The Amazonian sacramental decoction, ayahuasca (containing an alkaloid once called telepathine by Westerners), has been used by indigenous shamans and healers for several millennia. Apparently, for the explicit purposes of accessing altered states conducive to clairvoyance, precognition, telepathy, out-of-body travel, psychic diagnosis, psychic healing, and spirit communication. It has been argued that the endogenous neurochemicals present in this brew also play a primary neurological role in the occurrence of spontaneous parapsychological phenomena. However, although the neurobiological, anthropological and phenomenological evidence for this hypothesis is promising, the experimental parapsychological evidence to date is scant, poorly controlled, and inconclusive. Consequently, a recent parapsychological field study conducted in South America aimed to test the hypothesis that the ingestion of ayahuasca can increase performance on a task designed to measure precognition – the supposed ability to predict the future without recourse to any prior knowledge. The methods used and the results of this research project are discussed, along with the implications for neuroscience, medicine, parapsychology, philosophy of mind and psychedelic research.
About David Luke
David Luke, PhD, is currently President of the Parapsychological Association, the international professional body for researchers in this field, and Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich, UK, where he teaches an undergraduate course on the Psychology of Exceptional Human Experiences. He is also Research Associate at the Beckley Foundation, Oxford, UK, which promotes research into the neuroscience of consciousness and its altered states, and he is a guest lecturer at the University of Northampton, UK. As a writer and researcher he has a special interest in altered states of consciousness and he has studied ostensibly paranormal phenomena and techniques of consciousness alteration from every continent of the globe, from the perspective of scientists, shamans and Shivaites.