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Truth and Open Science: Thomas Anderson on Microdosing Research

Updated: Mar 18

Note: Guests of The Psychedelic Blog do not endorse, support, or otherwise advocate on behalf of any particular treatment approach for mental illnesses unless stated otherwise. The views expressed during this interview do not necessarily reflect the opinions or endorsement of The Psychedelic Blog. Readers should always consult with qualified healthcare professionals and conduct their own research before considering any treatment options. Blog content is not intended to replace professional medical advice. The blog and its authors are not responsible for any decisions made based on the information provided by the guests.

Tiny mushroom
What power do they hold?
 

Robert Benz: – What is microdosing? If you're not yet familiar with the term, you soon will be. Microdosing involves taking small doses of a specific drug, and in this context, we're talking about psychedelic substances like LSD or psilocybin (mushrooms). This practice usually follows a consistent schedule. The doses administered are purposely kept below the threshold needed to induce profound psychedelic experiences, yet they can still trigger subtle cognitive and mood enhancements. Across the globe, lots of clinical trials are currently underway, aiming to determine the potential of psychedelics in treating various mental disorders. Our featured guest is actively engaged in important studies that seek to shed light on the efficacy of microdosing, contributing valuable insights to this evolving field.


One of the primary focuses of our conversation today revolves around the significance of upholding truth in research, particularly when it involves the study of our health and the substances that impact it. Additionally, we will talk about utilizing well-established methodologies that empower researchers to robustly defend their findings against the exacting standards of scientific scrutiny. These methodologies are meant to serve as a safeguard, shielding research from various kinds of distortions that may be fueled by individuals seeking to exploit the research for their personal agendas that may include professional advancement and financial gain.


This blog explores the concept of the “Psychedelic Renaissance”, a phenomenon that has the potential to reshape the landscape of psychiatry. Yet, the outcome of research still remains uncertain—will it mature into a scientifically-grounded, immensely beneficial domain, catering to the wellbeing of human minds and bodies? Or, more skeptically, could it devolve into a wild west industry—a field of dreams for get-rich schemes and a means of fulfilling the insatiable ambitions of obscenely-bloated conglomerates?


Icon of Thomas Anderson
Thomas Anderson imagined

“... focusing solely on known full-dose outcomes could result in missing unanticipated benefits and challenges specific to microdosing. As such, beginning with an open, exploratory approach could result in a better understanding of the potential benefits and challenges specific

to microdosing.”


"We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain …"

-Richard Feynman

Nobel Prize in Physics, 1965


Robert: It’s time to meet my guest, Thomas Anderson. Thomas, I have to say that, initially, I wanted to connect with you because microdosing is a fascinating and important subject especially in the context of its potential for treating mental illnesses through psychedelic-assisted therapies. After having done a little research about you and your interests, however, I find you to be an equally fascinating subject. Let me share with the audience some of what I’ve learned.


First of all, I know you’re a fan of Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning, bongo playing physicist. You've studied diverse subjects from computer science to meditation. You’ve worked for the company, Electronic Arts but decided against a career in video game design. You’re a Ph.D. candidate in Cognitive Neuroscience. You are the Co-founder and Director of the Canadian Centre for Psychedelic Science and the Research Director of the Psychedelic Studies Research Program at the University of Toronto. And, you insist on doing open, honest, and transparent work (more on this later).


To find out even more about who you are, I searched the subject matter and titles of your many authored/co-authored scientific publications, most of which are available in their entirety online (others can be requested). It’s not always easy getting free access to these kinds of publications, so thank you for that. Free access makes me think of the great activist and visionary technologist, Aaron Swartz (1986-2013), who fought for free access to academic papers and cultural documents for the sake of fairness, public knowledge, and the advancement of humanity. He definitely inspires me. Based on your writings, here are 10 things that inspire you. I’ve provided the links so readers might review the topics in more detail:



Wow! So, what got you interested in these subjects and how did you get to where you are now?


Thomas: At some point in undergrad, I became interested in moments of insight and Epiphany and wanted to understand what that looked like in the brain with the general idea that understanding the physical nature of such states could potentially lead me toward interventions that would increase the frequency of such states. More insights sounded good to me! That interest brought me to mind-wandering and attention research, as well as research on meditation. Eventually, it became apparent that the established nomenclature for the thing I was interested in was "meta-awareness" in research contexts and "decentering" in clinical contexts.


Epiphany

 Definition: An epiphany is a sudden, profound realization or insight that often leads to a new understanding or perspective on a situation, idea, or oneself.

• Explanation: Epiphanies can occur in various aspects of life, from personal growth and relationships to scientific breakthroughs and creative endeavors.

Example: A scientist might have an epiphany that sparks a new hypothesis, leading to groundbreaking research in their field.

• Quote: "The aha moment of epiphany is a wonderful and empowering experience." - Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor


Glossary of Terms, The Psychedelic Blog


Anyone that knows anything about psychedelics knows that having insights while under the effects of the substances is quite common. As such, studying psychedelics was a natural extension of my existing interests.


Robert: Close to the beginning of the website for the Canadian Centre for Psychedelic Science, you talk about the Centre´s Consulting Philosophy and Open Science. What is your definition of “Open Science” and why’s it so important to your work?


Thomas: In brief, Open Science is transparent science: everything is shared. By way of metaphor, you could think of Open Science as akin to "open source" in the world of software. Considering private industry, you could think of Open Science as the opposite of confidentiality and "trade secrets". For a publicly traded company, you could think of Open Science as akin to SEC requirements that corporations accurately report their financials, the purpose being accountability through information-sharing. The closest parallel is "open source" software, though, because private industry is fundamentally more confidential by design.


"Open Science is important because it is the correct way to do science."

- Thomas Anderson


Open Science also keeps researchers honest as it keeps them accountable. When research is transparent, researchers are not able to hide "Questionable Research Practices" (QRPs). While we might hope that most researchers don't do such things, the ideals of science are not always upheld by individuals focused on their careers. There are high-profile cases where QRPs —the polite term for various forms of data fraud and research misconduct— have been unmasked by professors at Harvard and other high-prestige universities. There's also a Replication Crisis, the solution to which is Open Science.


Replication Crisis

• Definition: The replication crisis refers to the widespread concern that many scientific studies may not be reliably reproducible by independent researchers.

• Explanation: The replication crisis has prompted discussions about research methods, data sharing, and the importance of rigorous scientific practices across various disciplines.

• Example: Researchers may face challenges when attempting to replicate studies that lack transparency in their methodologies or statistical analyses.

• Quote: "The replication crisis is a wake-up call for the scientific community to strengthen research practices and uphold the integrity of science." - Dr. C. Glenn Begley


Glossary of Terms, The Psychedelic Blog


Here are some relevant quotes from a study we called, Psychedelic Research and the Need for Transparency: Polishing Alice’s Looking Glass (included in the list above).


· Given psychedelics’ complex history, it is especially important to proceed with care, holding ourselves to a higher scientific rigor and standard of transparency. Universities and researchers face conflicting interests and perverse incentives, but we can avoid missteps by expecting rigorous and transparent methods in the growing science of psychedelics.


· Scientists may soon be called upon to provide evidence pertinent to policy decisions regarding compassionate-use exceptions, decriminalization options, and legalization frameworks.


· This is a field characterized by both pro- and anti-drug agendas. Mainstream narratives are fragile: current excitement favoring psychedelics’ potential could swing swiftly back toward prohibition rhetoric following the emergence of clinically adverse events.


· Our intention here is to establish standards that will improve research quality in psychedelic science in particular.


Robert: In that same paper, Psychedelic Research and the Need for Transparency: Polishing Alice’s Looking Glass, Thomas and his co-authors talk about the need for psychedelic researchers to adhere to the following four checklist items as a means of enhancing rigor and transparency:


1) Pre-registration

Psychedelic science may be particularly vulnerable to QRPs due to the presence of both ideological and financial conflicts of interest. By ideological conflicts, we mean research stakeholders who are motivated by faith in the utility of psychedelics and are therefore

resistant to disconfirming evidence. By financial conflicts, we mean research sponsors whose livelihoods are benefited by the commercial viability of psychedelics, which demands that the drugs be effective and safe.


2) Open Materials and Open Data

The second checklist item asks researchers to provide study materials and collected data so that reviewers and other scientists can evaluate, reproduce, replicate, and explore the methods and data used to determine research findings.


3) Constraints on Generality (COG)

In brief, a COG section should explicitly identify qualities of participants, materials, procedures, and context that the researchers consider necessary and/or sufficient for observing the reported effects; they should also explicitly identify qualities thought to be irrelevant, i.e., over which the results are generalizable. Such explicit description allows the researcher to describe what qualities are needed for a future study to be considered a direct replication or a conceptual replication.


4) Replication

Replication is particularly important for the nascent field of psychedelics research as the resurgence in research could come at the expense of building a strong foundation. Replication ensures that foundational scientific research is solid and provides an opportunity to work together as a community of researchers. Replication is particularly important for the nascent field of psychedelics research as the resurgence in research could come at the expense of building a strong foundation. Replication ensures that foundational scientific research is solid and provides an opportunity to work together as a community of researchers.


It may be important to note here that the psychedelic drug market is estimated to reach nearly $12 billion by 2029. The prospect of financial gain will clearly play a role in how the field evolves. With an earnest desire to adhere to transparency and conform to the rigors of scientific method, a path may be paved for informed decisions on the viability of full or microdosed treatments of psychedelics for mental illnesses or even the rejection of psychedelics altogether.


There are cautionary tales everywhere that should serve as stark reminders of how science can be manipulated, obscured, or rendered opaque so as to cater solely to those pursuing financial gain or seeking to wield power. Having individuals, organizations, and governments tell us the truth about products so they can be properly regulated is critical. These are some examples:


Drugs – In 1971, US President, Richard Nixon declared a “War on Drugs”. But it was not a strategy to protect or benefit Americans, it was designed to serve Nixon. Former Assistant to the President, John Ehrlichman, later admitted that the War on Drugs was a political maneuver meant to hobble Nixon’s enemies who he perceived as young, left-leaning, marijuana-smoking hippies and the imagined heroin-using Black community. The declaration of a War on Drugs would give law enforcement justification to crack down and arrest members of these groups or any other political opponent at will. “Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did,” said Ehrlichman. As of 2023, the War on Drugs has cost taxpayers an estimated $1 trillion. Wasted dollars are only the beginning of the negative impacts of the War on Drugs.


Big Tobacco - In the 1960s, Dr. David Kessler and Dr. Terry Pechacek of Dartmouth College hosted a series of conferences focusing on the health effects of smoking. These conferences brought together independent researchers and health experts, and their findings added to the mounting evidence of smoking-related health risks. The tobacco industry monitored these conferences closely and attempted to counteract the negative publicity from the emerging research. Big tobacco spent decades misleading Americans about the safety of their product.


Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Industry - The fossil fuel industry has clashed with independent climate researchers over the scientific consensus on climate change and its link to human activities. Some fossil fuel companies have been accused of funding climate denial campaigns to protect their interests in the face of the growing evidence of climate change's impacts.


Pharmaceutical Industry and Opioid Crisis - There have been ongoing disagreements between independent researchers and pharmaceutical companies regarding the prescription and marketing of opioid painkillers. Independent studies have highlighted the risks of addiction and abuse associated with opioids, while pharmaceutical companies have been accused of downplaying these risks and promoting their products for broader use, contributing to the opioid crisis.


Thomas, can you shed some light on the current scientific understanding of how microdosing influences the brain and cognition in comparison to full-dosing?


Thomas: We know that psychedelic substances are active in a Dose-Response Curve, i.e., that higher doses have greater effects on functioning. That said, I don't think the science of microdosing has progressed to the point where we have answers to questions regarding comparing lower and higher doses beyond the general understanding that higher doses produce more profound alterations.


Dose-Response Curve

 Definition: A dose-response curve illustrates the relationship between the dose of a substance and its effects on an organism, often showing how increasing doses lead to varying physiological or psychological responses.

• Explanation: Dose-response curves are fundamental in pharmacology, toxicology, and medicine to understand the effects of drugs and other substances on the body.

 Example: A dose-response curve for a medication might demonstrate how higher doses result in increased therapeutic effects or potential side effects.

• Quote: "Dose-response curves provide valuable insights into the intricate interactions between substances and living systems." - Dr. Frances K. Skinner


Glossary of Terms, The Psychedelic Blog


"We should be honest about effects,

be they positive, negative, or null."

- Thomas Anderson


Robert: Would you say that psychedelics are uniquely suited, in any way, for microdosing versus other kinds of medication? I mean, I suggested microdosing blood pressure medication to my doctor, but he didn’t seem terribly receptive to that idea.


Thomas: I would think about this in terms of the concept of "minimum effective dose".


Psychedelics are substances. Ibuprofen is a substance. Caffeine is a substance. Ethanol (alcohol) is a substance. At different doses, each of these substances produces different physiological and psychological effects. For each substance, there is some "minimum effective dose" where the substance is causing some measurable effect on the person.


For each substance, there are several doses above this "minimum effective dose" where the substance is causing more extreme effects on the person. For each substance, there is some higher dose where the substance causes more deleterious effects than desirable effects. For each substance, there is eventually some higher dose where "the dose makes the poison".


Concerning your blood-pressure medication, ostensibly the pharma industry ran a whole bunch of studies and used those studies to determine what the range of effective doses was. Your doctor was then taught that most people should receive X as a starter dose, then to work up or down from there depending on symptoms. I'm not a medical doctor, but that's what my general understanding is.


To a regular doctor, the idea of taking a dose of a medication that is much lower than the dose established by the many studies run by the pharma industry would probably seem nonsensical. You might as well be asking about homoeopathy.


Psychedelics are an outlier because they were illegal for so long. There haven't been modern studies to find the "minimum effective dose" in humans. Even the MDMA studies by MAPS (MDMA = 3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine, commonly known as ecstasy and MAPS = Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) are not dose-finding studies; they are holistic treatment protocols. Since this sort of thing hasn't been established for psychedelics, there remains an open question in science and medicine.


We can also ask: Effective dose for what? The dose that might be useful for deep therapeutic work might be different than a dose that could be useful under a different context. Some existing medicines are like this. For example, Trazodone may be prescribed at higher doses for depression or at much lower doses as an insomnia medication. The different doses provide different responses, which are useful for different symptoms and situations.


Robert: Is there a sense in your work that microdosing can eventually serve as a first step for participants to gradually increase to a full-dosage? Is that logical or is microdosing meant to be its own end?


Thomas: I think the Trazodone example above sheds light on this as an idea. If someone is prescribed 50mg Trazodone for insomnia, is the broader goal that they work their way up to taking 300mg Trazodone for depression?


From my perspective, microdosing, if effective, could serve a variety of purposes in its own right; e.g., microdosing for its own sake, microdosing for people that want to use psychedelics but are afraid of higher doses, or microdosing for people that want to use psychedelics but are medically contraindicated for higher doses.


There are also various ways to consider microdosing in conjunction with higher doses, e.g., microdosing as preparation for higher doses (like dipping a toe in the water before swimming); microdosing as part of an after-care protocol (like slowly "cool-down" jogging in place after a sprint); microdosing as part of a well-being maintenance protocol (like returning to weekly therapy sessions).


These are pure speculation at this point. Developing and honing mental health and wellness protocols will be part of the purview of the next several decades of psychedelic research.


"Microdosing is relatively low-intensity, but takes place over an extended period of time, like reading all of Dostoevsky's major novels."

- Thomas Anderson


Robert:I have read accounts of participants taking “ego melting” or “heroic doses” of psychedelics that usually leave no doubt whether or not something powerful has happened. I imagine the study of microdosing must be, by definition, the opposite. Are the reactions more dramatic than I might think?


Thomas: This is a tricky question.


First, the research isn't done so the best answer here is "we don't really know".


That said, with the preliminary work we've done, it is safe to say that many people report pretty profound changes that they attribute to microdosing. We need to keep in mind that these are preliminary findings, not the results of highly-controlled randomized trials.


I would think about it like this: A "heroic dose" is a relatively high-intensity, time-contained event, like going skydiving. Microdosing is relatively low-intensity, but takes place over an extended period of time, like reading all of Dostoevsky's major novels. Which is more "powerful"?


My perspective is that they are different. Each experience probably has something to offer, but they are different. Each experience is probably innately appealing to some people and innately unappealing to others.


In terms of reported benefits, we actually got a chance to ask thousands of microdosers about how they compared the benefits of microdosing to higher doses, which we published in this study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology: Microdosing psychedelics: Subjective benefits and challenges, substance testing behavior, and the relevance of intention.


Here is the relevant text and the figures:


Respondents were split on which dose provided the most benefits: two-fifths reported higher doses were somewhat or much more beneficial compared to microdosing, one-third reported that microdosing was somewhat or much more beneficial compared to higher doses, one-quarter reported that both were equally beneficial and only 3–4% of participants said they did not find either dose beneficial. Response patterns across substances were within a few percent of each other for each response option (see Figure 2 below). Finding that such a sizeable proportion of our sample reported that the benefits of microdosing equaled or surpassed the benefits of higher doses strongly supports continued research into microdosing.


In short: different people report different outcomes. There isn't one simple answer that one or the other is more or less beneficial. Different people reported different things and it is useful to keep that variability in mind.


Note: It might, at first, seem appealing to summarize this as "more people reported higher doses were more beneficial", but it would be a mistake to oversimplify like that. That would be like saying, "Many people like hamburgers at a backyard barbecue so only buy hamburgers". For the most enjoyable barbecue, the more appropriate understanding would be both are true: some people like hamburgers, some like hot-dogs, some like vegetarian substitutes, etc.


The same logic applies here: Some people found higher doses more beneficial, some people found microdosing more beneficial, some people found them equally beneficial, and a small percentage of people didn't find either useful (the rare people that only want salad at a barbecue still exist).


The relative benefits of microdoses versus higher doses:

Graph
Figure 2 - LSD: LSD: lysergic acid diethylamide; MM: magic mushrooms.

Respondents to this question (LSD = 3085; MM = 1992) reported that:


1) Full doses provided more benefits than microdosing for both LSD 42.3% and MM 42.37%.

2) Microdosing was more beneficial LSD: 30.73%, MM 31.28%.

3) Equivalent benefits regardless of dose: LSD: 23.95%, MM: 22.59%.

4) Neither dose was beneficial: LSD: 3.01%, MM: 3.77%..


Robert: I have also added Tables 2, 3, and 4 from the same study that include other interesting data.


Table 2
Table 2. Reasons to initiate microdosing by substance.

Participants were able to select one option only.

ADHD: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder;

LSD: lysergic acid diethylamide.


Table 3
Table 3. Reported microdosing benefits by substance: count and percent (%).

Participants were able to select more than one response option.

LSD: lysergic acid diethylamide;

MM: magic mushrooms.

Table 4
Table 4. Reported microdosing challenges by substance: count and percent (%).

Participants were able to select more than one response option, such that total number of reports amounts to more than the number of participants.

LSD: lysergic acid diethylamide;

MM: magic mushrooms.


Robert: Of course, we are all more than a statistic. Here is a selection of comments/testimonials from microdosing study participants:


“Skylar”: I have never microdosed on a schedule (i.e., every four days) but do it either as a study/work enhancer if I know I have a lot to do in a day (which is often as a student) such as before exams or when I know I am going to have a very enjoyable day doing things I already love like biking and hiking to add to the experience. Tomorrow is a combination where I have a lot of work in the morning, and a fun bike ride planned in the afternoon. I will be microdosing. I have tried prescription study drugs, and although there is more energy with those like Adderall, they make me feel jumpy and my mind feels fuzzy and out of focus. Microdosing is far better for me.


“Morgan”: I believe the greatest thing I learnt from microdosing was to stop trying to solve problems I perceived about myself and just accept them for what they were. Accept myself for who I am, relax, stop overthinking everything because at the end of the day none of this matters so you may as well enjoy yourself however you see fit.


“Blair”: I am sad to report that after 4 months of following Fadiman’s protocol, and in addition to daily meditation and weekly therapy, I have not noticed any benefits, neither has my wife of 26 years.


“Charlie”: Want to point out that I started my microdosing experiment with psilocybin mushrooms and therein got relief from depression and alcoholism. I microdosed every fourth day for three months, then continued occasionally as needed for re-emerging symptoms of depression for nearly a year. I recently switched to LSD in hopes of increased energy as well as antidepressant effect. I prefer LSD because of the increased energy it gives me and intend to continue microdosing LSD indefinitely.


“Alex”: I gave an estimate for how frequently I dose (once per week), but it is not so regular. Sometimes I go for months without, and sometimes I microdose twice in a week. But I usually go through periods where I microdose more frequently, and during those periods I would say once per week is about right.


“Devon”: The best period of my life seemed while I microdosed semi-frequently. my psychiatric problems (depression, anxiety and drug mis-use) were diminished. I stayed sober, active, happy and created a lot.


Robert:  There are lots of big questions in the field of psychedelics concerning microdosing not the least of which relate to the “placebo effect”. The placebo effect refers to the phenomenon where a person experiences positive changes in their symptoms or wellbeing after receiving a treatment or intervention that has no active therapeutic ingredients, and this effect is relevant to understanding the potential subjective improvements reported by individuals who engage in microdosing psychedelics. Based on comments in the study, Psychedelic microdosing benefits and challenges: an empirical codebook, the jury is still very much out:


· While the improvements and reductions reported by respondents sound promising, they   cannot be disentangled from expectation and placebo effects or recall biases.


· While necessarily inconclusive due to their exploratory nature, these results point to   potential therapeutic effects warranting future placebo-controlled microdosing research.


· Major parallels between benefits and challenges emerged among outcomes. Specifically,    each category of outcome is seen as both a benefit and a challenge, other than creativity    and illegality. This kind of mirroring suggests two hypotheses concerning microdosing: (1)    placebo effects and expectancy play a major role in reported effects and/or (2) individual    differences moderate reported effects.


· Perhaps “set and setting” are also of importance in microdosing, though this remains to    be tested. Indeed, each of the constructs described in this taxonomy should be directly    tested in placebo-controlled trials.


· We employed no experimental manipulation or longitudinal component, could not control    for substance purity, schedule, or dose, nor for prior experience with full-dose    psychedelics, and we cannot account for recall bias or placebo effects.


· Ultimately, pre-registered randomized placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) of microdosing    psychedelics are needed to test its safety and efficacy.


Robert: This doesn’t seem at all surprising considering microdosing research is still in the early stages. What are some potential long-term effects of microdosing that you and other researchers are currently investigating?


Thomas: Nothing right now. Long-term is a big "we don't know and nobody is studying that yet".


I will say that, at this point, we don't have any strong reasons to suspect any particularly nefarious long-term outcomes. There is plenty of research showing the safety of classic psychedelics. That said, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; there could be long-term effects that we don't know about. Long-term microdosing is a big unknown.


Additionally, total time spent microdosing is unknown, both in terms of what a lab-study might find to be useful and in terms of what real-world participants are doing. Microdosing was relatively socially unknown as a phenomenon so we don't have reports of communities of microdosing going back twenty or thirty years. We don't know whether people that microdose tend to do it for a little while then stop or whether some individuals continue to microdose regularly for years. Different people will also be different. I'd like to see some long-term epidemiological/public health data studying cohorts of microdosers, but we don't have that data yet and I don't know of any researcher currently investigating such.


Robert: I think the “new frontier” aspect of psychedelics is part of what makes them so interesting to the public. In your experience, what are some of the most common misconceptions or misunderstandings about microdosing psychedelics?


Thomas: I've come to call it the "stigma of stigma". Many people say that there is a "stigma" concerning consumption of psychedelics. I'm not sure how true that is.


As far as I am aware, there are no anti-psychedelic movements. Granted, there are "anti-drug" movements, but none that I know of that are specifically against psychedelics in particular. There will always be extreme "anti-anything" people for anything, but, I mean, specific to psychedelics. There is no "pro-life" vs "pro-choice" debate with psychedelics; there's only pro and nobody seems against them.


In other words, I think there is a Pluralistic Ignorance about stigma. A lot of people are worried about "someone else" being anti-psychedelics, but I don't think those anti-psychedelic people exist. I've never met them. I've never gotten hate-mail for my research. I've never heard anyone speak out against psychedelics in particular. Maybe I'm living in a bubble. Maybe they don't exist.


Pluralistic Ignorance

• Definition: Pluralistic ignorance occurs when individuals privately hold beliefs that differ from the perceived majority opinion, often leading to a collective misunderstanding of public attitudes or behavior.

• Explanation: Pluralistic ignorance can influence group dynamics and public perceptions, leading to a mismatch between what individuals believe and how they act in social settings.

 Example: In a classroom, students might hesitate to ask questions due to pluralistic ignorance, assuming that others understand the material perfectly.

• Quote: "Pluralistic ignorance can shape societal norms and behaviors in surprising and sometimes misleading ways." - Dr. Floyd H. Allport


Glossary of Terms, The Psychedelic Blog


Robert: I’m not sure whether or not you’re living in a bubble on this one, but I think it calls for another study!  Looking ahead, what do you envision for the future of microdosing? How might it be integrated into mainstream medicine or society?


Thomas: That is hard to say. I don't follow social trends so I really don't know.


I would anticipate psychedelics following a medical model to enter therapy, as established by MAPS MDMA trials, then expanding from there. Beyond that, one might look at Canada's history of cannabis as a potential pathway: from illegal to medical model to legalized. I would like to see psychedelics eventually legalized and regulated. I could also envision a post-medicalization push for "legalize nature", which could result in the legalization of psilocybin-containing mushrooms, among other things. Notably, Peyote is already legal in Canada; it is mentioned by name in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.


Robert: Do you think that microdosing is the most viable path for pharmaceutical companies to become involved in the Psychedelic Renaissance?


Thomas: Hard to say.


I think major pharma companies interested in psychedelics are struggling to figure out a monetization model because they cannot patent these molecules. There are various work-arounds for this whereby they might try to Deuterate* or otherwise slightly modify a psychedelic molecule so they can patent it. These raise other issues, though, because they would then have to prove safety of their "new" molecule and would need to find a way to justify charging for it rather than a generic. That is, if my doctor could prescribe a generic psilocybin capsule, why would they prescribe a patented PsilocybinXR capsule at multiples of the price, and would my insurance cover it?


I'm not overly well-versed on how pharma companies actually make money so I'm not sure how they will capitalize on the new market. Whatever the case, if there is money to be made, I'd be surprised if they weren't there. Walk into any drug-store and you'll see thirty versions of "Tylenol" that all have the identical active ingredient but are packaged in different containers and boxes for marketing purposes. They'll figure it out.


Deuterate

 Definition: Deuterate refers to the process of substituting hydrogen atoms in a molecule with deuterium atoms, a heavier isotope of hydrogen.

• Explanation: Deuteration is a scientific process used in various applications, including drug development, chemistry, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.

• Example: Deuterated compounds can have unique properties that offer advantages in certain scientific and industrial contexts.

• Quote: "Deuteration opens new possibilities for understanding molecular interactions and designing innovative materials." - Dr. Dmitri V. Zagorevskii


Glossary of Terms, The Psychedelic Blog


Robert: My last question is about a different kind of effect from psychedelics. You’re an expert in an exploding field of study. Are you feeling any of the sensations of celebrity? This has to be exciting, no?


Thomas: When we first started, we got a bunch of invitations to media and interviews and such. I've answered a lot of emails. I'm not interested in fame. I don't want to be Andrew Huberman lol.


My father told me: make your vacation your vocation and you'll never work a day in your life.

I love what I do. I just want to do it. I'm a relatively "pure" scientist. I'm just curious. I want to do good science to investigate reality. Even so, I recognize that success of this sort supports my career, which helps me do more science.


I was also inspired by Richard Feynman. Among other qualities, Feynman was an amazing communicator. If I can communicate about science, that's a bonus for me. If people read my work and find it interesting, great.


That said, I will admit that it is pretty f***ing cool that one of our papers has been accessed over 2 million times. That puts it in the top 1% of all papers that have existed for a similar period of time. If that weren't a feather in my cap, what would be?


Robert: Well, it’s good you’re not interested in fame today because I’m pretty certain this blog will not put you over the top. But, as a big fan of Carl Sagan, I appreciate the desire to help people better understand science. I also appreciate you taking the time to communicate through me and The Psychedelic Blog. It has been as interesting as I thought it would be. And, congratulations on the success of the microdosing paper with much more to come. That really is incredible!


If my readers are as inquisitive as I am on the subject of psychedelics, I know they have enjoyed full-dosing on the mind of Thomas Anderson. Thanks Thomas.


If you enjoyed this blog, please consider sharing it with a friend. Interested in writing a blog? Contact Robert@thepsychedelicblog.com. 

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