Graham Hancock In Conversation With Richard Dawkins

Dr Richard Dawkins, author of books such as The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, is famous for his materialist views about the nature of reality and his belief that “the supernatural… can never offer us a true explanation of the things we see in the world and the universe around us.” On 3 November 2011, Dr Dawkins visited the British city of Bath to promote his new book The Magic of Reality and gave a reading at the Bath Central Library. In the Q&A session following the reading Graham Hancock, author of books such as Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, and Entangled, pointed out to Dr Dawkins that many traditional hunter-gather cultures believe there are other realities — spirit worlds and so on and so forth — and concrete techniques, such as the use of psychoactive plants, to access them. “As a scientist,” Hancock asked, “have you ever seriously engaged such techniques to have first-hand experience of what they’re talking about, and perhaps even to challenge your own concept of what is real?”

In view of Dr Dawkins’ influence and importance as a shaper of public opinion his reply, given before an audience of several hundred, is a matter of public record and public interest and shows him to be more open-minded than many of his critics might allege.

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  • DrDavidKelly

    Hats off to you Richard Dawkins for yet another erudite and articulate response. The man is a credit to science and reason in the face of superstition and ignorance.

  • The only thing to get is money

    The laughter in the background says it all about the moon-bat Graham Hancock. Drugs simply disrupt the normal sensory functioning of the body, it has nothing to do with other “worlds” or “dimensions”.

    • niekas

      “Drugs simply disrupt the normal sensory functioning of the body, it has nothing to do with other “worlds” or “dimensions”.”

      i see you haven’t tried ANY.
      and don’t know what you are talking about.
      especially, if you’re logical,
      you should realize that people tells you otherwise, from their OWN experiences.
      u know, they don’t talk bullshit and lies.
      no they don’t “disrupt your senses”, as you say..,
      truth is – they expand your sensory perception.
      and no they are not drugs – they are PLANTS.
      and yes, when you’re on them, you feel like you’re starting to perceive beyond normal world.
      and that is Not a imagination.
      reality there is more real than ever. :)

      life is more deeper than you think, my friend.

    • Camron Wiltshire

      Have you done Ayahuasca? Smoked D.M.T or taken a sufficient amount of psilocybin mushrooms or mescaline to be able to substantiate your opinion?  

    • JaceD

      “Drugs simply disrupt the normal sensory functioning of the body” – The fact you use the over generalised term “drugs” says it all. Psychedelics (psychedelic means mind expanding) offer altered states of consciousness, and unless you’ve experienced an altered state through some form of psychedelic you really can’t pretend to know what profound experiences and ideas people have while on these substances.

      • http://www.sacredgeometryinternational.com/ Camron Wiltshire

        I agree, but from what I have gathered psychedelic = mind manifested or revealed.
        http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=psychedelic

        They are definitely mind expanding and to not have this experience is to avoid an important rite of passage.

      • xhalor

         You mean like the guy who drove off a canyon road because he “perceived” he had a flying car?

        • JaceD

          Please reply with something based on fact, not one of these; “I heard a guy jumped off a building because he was on acid and thought he could fly” BS stories you hear in high school health class.

    • lifobryan

      I think the terminology used in the user name “The only thing to get is money” is consistent (in essence) to the content of the comment. 

      Hint: “thing,” “get”

  • maxde

    Very nice answer Dawkins, but you still need to get high ;)

  • Monkey See Monkey Do

    He could use the scientific method to ascertain that DMT can be used without harming the body or brain. The fact that he dismisses the experience without ever having the experience himself says alot about his methods.

    • niekas

      i agree.
      i tend not to like Dawkins,
      because he just view the world in his limited atheist point of view.
      and he writes a lot of books, but he does not understand the world at all. :)
      yeah maybe he writes to get money, maybe it’s his primary income.
      maybe he just promotes atheism and science. i wish he’s not doing that.
      he should stop writing books,
      and try to get a lot more deeper into reality,
      a lot more into extra-perceptional experiences.
      then continue writing.
      i have not read his new book “magic of reality”, but i think he promotes a very very limited view.
      cause he does not understand.
      i tend to think maybe he’s intentionally promoting the wrong view of the world.
      because he’s very popular. and i don’t know why.

    • Camron Wiltshire

      I agree entirely.  He was humble in his response at least and he should at least experience these realms before presuming to write them off.  Now that he has stated he would like to do so, who wants to feed his head the proper entheogens?  Would love to see this happen with about 50 authors and cultural ambassadors I can think of right off hand. 

      • The only thing to get is money

        Wouldn’t change them one bit or the world for that matter. If everyone in the world today got high off shrooms and dmt the world would be the same and probably worse.

        • audrius

          first thing,
          you are NOT “high” on shrooms.
          secondly,
          yes it would change the way people perceive things. therefore ‘da world’.
          it IS extraordinary experiences. believe me. i know. i tried.
          how can it make “world worse”?
          that is plain and stupid speculation.

          and lastly, why are you sharing your opinion,
          if you didn’t try them, you don’t understand them, and your opinions are pure speculations.
          use your logic,
          to have a correct and your own opinion on things – u have to experience those things for yourself.

    • The only thing to get is money

      That’s because SCIENCE does not rely on experience it relies on results. What results has DMT produced instead of the nuttery of Hancock or Mckenna? Those who take those drugs still have their quirks and problems, in fact those drugs tend to increase the tendency of fantastical speculations and nonsense.

      • http://wearechangeatlanta.com/ Camron Wiltshire

        So you are aware that Crick reported it was under the influence of LSD when he first perceived (or was shown) the double heliacal structure of DNA right?  How about Wozniak and Jobs giving credit to LSD for enabling them to create and visualize modern personal computing, which you are using to have this conversation I gather.  

        • Monkey See Monkey Do

          Altered states of consciousness (Ie: drugs, meditation, dreaming) have always been integral to the sciences and the arts, it would be hard to even think what science & art would be without it.

        • xhalor

          Now, I like my drugs as much as the next guy. What I’ve experienced is that they change my perceptions about things that I’m already involved in. Jobs & Wozniak were already involved in electronics and computing. Crick already involved in genetic research. Is there a way to prove that drug induced perceptions are nothing more than an extension of an individual’s personality? Is there a uniform response in all humans?

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            Couldn’t that uniform response be deep down enough to extend a core aspect of that individual (no matter what that core aspect is?)

            Why does it have to be “this drug makes you visualize computers better” that’s silly; the drugs have been around a lot longer than computers yet they helped in its conceptualization. 

          • http://wearechangeatlanta.com/ Camron Wiltshire

            Neurotransmitters are endogenous “drugs” enabling consciousness, it only makes sense to enhance our perception through the use of plant teachers and synthetic analogs.  I don’t think a uniform response is appropriate nor desirable but their are steps to manage risks that are well documented, set and setting. 

             I wish I had the link off hand to a previous article (about a week ago) where the author described 6 preparatory steps to avoid bad trips.   Still even in a bad trip information and experience are gained.  I think openness and humility are the best prerequisites and gains from psychonautical adventuring. 

            There are too many scientists disconnected from their hearts and it would be wonderful to see more of them considering the implications of creating oh I don’t know, hell fire missiles or weaponized drones over the necessities of clean drinking water and ample food for the masses.  

            Entheogens are wonderful medicines for reassessing child like states of intuitive grace, guidance and empathy, all of which are conditioned intentionally out of the modern wage slave shucking and jiving for the money changers/military industrial complex.

            The liberating dance of the fool is a departure from the consensus reality modeled and impinged upon our consciousness by the social managers.  

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lnLcRR35bY

          • http://wearechangeatlanta.com/ Camron Wiltshire
        • Calypso_1

          Also Nobel Prize winning Kary Mullis with DNA PCR techniques.

      • Mr Wizard

         When is the brain not on drugs?

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          When its dead. Or when you’re a scientologist.

      • Monkey See Monkey Do

        Logical error because you have to experience those results in the first place.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J10w3FuCwfQ

  • audrius

    his response was ok..,
    i hope he uses his super logical and super reasoning thinking ( :] ) and does not Ignore the nature itself, with all the special plants. and i hope he does not dismiss shamans/ancients’ understanding of the world.
    he, as a scientist, and if he’s a smart scientist. he should dig more more deeper.
    i believe a lot of scientists make one tiny thinking error.
    they believe you can understand everything just by abstractions just by thinking thinking of stuff, reasoning and then thinking a little bit more. thinking is good, great, and useful, but by using those plants new thinking patterns and ideas comes to you, literally. you understand that you can perceive information and understanding just by feeling it, you feel the truth, and understanding just comes to you. Maybe from within, i don’t know, but believe so.
    Then you know that you could never understood like this before.
    Altered states of consciousness gives you understanding that you cannot explain everything just by words and rationality. understanding just comes to you with a bliss and a feel of the world.
    Destroying your cultural indoctrinated values and egoistic thinking of yourself just as a your body. You are much more. :)

    i see science a little “too dry” on scratching just the surface of reality …..

    i think it would be very logical –
    if you want to understand nature – don’t dismiss the NATURE. :D
    pretty logical i believe.

    one user wrote a comment on science that it gives results.
    but man, how can you explain world by results?
    the world is a result itself, you just have to understand it,
    and only way to understanding it is by experience of it.
    maybe the science should upgrade its methods a little bit.
    there is a lot of rationality in those experiences.
    the way i see science it has a problem that it is limited and practically cannot explain anything.
    how can you explain the world just by calculating it and not experiencing itself.
    experience was always a primary method. even from ancient times.

    i see the user named “The only thing to get is money” have not tried any of those plants, and does not know even what he is talking about.
    you see logic is, when you want to have a correct OPINION or correct VIEW of a thing,
    you have to be experienced that THING.
    when you have not experienced it – you cannot correctly/completely understand it.
    that’s simple logic.
    for example,
    people see drugs as “bad things”,
    and why it is that way? cause they don’t use logic, that to believe it’s bad you have to KNOW for yourself it’s bad. Other ways you just repeat other peoples’ opinions and believe it’s your own.
    that way people is always easily stuck on propagandas.

    and no, Mckenna is not a nuttery.
    He just tells what he experienced and tries to be very open minded about it.

  • audrius

    his response was ok..,i hope he uses his super logical and super reasoning thinking ( :] ) and does not Ignore the nature itself, with all the special plants. and i hope he does not dismiss shamans/ancients’ understanding of the world.he, as a scientist, and if he’s a smart scientist. he should dig more more deeper.i believe a lot of scientists make one tiny thinking error.they believe you can understand everything just by abstractions just by thinking thinking of stuff, reasoning and then thinking a little bit more. thinking is good, great, and useful, but by using those plants new thinking patterns and ideas comes to you, literally. you understand that you can perceive information and understanding just by feeling it, you feel the truth, and understanding just comes to you. Maybe from within, i don’t know, but believe so.Then you know that you could never understood like this before.Altered states of consciousness gives you understanding that you cannot explain everything just by words and rationality. understanding just comes to you with a bliss and a feel of the world.Destroying your cultural indoctrinated values and egoistic thinking of yourself just as a your body. You are much more. :)i see science a little “too dry” on scratching just the surface of reality …..i think it would be very logical -if you want to understand nature – don’t dismiss the NATURE. :Dpretty logical i believe.one user wrote a comment on science that it gives results.but man, how can you explain world by results?the world is a result itself, you just have to understand it,and only way to understanding it is by experience of it.maybe the science should upgrade its methods a little bit.there is a lot of rationality in those experiences.the way i see science it has a problem that it is limited and practically cannot explain anything.how can you explain the world just by calculating it and not experiencing itself.experience was always a primary method. even from ancient times.i see the user named “The only thing to get is money” have not tried any of those plants, and does not know even what he is talking about.you see logic is, when you want to have a correct OPINION or correct VIEW of a thing,you have to be experienced that THING.when you have not experienced it – you cannot correctly/completely understand it.that’s simple logic.for example,people see drugs as “bad things”,and why it is that way? cause they don’t use logic, that to believe it’s bad you have to KNOW for yourself it’s bad. Other ways you just repeat other peoples’ opinions and believe it’s your own.that way people is always easily stuck on propagandas.and no, Mckenna is not a nuttery.He just tells what he experienced and tries to be very open minded about it.

  • audrius

    stop deleting my comments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    grrrrrrrrrrr

    atleast TELL – WHY.

    • Matt Staggs

      It’s very likely that there are problems with the comment moderation system. As far as I know, your comments, nor anyone else’s are being deleted. It is super-frustrating, though. Hopefully we’ll have a fix very soon.

  • Gregory Wyrdmaven

    It is ignorance to think that material reality is real.  Science itself shows it to be made of energy that has only condensed and is vibrating at a slow enough speed to have any sort of presence…scientists are still trying to figure out (Higgs-Bosun?  ever heard of it) why matter has mass.

    A purely materialistic view of reality must come to this conclusion:  that we only think we are thinking since our nervous system is only a biological function.  Therefore thought has exactly the same worth as mold growing on a loaf of bread. 

    We are seeing the props on the stage only.  We are the by-products/side-effects of something else.  Calling those who understand this ignorant or close-minded or superstitious, etc to make you feel better about yourself might help you sleep at night…but if there is nothing to reality except stuff, then there’s also no reason to get out of the bed in the morning.  Because there is no intrinsic value to stuff in and of itself.   

    We are spirits in a material world.  But we are spirit/energy/consciousness/something other than ambulatory bags of meat.

    fiat lux

  • david exo

    Dawkins is a lost soul. He is so angry and frustrated, so hopelessly out of touch with reality, so detached, so completely ignorant. I hope he does try ayahuasca…

    Boy is he in for a surprise!!!

    • Guest

      Project much?

      • Andrew

        “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.”

        • tooCents

           Well that’s a nice twist on the old ad hominem. Guess you can use that against anyone anytime they say anything critical about someone or thing, huh.

  • Thoth

     Last time I took shrooms, I felt pretty high.

    Also, there is seemingly a dogma amongst drug people that mass psychedelic experience would be a path to a eutopian society. I think that this is likely a reaction to the extreme anti-drug hysteria prevalent in the west.

    Psychedelic drugs are a very powerful tool for psychospiritual development, but they are by no means a panacea. I think Dawkins would benefit intensely from a dose of LSD [It might help in removing the stick he has had up his butt all these years] but ultimately he would come back from it with a rationalisation of the esoteric experience similar to Jung.

    As a life scientist myself, I have had several experiences which defy rational explanation by me. But I’m still highly skeptical of the members of team deemster who profess contact with higher intelligences. If this idea spreads to the mainstream you potentially have the birth of a  very dangerous cult on your hands.

    Leary went on his childrens crusade with the psychedelics, this played a major part in the criminalisation with these substances. Huxley’s attitude was much better.

    • gravyrobber

      While I agree Dawkins’ experience with hallucinogens may not change his entire worldview, it would certainly give him pause to consider his stance that ancient cultures were all superstitious cults. As far as claiming all ‘drug people’ believe in creating a ‘eutopia’ through psychedelics, this is not the case. For one, hallucinogens give the user a very personal experience of being connected to the oneness to the universe. What you do with that knowledge is up to you, nothing dogmatic about it. Cults are formed by weak-minded people who fall for the ‘follow me’ mentally, if anything hallucinogens teach you to follow yourself in a better understanding of reality.

      • Thoth

        Re: psychedelics and cults. see ‘the Manson Family’, ‘Aum Shinrikyo’ have defininitely used LSD for the purpose of chemognosis with disasterous results. I would also be surprised if psychedelics aren’t used at the upper enchelons of the Scientology audits based on L. Ron Hubbard’s history with the occult [/wild speculation].

        If you subscribe to the idea of vegetable intelligence promoted by people like McKenna et al. it’s possible that the mushroom seeks out individuals it thinks will stand to benefit from the experience. The whole hippy “you don’t find acid, it finds you man” paradigm.

        I think encouraging people who aren’t seeking the psychedelic experience to try it is a bad idea, in that: although 9/10 the person will probably be fine, but it’s not worth it to push a borderline schizophrenic over the edge into full blown crazy town (a la https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCbca_QFsHM).

        The experiences I have had have been positive across the board. It’s a beautiful thing, and I am genuinely sad that there are a lot of people who will never get to have the experience. It’s not for everyone though.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      I think the definition of “high” has been corrupted over the years to mean any form of mental inebriation that is not a depressant.

  • JaceD

    In essence they’re same thing. I did a theology paper at uni, specifically on Eastern religions and one topic I took a great interest in was psychedelics and religious / spiritual experiences. Most of the journals and essays I read referred to psychedelic substances as “mind expanding” among other similar terms. Whether it’s an expansion of the mind, a manifestation of ideas, etc it all amounts to pretty much the same meaning.

  • AlrightyThen

    I have experimented with several different ethneogens over the past decade and do not see what the big deal is? The experiences have been different and interesting…sometimes enjoyable and occasionally awful. But these experiences did not radically alter my worldview. They may have changed my perceptions of the physical world in the moment while under their influence but there was no lasting “vibe” or residual “knowledge” which changed my day-to-day life. You sober up and then think: “Huh…well, that was…different. So what’s for breakfast, then?” Perhaps I am missing something… 

  • Surrealias

    Hancock put a good question to Hawkins, who basically dodged answering it. I feel that if Dawkins took a strong entheogen, it would only strengthen the beliefs he already has. It’s like what John C. Lilly said “What one believes to be true either is true or becomes true within certain limits to be found through experiment.” (that’s just a paraphrase btw).

    I still am very reserved towards accepting anything coming out of Graham Hancock. His book ‘Fingerprints of the Gods’ seemed like a bunch of bologna to me. He also endorses David Wilcock who endorses David Hoagland, and I feel these people have an agenda other than what they’re presenting. I’m just musing, really… please, enlighten me.

    • Monkey See Monkey Do

      Yeah too me he doesn’t have the intellectual veracity of a McKenna, Anton Wilson, Jung, Alan Watts or Lilly. Then again nobody is perfect and he’s just finding his way through ideas like many people are. I give him credit for popularising many interesting ideas in his latest book ‘supernatural’. As far as agenda’s go, you might have a point with Wilcock & Hoagland, It’s either that or some sort of neurosis, I didn’t know Hancock edorsed them.

      • http://wearechangeatlanta.com/ Camron Wiltshire

        I think describing his sharing their work on his site where there is much overlap in interest in certain topics only constitutes “endorsement” in that he presented an opportunity for their fans to be introduced to his own work.   

        It’s difficult I imagine to be a hard liner when many of your own fans fall for the “woo factor” of alternative theorists who do not overtly trouble themselves to scientifically validate their claims.  

        We should avoid the temptation to lump all alternative researchers in to one pool and employ guilt by proxy for the sins of the less diligent researchers out there.
         
        Graham is definitely several cuts above the researchers mentioned and very deserving of credit  in these fields, as he bases his speculation on an abundance of physical evidence and direct experience.  

        Perhaps he understands that the only way to teach is to embody what you hope to impart and hope that people are discerning enough to see the difference between endorsing and sharing ideas with peers in related fields.

    • http://wearechangeatlanta.com/ Camron Wiltshire

      What in particular struck you as bologna regarding “Fingerprints of the Gods”?   I don’t believe Graham endorses anyone other than he has done an interview with him and shared some of his work on his site, not exactly an endorsement. 

      Graham Hancock is an example of someone who goes above and beyond to put alternative theories to the test, employing logic and scientific method to address the possibilities of ancient myth being supported by modern science.  What Graham unveils commonly, as in the above video is that all too often “orthodoxy” is more concerned with maintaining it’s favored illusions/paradigm and willing ignores contrary information which undercuts their cherished ideals.Unfortunately there are many “new age conmen” who abound and it is therefore important that we cultivate a proper method for winnowing truth from lie.  I suggest the information present on Triviumeducation.org as a means to exercise critical thinking and logic when approaching the more fortean realms of the noosphere.

      • Surrealias

        I appreciate what you’ve said and understand where you’re coming from.

        When I first read Fingerprints of the Gods about seven years ago, I was very taken in by it and thought it was very ground-breaking. I decided to do my duty to do my own research on the subject. I had trouble tracking down Hancock’s sources that he cited in ‘Fingerprints of the Gods.’ Because I was not able to find his sources, I couldn’t see for myself the connections he wanted people to see.

        Maybe that was a failure on my part of doing better research. I can see how dumb my last comment was about dismissing him as bologna, that just isn’t a constructive argument or argument of any kind, it was more akin to gossip. Again, I was more musing than anything. The fact that you replied made my musing worth it.

        After learning about the deceptive agenda of many of these new-age authors (such as David Wilcock, David Hoagland, Jose Arguelles, and several others), I began to notice what I think to be a network of these new-age belief promoters and I fear that they may even have a collective agenda. I must say too that I thought much of David Wilcock and even David Hoagland, for a short time. I have difficulty proving anything these two say just like I did with Hancock.

        Because Wilcock seems so deceptive to me, the fact that he is even somewhat involved with Hancock makes me very weary of the the latter as well. Hancock  may not have endorsed Wilcock in the way you thought I meant, but I meant the more loose meaning of the word ‘endorse,’ to publicly approve of somebody (which having a blurb praising someone’s work on the back of their book, seems like an endorsement to me, whether it’s purely to produce book sales or not).

        I cannot completely dismiss Hancock and since you think he has a lot more merit than what I’ve thought, I will surely have to read more of his work and do more research.

        • Camron Wiltshire

          Thank you Surrealias (nice screen name by the way)  
          I understand your misgivings.  I too was a bit worried seeing Nassim Haramein featured on Graham’s site at one point.  The reality is that there is a lot of leeway in these fields and as they are given more attention, they will also be prone to greater inclusion of “new age conmen”.

          Coast to Coast am is a microcosm of this variety.  One night you might have some genuinely challenging and thoroughly researched fortean concepts and the next it is nothing but woo, and wild speculation.

          It’s unfortunate because reality is much stranger than fiction and more than ever it is important that we put all of our endeavors to plumb the depths of the great mystery on a logical foundation which though open minded,is rigid in it’s self criticism and methods of replication, I think this is also known as being scientific ;)

          Graham was also promoting Entangled at the period when he was featuring Wilcock and Nassim so to be fair he may have wanted to introduce his first foray into fiction to their fans.  Of course they would gain from becoming aware of Graham and his honest methodology and thus I can definitely understand why he would have reached out.

          I am biased as I’m a big fan of Graham’s and having read several of his books I am convinced by his argumentation and sourcing.  Also he has always taken the high road when dealing with criticism of his views and corrected himself at anytime when he was in error displaying the type of humility other authors would do well to understand themselves.

          Thank you for your comments and for sparking discussion and thought.  We are all on the quest for knowledge, we just take various paths to get there.  Civil discourse and open mindedness are something I’ve been working at becoming a better practitioner of and this site is definitely a good place to hone said abilities.

          Cheers :)

          • Surrealias

            Your efforts at improving your logical thinking ablitities were obviously worth your time. I am excited to delve back into Graham Hancock’s work to see what the heck what has been going on in the world. Thanks!

          • Camron Wiltshire

            It’s a never ending process, they are great teachers so I’m thankful that someone is picking up the slack for the deliberate mindfuck of gov’t schule’ing (schooling)  

            Graham is definitely worth studying.  Please let me know what you discover and if you ever have questions he has a forum on his site where you can present them.

            Best wishes.

  • Camron Wiltshire

    Well said.  I want to show this to every reductionist materialist who parrots the mainstream dismissals of the realms they don’t dare tread. 

  • My Names Dan

    “because he just view the world in his limited atheist point of view.” – Stopped reading there. “Limited atheist point of view”. Seriously what?! I carried on reading and felt like I was getting stupider and stupider the more I read. You obviously have no idea what Dawkins “point of view” is. And you obviously have no idea why “he’s very popular”. I really don’t get it, why bring up Dawkins lack of belief in a god (atheism), why don’t you bring his lack of belief in Santa into this debate?

    I’d like to point out, I’ve smoked DMT and had a hell of a trip on Salvia.

  • My Names Dan

    “because he just view the world in his limited atheist point of view.” – Stopped reading there. “Limited atheist point of view”. Seriously what?! I carried on reading and felt like I was getting stupider and stupider the more I read. You obviously have no idea what Dawkins “point of view” is. And you obviously have no idea why “he’s very popular”. I really don’t get it, why bring up Dawkins lack of belief in a god (atheism), why don’t you bring his lack of belief in Santa into this debate?

    I’d like to point out, I’ve smoked DMT and had a hell of a trip on Salvia.

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