driving force of a film’s plot, and is more likely used as a dramatic tool or maybe even just as a vehicle for a joke.

But even in films where the poker is central to the story, for some reason it’s a game that filmmakers struggle to get right.

Even in the cult classic poker movie Rounders, starring A-listers Matt Damon, Ed Norton and John Malkovich, there are laughable moments — most notably main character Mike’s story of a…

Even before the recent Gillette ad (and the backlash it sparked from angry “men’s rights activists” who felt personally attacked by the assertion that some men are not good role models), I was seeing this little gem being copied around on twitter:

“In America 43% of boys are raised by single women. 78% of teachers are female. So almost half of the boys have 100% female influence at home, and 80% female influence at school. Between 2009 and 2011 children from single parent households (overwhelmingly single mothers) accounted for 80% of rapists motivated by displaced anger. Toxic masculinity is not…

Warning: contains spoilers for Oblivion throughout

When Tom Cruise’s agent approached him in 2011 about starring in a new science-fiction epic, you can assume the pitch was something along the lines of “You get to fly your own spaceship, endure two different women vying for your affection, and live in a version of Earth mostly populated by your clones.”

The idea of a planet-sized ego also went over well with most audiences, and the film made a $120 million profit while receiving mostly positive reviews.

On the surface, Oblivion appears as an innocent sci-fi adventure: unwitting (but steadfast) hero discovers…

Pat Smith

Biologist, writer

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