Should psychedelic researchers trip on the drugs they’re studying? Some scientists think it makes the research better, others think it could create a bias

Should psychedelic researchers trip on the drugs they’re studying? Some scientists think it makes the research better, others think it could create a bias

  • In this next wave of psychedelic research, should the researchers be taking these drugs themselves? And if they are, will we allow them to be honest about it?
  • One of the common effects of psychedelic drugs is that they create meaningful and transcendent experiences, and some felt that was a source of positive bias that could influence research.
  • One medical doctor and psychedelic researcher in the UK, who asked not to be named, told me he’d tried LSD, DMT, MDMA, ketamine, and psilocybin-all legally-in approved research studies.
  • Sisti, at UPenn, said that informed consent might only be possible if researchers really know what the experience of psychedelic drugs is like.
  • Manoj Doss, a postdoctoral research fellow Johns Hopkins University studying the cognitive, emotional, and neural mechanisms of psychedelic drugs, told me that he isn’t convinced taking the drugs is necessary, and that he thinks subjective experiences have biased work in this field.
  • “What’s worse,” Doss added, “Is that the experience these drugs produce seems to give the impression that one is gaining insight into the architecture of the brain/mind, perhaps leading to nearly every psychedelic researcher claiming that these drugs will teach us something about consciousness or cognition more broadly. Instead, what all the research has taught us is about the effects of drugs on the mind, not some underlying principle we did not already know about the mind.”
  • Do people in the field know where their peers stand? “I would say researchers have a sense of how much others researchers have tripped,” Luke said.