In recent years, the Stoned Ape Theory has risen to prominence, garnering attention from various influential figures, including Paul Stamets and Joe Rogan.
Some 200,000 years ago, the human brain made a massive amount of progress regarding its computing power. This event outright doubled its processing power, leaving our predecessors in the dust.
This substantial advancement in humans’ thinking capacity is one of the primary factors that differentiate us, Homo Sapiens, from our predecessors, Homo Erectus.
But what exactly caused us to level up and gain this sudden leap in brainpower?
This phenomenon’s cause and effect remain shrouded in mystery to evolutionary biologists and theorists. As it currently stands, we can only assume what happened with little to no concrete evidence of what actually caused this evolution to take place.
According to McKenna, the substance transformed and elevated their minds into powerhouses capable of much more than previously seen. He calls this phenomenon the “Stoned Ape Theory.”
So, what is this Stoned Ape Theory, and how does it explain the history and connection to human brain growth?
Read on to find out more.
What is the Stoned Ape Theory?
Since as far back as scientists can remember, humanity has held a strong affection for mind-altering substances, whether it be for traditional, cultural or recreational use.
Essentially, the Stoned Ape Theory is the hypothesis that prehistoric humans discovered psychedelic substances during their various migrations around the world.
More specifically, the Stoned Ape Theory infers that our early ancestors had stumbled across magic mushrooms growing in the dung of their cattle.
The Stoned Ape hypothesis suggests that prehistoric humans ingested these psilocybin-containing mushrooms, which caused a strengthening in their neural connections while also opening new ones.
Thus, this sensation kicked their brains into overdrive, unlocking a whole host of untapped potential, leading to the creation of language, art, calendars, and even religion.
Some believe that this expansion of human consciousness was the catalyst to the acute increase in homo sapiens‘ cognitive evolution.
In fact, based on anecdotal evidence, modern-day psychedelic users report psychedelic trips on psilocybin mushrooms or LSD to supply profound experiences that can broaden their views on the world and expand their perceptions beyond the limits of what they believed was possible.
Theorists also suggest that, through consuming psychedelic mushrooms, early human beings gained new information processing abilities that far exceeded what they were previously capable of, allowing them to utilize their brains to an even greater potential.
While the Stoned Ape Theory is arguably plausible, we currently do not have any evidence of what precisely caused our species’ cognitive evolution.
Furthermore, the idea of human evolution is likely much more complex than a simple butterfly effect of consuming psilocybin. Either way, we can only infer based on our own experiences with the world and the limited pool of scientific evidence available to us.
The rest is lost to time.
The Impact of Magic Mushrooms
For those who have yet to dip their toe in the diverse world of psychedelics, the idea of magic mushrooms making an impactful change in the course of human evolution seems like a far cry from reality.
While it’s unlikely we will ever know the actual cause of the sudden doubling of human consciousness and brainpower, there is a high likelihood that psychedelics may have had a role in fostering the growth of it.
Users who have been adventurous enough to try psychedelics report the trips being among the profound experiences of their lives. Some even venture to say that it ranks alongside the event of witnessing the birth of their first child.
Regardless of any preconceived notions surrounding magic mushrooms and their close cousin LSD, the psychedelic experience can be riddled with randomness and unpredictability that will leave the user with a newfound view on life and the world around them.
It’s not to say that a psychedelic trip is a walk in the park, quite the contrary. Psychedelic trips are taxing on the mind and tend to pit us against the very ideas we find the most troubling or fearful.
This realization can be a scary experience, but could also be beneficial, granted it doesn’t go too far.
That said, ingesting psilocybin mushrooms may also result in a “bad trip,” which is another way to refer to the uncomfortable depths that it can allow you to go through.
Of course, the experience itself will vary from person to person, as psychedelic substances tend to affect everyone’s minds differently. That said, this versatility makes for a unique and deeply personal experience.
While bad trips may sound bad superficially, there are reports of people claiming that these moments of temporary discomfort are what helped them break through mental barricades and allowed them to achieve a sort of spiritual awakening and peace with themselves and the world around them.
However, a user’s state of mind, environment, and health will significantly influence their psychedelic experience.
The Idea of Human Consciousness
While it is unknown whether psychedelics were a monumental cause for the jump from Homo Erectus to Homo Sapiens, they do share a common thread in expanding the perceived consciousness among those who have dared to try them.
That said, what is consciousness anyway? The idea of consciousness seems intuitively understood by humans yet elusive when it comes to forming a concrete definition in which everyone universally agrees.
In this sense, it’s much like the concept of time. We understand what it is, but when it comes to defining what it is and what it means to us, it can be a tricky game to play.
For the most part, human evolution has helped foster the growth of our consciousness, making us even more aware of our circumstances and environments. One could argue that human consciousness is closely tied to self-awareness and awareness of the world around us.
However, surrounding what consciousness actually is is a difficult question to answer.
Stoned Ape Theory – One of Many
The Stoned Ape hypothesis is undoubtedly food for thought. However, without sufficient supporting evidence, it’s just that – a theory.
Though the origins of humans’ cognitive evolution appear to be lost to time and shrouded in mystery, the most brilliant minds of our generation are slowly putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
While concrete evidence on the role of psilocybin mushrooms is limited, we can infer, based on experience and modern research, that they may have had a much more significant role than we initially thought.
Before diving headfirst, be sure to conduct the necessary research to take shrooms safely and responsibly. Ultimately, it’s all about having an excellent time and altering your perspective and reality. That said, you should do so in a safe, controlled and comfortable environment.
If you’re a beginner in the world of shrooms, don’t sweat it! We’ve developed a comprehensive guide dedicated to walking you through everything you need to know before your first trip.
Have fun and stay safe!